Life Lessons From Children

The older I get, the more I realize that children have some of the best answers to the basic questions of life.  They seem to instinctively know how to manage the twists and turns of everyday living.

With all my education, experience and wisdom, I have learned to look to a five-year-old for some of the wisest lessons in getting through life.

Here are my top ten favorites:

Play is the best medicine.  Children have the ability to play with anything, anytime.  It’s how they release their emotions and feelings.  It’s also how they heal themselves.

Take a nap when you’re tired.  Children can sleep anywhere, when they need to.  What a great gift is that!

Always greet your elders with a hug and a kiss.  This is good advice your whole life – no matter how old you are.  Grannies always love to be greeted this way.

Every day is a fresh start.  No matter what happens today, no matter how bad it is or who hurts them, tomorrow is always a new day to a child.  All is forgotten and everything is possible again.  Each morning is a clean slate.

Be courageous.  Sing out loud.  Dance to the music.  Children are not confined by fear of failure or shame.  They embrace life.

Laugh every day.  Children see silliness everywhere.  Look for the humor in your everyday life.

Be active.  Get up and move.   Go outside. Find something to do.  Contact a friend. Children rarely sit in a rocking chair staring into space, thinking about the past.

Scars are badges of honor.  Scars are sources of pride to children, not signs of weakness.  Be proud of your scars.  Tell the story.   Make yourself the hero.  Pass on the wisdom.

Try new things.   Children do not fear the unknown.  They will try a new game, dive into a pool or jump on a trampoline.  Be adventurous.  Get out of your comfort zone.  Step into the unknown.

Notice the little things.  Children can be fascinated by the smallest of things – ants crossing a sidewalk, the tiny feet of birds, the wings of a bumblebee.  The things we take for granted bring them great joy.  Take notice of all the small miracles around you, and see how much more beautiful your life will be.

Becoming more childlike is one of the wisest things we can do as we age.

Inappropriately Dressed

The invitation said “casual” dress.  So Gramps and I took them at their word and arrived in jeans and T-shirts.  The only other couple we knew, besides the hosts, were also dressed as we were.

Everyone else had on slacks, blouses and button-down shirts.  We four looked like the country bumpkins of the group.

How did they know what “casual” meant?  How did we not?

At first, I was just embarrassed.  I felt I had somehow let our hosts down, that I had embarrassed them in some way.

Then the four of us began to be treated as if we were inferior to everyone.  As if we did not understand what they were talking about.  As if we were confused children.

Even our hosts were rude to us and shamed us in front of the others.  If it hadn’t hurt so much, I probably would have found it interesting what a difference our clothes made in that social situation.

Because we were underdressed, we weren’t allowed to fit in the group.  We were laughed at, ignored and talked down to – because of our attire!

By then, I was angry and wanted to leave.  But the other three of our little foursome didn’t want to give up so easily.  So we four formed our own small party.

We partook of the food, the drinks, the lovely home and our own companionship.  We found our own little spot and had a great conversation all to ourselves.

I have no idea what the rest of those people did or talked about.

But when Gramps and I left, we could honestly tell the hostess, “We had a great time!”

How I Learned To Drive

When I was the appropriate age, about fifteen, I took the regular Driver’s Ed. class in school. It was regular then, not so much now.   But it was all book learning – no actual behind-the-wheel training.

So my dad took on the job of teaching me to drive.  I thought it would take a day or two for me to become a good driver.  Boy, was I in for a surprise!  To begin with, I learned to drive on a four-speed stick-shift – not easy.

First he took me to an abandoned shopping center parking lot to teach me to park.  Yes, the dreaded parallel parking!  He would stand at the end of one space, pretending to be the back end of a car.  I was then to park behind him – without hitting him!

Oh mercy sakes!  Figure out how to parallel park or kill your father!  And he never budged one inch – ever!

Then we would drive home on the freeway – of all things!  Believe me, I was thrown in the deep end of the driving pool.

But I did pretty good, until the day he had me drive all the way into the driveway.  Evidently I was getting too close to the garage door and he yelled, “Stop!!!!!!”  He startled me so badly I pressed on the gas instead of the brake.  We went through the garage door, damaged the brick surround, which fell on the washer and dryer, and the car, damaging all of them.

Sitting in the car with a garage door and bricks on top of me, I was in tears.  I cried, “I don’t believe this!”  “Oh, believe it!” he said in a very flat tone.

During the reconstruction of the garage, my friends asked what kind of renovation were we doing at our house.  I was too ashamed to say I had driven through the garage door.

I did get better and eventually was able to drive all the way home and park the car in the garage with no harm to house or car.

My dad was a good teacher and taught me everything I needed to know to take my driver’s test.  On the day of the test, the gentleman said my parallel parking was great and my freeway driving was very good.

The one thing I didn’t know and Daddy failed to tell me – don’t stop in a crosswalk.  Oops!

But I passed my test with flying colors and never ran into a garage door again.

The Best Things About Being A Woman

Okay, I’ll admit it!  I’m a woman!  And proud of it!  Maybe I wasn’t always – proud, that is.

I remember wishing as a young chil that I could be strong like a boy and do some of the things the boys could do.  But age brings wisdom and now I bask in my womanhood.

