Life Rules

We’ve finished the season of graduations, endings, ceremony, commencement speeches. I was not asked to give any speeches. But this is what I would say to kids in their first few weeks of “adult” life, and new opportunities. This is wisdom from living, and from others, who are probably wiser than I was in the launching years.

  • First, be brave little Simba! I say this to my kids, to myself, to friends. We all need encouragement to be brave, to push, to try. We never stop needing to hear the words: you can do it!
  • Keep faith. Keep faith in God; keep faith in people. There are sorrows and disappointments throughout life. But miracles are everywhere. Albert Einstein famously said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” I choose to live with hope, and it is astonishing to me how often hope is rewarded. Not always as I expected; but rewarded none the less. Life will surprise you, if you’ll let it.
  • Be honest, first with yourself, then with those around you. But be kind with your honesty. Don’t use it as a tool to harm. Use it as sunlight to illuminate.
  • Be energetic! Get up early! Morning is my energetic time of day, and when I realized this, my whole world changed. Find your time of energy, and don’t sleep through it!
  • Don’t be seduced by busyness! Activity does not equal productivity, and it certainly does not feed creativity! Be thoughtful about how you spend your time. Learn to say no.
  • Present well. You are more attractive when you are pulled together, pressed, and feel confident in what you wear.
  • Maintain order. Order inspires calm and serenity. Excitement is for other areas of life, not for your physical space. Your physical space should be a place of refuge in sound, scent, lighting, texture, ambience.
  • Be organized. Organization is key to accomplishment. Write lists for everything. Have redundancy…spare keys, back ups for power cords, etc. Redundancy can save the day.
  • Go for the best, whatever that is, in your opinion. You really do get what you pay for.
  • Be kind, look for ways to be generous. Stretch yourself!
  • Be humble. Pass credit on to others, look for ways to share the wealth.
  • Step up! Unless the task is surgery or flying a space ship, I always say I’ll give it a try. Commit first, then find a way to accomplish the task. If you can’t do it, you can admit that you tried and failed, but you will have first tried.
  • Stay in touch. People won’t know you are thinking of them if you don’t share with them. No one reads minds.
  • Read! Expose your mind to new things to stay current and find inspiration. Challenge yourself to try new things, or try things you’ve always wanted to do but have put off.
  • Have a plan for your life, but don’t be afraid to wander off the track. I’m often impressed by the stories of people who have had amazing lives, and how frequently the amazing part came to them unexpectedly. Allow for the magic of serendipity.
  • Center, focus, gather, balance. Center yourself, focus yourself, gather yourself, balance yourself. Remember you are a human being, not a human doing. Every day should have time for reflection and meditation.
  • Live out of abundance: abundance of joy, energy, peace and acceptance. You can’t give what you don’t have, and you actually have to choose to have these qualities in your life. You must make conscious choices; being deliberate and intentional allows you to say no to things that steal these qualities away from you.
  • Practice forgiving. You will need to forgive yourself, and others, and you will need to receive that gift as well. Forgiving is a powerful act, whether you experience it by giving, or receiving.
  • Celebrate whatever comes. Be gracious to life, and it will be gracious to you. But this is tricky! Like most acts of reciprocity, you have to act for the right reasons. You don’t give, hoping to get. You just give. But you will also get. I don’t understand how, I just know it works.

Wisdom often comes just through the process of living, and while I learn, daily, that I’m not as wise as I’d like to be, I know I’ve advanced a bit since I finished high school, or college. I recognize now a lot of what I’ve “learned” in my life was actually all around me, being lived out day by day. But I had to experience enough of life that I could begin to see and incorporate, in my own way, the wisdom of experience, and others.

Will the young people just launching understand all of this? Some will. Some probably think they already have life figured out. Most will have to learn it on the job. They’ll have their moments of “a-ha!” and their insights when they’re sitting in the dark of the night, wondering, struggling, questioning. That’s the beauty, isn’t it? Everyone gets to work it out for themselves…to create their very own life rules, gleaned from faith, humanity, experience, and all those speeches along the way.

Here’s to the future, one lesson at a time!

And don’t forget to be brave.


  • May 19, 2012, 1:53 pm  Reply

    Excellent advice! MJ

    • May 19, 2012, 9:55 pm

      Thank you! It’s more an acknowledgment of collective wisdom that’s worked for me. I’m getting more cautious about giving out advice! ~ Sheila

  • May 19, 2012, 5:38 pm  Reply

    You’ve certainly learned a lot!…Thanks for shareing…All good! ~mkg

    • May 19, 2012, 9:56 pm

      Yes, I’ve learned by a lot of trial and error, just like most people! It’s about time I knew a few things…is 51 a late bloomer?! ~ Sheila

  • May 21, 2012, 5:04 am  Reply

    I ought to print this off!
    I’m not kidding, there’s not a thing here that I wouldn’t say to my own kid or anyone else for that matter. Loved it.

    • May 21, 2012, 6:58 am

      Thank you! As I said, this is really just collected wisdom! But it helps to have a list, I always think! Not that this is exhaustive…but a beginning?
      Thanks for commenting, and stopping by. I’ll be checking your blog out also! ~ Sheila

    • May 21, 2012, 10:36 pm

      Ok, I was clearly moving too fast this morning! I realized sometime later in the day that I had already checked out your blog and clicked the follow button. Beautiful photos! And I had a somewhat similar experience to yours…my husband and I lived in Midland, MI for about three years, back in the early 90s…missed Colorado, and moved ourselves back. But Michigan is a beautiful state too. I look forward to browsing your photos. You do amazing work! ~ Sheila

  • May 21, 2012, 2:23 pm  Reply

    I love this post, Sheila. Nice job! Maybe you could do a speech at the after party?!

    • May 21, 2012, 10:26 pm

      Oh, I doubt it! But I’m ready if I’m asked! Glad you liked it…I’ve practiced it on my kids for a few years! ~ Sheila

  • May 22, 2012, 5:11 pm  Reply

    Oh my gosh! This is fantastic. I am heading to my niece’s graduation open house this weekend and I am going to print your post and slip it into her card. Delightful!

    • May 22, 2012, 6:07 pm

      Hey, I’m so glad you liked it! I’ve been working on it for …oh…51 years! Learning on the job myself you know! Enjoy your weekend, and your graduation event! ~ Sheila

  • May 24, 2012, 11:14 am  Reply

    I would say that just about covers it. Well done.

    • May 25, 2012, 6:49 pm

      Thanks Renee! I tried not to be too wordy…but wanted to sum up the type of advice I think kids most need. I guess it reduces to: do the right thing, and love life! ~ Sheila

  • May 24, 2012, 11:11 pm  Reply

    This would have been the perfect speech for the graduation ceremony. Kids at that age are in the process of figuring out what life is all about. A bit of guidance is always a good thing. 😉

    • May 25, 2012, 6:47 pm

      Thank you Malou! Well, as I said, a lot of it just comes through living! I went to the graduation ceremony today, and heard a few of my themes mentioned in the speeches. Of course they were worded a bit differently! ~ Sheila

  • June 6, 2012, 7:13 am  Reply

    ah summer! LOVE IT! <3

    • June 13, 2012, 9:06 pm

      Yes, that magical season of the year…comes slowly here in Alaska, and is very fickle. We can have a beautiful warm day, and the very next day we’re back to chilly temps and rain. But we appreciate all we can get! ~ Sheila

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