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Growing up, I never knew how important things I've learned over the years were, until a few years ago. The day after my mother passed away, I sat. I started thinking about all of the things my mom and grandparents would keep telling me. The phrases played over and over in my head so much that I needed to write an article about it.
I always had skinned knees & elbows from the crazy daredevil-type stunts my friend Melanie and I used to do anytime we were around each other. Of course, it was always my fault because I was the schemer! I'll admit that! Melanie was kind of a goody-goody growing up! (Sorry girl! You know it's true though)
I always had to push the envelope so to speak. I would always get grounded, things taken away, lose my bike, roller blades, or friend privileges. Living those days the way we did, I can honestly say, was a few of the most important things that shaped me into who I am.
My parents knew early on that I was a headstrong, stubborn (isn't that the same as headstrong?), and one hell of a determined female.
Whatever I wanted growing up, I pretty much got from someone. For 6 years I was the only child and spoiled. Having to share my parents when my brother was born was NOT an easy thing for me.
I remember hearing stories about when I was little I knew how to sweet talk my grandparents out of everything. My parents jokingly bought both of my grandmothers a sign that says “If Mother says no, Ask Grandma!” My Bubba (my dad's mom) always pointed at that sign whenever any of the grandkids were told no in her house.
No one stood a chance.
Every single one of the grandchildren knew how to play their parents. And boy did we. I was probably the worse, I'll admit that. It was something I learned over the years and perfected. Probably wasn't the best thing, but it was memorable.
I'll admit that now.
Both sets of my grandparents used to watch me on and off while my parents both worked. I used to use that to my advantage. We would go out to breakfast, lunch, grocery shopping and I would always come home with a treat, toy, new outfit, or something my parents said I didn't need. The thing is, I needed it and my grandparents knew just how much I “needed” it and completely spoiled me.
When I was 1yrs old and I got a smurf big wheel. I couldn't reach the pedals, so my dad and grandfather made blocks on the pedals so that I could reach. I got it because my grandfather wanted to buy it for me.
When I was about 5, my grandfather bought a bicycle for me, painted it pink and burgundy (my two favorite colors) and attached training wheels. I still have the bike. My youngest is going to clean it up, repaint it, and make it his, since he knows how much I love the bike and want it to stay in our home.
When I made my first communion, I got a 10-speed bike, it was purple & pink with the curly handlebars. I stared at it everytime we went to the bike store down the street. My grandfather passed about 10 months prior to that so my grandma bought it for me but put my grandpa's name on it, because it was from him. He told her she had to get it for me.
Why am I telling you all of these memories?
Because they are just a one of the most important things I have learned over the years that you need, in order to get through life.
The crazy thing about memories, you don't realize how important they are, until that's all you have. When my mom was in hospice last year, she had so many visitors. Everyone who was visiting had TONS of memories of her. We laughed about how stubborn she was, how organized she was, and how much she loved her family.
8 Important Things I Have Learned Over Years
Memories Matter, ALMOST the most
You don't realize the memories that you actually remember until you're forced to remember them. There were so many memories that came flooding to my memory that it was hard at times to spit out the memory. Memories are precious. No matter if they are good memories or not so good. Remember that they are important because they helped make you who you are.
Create new memories, or keep traditions alive. My favorite memory that I can do all year now, is a holiday tree. now that we're in a home, we can have one up all year and decorate it for each season or holiday. Right now I'm getting ready to decorate it for Halloween & Fall. It's one of my favorite holidays, then we'll switch it to Christmas. It's so much fun, my youngest son's friends always comment on how “cool” it is.
Photos – Take Pictures Often, Keep them, Scan them, Look at them
Right up there with memories. Photos are important. I've started taking more photos with ME in the photos for my kids. Sure, everyone calls me a selfie queen, but I'll gladly be that for my kids. We had so many photos of my mom because she always was smiling and posing with friends and family when she was out or doing something.
When she was going through Chemo I took photos of her, because I wanted to show her when she kicked cancer's ass how strong she was and that she beat it. She didn't, cancer took the one woman who was a stable person in my life. But I have the memories and photos of how much she fought. She was always smiling no matter how much pain she was in.
