I went with the grand kids to the fall fair today. A place that reminds me of my own childhood – the horses, the cattle, the rabbits, the goats and the sheep, the pies and the sewing exhibits – all of that sums up every one of my summers growing up. Back in the day, it was just what we did. We worked a lot, but we had fun showing horses, barrel racing, 4-H, State Fairs, etc, that was my way of life. The living was easy (or so I thought it was) and the belt buckles and trophies were big – they were summers that I loved! Today Big E wanted to bring along his birthday money so he could buy a cow, I told him I wasn’t sure that $ 40 was going to be quite enough. You know, those grandkids of ours fill my life with so much joy that sometimes it’s hard to breathe and sometimes I forget that their life growing up is very different than mine was, which got me thinking, if I could go back in time, would I change anything about my past?
My initial thoughts are – nope, I wouldn’t change a thing. Then I really sat down and thought about this question. The answer is layered for me. Yes, your starting point in life matters a lot. You may have been born winning the DNA lottery (beauty, talent, athletic, nice skin, etc), you may have been born into a rich family or you may have been born into a poor family. You may have been raised in a toxic environment or in a strong and healthy one, but what we all share is the fact that as we grow older we can define where we are going in life, where we want to go, who we want to go with, etc. I’m a big believer that everything happens for a reason and what we put out in this world, we get back. My past has led me to where I am today, it has helped shape me into the person I am. My past experiences are the very things that define who I am –my successes and my failures have all shaped me as an adult which is both a good thing and a bad thing at the same time. Those experiences taught me strength, love, determination, tenacity, compassion and empathy. Having struggles taught me that I am capable of more than I know, but they also taught me how to be hard headed, stubborn, closed off, way too competitive, selfish and sometimes not very nice. As it turns out, those things that were a struggle at the time, weren’t as bad as I thought they were and I wouldn’t trade that for anything because I learned something from them all.
After contemplating this far longer than was necessary, I decided that for the most part, I would not want to go back in time and do things differently (unless what I did hurt someone’s feelings or betrayed their trust because those things I would change in a heartbeat). But, the thing is I try to right the wrongs I have done to people and luckily, I am surrounded by gracious and forgiving people who love me and accept me for all my shortcomings. Plus, I learn from those things and do my darndest to not do them again. But I would never want to undo my failures, I wouldn’t want to go back in time and skip the painful times or try to live a picture perfect life because it’s my failures and the times I fell on my face that have had the biggest impact on my life. They are the moments, not my successes that are imprinted in my mind and in my heart and have shaped and prepared me for life in the real world.
I wouldn’t change anything, but what I would do is give myself a little advice that I’m going to share with you – 20 of them to be exact:
- Trust more freely and have faith. Life can be messy, but trust that things will work out. Know that you are worthy. Have faith in your own abilities and in other people’s abilities.
- Stop blaming others – If you aren’t happy, it’s because you are choosing to not be happy. Don’t blame it on anybody else. Don’t blame someone else for your own actions, your actions are your own choices. If you do the crime, you do the time. Own up to your mistakes and clean up your own messes with people. If you hurt someone, apologize. If you break someone’s trust, spend however much time it takes to win back their trust. And then, don’t break it again- ever. When you know better, you do better.
- Don’t say no to your kids because you are lazy. If they want to go to the park and you don’t want to go because YOU are tired, you are being lazy. It’s not a good enough reason to not spend quality time with your kids. Kids are only kids for a short time and you will never be able to get time wasted away back.
- Don’t be afraid to say no (I know that contradicts with number 3, but they are different, I promise you)! There will be times in your life when you need to say No. Set boundaries with people if you need to.
- Hold your friends close. But don’t be afraid to meet new people. You never know when you are going to meet that person who will be a lifelong friend. Have many acquaintances but when you make a good friend, protect them.
- Forgive people. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you have to bend your morals or compromise your integrity but it is so liberating to be able to truly forgive. Your life and relationships will be so much healthier if you can forgive. And don’t forget to forgive yourself along the way.
- Don’t put conditions on loving someone. Love simply because you truly love, not because you are expecting something in return. Don’t guilt people into doing something, loving you, etc. It won’t bode well for you in the end. Open yourself up, be patient, your light will shine and you will find real love.
- Give freely – with no expectations. That is where you find the real satisfaction in giving. Give because you want to and for no other reasons.
- Trust your gut. Let your intuition guide you, it is almost always right. There will be times when your heart and your gut tell you 2 very different things. Trust your intuition, it is your most trusted advisor. Know when it is time to let go, time to move on.
- Some people will give you good advice; listen to them. Others don’t know their a#$ from a hole in the ground. You will know in your gut when advice is sound.
- Life is good. Will it be good all the time? Absolutely not. But for the most part, life is good and when it isn’t, have faith that it will get better, because it will.
- You are on a journey – which means the road will change. It will change often and many times won’t make sense. But it is a good journey, a worthwhile journey and it’s all yours so enjoy the journey!
- Pray and have a grateful heart – No harm can come from praying. And you can never be too grateful
- Sometimes bad things happen to good people – We may never fully understand this and we may be consumed with trying to figure it out but the reality is it just does sometimes.
- Be a positive influence in any way you can – Even little things can make a big difference.
- Be patient – Good things in life can take a long time, your time will come.
- Speak Up & Stand Up– Even if it’s not easy, even if you think you are going to upset someone. If your integrity is at risk, speak up. Speak up for what’s important to you, stand up for those who don’t have the courage to do so.
- Don’t take yourself so seriously – Laugh. Alot. Laugh so much that your sides hurt and tears run down your face.
- Trust your parents. They love you and do the best they can. They are not perfect and will make many mistakes but know that they truly love you and want the best for you. Listen to them. Trust them. Love them. Honor them.
- Don’t be afraid to tell someone you love him or her – as long as you really do. Be open to let love happen.
These are my words of advice to myself, so feel free to use these reminders for yourself or your own kids! It’s worked out pretty good for me – I love my life, it has turned out better than I ever could have imagined! Every bit of me is thankful for everything I have experienced and continue to experience. I have learned, and grown through the good and the bad and I choose everyday not to be defined by my failures or by things that are beyond my control (such as my MS). Go out there and live your life the best way you can! Embrace it!
PS – Here are some of my favourite uplifting messages