Right Now, From Where Your Are, You Can Make Life Beautiful

I always thought my purpose as a mother was to raise my children to be loving human beings who strive to use their God-given abilities for the betterment of mankind. Isn’t that really all that any parent can hope for?

Along the way I’ve had the privilege of mentoring other moms, through La Leche League, Girl Scouts, as an education advocate and homeschool parent, and most recently, as an infant massage instructor.

If I could sum up the most important lesson I’ve learned,  it would be this: Making life beautiful isn’t about what or how much you have. It’s about what you do and say from moment to moment. Because your words and actions today impact who your children become tomorrow. If you don’t like what’s happening in your life, you can turn your world around and make life beautiful from right where you are.

Here are a few “Be Attitudes” for the New Year. I hope they ring as true for you as they do for me:

Be gracious. There’s plenty for everyone, even if it’s not a lot. If you’re waiting for someone else to welcome you, offer you something, or make an introduction, remember that he or she may be waiting for you to do the same. So extend yourself and be gracious. On Christmas Eve, when my three-year-old grandson Skyped with Santa Claus (see photo), he introduced the white haired fellow to his “friends,” Mimi and Auntie K.  So treat family like friends, and friends like family.

Pops and Mimi

Be inventive. You can make something from nothing – for a birthday party, to celebrate a lost tooth, an excellent report card or even a rainy day. As my friend Anh likes to say, just use what you have in your hand. As a girl, Anh lived through the war in Vietnam, covering her head in bed and clinging to her sister at night as bombs exploded around them. She only hoped to be alive in the morning. It isn’t that hard to find some way to make life special for those you love – even without any money.

Be gentle. The words you choose today and the actions you take right now are molding all your children’s tomorrows. Let the thoughts in your mind flow gently about those who believe differently than you do. Be aware of the energy around you. Are the people (and TV shows and radio programs) that you expose your children to caring and gentle, or full of harsh opinions and sarcasm? Remember your children’s developmental stages, and make appropriate and enriching choices for their sake. The images and words they see and hear become food for their imaginations.

Be giving. Remember those who have less than you do, not only materially, but emotionally and spiritually. Fill someone’s cup with a cheerful word, a card of thanks, a smile. Give of yourself. Children become what we do, not what we say.

Be different. You can improve your life. If you haven’t been able to find the energy to pick up the mess, do the dishes, wash the clothes, help your children, remember that they are watching, even when they don’t seem to be. Parents can be stuck because of past neglect or abuse in their own childhood. But why repeat the same unproductive pattern if it doesn’t work? If this sounds like you, get help. Move on. Don’t be afraid that people will see a new you. They will accept you. Your children will love you even more. And their lives will be forever altered because of your courage.

Be a friend. Friends don’t talk about friends. They don’t go back on their word. Friends follow up, follow through, and stay the course – even if one of them loses a job, gets sick, or wins the lottery. No matter if one of them votes for a different political party. It just doesn’t matter. Friends take the high road. Friends care enough to speak the truth in love, and then let God intervene. Life is too short to be without friends.

Be thankful. Teach your children an “attitude of gratitude.” Whether you believe in a higher power or not, you can find some way to show your appreciation for what you have: a fine day (The storm went away!), a glass of orange juice (Hooray for oranges! They came all the way from Florida in a truck. Somebody’s daddy drove the truck to our store.). Pity the child of a complaining mother. He will only learn distain.

So, strive to be gracious, be inventive, be giving, be different, be a friend, and be thankful. Jog your brain, find the energy. You can make a better tomorrow for yourself and your family. It doesn’t matter how much you have, where you live, or whether we all fall off the fiscal cliff. Right now, from where you are, you can make life beautiful. FFG

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