|40 is hot! No, seriously, it's hot - that's too many candles and the cake is on fire!! Where's the extinguisher??|
Well hello there.
Fancy seeing you here - it's been too long. I know, I know. Shame on me for not blogging in weeks.
It's been so long since I've blogged that I actually had to log in to this account. Even my own damn blog froze me out. It took me three times to remember my password, but I finally got it right. I logged on to find over 40 comments awaiting moderation. All of them spam. I guess I didn't miss much.
I've been quiet. I've been thinking. I've been observing. I've been reflecting. I think I'm ready to give it a go again.
Some of you might remember my piece in the anthology I Just Want to Pee Alone entitled A Cougar is Born. It was a silly look at turning 40 and the celebrating that goes with that - and with the celebrating, the obnoxious amount of effort put into looking presentable for a night on the town. It was fun to write, it was graciously well received (for that I thank you) and it was painfully true from a primping/superficial aspect of turning 40.
My friends will tell you, however, there is a more serious side of me that can tell you something a little more moving about my turning 40, and so I thought I might explore that side of things today to share with you the really big things I learned in my 30s.
1. Forgiveness is the greatest, and sometimes hardest skill we can learn.
Things that happened to me early on in my thirties forced me to make a decision. I could either forgive what was done to me and move forward in my life, or I could hold on to anger and resentment and let it consume me, and lead me down a miserable path in life. By some miracle, I had the insight to choose to forgive and make a conscious effort to just let it go. The funny thing was, once I made that decision, it was simple. It felt absolutely amazing and it opened my heart to a future full of love and light. To this day, I consider the ability to forgive one of my greatest assets. This leads me to my next lesson....
|One of my favorite quotes ever.|
2. Treat others the way you want to be treated.
I live by this. I'm not going to lie. Some days it is hard. It takes actual work. For the most part, it proves to be true. You want good friends? Then be a good friend. You want people to listen? Then be a good listener. You want people to be kind to you and to others around them? Show kindness. Be the change you want. Stop complaining - start doing. I live by this. But ...and there is a but...not everyone you come into contact with in life plays by the rules. I learned that some people, as kind as I may have been to them, didn't have the grace to accept it, or couldn't fight the urge to be an asshole in return. My lesson? Learn to let go of those who don't appreciate you for who you are. There are going to be people in life that have a basic inability to be grateful or to appreciate friendship. There are going to be people with a different definition of happiness than you have. There will be people who don't know better, or who do, but choose not to. This is not my burden to carry. I can't accept or own responsibility for those people. I can, however, choose to go in peace. Valuable lesson. Keep the people who want you in your life close. Those who don't, let them go. It's okay.
3. People want to be heard, loved, seen, and appreciated.
This goes for our children, our parents, our grandparents, neighbors, coworkers, friends...etc. Who doesn't want a little positive light in their day? Or a hand to reach out when they are in a tough spot? A "like" of a photo they posted on FB...a "congrats" on an accomplishment they worked so hard for. Taking 2 seconds to comment or like something to say hey, I see what you did there...and I'm proud of you...barely takes any effort. Simple kindness to acknowledge someone's day is all too easy. This crazy high tech world can't possibly make it any easier for us to do this daily. I'm not saying you have to comment on every darn thing in your news feed but this type of technical human contact is more appreciated by people than you might think. As far as my kids go, as many times as they say, mommy, come see ______! I get up and go. It could be an ant crawling on the ground, much to their wonder, or a plane in the sky, or a bright red bird flying in the yard. By stopping to see what they want to show us validates and tells them they are just as important as anything else we might be doing. 99.9% of the time, we aren't performing CPR on someone, therefore, there's really no reason not to get up to see what they want to show us. Their little world is so huge to them, and the wonder through the eyes of a child is so much bigger than we know. It's such an easy thing to do for them - besides, don't underestimate how many times they can and will say mommy, mommmm, mommaa, mom, mommy, moooooooooom come herrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre! Just go.