I think women have so many options these days in so many arenas of life.  We can be gentle and strong, quiet and loud, a follower and a leader, a teacher and a student, a stay-at-home mom and a CEO.  We can be anything we can envision or dream.

Women are the heart and soul of the family. We set the mood and tone of the whole unit through our interactions with each individual.  As the old saying goes, “When mama’s happy, everyone’s happy.”

We are allowed, by society, a much broader range of emotions and emotional responses than men.  How refreshing it is to to be able to express ourselves in such a true manner and to know we have an arsenal of feelings at our disposal.

Women are blessed with the ability to bear children.  It’s a special gift given and should be viewed as such.  It creates a bond with a child that is unique in the world.  I wouldn’t trade motherhood for anything.

We women have a special bond with each other.  Having sisters in heart is a great privilege and great fun.  I can’t imagine getting through life without the support and love of my friends and fellow females.  We form the most wonderful little villages of interests, concern and hobbies, and build into forts of protection, help and family.

Women influence the world just by being who they are.  They don’t have to go through somebody else or be somebody else to make a positive mark.

Every good word I speak makes a mark.  Every good example I set makes a mark.  Every positive act I support makes a mark.

I am a woman and I love it.  I’m right where I’m supposed to be and doing what I have been charged to do – make a difference.

My Life Lately

Things are so different right now, I am having trouble adjusting.  I used to have a full schedule.  I knew what I was going to do every day.  My calendar was black from written-in events for the month.

Now the calendar is blank white, my schedule is empty and every day I have to think about what to do with my time.  My life has completely changed on a dime with no preparation or warning.

Building a good day does not just happen on its own anymore.  I have to plan it.When I wake up, I have to decide this is going to be a good day.  Attitude is everything.

Taking it a day at a time can be too hard under the current stress.  It’s better to look at the short term and maybe take it hour by hour.  I find if I set very small goals, I do much better.  Being successful six times a day feels so good right now or even just twice is okay.

My sewing is giving me a lot of pleasure right now.  It is lovely to be able to touch and pet my fabrics at a time when I cannot touch others.  My sewing also gives me purpose and calms my mind.

I can be at my sewing machine for hours and not even realize how much time has passed. It’s good therapy for me in many ways.  Sewing helps me make a day good.

I’ve also found that what I look for, I find.  If I look for humor in my day, I usually find it.  The same with beauty, joy and peace.

Of course, if I set my mind on anxiety and stress, I will find that too.  It’s up to me.  It’s always up to me.

Even when I can’t hug them, my friends remain so valuable to me.  I try to stay in touch with them as often as possible.  I make a point to call someone every day.  And occasionally have group meetings online, when able.  Seeing friends’ faces is so precious.

And then there’s my sweetie, who makes everyday a joy.  He adds calmness, humor and logic to my life.  How blessed am I to have such a rock in my life.   He makes all things bearable and worthwhile.

So getting through these times will take planning, forethought and some organization. Keeping a positive attitude is the harder, but more important part.

I have to give it my all each and every day.  Each and every hour really.  But these are historic times.  Think of the stories I will have to tell in the years to come.

Our True Heritage

By Thich Nhat Hanh

The cosmos is filled with precious gems.

I want to offer a handful of them to you this morning.

Each moment you are alive is a gem, shining and containing earth and sky, water and clouds.

It needs you to breathe gently for the miracles to be displayed.

Suddenly you hear the birds singing, the pines chanting, see the flowers blooming, the blue sky, the white clouds, the smile and marvelous look of your beloved.

You, the richest person on Earth, who have been going around begging for a living, stop being the destitute child.

Come back and claim your heritage.

We should enjoy our happiness and offer it to everyone.

Cherish this very moment.

Let go of the stream of distress and embrace life fully in your arms.

 

What’s Right About Being Wrong

I am wrong, often.  And when I am, I feel terrible about it.  But what if something good could come from my errors?  What if the world could become a better place?  What if I could become a much better person?

When I make a mistake, my first instinct is to feel shame and I want to hide myself.  But maybe it’s an opportunity to feel humility and begin to forgive myself.  I’m not alone in my wrongful ways.  I could forgive someone else.  Why not me?

Apologies are next forthcoming.  I apologize – usually many times.  This is a good lesson in acceptance of our own behavior.  We have to be able to put into words what we have done wrong and how we have harmed another person.

Then the next thing I feel is the need to be forgiven by the other person.  To ask for and accept forgiveness is a true blessing.  It may not be easy but it is certainly necessary.

Making amends is the part that is most often forgotten.  Making things right again is hard. It takes time.  It takes effort.  It takes thought.  We think we’re done when we have been forgiven, but we’re not.  We need to make restitution.  That makes us stronger and more mindful of other people.

Then there is the final lesson to be learned from the entire event.  What is the positive thing you learned from your mistake?  Don’t let all the time and effort be a waste.  Make your life and yourself better for it.  Gain something from the experience.

That way you are less likely to allow the same error to occur.  You will improve and definitely become wiser.

I’m thinking that with all the mistakes I’ve made in my life, I should be perfect by now! Seriously!

But truthfully, mistakes are going to happen.  Make them growth opportunities.  Lean into them.  Admit to them.  Solve them.  Be better for them.  Learn the lesson.