I wanted to give my eldest a different birthday present this year and seeing that 'words' are what I do best, I chose to pass on some wisdom that I've learned over the years. Who knows whether they'll be listened to! Would I have listened to my parents at 24?
Perhaps these are words of wisdom for us all, whatever our age. Perhaps if our children are younger, we can set the intention to parent in such a way that we teach them this wisdom by example.
- You are not your job. You are not the amount of cash you have in the bank. You are not your possessions.
- Find your passion. Look for what inspires you. Find what you love to do and pursue it with all your heart. You may well find a way how to make money from doing it.
- Love hurts. But it is so much better than closing yourself off for fear of being hurt and not experiencing love.
- Communication and respect are the foundations for a lasting relationship.
- Three things are needed in a relationship -- lust, love, and shared values.
- Never compare yourself to others. It's a waste of energy. You are unique and have your own gifts to offer the world.
- Look after your health -- physical, mental, and spiritual.
- Don't complain. Decide what you will tolerate and get on with life.
- Set boundaries -- work, family, and friendships.
- Little stuff matters -- manners get you a long way.
- Be grateful. List the things you are grateful for everyday.
- Expect to fail. Failure is not fatal. Learn the lessons, then get back up and try again.
- Have outrageous dreams. You'll be amazed at what comes true.
- Act with integrity at all times.
- Call your parents. They may well have screwed up but they raised you to the best of their abilities.
- Know your values. Let no one violate what you hold as important be that a boss or your partner.
- You don't need to have it all worked out. Tomorrow is another day.
- Lighten up on yourself. Breathe deeply and slowly.
- Listen to your inner dialogue. Would you speak to someone you love in the same way?
- Take risks, take leaps of faith. You'll grow wings.
- Be of service to others. Be interested in others. People will always remember what you did for them.
- "No" is a complete sentence.
- Don't stress so much over decisions. Decisions needn't be forever.
- Cultivate and nurture friendships. With love and care they can last a lifetime. At the same time don't be afraid to edit friendships.
- You are enough just as you are. Perfect in your imperfection.
- Learn to accept compliments. Simply say 'thank you'.
- Be willing to show that you are vulnerable. It is in fact the greatest act of courage.
- You are never alone.
- Forgive. Yourself first and then others. We are all in this together.
- Your attitude is always a choice.
- Laugh a lot. Have fun.
- Magic happens outside your comfort zone.
- Learn to love yourself now. It gets harder if you leave it until you're older.
- Don't worry about what other people think. They think about you a lot less than you imagine.
- Follow your intuition. Your guts have the answer. Every time.
- Happiness starts within. Do not expect anyone else to make you happy.
- Be financially savvy right from the off. Save 10%. Debt is not pretty. Make your own lunch for work. A cappuccino and a sandwich a day soon add up.
- Life isn't a race. Stop and smell the roses. Really.
- When overwhelmed ask yourself, "Will this even be an issue in 5 years time?"
- Change happens. It's one of the great certainties in life. Learn to roll with it.
Make a donation in my name to rebuilding the Jersey Shore of my youth. The Red Cross is a great place to start. Or try Operation Smile, the international organization that repaired my daughter's cleft lip in her Chinese orphanage. Truth is, everyone on your list has a cause near to their heart. If you don't know what it is, why do you think you know them well enough to buy them a scarf they probably don't need?
Count me among those who lose gift cards before we use them. Consumer Reports says a whopping 27 percent of gift cards go uncashed and that 51 percent of us still have an unused gift card from last holiday season floating around somewhere. If we aren't using them then why are we buying them? Because they are easy and we like to pretend our giftees will appreciate them. Let's promise to stop the charade now. If you don't know what to get someone and you don't have time to shop, give the money to charity instead.
Adopt a shelter pet. I have two: Dolce and Harry (pictured). We added Harry to the family in October over my husband's howls that we needed a second dog about as much as we needed another hole in our heads. He was wrong; we did need Harry. He makes us laugh, reminds us how good it feels to give love and knows precisely how to snuggle against the small of my back when it hurts. Petfinder.com can help you find a shelter near you.
Through the year, I've seen dry cleaners that offer the unemployed a free cleaning of their interview outfits and hair salons offering them free haircuts so they look good. The country has experienced a rough few years and I'd rather hang with the merchants who lend a helping hand.
What I really really want is for the people I love to take better care of themselves. Eat healthier, reduce your stress, exercise more and put yourself first once in a while. I want you to be around for a long, long time and if you keep ignoring your own needs, that isn't likely to happen. Take vacations even when that makes the boss mad; trust me, you aren't as irreplaceable and he thinks. Leave work in time to see the kids play their soccer game. Turn off your electronics on weekends. When was the last time you just did nothing?
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