13 Life Lessons from My [Now] 13-Year-Old

Image by Hebi B. from Pixabay

Today is my son’s birthday, and “just like that,” there’s a teenager in our home!

If I weren’t living it, I would not believe how swiftly time flew to get us to this moment. Wasn’t it only yesterday that I was rushed to the hospital for a child who could not wait to enter the world? Wasn’t it only yesterday that I left the hospital longing for the day to bring my preemie home? Only yesterday for so many milestones, minor setbacks, and victories?

I can fill a book with all the things I learned through motherhood and my son. With his quick wit and acumen as I journey through, my son has been by far my most persistent life coach. So…in honor of my-not-so little one’s induction into “teendom,”  I’m sharing 13 “random” lessons from my now-teen. I’m not prioritizing because there are many, many valuable lessons and what follows are the first 13 “off the top of my head.”

    1. There is an unbelievable storehouse of strength inside to get through some of the toughest challenges life tosses my way.
    2. Paper, paint, and markers are the absolute best tools to chase the blues away. Humming while creating chases them even faster.
    3. Real intelligence is being able to explain the most abstract or complex concepts in the simplest terms.
    4. I set the standard for myself.  Other people’s opinions [of me] really don’t matter.
    5. There are way more important things than work. Taking time to play is a right and a responsibility.
    6. Sometimes a good cry and a nap make the world a whole lot better.
    7. The sweetest /most valuable things in life cost nothing.
    8. If I don’t like the story, I can rewrite it, recast it, and make myself the hero!
    9. Sometimes, I am the only sane one in the bunch.
    10. Reading the Holy Writ for hours at a time is never a waste of time.
    11. It certainly doesn’t hurt to ask.
    12. There’s a theory for everything.
    13. Look up. There’s still so much wonder in the clouds.

I cherish every moment of my son’s growth from one phase in life to the next. I’m glad I held him in my arms as much as I could and adjusted my life and schedule to spend more time with him. I’m “in my feelings” a bit over how quickly time flies, but I’ll just rest in these moments and not worry that in the next “blink of my eyes” he’ll be off to college.

Butterflies and Pebbles | Things to Know This Week

As I was avoiding taking a break from grading and perusing Instagram a few moments ago, I ran across a beautiful list of reminders to carry into the week written by S.C. Lourie, Butterflies and Pebbles on Instagram.

Things to know this week:

    • You will grow from whatever the world throws at you.
    • Your precious life is a gift.
    • You are allowed to do life at your own pace.
    • Your time is sacred. Don’t waste it on whatever makes you unhappy.
    • You are changing and expanding.
    • You are loved and needed. That’s why you are here.
    • You are going to be okay.

The card above came from Betsy N, a Love Notes pal who lives “just down the street” from me in Tennessee. Sent for International Women’s Day, it is a perfect fit for Lourie’s words.

May you hold each of these statements close this week. May you remember them when you hit the rough and tumble spots, the insane moments, the not-so-pleasant unexpected. May you grasp them when assaulted by the time-wasters and naysayers. May you know through all the ups and downs “you are changing and expanding […] loved and needed […] and you are going to be okay.”

Autumn: Brilliant Leaves, Happy Mail, and Seven Reasons Why

Last week the temperatures finally dipped into the 50’s and this morning we woke up to 30’s and a freeze warning. I am excited that autumn has finally made an appearance–in terms of temperature at least. [Note: I live in the South, so temperatures may well be in the upper 80’s or even lower 90’s by the end of the week].

I searched for signs of autumn while taking a short walk last week. There was little indication of the season’s change, but I was elated to find autumn leaves on a favorite Dogwood.

It is delightful watching this tree transition over the months, and though I look forward to the blossoms in spring, its autumn leaves beautifully illustrate why I love the season.

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My penfriend/love notes pal Andrea recently sent a bit of autumn-inspired pocket mail. In the one of the pockets she enclosed a list of six reasons why she loves autumn.  [Click an image for a closer look].

