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6 Pieces of Sisterly Advice

If you had a little sister, what pearls of wisdom would you insist on sharing with her?  There is Mom – Daughter advice of course (we all have been at least one part in that equation) but that is a bit different than what I am talking about here.  Imagine having (if you don’t in “real life” as my daughter always calls it) a younger sibling who could benefit from hearing what you have discovered by going ahead on this journey called life.  If you could share 5 (or 6) things that you’ve learned….what would they be?

Singer Alanis Morissette has a song about how she recommends “walking around naked in your living room” and “biting off more than you can chew” to anyone.  Perhaps her list is a bit more tongue in cheek, but it got me thinking of what MY list might look like.  Here is what this Zen Mama Wannabe’s sisterly advice would be:

  • If possible, get a scent that is all yours
For all you perfume haters, I am not just talking about a bottle of Eau de Toilette here.  In general, the importance of smell gets overlooked, when really it is one of the most basic and primal things.  Animals of all kinds are attracted to each other based on it.  Unconsciously it draws you to someone (or away from someone).  Whether it is perfume, body lotion, deodorant or the fresh fragrance of your shampoo, everything mingles in with your own body chemistry to produce a certain scent.

I used to use this wonderful body lotion when I got out of shower that had a slight Lilies of the Valley fragrance.  I would get so many complements on how nice I smelled; so you don’t have to squirt yourself silly with perfume.  Just find something YOU like and stick with it. A co-worker and now a close friend used to always wear this one particular cologne; anytime I smell it, even to this day, I think of her.  Scents are important.  Think of the way a house smells after you’ve baked Christmas cookies or
what memories get triggered when you smell a turkey roasting in the
oven. Scents tie into memories.  You want to be memorable.  

  • Personal, handwritten notes go a long way
This has always been true, but never more so than today in this world of fast-paced technology.  Now it is all about email as a way of correspondence and sending messages via Facebook.  But a handwritten note (yes with a stamp on it, mailed the old fashion way) stands out and makes an impression.  Thank you notes absolutely, but just a “Hi – how are you?” works great.  Even better, invest in a high-quality pen and good card stock.  It makes my fingers tremble just thinking about it! 

  • Read, read, read!  Read a variety of genres – stretch yourself from time to time
When I first heard about The Kite Runner, I confess I was not so interested.  Two boys growing up in Afghanistan…well, it didn’t sound like something I would really enjoy.  It is now one of my all time favorite books and taught me a valuable lesson about the need to stretch beyond your "usual" now and again.  Besides being enjoyable, reading widens your world, expands your knowledge base and makes you more interesting.  Who doesn’t want that? 

  • Move your body every day
Don’t tune out – I don’t mean for weight loss, although if you really move your body long enough and hard enough, that will happen.  I mean for general well being and good mental health.  Get your blood flowing and your muscles stretching, whether by a walk outside (which everyone can do and it doesn’t cost a cent) or a yoga class or even some sort of video at home in front of the TV. 

We are so resistant to exercise.  But spend some time at a retirement home and you might feel differently. The seniors with the most flexibility and agility, who take the least amount of medications and have the best health, are the ones who learned a long time ago the benefits of moving their bodies.  As one woman in her 80’s told me: If you don’t use it, you lose it.  Take the time each day to care for your body.  It’s one investment you will never regret making – and it pays off immediately.  You will stand taller, you will walk straighter, and you will feel better (which makes you look better too).

  • Figure out how to feed your soul
This means something different to just about everyone.  Perhaps it is not WHAT it means, but more THAT you do it.  My husband’s definition is:  Do things for yourself that are not attached to money.  Author Deepak Chopra says you need to ask yourself 2 important questions:  How can I help?  How can I serve?  But whether it is focusing on others, or yourself, you just need to figure out what it is for you that makes your heart sing, that makes things feel like all is right with the world.  Maybe a relaxing soak in the tub once a week would do it.  Or maybe being able to carve out some time each day for YOU.  Even just writing in a journal every day might do the trick.  There is no set answer – what is important is that you figure out your answer and then do it — on a regular basis. 

  • Stay open
I work with my children on this a lot.  We call it being “flexible.”  Sometime we get stuck on an idea of how things should go or what it should look like.  Sometimes it works out that way, but often it does not.  Roll with it, go with the flow, be open to the possibilities around you.  Often the unexpected works out in the long run better than you could have ever imagined it.  Having a vision is important.  But so is being open to other possibilities that may come up. 

So there – that’s what this Zen Mama Wannabe would share with my imaginary little sister.  What would your list look like?  Did I miss something my little sis really should know?   

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4 Responses to “6 Pieces of Sisterly Advice”

  1. callieandbatido Says:
    December 1st, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    Loved your post Zen Mamma! It made me think about what my list might look like. While mine is not as well spoken and thought out as yours, the first thing that pops into my mind is laughter. Remembering to laugh. Laughter has gotten me through some great but also very trying times.

    Another would be friendship. Nurturing friendships with a variety of different people in our lives. It fits into the “it takes a village” idea.

    Being present is another big one. One I only strive to meet. Being present in my every day life and not focusing so hard on the end result that I miss the whole process of getting there. I have had weeks where I look back and can only remember what I did or did not cross off my “to do” list but can’t remember much about how I spent each day or what my children said to me.

    So, to my “little sister” I would say, “be present in your life, laugh a lot and suround yourself by friends”. Not six things, but it’s a start.

  2. ZenMama Wannabe Says:
    December 1st, 2008 at 11:12 pm

    Well done, Callieandbatido! You are off to a great start!

    Being present is one I work on a lot too – and so-o-o important! I know I miss out on so much because I am thinking ahead instead of just BEing there in the moment.

    And where would we be without a little laughter?! There have been when I have wanted to SCREAM over more than a few accidental mishaps involving the kids. Those few times when I chose to laugh it off instead ultimately made ME feel better inside; I could just tell I handled it right when I was the look and relief in their eyes. And what a great thing to teach them!

  3. Sheri Says:
    December 2nd, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    I love this list! I work on all of it, but figuring out how to feed my soul is my big project, or goal, right now. I need that for me and as mom it’s so hard to do anything for yourself. But everyone suffers if we don’t.

    Thanks!

  4. ZenMama Wannabe Says:
    December 3rd, 2008 at 11:56 am

    Feeding your soul is SUPER hard I think. Some days I am not even sure WHAT that means for me!?!! Yikes!

    But you are right, Sheri, if we don’t figure it out, everyone around us suffers. Like the old saying, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!”

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