About the gifts, I'm pretty easy to please actually and bought my own early birthday present a few weeks ago...a Nook. I suppose the family will get me a little something to open, because I don't mind that, just a little something. But I am blessed and have more than I need. And I really do feel like it is the thought that matters most.
Speaking of thought, I've been thinking a lot lately. Since this is somewhat of a milestone birthday for me, I thought I would write a list of what the past X number of years has taught me. Taking stock is a good thing and I'd like to see where I am at this cusp in my life. Given it's my birthday, I thought I should make a list as long as I am old. For an organized, order-freak like me, this is really like a party in my head.
I started my list and needed it to manageable. Making a list as long as I am old was a daunting task at first. I initially made a list of categories in which my principles might fall. The categories reflect the stage of life where I find myself...middle age. Ewww. By definition, I am early middle age. I'm not going to agree to that label. I don't feel middle aged, early or otherwise. I feel just like, no I feel even better for the most part, than I felt a few decades ago. But a few decades ago, I wasn't really even thinking about how I felt. I guess if you toss about phrases like "a few decades ago" in reference to yourself, you must be at least middle aged. Pooh.
Anyway, my categories were Marriage, Parenting, Family, Spirituality and Self. I started listing what I have learned and come to believe in my number of years on this earth. A funny thing happened. Many of the items on my list crossed categories. One thing that I thought about marriage was equally applicable to parenting. Principles I hold true for my self are just as true when I hold them up in the realm of dealing with family. So I dispensed with the categories and just made my list and smiled when I noticed the crossovers.
On the eve of the beginning of the second half of my life (isn't that what mid-life is?), I bring forth this list of life principles, truths really, that I try to live by. Some of these are ideals which I fall short of many times. Some of these are beliefs that work for me alone. Some of these will work for everyone. I just hope I am passing the universal ones along to my children.
45 Things I Know Right Now
- Family relationships can be the most challenging and gratifying ones -high stakes but grand rewards.
- The relationships and people in your life are there for your spiritual growth. Treat them with the respect you would give to a spiritual teacher.
- Parenting is a parent's primary role; all else is secondary. That may mean going to work everyday or reading to your child or taking care of yourself. Do them all with the well-being of your child in mind.
- There is an ebb and flow in parenting. Sometimes you are on duty, other times you are merely on call. Take up your hobbies when you are on call, not when you are on duty.
- Marriage requires fun, focus, flexibility and forgiveness.
- Quality family time together, known in our house as Forced Family Fun, is mandatory and will continue to be so, especially through the teen years.
- It's better to eat real butter, sugar and fats than to eat all the fake stuff.
- The one skill to develop that will positively impact EVERY aspect of your life is listening.
- Equal parenting does not mean parents do everything 50/50. It means each parent executes their role 100% and yes, the roles are different.
- When in doubt, hug.
- Men and women truly do think differently about most everything. To operate under a different assumption is crazy.
- The amount of screen time (TV, computers, handheld games and phones) spent is inversely proportional to the amount of creativity and self-reliance a person exhibits.
- No one but you can make you happy.
- You can't make someone change.
- Be kind to everyone; we all are carrying some load.
- If you can't be kind, kindly remove yourself.
- There is humor in everything.
- Even if it seems irreverent, the humor may be what gets you through.
- Regardless of appearances to the contrary, everyone has challenges in life. How you deal with your challenges dictates how significant they become to you.
- There is great joy and satisfaction in giving and doing for others.
- Dogs really are better than cats.
- There is a difference between happiness and having fun. Our culture emphasizes having fun. The current generations are devolving in the ability to cultivate their own happiness and contentedness.
- Tell the people you love that you do.
- When doubt persists, hug harder and longer.
- Honesty and integrity are the most important traits of healthy relationships...with yourself and others.
- In most cases, it's better to be happy than right. If happy and right can't peacefully coexist within you, reconsider why you think you are right.
- Always send thank you notes.
- Many things you don't want to do are precisely the things that you should do.
- Own your mistakes. They lose their power when you embrace them.
- Breathe deeply and consciously.
- Be quiet sometimes.
- We are not meant to understand or control everything.
- An unexamined life is not worth living (credited to Socrates) but an overanalyzed one without change or action is tiresome (credited to me).
- Marketing to kids is wrong and sabotages parental credibility and responsibility.
- Pick your friends wisely. You don't need an ever expanding group of friends, just some really good quality ones. Any more are just distractions.
- It's good to be alone sometime.
- God is.
- If you want something kept private, don't write it down (credited to my Oma circa 1970s). To make it more current, if you want something kept private, don't write it down, take a picture of it, text it, say it to a voicemail, put it on the internet or do it where there may be cameras which is pretty much everywhere these days.
- Sometimes all you need is to get outside for a while.
- The Golden Rule and the Sermon on the Mount pretty much cover it.
- Yoga without the attention to breath is just a bunch of weird body postures and parlor tricks.
- Make your house the ones that your kids and their friends want to hang out in. Make it appealing to them not because you are excessively permissive and are checked out but that your house is fun and the whole family is checked in. The good kids and the kids who need it most will flock to your house.
- If you don't invest your time, contribute your money or exercise your right to vote, please don't complain.
- Forty-five is the new age you want to be.
- Take pictures.