You know that saying, ‘If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all?’ That’s been me of late. This is my place to write about life from my point of view, in all its dysfunctional glory. It is cathartic and communal and often quite silly.
But this year has been heavy.
It’s been a year of dramatic change in my life and the life of my family. I switched careers. I’m so glad I did, but let’s face it, that would have been big all by itself. But then every member of our family — both kids and my husband and even the poor dog have had huge struggles this year, the kind that deeply impact the rest of the family, and no, I’m not being mysterious, but I’ve chosen not to write about it just yet (however I did write about our daughter, and I am the sort of mother who will write about boys who get splinters in their butts and that time I accidentally let my son and his best friend watch Deadpool).
I know I’m not alone when I write that I’ve had too many of the Are you friggin’ kidding me moments? When the dear friend of our older daughter took her life a few weeks ago, we knew we were way beyond uncle.
I vacillate between feeling broken hearted and pissed. I want people to know better and do better, especially myself.
Here we sit on the cusp of Christmas, after an exhausting, confounding, challenging year. The season seems to heighten our self indulgent or self loathing natures — Trigger City, right? Depending on where you are in life, it highlights our blessings, or all that’s lacking.
So, these aren’t resolutions — more like universal truths I often forget.
IT’S NOT TOO LATE
- To cut energy sucking people from your life. Excise those suckers like a mole with irregular borders. If they only take and/or make you feel worse about yourself, Buh-bye. Your psyche will thank you.
- To put the phone down. We’re Pavlovian puppies, waiting for that next like or comment — just one more story on Twitter, one more scroll through Facebook, and it never makes us feel better or enriches our lives.
- To be more patient with our kids. I know, so hard, but I regret my impatience now. I’m going to feel much worse about it later.
- To go back to school or write that novel or open that store or start all over. Whatever thing it is that’s been knocking around inside you for years — you know what it is, do it.
- To laugh more. It’s free pain medicine.
- To tell people what they mean to you. Don’t hesitate on this one. We all want to matter.
- To say you’re sorry. (INSERT TRUE CLICHE) Do you want to be right or happy?
- To make up with your family member/friend (see above cliche).
- To adopt a pet. They will never ask for money, don’t care if you shower, and love you on your worst-self days.
- To get healthy. I’m skinnier after a 45 minute walk. Not actually. But I FEEL like it and you will, too. Plus, I don’t want to hurt people. Win win.
- To give money to organizations that do good. The people destined to help others are rarely born with a silver spoon. Help them do more good.
- To leave him, her, the job. You may lose status, friends, money but you will gain YOU.
- To wave when somebody lets you over in traffic. Manners and gratitude, all with the wave of a hand. Do it!
- To the person you promised to cherish in good times and bad. Our chosen person is often our dumping ground or whipping boy. Balance the life partner see-saw with appreciation, laughter, and tenderness, or you could end up in a world of hurt.
- To the things you do right. Instead of obsessing over all you do wrong.
- To your child when they talk to you. Stop. Put down the
crack pipeiphone. Look them in the eye.
- To your gut feeling. It’s never wrong.
- To the other side. Even if you know you’re right, it’s important to respect what others think.
- To the changes in your body. Too many people say “I knew something was wrong, but I let it go.” Don’t let it go. We don’t come with replacement parts.
- To your inner life. I don’t care if you worship God or Dog, believing in something makes life more meaningful.
- To the signs that someone you know is struggling (addiction/suicidal thoughts/depression). Reach out. It could save them.
- Connect with people in person. Social media is not a replacement for actual human contact and connection. We need it.
IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU
- The boss, your neighbor, that Facebook friend is not thinking about you. Truly, they’re thinking about themselves. I promise.
- You’re probably wrong about why you didn’t get that job, date, opportunity. Odds are it isn’t because you failed and you suck. Missed opportunities often turn out to be blessings. Roll your eyes — it’s true.
- You’re a better parent than you think and probably weren’t as great a kid as you remember.
- We are all walking wounded, a lot of us mourning lives that have not lived up to our dreams.
- The person who flips you off in traffic is in a lot worse shape than you.
- That grudge you’re holding? Let it go. Make amends. The person it’s hurting most is the one reading this sentence.
- Stop trying to figure out how it’s going to end. It will end, and you will have missed all of it because you were busy living in the future.
All of this reminds me of a great and simple truth, that so much of our suffering is self inflicted.
To you, my fellow brothers and sisters stumbling through the wilderness of our modern day life and posting entirely too much on Facebook, in this season of abundance and anticipation, let us remember that the most important things in life, aren’t things.
Let’s love the hell out of each other, shall we?
We’re all we’ve got.
Next year is our year. I can feel it.