photo by hansengel
I’m a list maker. From groceries to reminders, it’s written down. I’m not so obsessed that my lists are well organized. The back of an envelope or a scrap of paper will do. One of my favorite lists is my “My life is too short to” list. I’m a firm believer in the power of writing things down, so it’s no surprise that whenever I look over this list, I smile as I reflect on memories and accept that I’m a work in progress.
I’m willing to bet there’s a list maker in you. It might be more mental notes than on paper, but they do guide us along, don’t they? I’ve discovered my favorite list has become a maternal tool. It serves not only as a reminder to not take life too seriously but has become a compilation of life lessons I want to pass on to my children, as well.
This past week, all four of my children and my husband were sick with the stomach flu, so my life was a blur of cleaning things that no one should have to endure. I was fantasizing about being on a beach with a cabana boy serving me drinks. I looked at one of my lists, which I often do at the start of the new year or sometimes when I feel overwhelmed. I call it “scheduling” my stress. While some of my list is almost cliche, and I hated when my mother’s advice included any of these things, they do help put things into perspective. Maybe a few of them will help you relearn what matters during those moments in life when you have to be the rock.
ASPIRATIONS: Rome wasn’t built in a day. As a teen, I remember thinking, really? Thanks for that nugget, mom. But it’s true. You can’t expect things to happen immediately. It can feel as if you’ve spent a lot of time and energy on something important and not seen any significant change, but don’t give up. Too many people give up too soon. Press on, and don’t worry about time running out or minor setbacks.
AGING: Beauty is only skin deep. This definitely didn’t comfort me as a teen, but after four children and as I quickly approach 40, it works for me. I’ve redefined what sexy is. I don’t feel that sense of competition to look better than other women anymore. I feel liberated and confident. Beauty is giving, sharing, loving, supporting and bringing value by doing something to make the world a better place.
ROUTINE: This too shall pass. This goes along with “they’re only young once.” It’s not very calming when your children are miserable, fighting and tattling, and your husband calls to say he’s working late, but it makes perfect sense later. What seems mundane is a part of something larger than you. You’re shaping the future through parenting your children and teaching by example. You ARE doing something amazing.
SMALL STUFF: Don’t make mountains out of molehills. It’s easy to get overwhelmed if you’re overrun with emotion. Take a deep breath so you can cope. The situation isn’t as hopeless as it seems. Think things through rationally, and don’t let your feelings impact everyone around you. Focus on the real issue and take steps to remedy it. An annoyance is not the end of the world. Ask yourself whether the situation will matter in a year. Life is too short to worry about it not being fair.