Here are the 10 things I have learned:
- Your last words spoken may be the last time you ever get to see or speak that person again. Make sure every departed word to your loved ones are kind, loving and of course, sincere. I remember a friend of mine called me one night hysterically crying. She had a horrible argument with her brother. She verbally attacked him so badly, thinking that they'll make up the next day, but unfortunately, he died in a terrible car accident when a truck took a wrong turn onto a ramp that led him on the wrong side of the highway. And just. like. that....he was gone. My friend had no way to say "I'm sorry" or to explain why she did what she did. She still till this day thinks about the 'what ifs' and what would she have said if she had that one last moment with him.
- We're not here forever. Parents may seem invincible, but I learned the hard way that my superman -- the strongest man in the world turned into a weak and fragile man from his struggles with cancer. Thing is -- Mom and Dad are supposed to live forever, right? ......Right? One day they're here, and the next, you're secretly praying to them asking, "Where are you?" Dad was the protector of the family -- the one who you went to for safety. And when that safety net was taken away, my sense of feeling unstable in life -- insecure about our everlasting existence that doesn't even exist. I was then faced with the realization that life is very short. I am grateful that my last words to Dad were, "I love you." I still wish he was here, but not in pain.
- It doesn't matter who's wrong or right. Apologize anyway. You may find that you connect with that person on a much larger scale because of it. We all go through challenges in life -- things that sometimes make us act in a ways that aren't loving or kind. Read through someone's 'bad mood' -- read through someone's hurtful words. When someone lashes out, it usually means they are struggling with something we have no knowledge about.
- You can't change people. If you're dealing with someone who is stubborn who constantly keeps repeating the same offense, then do what Jesus did when Peter asked Him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven." Some people will never change their ways and you can never change it for them. You either have to accept their personality and character and also the way they react to things, or you can simply just cut them out of your lives if it affects you that much. Forgiveness does not require the offender to still be in your life. But realizing that the person is the person they are -- it might make things a little easier if you do really care a lot about them.
- Love yourself. Like yourself. Appreciate who you see in the mirror. I don't mean this in the conceited sense -- I mean to really approve of yourself so that you will never need somebody else's approval. I have learned through my own self-deprecating ways that the approvals of others was more important than my own approval of myself. Once I learned how to like myself better, I was able to do more for others, be there for others, love more deeply and genuinely, as well as be comfortable in my own skin with who I am physically and spiritually. I also found I didn't always need people to be around me -- I became more comfortable with my own company. And that's a beautiful thing. I admit, sometimes I can get emotionally drained. That's when I have to reel it in, refuel and pamper myself spiritually, mentally and physically. Fill up that love tank!
- Unanswered prayers are usually a blessing in disguise. I believe God has a plan for each and every one of us, and if we pray for something that is not in God's will -- or it is not suitable for our destiny, then it will not come to fruition. I remember losing some of my faith a long time ago when my prayers were not being "heard" (so I thought). I prayed for something that I know with all my heart, I would have regretted today. It was not in God's plan, nor would it have been healthy for me. So thank God for His unanswered prayers. You could be dodging a bullet!
- Nurture yourself, your mind, your soul, your entire being. Without taking care of yourself, you are unable to take care of anybody else. It wasn't too long ago when I found myself in a terrible depression. I was explosive, defensive and downright miserable. I found myself on the brink of suicide. I even wrote about some of it on this blog during that time and got some great support from my readers. I was very honest and blunt with how I felt and what I was going through. I was secretly referred to a wonderful social worker who was very spiritual and of an entirely different religion than what I believed in. I saw her for about four months, and in those months, I discovered new ways of living, even picking up books that I would think were 'not of God' -- but it taught me basic principles of loving yourself and loving others -- the same principles that the Bible gives. I gave myself time to study these principles, time to meditate, time to pray, time to delve into my passions and in due time, I changed. My entire mindset changed. I stopped feeling guilty about taking some time out for myself, because it only meant that I would take better care of other people since I was "okay".
