Dreams really do come true. Keep dreaming!
Sometime during 2009, I discovered a box of 20 cards by Gartner in a TJMaxx store and I simply couldn’t resist them. I happily bought and brought them home to add to my myriad collection of cards. The box contained five cards each of these four designs. I know it might seem like I use the word love rather loosely, but seriously people, I loved these cards from the first moment I removed the cover of the box and saw what was inside. If memory serves me correctly, I may have even heard some rapturous symphony music playing when I saw them sitting on the shelf. That’s happened quite often at TJMaxx; although who’s to say if it’s been the store’s sound system or not? After successfully scoring a few more boxes on several return shopping excursions, I started giving them in bundles of four cards for anniversaries, birthdays, and graduations.
I love everything about these cards. I love the jumbo typewritten letters in white font against the contrasting dusty colors and the simplicity of the design. The simple card messages may not encompass every inspirational phrase or quote to live by, but they’re certainly a good start.
I’ve been known to occasionally twist my words around at times and only realize it, generally when people start laughing. Then I know the words that came out of my mouth were not the same ones that were in my head. Case in point: Once at a workshop, I asked a colleague when she planned to graduate. I meant to say retire; only she knew what I meant. We both laughed and somehow it became our thing. Now whenever we see each other (she has since retired or graduated), we still talk about our work graduation.
So whether you are celebrating the milestone of a graduation or you graduated a number of years ago (regardless of the number), or you’re actually somewhere on that magical yellow brick road of retirement, these cards and words are for you (and me too).
Today matters. Are you paying attention? Let this be your mantra. The simple everyday happenings like the sunrise and the sunset and all the other seemingly routine moments tucked into the middle of a day; even when you find yourself watching the clock and hoping to be on your way to the next moment, matter. Today matters. Are you paying attention to those on the journey with you? It doesn’t matter if they are riding the same bus or working in the cubicle next to you or the person whose hand you love to hold. Are you noticing the cadence in their voices or the color of their eyes? Do your eyes light up when that special someone (be they 2 feet or 6 feet tall) comes into a room? Are you making a difference in the world? Even if the only difference is being patient or kind to the waitress taking your order or the bank teller counting your money or the barista making your coffee or the person on the other end of the phone, regardless of what country they are living and working in?
Don’t wait for tomorrow. After all, what are you waiting for? While it’s great (and prudent) to plan wisely for tomorrow, be sure to show up for today. Forget about what happened yesterday and just start fresh today. Be fully present. The saying that life is not a dress rehearsal is true. Give all you can. Share yourself with the world – regardless of your age or your circumstance or what’s in your wallet. You have purpose for being here. You have purpose until you take your last breath. Find your purpose.
Be the best version of you that is possible for you to be today. Today is a gift. Repeat after me, today is a gift. Every one of us gets the same 24-hour gift, and it doesn’t matter if we are seeing a totally different pattern of wrapping paper in totally different time zones with totally different life experiences or circumstances. From the moment we take our first breath, our life countdown has begun. Today matters. So do you.
If I’m going to get wrinkles, I’ll take laugh lines any day. How about you? A sense of humor will keep a person young and make the world a brighter place. Surround yourself with people who make you laugh…giggle…crackup…laugh so hard that your stomach hurts and no sound comes out. Read funny books or magazine articles or the comics and watch movies or TV shows or videos that help you do all of the above. Listen to other people laughing…especially little kids giggling uncontrollably. It’s contagious. Share jokes and hilarious moments with others, or send them to yourself via email or text so you don’t forget them. Keep a humor file and put stuff in it that makes you want to pee in your pants. If you head to bed and realize you haven’t had a belly laugh today, grab your humor file and gift yourself with a saved treasure inside. Instead of watching something scary or disturbing before bed (like the news!), watch a favorite sitcom or comedy, so ridiculous storylines and silly situations become your last thoughts before bed. Find a laugh partner – someone who thinks you are hilarious or someone you think is too…and laugh often.
Happiness and laughter go hand in hand. Seeking happiness is a lot like laughing often. Happiness can be fleeting, so while I still seek it, I find joy to be the real treasure worth pursuing. If you look for the joy or happiness in the world around you, you’ll surely find it. And if you can’t find any joy or happiness, regardless of how hard you look, get off the train (or bus or ride or path) you’re on and get on a different one. Call me Pollyanna (and I’ll say thank you for the compliment) but it’s true that if you look for the good in people or the bad in people you will find it.
The same is true of situations. We all will have bad moments or days; sometimes they feel like they last for years. Sadly, sometimes they do. If you are in need of a little happiness in your life or this isn’t something that comes naturally to you, look for someone with a great smile or someone you consider to be a happy person and pay attention. Do something silly, or something that makes you happy or makes you smile. Even if you do it when you are alone; that’s a start. Go buy a balloon or a bundle of them – maybe even ones with smiley faces on them. You can always give them away or just bring them home and put them in a special place. Or better yet you could tie them onto your mailbox or fence post or door knob and make it look like someone graduated…because somebody did, right?
Two simple words that wallop a punch are find balance. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. Or at least it isn’t for me. I need reminders and often have to refer to my life instruction manual (you have one, don’t you?) when I find myself getting off course or on the verge of a breakdown or tears.
Life is full. Life is juggling all kinds of assorted sized balls. Balls drop. Life overflows. Life blows a gasket. Life implodes and explodes and sometimes boils over.
When I sent these cards to my daughter as she went off to study in London her senior year of college, I wrote: Finding balance can mean a whole array of things, but to me it’s a gentle reminder that life is all about choices and prioritizing and sifting. You can’t do it all. I’m still learning that lesson. But you can find and learn what’s important to you. Making good choices with sleep and nourishment (physical, mental, and spiritual) and using good sense around safety will help you find your balance. I also encouraged her to be grateful, to stay connected, and seek God in her daily life.
Whatever your age or your circumstance, it’s not too late for you to do the same.
Oh and by the way, Happy Graduation!