breathing bigger... wisdom from my parents

Do you ever have those moments as an adult where you don't want to admit it, but your parents really did know what they were talking about when you were growing up? I remember resisting my parents like crazy because they knew nothing and I knew everything. Here are a few simple wisdoms from my parents that after many years, I’m still working through. 
Thank you Mom & Dad.


1. BREATHE

I continue to relearn over and over why, as a kid, my parents used to tell me to count to ten when I was upset. They were asking me to breathe. They were asking me to think before I spoke harsh words. They were asking me to take a time out before I would regret any actions.

Here I am today, a grown adult and I’m still practicing the act of counting to ten. You would think it would get easier but in fact it’s harder, for me anyways. It’s harder because I’m more stubborn. It’s harder because I have not outgrown the fact that I think I know best. It’s harder because if it were easy I would feel like I’m missing something, as if I’m doing it wrong because I’m so used to the struggle being real.

Rather than jumping to conclusions, isn’t it better to take a breather? I can be fiery, I can be reactive, and when I discipline myself to count to ten (or sometimes 10,000), I see things differently, I see things clearer, I am more open-minded and willing to see something different.


2. SLOW DOWN

My mom used to say to me (and she still does), “If it were a snake it would have bit you.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve missed what’s right in front of me. From something as minor as I can’t find my keys and they end up being where I always put them, to something as grandiose as great people doing great things right in front of me, and where was I?

Essentially what my parents were asking me to do was to pay attention, focus, be conscious, be present so that I could take in what’s before me.

I was in the post office one day to ship a package and I’ll never forget a comment that one of the postal clerks said to me. This changed my life. He said, “Everyone in line here is always rushing. When it’s their turn to come to the counter I’m not sure they see me. They just want to get to the next thing, but I wonder if they even know where they’re going?”


3. LISTEN

Famous last words out of my Mom’s mouth, “Honey, if you just would have listened the first time.” Shoulda, woulda, coulda, right? I don’t want to write about wallowing in self-indulgent regret, however, listening is what will make or break our world. We’re all so eager to get the last word in, to interrupt so we don’t forget what we have to say, to zone out because we’re busy creating our own come back. 

We think good communication lies in our words, but good communication is also listening.  There’s nothing better to have in a relationship than someone who gets you, someone who makes you feel heard. What if you were that for someone? Who do you think feels gotten by you?


4. LOVE

Let’s face it, we are all mortal beings. As much as that saddens and scares me to think about, none of us will live forever.

Ever so often my mom will remind me that she’s not going to be here forever so she needs to see and hear from me more. Okay, my heart is actually breaking and my eyes welling as I say that, but she’s right. I live as though my Mom will be here forever. My parents adopted me and my older sister when we were just months old because they wanted to give love to kids who didn’t have a home. My Dad passed away when I was 13. He died of cancer and it was devastating to our family. The unfortunate truth is that oftentimes we have to have something devastating happen or a “close call” in order to reconfigure our priorities and our love for people.


5. FORGIVE

My Mom is what forgiveness is. I used to get so angry with her because I couldn’t understand why she wasn’t upset with so-and-so, or how she could even be around that person after what they did. I couldn’t understand how she could find such forgiveness. It would make me angry because I felt I had to intervene and protect her, I felt she didn’t have a backbone or that she was a pushover. Wrong, Kim. I was the one who didn’t have the backbone to stand up and be bold enough to forgive. I was the one walking around with a heavy heart where my Mom was light and free because she could find forgiveness. 

What if we all saw other’s wrongdoings or shortcomings as an opportunity to exercise our heart’s capacity to still love? What if we realized that we did those same things too? Maybe it’s not just about forgiving others but about forgiving ourselves for the times we let someone down, or for the times we let ourselves down.