My Top 15 Things On Life

I was listening to a speaker on TED talks yesterday. The woman speaking was in her 60’s and was also a writer (Anne Lamott “12 truths I learned from life and writing”). She said she was surprised that she had been contacted to speak at TED. She wasn’t sure what she was going to say…. Listening to her made me think about what I’ve learned over the years.

My Top 15 Things On Life

  1.  Life really is short. I still can’t believe that on my next birthday I will be 50. My son will be starting his senior year of college this Fall. My niece, who will be a high school senior this year, has already started visiting colleges. The late 80’s and early 90’s doesn’t seem that long ago to me……and yet, three decades have come and gone since I started college. Some days it is difficult to wrap my mind around that fact.
  2. Do something every day that brings you joy.  On some days that joy will come from hugging your child, or telling your spouse, “I love you”. Maybe it will be eating a scoop of your favorite ice cream on a hot summer evening or reading a good book. Other days it will be the sweet but simple things. Yesterday evening my husband and I took a short jaunt to Meijer’s after dinner. I got a new shower curtain and new rings for the curtain. That seems crazy, right? To be excited about a new shower curtain. It will be white, and crisp and clean (for all of 5 minutes) but, I’ve been wanting to get that and now I did and it is something to check off my list. Checking things off my to do list brings me simple joy. Not every joy has to be monumental.
  3. My words should bring life to others. The older I get, the more mindful I am that what I say does matter. Not everything that I think needs to be said. I don’t want to be that person that hurts with words. Words have power, and the one who understands that point is wise with what he/she says. Besides, people hear negativity far too often anyway, and some even begin to believe it. I have the opportunity to be life giving, not life draining. Be someone’s encourager.
  4. I don’t have to agree with everyone, and neither do you. It is okay to disagree. It is not okay to act like a fool when you disagree. Stand up for what you believe in, but be willing to give that same courtesy to others.
  5. I can’t please everyone. That might seem obvious to most, but it was an epiphany for me. I do not enjoy conflict and confrontation (does anyone?). I have always tended to be more of a “pleaser”, which isn’t really a great thing. It is okay to say “no” to things. The world isn’t going to end.
  6. I am a follower of Jesus Christ and everything else I do in this life should reflect that. Being a Christian is not something I detach from because knowing Jesus is a relationship, not just a religion. Christ is as real to me on mundane Monday mornings, and Thursday night’s at the grocery store as He is on Sunday mornings. I believe the God of the universe knows me and loves me. Although on some days I might feel small, I never go unseen by Him. (For more on this, see The Greatest Gift of All at the top of my blog’s home page.)
  7. It is important to listen. This is a crucial skill, that I wish more people were adept at doing. Instead of always wondering about how I am going to reply to someone, I need to listen first, and truly think about what is being said. So much can be learned if ears are turned on and the mouth is kept shut. I also need to remind myself that listening with the heart and mind is just as important as listening with one’s ears.
  8. I can do anything for a short amount of time. Life can be, and often is, difficult. There have been many things I have gone through in my almost 50 years, things that I have no desire to ever go through again, but I made it through. Sometimes it is me telling myself, “I can do this thing for 5 more minutes” or “I will get through this by the end of the semester”, or “This is hard, but I need to finish”. Sometimes it is mind over matter. I was widowed at 32, with a 5-year-old son. Those first days of widowhood, I just needed to get through the day. I couldn’t concentrate on anything else besides the fact that I was still breathing, and I had a little boy to take care of. Sometimes the things we go through are so hard. Keep going. It will get better.
  9. It is okay to cut your losses. There are times and situations in life that one just needs to say, “I gave it a chance and it isn’t working”. I often ask myself, “Is this worth it?”. Is this going to make a difference next week? Next year? Five years from now? If it isn’t really important. Let it go. There is a feeling of liberation that comes from letting stuff go. It can be freeing.
  10. Death is not dying. As a Christian, I believe the actual literal act of “dying” is very brief (although the leading up to this, can be long and drawn out or short and unexpected). One of my most beloved authors of all time, is C.S. Lewis. He wrote some excellent papers/books on grieving and death, but one of my favorite quotes of his is, “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” We have a body. Bodies don’t last forever. We were made for more than this world. Ponder that.
  11. There is almost nothing better than the laughter of a child. Our 14-year-old grandson is visiting this week from Texas. Watching him play with his 11-month-old cousin, and watching the joy on their faces is so much fun. And how can anyone listen to the laughter of a baby and not smile themselves? In my opinion, there is nothing better. If I am having a rough day all I have to do is pick up my baby granddaughter. She effortlessly makes moments happy.
  12. Time is valuable. It is a precious commodity, that most of us treat in far too cavalier a manner. Once time is wasted, there is no going back.  Another favorite author of mine, Ann Voskamp, reminds us that “life isn’t an emergency”. We don’t need to waste our time running around in circles doing mindless things. Instead, take the necessary time to savor the moments. Make a conscious effort to enjoy them. If you do, you will look back over your life and smile.
  13. Be kind to others. Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” or Luke 6:31, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” It has been my experience that those who come across as the most unlovable and most aggravating, are the ones that need to be shown kindness the most. It doesn’t cost one anything to show kindness. So be kind to others. It matters.
  14. I am an advocate for those who need a voice. The young. The disabled. The elderly. If I don’t speak up, then who? It is not okay for me to say someone else will do it. That might be the very reason I am here at this time. To be the voice for those who need to be heard. I am in their corner.
  15. Love your family. Share memories. Laugh a lot. Hug. Enjoy holidays together. Goof around. Get mad. Show forgiveness. Make up. Be there for each other.

