My Life Lessons

A few years back during my birthday month, I spent a good bit of time reflecting upon my 47 years of life and the many things that I’ve learned. Each day that November of 2013, I wrote down what was in my head; some serious, some sad, some funny, sort of what I’m doing now with my 50 Memories Till 50 project. I know this is redundant and many have read these before, but I wanted this manifesto included in my memories project, so here it is one last time.

The most important thing that I learned is that we are always learning, no matter how old we get or how wise we think we are. We are always growing and forever changing; and usually for the better. Most importantly, I learned how to broaden my thoughts, to think for myself, to stop trying to please everyone else and to work on what I needed to be happy. Some people will say that is wrong, but the truth is, we cannot be better for or please anyone else until we are better for ourselves.

This is my Life Learning Manifesto along with some of my favorite collection of life quotes (in italics).

Day #1: (Change & Growth)

It’s ok to change. Change=growth, growth=fulfillment. We often wish for a different outcome, yet most of us are afraid to initiate change in our “comfortable” lives. Why? Because change=doubt and doubt=discomfort and discomfort=fear and fear=pain. Once we learn to accept the process of change, we can then realize the strengths that lie within us. Only then can we learn to enjoy the changes and reap their rewards.

“I Choose…to live by choice, not by chance; to make changes, not excuses; to be motivated, not manipulated; to be useful, not used; to excel, not to compete. I choose self-esteem, not self-pity. I choose to listen to my inner voice, not the random opinion of others. I choose to be me.” Miranda Marrott

Day #2: (Goals and Dreams)

Pursue your goals, dreams, hobbies and passions as if your days are numbered; because they are. Travel now, work harder now, be creative now, listen to your heart now. Do it now. No one is guaranteed tomorrow.

“The only people worthy of hearing your goals are the people who will be genuinely supportive and help you to achieve them.” unknown

Day #3: (Random Fun Stuff I’ve Experienced, Part #1)

1. Cough syrup doesn’t work. It really doesn’t.
2. If you have to ask “does my butt look big in this”? It most likely does.
3. You will usually only get a speeding ticket when you’re trying your hardest not to.
4. Waterproof mascara is evil. It should not take an exorcism to get it off.
5. I can go days without chocolate until I purposely try to go without chocolate.
6. I’d be ok if we stopped with Blu-Ray…I really do want to be done re-recording my entire home video collection.
7. Why should I have to tip more for an expensive meal? Did my waiter/waitress have to personally catch/skin and harvest my food? Did they work harder than my less expensive meal?
8. The public restroom stall you choose will always be the one without toilet paper and/or unflushed. And who named it “restroom” anyways? That’s the last place I’d choose to “rest”, gross!
9. You will run out of gas when the needle is higher than the last time you “pushed it to the wire” and made it.
10. Waxing your own eyebrows almost always results in the need for a fill-in pencil for the next few weeks.

Day #4: (Family)

Never forget where you came from. Despite decades with only random or obligatory family functions and Christmas cards, some relatives love you unconditionally, accept you and your decisions, and are elated to have you in their lives. It’s never too late to form a bond with extended relatives. It’s easy to forget that you have other family besides those in your immediate circle who love, support and want the best for you. (Even if you didn’t know it).

Day #5: (Attitudes & Opinions)

Give every person and every situation the benefit of the doubt always. We should never let the opinions of others influence our judgment. We should form our own opinions based on personal experiences with people or situations. The point is, we don’t know other’s stories or histories or why someone might behave, think, speak or act the way they do. It’s perfectly fine to not agree or to have different opinions. That’s their right (as it is ours) and it shouldn’t affect the relationship one bit if you are true friends or family. Agree to disagree, laugh it off, have lively debates, state your case, but don’t let differences ruin your relationship.

“If you didn’t see it with your own eyes, or hear it with your own ears, don’t invent it with your small mind and share it with your big mouth!”

“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”  Eleanor Roosevelt

Day #6: (Death and Living)

Disease, illness and death have no boundaries. It doesn’t matter how healthy, how young or how clean you live your life, tragedy can strike anyone, anytime. Many people live their lives afraid to do things because of “what could happen”. You can die doing just about anything. Don’t wait for the perfect time to do something and most importantly, make peace with your loved ones or at least crack open the door so that they can make peace with you.

Day #7: (Common Sense)

Rules override common sense in most cases. I just love being carded at this age. While I realize I don’t necessarily look my age, I’m fairly certain I do not look under 21!

Day #8: (Unconditional Friendship)

Blood is NOT thicker than water. Literally yes, figuratively no. Non-judgmental, unconditionally loving friends are priceless! Cherish them. Don’t feel guilty because you have friendships that are stronger than family. Embrace them as your adoptive family (that you didn’t need a lawyer or courts to approve)! Don’t be afraid to let the fake friends go. If they can’t support you when you’re at your lowest, they do not deserve you when you’re at your highest.

“Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs. The ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile, and who love you no matter what.”  Unknown

“If someone doesn’t appreciate your presence, make them appreciate your absence.”