4. Unless the absolute impossible event of me winning Powerball happens, there is no way I can help everyone in need.
This is one of the hardest pills I've had to swallow. Admitting, knowing, and accepting that there is no way I can possibly save the world. It was on my to-do list in my twenties - I'll be honest, but in my thirties, I realized that I have an infinite amount of money and supplies for the need out there. Every time I checked out at the store I'd hear would you like to donate a dollar to _______? You can't always say yes. You can't always donate to things. You CAN, however, volunteer your time here and there - you CAN make a difference somehow. Nothing is too little or too few or too anything - when you give of yourself and your time, you can make someone else feel a little more hopeful. I was able to make a big difference by cutting coupons that said Buy One, Get One Free. The 'one free' I would save and donate to my son's middle school. Seems insignificant maybe, but when you deliver a dozen deodorants, that is twelve kids who now feel good about how they smell in school. Silly...but true..and easy. I know and understand that I can't do it all, but I can do something. I can lead by example. I can show my kids to be grateful for what we have and be mindful of those who don't. I can't save the world, but I can make my tiny speck of the world a little sunnier.
5. Everything is temporary...or so it seems.
Maybe the 'everything is temporary' is just a line I remember from my favorite movie Moonstruck. When Cosmo yells everything is temporary, that don't excuse nothin! But it's something I think of when I'm down and out. Sometimes, I'm just plain old overwhelmed with having three boys, the worry, the burden, the chores, the groceries, the everything that goes with it. But then I think it's not always going to be this hard. And you just do it. You do what you need to do and you try really hard not to wish the days, weeks, months, and years away. I always hated when my mom would say, believe me, the time goes so fast and all of a sudden they'll be gone and you'll wonder where the hell all of those years went. But I get it, and I hear her in my head, and I try harder not to lose my cool, not to wish away this age, not to pray for vacation to come sooner, not to hope Friday gets here quicker. It's hard...but I'm aware now. I'm present. Not always, but I'm getting there. We really are only here for a short time. Maybe turning 40 is a reminder that time flies and life is precious. Maybe by thinking about this, I might need to go and buy those new shoes I was feeling guilty about last weekend. Hmm..this could really be a motto that works in my favor. Life is short...buy the shoes. I like it. Sorry, where was I?
6. Health is everything.
Wow do we take this for granted too often. I know too many people with chronic pain, cancer, injuries, illnesses, old age, Alzheimer's, and other awful afflictions. And yet...sometimes it escapes me how fortunate I am to be healthy. I think of my sister-n-law who died at 36 of breast cancer. 36. Then I am reminded to schedule an exam, get on the treadmill, eat healthier, sleep longer, it's effort but it's worth it. I ended up with that horrific flu in December and was knocked on my butt for a few days and was completely panic stricken thinking about the housework, the kids, the family, the work - but none of that mattered - it would all be okay until I recovered. So much running around, stressing out, worrying - it takes a toll. Health is more important than so much of the things we spend our time worrying about. Never take for granted being healthy. You just never know. This also applies to dessert. Just eat the dessert. You'll feel happier that you did. Giggle. Go for the dark chocolate - that's healthy, right?
7. No matter what you think is funny, there is a handful of people that don't/won't.
This was a lesson I learned since I started blogging, and has become even more pronounced lately. I started off as a 'humor' blogger. I wrote about things I thought were funny. I posted ecards and memes of things that made me laugh - always with good intentions. Though I rarely had to deal with awful trolls, the occasional "this is not funny" comment would roll through and stab me right in the heart. I realize there is always going to be someone without a sense of humor, but these days, it's gotten so bad that I found the time I spent reviewing the card for what could go wrong or who could take it the wrong way sucked up way too much of my free time and therefore was undoing my stress relief of a hobby I had. (You'll notice I've slowed way down on my FB posts...not just because I'm busy in real life, but because I haven't had the oompf to deal with who might not think it's funny - that's just too much work). For every blog that is written, there is a comment that has to contradict it on why it's inappropriate or not funny or they disagree..for every funny photo posted, someone has to say something. We've lost our ability to agree to disagree - we've lost our simple ability to SCROLL ON. Just scroll past it. Oh, a republican posted a statement about this or that - I don't agree, therefore I will shit on this post...oh, a democrat posted a pic of something - I don't agree therefore I will add my 2 cents in the most ignorant way possible...a breastfeeder did this, a bottle feeder did that..she gave her baby solids too soon - she breastfed too long -ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. Learn to scroll on, shut FB down when it gets annoying, no one took your right to walk away from the Internet and go outside for a while away from you for goodness sake. Can't we go back to the funny? I will, eventually, I will.
