How to Live Each Day Like It’s Your Last

I am finally writing this post (which has been on my agenda for some time) having just had a day that would not qualify as a good “last day” full of happiness. Life is like that though. Despite your best intentions, sometimes days are just tough.

However, I  am not losing heart. I am owning this day and chalking it up as a retry. Tomorrow will be better. I will be more pleasant, I will have a better attitude, and I will exercise more patience. Each of us only has the one life (you know the one) and for the most part, what we do and how we act is up to us. Happiness is a choice.

I feel like it is easy to put your life on hold. To always be waiting for something that will make you happy. I will be happy when I get married…I will be happy when I get pregnant…I will be happy when I land my dream job…etc. Why is it so hard for each of us to just be happy now?

I want you to take a second and imagine what you would do if you knew it was your last day to live (pause for think time.) Would you choose happiness on your last day? (If you are the type of person who would choose panic over happiness this is not the post for you.)

If you are anything like me, your day would be full of happiness. It would include things like time with family, good food, some bucket list items, and reflection.

With those things in mind, here are my six ways to live each day like it is your last, be a happier parent/person, and not go broke.

Spend Your Time and Attention Wisely

This first one is all about priorities. Unless Facebook is your one true love, it probably wouldn’t be high on the list of things to do on your last day on earth. Each day should be at least roughly prioritized in order of importance. Is it more important to visit a friend or do the laundry (the answer to this question may not be the same each day). Just make sure that you focus on the things that are the most important first.

Plan Something Into Your Day That Will Make You Happy

There are a lot of things that make me happy. I love to leave the house. Exercising makes me feel good. I love to create things, watch movies, read books, learn new things, spend time with people I love. . . There are a lot of options. If you make time for at least one thing that makes you happy each day then you will inevitably be happier and more pleasant to be around. Your children will thank you.

As a side note: plan for the big stuff (bucket list items) so that you can make those happen too. Save money for your trip to Italy. Pick a day to go skydiving. Etc.

Spend Time With Someone You Love

I would bet that earlier, (when I asked you to think about how you would spend your time if you knew you were living your last day) someone specific came to mind. Someone you love, someone you need to reconcile with, someone you have not seen for a long time…In order to live each day like it is our last, we need to include the people who matter on a day-to-day basis. You never know when someone will be gone (in one way or another) so it is important to take advantage of whatever time you do have.

Eat Something Delicious

I freakin love food. My waistline can testify to the fact. I think that there is a fine line between eating healthy and going crazy. Life is too short to not eat the food you love,  try new things, and eat decadent desserts. However, you don’t have to overeat. One or two bites of a really good dessert. A bacon cheeseburger once a month. A fruit you love. Just make sure that you include something delicious in your meal plan each day.

Do Something For Someone Else

Service is kind of magical. When you take a minute to help someone else you take a step outside of yourself and your own immediate needs. This grants you gratitude, clarity, understanding, and love for your fellow men. We truly end up loving those we serve. So, doing something for someone else each day not only makes us happier, it also brings more people into our lives to love.

Enjoy The Small Things

Take time each day to just enjoy the mundane. Look at the blessings you are surrounded by and be grateful for them. Enjoy the running water, playing with your baby, a machine that literally washes your clothes, the opportunity to read, multiple grocery stores to buy food from, a brain that works, a job, free time… Whatever your daily life brings you, take a minute to find the positive and enjoy it. Be happy for the now.

Make Peace With God

If I could pick my time of death, it would be during church. I am usually at my best when I am at church (not that I am not good the rest of the time, but when I am at church I am on my absolute best behavior). That is crazy. The odds that I will die at church are like one to 61. That being the case, it only makes sense for me to be on my best behavior all of the time. Pray regularly, study my scriptures, repent, be kind to others, etc.

I know I would prepare to meet God if I knew it was happening on a certain day but it should be enough to just know that it will happen eventually. Like I said last week. Preparation is our best protection.

Anyway, these are my six ways to live each day like it is your last. Most of them don’t cost a dime (unless you have super expensive hobbies and tastes) so completing them won’t mess with your budget. They will also make you a happier person and a better parent. Who doesn’t want that?

What would you add to this list? How do you live each day like it is your last?

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How To Protect Your Kids Even When You Aren’t There (Plus God and Wonder Woman)

 

The Stairs Are Scary When You Baby Has No Sense of Depth

I had a “how to protect your kids” epiphany this week as I was watching my one-year-old slide down our ultra steep stairs on his butt. In order to explain my realization, however, I need to give some background information.

