Life Lessons

I did not grow up in a wealthy family. I didn’t have a lot of the finer things other kids had, but I had enough. I didn’t grow up in a perfect family either. We had our share of personal problems, but we persevered. I strongly feel these “difficulties” shaped me into the person that I have become. I think that given the circumstances, my parents did the best they could at the time. I don’t fault them for anything. After all, the jury is still out on my own childrearing abilities. One day, my kids might turn around and tell me how I screwed up their lives ,or they might say I did well by them. Only time will tell. The most important things my parents gave to me are not things that one instantly sees. They are things that one sees when they get to know me. They gave me morals, ethics, and character through life lessons and examples. These are the ten most important things my folks passed on to me.

1. Have a sense of humor. Life is much easier and more fun if you learn to laugh at yourself and with others. My parents are funny, and my father quite sarcastic (yeah, I know the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!) Our family times always have been and still are filled with laughter. Most times, when you get both my parents and all six of their kids with their families together, it’s like one big circus. I must say my sense of humor has gotten me out of more than one jam and has certainly eased tension at times. Unfortunately, there are times that I am slow on the uptake and will get a joke much after the fact. It could be because I am also a bit naïve at times.

“A keen sense of humor helps us to overlook the unbecoming, understand the unconventional, tolerate the unpleasant, overcome the unexpected, and outlast the unbearable.” ~Billy Graham

2. Stand up for what you believe in. Even if you’re the only one. And even others think you’re wrong. That is a hard place to be, but when it feels right in your soul, it is the only place to be. I’ve often stood alone on principle, and I am a better person because of it.

“Stubbornly persist, and you will find that the limits of your stubbornness go well beyond the stubbornness of your limits.” ~Robert Brault

3. Honesty. Don’t be a liar, a cheat, or a thief. Success is not worth achieving if you have to lie, cheat, or steal to achieve it. I don’t know about you, but I refuse to be friends with or conduct business with someone I can’t trust. Trust is the foundation of all relationships. And my mother always told us that she would rather resort to begging if in need that to steal something that was not rightfully hers.

“Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value.” ~Albert Einstein

4. Integrity. This also goes along with saying what you mean and meaning what you say. Be who you are. But above all be someone that you can look at in the mirror and still sleep well at night. Be someone you’d want to be friends with. My parents are well liked in their community, and I think it all comes down to character.

“One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised“. ~Chinua Achebe

5. Love above all, even if it hurts. Because if you don’t love, you will never fully live life to it’s richest. Even from the most painful experiences of love, we learn something. Those love lessons shape who we become in life. Just think of the tapestry that love alone has woven in your life. I’ll bet it’s rich and colorful, and if there’s a tear here and there, I’ll bet it’s reinforced with a pretty patch that adds a unique sparkle.

“I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no hurt, but only more love.” ~ Mother Teresa

6. Hard work. Work for the things you want in life and don’t expect for them to be handed to you. Many things in life are privileges not rights. I was taught to not just work but to work to the best of my abilities. I remember getting so upset with my father for asking why I had a B instead of an A in a subject. I don’t think he ever got that I was just dumb in algebra. Basically, he wanted me to go out there and make things happen, not to wait for them to show up at my door.

“Do not wait; the time will never be ‘just right’. Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.” ~ Napoleon Hill

7. Responsibility. Do what is expected of you at the time it is expected. Be where you are supposed to be when you are supposed to be there. Have good work ethics. Responsibility is twofold. I was taught to be a person who can be depended upon, as well as being accountable for my actions. If you make the wrong decision, be ready to face the consequences.

 ”Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.” ~Johann van Goethe

8. Respect. Don’t look down on anyone else. Don’t ever think you are better than others. Never belittle anyone. Don’t try to make yourself look better at the expense of others. Treat others how you’d like them to treat you. Always be open to learning from those around you. Be courteous and show compassion to others.

“Respect for ourselves guides our morals; respect for others guides our manners.” ~ Laurence Sterne

9. Be grateful and gracious. Be grateful for what you have; there are others who have less. Give thanks to those who give not only things but themselves to you. When you think you have nothing to give, there is always something even if nothing more than your time and talents, and there is always someone who can use your help.

“Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.” ~Buddha

10. Be a class act. It’s simple, like love, respect, and honesty. Class can’t be bought. Real class is not determined by the clothes you wear or the car you drive. Real class is what you do with what’s in your heart, how you relate to your world and your people in it. It’s when you take your abilities and use them for the good of others, not expecting anything in return.

” Class is an aura of confidence that is being sure without being cocky. Class has nothing to do with money, Class never runs scared. It is self-discipline and self-knowledge. It‘s the sure footedness that comes with having proved you can meet life.” ~Ann Landers

58 thoughts on “Life Lessons

  1. I think you’ve just written an alternative Ten Commandments there and I couldn’t agree with them more. Wouldn’t the world be a happier and nicer place if we had all been taught these values and all adhered to them? Based upon the example your parents set for you, I’d say you mst be doing an excellent job with your own children.

    • As parents, we always second guess ourselves and pray we’ve done the best we could by them! After all there is selfwill, and my parents raised six children exactly the same way, but we haven’t different views of growing up and have taken different routes in our lives. But I guess if we strive to do our best, that’s most important.

  2. WOW. I think this is my favorite post of yours. I agree wholeheartedly. I often tell hubby I never blame them for anything because they did the best they could with what they had. Who are we to judge anyone if we haven’t walked a mile in their shoes? I’m gonna send this to my kids! I think they did a great job (especially with YOU).

  3. I think a parents duty is to instill values. We are living in a time that places less and less emphasis on values, despite the government’s best attempts at legislating them.

