I have been absent for the last week or so. It was the last weeks of summer break for my kids and I decided that my focus needed to be on them and less on writing and everything else that often takes me away. So my kids and I spent the last 12 days shopping for school, doing things around the house, watching movies, and listening to lots of music. Seriously, I think we listened to every band from the 60s all the way up to the present. Like me, my kids have very eclectic tastes in music and they love to listen to 80’s, some country, and musical theater. Of course, this is music I listened to when I was their age, back when I was a teenager.
The music, the laughter with my family, and several conversations with friends who were there with me in the early 80’s sent me down memory lane. Here’s just a few of the things I was reminded of and what those experiences taught me. I hope you can take something from my life lessons.
I grew up in the Phoenix Valley of AZ so summers meant tubing the Salt River. We’d even skip school to do so. Large groups of us would meet up with coolers of soda, alcohol if you were into that, lots of munchies and yards of rope and inflated tire inner tubes. We’d lash the tubes together with the ice chests shoved into the center of tubes and tied off to us and on to the river we’d go. I’m not talking 3 or 4 people, I’m talking 20-30 tubes, with bodies holding on to them, lashed together, floating down the river. It’s not like the Salt River is tame either. It has its rapids, its whirlpools, and it’s hidden snags. But we were kids and socializing and having an impromptu party was what we lived for. We weathered whatever the river threw at us and no matter how many bumps and scrapes and bloody shins and torn clothing and dousings we took, we always returned the next week to experience it all over again. Here’s what I learned from those memorable outings. One, life is like the river; there are hidden snags, violent rapids, and you are going to be tossed about and banged up some, but the real wonder of the process is enjoying the ride along with those who you bring with you through your life’s journey and getting back on when you’re thrown off. Two, a good friend is worth keeping in your life long after the days of sharing experiences has long passed. I am so very grateful for the friends who are still on the river trip with me. Three, there is nothing keeping me from enjoying the ride except me. No matter how rough it may get, it’s still a pleasure just be able to experience it.
I had a large group of friends growing up. Some I’d known since grade school, some from church, some from high school, and later college. I was always surrounded by someone who enjoyed my company as much as I enjoyed theirs. This of course meant dating several of them, hanging out with others, and of course, the usual teenage angst that accompanies such relationships. As one friend so recently put it, those relationships were fraught with mind games. That seems to be a hallmark of teen relationships. Sadly, sometimes we don’t outgrow them. But that’s not the point. What I remembered was just the simple joy of being with these people. And how much I appreciate and love the people they have all become. Here’s what I have learned from those relationships. One, it is easy to love but it can take a lifetime to forgive. When you do forgive, it is one of the sweetest gifts and blessings you will ever experience, so why let time and resentment pass. Forgive and get back to enjoying having that person in your life. Two, mind games were acceptable when you were young but honesty is the coinage of adulthood. If your relationship is strong enough to withstand complete honesty, then it will last you a lifetime. Three, some people are just too important and too wonderful to leave behind in your past. I love that I still can claim several ex-fiances (that is a long story in and of itself.), several past boyfriends, wanna be boyfriends, past crushes, and good friends, not so close friends, casual acquaintances, and even some teenage rivals as my dear friends now. Where would I be without them in my life? Thank heavens we all grew up ;0) and still managed to hold on to that affection that brought us together in the first place and keeps us in each others lives now. I pray I never have to experience a life without those special persons in it.
I have always been surrounded by music and I have done my best to surround my kids with it as well. I remember riding in my truck, the windows down, 110+ weather outside, blaring my music for the whole world to hear. I remember cruising down Main Street in Mesa, Arizona and straining to hear my stereo over the hundreds of others that were cranked up as loud as mine was. I remember pulling into the High School parking lot and everyone had their stereos playing different types of music as they hung out with friends. Certain music speaks to me and reminds me of the simple joys and pleasures my friends and I experienced of just being young and alive and together. Now I’m the adult wondering why the music has to be up so loud sometimes. Here’s what I’ve so recently remembered or re-learned. One, youth should be celebrated. It is so fleeting and in no time at all, you take on a shoulder load of responsibilities. Let the young celebrate their lives as loudly and as boisterously as they wish. After all, we did when it was our turn. Two, it’s important not to forget what it was like to be young and relatively carefree. It makes life even sweeter when we can call forth that inner child and teenager to come back and get crazy again once in a while. Remembering what it was like to be young helps us stay young at heart. Three, don’t be embarrassed to show the world, and your kids, that you have a corny teenaged goofy side. Believe me, they will be embarrassed by you no matter what you do so why not actually give them a great reason to be occasionally.
Lastly, in my walk down memory lane, I remembered how easily the term LOVE fell from my lips as a young girl. I must have fallen in and out of love so many times, that I gave my parents whiplash. As I grew older, I fell in love and often didn’t stop loving, but I did fail to work at keeping that love alive and thriving. So here’s what I have learned since then. One, I can never tell someone how much I love them nearly enough. If you care for someone, you should never assume that they will understand the depth of your love for them merely by your actions. Two, I am capable of loving many people on many different levels but I often forget that they need to hear that they are loved and they need to KNOW that without a shadow of a doubt. Three, loving one person does not detract from loving another person. Quite the opposite is true. The more love you give, the more capacity you have for love. With that in mind, several dear people made an impact on my life last week. To Shelli, Amy, Eddie, Michael, Kate, Christina, Tim, Betsy, Jennifer, Alysia, Billie, Mel, Moe, Aqua, Tori, Tyler, Sherril, Cindy, Sandy, Clark, Delfina, Michelle, Sherrie, Katie, Sheralyn, Lorianne, Chris, RaeLyn, Nick, Devon, Larry, Frank, Jeff, Jim, Shawna, Bert, Stacey, Kip, Laurie, Lisa, Randy, Ann, Lorraine, Debbie, Danny, (and I’m sure I’m missing a few), and my sweet husband, Glenn, I love you and I am exceedingly blessed to have you in my life. There is no one who could replace you and no one I’d rather have making this journey with me. You are a necessary part of my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I can only hope to bless each of your lives as much as you continue to bless mine.