Our stairs have a door at the top of them. When our little man became mobile we endeavored to keep the door closed at all times. But sometimes, despite our best efforts, it was open. More than once I chased him over only to realize that he was inches or feet away from a fall. A fall he probably would have instigated without knowing any better.

It was at this point, I realized, that even if I tried, I couldn’t always keep him safe. I was not the only person living in the house, my son would eventually be able to reach the doorknob, and sometimes the door didn’t latch … I knew the day was going to come when he would be faced with those stairs and I wouldn’t be there.

So, I Decided That The Best Way To Protect Him Was To Prepare Him.

We started at the bottom of the stairs. I piled pillows on the carpet near the last stair and we practiced climbing them. I helped him at first, showed him where to put his hands and how to move his legs one at a time. Then I followed him and caught him if he faltered. Then I watched from a distance ready to help if he needed it. Once he had mastered going up, we practiced going down.

L and I would stand at the top of the stairs and hold hands. He would run forward and try to leap but my hand kept him at the top. Time after time we practiced sitting down, scooting forward, and sliding down carefully one stair at a time.

This prep work wasn’t fast or easy. It took months to master and we are just barely at the point where he can go up or down without me. But long before he mastered it, he started being careful.

At one point he would carry a pillow to the bottom of the stairs before he tried going up. Later when he happened upon the open door at the top, he would sit down and yell for me. When I got there he would hold my hand and start scooting down.

Because I had taken the time to practice with him and prepare him for something, he had an idea of what to do when he was faced with the situation and I wasn’t there. Because he was prepared, he was safe.

Now, I am not saying that he won’t fall or hurt himself on the stairs at some point. Accidents happen. In fact, I tripped down several stairs not terribly long ago. I am just saying that he is far safer having learned how to deal with the stairs then he would have been if I had continued to try to keep the door shut and failed.

Take A Look at Wonder Woman (Spoilers)

Wonder Woman grows up in a happy, peaceful environment. However, her express purpose is to help those less fortunate, to fight warmongers, and help bring peace to others.

Her mother, wanting her to be safe and happy, attempts to shield her from this reality. She doesn’t want her to learn to fight or to understand her destiny. Her aunt, on the other hand, knows that the best way to protect her is to prepare her for whatever may happen. So, she trains her.

It is because of her training and extensive preparation that she is able to survive and fulfill her destiny.

War is not a safe place to be but it would have been even more dangerous for her if she had remained untrained and “blissfully” ignorant like her mother wanted.

Knowledge = Preparation = Protection = Power (Maybe not over your circumstances but over your actions.)

Back to Our Own Children

If preparation is the ultimate long term protection that we can give our kids, then teaching it should be at the top of our priority lists. Doors and baby gates can only go so far…

I took a minute to think about what worries me most during this phase of my child’s life (toddlerish years) and it turns out I am worried about a whole lot.

  • Getting Lost
  • Getting Hit by a Car
  • Chemicals
  • Falling
  • Kidnapping
  • Sexual Predators
  • Pornography Exposure
  • Making Friends
  • Animal Encounters
  • And the list could go on and on…

Having had my epiphany, I realize that the best thing I can do is prepare my son (as much as possible for whatever age he happens to be at) for these frightening possibilities and/or eventualities.

He needs to know what to do when strangers approach him, or when he gets his hands on the Windex. He needs to spend time with other kids and learn how to share and be kind. He needs to understand his own body and what is and is not okay. He has to learn that the road is full of cars and isn’t safe (and then how to cross it safely at some point in the future).

If I want to protect him even when I am not present, I need to prepare him to the point where he knows what to do when/if he must face it alone.

Back to the Stairs

Catching your child every time they fall is impractical and impossible. Teach them how to prevent falling in the first place. Teach them how to catch themselves if they do fall. Then teach them what to do if they totally biff it anyway. Knowledge is power.

The Final Part of My Epiphany: God

In the last several months I have heard of several unexpected and heartbreaking deaths. I was not particularly close to any of the people who passed on, but I do know several of the people who they left behind.

I don’t really blog about it much, but I am a very religious person, so I shouldn’t have been caught off guard when someone I knew specifically asked me why God was taking away someone she loved so much.

But I was caught off guard. That is a big, heavy, hard question. I spouted off several things, all of which I believe with all of my heart but none of which were very satisfying answers to this individual. So I started doing research.

