Friday, February 2, 2018

Lemon Cake and Life Lessons

January 30th has been a tough day the last seven years. Usually there are a few tears. Or maybe a lot of tears. This year, I decided that instead of sadness there would be celebration. Instead of mourning my mom's loss, I would celebrate her life. So we had steaks, and lemon cupcakes. Because in my family on special occasions there was always lemon cake. (Plus Big E loves lemon so it was a double win.) 
To my surprise, I actually made it through the day without tears. Of course I had to fight them off a few times, but to keep them at bay, I focused what I learned from mom over the years. I'd never really sat down and thought about this before so some of it actually surprised me, but then mom was kind of like that. Just when you thought you had her pegged, she'd bust out of her shell a little more and you'd see she wasn't nearly as quiet and shy as she first seemed.  
So, to celebrate her life, here are a few lessons I picked up from her over the years. Some she told me. Some I learned at the time from watching her. Many have come later, when I wonder what she would do in a situation and realize her actions already taught me that long ago.

Embrace joy. Every day. No matter what.

Laugh a lot more than you cry.  Both are acceptable. Just keep the laughing to a maximum and the crying to a minimum and life will be good.

Listen without judgment.  There's probably no better way to build trust. Plus, you'll be surprised how much deeper your conversations can go when people aren't worried what you'll think of them.

Use your voice selectively. Especially your raised voice.  Figure out what really matters to you. Speak up for that. Let the rest of the little stuff go. 

Be kind instead of right. At the end of your life, no one is going to remember all the times you were right. They just might remember all the times you were kind though. 

Say thank you, I'm sorry and I love you. Can you think of a time when you truly regretted saying these words? Probably not, but most of us can likely think of a time when we wish we had.

Choose your path. Other people will try to put you on the one they find most acceptable.  Toss acceptable (and comfortable) aside and go for the one that will make you exceptional. 

Know that it's never too late. To change yourself, or your relationship with someone you love, or the way you view the world. The only person truly keeping where you are right now is you. Quit blaming everyone else for who you are and become who you want to be.

Show up every day. Not every day is going to present you with something great to look forward to. Get your butt out of bed anyway and make something great happen, no matter how small it might be.

Finish what you started. Don't just set goals. Set them and then move yourself closer to meeting them everyday, even when it's uncomfortable. Especially when it's uncomfortable. If you have to work harder than everyone else, then work harder than everyone else. In then end, you'll be tougher for it. 

Go down singing. Or fighting. Or dancing. Or riding. Or whatever it is you love. By all means, do it until the very end. 


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