    Your parents did a darn good job. I bet you have too!

    • I love your comment about the government’s attempt at instilling values…made me laugh!!!!! But so many people do expect others like the school systems to teach children these things. While, it might take a village to raise a child, I do think it’s primarily the parent’s responsibility to instill values.

  4. WOW,what a great blog. I feel very forunate to be a part of your family. Mom and Dad have always been so good to me. That is a great pic of them. Love…….Dekitty

  5. Hi SuziCate

    What a wonderful list! I love also the quotes you included in your post too!

    It is so wonderful to take away the best from any family situation, learn from it, evolve and grow to use any love and good to multiply it in your own life. And whatever one feels didn’t work, can be learned from and worked on to change to suit one’s current family.

    I especially love the emphasis on honesty. Whether in family or not, what do we really gain in the end by lying or cheating? There may be a short term gain, but long term everyone suffers.

    • Thank you, Evita, I wasted a lot of time with resentment. As soon as I changed my focus, I allowed all the positives from my experience shape me, and I feel truly blessed. Of course, I have my moments…but I try to keep that balance. You’re right about honesty.

  6. What a wonderful post. Thanks for sharing so much of yourself. I truly wish more people would embrace life this way.

    I loved the quotes after each lesson.

  7. Beautiful post, SC!

    Both your parents sound like wise and enlightened people. And I have to reitorate Pines Lake Redhead and say, “It sounds like you grew up in a very wealthy family!”

    Each and everyone of these things are so important.

    You shared something that is very true…

    …”I strongly feel these “difficulties” shaped me into the person that I have become. I think that given the circumstances, my parents did the best they could at the time. I don’t fault them for anything”…

    Me too!

  8. You obviously grew up with everything a person could want or need. We should all be so lucky! I love the “grateful and gracious;” 2 words to remember in life. And a “class act;” my dad always says that and I’ve passed it along to the kids. Rise above.
    Lovely post, as always.

  9. Aww. This makes me want to do a post for my parents and all the stuff they’ve taught me! I LOVE this post, Suzicate. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. Sense of humor? FOR SURE.

  10. Excellent. I think your list covers everything that I aspire to be as a parent nice work.

    To your “Honesty. Don’t be a liar, a cheat, or a thief…” I would also say it has a practical benefit–you never have to remember what you said yesterday or the day before (a test that I fail each time).

  11. What a beautiful gift your parents gave you. No wonder you (and your sister) turned out so amazing! Love this post and love that quote by Mother Theresa – I have it on a bookmark!

  12. sounds like they may have had their ups and downs in parenting, but that they did an excellent job overall. One can only hope their child grows up valuing these things.

  13. excellent reminders – all. and you punctuated it with such wonderful quotations. I have a quote from Mother Teresa on my memo board here in the office. Keeping the important reminders in the front of my consciousness is always a good thing. Thank you!

  14. What an amazing set of rules to live by!
    I wish more parents taught their children values like this now a days. Gosh that makes me sound like an old fart, lol, but you know what I mean:)

  15. Great Post,

    I truly enjoyed reading and feel blessed you shared the wisdom of your wonderful parents with us, no amount of wealth could ever match what they gave you in their Love and respect.

  16. Your upbringing sounds a lot like mine. We have a lot to be thankful for, don’t we?

    Oh, that our kids can say the same of us someday…!

    Enjoyed your post!

  17. “A keen sense of humor helps us to overlook the unbecoming, understand the unconventional, tolerate the unpleasant, overcome the unexpected, and outlast the unbearable.” ~Billy Graham

    Great post, rich with the nuggets of a living life well. Life smart is what I like to call it. Excellent advice!

  18. Oh, man…you included quotes! Love ’em! My parents (though not always perfect, either) instilled many of the same values it appears your parents raised you with, particularly the sense of humor. I learned early on that life is much easier when approached with a smile on your face and laughter in your heart. (Wow…look at me getting all mature here.) Great post! =)

  19. You know, I can relate to this. As a kid, it was Adidas sneakers. Man if we didn’t have the right number of blue stripes, we were nobody. I don’t roll like that anymore, now that I can afford to buy pretty much what I want, I still shop bargain racks and even secondhand stores. Guess I’m just more planet conscience now but I alway choose quality.

    • I think as kids we struggle so hard with identity and trying to fit in that makes labels important to us, and as adults quality (no matter the label) is what counts and we aren’t trying so much to impress others. I also think that when we can afford things, it’s not nearly as important as when we wanted to achieve that status…did that make any sense? It did in my head but doesn’t look as coherant in print!

  20. WOW!!! This is such an amazing post I almost cried thinking of Grandma and Grandaddy. They are truly amazing people and I am very proud to be part of their family. I am going to print this out and put it on the fridge. When the day comes for us to have children, i will strive to instill in them these values so that they will hopefully become half the amazing people you, dirtman and my parents are today. I am so very thankful to have such wonderful role models in my life. I love you!

  21. All of the most important things to learn. I’m going to have to send my neice over here. She wants a cell phone at age 12 and I told her she couldn’t have one cause she didn’t have a job to pay for it. She blurts back to me that her parents should just get her one! That they are being mean to her and now I am.

    I can only hope that I am being a good role model for her and my grandkids.

  22. As life lessons go – these sound like very fine fundamentals.

    There is one principle I’ve tried to teach my sons (now teens). One that was very important to articulate during divorce and the hard years that have followed. And that is this: There will always be hard times. There will always be suffering. But there will also always be joy. And if you know that, there will be more joy than anything else.

    I hope it’s something that I “show,” and not simply “tell.” And I hope it sinks in.

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