Okay, I don’t really think quarantine is going to kill me, but OMGEEE the days are loooong, and my family (specifically my 7-year-old, “Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom!”) and I weren’t intended to spend this much time together. But I’d be lying if I said I haven’t thought about death quite a bit these past few weeks. These are uncertain times, to say the least. And that’s the thing. It could all end at any given moment. It’s actually been on my mind since Kobe and Gianna Bryant were killed tragically in a helicopter crash back in February.
I know, I know. Debbie Downer here. But God forbid something happens to me, there are so many things that I want to remind my kids about life.
Then I started thinking, these aren’t things they need to remember if I die. These are things they need to be reminded of EVERY DAY while I’m still living. And honestly, I can use these reminders, too. So, here you go. Life lessons I want my kids to know and remember.
You’ve heard it before, “If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry.” To me, having a great sense of humor and not taking yourself too seriously will get you through life with the most sanity. Like, if I do end up dying from the coronavirus, that would be some ironic, funny sh*t. Laughter is medicine for the soul.
Love yourself first.
This might be my no. 1 thing I always want you to remember. I don’t know what my mom did when she was raising me, but I like myself a lot! I think I’m pretty awesome, and I don’t need anyone’s approval or opinion to tell me differently. Loving yourself and being confident in who you are will get you through trying times. I always say, “How can anyone love others when they don’t love themselves first?” So many people value themselves based on other people’s opinions. NOPE! You are your own best friend. Be kind to yourself! You are awesome.
Show up. Say Something. Even if it makes you uncomfortable.
This is one that I’m still not great at, especially when it comes to people dying or being sick. I think it stems from my dad dying when I was young and my tendency to ugly cry at the drop of a hat. But this is important. When I was in college, the mom of one of my best childhood friends was dying of cancer. I could have gone to see her, but I didn’t. I didn’t want to feel that, and it’s a huge regret. As I heard Phil Mickelson recently say in regards to having his mom and wife go through cancer, “It’s better to say the wrong thing than say nothing at all.” Call your friend going through a hard time and say something. Show up when people need you, even if they say they don’t.
In my life, I have found that nothing has given me as much joy as serving others. And it turns out there is science behind that happy feeling you get when helping others. According to Stephen Post, a professor of preventative medicine and author of The Hidden Gifts of Helping, a part of our brain lights up when we help others and gives a “helpers high” with feel-good chemicals like dopamine. So, find reasons to help others. Serve on committees, volunteer with friends and family, look for opportunities to help.
Be a little selfish.
Yeah, I know I said serve others. But, serve yourself, too. In life, we can get caught up in making sure everyone else is okay, and we don’t check in with ourselves. So, take some time for you. Checkin with yourself. Are you okay? Sometimes when we focus on taking care of others, we neglect ourselves. Remember it’s okay to say no, and it’s okay to make decisions that are right for you even if you feel like you are letting someone down.
Don’t compare yourself to others. Comparison is the thief of joy.
THIS. When we compare ourselves to others, we jump into the rabbit hole of “I’m not good enough, the grass is greener.” It’s not. Be happy for others’ successes because you would want them to be happy for you.
Admit when you’re wrong, and apologize if needed.
Admitting when you are wrong and apologizing will take you far in life. It shows others that you are human and are humble. You will make mistakes. We all do. Own them, say you’re sorry, and move forward. This will serve you well in friendships and marriage.
Smile and look people in the eye.
When I was around 10, my mom and I were on vacation in California. We were walking down a street and walked past a homeless woman. I guess I just smiled at her in passing, but what she said to me next I will never ever forget. “Thank you for smiling at me. You have a beautiful smile.” Y’all. Just a smile goes such a long way. And then she made me feel great by giving me a compliment. It’s like a full-circle feel-good fest! Please look people in the eye, smile, say hi, ask how they are. It brightens people’s day.
Say thank you.
Be the person who says thank you too much! Wave at people who let you in traffic. Say thank you as you walk out of a store even if you don’t buy anything. Just. Say. Thank. You. ALWAYS.
Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable.
The vulnerability speak is newer for me thanks to Brene Brown, who I think is pretty much a goddess. Daring Greatly should be required reading for everyone. Even my husband thinks she’s amazing. Brene on vulnerability: “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper or meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” So, put yourself out there, tell someone you love them, ask for help, admit you’re afraid. Even though it might seem scary, you will gain so much more by being vulnerable than you will ever lose.
It takes being a good friend to have good friends.
They say friends are the family you choose, and in my case, that is 100 percent true. I LOVE LOVE LOVE my friends on maybe an unsafe level. People to help you, to confide in, and to laugh with. Friends make life worth living. BUT you must be a good friend to have a good friend. Be loyal. Don’t tell secrets that aren’t yours to tell. Show up. Check in. Also, quality over quantity. Find your people and hold them close. (Shout out to my people, who if they are reading this, know exactly who they are. Love you!)
Show people grace.
This one encompasses a few things. Forgiveness. Always be quick to forgive. Empathy. Always put yourself in others’ shoes. Cut people some slack. You never know what other people are going through, so don’t be so quick to judge or get angry.
If you have to choose between having something or doing something, DO. THE. THING. You will remember the experiences far more than any cool thing you could possibly possess. So, savor the trips, the experiences, the dinners, the time with your friends and family connecting and making memories. And never quit having dance parties. Ever. Like, when I do die, which I hope is long time from now, we are having a dance party at my funeral. Until then, queue the Lizzo.
Do you have a rolling list of things you want your kids to always remember? Maybe all this downtime is a great opportunity to put it in writing.