***What are some of the things you’ve learned? Share your wisdom. ***

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Life Bursting At The Seams

Water Drop

Image by Isolino via Flickr

Yesterday was my birthday. Today is the first day of my new year. The excitement. The possibilities…are endless.

The old year is gone. Never to return. Each birthday is a sort of rebirth, isn’t it?  Try new things. Be creative. Get better. Smile more. Love more. Laugh out loud.

It’s a chance to learn more.  Although I love books, I’m not talking about word knowledge.

*There is a difference between wisdom and knowledge

*Sometimes taking a step back from a situation, is really moving forward

*Being a good speaker, is more than just knowing the words to say

*Being able to say “I’m sorry”…two of the most important words in the English language

*Understanding that life is not a dress rehearsal

*Remembering that there is no one like me

*Life isn’t an emergency

*Slow down, rushing around just makes me unnecessarily frazzled

*Love people

*Smile a lot

*Don’t be afraid to share my heart

*It is not necessary to say everything I’m thinking

*Really understanding, “This too shall pass”

*Believing that God knows and loves me–on a daily basis

*Sometimes life hurts, embrace this without letting it destroy me

*Jesus walks with me

*Life is short, no matter how long I live

*I need to live my life in light of eternity

*Serve with joy

Proverbs 4:6-7
Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. (NIV)

Psalm 107:43
Whoever is wise, let him heed these things and consider the great love of the LORD. (NIV)

Wisdom Comes With Age

In my library/office I have a desk. On that desk I have propped a large bulletin board. I call it my “creative inspiration” board. I have tacked all sorts of things on that board. Pictures from magazines, quotes, snippets of notes, color charts, mementos….you name it. It’s probably on there. Last night as I sat at my desk, my eyes wandered to some “life lessons” I had cut out of a magazine several months ago. The article in the magazine was about women that had lived to be at least one hundred years old. What were their words of wisdom to those of us that aren’t yet centenarians? I think you might find their life lessons interesting, so I’m going to share some of them with you today. As you well know I like to share my own opinions ( I can’t help it) so I added my 2 cents worth in the parentheses. Enjoy…..and learn.

*Frances Johnson

-If it’s not terminal, why worry? And if it is, you can’t do anything about it. (this is so very true….so much of life is really not under our control, even though we like to believe it is. Worry does nothing for us. I know I’m one to talk because worry is something I’m so good at—but I’m trying to trust more than I worry.)

-If you don’t know what to do, don’t do anything. (I don’t know about you, but for myself I realize that sometimes I run around like a chicken with it’s head chopped off –I know a pleasant visual. It would be better for me to just sit quietly and wait.)

-A meal’s not done until you have dessert. (Enough said…and if it happens to be chocolate than all the better.)

-Stay active and keep your mind sharp. (I plan on still having my wits about me when I’m old…and if I don’t…well, I won’t know the difference.)

-Something good usually comes out of bad events. (I have a favorite movie quote that is similar to this. “Beginnings are scary. Endings are usually sad, but it’s what’s in the middle that counts.”  It really is about perspective. No one I know enjoys life’s bad events, but they happen, so try to find at least a little good in the midst of the bad.)

When playing Scrabble, don’t use up your S’s right away. (I agree.)

