Today’s Lesson: Find the person who makes living itself a pleasure.
I tried to run my own business a long time ago, and failed. Miserably. I was unable to do it alone and that is a lesson I never forgot.
When I needed a tax accountant earlier this year, Nicole was on it. I didn’t ask. I didn’t whine about not having one. She just anticipated my needs, and acted.
When I hurt my foot, suddenly a book about foot health showed up and Nicole massaged my aching tendon while reading to me. I never miss an appointment because Nicole knows my calendar better than I do and she lets me know when I should show emotion and ask about my friends (I tend to forget social grace stuff), or she reminds me to call my family, or be patient with stop lights. Nicole keeps me on track and focused and she supports nearly any effort I make to improve, often jumping in with me.
I asked my dad one time, what was it about Mom, that kept them together for so long? He thought about it and said, “She just makes life easier. She makes living easier. She sees what I miss and takes care of it.”
It is not a burden to remember to ask a waitress something the next time she visits our table, but Nicole will already know the question and ask for me before the waitress is too far away. The big things, the little things. Those are the moments where she just makes life easier.
It is a two-way street, by the way, but it doesn’t feel that way. Making life easier feels more powerful than taking out the trash or remembering to open doors.
I don’t want to run my own business now but if I did, I know I would have a rock-star partner. Even better, though, I know I have a powerful ally in life–and living is just easier.
Today’s Lesson: Parents just don’t understand.
My mom and dad have been visiting from Michigan. While they are here, we are being touristy and eating most of our meals at restaurants.
My dad (like most dads, I think) has insisted on paying for every meal, a pedicure, and even tried to buy us beach chairs.
Of course, Nicole and I are gainfully employed adults (and we did not have to pay to fly here and rent a hotel). We planned to buy their meals but I should have known it would be a fruitless endeavor.
I once argued with my dad over buying dinner. It ended with him having the final word, “If I want to buy my son something, damn it, then I am going to do it!”, prompting a sheepish, ” Yes, sir” from me.
I saw an opportunity this trip. Dad went to the restroom just before the waitress dropped off our bill. I smiled and reached for it but my hand was stopped short with a single, “Tsk” from Mom and a look that said, “Don’t even think about it.”
Parents will always be parents, even into a child’s adulthood. I think it is, in some way, both a token of affection and a subtle reassurance that you (and perhaps your long-time partner as extended family) are taken care of if you slip and fall.
Either way, I have learned to just be appreciative of it and thank Dad when he gets the check.
Time spent with friends is sometimes more valuable than sleep. I enjoyed a rare moment with my peers, discussing work, strategies for success, and general life drama (with a bunch of District Sales Managers, there is plenty of life drama!).
We had to be up early for a meeting but we had so much fun enjoying each other’s company we reluctantly went to bed with only a few hours left to rest.
You should always try to have enough rest but, once in a while, the information or pleasure of an opportunity to share with others in a meaningful way is more valuable than fleeting dreams.
There was a lazy moment this weekend where Nicole and I were killing time while visiting family.
My mom and dad were napping, mom sleeping in dad’s arms on the couch.
Nicole remarked how cute it was that they napped curled up in each other’s arms. That’s common for my parents; I had not given it a thought but I have definitely seen couples married more than 30 years that rarely sit on the same couch together, let alone nap like young lovers still discovering each other.
I think the lesson here is to hold onto that thing that made you fall in love in the first place. Our actions develop into habits which become expectations. A kiss goodnight, for example, starts as an expression of love, then develops into a good habit, and then only becomes noticed when it is missing because it is expected… but we are, at that point, as appreciative and mindful of the kiss as we are of brushing our teeth. It’s just something we do before we go to bed.
Of course, the answer, isn’t simply “nap together”–the point is to remember to be in love.
I was sitting with my mom and 2 younger brothers after dinner, chatting with other family members. The conversation turned to which of us three brothers would be the first to settle down and have a kid.
There was a lot of joking, good-natured ribbing, and laughing, as usual, and mom lamented that none of her boys were going to give her a grandchild. She joked with my uncle’s wife, “It’s because I was not strict enough with them while they were growing up. I didn’t raise them right, to find a nice girl and settle down, and now I have no girls to raise!”
My uncle’s wife looked at us and then turned to Mom. “You know,” she said, seeing the three of us boys laughing and getting along (as we usually do), “If my kids turn out exactly like your three boys, I would consider myself an amazing mother. That would be a win; I would be so proud if they were that good, I swear!”
It’s easy to forget what my parents have done to raise three boys to be as much like the Three Musketeers as three brothers. I wouldn’t trade my brothers for anything in the world, and I have no doubt it was mom and dad’s commitment to us getting along respectfully and lovingly, and being able to rely on each other (as well as mom and dad). I am certain it is my parents’ precedent that makes our family bonds so strong.
3 things my parents did that I think worked:
1. They set expectations for respect and put the responsibility appropriately on the shoulders by age and maturity. I was, and am, always expected to be a role-model for my little brothers.
2. They never let us talk bad about each other (or anyone in our family). Period.
3. They always encourage us to talk to each other about things we would not normally talk to mom and dad about (although there is very little we feel we can’t talk to mom or dad about).
There are many other things, of course, but it would be an exhaustive list. Those were just three things that came immediately to mind.
Brothers will always be brothers, but I think a father and mother are the only thing that can turn siblings into friends and heroes for each other.
My mom works hard. Like, really hard, pretty much from sun up to sun down. She has a full time job, helps with our family businesses, cooks, cleans, and runs a house with 3 men in it at any given time.
I pointed out how hard she works every day and asked her why she puts up with our laziness (when she’s around) and doesn’t demand more help. She told me about the lesson she learned from her mom, which she did not understand until she was filling the same shoes.
She said, “You know, I do work very hard and sometimes it can be frustrating but let me tell you… after all the work I put in to make dinner and pick up the dishes and things like that… when I turn around and see you and your father and your brothers gathered around the table laughing, it makes every bit of it worth it. Nothing makes me happier and the work just disappears.”
The lesson there, I think, is to know why you are doing the work, know what you value, and take a moment now and then to enjoy what you have accomplished.
Thanks mom. Love you.