8. Raising good people takes work.
My husband and I have given our thirties to these kids - and we'll give our forties and fifties too..I don't think it ever stops. But their foundation is so important. These days we are up against so much - and our kids are too. We have to instill in them so much confidence and knowledge and power to make tough decisions when they present themselves. We have to talk about things that our parents never dreamed of talking to us about. We have to explain worldly things that we don't even understand ourselves. All of these things take involvement and time and energy and love, patience and effort. My parents keep telling me they were lucky they didn't have to deal with the Internet and phones and texting and all of the things that go along with it. Maybe that's true - but we can't just throw our hands up and say this is the world we live in. We have to put the work in. The one thing I keep telling our kids is how fortunate they are to have a roof over their heads, food on the table, clothes in their drawer, and doctors when they are sick. We have to remind them that we are rich in love and family - and as long as we have love to give others, we can make a difference in the time we have here. Parenting IS the hardest job in the world - the most fulfilling, yes..but so damn hard.
9. My parents just did the best that they could.
It seems like everyone likes to blame their parents for their shortcomings. My mom didn't let me play _____ my dad was never around...my mom worked too much...my dad left when I was two...my mom remarried four times..my dad is in jail - THEREFORE I ____________________.
No. No more blaming parents for everything that is wrong in our lives. Quite simply, my parents did the best that they could with the tools and knowledge they had. My parents raised us with one common denominator in all they did and that was fear. They had fear of what could happen to us, fear of the unknown, fear of us going down the wrong path, fear of what others thought, fear of failure, fear of illness, fear of this, that and the other. Choking at the dinner table, drowning at the beach, getting kidnapped - silly, crazy, irrational fear that I never understood any of when I was growing up. As a matter of fact, I am lucky my eyes never got stuck in the back of my head from constant eyerolling at their statements of 'what if _____happens to you?' But I get it now. I get it more than I wish I did. Now our common denominator is fear - only ours is a little more pronounced. Ours is more like fear of parades, fear of dropping them off at school, fear of war, fear of terrorists, fear of flying on planes with them, fear of them going on a field trip, fear -fear- fear of things that we could never even dream to be afraid of just a few years ago. Which brings me to my final lesson...
10. You cannot live life in fear.
I look back at my thirties and I look back on the births of my children, and all of their scrapbooks also include something tragic that happened on or around their birthdays. School shootings, tragedies, worldly disasters. As if postpartum wasn't difficult enough to muddle through, I had the news constantly telling me about the doom and gloom of the world I brought these babies into. I learned early on in my thirties that I would NOT survive mentally if I let these fears paralyze me. I made a decision that I would live each day, no matter how hard some days were, to find the good. If I saw something on the news that jarred me, I turned it off and sought out something good. The funny thing is - you can find some really great news if you look for it. For every bad thing going on, there are thousands of good things. I like to think of myself as a connoisseur of good news now. I look, I find, I read, I laugh - and most of the time I pass it on so someone else can feel good. We all know too many people who thrive on tragedy and bad news. I want to be the opposite of that. I want to find the good - it's there - just have to be open to it. At the end of the day, I want to think about the good stuff. This is the stuff that feeds the soul - there are enough of the souldrainers out there to last a lifetime - but I will politely decline partaking in all of that. Lately, it's been a battle that I have had to fight, but I will push through to find the good stuff.
In closing, I thank you for reading this far. I know it was long winded, long overdue, and heavy - but it's been weighing on me. Too much pain surrounding too many people these days. I'm just peacefully laying low until the funny comes back - and don't worry, it always does. Just know I'm grateful for all of you, thankful for the ability to express myself to help me clear my head, and appreciate the time you spend with me trying to figure this stuff out. Thank you for that.
Cheers, love and light - - and laughter of course,