Saturday, February 8, 2014

Lessons Learned

"The world is full of people who have never, since childhood, met an open doorway with an open mind."
~ E.B. White

I have three children in three very different phases in their lives. My oldest is 18 and struggling with what it means to be an adult and make a future plan. My middle son is navigating the beginning of high school and the pull of electronics over study. My daughter is maneuvering  the world of preteen girls and "loser" boys in her opinion.

I may not have all the answers for my kids, but I have learned a few things over the last 40(ish) years....

10 Things I Want My Kids To Know

1) Laughter really IS the best medicine. When looking for friends or lovers look for someone with laughter in their eyes, heart, and soul. Find the people who make you laugh even in your darkest moods. Appreciate the dry, silly, sarcastic or just plain weird humor in people and make them a part of your happy place.

2) Find friends who love you no matter what. Find those people who know your darkest, deepest and most embarrassing secrets and mistakes yet still think you are amazing. Find those friends that if you need them at any time they are there for you. In return be that for them. Don't neglect them or let life get in the way of these friendships. Find these people and cherish them like gold.

3) Give your best no matter what. I don't understand the mentality of homework, projects or tests being a choice. To me, school is a child/young adult's preliminary job. I've held many jobs over my lifetime, some I hated, some I tolerated, some I loved, and I did my best regardless. There is no excuse for lazy.

4) Wait for a love that takes your breath away. Don't ever settle because you feel insecure or you're afraid to hurt someone. If it feels wrong it is wrong. There may be doubts about being ready to marry or commit, but it should be about the institution or ability, not about the person. I was told that passion and love fade so it's not important, what matters is friendship. I say you HAVE to have passion and love for those times when you want to kill each other. You have to be able to draw from something to remind you why you won't actually commit a felony. And life may get too busy for a honeymoon life but passion should never go away.

5) Find a job you love. If that doesn't work (because let's face it, how many of us have our dream job?) find a job you like and create a life you love. If you can at least like your job you can find your passion in a hobby, family, pets, travel or any creative/active outlet that makes your soul smile. And don't skimp on those things. Life is too short to not live it.

6) You can always change. That's the thing about life, nothing has to be forever. You can focus on a new career, relationship, health goal or personal accomplishment. You can dream, travel, try new things, learn new skills, step out of your comfort zone and test your courage. Too often we get set in a rut of daily life and forget to shake it up a bit. Life is an adventure. What kind of adventure is up to you.

7) Bad things will happen. I wish I could say your life will be full of only the best, but that is, of course, a big fat lie. You will get hurt, you will lose people you love, you will have your heart broken, you will have days you want to get back in bed and never get out, you will have sadness. But you are always stronger than you feel. This is where you call on that humor, friendship and passion for life to move past whatever knocked you down. Even at our lowest point we can only go up, it can only get better.

8) Have a good heart. Learn empathy, sympathy, self-sacrifice, kindness and charity. Learn to help people in the smallest of favors to the largest of dedicated deeds.  Give of yourself whenever possible. The smallest of acts can often have a huge impact on another. The world needs more good hearts.

9) Your happiness matters. I've only come to grasp this myself over the last five years and it's completely important. If you're not happy change something. It may not be an easy fix, but there is always an answer. It may be scary, intimidating, exhausting or terrifying. But if the end result is happiness it will be so very worth it.

10) And finally, you are loved. I love you no matter what choices, mistakes or accomplishments you make. I may be disappointed at times, angry in your actions, but I will never stop loving you and helping you in any way I can. And know that anytime I am sad it is because your pain is mine, your failure or success is shared and your happiness matters to me.

"If you want to be happy, be."
~Leo Tolstoy