50 Philosophies and Life Lessons,
By Maricela Perry
A friend once asked us what we would write in a letter to our younger selves. I came to realize that as valuable as my life lessons have been, I can’t ever go back and gift them to myself. My place is in the present, living and doing better and cooperating with the next generation.
I dedicate this article to my daughter, Daniella, and her friends, my nieces, my god~daughters, and maybe someday, my grand daughters; and I dedicate these lessons I’ve learned with my sisters, cousins and the beautiful women I call my girlfriends to them too.
(You may sneak a peak if you’re a boy and want to know what girls might be thinking. Warning: dangerous ground.)
For 50 years of life…
1. Never be with a guy that’s not totally into you. Don’t chase a guy, or try to convince him to like you. If a guy is not into you–it’s not personal if he isn’t–drop him and find an awe-worthy one that is. Trust me, he’s out there. If awe-worthy guy thinks you’re smart, sexy and he tells you he likes you best without make up and in jeans, keep him forever. Life is so much better with a guy that can’t keep his hands off of you, thinks you’re awe-worthy too, and makes it happen to be with you whenever he can. This will be glue that binds when times get tough.
2. A guy needs to be awe~worthy to you to be considered your guy. Never compromise on this point, even if you’re feeling lonely. Mutual awe~worthy makes it all worth it. Promise.
3. Make yourself awe-worthy to YOURSELF. If that means getting through school, doing charity work, mastering a job or an art, creating a more ideal body, running marathons, or whatever that is for you, then do it. Just remember to do it for yourself.
4. Awe-worthy does not equal perfect. There are no perfect people, and certainly, no perfect men.
5. Value people above all else. Growing up I often heard that we needed to learn the value of a dollar. I think I learned that too well and it skewed my values for too long. We need to teach the value of another human being, and how to deftly treat and regard one. Don’t let ideologies or fear drive wedges between you and your love for others. Don’t let anyone or anything close your heart to people.
6. What people think of you is none of your business. You can NOT control what people think–good or bad. Instead, spend your energy on your awe-worthy projects. Never ever concern yourself with what anyone “thinks.” When you find yourself concerned with how someone is judging you, or looking down on you, just know that some crazy people falsely build themselves up by tearing others down: always recognize that and keep your mind and your thoughts on your side of the street. Just follow your heart and do right by your innate goodness.
7. You’ll attract the most amazing people if you follow #6.
8. Laughter and friendship go hand in hand. If you have a friend, and that friend makes your stomach muscles sore and ache from laughing so much, know that person is your best friend for life. (You hear that, Marthina?!)
9. Don’t try to impress, instead try to connect. Shallow people require you impress them. Big hearted people just want a loving connection. Even something as simple as throwing a party: no one’s going to remember, especially years later, what you served dinner on. Sure, serve plenty of great food, put on a great playlist, light some candles but know that people will remember how you made them feel, if you considered their needs, if you made them feel special and welcome, if they had fun, maybe if you gave them an insight into your mind or your heart, and how you behaved–they’ll know if they felt connected to you. Think about someone’s home you’ve been in where you felt welcome and loved…and create that.
10. Master listening well to others. Hear them. Don’t sit there “pretending to listen” only so that you can now say what you want to say. Learn to hear what another person feels or thinks. Take it in. Let it sink in. Besides, saying a little less keeps you slightly mysterious.
11. Don’t participate in gossip. Ever. If someone gossips about others, be guaranteed they’ll gossip about you. And if you participated in gossip, or hurtful rumors, then don’t act hurt when it turns on you–because it will.
12. Build people up. Make that your own personal discipline. Exercise your “building people up” muscles. This includes your mate and your kids. Remind people of why you like them, what makes them your friends, what you most admire about them. Real things, nothing false. And never forget to tell them you love them.
