Well I hope to live to be 100, so I’m a quarter of the way there! Hooray! Here are some things I’ve learned over the past 25 years. I hope you enjoy reading it and find it to be challenging and thought provoking.
1. We are human beings not human doings.
2. You can either float through life taking things as they come to you or you can grab life by the lapels and really Live it–live Life with a capital “L.” The choice is yours.
3. Rosie the Riveter: WE CAN DO IT. I’ve come to admire Rosie over the years and believe she embodies what it means to be an American and team player. She is a symbol of patriotism and pride. She represents coming together for the common good; uniting under pressure; and the power of team work. Together we can accomplish so much more than going at it alone.
4. The family unit is a beautiful thing. Yes, hurt and pain exist, but choosing to do life together has such a strong bond and connection between family members. It’s not about having a perfect family. It’s a matter of coming together to help each other through life’s ups and downs. The family is a powerful entity and I’m so grateful for mine.
5. We spend our time and money on what matters to us, end of story.
6. It was once said that love is the world’s universal language. That is not true. Pain is. Pain is the world’s universal language. Not everyone has experienced true, unadulterated love. BUT everyone has experienced pain in some form or fashion. This should bring us together knowing that we have this in common. We are all in need of healing, reconciliation and forgiveness at some level.
7. We all get knocked down. It’s up to you whether to stay down and wallow in despair or get back up, dust yourself off and keep on trucking.
8. Nobody is “normal.” Abnormal is normal. Don’t kid yourself. Stop trying to fit in with the normal people. They don’t exist.
9. It’s not about religion. It’s about a relationship.
10. Everybody has got a story to tell.
11. “The brighter the person, the darker the shadow.” Many times leaders and people in the spot light struggle with loneliness and depression. I experienced this first hand when I was diagnosed with depression in college. I was ashamed and embarrassed. I felt like I didn’t have what it takes to do life like everyone else. I had to have a medication to help me. The biggest weapon to fight this is to know you are not alone. Every one struggles with finding their niche and purpose in this world. Help someone today by offering a listening ear or kind word. You never know what people are struggling with on the inside especially those that look like they “have it all together.”
12. “Be a first rate version of yourself, not a second rate version of someone else.” (Judy Garland) Only you can be YOU!
13. Be your biggest health advocate. I learned this first hand when I went 18 months on a thyroid roller coaster only to find out it was a medical misdiagnosis to begin with. A painful experience to be sure. Take control of your health. Ask questions. Get informed.
14. “Preach the gospel always. When necessary use words.” (St. Francis of Assisi) As the adage goes: actions speak louder than words. Live what you preach. Preach what you live. People can smell hypocrisy from miles away.
15. “If you don’t take care of your body, where will you live.” You only got one body and one heart. Take care of it! Exercise and eat like a champion!
16. Don’t neglect the small things for that’s what life is made of. Champions are made because they pay attention to the details. Details are what separate good from great. Qualifiers from medalists.
17. Mediocrity, security and comfort rob so many people of pursuing their dreams. We are creatures of habit and hate to change if we don’t have to. Thus many have settled and are going through the motions. They are robbing themselves of their BEST LIFE.
18. Preach to yourself first, then to others. We get in a habit of giving others advice before taking the advice to heart ourselves. First look at your own life before delving into someone else’s.
19. Communication is an art and should be practiced daily. So many problems would be solved if we would just commit to communicating our needs, desires and wants with those around us.
20. Life takes twists and turns. Prepare for the unexpected.
21. God turns impossible into I AM POSSIBLE. “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)
22. “Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” (Benjamin Franklin) Some of my close friends and family say I’m old at heart and just completely skipped the party, stay up late phase of my life. I’m cool with that. I love getting my zzz’s in early and waking up before the sun!
23. Look for the good in every experience. There’s always something you can take away. I do this with books, movies, music…you name it. I always look for some life redeeming quality or lesson that I can take away from my daily experiences.
24. We are made for more than we can imagine. God has a bigger plan and purpose for your life than you ever thought possible. The question is: do you trust Him? So often we prefer to call the shots instead of submitting to the Lordship of Christ. That’s fine, but you’re cutting yourself short. You can only do so much. God’s power knows no-limits! “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1Corinthians 2:9)
25. Love others AS YOURSELF. This is known as one of the greatest commandments second to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul. Some people tend though to just read: love others and forget the “as yourself.” I’ve found I can try and love others, but it’s all in vain if I’m not first taking care of myself. Like the airline spiel goes on every flight: “secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others.” This is a vital life concept. The sooner we get it, the better off we will be. I need to secure my own oxygen mask first, not out of selfishness, but knowing that if I don’t take care of myself, I can’t take care of anyone else.
BONUS CANDLE (one to grow an inch!): No person is completely educated (I don’t care how many initials you have behind your name) until they can answer these two questions: where did I come from AND where am I going when I walk off this planet? These are bookend questions and I believe take precidence over everything. The answers to them are crucial to how you live your life.