Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Life Lessons

As the end of the year approaches I find myself waxing nostalgic, reviewing my life, and trying to understand the information I've gleaned over the last year. This is no small task with the amount of company we've been (happily) entertaining, the three children underfoot, and a house sorely needing attention after the Christmas revelry. But, whether there is time or other priorities working against my introspection, I persevere as this is now a tradition and one I hold dear.
Before my in-laws said good-bye last night I asked my husband's ninety year old grandfather the secret to the long and happy marriage he shared with his bride of over sixty-five years (she passed last October). I asked him how it seemed so easy for him to stay in love and live peacefully with his mate for all of those years. His answer was given without any deliberation and with the wisdom of the aged. He responded, "We both worked hard. There was no time for anything else." At first I misinterpreted his statement, thinking he meant marriage is hard work, but when I reran his words in my mind I understood the simplistic statement. By working hard at their respective jobs - he running his own lucrative and successful business, she raising the children and keeping the books for said business - there was no time to live any other way. They loved each other and then they lived life. How brilliant! Today there are so many distractions. The 'conveniences' that are supposed to free up our time simply give us more time to be idle and therefore more time to create drama, tension, distraction, and bring chaos into our lives. When he and his bride were working and raising a family there was no internet, cable/satellite television, video game systems, or microwave ovens. Dinners were thought out and prepared lovingly at home, books were read to children, a few modest toys were around the house and well-played with because those were the only toys around, and 'free time' was spent doing chores like sewing, crafting, or learning something new. Children were not plopped in front of televisions for hours on end, movies were not given as gifts to be watched at home, they were treats that required going to a theater! I am not saying then was better and now is terrible. On the contrary, I adore living in our modern world where medicine has advanced, children have more of a voice, and microwave ovens help me prepare spectacular dinners quickly. But it does make sense the way Grandpa and Grandma lived their married lives. They were not so easily wooed away from each other like can happen today. The world wasn't entirely global, it was community-based. The neighbor was a friend, the teacher might come for lunch one day, Church was the 'social networking site', and once you said "I do" to your spouse you pretty much meant forever. There is a lot to be said for that world. If we could take the best of that era and assimilate it into our current world we all might be a happier lot.
During the end of summer when my mother-in-law was visiting I was going through a particularly frustrating time in my life. We are not only mother/daughter-in-law, but we are also dear friends. She noticed me struggling with my life and offered the following advice:  "Sometimes, Honey, you just have to let things go. Don't hold on to them." Brilliant! Simple, yes, but brilliant! I was holding on to pain, hurt, frustration, and stress and it was doing nothing positive for me. I was angry but it didn't serve me or change my circumstance. Hearing this advice from a woman I respect, love, and admire helped to put my situation into focus and forced me to look at it from a fresh perspective. Those words were the catalyst for me starting this blog. I will be forever thankful.
I mentioned this lesson recently in a blog. It is a lesson I am trying to teach my oldest son. He would like to not go to school in the morning and fights me about getting ready. I explained to him that his going to school each day and each year will not change for many many years so he needs to learn to change his attitude because school isn't going away. This lesson applies to anything in life. People cannot be changed by us, and sometimes circumstances cannot be changed either. When these facts are what you are dealing with the only thing that can be changed is your reaction to them. You must change since the other person/fact will not. When I applied this lesson to my own life I found that dealing with certain members of my family became much more pleasant and easier! I cannot change them, but I can change how I deal with them. Fantastic! Again, a new perspective changes your entire outlook on life.
These lessons, simple to understand, are harder to implement. Changing the way we do things, recognizing the truths in our world, and letting go of anger, disappointments, and hurts are all difficult and may take a lifetime to do. But the more we make ourselves, our own happiness and well-being, a priority, the happier our lives become. These lessons are valuable and are fantastic to put in our arsenal as we begin another new year. Let's make this the year for personal growth, healthy living, and a dedication to putting more FUN into our lives. Join me!


  1. Uplifting. Thank you - transparent honesty is always the ultimate wisdom.

  2. Life when it is understood and utilised for what it is tastes sweet ! Brilliant blog Chief :-)

  3. Thank you Racer, Stephen, and Art! I am so blessed to count you among my readership and my FRIENDS. I'm so pleased this blog resonated. I've got a lot to learn...

  4. Two Thumbs Up. A few simple words from a wise person can teach you a lot
    (1) Keep yourself busy and there is no time fight.
    (2) Too many people go into relationships thinking they can change the other person. People rarely change. You have to decide if you can deal with that persons differences.