13. Learn to live WELL BELOW your means. I learned this from Jon when we went to buy our home. Our banker told us what we qualified for, then Jon talked me into buying a home in 1/3 of that price point. It was a brilliant move. We were able to invest in other important areas to us, including making substantial donations to causes we believed in. Anytime we’ve moved away from this style of living we’ve regretted it immediately. It’s been a priceless lesson and has greatly reduced stress in our lives and kept us in a more humble state of mind. When times get tough–we’ve been through recessions, dot.com busts and a national mortgage banking situation that almost caused a depression–you’ll have room to maneuver. Besides, there’s something so sexy and confident about a person that has the wherewithal but doesn’t have to flaunt it, and doesn’t let possessions define them. A guy with an old paid-off truck in jeans is still sexier than one in debt for his red sports car.
14. Learn to say no to yourself. This is a tough one because we live in a plentiful first world country. Just because you can buy it doesn’t mean you should. Learn the art of delayed gratification. You don’t need everything now, and all at once. Some things in life are like great wines and taste better later, aged in time. Trust me on this one.
15. A broken friendship can break your heart as much as man can, or worse. Grieve the broken friendship the way you would a broken romance: ice cream, a pity party, break up music and then take your personal awesome to its next level. After any breakup, during the recovery time, always work on your personal awesome projects: charity work, gym time, schooling, art…whatever those investments of time and work are that make life worth living, do those. Learn from the broken relationship and become an even better friend.
16. Learn to take the high road. This road can only be travelled sans ego, but it takes you everywhere you dream about for yourself. Take it, take it often and don’t look back. There’s an Eastern saying about malice and hate, “It’s like drinking poison, and expecting your enemy to die.” Don’t drink or serve poison. Don’t engage in any combative behavior to make a point, to feel right, to fight. Don’t troll for allies in a battle with another person. It never works– even if other friends side with another person in the moment. Most people are smart and eventually they connect the dots. The respect they’ll have for you for taking a high road, for moving on and creating something better, will be immense. You will be trusted in ways you never imagined. Always, always, always take the high road.
17. You are not an expert in mental health. Never engage with toxic or crazy people. You will not have lunch, or many lunches, with a crazy or toxic person and “fix things”. Like, ever. I had a friend once that I wouldn’t accept had some serious jealous and narcissistic qualities. She told me many times that she was jealous of me and mutual friends. She told me she had issues with love or admiration going in the direction of my friends or me. A mutual friend of ours bought a lovely home, and all of us were excited for her. My crazy friend told me she couldn’t be happy for our mutual friend because of jealousy, and actually had a hard time being inside the new house. You’d have to know this woman to understand why I couldn’t accept what she told me because she is a beautiful woman, stylish, hip and bright. I was so enchanted by her and I loved her so much. But she created, and still creates, non-stop turmoil for my friends and I. I can’t count how many lunches I had to try to repair things, etc. Even after “resolving” our issues I would later find out she was still trying to destroy people’s reputations, or drive wedges between people, not limited to me–a highly manipulative person. One day I disengaged and it was the best thing I did in about 25 plus years! I learned you can’t “talk-out” with a crazy or toxic person the way you can a problem or a difficulty with a sane person.
18. If someone needs to have the last word, let them. Having the last word is over rated and actually a form of inner degradation. It’s a road in the opposite direction of the high road. If someone insists on having it then let them have it. They probably need it more than you do. Give them that gift. Then wish them the best.
19. People fall somewhere in the spectrum of ‘uniting and dividing’ relationships. Listen to your inner voice when they show you where they fall. There are those that love to bring people together, and those that drive wedges between people. You, yourself, practice the art of being a uniter. Get good at it.
20. If you ever own a business, don’t hire friends, family, and especially not children of friends–their “little precious” will ruin your friendship. Every. Single. Time.
21. Don’t be a snob. You’re not better than anyone. Period. I used to only have friends that I thought were like me, or were on a similar path to mine. One day I realized I was bored out of my mind, my friend life was monotone. I came to realize that my arrogance was getting in the way of my friending good-hearted, salt-of-the-earth people that could fill my life with joy. I now only surround myself with friends that bring real joy. If they bring you joy they’ll be interesting too. You’ll be surprised how incredibly interesting and intelligent joyful people are. My life is now filled with beautiful diverse people and it feels rich and interesting to me.
