What have I learned so far in life?
A great deal
I have had many people around me, I have lived in many places, and as my mother would say, I’m no spring chicken. In fact, I seem to now be considered a Little Old Lady, judging by the way some people wait too long to hold doors for me, and often wave me on when it isn’t my turn at 4-way stops. (When I don’t want to feel old, I wave THEM on!)
So here is sage advice from what I have learned:
: Learn from your mistakes, but also, learn from other people’s.
Be interested in life and the people around you; care. See what they do, the choices that they make and the outcomes. Try to avoid their pitfalls, and absorb what they did right. I started doing this early in life.
: You should take opportunities. If you get a chance to go somewhere, do something, see something, meet someone, learn something, DO IT. I give my sons and grandkids this lecture all the time. I missed many chances that did not come back around.
: Fear fear of failure. I failed at this too often in life. Try something. Yes, you may fail, but if you don’t try, you automatically fail.
: You shouldn’t spread yourself too thin. I have tried a number of things; I was good at some, bad at others. Do. Try. But learn and accept your limitations, especially when life changes. To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under Heaven and you can’t do everything all of the time.
: Do judge a book by its cover. Be smart about people. Look at them with a keen eye. Look at everything about them. Even if their clothes are cheap or worn, are they clean? How do they walk? How do they talk? Are they kind? Do they seem to be doing the best that they can under their circumstances, (bad as they may be)? Are they good to themselves and others? Some men and women in the worst positions in life have been fantastic for their ‘grace under fire’, yet some people just don’t care about the world, or themselves and it shows. I am not talking about depression, I am talking about willful ignorance; it’s a terrible thing.
On the other hand, expensive clothes and over-the-top cars impress me alright, but they usually impress me badly, and that isn’t always fair, either. Judge the people immediately by how they behave. Are they condescending? Mean to service people? Are they full of themselves, or can you find a heart of gold under the Gucci? Sometimes, because of the way most of the world can be swayed, the person needs to keep up an image in order to keep business coming in, or be more appealing to others, so that they can do more good or charity work, but these people act graciously, and you can see it right away.
: You have to be kind and generous, generous with your means and with your time. If someone needs help and you are able to alleviate the problem, do it. Be it taking someone in, helping them financially, to even just opening a door, picking someone up or holding a baby, it can help tremendously. Mother Teresa, now Saint Teresa of Calcutta, equated listening to a lonely neighbor with going to Indian slums to care for the lepers. I have had to listen to family members until I could scream, but they have needed to talk things out. (I am cheaper than a therapist.)
When I was in my 30s, I started to become impatient while waiting in a line while the people in front of me jabbered with the store manager who had opened the check-out lane. Then I realized that they were all elderly people and he was being very patient with them. When it was my turn, I praised him for his kindness . He said, “With some of these people, you know, it’s the only time they get out of the house.” That’s all he needed to say. You will run into people in stores, waiting rooms, etc. who want to talk. Let them bend your ear, if you have any time to spare at all. You may be the only one who will listen; there may be no one outside their sphere with whom they can get something off of their chest. There are chronic complainers, yes, but you never know when just saying something out loud to someone for only a few minutes will keep a person going, and surviving whatever they may be facing. You probably will not hear the whole story, but you may be the pressure release valve. I’ve been on both the giving and the receiving and it helps.
: You have to be honest about your family members. Don’t expect less of them than you do others. Don’t think some behavior OK for one and not for another. Treat them as individuals, each having his or her own needs, but be honest. If you see something is going wrong, guide them, don’t just accept it. Be good to them by helping them. Covering for them, making excuses, letting them blame others does them harm. They may get angry with you, but let them. They are listening. It almost always has effects that show up sooner, or sometimes, later.
: Know that some people are beyond your help. Love conquers all only when it comes to feral cats. It is a shame, but some people are too damaged to be cured by kindness and will only keep hurting those around them. Cut them from your life if at all possible. If that is not feasible, then for the sake of yourself and others who also need to deal with the person, don’t fight with them. Use damage control: lock things up, set some boundaries, protect others from them, but hit them with kindness, as hard as that may be. Trust me, it pays off eventually. Take the higher road. Be the ‘good guy’, let no one else find fault in your behavior. They are easier to take when you are calm. (Scream when you are alone or to someone trusted as necessary.)
