How many choices would you say you make in a single day? Would it be safe to say we make thousands of choices between the time we wake up and the time we go to bed?
We have to decide what time to get up, what to wear, what to eat, and the list goes on and on. Much of our days are spent doing things we decided to do a long time ago.
Yesterday, our middle child graduated from college, following in her older brother’s footsteps. Needless to say, we are incredibly proud of all the hard work she’s put in to reach this milestone. The number of decisions it took for her to reach this point is almost mindboggling. All along the way, she had to choose whether or not to do the things she had to do if she wanted to earn a college degree.
As we watched the many graduates file into the auditorium, garbed in their caps and gowns, I couldn’t help but marvel at both the efforts it took for each of them to reach that point but also the endless possibilities stretching out before them. Most are at the very beginning of what will become their life
work. Some are charting a new course for themselves, making a choice to do something different.
I wondered how many of them knew what their next step would be. How many will find work in their chosen field? Would they like it once they were out there, working in the real world?
I have to admit, a tiny part of me even felt a twinge of jealousy. What would it be like to be twenty-something again, with nearly unlimited options ahead of me?
But it didn’t take me long to remember how scary it felt. Endless choices can be overwhelming and more than a little scary. Back then, the choices didn’t feel endless.
I also like to think I’ve learned a thing or two through the years since I last stood there in a cap and gown. Life teaches us all so much. Some of those lessons are best learned one time. Some are so painful I’d prefer never to have to repeat them.
So while I wouldn’t want to be twenty-two again, are there some things I wish I would have known then that I know now? Silly question, right?!
• I would tell my younger self to take more chances. To not always make the safest, least risky choice.
• I would assure my younger self I was smart enough and strong enough to take on big challenges and not settle.
• I would work harder to maintain those relationships in life that meant the most to me. I’d hug more and argue less. I’d let petty things go and find joy in the little things.
• I’d move more and sit less. And I’d definitely dance more.
• I would stress less about specific work tasks. It was never worth it.
• I’d warn myself that the endless list of tiny choices I’d make, day in and day out, would ultimately result in the quality of my life. It’s seldom the biggest choices we make, that seem so monumental at the time, that impact us the most.
Wow, I’d have been so much smarter if I could have shared all of this with my twenty-two-year-old self! But the reality is that even if that were possible, it might not have made any difference. Because until we live these things ourselves, and truly appreciate the impact of the choices we make, we won’t take someone else’s word for it. While the years may not always be kind to us, the lessons we pick up along the way will be invaluable.
We can’t go back. I wouldn’t want to go back. But we don’t have to. None of us are really much different from all those graduates standing in that auditorium yesterday. We all have endless possibilities before us. We just have to open our eyes to them. There are blessings in the hard-won wisdom we possess by the time we’re fifty-two instead of twenty-two. We know it’s better if we chose the wheat bread over the white bread and the vegetables over the chocolate. It’s better to find work we love than suffer through work that pays better. And relationships are worth fighting for, even on those days when you might not like the other person all that much.
It’s all about making better choices. And that’s hard to do until you have your own life experiences to draw upon.
Since I can’t go back and tell my twenty-two-year-old-self anything, I’ll instead remind my fifty-two-year-old self of a few essential things:
• Choose joy, every day.
• Choose love.
• Choose the people and things that make me smile.
• Choose peace.
• Choose to be uncomfortable, even scared, if it means pursuing something important.
Having the gift of choice is a blessing. Choose wisely as often as you can, and when you stumble because of a poor choice, forgive yourself and chalk it up to some more of that hard-earned wisdom. Choose better next time.
Challenge yourself and encourage others. And please forgive me, but as a proud parent, I have to add one last note. As I finish writing today’s post, our youngest just popped into the room to tell us she got accepted into the top two colleges of her choice. Now she has a choice to make. The circle of life continues.
Always in your corner, cheering you on! Kim
One of the greatest gifts in life can be to have the ability to believe in things we cannot see. Belief in the power of love. Belief in each other. Belief in ourselves. Belief that when we trudge through dark days, it will get better.
Belief is magical. Belief can also be a fragile concept, easily lost. And when belief deserts us, life can lose much of its sparkle.
When you think back to when you were a child, what did you believe in? Ghosts? Santa? The Easter Bunny? The Tooth Fairy? Now, as adults, some of those things seem more than a little ridiculous. But for a child, these symbolic figures may be at the very heart of many holidays and milestones in life. After all, losing your first tooth is a huge deal.
When each of our children reached the stage where they no longer believed it was Santa Claus eating the cookies left out on Christmas Eve, I knew a part of their childhood innocence was gone forever. Personally, I’ve never truly given up entirely on Santa Claus. I love the ideas he represents. Generosity, magic, and the incentive to be good. For me, the magic isn’t found in the concept of receiving presents, although a five-year-old may not agree with me.
Belief is described as something one accepts as true or real; a firmly held opinion or conviction.
Many people keep their own personal beliefs to themselves. History is littered with examples of where sharing one’s own beliefs resulted in ridicule, or worse. Sadly, the world is full of people quick to judge or persecute. I suspect each of you has experienced this in some way.
Having belief is vitally important in every area of our life. After all, if you don’t believe something is possible, you’ll remain stuck exactly where you are at right now.
You’d never take any chances if you didn’t believe something different, something better, was possible. Why study in school if you don’t believe knowledge can take you places? Why bother to work through the inevitable struggles a relationship will face if you don’t believe in the joy you’ll find in love and friendship?
To change anything, you must have belief. To love, you must have belief. To heal, you must have belief.
Belief in the little things is as important as belief in the most significant things.
It’s easy to believe in things we can see. But what if you dream of building or creating something new? It’s much harder to believe in things that don’t yet exist. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be the one to bring them into existence. It all starts with belief.
If belief is so important, what can we do to both grow and protect our own beliefs? There are no easy answers.
Believe in those things that will make this world a better place for everyone. Watch for signs that will help strengthen your belief.
Imagine my surprise, the weekend of our son’s wedding, when my flower pot took on the shape of a heart. I promise you there was no trimming. This was all nature. A sign perhaps that we should all believe in the magic of love and the promise of happily ever after? I like to think so.
The holidays are a time to celebrate some of the many special things we believe in. We do this through decorations, music, and generosity. We prepare favorite foods and enjoy spending time with close friends and family. I am most familiar with Christmas traditions, but I appreciate others have their own traditions they follow in celebration of their beliefs. There is Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. Some celebrate the Winter Solstice. There are many other celebrations, too.
If you begin to feel overwhelmed by trying to fit in too much this month, close your eyes and take a deep breath. Remember to focus on what are the most essential beliefs behind your own celebrations. Bring to mind special memories of years gone by. It is often the smallest of details that become special with time. It might not have even seemed all that special when you were experiencing it, but now it’s a precious memory you hope to hold on to forever.
Find a simple way to make a new, special memory today. Set your big to-do list to the side for a bit and maybe bake a batch of cookies with a child. Call up an old friend you haven’t spoken to for a while. Stick an extra dollar or two in the red kettle. There will always be people that need your help.
Hoping you are finding a little magic in every day. Smile when you notice a small sign and find comfort in your beliefs. Kim
Kimberly Diede Author
Hello everyone and welcome to my blog! My name is Kimberly Diede and I'm a fiction author and family girl. When time permits, I am happiest with a great cup of coffee in one hand and a book in the other. I love to alternate between reading and writing. Winters here can be long, dark and cold. Summers are unpredictable, lovely and always too short. Every season of the year, as in every season of life, is a gift. Let's celebrate it together!