One of my dearest friend's daughter is turning 13 this week.
I have known this young lady all of her of 13 years.
I met her when she was just about an hour old.
I have known her mother for 17 years.
To honor her daughters birthday, she has asked friends and family who have played a significant role in her life to write or draw or create something for her that can go in a book.
Then when life gets hard
or she is questioning something
or she needs "advice". . .
she can turn to the book.
So I wrote a list of lessons that I have learned.
And when I finished - I wasn't sure if the lessons were for her or for me?
This was a great opportunity to think about the things that really matter to me.
Things that I want to continuing embracing in my life.
Things that I need to embrace a little harder.
Here are my lessons for now . . .
1. You are a unique individual. It is good to be unique! Your friends may want you to be just like them, but embrace all the things that make you . . .you! That includes the clothes you wear, the way you wear your hair, the things you choose to spend your time doing.
2. Middle and high school only last for a short time. It may seem like forever while you are there – but it really won’t last for very long. Have as much fun as you can, but don’t let the drama take over. (I'm not in middle or high school anymore - but I am in the "workforce" - and this rule hasn't changed at all!)
3. Your mom and your dad have been there before. Listen to their stories. Listen to their advice. They love you and only want what’s best for you. You may reach a point where they seem “dumb and embarrassing” – but they are some of the coolest people you will ever know. (I'm so glad I am past the "embarassing" point).
4. Find that “thing” that you are passionate about. Whatever it is. And make time for it every day.
5. Laugh . . . a lot! Everyday. Big, make-your-belly hurt laughs!
6. Play – no matter how old you are.
7. Family first! There may come a time when you want to put friends first – but friends will come and go. Family will be there forever. (True when I was younger - still true now).
8. Don’t worry too much about boys and dating. There will plenty of time for that. And being a teenager is complicated enough. But whatever you do – don’t sacrifice your very special girl friends for a boyfriend. When you break up with the boy, it’s those girl friends that will help you get through it. And if he doesn’t like you spending time with your girlfriends, then he doesn’t deserve you. (I've been married almost 25 years - but my girlfriends are still a key element to making the journey worthwhile.)
9. No. You may never need algebra. But you still need to do it. And later in life, you may not like some of the things you have to do in your everyday life (I still don’t like to clean toilets!) – but you will still need to do them. The sooner we accept that lesson, the better we can learn to balance our time to do the things that we like!
10. Try new things – new foods, new adventures, new activities. Who knows – you just might like it.
11. Dream big!!! If you want something bad enough – you can make it happen.
12. Once you know what your dreams are . . .ask yourself everyday –“is what I am doing taking me closer or further away from that dream?”
13. Treat yourself well – and expect others to do the same. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect.
14. Know when to be selfish and when to be generous. Sometimes we have to take care of ourselves first so that we can help others. Helping others feels great and makes us better people – but you have to feel good about yourself first.
15. Learn to cook – and never underestimate the power of sharing a meal with people you care about.
16. Learn to do laundry – trust me. This will count the first time you turn your favorite white shirt pink!
17. Work! And work hard. The world doesn’t owe you anything. If you want or need something, you have to work for it. And if you do – you will appreciate and cherish it so much more.
18. Learn the difference between “wants” and “needs”. This simple concept can save you time, money and heartache. (I'll admit it . . .I'm still working on this one.)
19. Be kind . . .to everyone. Remember, everyone is fighting a battle.
20. Be brave! Brave enough to go places you have never been, to talk to new people, to try new things . . .to be yourself!!!
21. Never stop learning. We spend a lot of time on this planet. The journey will be a lot more enjoyable if you are always learning and growing.
22. And last but not least . . . when it feels like you can’t take anymore, remember that “this too, shall pass.”
Let's face it -
I'm still learning lessons and there are many more I could list.
But this is a good place to start and keep me grounded.