: Know that only you know how you feel. Not doctors, not those around you. Most chronic complainers are people who are suffering and trying desperately to get people to understand. No one ever understands unless they have the same problems, be the problems worldly, familial or health-wise. I thought that ‘support groups’ were only for whiners, but now I know that these can be helpful, even online ones. The others know exactly what you are talking about and sometimes have information that you can use. Bill Wilson founded AA when he was trying not to drink and knew that only another alcoholic would understand what he was going through. The same principle applies to work problems, family problems, health problems, (I’d say ESPECIALLY health-problems). Be your own ‘patient advocate’. Demand tests and answers. Be your own EVERY kind of advocate. Get your own information on anything that you need to know about in whatever comes up in life.
:If people “don’t look/act sick”, they can be suffering more than you will ever know. Assume the worst is the worst when someone begs–off for being ill. You don’t know hiw much energy they have and how they have to allot it.
: If people say that they are ‘busy’, believe them. You don’t know what demands others are making on their time, and it may not be up to them to tell you the problems others are going through. In the worlds of C. S. Lewis, It’s the other person’s story.
: If someone has a dream job, doting in-laws, good health, etc., don’t let them give you advice; it doesn’t apply to you. Don’t let ‘health-snobs’ play ‘blame the victim’. Sweeping her hands across her yard, a neighbor said to me, “I keep myself healthy! You can see that I am always out here working, you can tell by how good my garden looks”. I said to her, (sweeping my hands across mine), “No, your garden looks good because you feel good; mine looks this bad because I don’t.” Another friend tried to tell me how to handle an in-law because one of hers had a similar problem, but the circumstances were not the same at all, yet, she could not comprehend why I would not follow her example. Her husband sent a plaque with the Serenity Prayer to me; they both failed to understand that I had the courage and wisdom to change things that I could and would not just throw in the towel.
Speaking of dream jobs
: Utopia will never come. We can’t all be our own bosses, (and even then, trust me, here are headaches). If we all get to do only what we want, who is going to work the sewers? Even if they develop robots to do nearly everything in the future, there are going to be some jobs that are not all fun and games. Be good to your garbage collectors, God love them! I always thank attendants when I find them cleaning restrooms. (If you have never done it, think about it; I am sure that you even hate to clean your own bathroom.) Do what you have to do to pay the bills and take care of your family. There are no small jobs. You can hold onto your dignity and if the work isn’t fulfilling, well, that’s what hobbies are for.
: Speaking of dignity, at times I have had to drive some horrible cars, but I was never embarrassed, because I knew that there were good reasons: my money went to helping others, others who truly needed it and came out of their bad situations. Better cars later came my way; a couple of them came from someone I helped.
: There are no ‘Other People’; I used to think there were. You or those close to you could be facing devastating family calamities, be it bankruptcy, health problems, unplanned pregnancies, drug problems, mental health issues, anything bad that you can, (or can’t) imagine, and it can happen at any time. The people it happens to were just like you, until they became ‘Other People’. Everyone is one of the Other People; it’s just a matter of time before something befalls them. Be charitable in your thoughts. Which leads to…
: You can face anything, survive anything if others, or even one person, is depending on you. When I was young, I used to wonder how people survived privations in wars, prisons, concentration camps, etc., until I faced some bad times. (OK, I was never in total privation nor in a concentration camp; I don’t mean to belittle the horrors of those situations). Without going into detail, I can tell you that there are all sorts of torture in the world, psychological and physical, and they can all be faced. Courage is not the lack of fear, but rather that there is something more important than your fear. One day at a time? HA! I had to tell myself “Take the next breath, take the next step” at times. How I got through it, I can only assume that they were “Footprints in the Sand” situations.
After this post was ready, I was waiting for a medical test today and saw this; I had to insert it:
Which leads to
: Know that God is watching. Jesus is for real. He is our Brother, Friend and Lord at the same time. How I absolutely know this is just too personal to post in a blog and sounds so simplistic, I would never have believed it from anyone else, I can tell you. Why bad things happen in this world, I do not know. There are some terrible situations and horrible things that happen to innocents, which I expect to understand when I get to The Other Side, and there are places to cross over to. Most people have lost touch with their spiritual sides. They need to open their eyes, open their ears, and THINK. There is more than us; there is obvious order to the Universe and anyone who denies that is no true thinker, let alone a true scientist.
