Sunday, March 15, 2015

Greatest Lesson...

Beware the Ides Of March...isn't strange shit meant to happen today? I think it's true, because just this morning (after inhaling McDick's for breakfast and choking on an unruly crust of hashbrown), I recommitted to ripping into my resolutions with the vengeance of a rabid goat. Well, that might be overstating it - at the very least, I've set aside some solid, foundational ideas for how I'm going to tackle them next year. Baby steps, friends. No need to show off and cram all self-improvements into one year...that's just aggressive, if not arrogant.

I'm in a reflective mood today, so I thought I'd share a recent compilation of responses from readers when I asked them what has been the greatest lesson they've learned in life thus far...I've shared all answers below. I could relate to most of them, and yet couldn't quite figure out what mine would be, if forced to pick just one. Recently though, I think I figured it out.

My greatest lesson? Don’t let life get in the way of living. This was cemented for me when I headed out to Kelowna to be with my friend. But I waited too long - rather than getting out there in time to hold her hand and tell her that I loved her, I was there for her funeral. She was one of those magic people – those once-in-a-lifetime kind of people. She was someone who made the world better just by being in it. After she got sick, I remember thinking: “I’ve got to get out there one of these days...”. But one of these days never happened – instead, life happened and I missed my window. What I forgot about was her propensity to keep her pain to herself, to not let others know how bad things were, and to keep smiling and shining right to the end. I forgot she would never be the one to tell me, “Van de Velvet, get your ass out here NOW because I’m dying.” No, she wasn’t like that. She didn’t want you holding any of her pain, and she didn’t want you treating her any differently because of it. If I could have a do-over, I’d be out there holding her hand. And if she was standing in front of me now, here’s what I’d want her to know:

Hi, beautiful you. You’ve always been one of my favourite people on this planet. You knew that right? I can only hope I told you. You filled every room you entered with joy and light and goodness – you couldn’t help it, it spilled out of you like air. And I don't think anyone ever left your side without feeling like a better person. You refused to judge people for their flaws. You would find the good in every single person you met. Do you know how rare that is - the ability to pull up a chair next to anyone and find that one single thing that makes them feel special and loved? I realize now to say it was a gift would make what you were seem trite, because what you were was a choice you made every single day - and you made the choice to always let good trump bad, which was an incredible display of strength and grace.

I wish I could have been there to see you one last time – to hold your hand, to kiss and hug you silly, and to tell you how ridiculously beautiful you were, inside and out, to hear that booming laugh of yours and bottle it for a lifetime, and to tell you that you were one of the sweetest and kindest people I have ever had the privilege of meeting. They say that it’s hardest to say goodbye to those who were the easiest to love - and you my friend, were incredibly easy to love. I loved you. So much. You were a gift from God. Thanks for being my friend, and for always finding the sweet spot.

Here forthwith are your responses to the greatest lesson you’ve learned in life thus far.

Love everyone. Even when you don’t feel like it.

Stuff doesn’t matter. Society would have us believe that cars, TVs and fancy houses matter. Stuff can’t hold our hand through a chemo treatment, or tuck you in when you’re sick. Family matters. Love matters. Compassion matters. Forgiveness matters. Thankfulness matters. Not stuff. Never stuff.

It’s OK to ask for help.

Being honourable and dong the right thing, is always the right thing.

The greatest lesson I’ve learned so far is the true power of love and kindness.

Love yourself, because you only have one life to do it!

Life’s too short! Get as much out of it as you can.

I’ve learned that grief isn’t something that ever ends. It’s cyclical and always sucks. Keeping someone’s memory alive is difficult, but worth it.

You can work hard, but remember to play hard too.

Be kind to everyone – it makes you feel good about yourself.

Love with all your heart. Don’t hold back because tomorrow is not for sure.

True love comes in unexpected twists and turns. And it will knock you flat out.

I’ve learned that you never truly know a person, be it family or friends, until you see how they react in a crisis. I have found that when the bottom falls out from under you, it is absolutely amazing to look around and see who is (and who isn’t) reaching out a hand to pick you back up. The devastation caused when those I thought were closest to me failed to step up, has been overshadowed by the wonder of the unexpected rocks who did. It’s the silver lining when life knocks you down – you get to move forward with a new clarity about who, and what, is really important in your life – and you get to learn exactly which kind of  person you want to be.

