Top 10 Life Lessons

I was challenged by my uncle to list my Top 10 Life’s Lessons. I think I relearned all of these lessons simply by thinking about them all over again.

I saw this quote today not long after I received this challenge and its so fitting:

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What a great way to move forward and be present: reflect on how the past has made me who I am today.

1. Don’t gossip:
At a very young age I learned how hurtful words can be. It’s not worth trash talking people I love for the sake of keeping other “friends.” If they gossip to me, they’ll gossip about me.

Learn who you can trust:
My most valued and cherished friendships are girls who are honest, brutally honest sometimes, but who love me enough to be honest. There is no flattery! There is encouragement. We aren’t afraid to be down in the trenches with each other when needed, but we also help lift each other out of them.

2. Stop worrying about what others think of me:
I still have to remind myself of this one. Most of the time what I perceive other people to be “thinking” are just my own insecurities projected onto them. God gave me my own conviction, passion, and vision. The more I focus on others’ approval the less I focus on God’s purpose.

3. Don’t be afraid to try new things, especially when it comes to food:
I lived most of my childhood hating seafood. I had only had salmon BBQd, “well”-done, with a either lemon or a brown sugar glaze. Bbllleecckk! Now, hand over the sashimi or catch it fresh on the rivers of Idaho and sear it with a little salt and pepper medium-medium rare…now we’re talking!! I had never tried sushi until I was 21 because I was told eating raw food was dangerous.

Most everything tastes good if made the right way!!!!

4. Smile:
If someone looks grumpy or rude, smile, say “hello”. I’m only responsible for my own attitude and actions. More often than not, I discover how nice people really are. Some are just deep in thought, more reserved or not having a good day. When I smile, it makes their day and my day too!

5. I am my son’s (and soon to be born daughter’s) Mommy for a reason:
God gave him to me, not someone else. Not the over-opinionated old lady leaving the grocery store who thinks my 8 month old needs to be wearing sunglasses for his 30 second trip inside. Not to the family member or friend who sees things differently. We (my hubby &I) make decisions for our children based on prayer and the convictions God has given us.

It is important to learn from other people’s experiences and heed the wisdom, but discernment is also necessary. Just because there’s a blog that says this or that doesn’t mean our choice was wrong…just different than how that family decided to do things for their child(ren)…and that’s OK!

We need to support and love each other with our words and actions, not judge and tear each other down.

6. Forgive myself:
I make mistakes. I can and have been well-intentioned and still hurt people. Good people do bad things sometimes, and it’s not always on purpose. Being humble and apologizing is huge, but still not always received. Forgive myself, learn the lesson, move on and don’t repeat the same mistake. Living in the past just prevents me from being my best now and in the future.

7. Quinoa is a superfood: It is a complete protein:
It serves as a great alternative for pasta or rice. There are many delicious ways to cook it, both alone- hot and cold (mmm yummy greek salad!!)- or in a casserole or some other fun Pinterest recipe. Try it!
(This leads me to my next lesson)

8. Quinoa should not replace everything:
Meat is good! Sometimes you just need a good steak…or chicken…or ground beef or sausage. God created plants AND animals for us to enjoy. There are few things better than my Nana’s Rosemary Garlic Rack-of-lamb or All Day Meat Sauce!

9. Lighten up:
I’m still working on this one… One of God’s greatest gifts to me is my husband Joseph. He teaches me how to laugh at myself and not take life so seriously all the time. And now I have a son, with his Daddy’s sense of humor, who by 16 months had discovered the humor in hiding and jumping out to scare me.

I love to laugh and have a good sense of humor, but I also know I’m not that funny, so my most memorable moments are when I surround myself with people who help bring the silly out of me.

This reminds me of one of the funniest road trips: crank up the music in the car with a good friend, do some hand motions while you dance, and sing as loud as you can…and if you end up on the wrong freeway, remember the lesson: lighten up:)

10. Miracles do happen:
God heals! The stories in the Bible are important to teach us lessons in history, but Go is the same God now.

I, personally, within a 6 year period, was diagnosed with a chronic digestive disorder, suffered migraines, anxiety, had mysterious inflammation that “wasn’t quite rheumatoid arthritis”, a brain tumor, and was told it would probably be impossible to have children. All of which through prayer and God’s Grace are completely gone.

God wants to be present and in our lives, but He doesn’t force Himself. We must invite Him to participate. He wants to show us His power that will work in us, through us, and around us.