Andrea ended her list by inviting “me” to share why I love the season. Of course, it doesn’t take much to get me to extol the virtues of autumn, so here are [my not necessarily top] seven reasons why autumn is my favorite season:

  1. Changing colors of the trees and foliage–especially now that I live in a place where I can see the brilliance of the season
  2. Milder temperatures–long-awaited relief from the oppressive southern summer and a short break from budget-busting utilities bills
  3. Boots and sweaters
  4. Hot chocolate/cocoa and popcorn [yum!]
  5. October–the best month of all!
  6. My new favorite throw [a birthday gift from a new friend]–chocolate brown, leaf embossed, plush–perfect for movie nights
  7. Pumpkin everything–except I’m not too impressed with Krispy Kreme’s pumpkin cake donut. It would be soooo much better if they’d lose the sugar/glaze on top

How about you? What do you love about autumn?


[Also, linking up with Dawn of The Day After in the Festival of Leaves photo challenge]

Seven Keys for a Productive and Fulfilling Life

Even though they are spoken directly to graduates, I love the motivational and inspirational graduation speeches. I certainly felt inspired Saturday night as I listened to actor and producer Darryl Bell, of A Different World fame, address the graduates at my alma mater–which is also my employer. 😀

Bell delivered a succinct, timely, and power-packed list speech that resonated with me and reminded me of some basic principles for navigating life. Here are his tips and what I remember of his commentary on each one.

  1.  Use the gifts that call you.  Choose a vocation because of your compulsion toward it, your passion, not simply because you’re competent in an area. Your being good at what you do but hating it leads to a miserable life.  Pay attention to the thing that keeps calling you, the thing you can’t help but do. “Your gifts have been calling you. Answer them.”
  2. Remember the four-year-old.  Four-year-olds are confident that they can do anything.  A few years later, kids begin to learn their strengths and their limits, and begin to doubt themselves. Be like four-year-olds and do not put limits on what is possible. Use all of your abilities and gifts, empowered by your education, to solve the world’s problems.
  3. See the world. Travel beyond your state, beyond your country. Experience other places and cultures. Those interactions will open you up to other ways of seeing and being. If you only know America, you can’t be competitive in a global economy. Travel changes your perspective on life and everything you do.
  4. Pick somebody else.  Sometimes you won’t hear extraordinary advice given because you hear the same voice so often that you automatically tune it out.  Pick someone else. Always ask another person; get another opinion. It affirms and confirms. Sometimes you have to hear [the extraordinary advice] from someone else.
  5. Ask for help.  No one accomplishes anything without the help of others. Life is worse than hard. You’ll have times when you’ll face bone-crushing, soul-crushing defeat, where you’ll feel like “it” isn’t even possible. Interestingly, when you are going through these moments, when you most need help, contrary to what is logical and instinctive, you are least likely to ask for help.  You must fight through your vulnerability and through your shame and ask for help. You’ll be surprised by the people who exceed your expectations in providing what you need to turn the situation around. Be prepared to ask for help.
  6. Be kind. Kindness goes a long way and is long remembered.
  7. Embrace the fear. You experience fear when you try to accomplish something big and you are afraid to fail. “Everything that I accomplished that was worth something scared me and I learned to run toward it, to embrace it.” Fear tells you this is something worth doing. Embrace it! Run toward it! Grab it! Now, go change the world!

Bell punctuated his list with (mostly) entertaining anecdotes from his life that kept us all riveted. He offered keys for a productive and fulfilling life. There are other keys, of course, but I think the graduates found the most important one in the school’s motto–“God first!”

But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also.   –Matthew 6:33 AMP

Until next time…

[Note: Photo from Pixabay.com]

To Do: Fall Free Into Reckless

Photo by Emma Matthews. Unsplash.com

After reading my “Three Things” blog post last week, one of my friends, Cy,  added three more things to my list. I receive the first two items on her list with humility and gratitude:

  • You are very talented.
  • I am the #2 fan of your photo art.

