Now I understand why people older than me would often say, “I guess they will have to learn the hard way.” That phrase used to really bother me. I would fervently encourage my friends and loved ones to follow the “right” way in dealing with a situation, i.e., to learn from my mistakes. Not make their own.
But it doesn’t matter how passionate my attempts, people typically did (and still do) what they want.
I can’t be too upset. Looking back over the years, I realize how I’ve learned the hard way, and it’s been quite effective.
Here’s an example: third grade. I was at a birthday party. We were playing some version of hide-and-go-seek, and my friend – who was also the birthday girl – CHEATED. Righteous indignation welled up within me. So, I resorted to what I thought would take care of the situation: I put my angry arms out and pushed her.
Do you think she wept with remorse before all the other little girls, apologizing for being the cheat that she was and promising a changed life?
Heck no. She pushed me back.
Let’s just say I learned that day that violence is not the way to handle my anger. My parents taught me this for years; but that didn’t keep me from testing the waters when justice needed to be served. I had to learn ye olde hard way and see for myself that my physical fighting probably won’t right the wrong. As a result, I’ve steered clear of violent anger ever since.
I think as we age, it’s important to STILL encourage others to learn from our mistakes and not make their own. But we should also realize that it is sometimes the ONLY way people learn and to keep the “I told you so” stuff to ourselves and give them compassion*. Since we’ve all been in their shoes.
*Thankfully, that’s exactly what the Moms at the birthday party did. They scooped me and my friend up and loved on us and listened and worked out a solution to the problem.
I come from a tribe of people who love crispy bacon. (I think we just love breakfast food in general, like Ron Swanson on Parks and Recreation.) Anyway, My Mom would always serve her Dad the crunchy slices at breakfast when she was little, as a sort of way to show him love…until years later when he mentioned to her how much he disliked bacon crispy!
Oh the horror! My Mom laughed about it when she told me this. She thought about how she could have been eating those bacon pieces herself and enjoying them all those years.
Lesson learned: ask people what they like.
I know I don’t always do this. I’ve bought gifts and given in ways that reflected my own personal taste. Have you ever played a song for a friend, a beautiful song that completely captivates you, and they just don’t get it? The whole moment falls awkwardly flat. They may listen politely and smile weakly and say, “That was nice.” BUT you KNOW they just didn’t receive from the song what you received?
As I navigate adulthood, I should know better than assume because I need/want something, other people will too. I’ve found others are pretty honest about what they want, especially when asked. Then I get two wonderful results:
I read this quote by Lantham Thomas on Instagram: “Release your attachment to wanting things for people that they don’t want for themselves.” By doing so, you can them fill their hearts with their own personal “song moment" and their own “crispy bacon.”
I was experiencing a tough day at work, and I imagined going home that night, trudging through all that must happen before finally settling down for some sleep. I was not giving myself a peaceful mental picture of my evening. As a result, I was already feeling negative about the evening and everything ahead of me. Have you done this?
I’ve heard over and over that we have a say in creating our reality. Those "Choose Happy" slogans abound. So for better or for worse, I decided to try it.
I started to imagine going home, tackling a few big things, and focusing on how good it would feel to have them done. I then imagined that despite everything, I would make time to sit down with a cup of tea and a comfy blanket. The images in my mind brought me peace, and just like that, my mindset toward my evening changed.
And that was my “aha” moment. I never realized how much I mentally picture my future, and how easily I put a negative or positive spin on it in my mind.
The bizarre thing is that our thoughts can happen so quickly (in either direction) and even just be an impression. I can see myself being incredibly happy at night with my cup of tea. Or in a flash, I can see myself drinking that same tea, overwhelmed, stomach in knots because I know I will have a lot on my plate for the next day.
Wow. What power we have.
So now, when I’m overwhelmed with a lot of anxiety, and I’m feeling incredibly negative, I make a point to envision my next step, whatever it is, going well. I also like to think of ways to make what I'm not looking forward to just a little bit better. What if I drink my favorite tea during a dreaded meeting? What if I light a candle while reading my countless emails, just to change up the atmosphere and make it a little cozy?
Being more intentional about how I mentally picture the future, even in the little details, has helped make my mindset be more positive. Even just telling myself how good I’ll feel when a difficult event is over has been so helpful.
These are small, intentional steps that have helped me. Again, they are small, but I hope they can help you too, but make that significant difference.
I’ve blogged about this before, and I know we all talk about it: by living longer we see new ideas come to life with technology. BUT, what about the less talked about inventions that aren’t a form of tech? They may not be saving lives, but they can still be pretty incredible.
It happened when I was in Amsterdam with some friends. You’d think what stood out to me most that day was the incredible amount of bicycles, fry vendors, architecture, canals etc. But do you know what I came face to face with that really made me smile from the head to my toes?
Oh yes, in a tiny little coffee shop, I saw the image of a combination croissant and muffin: the marriage of two amazing pastries. As I gazed on it, lovingly, I have a feeling the reflection of its beauty could be seen in my happy eyes. Who was the genius who came up with this?
You may laugh or roll your eyes. But what other less obvious things do you enjoy that make their debut in our lives? You know, other than the latest version of our smart phones?