- Take time off. Smell the roses. Get out and live life and spend it with those you love the most. Time goes by quickly -- don't waste it. People spend most of their days and hours at work more so than even spending it with their families and loved ones. There is this story that I want to share with you. I think it's very important to read if you truly want to know what your loved ones need from you. One night, this man came home from work late, tired and irritated to find his five year old son waiting for him at the door. The son said, "Dad, may I ask you a question? How much do you work for an hour?" His father became angry. "That is none of your business. Why do you ask such a question? It's $100 dollars per hour." So the son asked, "Dad, may I borrow $50 dollars please?" His father became furious and said, "I know you only wanna buy toys!" So the father walked upstairs to rest as the little boy quietly went to his room. The father sat down and got angry about the little boy's question. "How dare ask such questions only to get some money?" After an hour, the father had calmed down and started to think: "Maybe there was something he really needed to buy with that $50 dollars -- and besides, he doesn't ask very often." So the father decided to go to the child's room and open the door. "Are you asleep?" the father asks. "I had been thinking, maybe I was too harsh on you earlier, please forgive me. Here's your $50 dollars." The little boy sat straight up, smiling, "Oh, thank you dad!" Then the boy reached underneath his pillow, he pulled out some crumpled up bills. The father seeing that his son already had money, he then started to get angry again. The boy slowly counts his money and looked up at his father. "Why do you want more money if you already had money?" The father grumbled. "Because I did not have enough, but now I do," the boy replied. "I now have $100 dollars. Can I buy an hour of your time? Please come home early. Mum always feels lonely when you are away. I also want to have dinner with you."
- We are ALL equally important! Just to give you an example of what I'm trying to convey here is this: the other day while waiting in my doctor's office, I noticed that there was a huge amount of people all waiting for the same doctor. This doctor is really in demand, that not only do they schedule your appointment out two months, but you usually have to sit in the waiting room for at least one or two hours. This is a normal occurrence. Bring your smartphone and headphones and maybe even lunch. So this beautiful Filipino lady walks in all dressed up and well manicured. Everyone gave her a quick once over. She looked like she was on a mission though. She headed right up to the receptionist window and says, "Hi, I'm Lynn, how long is the wait?" The lady said, "Oh he's a bit backed up so you're looking at an hour or more." The lady started screaming and said, "I called before, and you said he was on schedule! This is unprofessional! My brothers are all doctors and when they say they'll see you at 4pm -- it's at 4pm! This is disgusting! I work in the medical field! I have a long line of family members who are doctors and surgeons who know the doctor personally!" So basically, she thought she had some sort of 'pull' when all of the sudden, this tiny little lady who was the head nurse in the back overheard everything. She came storming out and said, "We are very professional! Who do you think you are that you can just barge through our office and step in front of all of these other patients! The doctor is that good, that's why his patients wait! And so will you! Either wait or leave!" She then slams the door and goes back inside. Lynn turns her head to look at all of us waiting and says, "This is so ridiculous, right?" One of the patients said, "You were out of line. We're all here because he's that good of a doctor. We're all waiting the same amount of time." So my point is: there are people who think that what they do, or who they know will give them a better standing in life. Your job is no more important than anybody else's. We all share an integral part in life, whether we are homemakers, lawyers, doctors or cashiers -- we are here for specific reasons. When you deem your life to be much more valuable than another's, you have just devalued your entire purpose in life. You can't see another person's worth because you can't get out of your own way. It's not about you. It's not about how "important" your job may seem or "who you know" or how much money you make. It's about regarding human life as precious as your own -- to relate -- to be in it together. Otherwise, everything else in this world is meaningless.
- Accept that everything is out of our control. Just like the woman I mentioned above -- if you're a control freak and things are out of your control, you. will. explode. Being a control freak will not only make you crazy, it'll nearly drive you over the deep end because nothing is in your power -- nothing is in your full control. The more we accept that -- the less we care about "perfection". I remember I had to have everything my way and when it didn't go the way I planned it -- I would either get really depressed or angry. The illusion of having control nearly destroyed my own relationship. I finally started believing the concept of holding on too tightly. The more you hold onto something or someone, the more they slip away from you. I love the saying, whatever we resist, persists. We are not the controllers of the universe -- God determines our fate. And whether you believe that the Universe is your god or that God is the maker of the universe -- our destiny is determined by each step of our journey. So if the step you're taking is the wrong one, I believe God (or the universe) will push you onto the right one, even if that means losing the wrong step that you wanted so badly.
I honestly just felt the need to share all I have learned just within the past year. Wow, can you imagine -- it took me over 40 years to learn some basic things in life -- things that truly, truly matter. Better late than never, I guess. Kiss your children, kiss your parents, tell them you love them. Cherish your siblings, your friends and love your spouse unconditionally, without any control. Let them fly and be the magnificent people they are. Each person is on their own journey, and it's a wonderful thing if we get to share our journeys with the ones we truly care about.