It’s the third item on her list that I’m working to embrace:

  • It’s really okay to have a vacation and never, ever complete a task on the to-do list that you think is “life or death.” Just say you forgot about it or you can no longer do it. Fall free into reckless.

I’m convinced professors don’t take time off. We’re always working–grading, reading, planning, thinking, writing. We look forward to breaks, not because we can hit the road and head to the nearest beach, but because we can work (almost) uninterrupted.  My to-do list for the  mere nine days off (including weekends) is long. Significantly. I’m tempted to heed Cy’s advice, burn the list, and “fall free into reckless.”

The question is–can I “fall” with no regrets?

Seven Ways to Beat the Summer Heat

Postcard from Love Noter Angela C.

I’ll admit it. I’m not a fan of summer as a season. You won’t find me outdoors much between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. It’s just too hot for me!

Do you–like me–avoid the higher temperatures?  This doesn’t mean you have to stay “cooped up” in your house or bored until the heat lessens. If you’re looking for some ways to enjoy summer and stay really cool, here are a some “tried and true” ways to get out of the house and beat the heat:

Head Out to the Air Conditioning

  • Read at the mall. Grab a book, toss it in your bag, and head out the house to a bench in the air-conditioned mall. When your eyes need a brief rest from reading, you can people-watch or window-shop. If the mall is too far away or not the kind of place you like to hang out, a coffee shop is a great alternative.
  • Hang out at the Public Library. My baby sister and I were just talking about all the wonderful opportunities for growth and entertainment libraries offer. Her local library offers free painting and crafting classes, piano lessons, and so much more. There is always something at the public library here in Huntsville–readings, lectures, crafting, film viewings, book clubs, author signings, discovery centers, special exhibits, and so much more. There is literally something for everyone. In fact, there’s so much to do it’s a wonder we don’t leech off the library’s AC every day.
  • Journal at the Pool. Kids love pools, so what better way to give your kid what he or she wants and get what you want without compromising. Public indoor pools offer the perfect opportunity for you to do a little art journaling or writing. The lifeguards make sure your kid is safe, so you can take “me-time” with your kid in view. Be sure to bring along your favorite pens, pencils, stickers, and washi tape. 😉

Just Outside Your Home, but Close Enough to Air Conditioning

  • Plan an Iced Tea Party. Host an iced tea party for two or three of your friends. You can do this outdoors under a large tree or on your patio. Serve a variety of cold teas and your favorite cold salads, chilled fruit, and raw veggies. I love tea, but I’m not likely to sip hot tea during the scorching days of summer.
  • Step Outdoors. Open your eyes to the “cool” things just outside your door. Spend some time watching from your patio or from your porch. You’ll observe birds, squirrels, bunnies, even foxes, deer and coyotes, depending on where you live. Even the cloud formations can keep you engaged for a really long time. There’s so much to see just outside our front (and back) doors.

Rainy Day (or Indoor Fun)

  • Create a Vision Journal. You’re familiar with vision boards. A vision journal is the same thing, but created in a notebook instead of on a board. Go through old magazines and cut out pictures that represent what you really want in life for your home, career, vacation, health, spiritual development, self-care, etc. Create collages on the journal pages. Refer to the book from time to time and imagine yourself with your dreams fulfilled. Now, of course, you want to do more than create colorful collages of a beautiful life; you also want to make plans for achieving the dream.
  • Private Concert. Your phone, tablet, and/or computer are filled with music, some you haven’t listened to in a long time, if at all. Create a list of your favorites from the past (or present). Turn down the lights, turn up the music, and host your own concert. If your family members want to join in, let them! The more the merrier. (Tip: If you don’t feel like searching through your extensive music archive, you can find a lot of your favorites on YouTube. Create a playlist there and it’s always available for you).

Summer will be over before we know it, so stay indoors and have some summer fun!