22. The other side of don’t be a snob is that you’re also not inferior to anyone else. Don’t get caught up in subtlety imposed mental or social caste systems. Recently, I had a lovely lady tell me she always wanted to be friends with me. She was wealthy and successful in ways I can’t even describe. We wasted twenty years not being friends because I thought she was way above me. The love and support, humor, and energy I had would have been welcomed and maybe even refreshing to her–maybe even joyful. I just always liked her for her, and the values she placed on family and children. But I was too busy making caste systems to enjoy all these years of friendship.
23. Don’t measure people by what they have or what they appear to own. Never be impressed by it. Nothing materialistic is at it appears. Measure someone’s worth to your life by what joy and life they bring to you and others. They might have signed a bigger real estate contract or spent more money on a car but this is never a reason to look up to someone, even if other friends do. It’s also not a reason to look down on them. Be happy for them if this is something they want. Just keep it in perspective.
24. Be graceful and considerate if your home or lifestyle appears better than someone else’s. Be tuned in to the feelings of others, and be sensitive to this. If you know your friend is having a hard time making ends meet, this may not be a good time to talk too much about your six week European vacation. Don’t hide it or be ashamed about the fruits of your labor but don’t rub it in people’s faces either.
25. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Being flopped on the couch does not make you uncomfortable but it doesn’t get you anywhere. Netflix marathons will never make your dreams come true. Anything you do that creates extreme joy and exhilaration will require you to push yourself, physically and mentally. Get comfortable with that discomfort. Even getting in physical shape requires massive amounts of discomfort, but it’s all worth it. I flopped on the couch a few years back in mourning of a great loss. Yes, I took some time to grieve, which was good but I didn’t really recover until I took that mourning to the gym. I pounded all that grief day in and day out. I healed better this way, and I lost a few pounds too.
26. Keep your promises. The big ones and the little ones. If you promise to help your friend with a project and then you regret offering your help, don’t back out of it. Even if you don’t feel well, suck it up. Do what you said you’d do. If you promised you’d see your friend through a bad relationship, then take your friend’s calls, all of them, until the sun comes out again for them.
27. Treat yourself right. I used to hear that you have to love yourself. I couldn’t grasp what that meant, until I started treating myself better. Watch what you say to yourself about yourself. Treat yourself like a cherished friend. For me, that’s what loving myself means: to treat myself well.
28. Be kind to everybody. Kindness is the most beautiful art. Immerse yourself in it. You will never regret being kind to anyone. Keep in mind that there are people that are more fragile than others and need to be treated like delicate glass, as if they might break, because they may feel inferior, or their lot in life is difficult. Be gentle and even kinder to them.
29. If your daughter doesn’t cost tens of thousands of dollars in rehab growing up, throw her a big beautiful wedding. When you get the bill for the catering just think about the wonderful nights of sleep she let you have all those years.
30. Your kids will introduce you to new worlds. Music, humor, art, food. You’ll never look at little goldfish or macaroni & cheese the same again. The colors orange, green and purple are deep reminders for me of my children. When I’m alone in the car, I often find myself listening to playlists I listened to with them, songs I would never have listened to that I now love. Currently I love a song Daniella played for me by Angels and Airwaves. And Zack likes to play Brown Eyed Girl for me when he’s the DJ in the car–now it’s kind of become our song.
31. Don’t confuse your children with yourself. Don’t compare your children to you. Not even in your head. Realize the amazing and flawed humans they are, celebrate their greatness and embrace their imperfections. The dreams and disappointments you’ve had are not necessarily theirs. Support their dreams and realize they will have different disappointments.
32. Just because you grew up without things you wanted doesn’t mean your kids need to have everything. Let them work for their most prized clothes, toys, games, and even their first car. When you later see entitled children in the work force, you’ll thank your lucky stars you taught your kids character by letting them work for things.
33. Embrace diversity. People come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Their diversity is nothing to be afraid of. In fact, their diversity will enrich your life. Respect other people’s diversity and don’t engage in degrading jokes about other ethnics or lifestyles. It may seem funny in the moment but the pain it causes another human being is not worth the humor. People used to make Mexican jokes to me, and I always found them degrading and insulting, even when I didn’t have the courage to speak up. Usually people that make denigrating jokes don’t have the intelligence to make really funny banter or interesting conversation. Funny banter and humor require intelligence.
