Rachel and I just returned from a special trip in the big city of Vancouver. She’s turning thirteen! My husband and I chose thirteen as the year to celebrate our children’s entry into adulthood.
We experienced fine dining, visited the spa, had makeovers, shopped and talked talked talked. One meal we sat in a cheap sushi café buried in the basement with a couple dynamite rolls and a glass of cheap wine (well, I had wine).
We discussed the wisdom we have learned in our years. I was sharing a few things with her, and discovered, again, that she has a lot to teach me.
Thirteen things we know…
1. Keep your first kiss for someone you can’t not kiss. Her reaction met with a groan, “Mom, that is weird.” (But the other kisses=ewww, and regret).
2. Keep that special moment, that intimate moment, for someone who will put a ring on it. A countercultural statement I proudly shout from the mountaintops. “But what if that special someone never happens?” Ha, I remember saying that. That special someone will arrive. This vivacious beautiful girl? Just a matter of time.
3. But as you wait, don’t spend your life waiting to meet him. Between now and the age you meet him, fully engage life and all you are meant to be. “What if I already met him?” she asks. Funny enough, I may have crossed paths with her dad when I was five, living only three blocks away from my his childhood home.
4. Don’t try to be someone that you’re not. Try to be the person that is the best version of you.
5. It’s really easy to people please for so many different reasons. Always be kind, but always honour you.
Rachel wanted her turn. Things that she knows…
6. Don’t judge a book by its cover. People might be more kind than they appear at first glance. (Ahh, giving the benefit of the doubt, tis challenging to do sometimes).
7. Be kind.
8. Put yourself out there. Opposite yourself. If you’re really shy, try not to be shy as much. But only challenge yourself with something that would make a big difference in your life. Not just ‘I want to change my nose’. If you’re really talkative, try not to talk as much. Actually do something that would help change and make you feel better.
10. Loneliness is a feeling everyone experiences. It doesn’t mean you are alone. There are 7 billion people on the planet. Humans have common human experiences. You can find a way to connect with anybody if you put in the effort.
11. Stay positive. If you get disappointed because you wanted something you couldn’t get, or you’re feeling mad or sad, after you feel it, change your emotions to happy because it makes life a lot more fun.
12. Trust yourself. If you see somebody and they tell you where to go, but you don’t think so, trust yourself anyway.
13. Do what you like to do. If your friends are hanging out at a store you don’t want to, do what you want to do, because surrounding yourself with people you like is really helpful to feel good.
14. Be grateful. Me and my siblings will look on-line and think we want something and don’t always realize we have so much and we are so blessed. If you ever feel sad, think about everything you do have.
15. Be you. Don’t try to be someone you’re’ not just because it’s cool. You’ll be a lot happier and a lot more peaceful because you don’t have to put energy into someone you’re not.
16. Stretch beyond your limits. Be open to trying new things. Like when my friends and I want to go swimming and the water is like fifty degrees below, they come out laughing, and I know I have to do it just because it looks fun, even though it’s like fifty below.
17. All feelings, name the feeling, are just feelings. Feelings are passing, just like clouds in a summer sky. They come and they go. You cannot control them. Your reactions are natural. But the more you understand your feelings and other’s feelings, observing them, the less they control you. You can rely too heavily on your feelings and believe they define you or believe they define the storyline of your life.
18. God is real. There is a reason all of us exist, why we all want a sense of purpose, why everyone has an internal moral code, and why everything co-exists so well.
19. Suffering happens to everyone. Troubles happen to everyone. It’s not useful to focus on how troubled we are. We were meant to love, and think on things that make us happy, and cause us to extend kindness and warmth and love to others so that they can live happily on this earth too.
20. Gratefulness breeds more gratefulness. Discontent breeds more discontent. Whatever you focus on, you get more of.
21. Forgiveness can be painful, certainly challenging. Sometimes you want to hold on to the mistreatment, you want the other person to know how badly you’ve been mistreated and sometimes you want them to pay for it. But even if you could, it doesn’t make the injustice feel better. Forgiveness was meant to be part of the human experience.
22. If you want to change the world, learn how to be at peace, all by yourself. Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with you.
If you’re counting, that was more than thirteen.
For Rachel on your thirteenth birthday: “You are a child of God and a gift to your parents. You have the power God has given you to do whatever you were meant to do. Go do it!“