And so, today, a second installment of...
Unsolicited Birthday Advice
#15. Karma is Real. Call it karma, call it the Golden Rule, or just say "what goes around comes around," deep in my bones I know it's more than just an old saying. This life has some truly reflective properties as well as a tendency to operate in circles.
One of our sweet, brand new foals, summer of 2010,
catching his own reflection in a glass shop door.
He's too young here to understand that what he sends out into the universe,
he will eventually collect again.
But he does see that he is a handsome little devil.
And that's a pretty good start.
I read The Secret last year, with a mix of caution and curiosity, and realized it's just the same Christian principles of reaping and sowing, only articulated in more direct absolutes. It also promotes the notion that every action begins with a thought, something I have always felt to be true. In other words, choose your thoughts carefully.
Maybe give this book a shot. In the mean time, friends, I think it's pretty safe to remind you that your life will reflect back to you what you exude, more or less, for better or worse, sooner or later. Let that guide your path a bit. And know that, like this foal, you were created with great natural beauty. Go ahead and be a little fascinated with yourself and with each other.
#16. Speaking of modern, cash-cow self-help books, treat yourself to Love Languages. It's short and easy to read, and it is available everywhere. I think Love Languages offers a great view of how different we all are but also how understandable. We don't have to be content with not "getting" each other, whether our spouses, our friends, or children. Read this book and just experiment with the ideas you find. See if treating a loved one in a slightly different way (a way prescribed for his personality, not yours) makes him behave any differently toward you. See if a cooling relationship can be warmed with a fresh approach. Learn each other's hearts and enjoy the adventure of nurturing.
#17. In fact, read so very many books! Read a variety of books, until you fall desperately on a style that you crave. Then read the heck out of that style. Then challenge yourself to read different styles. Then join a book club. Or start one.
My Beloved Dinner Club With a Reading Problem, most of us...
Read a lot when you can and nibble little things when you're short on time, and build up to reading a spectrum of authors and genres. Surprise yourself. This habit works special, mysterious muscles in your brain and unearths glittering treasure in your soul.
Don't think you're a reader? I feel like the key to falling in love with reading is discovering the perfect physical setting for you. For me, it's a clean, quiet, comfortable place with my feet either propped up or curled beneath me and something yummy to drink, either hot chocolate or icy cold Diet Coke. It's best if all of my work is done and my phone is far, far away. Throw in either some dramatic weather or a sun worth bathing in... and I am in bibliophile heaven.
#19. Reduce Household Waste. Learn what kitchen scraps can be composted (not everything), what can be fed to different animals (you might be surprised), what should be recycled or burned, and how many times you can reuse different items. It's fun to see how long you can go without filling a trash bin for municipal collection. I bet you can go a lot longer than you thought!
I painted this sign back when Paris Hilton was still super popular.
My sweet Momma is apparently the only person who gets this joke.
#20. "Elevate the Ordinary." Here's another phrase I can't claim to have coined, but isn't it great? It just means to make the everyday stuff of life more lovely than it has to be. Not fussy or complicated, just special, whatever that means to you. My Momma has always kept her counter top sugar in a beautiful cut glass lidded bowl, and now I do the same. Hang artwork in your pantry. Wind your garden hose up into a giant urn instead of laying it on the grass. Play music in your bathroom. No rules here, just an urge to tuck beauty and pleasure in the mundane corners of your world.
#21. Don't wear a short skirt to get a pedicure, unless you want to. I have my gorgeous cousin Jennifer to thank for this hilarious memory and pearly piece of wisdom. About twenty years after our junior high school makeover party in Florida, she took me for a very grown-up professional pedicure right here in the Red Dirt State. It was a first time experience for me, and I wore the worst possible garment for the occasion.
I cannot think of a better person to have with me for this fallout, which seems like a terrible word choice suddenly. I love you Jen! And I am happy to share this advice now.
#22. Also, seek out new experiences. Break your own molds. As with books, surprise yourself. I think habits are good and useful, but they can also be trapping. Habits which you are unwilling to escape now and then can make your spirit grow stagnant. Some of my favorite memories are of things Handsome and I have done spontaneously or against the grain. And some of our best friendships have been forged out of passionate adventure-seeking. Dive into life! Don't waste time being overly shy. It doesn't really benefit anyone. And yes, this is another thing it took me a long, long time to realize.
Here is one of my favorite silly quotes, drawn from an actual road sign somewhere in the Alaskan wilderness where the deeply scarred muddy roads can trap vehicles for a long, straight drive:
"Choose your rut carefully.
You'll be in it for the next 200 miles."Word.
#23. Delay Pleasure. I realize lots of people say that we should eat dessert first, and I have probably said so myself a few times. But now I've changed my mind. These thirty nine years have taught me that over indulgence in anything can ruin the enjoyment. Collecting a reward prematurely, eating food too quickly or too excessively, rushing any good thing, including those of the romantic persuasion... it's all sabotage. To really enjoy something special, delay it a bit. Deny yourself just a little and push the climax away so you can force your mind and your body into a more complete experience. It's all about redirecting energy. Contain it, feel it, and use it to your advantage.
Eat more slowly and in smaller amounts, and not just to lose weight. Do it to taste things more fully. Train yourself to begin your meal even as you are cooking it, and the experience becomes more sensual, more delicious and interesting.
Let your appetite for all kinds of worldly pleasure build with the power of anticipation. Good things become amazing when you purposefully enjoy them from beginning to end instead of just racing to the finish, to the full stomach or the finish line or the opened gift. Give yourself more complete and nourishing experiences in life, not just a bunch of quick finishes.
Hang on a sec, this sounds like it might contradict advice #22, but it doesn't. Seek out new experiences with abandon, but once you are settled on a pleasure, experience it fully. Use your stores of energy for a complete pleasure, not an abbreviated one.
Okay, I hope some of this is useful to you guys. I have a lot more advice to share, so clear your calendars! ha-ha-ha...
Right now I am off for a long, rainy Saturday run. I have so much love to digest. I spent most of the day yesterday with my beautiful and affectionate youngest daughter. Then I read a million wonderful birthday messages from truly the BEST people on the planet. Then, after a confusing afternoon of being banished from my own home, Handsome and a thousand of our hilarious, loving friends surprised me with a birthday celebration I will never forget!
My life is way too good for one silly heart to contain, and now I need to go press these positive vibrations deep into my molecules. Have yourself a fantastic weekend, friends. Thanks for stopping by!