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Growing up, I never knew how important things I have 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 will admit that! Melanie was kind of a goody-goody growing up! (Sorry girl! You know it's true though)

Me?

I always had to push the envelope so to speak. I would always get grounded, things taken away, lose my bike, rollerblades, or friend privileges. Living those days the way we did, I can honestly say, was a few of the most important things I have learned over the years ended up shaping me into who I am.

My parents knew early on that I was 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.

I never knew how important things I have learned over the years were, until a few years ago when my mother passed away. That's when they made sense.

No one stood a chance.

Every single one of the grandchildren knew how to play with their parents. And boy did we. I was probably the worse, I will 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 curly handlebars. I stared at it every time 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 is one of my favorite holidays, then we will switch it to Christmas. It is 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 have started taking more photos with ME in the photos for my kids. Sure, everyone calls me a selfie queen, but I will 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.

I never knew how important things I have learned over the years were, until a few years ago when my mother passed away. That's when they made sense.

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 is not. They are not honest with others and if they cannot be honest with others, do you think they are being honest to themselves?  When it comes to telling the truth, you are going to feel so much better about yourself and you will be able to grow as a person with a positive future.

One of the important things I have learned about telling the truth, it not only relieves stress but also brings opportunities that you may have missed out on.

Music Will Most Likely Be Your Sanity

Music is my muse. I cannot 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 do not actually try and I am 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 have changed that for my husband. Silence is evil to me. I start thinking too much. Since I have anxiety, it is 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 do not talk to them because of personal reasons and I like to keep it that way. Does it hurt? Yup, sure it does. 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 have distanced myself from many family members over the past year because well, I need to cope in my own way.

I have put my foot down on many things with my family. I've put up boundaries and I have also opened up doors. But knowing when and how to draw boundaries is a part of the things I have learned over the past year or so.

8-Important-Things-I-have-Learned-Our-Family
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, do not sacrifice yourself for the family. I did it for many years and now I am fighting back with them. Who I am today, is not who I was 20 years ago. Some family members still view me like that 16 yr old church-going girl, which I am not. My beliefs are very much different than what they were when I was growing up. Learning about yourself is one of the things I have learned that is essential to moving ahead with your life.

Health Comes Before Anything Else, Even Family

I have been more proactive when it comes to health needs. Not just for myself, but for my husband and our sons. This is one of the most things I have learned that has to be done. 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 or her. That means hygiene, vitamins, medicines that are needed, and eating right.

Love With All Of Your Heart, Body & Soul

Open yourself up to love. To do that, however, you have to love yourself. I did not do that until I was honest with myself. You can not love someone with who you are not honest. Lie to someone, they will not trust you, which will make you mad and all you will do is lie more to yourself and to them. It is a vicious cycle. Stop lying, stop sneaking, stop being who you were and be who you are meant to be and you will love yourself and someone will love you back just as much.

Smile, Because You'll Make It Through All Of The Important Things

Along with love, you need to smile. Even on the worse days. Smile. When you are 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 are worth happiness. Smile and know that you are working towards who you want to be. One of the things I have learned is when you smile, however; you have to mean it. You cannot 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, Especially The Important Things

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.

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