Friday, October 5, 2012

My 10 life lessons from the perch of 48!

Happy birthday to me!

If I Had a Hammer!
With Dad and Mom
I can't believe I'm getting closer to the end of my 40s. How can that be when I still feel like a young woman inside? Certainly not middle aged!! Hope you enjoy some of my baby photos. I can definitely see my 48-year-old self in these photos of my early days!

Cuddles with Mom
Because I love lists of ten, here is what I've learned in my last 48 years:

1. Choose your friends wisely. I have learned that life is too short to spend time with people who talk only about themselves...or do not care about the hurts in the world...or are self-obsessed. (Sense a theme?) I've done my turn with people like that, but no more. I want to be with people who are giving, kind, loving, and funny...who do not spend all their time complaining, and who share my core values (see below). And once you have these wonderful friends, find ways to spend lots of time with them. I feel truly fortunate to have so many amazing souls I call my friends.

With my glamorous mom in 1965
2. Cherish your loved ones. If that's your family, all the better. If you have to choose your own family because you didn't get love and support from your own blood relatives, find your own tribe to cherish. As I'm reminded constantly, life is short...and we never know how long each of us has on this earth.
With Daddy
3. See the world. Nothing can replace the feeling of traveling and trying to understand the world from another culture's perspective. I am so much richer for the travel I've done...and I am always thinking about where I can go next! I love experiencing new places!

4. Find a job that you enjoy and that uses your natural talents. When I was in staff management for many years and was dealing with dissatisfied employees, I would ask them: "are you happy more than 50% of the time?" If not, find another job. Again, life's too short to waste your time doing something that doesn't give you some satisfaction or challenge. I feel very fortunate that I get to use my degree, be creative, and write each day!
Visiting my Uncle Lloyd and Aunt Audrey

5. Read! It's the best way to travel to faraway places without leaving your home. It helps you understand the world better. I'm so glad my parents instilled in me the love of reading and education!


Christmas
6. Learn about yourself. This is a lifelong process. Here's what I know about myself: I love to come up with ideas and solve problems. Because of this, I am drawn to leadership positions. I crave to use my creativity. I'm energetic and enthusiastic, sometimes to an intimidating degree, or so I've been told. I come across as confident, even though I don't always feel that way. Sometimes I can come across as critical, because I'm passionate and opinionated. I feel deeply, even more so after becoming a wife and mom. I am an activator and sometimes have a problem with...waiting...or keeping my mouth shut! I can be impulsive, which sometimes gets me into trouble. But I always have the best of intentions. I believe that the most important thing in the world is to be kind. And if I'm not kind, I have regrets.
With my maternal grandparents

7. Find a way to get in touch with the spirit. I call myself a Unitarian Lutheran. I don't particularly like being told what or how to believe, so I chafe against traditional religion. I love the idea of grace and forgiveness, so being a Lutheran works for me. I believe in an all-welcoming God who would turn no one away. And a God who is too big to be confined by gender, the Bible, or any one religion. I experience God most through my relationships with my loved ones and wonder at this amazing world we live in.

Christmas with Daddy
8. Make art! Whether it's music, painting, knitting, writing, or drawing with sidewalk chalk, we all have a yearning to be creative and to express ourselves that way. I'm most happiest when I'm making art, singing or playing the guitar or mandolin (jamming or playing in a band), or writing...especially when I can give my art away to others who appreciate it!

9. Never go to bed angry or hold a grudge. Poor Mike learned this about me early in our relationship. As the daughter of therapists, I believe in talking things out and not holding grudges. I feel sorry for those people who do not have contact with their family members. Again, life is too short. It's hard to forgive, but when we can't move on it causes so much lingering pain. I'm not perfect--I have lost some friends through harshly spoken words or hurt feelings, but I have tried my best to forgive them even though I will not forget the hurt they caused (and I choose to limit my contact with them). (See #1!)

With Grandma
Apparently, I was a very funny kid!
I liked to watch TV perched on top of an upturned wastepaper basket,
 with a washcloth on my head!!
10. Say "I love you"! I grew up hearing that every day, and I realize I'm very lucky. I try to say it to my kids and Mike daily. It never hurts to remind them! I've also found that as we face life's challenges (typically illness or death), it makes it easier to say these three words to close friends as well as family. What would life be worth, after all, if we didn't have love? I don't want to have any regrets or wish I'd said I love you and missed the chance. Shower the people you love with love, and say those three little words!

I'm sure I could think of more life lessons, but I'll have to leave it to ten for tonight! After all, I'm middle-aged!

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