The following post was written by Susan of My Summer Notebook, which is closing soon. This is one of the best blog posts I’ve read anywhere online recently, and Susan gave me permission to post it here. I thought it should not be lost after the blog closing! Thank you, Susan! (Please note: The picture is Susan’s picture also.)
I was going to make a list for you of some of the blogs I read, just for fun. I’ve never made a full listing in the sidebar, and I’ve actually had people ask me, from time to time, where I read online. But I think I won’t make that list. Because you know what? You have enough on your list already.
So, here is my hastily put together last post. I think that probably a number of people won’t see this, and it will only be up for a few days since I will soon close the blogs, but, for those of you who still have me in your reader, here’s my “advice,” first to myself, and then to the world. (Haha. Just kidding.)
I’ve lived awhile, and I’ve watched a lot of wise people live their lives. I learn from watching those people and from talking to them, and there are a few things that have proven to be very good and very important in my life as well. To offer “advice” might seem arrogant, but my “advice” really is to me because I still have so much growing and changing to do. I could add a lot more things or create an entirely different list. This is in no way a list of everything that I think matters, but these are things I work on (in random order):
1. Make your bed. First thing every day. I’m serious. According to Charles Duhigg in The Power of Habit, it is a “keystone” habit that can be the start of a chain of habit-development in your life. This is one thing I’ve done for years, and it truly does seem to kickstart the rest of the day in a positive way. I’ve read the book, but here’s a little piece on the idea.
2. Have flowers in the house. Wow, there are so many benefits that correlate to having flowers in the house that it is just amazing. Somehow it doesn’t surprise me. I suspect that any arrangement from nature will have a similar effect. Here’s a little list of links, for starters.
3. Be quiet every single day. Just be still. “Be still and know that I am God.” You will see many things differently if you do.
4. Go outside every day. Go for a short walk, even for ten minutes. And when you’re out there, pay attention. You’ll be amazed, I promise.
5. Believe that your circumstances today are the exact ones allowed by your loving God. Embrace them. Be always thankful, hopeful, and joyful. It’s not easy, but He will help you.
6. Write letters, however short. Last summer, when I moved to this apartment, I ran across my Grammy’s letters. I laughed, I cried, and I remember her so warmly and affectionately. She wrote to me routinely, but some of those letters were on paper the size of a large post-it note. It didn’t matter. Love and Grammy’s wonderful personality shone through. These small, but warm, letters inspired me to write more letters, however short they need to be. Just write them. Emails and text messages are fine, but a hand-written letter is a true gift. (P.S. I’m reading a book of the letters of Jonathan Netanyahu–written in the 60′s and 70′s before he died–and even when less than two weeks pass between letters to his parents, he apologizes profusely for not writing sooner. Of course, this was before cell phones and email, but there’s something about these letters that is powerful in a way that an email can never be, and there was a sense of importance in maintaining this kind of connection. In these letters, there’s a sense of sacrifice, commitment, and value in maintaining communication and relationships. Reading these, I’m more convinced than ever that I want to write letters.)
7. Look for beauty everywhere. I read of a Jewish prisoner in a Nazi extermination camp who looked up at the sky and saw beauty, even in that horrible place. If we look past our circumstances and look for God, we can find beauty.
8. Slow down. Slow down your life, your mind, your spirit. Things will come into focus that you never knew were blurry.
9. Speak gently. Proverbs says that “pleasant words promote instruction,” and “a gentle word can break a bone.” Harsh words repel.
10. Take every thought captive. That thought that wants to be critical of others, that jealous thought, that complaining thought, that rationalizing thought that would justify procrastination or irresponsibility, that bitter thought, and all of those thoughts that make us focus on ourselves. Don’t waste your time with that; don’t let it poison or tyrannize you. Align that thought with scripture and make it obedient to the love of Christ.
11. Be grateful. Don’t complain. Ever. “Count your blessings, name them one by one,” and your perspective will change.
12. Share your life in whatever way you can (even at home with your families). Love others. It’s not about you.
13. Pray. Pray. Pray. And never give up hope no matter what. He hears you, and He already has your answer.
14. Work with your hands. Make something. Create, write, cook, garden, sew, knit, make music, build something. In these times, it’s easier than ever to become a watcher or a spectator and even a time-waster, so be sure to be busy with your hands.
15. Listen. Really listen. Try to deeply understand that other perspective.
16. Read, think, discuss, live, and write. It’s the best education ever. Keep learning. Keep working at developing your gifts. Stay curious for the rest of your life. Here’s a good article my daughter sent to me two days ago.
17. Do it now. Don’t put it off if you can do it now. (I work hard at this one, and it has helped me make a lot of significant changes.) For awhile, I had a little sign scribbled out on a piece of paper and tacked to my wall that said simply that: “Do it Now!”
18. It’s about relationships. It’s emphatically not, not, not about my house, my clothes, my appearance, my reputation, my gifts and talents, my “calling,” my success, my popularity, or even being acknowledged or understood. It’s about relationships. It’s about loving. This is what everyone says at the end of their life. You’ll say it, too. It’s either, “I wish I had. . .” or “I’m thankful that I. . .” put my time and energy into relationships. Into loving God and loving people well.
19. Go to sleep seeking God, and wake up seeking God (and you may as well seek Him all day long, too! :-) ). This makes a huge, sweet difference in my life.
20. Follow Him wherever He leads you. And wherever that is, He will equip you and provide for all of your needs. Sometimes the way seems hopeless or impossible, but He will be your strength and your guide. Even more, He will walk with you in relationship and in love. He loves you and will never forsake you.
Blessings and prayers and gratitude for your presence here,