Day #9: (Life and Self-Control)

Backgrounds, upbringings and circumstances may influence who we are, how we start out in life or how we feel about certain things, but they are NOT responsible for who we’ll become, how we will interact with others, if we will be well-educated, the career we will have or how we will raise our own children. We are in control of our own, thoughts, decisions, emotions etc. and only we can mold our own destinies. We don’t have to become a product of our environment. In other words, don’t use a not-so-perfect childhood as an excuse to not be better.

“One day your life will flash before your eyes, make sure it’s worth watching.” Gerard Way

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” Steve Jobs

Day #10: (Random Fun Stuff I’ve Experienced, Part #2)

1. Everything is better with bacon. There is no logical reason why, it just is.
2. The squirrel or rabbit will always change its directional mind…swerving is pointless.
3. People change and change isn’t always bad. Try not to hold it against them, they’re figuring it out, too.

4.  Trust your gut, it’s usually right, especially when you’ve changed the answers on your test.
5. Make extra copies of everything; the one thing you need is always the one you can’t find.
6. Teachers and professors always said that one day I’d need Algebra…I’m still waiting.
7. People may nag and complain that you do too much and need to slow down. It’s not my pace that bothers me, it’s that sudden stop at the end. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for being a constant doer.
8. If it takes you more than five adjectives to order your coffee, it’s probably not coffee.
9. It’s not your job to make everyone happy. Has it worked yet?

10.  Clowns suck.

Day #11: (Time)

Time is a terrible thing to waste. You can never get it back or make more of it. Let the anger and resentment go. In the end it’s you who will pay the price. Time is not a renewable resource. Don’t take it for granted.

“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” Michael Altshuler

Day #12: (Getting in Too Deep)

We can’t help getting into holes. Sometimes we fall in, sometimes we are pushed in and sometimes it opens up for us and we put ourselves in willingly. We always expect help getting out of a hole, but in most cases only we have the ability to get ourselves out, so don’t dig the hole deeper because no one’s going to help you out of it.

DAY #13: (Childhood Memories I’ve Experienced)

  1. “Wear clean underwear in case you’re in an accident”. This never made sense. If I’m in an accident, I’m probably going to crap myself anyways. But really, shouldn’t you put on clean underwear AFTER you have an “accident”?
  2. “This is going to hurt me more than it does you” during an ass-whooping is complete bull-shit. I mean, how heavy is that paddle anyways?
  3. “Because I said so” is not a valid reason and will only cause further questioning that will ultimately lead back to #2.
  4. “Eating raw potatoes and cake batter will give you worms”. I always thought worms were cool, nice try though.
  5. “I’ll give you something to cry about”! And we’re back to #2 again, dammit!!
  6. “If you fall out of that tree and break your leg, don’t come running to me”! And the point would be? I can’t run and #2 is coming again!
  7. “I hope I’m alive to see the day when your kids are as bad as you”! I wish today’s kids were as bad as I was!
  8. “I can’t wait till you have a home of your own so I can come over and make a mess in it”. Well, those rotten kids you wished on me already beat you to it!
  9. “Those starving children in Africa would give anything for what’s on your plate”. I beg to differ. Everyone has their limits!
  10. “You think this is bad, just wait till your Dad gets home”. Great, more of #2!

Day #14: (Relationships)

Sometimes you have to run away to see who will run after you. Sometimes you have to talk quieter to see who’s really listening. Sometimes you have to step up to fight only to see who will fight for you.

“We are afraid to care too much, for fear that the other person does not care at all.” Eleanor Roosevelt

“When someone walks out of your life, let them. There’s no use in wasting your time on people that leave you. What you make of yourself and your future is no longer tied to them. Yeah, you may miss them. But remember that you weren’t the one that gave up.” Kiara Sellers

Day #15: (Anger & Grudges)

When it comes right down to it, life is really only about asses. We are either covering ours, kicking another’s, kissing someone else’s, or acting like one. Don’t show your ass. Let go of grudges. They are useless wastes of time, emotions and energy. Nothing good ever came from a grudge. You only hurt yourself and make no one want to be with or come around you. No one likes a negative person. And never force someone to apologize. Most of them are fake anyways because people do not really regret saying what they felt or thought. We apologize simply to get the other person to stop being an ass!

“An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.” Mahatma Gandhi

Day #16: (Aging)

It is possible to age without “getting old”. Age really is just a number.

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” George Bernard Shaw

“And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” Abraham Lincoln

Day #17: (Dedication and Believing)

I have never taken “no” for an answer if I believe in something. That defiance landed me in a lot of trouble as a kid, but it’s served me well as an adult; and that’s when it really matters!

“A pessimist sees the difficult in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Winston Churchill

Day #18: (Living)

Be yourself and not what others want to see.  Never blame anyone else if you get hurt because you took the risk and decided who or what was worth the while. Take chances. Say what’s on your mind. Never say “I wish I could or I wish I was”. Do it, make it happen, have no regrets.

