I’m participating in a challenge to blog every day in May; today’s prompt instructed participants to share a piece of advice for others.
I’m actually going to share 3 1/2 pieces of advice today.
1. This first one has two parts, but it’s still just one piece of advice, and it’s the one I think is most important. First, identify your priorities. Be honest! Don’t list what you think is, for one reason or another, the “right” priorities; very carefully, with great deliberation, identify *your* priorities. Then . . . live accordingly. That’s it.
Let me explain. Don’t, for example, put “God” first and then relegate your relationship with Him to an hour or two on Sunday morning and a check that you write out of a sense of obligation (or to lower your tax obligation). Another example. Don’t put your family before friends but spend dinner out with your family texting with your buddies. Live your priorities!!
2. Collect experiences, not stuff. Don’t spend the majority of your life working so you can buy more stuff and a bigger house/garage to store it in and a bigger vehicle to cart it around in. Instead, get rid of everything you don’t need and/or love and don’t add anything to your stash unless you really will use it or it brings you great joy. Instead of spending time accumulating and then taking care of all you’ve accumulated, get out and *do* something. Take a hike with your family, play fetch with the dog, write some letters to your “older” relatives who would dearly love to hear from you or, if they live nearby, take them out for a ride and lunch at their favorite restaurant. Stop talking about taking a route 66 trip or writing a book or downsizing or taking the family to Walt Disney World or learn to brew your own beer or . . . whatever it is you keep talking about doing “some day” . . . and do it. Now!
2 1/2. While you’re experiencing life, turn off your cell phone and put it away. Be fully engaged in the experience and those you are sharing the experience with.
This 3rd piece of advice is for a select audience.
3. The very minute you learn you are pregnant, stop listening to other people’s advice (unless they are your health care professional) and pregnancy/delivery stories. Pregnancy and delivery stories are like the-fish-I-caught/that-got-away stories. They get bigger and more fantastic with each telling, and the person who was pregnant/gave delivery has a vested interested in making their experience even more grandiose (usually in the sense of how bad it was) so that they come across as really awesome for having survived it. As for the advice? Ignore it. Just ignore it. You’re going to do fine — both in labor and in delivery, and you and your baby will survive — and thrive — as you simply take each day, each moment of parenthood as it comes.
Develop your own strategy for avoiding advice and pregnancy/delivery stories. Multiple t-shirts with a “Please do not share any advice or ‘pregnancy/delivery’ stories? across both the front and back are probably a bit extreme — but as the months go on, the slogan really will fit (across the front at least) — but keep it in mind if other strategies don’t work. Here are a few:
a. Practice an “I’m listening and am really taking this in” expression and posture while at the same time zoning out. If you’re old enough to get pregnant, you surely already know how to do this. Remember? You did this much of the way through high school, during more than a few discussions with one or both of your parents, and probably during more than a few date conversations. You’re married or have a significant other, right? Then you know what I mean. 🙂
b. Have some get-away excuses ready so you can escape the well-meaning advice-giver/story-teller. If, for example, you’re at home and one such person calls, immediately set the microwave timer a set number of minutes. Stand fairly near the microwave. When the timer goes off, simply say, “Oh, there’s the timer. I really have to go.” Or (and this doesn’t work with a close neighbor because they could be looking out the window), once the caller launches into their story or advice, quietly open your door and ring the doorbell. Quickly break in with, “Someone just rang the doorbell (not a lie), and I need to get off the phone (also not a lie).”
c. Come up with an unobtrusive signal for your spouse/significant other for use when you need to be rescued from a story-teller/advice-giver. Don’t forget, too, to establish a penalty for your spouse/significant other if they fail to spot agreed-upon signal and rescue you within 15 seconds. I speak from experience — some spouses/significant others may shirk their duties (for their own entertainment, mind you) if they are confident there will be no repercussion.
d. If you don’t feel comfortable with all that subterfuge, simply tell the story-teller/advice-giver that you appreciate their thoughtfulness, but you find all the stories and advice to be perplexing/uncomfortable/frightening/???, and then attempt to change the conversation to another topic. Good luck with that!
That’s all I’ve got — my 3 pieces of advice. Nothing profound, nothing new. Now . . . get off the computer and go have an experience!