I am going to be real. I’ve come to a point in my life where I am truly happy and content. I’m saddened by the fact that it took me 51 plus years to finally be at peace with life and the world. Granted the world is crazy today, but I have no control of it. So I need to focus on what matters in life and what I can control. There are so many things I want to tell young women so that they don’t look back at their youth and say, “Why wasn’t I in the moment in life?” So here are seven thoughts. Seven is a lucky number I hear…
- Enjoy your children when they are little. Try to be with them as much as possible. You will be tired, you will wish for time alone, and you will feel like YOU have to be perfect. Well, you will never be perfect and that’s okay. It isn’t a competition. You don’t have to be better than your girlfriend. You just have to be you. In your children’s eyes, you are a STAR. Life goes by so fast. I know you hear it often, but it is TRUE. One day your baby will be at McDonald’s running around like a “crazy” kid in the play area and then “poof” years go by and they no longer can play at McDonalds or want to eat there because they are watching their weight. No offense McDonald’s… My kids lost their appetite for fast food when they realized how many calories were in that fish sandwich they loved so much. As a young mother, I worked full time, went to college in the evening and I was spent when I came home. I could barely function because I was striving for perfection. I felt a need to prove myself in the world. I thought that I could have a successful career and be super mom. Perhaps there are some who can be both, I just felt I could never balance family and work. The stress was incredible and at an early age I found myself having panic attacks and sleepless nights. Because of this, I missed out on so many things my children experienced. I would tell myself….”I will be there next time there is a pep rally or volleyball game.” I was just fooling myself. If I had any sense, I would have just put things away and enjoyed the moment. Work and your career will always be there. Special moments with your children will pass. Take advantage of the time you have with them.
- Don’t obsess over material things. You don’t have to have the biggest and most expensive house. You just have to have a home that is comfortable for your family and meets your needs. You notice I said needs and not WANTS. Sometimes individuals feel that if they have the perfect house, or the newest car that they have somehow miraculously arrived. “Live within your means” or “Money doesn’t grow on trees” my mother would always say. Sometimes you have to find out the hard way. Failing really “sucks” sorry for that language but it is true. When you fail, you have to recognize the error and work to fix it the next time. It make take several times to realize it but you can do it. Enjoy life and what you have.
- Make beautiful memories with your family. I will tell you that when I was a child one of my most favorite memories was when my daddy came home from the ranch one day and brought us a surprise. It was a baby javelina. I am a South Texas girl and yes I had a pet javelina named, “Queenie”. Queenie was the most beautiful pet I had ever seen. My sister, Anna, and I would bottle feed her so that she could grow big and strong. She would scurry around and love to be held in a blanket. You may not be able to give your child a pet javelina, but time spent with them makes those memories special. Just do it!
- Listen to your parents because like it or not one day you will be turning in to them. Don’t laugh. It is true. I remember when I was younger, I would think oh my parents don’t know. They grew up in the 50’s. Time was different then. Yes, time may have been different but the essence of living is the same. Different time, but same issues….some perhaps more complex but it is all relative. Another interesting memory….. I did tell you that I would be real…. How many times have you heard parents telling you not to play with matches? Probably 100’s of times….I learned the hard way. My parents were in the living room one evening and I can’t remember where my sister was, but I was playing with matches. It didn’t end well….. I was playing with matches and dropping them in the kitchen trash can. Why? Hell…. I don’t know I was a kid. I lit the trash can on fire! I vividly remember my Dad grabbing the trash can and taking it outside. Boy was I in trouble. Oh, I also remember the spanking I received. Did I ever light another match in a trash can? NOOOOOO. Like I said….Listen.
- Learn to let go. Relationships come and go throughout your life. When those relationships end badly, we let this anger grow and grow until we are ready to explode. We cry, we yell, we call our friends, we post on FB (status: Single or Complicated), we become bitter and resentful. I am happy FB wasn’t around when I dealt with bad relationships. I would not have been very proud of posting my thoughts. This is something we need to be cautious about. Remember, anything you write or post on the internet is permanent. Please realize that I am definitely not saying you can’t be angry. Because it isn’t in our make up to just let a relationship go without feeling something….anything. What I am saying is that after the anger…. we need to process what has happened , learn to let go and be at peace. Easier said than done. One thing I have learned from failed relationships is that anger makes you a very unhappy person. If you have children, remember they are watching. I regret some things I said or did out of anger and pain. I hope they saw me become a better person in the end. A very good person once told me that time and time alone would heal my heart. She was so right. One day, I opened the window and let the sunshine into my life and began to live again.
- Listen to your partner and engage with them. When one gets married, you start in the honeymoon phase. Everyone is happy for you. There is this huge celebration and if your Hispanic like I am, you have six bridesmaids to represent the month you married in….. June for me. So yes I had 6 brides maids. Don’t laugh. Oh and those dresses were rose colored ugly. I apologize to Stephanie, Brenda, Lisa, Anna, and Vanessa. Sandy, my maid of honor, wore white…I spared her from the rose colored dress. I can recognize those things now. It was 1986 and I was 19 when I first was married. Yes, I was young. Looking back now…. I should have waited until I became an adult. I would have killed my daughter if she came to me at age 18 or 19 and said, “Hey Mom… I’m planning to get married!” After the honeymoon, reality sets in (the good, bad and ugly). I believe I was in love with an idea of being in love. I never had a relationship before and I didn’t know the rules. One thing I realized early on is that I focused on work, school, my children and I neglected my partner. We honestly became disengaged with each other. I became an adult during my marriage and started to have opinions about things, values on issues, etc. I would say to myself, “He isn’t the BOSS of me.” Really grown up right? There is really no blame in the loss of my first marriage. Both of us had faults and different expectations. I know that when we stop listening and engaging with our partner, we become jaded about the relationship, lose respect for each other and begin to hurt one another. That isn’t life or a marriage. I truly believe my first husband has found happiness and contentment with his partner and I am happy for him. I know I found someone at a different stage of my life who makes me happy. I listen and engage with my partner because over the years, I learned and became wiser.
- Lastly, think about your legacy. You are thinking….I’m not leaving this Earth tomorrow. We are so caught up with life and the stuff in life that we don’t spend enough time thinking of our legacy. What is it that we want to leave behind so people remember who we were? Were we kind? Were we generous? Did we respect our peers? Did we volunteer in the community to make a difference? Did we work well with others and put service above self? What are we leaving for others to remember us by? It is really up for you to decide. I am choosing to leave a legacy of love, kindness, and hope. I would like my family to remember that I loved everyone and working with school children brought me so much joy.
Practice Makes Purpose.