34. You will not be all things at the same time. There will be periods in life when one can be all-things-mom, and not so much stratospheric career, and art might take a back seat. Later, when your kids start ignoring you and embarrassed because you dared to talk to them at school, the career can move in high gear. If you can be all things at any point then great. But just don’t waste your time, like I did, beating yourself up about it if you’re not. Focus and dedication to an area of life gets beautiful results.
35. Your spiritual and philosophical–and especially your political beliefs–don’t make you a better person or a smarter person. Only your behavior does. Spiritual, philosophical and smart people are constantly evolving. Ignorance and arrogance are big time retardants to personal growth. No one cares about your opinion, only your example.
36. Even though you’re bigger than life and have a great personality, you’re not going to get invited to everything. Get over it.
37. Okay, and if you didn’t get invited to everything, and your friends post pictures on Facebook about the great time they had without you: click “like” then “hide” the post. 😉 I’ve done it, many times.
38. Wait, one more thing. Let’s say you do still want to get invited to everything, and you’re not heeding my advice, and you’re not getting over it: then learn to make a great jam or to take great party pics. Good hobby photographers get invited to everything. And here you thought it was my great personality, didn’t you?
39. Only cook when your heart’s in it. Food tastes better that way. Learn the art of arranging meals for when you’re not into cooking, or don’t have the time.
40. Your children are not better or more superior than other people’s children. And don’t act like they are. When there’s an issue with your children, get the information, address it and keep your critical thinking skills engaged–especially with your own children. Your sweet ‘little precious’ is human. You were given the job of parent to help guide and teach them. If they were so perfect and flawless they wouldn’t need parents. Raising children is a long learning journey for both parent and child. Anything learned at home with support of family is less painful. The earlier the better. You can’t teach your children if you’re blind to them.
41. Children, and grown ups, de-sensitize to too much upset and constantly getting into what’s wrong. Pick your battles well, so that when serious issues come up, you’ll be heard.
42. Make friends with your children’s friends. There’s a reason they’re friends. These friends will bring great joy to your life. And if they’re comfortable with you, they’ll tell you when your teen-age daughter isn’t wearing all the articles of clothing she left the house with. Right, Shae?
43. When your children have issues with their friends, stay out of it. Let them work it out and figure out how to navigate their own relationships. Don’t call the other mom. And just because your “little precious” is upset with their friend, doesn’t mean you have an upset with their friend or the other parent. Let your child own up to their part in any upset they are involved in.
44. Whom your family members decide to love and partner with is not about you. Stay out of their relationships. This goes for friends too. No one really wants your opinion about their mate, even if they say they do.
45. Learn to keep a poker face as people will do and say the darnedest things. If a subject is touchy say as little as possible in the moment, you can always say more later once you’ve had a chance to process and edit your thoughts and emotions.
46. Keep the cards close to the vest. Some people don’t know boundaries, so hold strong. People need to earn the opportunity to hear your truths, know your deep seated beliefs and your experiences.
47. A strong child is a good thing. You can teach a strong girl grace as she grows up, but that inner strength in character will see her through when she’s older and on her own. Don’t break that spirited child. I had to ignore the judgey parents that would look down on me because our daughter was so feisty. Feisty daughter had the strength in her teen-age years to always stay true to herself.
48. The laundry is never going to be done. And neither will dishes. Period. End of story.
49. It’s never to late to get your body in the best shape it can for its age. Rock the exercise and feed it like you want it to last forever. Something I’ve learned along the way is that I seem to like a certain style of dieting and exercise for about eighteen months, and then I need to change it up. One of my fitness friends recently told me the same thing about herself. If you think about it, improving your body requires you change it up. So keep an eye open for the need of change.
50. Celebrate birthdays. Birthday numbers are badges of honor. The higher the better. Every day is a privilege. Make a home made birthday cake, eat a great meal, tell all your old stories, relive all your inside jokes–and make new memories as often as possible. Friends and family die unexpectedly. Break open a bottle a wine, or have a cup of coffee, with them ANY chance you can. Celebrate the people in your life as often as possible, and let them celebrate you too. And while we’re at it, celebrate everyday that you’re alive and be grateful for your health.