Why would a father in heaven let us face such hard things? Why wouldn’t he save everyone from early, untimely deaths? Then it hit me. He is our parent.

Like human parents, he cannot protect his children from everything (for our own good not because he can’t). We must be free to make mistakes in order to learn and grow. We need the opportunity to face our own staircases (which we may or may not make it up and down without incident). But, he doesn’t send us to the stairs blindly. He has prepared us for hard things and continues to offer aid if we will listen and accept it. (See this lesson for more information.)

My Point

So, the best way to protect our own kids, whether we are there or not, is to empower them with preparation and knowledge. This is exactly what Wonder Woman needed to face everything she was called upon to deal with and it is the same thing that our own Heavenly Father has done for us (even if we don’t always remember it.).

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10 Super Simple Ways to Improve Your Marriage

Giving marriage advice has been part of almost every wedding shower I have ever attended. Before I was married, I didn’t have a clue what to write on that cute wedding themed index card. After I was married, I had a lot of ideas but didn’t think that they were super valid because marriage was so new to me.

I have now been married for about six years and have successfully navigated school, student teaching, job changes, caring for a relative, moving, remodeling, and having a kid. And guess what, a lot of the stuff that I thought wasn’t valid in the beginning is exactly what has helped us through the more stressful parts of our marriage.

Marriage is tough but doing some very basic things can easily make it the most rewarding and cherished relationship in your life (as it should be).

 

 

Say “I Love You” Daily

I know that there are five love languages and that affirmation isn’t everyone’s thing. Despite that, saying “I love you” to each other on a regular basis is a good reminder to both you and your spouse. It also makes it harder to stay upset or frustrated. Take a look at the person you married remind yourself of the reasons you love them and tell them so.

Make Your Spouse a Priority

No one likes to feel like the last checkmark on a list. Least of all the person you promised to love and cherish forever. Let them know that they are important to you. Put your phone down when you are talking to them, plan a date, surprise them for lunch, actively listen to what they are saying, be interested in their interests. Just put them first. If both people do this, then both peoples needs are met.

Spend Time Together Each Day

I would recommend more than ten minutes, but even ten minutes can go a long way. Talk, cuddle, go on a date, go buy groceries…. Whatever you do though, be with them, put your phone down. There is nothing more annoying in these situations than playing second fiddle to a phone. Don’t be that spouse. There is no substitute for good, solid, uninterrupted time together.

Go on Weekly Dates

That sounds like a lot, especially with kids, but they can be easy. My husband and I generally plan two legitimate out of the house babysitter dates a month and two easy after the baby goes to bed date nights. Netflix and cuddling can be a great date as can cooking together, making something new, playing games, reading, or learning from each other.

Have Regular Open Conversations

Stop playing games. Don’t assume the other person knows what you are thinking or can read your mind. Skirting around a subject, holding grudges, having off-limits topics, the silent treatment, and contrived drama are useless and stupid. In my experience, marriage is better when both parties are open, honest, understanding, and kind and all kinds of conversations happen regularly.

Talk Kindly About Each Other

Be your spouse’s biggest cheerleader. Don’t get caught up in other people’s conversations and start bad-mouthing them. Be the person that they can always count on to have their back. Praise them in public and in private and you will be quicker to remember their good qualities than their bad ones.

Trust and Be Trustworthy

This is clearly a two-way street. I was lucky and married someone I trust completely in every regard. In turn, he knows that he doesn’t need to worry about me because I have never given him a reason to mistrust either. If you are not at this point figure out what steps you need to take to get there.

Read Scriptures Together

I am LDS and this is something that we have made a habit of doing since our marriage started. Reading scriptures daily and inviting the Spirit into a home is a great way to lessen contention and fill it with peace. It is also a good way to reconnect with your spouse each day.

Pray Together

There isn’t anything quite like kneeling together and asking God to help you with and bless your marriage. Praying together gives us the opportunity to thank our Heavenly Father for each other and the many blessings we have been given. It brings us together, helps us to be grateful, and keeps us on track.

Be Intimate

Hug, kiss, whatever. Being physically close to your spouse does a lot for a marriage emotionally. When done kindly and sincerely physical touch and intimacy, in general, affirm love, bring couples closer, and heal.

My question for you is, what is the best marriage advice you have ever heard, gotten, or given? Respond in the comments!

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