Life Lessons 21-25…and then some

For those of you who know me, you probably know that my birthday has come and gone over a few weeks ago! Although I had intended to finish my 25 life lessons before my birthday, my life was a little hectic in the week leading up to it (I was at a national conference during the few days leading up to my birthday and was busy at the conference).

In addition, I had a lot of difficulty finalizing those last five lessons. What did I want to say? What were the most important lessons that I learned in the first quarter of my life that I really thought were worth sharing?

There’s so many things that I could say or wanted to say that it was hard to narrow it down to only five. So, I didn’t…and I tried to figure out what were the most important things to know. Of the lessons I had in mind, what were the lessons that I would want my (future) kids to know? When I do have children, what will I teach them? What are some of the first things that I will teach them? Well, there are a lot of things we can and should teach our kids, but below are some of the lessons I learned that I know I will most definitely pass onto my future offspring.

Life Lesson #21: Be there. Each year, the catholic schools in my diocese have a baccalaureate mass the night before commencement. In the past few years, the diocese’s relatively new bishop presides over the mass. In one of his homilies in recent years, he talked about the importance of being there for others. He challenged the seniors and the congregation to live a life in which they would be there for others at all times.

Be there for your friends and family to help them celebrate when things go well in their lives, but also be there for them when the going gets tough. Hold out a hand to a person who is need, and be willing to offer a warm embrace when all someone needs is a hug.

I’d like to expound upon the part about being there others in things aren’t going so great. It’s easy to be there for others when things are going well and you can join in the celebrations. However, we must also be there for others when things aren’t so pleasant. When a friend is upset and questioning a life decision, or when they’re depressed about something going on in their life, we must also be there for them in those times of need for those are the times when they probably need us most. Anyone can be there for the good times; everyone wants to take part in a celebration. However, the real challenge is to be there in these difficult times.

Growing up, my parents always stressed the importance of being there for others especially in these difficult times. I cannot tell you how many times I went to calling hours as a child before I fully comprehended the finality of death. I know that some people would disagree with children going to calling hours at a young age, but in retrospect, I think having those experiences taught me a lot. They taught me what it meant to be there for others when they needed it most. They made it a lot easier to deal with these situations as an adult. Had I not had these experiences, it would have been a lot more challenging for me to handle these challenges.

I’d also like to think that when we find ourselves in difficult situations, we’d want someone to be there for us, so why shouldn’t we be there for others during these times?


Life Lesson #22: DO something that scares you.

This is a tough one and it’s a lesson that I’m still coming to terms with. I think the lesson here is not to let fear rule your life. It’s easy to have fears and to let these thoughts or worries impact your decisions. However, you can’t live in a bubble. If you avoided everything that scared you and made decisions based solely on things that didn’t scare you, I’d venture to say that you’d probably miss out on a whole lot. This can apply to anything – whether it’s entering a relationship rather than avoiding one for fear of getting hurt, or going on a crazy adventure rather than staying inside because you’re afraid of the number of things that can go wrong. As many of you know, I’ll be applying for graduate school in the fall. I think I’m beginning to have a better sense of what I want to study which is awesome. However, with this new found understanding has come a realization that many of the schools that have what I want are all around the country from out west to the deep south. The thought of spending 4 years there and being away from my family and friends terrifies me. It’s such a scary thought and it makes me really nervous to think about the possibility of moving to one of these places. However, I know that applying to these places is the best thing I can do for my future. I’d like to think that if I applied and got into one of these schools that I’d have a better chance of being able to eventually make my way back to Ohio in a relatively short period of time. I guess you’d say that I’m following one of my previous life lessons in thinking about the future.

Life Lesson #23: Accept that not everyone will like you.

As a kid, we want everyone to like us. We want to be friends with everyone we meet (or at the very least, we want to be invited to all of our classmates’ birthday parties) and if someone tells us they feel otherwise, our feelings are immediately crushed.

I’m telling you now that it’s OK. Someone may not like you and you may have no idea why. Or, it might be because you ticked them off and you were aware of that crucial moment that changed everything. Or, it could be because of the way you look at them, or the way you talk, or the way you dress, or a million other things. It truly could be anything and there’s no true way of knowing the cause.

Don’t fret and don’t waste time or energy on these people (Side lesson: also realize that you can’t please everyone, so don’t worry about making everyone happy. It truly is impossible).

Life Lesson #24: Be someone that you would want your kid to admire.

As some point in our lives, we’ve all looked up to someone. We’ve found a role model who has led us in the right direction and have used them as a guide for how to act in certain situations. Perhaps we have multiple role models who have inspired or challenged us to be better and do better – it’s possible that this person has challenged us to do something we otherwise would have never considered. Be this type of person for someone else.

I want to inspire people i want someone to look at me and say, "because of you i didn't give up" - just girly things

Life Lesson #25: Don’t compare yourself to others.

This one is challenging and it may be something that you struggle with for a long time. Don’t compare yourself with others. Someone will always be smarter, faster, prettier…and the list continues.

There is always going to be someone who has an edge over you in some way, shape, or form. But it doesn’t matter. Believe that you are good at what you do and fully capable of facing any challenge that comes your way.

Life Lesson #26: Always, always, always believe in yourself. 

This one is simple.

Believe in yourself. Always.

Ignore your negative self-talk. Rid yourself of people who put you down. And just believe.

nina dobrev, quotes, sayings, believe yourself, quote

Bonus Lesson: Don’t think too hard and overanalyze everything. Just live your life 😉

“Take care of the golf balls first–the things that really matter.”