If how we spend eternity depends on the incredibly short time we have on this Earth, then EVERYTHING that we do counts. Do your best and be kind. There has to be a reckoning.
:Good can, and has, come out of nearly every bad thing that has happened around me, and believe me, bad things keep happening to and around me. I have 20/20 hindsight. I will not go into every detail of my life, but I can truly look back and pull one truly good thing that came out of every bad time or happening. The best examples for this blog would be to tell you that from the bad that led me to asking to know Christ in the first place, to desperation of going to a prayer line years afterward over worse, which led to one of the best friendships I ever had , who led me to my first publications, to being dragged to an author’s book tour by a beloved relative who was having problems, which led getting to know the blogger who did an interview with that author, and after reading a book by another author for the same relative, I was given book excerpts to give away which I did through the blogger, where I met The Hound, which led me to this blog, which led to me not only writing and publishing more articles, but has led me to ythe point where I will actually finish more works and even a romance novel, is unbelievable, but true. (No, I do not run-on sentences like that in my writings!)
We won’t even bring up the joys of children all over the family who were ‘inconvenient’. I myself was a very ‘inconvenient’ child. There are heartaches every family with every person who has ever lived, but there are joys. There have been harder problems, arising from terrible circumstances which have brought unbelieveably strange blessings, but I won’t bore you any more today.
Has the price been high for the good to come? Yes, sometimes very, very high, and again, I expect to see the WHYS when I am no longer physically in the world. I do not fear death; I know that others are waiting for me.
Am I ready to go?
There is still more to learn.
Well, I love seeing the Hound mentioned in your chain of connections. I have a similar chain of connections which led to my own first published fiction title.
Gosh, you have enough material here to conduct a weekend seminar — and it’s all great stuff.
In fact, there’s hardly an area of life that you didn’t touch on.
My attention is especially drawn to your comments about those who enable family members who become vampires of their affection, attention, and resources [my description].
These also hit home for me:
“If people “don’t look/act sick”, they can be suffering more than you will ever know.”
“You don’t know what demands others are making on their time, and it may not be up to them to tell you…”
“You shouldn’t spread yourself too thin…”
” No one ever understands unless they have the same problems…”
and many others.
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Thanks, Jeff. I was afraid that I was saying too much and almost cut it drastically, but I’ve been through a lot and I have learned a few things…the hard way! I hope that others don’t have to.
You have been a very important anchor writing and to my sanity, Friend.
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I’d say your list is comprehensive. I’m so glad that you’re finding good things coming from the bad in your life. And I’m looking forward to reading your work.
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Thank you,Patty. Your encouragement is always appreciated more than you know.
Great list of things learned, Tonette.
One thing I would say about the “Do judge a book by its cover” is that sometimes that’s not a wise thing to do. We don’t know what’s going on inside, whether its a story someone wrote, or an actual person. You mentioned that when you said “If people ‘don’t look/act sick’.” Even with books, you can’t always tell how good the story is from the cover. My first books are a prime example. Even though they were simply done, and not the best, it was all I could afford at the time. But the readers loved the stories inside despite the covers.
Another thing I’ve learned through the years is not to be too hasty to make judgement on anyone or anything. None of us like eating our words, which has happened all too often in my life. LOL
Yes, we all have more things to learn, whether it’s from the bad in our lives, which most of us have been through, or the good. All the way up until our last breath. And when that comes, I’ll be happy to go, because I know it will be my time, and I’ll see my Lord. I’ve learned to look at the bright side of that when things are dark. Oh the stories I’ll hear then. 🙂
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I am sorry if I didn’t make it clear that I meant BY HOW THE “BOOKS” ACT, by judging quickly by their “cover”, (behavior).
I am sure that we will all give ourselves symbolic ‘headsmacks’ as soon as we are shown the real meaning of this world, Sharon. It will be clear to us, and we’ll wonder why we did not see it all.
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What a wonderful list. You’re a wise woman.
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Only when I remember to apply the wisdom, Elaine,LOL!
Thank you. As I said, the price has been dear.