Honesty Goes Much Further Than You Realize
You would think that this would be a given, but for some people, it's not. They aren't honest with others and if they can't be honest with others, do you think they are being honest to themselves? For years, I lied. I lied to myself, my family, and my kids because it was easier for me than, to be honest. Since I lied I ended up in a very dark situation. I almost lost my children, my family, and lost many friends. Once I came to terms with my truth, things started getting better. My kids were happier, I was happier, and I started building a relationship with my family again. Oh yeah, and I met this totally smoking hot man who eventually became my husband.
Music Will Most Likely Be Your Sanity
Music is my muse. I can't play any instruments, but I can sing. I inherited that from my mom. She had a beautiful voice. When I really want to, I can sing very beautifully. My husband always complains about it when I don't actually try and I'm joking around. Any music is my muse. I have to have music on ALL OF THE TIME. I used to have to listen to it on the bed to fall asleep to, but I've changed that for my husband. Silence is evil to me. I start thinking too much. Since I have anxiety, it's not good. I start thinking of the what ifs, could have, should have, would have.
Family Should Be Your Priority
Look, I have family members I dislike. I think everyone does. I don't talk to them because of personal reasons and I like to keep it that way. Does it hurt? Yup, sure as shit it does hurt. The family that I do talk with and enjoy spending time with, I make sure we spend time together as much as we can. I've distanced myself from many family members this past year because well, I need to cope in my own way. I've put my foot down on many things with my family. I've put up boundaries and I've also opened up doors.
- My brother, his wife & our 4 boys. Unfortunately, my husband was working. We had a beautiful dinner at Hospice just a few days before mom passed away.
The family is important, very important, however, don't sacrifice yourself for the family. I did it for many years and now I'm fighting back with them. Who I am today, isn't who I was 20 years ago. Some family members still view me as that 16 yr old church going girl.
Today, I'm Wiccan/Pagan and only go to church when there is a funeral or wedding. I don't receive communion and I refuse to do many of the other things like kneeling, etc. I'm not a practicing Catholic, so it's wrong for me to participate. But I show up to support the family because that's what people do for their loved ones.
Health Comes Before Anything Else, Even Family
I've been more proactive when it comes to health needs. Not just for myself, but for my husband and our sons. I stress the importance of health to my sons all of the time. That means more than just going to the doctor when you need him. That means hygiene, vitamins, medicines that are needed, and eating right. It's not much, but I've lost about 25 lbs since this time last year. I would have loved to lose more, but a loss is a loss right now. I've started going to the gym a dozen times to just lose interest and quit (yet still pay monthly). With everything that both of my parents have gone through, I'm on top of healthcare. If I'm not healthy, I can't take care of my kids and my husband.
Love With All Of Your Heart, Body & Soul
Open yourself up to love. To do that, however, you have to love yourself. I didn't do that until I was honest with myself. You can't love someone who you're not honest with. Lie to someone, they won't trust you, which will make you mad and all you'll do is lie more to yourself and to them. It's a vicious cycle. Stop lying, stop sneaking, stop being who you were and be who you're meant to be and you will love yourself and someone will love you back just as much.
Smile, Even When Things Are Tough, Because You'll Make It Through
Along with love, you need to smile. Even on the worse days. Smile. When you're having an anxiety attack, smile. (Trust me, I know that's not always easy.) When someone is doing something to you that hurts your feelings, smile. Smile and know that you're worth happiness. Smile and know that you're working towards who you want to be. When you smile, however; you have to mean it. You can't throw out a smirk and expect that smirk to make you feel better in the long run. You have to smile and mean it because it will make you feel better in the long run.
*BONUS* – Write Your Thoughts Down, Journal Your Heart
I saw this awesome notebook the other day that started me thinking. What would my kids do if I left the earth tomorrow? Would they know how I truly felt about them? How much I loved them? This book prompts you so you can tell your kids the story about yourself. Let them know who you are. Your feelings, your childhood, and more.
Why do I tell you these things?
So that you don't end up in a bad place like I did. Like so many of my friends did. Following these important things I've learned can help you live a life you want to live and that you deserve. Doing the opposite of any of these can cause you more pain and hurt in the long run. You'll feel better about your accomplishments also. If you do fail, you won't stay down very long.