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Thirteen Reminders

2013“2013 was a very unlucky year for the Bartletts. It must have something to do with the number 13.”

Those words were uttered by my mother, who is perhaps the least superstitious and most practical woman I know. But all of us have our uncharacteristic moments, and I completely understand why my mother had that one.

Several family members dealt with some difficult situations in 2013. But as I look back on the year that is almost over, I am more inclined to describe 2013 as a year when experiences, rather than simple words, served as reminders about life.

I also prefer to think those 13 reminders are gifts.

Reminder #1: Patience is a skill, and like any skill, it requires practice. Just like some people are born athletes or musicians, some people are born with more patience than others. But also like athletes and musicians, the skill must be practiced to be beneficial. Practice is even more important to those of us who weren’t born with a great deal of patience.

Reminder #2: No experience is completely bad. Something good, whether it is a humorous story, a new relationship or a change of direction, generally grows out of what we often consider a “bad” experience.

Reminder #3: Trying to influence the opinions of others is generally a waste of time. We can only act in a way that exemplifies our own beliefs and values. Life will teach us that being true to ourselves is much more important than ensuring other people understand.

Reminder #4: Life will always be a series of ups and downs. If we are constantly complaining about the struggles up, we often miss the joy of the ride down.

Reminder #5: The joyful ride down is usually consists of little moments, not grand accomplishments. We need to take time every day to appreciate those little moments.

Reminder #6: Living a life without goals is like playing a basketball game that has no final buzzer. The only thing we achieve is exhaustion.

Reminder #7: People who are mean-spirited generally don’t realize how mean they really are. They are so focused on meeting some unfulfilled need in their own lives that they unconsciously try to create holes in the lives of others. Giving kindness and compassion to such individuals is difficult, but it is still easier on our own souls than anger will ever be.

Reminder #8: Compassion and kindness for mean-spirited people doesn’t mean we must make an effort to keep such people in our lives.

Reminder #9: Miracles happen every day. To witness them in our  lives, we just need to believe and look for them.

Reminder #10: The greatest gift we can give another person is to remember something important about him/her. No one likes sharing a piece of themselves only to be forgotten.

Reminder #11: The greatest gift God gives us are the challenges we overcome. They teach us so much: to believe in ourselves, to understand the struggles of others and to prioritize what is truly important.

Reminder #12: The only thing that complaining about your circumstances will change is the people who want to be around you. Very few people can tolerate much whining. Seeking sympathy never changes anything. Taking action does.

Reminder #13: Everything that happens in our lives is an experience that prepares us for what will happen next. The mystery about that next thing is what keeps life interesting.

Champagne-toastHere’s to all the adventures, and reminders, that await us in 2014.