For awhile, I’ve been wanting to share a story with all of you, but I just didn’t know how. Many of you may have heard this before, but even so, it always makes me feel a little better. So, here it is.  


A Jar of Mayo and Two Cups of Coffee

When things in your lives seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 cups of coffee.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full.  They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with an unanimous “yes.”

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

“Now,” said the professor as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things–your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions–and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.

The sand is everything else–the small stuff. “If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

“Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your  spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first–the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled. “I’m glad you asked.

It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.”


Have I really not posted in over a month?

That’s embarrassing and unacceptable, but I promise I haven’t just been sitting around twiddling my thumbs.

I wanted to share this story for awhile, but I also couldn’t decide if I wanted to add my two cents to the story. What could I see that hadn’t already been said, and  how could I say eloquently?

I don’t know if I’ve figured out the eloquent part, but I do have things to say.

I think it’s really easy to get caught up in the superficial things in our life-‘what am I going to do on my day off? ”I wish I could buy concerts tickets’.’ How should I get my hair done for the summer?’ You may laugh, but it’s probably because you’ve had some of these very same thoughts. When you think about it, we waste an incredible amount of our time worrying about the sand-the trivial things.

We worry about our job, our education, our homes. But even without these things, we would still be fine if we knew we still had our family, friends, passions, and health.

On March 2nd, our 8-year old golden retriever, Minnie Mouse, passed away. It was completely unexpected and we had next to no time to say good-bye. I was devastated. I cried, I sulked, I wallowed. I think it’s a natural response when you love someone (yes, I know she wasn’t a human) you love. Within a month, we’d gotten another golden retriever in our home-Luna Love-of-my-life-Good.

Going away to grad school, I feel like I’ve missed a lot. I knew I’d miss out on the last few years of our dogs’  lives, but I never expected it would come so soon. Now that we’ve lost one dog, and have gotten another, I feel like I’m sometimes missing out on our new puppy growing up.

If you haven’t guessed this already, I’m a worrier. I’m also very driven and perfectionistic in many aspects of my life. I want to do and get what’s best for me. I want to embrace every opportunity in my path, which often means I worry about the little things. I concern myself with the sand, when I should be worried about the golf balls.

When I found out about our dog, I was still at school. I had a class that evening and I actually contemplated staying for class because I couldn’t miss class in graduate school.  And that’s when it hit me-what’s one class going to matter in the scheme of things, when I could be home saying goodbye and being with my family?

So, I went home.

I forgot about the sand.

I took care of the golf balls first.

Poems to Guide You

Caroline Kennedy. The torch bearer of a political dynasty, an advocate for privacy, a scholar, and a cultural icon.

She is also an author. In addition to writing books featuring facets of her famous family, Kennedy, like her mother before her, is a great lover of poetry and has edited and contributed to several collections of poetry. Her newest edition, published in 2011, is She Walks in Beauty: A Woman’s Journey Through Poems which features collections of poems that correspond with each stage of a woman’s diverse life.

She Walks in Beauty gets its name from the famous poem by Lord Byron which proclaims:

“She walks in beauty, like the night / Of cloudless climes and starry skies; / And all that’s best of dark and bright / Meet in her aspect and her eyes”

The book contains both classic and contemporary, long and short, metaphorical and literal, and happy and sad poems. Starting with poems on “Falling in Love,” the book continues to include entries on “Making Love,” “Breaking Up,” “Marriage,” “Love Itself,” “Work,” “Beauty, Clothes, and Things of this World,” “Motherhood,” “Silence and Solitude,” “Growing Up and Growing Old,” “Death and Grief,” “Friendship,” and “How to Live.”

Here are excerpts of some of my favorites:

From the chapter “Falling in Love” is the poem “I Do Not Love Thee!” by The Honorable Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Norton which begins:

“I do not love thee! – no! I do not love thee! / And yet when thou art absent I am sad; / And envy even the bright blue sky above thee, / Whose quiet stars may see thee and be glad”

From “Breaking Up”, the poem “Unfortunate Coincidence” by Dorothy Parker which is short and biting:

“By the time you swear you’re his, / Shivering and sighing, / And he vows his passion is / Infinite, undying – / Lady, make a note of this: / One of you is lying.”

From “Marriage,” another blissful and comical short entry titled “For Husbands” by Ogden Nash:

“To keep your marriage brimming, / With love in the loving cup, / Whenever you’re wrong, admit it; / Whenever you’re right, shut up.”

From “Beauty, Clothes, and Things of This World”“Eagle Poem” by Joy Harjo, which begins:

“To pray you open your whole self / To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon / To one whole voice that is you”

From “Growing Up and Growing Old”“Grown-Up” by Edna St. Vincent Millay:

“Was it for this I uttered prayers, / And sobbed and cursed and kicked the stairs, / That now, domestic as a plate, / I should retire at half-past eight?”

And finally, from the chapter “How to Live,” excerpts from the poem “Ithaka” by Constantine P. Cavafy:

“As you set out for Ithaka, / hope the voyage is a long one, / full of adventure, full of discovery, / Laistrygonians and Cyclops, / angry Poseidon – don’t be afraid of them: / you’ll never find things like that on your way / as long as you keep your thoughts raised high, / as long as a rare excitement / stirs your spirit and your body. / […]

Keep Ithaka always in your mind. / Arriving there is what you are destined for. / But do not hurry the journey at all. / […] And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you. / Wise as you will have become, so full of experience, / you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.”

Poems are inspiration. Poems are emotion. Poems are guides in happy and troubled times.

Poems are life.

Happy reading.