Think of the innovative chip flavors, new pizza dipping sauces, and fusion restaurants. For those of us with food allergies – what about the gluten free pastries? What about dairy free ice cream (one of my personal favorites)? And that’s just the culinary delights. Think about the hypo-allergenic cats, the tiny house movement, and pajamas that are designed to keep you cool at night.
Our minds typically notice the latest and greatest in technology, but these other innovations are just as noteworthy and incredibly delightful. And I just wanted to give them “a shout out” in my little blog.
So, let’s raise our glasses (I’m not gonna lie, mine is filled with tea) and toast to the lesser celebrated inventions in our lives today!
There is a little café I liked to eat at when I lived in Turkey. It served high quality, lovingly created food. The cakes were so tall, the clear cookie jars were full of yummies, and it was Christmas all year.
Seriously. The owner never took down her Christmas décor.
At first, I thought maybe she forgot. It was decorated so nicely for the holidays. The predominant colors are red and white in her café, and then she’d added a sprinkling of winter and Christmas touches here and there.
When summer and fall came, and the decorations stayed, I began to realize it was a permanent theme. Every time I stepped inside, it was like I was entering a pause in time. It was a salute to a season that so many people really enjoy. No excuses needed or given; Christmas was there to stay. And how fantastic it was!
The café owner took something she liked, didn’t care about any unspoken laws of holiday expectations, and as a result, created a comforting, happy environment all year for herself and her customers.
And I’ve since followed her lead. My two kitchen Christmas towels and red little spatula with a peppy snow man on it are available in my kitchen all year. And I think of that eatery when I reach to use them when it’s the middle of March or a hot August day. It’s like a secret celebration.
Like the Turkish café owner, we too can avoid the laws of social expectations. Just as we eat tacos when it’s not Taco Tuesday, we can take it a step further and celebrate favorite holidays how and when we want. We can keep our Valentine’s heart banner up just a bit longer. We can play that beloved Christmas song in February just because we like it. We can even hide Easter eggs for our friends in the summer. My favorite celebration to indulge in? I drink fall flavor teas throughout the year. (Do you know what I'm talking about? Pumpkin spice, cinnamon, apple, and other amazingness!)
Because why not extend the festivities we enjoy? It's helped relax me when I'm anxious. It's been a definite mood booster. It’s fairly easy, and in my opinion, absolutely worth it.
“What life expects of us is that we celebrate.” – José Eduardo Agualusa
My husband cracked me up with a meme the other day that essentially said (paraphrased):
Having kids makes you realize how stupid your lies sounded to your parents….
I haven’t physically given birth children, but I certainly “have” kids in my life. Even today, I love observing how they attempt sneakiness but TOTALLY miss the mark.
I still remember years ago (when I was first entering adulthood), I would see children trying to be underhanded, and I would giggle and think to myself, “When I was young, I was so much better when it came to being devious. They are just so obvious!”
Ha! What a laugh. Because then I quickly remembered how my Mom or Dad ALWAYS found me out. So my belief in my covert capabilities quickly died a needed death. I was like most every other kid. There was nothing sneaky about me at all. Like them, I only thought I was.
Why am I even writing about this?
First, I found it comical. Second, I’ve realized how easily (at any age) we can think we possess certain qualities, and then we learn we absolutely don’t. It’s a little bit discouraging because I like to think I know myself: that the reflection in my mirror holds no surprises.
BUT! (There’s almost always a “but”) I now stay more open to the idea that how I perceive myself and how other people actually see me might not match up. Which is a good and humbling reality check for all of us, at any age.
Unfortunately, I think it is my fear of missing out that is actually causing more FOMO in my life.
I’ve noticed that I scroll through my Facebook and Instagram really quickly. And here’s what I constantly do: I will see an article someone posted, or a video, and think, “That looks really neat. I should read/watch that. I can probably learn something new.” BUT I tell myself, “I’ll go back to it, once I’m done scrolling.” After all, there might be a better article to spend my time on. (With this new intentional living I’m attempting, I try to be much more careful with my time.)
So wise, right? Ha! If only. Because I rarely go back to it.
Why? I don’t know… I get distracted? I find the social media loop never ending? I just keep looking, looking, and looking because I’m curious. I don’t want to miss anything, right?
But what I’m actually doing is missing out. Which is opposite my intent.
So now when someone references an article I want to read, I make a point to read it. If necessary, right at that moment. Because if I tell myself I’ll get to it, without intentionally book marking it, I’m basically lying to myself.
Sure, my social media hit is on pause, but it’s very a good thing. Social media isn’t going anywhere. If anything, it’s growing. And if I “miss” a picture or an Instagram story my friend was eager to share, she will no doubt show it to me later or mention it’s on her page.
I have failed at my own resolve, but I’m getting better. I’m finding it slows my pace a bit, which is much needed. I’m also seeing that I truly don’t miss out on a whole lot. And if I do, it results in JOMO – a phrase I read the other day that carries its own rewards: Joy Of Missing Out.
Creator of Love, Auntie.
About LOVE, AUNTIE
Welcome! My blog is a journal of sorts as I seek what makes "older" worth celebrating in a world that tends to glorify "younger." I hope it's a place you will find encouragement and positive words.