Thursday, January 21, 2010

I Was So Much Older Then, I'm Younger Than That Now

That's me, above left, with two of my best friends in the world on a recent girl's weekend away. The three of us went to high school together. Class of '77. Yep, this year was the big 5-0 for each of us. Ugh! I choke when I write that. I have similar pictures of us sitting around a table laughing from about 35 years ago. We had us some really good times in high school. But somewhere around my late twenties and especially into my thirties and forties, I really started to get old. I'm not talking about physically (although I'm fighting that tooth and nail), but I mean in the way I approach life. Remember that line, "Youth is wasted on the young"? I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now.

I wish so much that my fifty-year-old self could time-travel back to my twenty-five-year-old self and give me some advice. I don't know if I would have listened to me, but here are the lessons I'd want to share:

- Whatever adventure you dream about, do it now, next week, this year, before you have the responsibility of a family. Don't put it off, because it's a whole lot harder when you have kids who'd rather go to Chuck E Cheese than spend a week skiing in Colorado.

- Before you get married, learn to be totally, completely self-sufficient and financially independent. Live on your own, pay your own bills (on time), know how to cook, and wash your own clothes.

- Pay less attention to how you look, what you wear, who you impress, how much money you or others make, or what kind of car you drive. Pay more attention to who you can serve, what you can learn, how you can grow, and how grateful you are.

- Tend to your relationships like they are part of a prize garden. Treat them as the most important aspect of your life. Work on them daily and diligently, and sow the seeds of love, kindness, respect, and laughter every single day. Nothing else matters if we can't share it with the people important to us.

- Make your marriage the center of your family, not the children or your work. Make your spouse the centerpiece of the above-mentioned garden.

- Outside of work or childcare, do something every day that feeds your soul and your creative spirit. Don't lose that spirit under heaps of mindless tasks or television.

- Love your work, love your work, love your work. If you don't, you are giving away precious time to something that is less than you are worth.

- Don't micromanage your children. Don't give them endless stuff. Let them fail and learn natural consequences. It's okay if they aren't child prodigies. Relax about them. They will be fine.

- Relax about everything. Life is to live. Go have fun. Find joy. Laugh a lot.

- Picture yourself at fifty. Now look back and ask yourself if you've done what you wanted to do, been the person you wanted to be, lived the life you wanted to live. If not, go get started.

- Know that you will probably ignore every piece of advice I've given you. But don't worry. When you're fifty, you'll get it!

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