Day #19: (Human Kindness and Paying It Forward)

There are kind, selfless, generous people in this world and random acts of kindness do happen when you least expect them. Pay those acts forward and never break the chain.

“When a bird is alive, it eats ants.  When the bird is dead, ants eat the bird.  Time and circumstances can change at any time.  Don’t devalue or hurt anyone in life.  You may be powerful today, but remember, time is more powerful than you.  One tree makes a million match sticks but only one match is needed to burn a million trees.  So be good and do good.” 

Day #20: (Self-Gratification)

Sometimes it’s ok to be selfish. The best way you can be strong for others is by taking care of yourself first. Being selfish means gaining personal satisfaction from our life’s choices, which allows us to become empowering and insightful.

Day #21: (Clutter & Stuff)

Clutter is a drain both mentally and physically. When it comes right down to it, all that “stuff” really doesn’t matter. Save the relationships, rid the clutter.

Day #22: (Random Shit)

  1. Men’s boxer briefs are surprisingly quite comfortable.
  2. One day you will be uncool in the eyes of your children.
  3. Memories and thoughts are priceless. Write them down when they happen or when something cool comes to mind. They will come in handy one day when you want to list all the things you’ve learned:o)
  4. Apparently there is only one right way to hang the toilet paper and I’ve been doing it wrong my whole life!
  5. Get shit done. Don’t put shit you can do today off just to add it to tomorrow’s shit. Shit piles up and next thing you know; you’re covered in shit with no means of flushing in sight.
  6. On the other hand, junk is something you’ve kept for years and throw away three weeks before you need it…grr
  7. There are more stalkers than interactive friends on Facebook. No, you don’t really have 500 “friends”.
  8. If your sister hits you, don’t hit her back. Parents always catch the second person.
  9. Don’t be afraid of daily exercise. It’s better to be uncomfortable for one hour every day then to be dead for 24.
  10. You’ll always think of clever shit to say after an argument than during one.

Day #23: (Heartache & Disappointment)

As we grow up, we learn that people will let us down. We will have our hearts broken and we will break some hearts too. We’ll lose people that we love too soon. So take too many pictures, try new and challenging things, love unconditionally, have no regrets, learn from every endeavor–good or bad–and forgive easily before it’s too late.

“Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting…holy shit! What a ride!”

Day #24: (Creativity)

If you can’t find something you want, make it. If you can’t find the picture you want, paint it, if you envy your neighbor’s garden, plant your own. Try new things, you may just find your hidden talents!

Day #25: (Winning and Losing)

Running, for example, isn’t hard. It just takes practice and an incredible amount of patience to do it well. Defeats are merely another chance to obtain a victory; a chance to work harder and push beyond your comfort zone. That’s when the victory is the sweetest because you know that you genuinely worked hard for it. There will be wins and losses in every journey throughout our life. Without defeats, there would be not victories because we would simply stop trying to be better.

“You were born to run. Maybe not that fast, maybe not that far, maybe not as efficiently as others. But to get up and move, to fire up that entire energy-producing, oxygen-delivering, bone-strengthening process we call running.” Florence Griffith-Joyner

“When someone says “you can’t”, turn around and say “watch me”.

Day #26: (Confidence)

You can be at your peak performance one day and your lowest ability the next. Just one muscle-pull away. Never give up on a comeback!

“Pain is weakness leaving the body. The question isn’t how much more can you take, but how much more can you give. Just when you’re ready to quit, your mind says push harder. You listen sensing an inner strength that wasn’t there before, and suddenly you discover you no longer feel the pain.”

Day #27: (Forgiveness)

People deserve a second chance. The moment you forgive someone, chances are that you will also give them a second chance and come to terms/acceptance with whatever it is you disagree on. By doing this, you are also challenging you both to grow and to become better individuals because of what you’ve learned. Your ego might tell you to “let this person go” but what does your heart tell you? Listen to your heart.

“People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered; forgive them anyway.” Mother Teresa

Day #28: (Goal Setting)

Everyone should have a Bucket List. It’s actually pretty easy to come up with 100 things that you want to achieve. Give it a shot then get busy marking them off!

Day #29: (Parenting)

Once your kids are grown, you are now in an all-adult relationship. You no longer tell them what to do or how to conduct their life; you’ve taught them to be good and to do good, while having given them the tools and space they needed to become their own individuals. The choices are theirs and theirs alone, and no matter what they decide, you are merely in a supportive role, giving advice only when asked for, loving unconditionally and making a mess in their house every chance you get!

“Parenting is a job that you will never resign from, yet you only have to be the boss for a short time, then you get demoted to a volunteer.” Deb Roberts (yes, I wrote this one!)

Day #30: (Love & Marriage)

Love is fiery, passionate, fun, exciting, and organic. It’s not something you look for, it’s something that finds you; when you least expect it. Marriage is about being best friends and truly enjoying one another’s presence, no matter where you are or what you’re doing and being inseparable. It is not about the things you do for one another on an obligatory basis, like birthdays or anniversaries. It’s the little things you do each day to make one another feel special and loved; things you say and do spontaneously from the heart.

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