*Edna Anderson

-Keep walking. You’ll be so happy you can walk when you’re old. (I love to walk. I think these are wonderful words of wisdom. Walking is not only good physical exercise, but is a good time to think, or chat with a friend.)

-Avoid a fast talker when looking for a husband. Go for someone who’s steady. (I don’t think she means find a man that is a limp dishrag or someone who is just a knot on a log. I think she means a man who is there for the long haul. Someone with grit and determination….because life is hard and so is marriage. It is not for the faint of heart. If you want a fast talker buy a parrot.)

-More is not necessarily better. Going for first or biggest leads to unhappiness. (All one has to do is take one look at the entertainment industry in this country and this bit of wisdom will be obvious. Things, wealth, and popularity do not buy happiness. That is why so many entertainers are in rehab, divorced, or dead. Sad, but true.)

-There are still happy times ahead after loss. (I know this from personal experience. I am a living testament to the fact that there is happiness after loss. Thank you, Lord.)

*Melva Radcliffe

-Anything you love is important. ( If you love something, it matters…regardless of anyone else’s opinion. One of my favorite childhood books is The Velveteen Rabbit. It’s a great story about love.)

-Don’t be afraid to travel.  (Amen, sister! Some of my very best memories are from my travels. Traveling makes us all adventurers.Plus it also gives you some great stories to tell.)

Good table manners count. (No one is going to think highly of you, if you look or act like you were raised in a barn. It doesn’t matter how witty or intelligent you might be, if you eat like a barnyard animal it will be difficult for others to overlook it.)

-Children love praise. They’ll do something again and again just to get you to praise them. (Children are just like the rest of us. We all like a pat on the back or being told of a job well done.  Genuine praise, not false flattery. Even children can tell the difference.)

You’ll always need your girlfriends. (As much as I have truly enjoyed my friendships with males–and eventual marriage to my best friend–they cannot take the place of “my girls”. Women just “get” each other. Sometimes we babble, sometimes we sulk, sometimes we cry and sometimes we laugh….and sometimes we do it all within a 5 minute time frame. I love my girlfriends. They’ve got my back.)

-Clean your teeth three times a day. (This is especially near and dear to me. I have been blessed with “good” teeth. I know this isn’t the case with everyone, so I am grateful. I also know since I am highly addicted to southern style sweet tea that if I don’t brush my teeth at least 3 times a day I will suffer later. Since I plan on having my pearly whites until they lay me in a casket…..I will continue to brush religiously. Amen.)

Mom-ism’s

I have a book full of mom-ism’s. It always gives me a good laugh. I thought I’d share some today to give everyone a good chuckle. If you are a mom you will totally understand. If you are a son or daughter you will also “get it”.  I have chosen to add my own take on each of these  timeless nuggets of wisdom. Enjoy!

–I don’t know is not an answer! (and if I don’t know the answer either, I will fake it. I’m a mom, it’s my job.)

–I just want what’s best for you. (and what’s best for you is for you to do what I say.)

–If all the other kids jump off the bridge (or cliff) are you going to, too? ( Son, don’t answer that!….especially, if you have a child who would seriously try to be Evil Kneivel. Next thing you know you’re sitting in the emergency clinic.)

–If I want your opinion, I’ll ask for it. (I already know your opinion and I’m choosing to ignore it.)

–I’m not running a taxi service. (I’m finding out the going rate for taxis…I will be deducting it from your allowance.)

–Isn’t it past your bedtime? ( I don’t care if you are eighteen. Go to sleep already!)

–Life isn’t fair. (This is an understatement. Go with it.)

–Look at me when I’m talking to you. ( I will stare at you with laser beam eyes drilling through your head, until you look at me.)

–Now, say you’re sorry and act like you mean it. ( I said act like you mean it! Don’t stick out your tongue. Don’t roll your eyes. That’s it! I’m coming over there!)

–Some day you will thank me for this. (Yes, you will! You might be 92 when you come to this realization…but, I don’t care.)

–Some day when you have kids you’ll understand. ( Oh boy! I can’t wait. Grandchildren. Spoil them and send them home for YOU to deal with. Yea!  Revenge is sweet.)

–Were you born in a barn? ( Don’t think I haven’t thought about that. You and the horse could be room mates.)

–What part of NO don’t you understand? ( Am I speaking English…um…yes, yes I am. And the answer is still NO!)

–When I was a little girl… ( I never gave my parents one bit of grief. I was an angel straight from heaven. NO you may not call grandma to verify this fact. What, are you calling me a liar? Go to your room!)