The older I get (seriously it’s happening at warp speed) the more I think about value in all things and all ways. What do I value? Who am I? Do my actions and my time align with who I say I am and who I really am? A long time ago a wise person, or so she thinks she is, I kid, (sorry mom) told me that, “words are cheap.” I probably disregarded her profound wisdom at the time (shocker) but life has come full circle, I too am now raising teenagers, and I grasp the weight of what she was saying: Actions speak louder than words.
For me, evaluating this is both a call to action and a mwah mwah mwah moment… you are flubbing this one up lady. In my core, way down deep, I know me. I am not always spot on with how I communicate who I am, and I’m 100% certain that I don’t act accordingly all the time… I also know that who I am is not who ANYONE else on the whole earth is (that probably is good news for some), therefore what I value is about me, and not my expectations on those around me.
Where am I going with this? This year, in our family (which includes our close friends), just like most families, a lot of things have changed. We have had marriages, deaths, births, illness, divorce, graduations, oh and then there was that raising growing humans that are ever changing, to name a few. Some of these life events have been obvious causes for mass celebration, while others have been life-changing wounds that can only be bandaged by the grace of our creator. What I’ve learned from each of these altering times is that the things that I spend frequent time on have NOTHING to do with these concrete events that will forever be imprinted in my heart.
If someone were to have a camera rolling in my house every moment of every day they may find me surfing Anthropologies sales (of which I fill my cart frequently, then close it down without purchasing- but man those 3 hours were so worth it- yeah right) Nordstrom’s shoes (because those Valentino’s with someone else’s credit card would be awesome on these feet) reading the news etc…. Although I’m throwing myself under the bus a bit, it’s the truth, and the real truth is that I make excuses about not having time for things that I say truly do mean the world to me. Let’s take my grandma’s, for instance. They are both alive. How cool is that right? Do you think I call them regularly? NO!!! I sure can find time to learn about the most romantic destination in the world- I could give you details about the dinners they serve there. I can’t, however, tell you what my grandma had for dinner last night, because I ‘didn’t have time’ to call her/them. That pains me deeply because it’s just an excuse- and a sad one at that. The truth of the matter is that if something matters to you YOU MAKE THE TIME. The problem is: THEY DO MATTER TO ME, but I don’t make the time nearly enough. At the end of the day all we have is time. We can buy new clothes, shoes, faces etc… but you can’t buy time.
The cool thing about time is that we all have the same amount in a day. Time knows no demographic boundary, or socio-economic status. No matter who you are, or where you are, we all have 24 hours in a day. How we each use our time is up to us. So that brings me back to the beginning: Is what I value and who I value, reflected in where my time is allotted? Do I give people lip service or do I give them me? I try really hard to honestly evaluate this regularly. I find a lot of times I could be doing a much better job.
My family (close friends included) is everything to me. Recently, an extremely important person in our life passed away. During that tragedy we ‘found the time’ (it’s ridiculous to even articulate it that way) to make it up there quite a few times to be with them. So I need to ask the question of myself… Why did it take an absolutely tragic situation for us to make the time to go be with some of our favorite people on earth? We would give anything to get back the opportunity to be sitting around a table telling jokes or solving the worlds problems… like how the Packers are going to win the Super Bowl. That’s big stuff right there. All kidding aside, when I reflect on these things, it pains me to know that what I value, who I am, doesn’t always align with where I give of myself on a daily basis.
Last year we took an amazing opportunity for our family. We spent 7 weeks in Tuscany (which upon my return it kept my heart…. so that’s good… or not). Anyway I digress, must be my age. Those weeks were filled with joy, excitement, blossoming friendships, deep love, and truthfully some loneliness. I missed my people. Some close to me were really aware of it. My friend Anndrea gets me. She knew that although my gypsy soul loves adventure I’m still a homebody introvert that needs her own safety: her people. Sooooo, she got on a plane and travelled across the ocean, ALONE, to be with my kids and I. She took time from her family (who I thank profusely) and time off of work to come and wrap my security blanket (her) around me so that I felt valued and loved. Yes, it was a cool way to see Europe for the first time, but it was also a gesture of selflessness that imprinted deeply on me. She was present. I remind myself, frequently, of this gesture because it wasn’t full of meaningless words that never came to fruition….she took action. Her “I miss you,” translated into “I’m coming to see you.”
So many actions that I frequently observe have made me obsess about making sure I raise kids that add value to this world instead of sucking it out for their own good. There are such great people out there that give of themselves to so many. To the dismay of some, I don’t put emphasis on what my kids look like or how well they are at a particular thing (unless they care about it). I, instead, want them to open doors, smile at strangers, care about how others are feeling and to be honest representations of themselves. I want them to talk with their walk instead of their mouths. I pray that they will invest in people and the betterment thereof instead of their next shoe purchase or the car they drive. (Yeah so kids...DON’T DO WHAT YOUR MOTHER DOES, sorry but the shoe thing....)
If everyone, BEGINNING WITH ME, could allow their time to be a reflection of their values then we would be talking less about all of this anarchy we see in the world and more about the goodness. Somewhere along the way we, collectively, have lost track by believing that this world is all about us. We think that shopping for sale clothes is more important than calling our 92 year old grandma. We believe that what we look like is more important than who we are. We buy into the fact that our own needs are more important than someone else’s needs. Truthfully, we can’t get time back. It doesn’t matter what we look like when we aren’t here any more. No body is going to care about my new shoes in heaven… but my grandma's and I would have always had those conversations that I was just too busy to make. I think I better call them both today!