18 March, 2008

Life Lessons

I recently celebrated my "half birthday."  I am not on the downhill side toward my last year of being in my mid-thirties.  Yet, this doesn't bother me.  I think about how far I have come and all that I have accomplished and experienced throughout the past few decades, and... well, I am thrilled to have lived the life I have lived. 
Living life is never that easy though.  From age and distance we can see the rough spots as opposed to those patches that we thought were devastating; we can see more clearly our successes and our turning points.  We can see the lessons that we have learned.
Ah... those lessons.  I don't remember them all being difficult or painful, but I do know that they are not as easy as they seem in retrospect.  Having a child allows one to see the lessons that much more clearly and experience them all again with the wisdom (hopefully) of age and experience.
There are difficult life lessons to learn.  Perhaps some are harder for me than they were for you or than they will be for the Diva.  Some are simply difficult to learn at any age - perhaps they are lessons that we are still learning as adults. 
Last week the Diva had a very poignant experience.  She gave two toys away without realizing the consequences of her actions until hours later when she decided that she wanted them back. 
But they weren't coming back.  A gift is something that we give - no strings, no take backs.  for her, this was a lesson in consequences and thinking before taking action.  It was an easier lesson for me - do not charge into a situation with checkbook in hand to make her feel better for what she had done! 
Parents can teach kids the basics:  Look both ways before you cross the street.  Don't talk to strangers. Use your manners and your words. Brush your teeth, comb your hair, and take care of your body through exercise and good foods.  Treat others how you would like them to treat you.  And in our house, honesty is the only way to fly. 
But other lessons, the key life lessons, might be a tad more difficult for parents to teach.  They are the lessons that each must learn through individual experience; trial and error. 
Saying I don't know was a horrible lesson for me to learn.  If I didn't know an answer, I would make it up or "wing it."  It took moving to another country and being bombarded with questions that I couldn't answer to face the reality that, (don't be shocked here) it is truly okay to admit that  I don't know everything.  Saying "I don't know" is okay. 
Accountability/responsibility is another difficult lesson, it seems, for people to learn.  Sometimes being accountable means admitting that we aren't perfect and that we do make mistakes.  Hey... that is okay too!  But isn't it so much easier to blame it on someone or something else?  Teaching the Diva that it is important that she be accountable for her behavior is a challenge.  She is starting to understand the concept, which I love, but we aren't completely there yet.
Being true to one's self is also not easy to learn.  Sometimes it is easier to fall into step behind a popular drummer than to step out of line and march to a beat that only you can hear.  But... in all honesty, being true to one's self is one of the most rewarding lessons to learn.  (I think!)
We learn how to get along with others in the sandboxes, lunch lines, and classrooms that fill our early years.  Learning to get along with our selves and within society at large is more challenging.  Learning to truly live a full and balanced life is probably the most difficult and rewarding of the lot.  
Life lessons are never easy, but once learned... life is possibly a bit easier to live.  
What are your life lessons? 

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