Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Advice to My Children on Mother's Day

Mothers are all slightly insane.”
― J.D. Salinger

Things 1 and 2 on a Great Camping Adventure
My children often think I am a whack-job.  Trust me, this is not without reason.  They don't operate in a vacuum and they've seen how I live my life with a let's-have-dessert-FIRST mentality.  They are resigned to the fact that I ring the bell while I ride my bright green bike while wearing my purple helmet.  They tolerate the nosy pepper joke that I tell over and over and over again (thanks again, DT, for that one).  But, sometimes, I'm afraid that my words of wisdom just wash over them as yet another piece of nonsense that they have to deal with as my children.

So, today, as a precursor to Mother's Day, I'm going to give them all of my (unsolicited) serious advice on how I hope they'll live their lives.

  1. Choose joy.  Joy comes from within.  Feed the joy.  Nourish it and it will spill out of you.  Joy is your CHOICE.  
  2. Be kind.  Hold the door open.  Say "please" and "thank you" with abandon.  Give your seat to a stranger.  Focus on doing kind things for other people and you won't have time to dwell on yourself.  
  3. Live outwardly.  Offer hugs.  Share your ideas.  Be connected and involved with other people.  People who are connected in their communities, with their friends and in their families live longer, healthier, happier lives.  You can look that up, it's totally true. 
  4. Do what you love.  You get one chance at life.  Don't spend every day hating what you do.  Do something that inspires you.  Live your whatever shape that takes.  
  5. Travel.  I don't care if it's to the next town.  Explore the corners of the world that are out of your comfort zone.   
  6. Overcome your fears.  We are designed with built-in fears to protect us from doing stupid things.  But I hope you won't ever let fear prevent you from living your best life.  Pursue adventure in all its forms.  Speak up.  Explore. Say "I love you" first.  
  7. Forgive.  People will hurt you.  Sometimes they'll do it intentionally. Sometimes they'll do it out of their own pain.  Regardless, forgive them.  It's important that you understand that holding on to all the hurts will harden you. Let them go.  People who hurt are hurting and I don't want you to become a hurting person.
  8. Choose a life partner when you're a little older.  You will change.  She will change.  Wait.  Date.  Figure out who you are before you figure out who you want to be with.
  9. Share. If you have something, share it.  It may be money or time or the last cookie in the jar.  I promise you that if you share whatever it is that you have, you will have more of it.  
  10. Eliminate "should" from your vocabulary.  I have lived too much of my life operating on "shoulds."  Sometimes, the shoulds in your life can hurt you.  Should inspires guilt.  And guilt has no place in your life.  
  11. Love one another.  You have this person in your life who really knows you.  Yes, you are markedly different from each other but you have the same shared life.  No one will understand where you come from like your brother.  Brothers love each other.  Try to embrace your differences and celebrate your similarities.
  12. Know how much you are loved.  No kidding...I would give my life for either of you.  And I'm not the only one who feels that way about you.  Love is strength.  Cherish it and know that it's there no matter how much you screw up, how far you go, how mad you are or how alone you feel.  You are loved deeply, passionately and without reservation.  Take that knowledge and go out into the world empowered by it.  It's your safety net.
Reach high, boys.  Understand that everyone on this earth makes choices every. single. day.  You can choose to live your best life or you can choose to play video games in a dark room.  You don't have to be like me.  I just hope with all my heart that you'll choose to love your lives and live them fully.

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