Until my munchkin’s next nap time: I challenge you and encourage you to Make your own list.

It’s really cool what happens in your brain and in your heart when you write stuff like this down. If you’re comfortable sharing some of them, I’d love for you to comment. I can always handle some more learning from others.

Does anyone care what I have to say? Validation

Validation
We all want it! Don’t we? Why exactly is it so important to thriving in our work, home, relationships? Is it that we want to be heard? Understood? Encouraged?

Maybe you long for your boss to acknowledge how hard you work. Or is it your boss that needs to feel important and respected in his or her position? Do you wish your spouse (or maybe a roommate) would thank you for doing all the dishes, vacuuming, cleaning the bathroom and doing the laundry after a long day at work or taking care of the kiddos?

Think about your conversations with your friends. This topic and awareness of the human need for validation keeps smacking me in the face. A friend reminded me this weekend that everything we talk about can be debated. It made me think. When I was younger I used to love to get in heated discussions, sometimes without a leg to stand on. The ironic thing is now that I actually am educated or have life experience to back up my perspectives, I find myself more annoyed by how argumentative people get if they don’t agree with you.

A few years ago my husband brought to my attention that me an my loud Italian family constantly cut each other off when we’re talking and don’t actually pay attention to what each other is saying. To me, this fact was just our way of showing we were participating and caring about the topic of conversation. To him, who comes from a family of amazingly active, attentive listeners, us cutting each other off was rude! This awareness made me realize why I thought his family was so compassionate and soft spoken. The result: I started working on listening more and asking more questions.

Now, here is the crazy thing I’ve found (most of the time): people get defensive with questions (confirming that his family is on a different spectrum of effective communication than the rest of the world). We’ve become so confrontational as a society and so quick to give our opinions. When someone asks us a question, we think they’re getting ready to tell us what we’re doing wrong. As more studies are done and an increasing amount of information is available to us, we’re becoming more ignorant and close minded. This information should foster an environment for people to make their own educated decisions, but instead it’s stirring up fights all over social media. What are we trying to prove?

Take parenting for example. My friend who’s expecting a baby in a few months posted a comment asking if anyone had a couple specific baby information books she could borrow as she prepares for this amazing and exciting journey. I was appalled at the responses. Her simple question was followed by a floodgate of people vomiting their opinions on those particular parenting philosophies; sharing how wonderful their kids turned out because of everything they did “right”. One person went as far as saying one of the philosophies has actually killed babies.

It’s just not fair! Parenting is one of the most rewarding adventures, and everyone thinks its their right to tell moms what they should and should not be doing. My favorite is when other moms tell me how easy I have it compared to them. When I wasn’t a mom I got the you-just-don’t-understand tone, “oh just wait until you have a baby.” Now that I am a Mom I get, “oh, just wait until he’s older, now is when it’s easy,” or “just wait until you two kids,”the best was, “you’re not really a mom ’til you have two.” Really? Is me thinking this is extremely rude because I need validation as a mom? Or are these moms so under appreciated they need to put other people down so THEY feel validated? What moms really need is to support each other and, yes, learn from each other, but not judge how each is raising her child(ren)!

Does this need for validation come from insecurity? Or is it just apart of the human experience of community? How do arguments or misunderstandings happen in the first place? Is it because we’re so anxious to be heard that we’re not listening to the other person.

Recently, my friend was going through a really difficult situation and needed to process her thoughts and talk out how she was feeling. Rather than allowing her to express herself, her other friends turned the situation into how they were emotionally affected by the circumstances and how upset it made them. Empathy and sympathy are both necessary at times, but so is discerning when its best to simply be quiet and let someone else talk.

What would happen in our relationships if we all just stopped thinking about the next thing to say and started appreciating the way other people think? We’re taught to ask good questions, which is important, don’t get me wrong, but are we spending too much time thinking about the next question that, again, we’re not actually listening? If everyone is seeking to be heard and understood, then questions really aren’t that important because we already have our mind made up of what we are wanting to say, right?

I’m not by any means claiming to be the best in this area. In fact, maybe because I’ve seen it as a personal weakness is the reason I’m so passionate about it. So, I’m getting off my soapbox now, but I really want your validation opinion on this topic! 🙂

Well, until my munchkin’s next nap time: I encourage you to smile, lighten up, start listening, start loving, start appreciating differences. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with everyone! Please, no! Autonomy is boring! Just look at the person talking and hear her heart rather than the subject with which you may or may not agree.