Every day only has 24 hours. Use them all.

To always, ALWAYS trust your instincts.

Keep in contact with your siblings, and phone your mom regularly!

It’s people that matter, not things.

Your life is what you make it.

Love God, love myself and love others. As a result, I think I have learned to slow down, relax and enjoy life more.

Just be who you want to be and do what makes you happy.

To whom much is given, much is required.

The greatest lesson I’ve learned in life is that everything you say matters.

Everyone is someone’s beautiful baby, and deserves to be cherished.

You reap what you sow - what you experience in life is a result of your own actions.

Be kind, give back when you can, be empathetic of other people’s situations, and know that integrity and loyalty are two of the most important traits that you can embody.

Follow your heart!

That I can’t do it all, and I’ve given up trying to do it all. Coming to that realization is the best thing.

Treat everyone fairly with respect. Treat others as you would like to be treated.

The greatest lesson I’ve learned is that children make you re-evaluate all of the other bullshit floating around out there.

Life is short, so live each and every day, and smile as much as you can. Make every moment count, and don’t waste time and energy on those that don’t appreciate you.

Living close to your family, and a good support network, is invaluable when you have a family of your own.

Don’t waste time worrying when you could be spending that time getting what you want done.

In ten years, none of this will matter so stop worrying and live your life so that you can look back and be happy that you didn’t waste it worrying.

I have recently learned that in order to be truly happy I need to love myself. No one or anything can make you happy if you don’t love yourself.

Happiness is a choice. This world is a beautiful place with so many joys, and you don’t need to be rich or have your dream job or be a super model to enjoy it. Just live.

Hard work beats talent in the long run.

If you make a mistake the first time, it’s a mistake. If you make it again, it becomes a choice. Choose wisely.

Don’t take your blessings for granted.

Forgive. The results are magical.

The greatest lesson I’ve learned in life is to be kind to myself…not just the idea of it, because we all walk around with an idea of it, but to actually use it as a means of living. To say no, set boundaries, laugh, give myself time…the deeper, patient type of kindness that comes with some experience and practice.

Patience. But I still hate waiting for stuff…
That power and control are not the same thing.
If you don’t take care of who and what you have, you won’t have anyone or anything worth taking care of.
That if you find your true love, you have more than anything else you could ever want. You cannot live on love, but you’ll be a lot happier than most that are just living on money.
Too many to choose from…although most of those lessons came from my most embarrassing moments.
That we have the choice. No matter what is happening, we have some choice in how we deal with life. So choose the bright side, the positive side, the good thoughts…you might as well.
The only thing I really need in my life is my husband and kids. Family is everything. I also love this line from Rent: “Forget regret, or life is yours to miss.”
Never take anything for granted. My youngest was diagnosed with two heart defects last year after being sick for months, and had surgery three months later…and that experience has changed my life.
Never take anyone for granted…we are here today, gone tomorrow.
Follow your gut. It’s always right.
To teach is not to speak, rather it’s how you live your life.
As humans we are too quick to criticize and remarkably slow to praise.
The greatest lesson I’ve learned in life is that most of our problems are a storm in a teacup in comparison to what others are dealing with.
Your time is finite and precious, so make the most of it and enjoy. By extension, find someone who is going to enjoy it with you, who enriches your life, not takes away from it.
That you have to forgive the past and not dwell on things that can’t be changed, and enjoy each day and live one day at a time.
Don’t be too serious. Life is pretty short.
God is the only true judge.
All you need is just a little patience.
Always keep your ego in check, remain in the present and do not dwell on the past. These things can destroy a good foundation of integrity and accountability.
Always be honest.
What others think of me is none of my damn business – while I was busy trying to figure that out, I disappointed the ones I love most.
Take time to help others and make the world a better place to live.
That life is not fair, that bad things do happen to good people sometimes, but that you have no control over it so there is no point in worrying about it. I am still working on that last part.
It all happens for a reason. You may not happen to know the reason for a few years, but it’s all part of the course. You learn so much along the way, and that makes you the person you are.

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