The Perfect 10

Previously…on a very special Living Clean and Dirty podcast.

OK, everyone who knows me knows I love to recycle.  Whether it’s tin cans, shampoo bottles or toilet paper it doesn’t really matter to me.  In the spirit of recycling I have taken my 10-Step Commandments from our podcast and recycled/reused here in one nice neat package, I call it The Perfect Ten (no hubby, not you but you’re totally a strong 9…ok maybe 8).  Originally I called it the Ten of Hearts but that made me think of The Queen of Hearts and when I start singing Juice Newton around the house everyone gets pissed (they must be jealous of my fabulous singing voice).  So if some of these sound familiar, you’re not crazy (as far as I can tell).  We felt this feature was so good for your ears that we didn’t want your eyes to get jealous.  Enjoy!  😉

I have 2 daughters; my husband refers to them as the scientist and the anarchist.  My younger one, the anarchist is truly sweet and has a huge heart, but there hasn’t been a rule made that she hasn’t broken.  She’s super smart, but a little lazy and is convinced that half of her teachers and all adults have no idea what they are talking about.  My scientist however is the type of child who thrives on compliments and parental pride.  She loves school and has on more than one occasion been referred to as “an old soul”.

Now make no mistake when it comes to the lottery that is parenthood I hit the jackpot on both tries.  My girls couldn’t be more different but I wouldn’t change a thing about either of them (well, mostly).

The scientist (who now is considering which surgery specialty to study…she’s 12) and I were watching Grey’s Anatomy together.  It’s “our” show and on a particular episode one of the patients lays in a hospital bed dying. Not the breathy-can’t move kind-Emergency Room kind of dying, just the super-pale-lying-in-bed kind of dying.  With her daughter at her side she’s chit-chatting away, as we mothers do, feeding her a huge helping of unsolicited advice.  The dutiful daughter is giving her dying mom a mani, as one does, because just like wearing clean underwear you should never walk around with chipped nails…just in case the unspeakable were to happen. The mom passes one tidbit that made me tilt my head like a confused puppy…”you should be with a man who loves you more than you love him”.  I’ve heard a lot of kooky relationship advice but this was a new one on me, and apparently the daughter didn’t agree either because she got up and walked over to the hospital room window. When she turns around…the mom is dead. Of course, I’m balling my eyes out and the scientist looks over at me and says “it’s okay mom, it was probably an embolism and she didn’t feel any pain”.  I took a long look at my pre-teen scientist and thought…what would I tell her (and my 10-year old anarchist) right before I died and it’s not “Hey, I could have used a second coat.”

So here it is, my life advice for the lights of my life:

1-Everyone messes up: You, me, your dad (contrary to popular belief), your friends, teachers, the Dalai Lama…everyone makes mistakes. Mistakes are fine, it’s all part of the process of growing up and being a grown up, but unfortunately more times than not, those mistakes hurt other people in some way. I believe it’s what you do afterwards that’s the important part. Do you blame others, brush it off, and rationalize it that they deserved it or it’s their fault. Or do you say sorry and own up to your shit. The only way to learn is by making mistakes. My advice is to take responsibility and learn from them. You messed up and you own it, you’ll get a lot more mileage out of learning from a mistake and changing your behavior than blaming it on someone or something else.  However, if you keep making the same mistake over and over again, that’s a problem.

2-Grateful/Universe: I don’t know who said this first but “You can’t be grateful and unhappy at the same time”, but it might have been my husband the day after I gave him his birthday gift (wink!). In our house, every night we do “Grateful/Universe”. We talk about the things we are grateful for and what we ask of the universe? It doesn’t have to be big. I’ve been grateful for an awesome parking spot, finding the right color shoes, and waking up in the morning. Asking the universe for a new My Little Pony doll doesn’t fly in my house – it’s more about asking for someone to get well, confidence during a test, or the Tooth Fairy not to forget to visit again. Yup that’s happened twice (see advice #1).

3-Give Back to Others: As a kid, I once asked my mom why we bust our asses our whole life only to die in the end – why do we bother? She told me, “You spend your life helping others, making other lives better, that’s what it’s all about. That’s the legacy you leave.” I don’t agree with my mom all the time (sorry mom) but this time I do. In my house we don’t do for others for the pat on the back, the reward or the recognition. We help others because to us it’s as important to life as breathing. It’s something we can’t imagine living without. It doesn’t have to be large gestures or donating piles of money, we find the most value in the little everyday things like volunteering our time, smiling at people, listening when someone is talking to you and just being kind.

4-Forgiveness: We’ve established that everyone makes mistakes and everyone can be a douche (those are the anarchist’s words, not mine). A valuable yet often overlooked quality is learning to forgive. I’m not suggesting to forget, but instead to store that nugget of information away and go on with your life. I teach my girls that you absolutely do not have to accept someone’s apology, but forgiveness is for you so you don’t live with the anger. That’s right…we’re taught if you make a mistake, you say “I’m sorry” and the other person says ok and everything’s fixed. Screw that! My hubby always says, “When someone pushes you down a flight of stairs, looks down and says sorry, you’re still left at the bottom of the stairs.” Some shit in life is beyond an “I’m sorry” and you don’t have to be ok with it. But you should find forgiveness so you’re not left constantly pissed.

5-Moderation: Everything in moderation is our mantra. It doesn’t matter if it’s ice cream, shopping or drinking from the skulls of our enemies (my anarchist’s suggestion, not mine).

6-Listen More, Talk Less: Ok, so I’m not so good with this one…YET, but I am getting better. I come from a family of talkers but what I’ve learned is that most of the time when I’m flapping my mouth it’s to let other people know what I know. My husband always says “every time you talk you are saying things you already know, when you listen you have the potential to learn something new”. Hot and smart, that’s why I love him, find one just like him.

7-Live Fearlessly: Let’s unpack this one carefully. I’m not saying to jump out of planes, wear plaid with stripes or walk a tightrope between buildings in NYC, unless that’s your thing. I’m talking about not being scared to try something new, to think outside the box, to say “yes” to all the things you would instinctively say no to. If you never do anything that scares you then you’re not truly living.  I’m scared of public speaking so when I was asked to speak at my daughter’s graduation every fiber of my being was screaming “NO don’t do it”. I smiled and agreed and I must say I did a fine job. When I saw a pair of crazy palazzo pants I thought those are cool but not for me – it’s not my style. I stopped and bought two pairs. Again, stop thinking big, it’s the small stuff too.

8-Meditate: There are thousands of websites that talk about the health benefits from meditating. While I completely agree, it’s also important to remember that it will also help you think a little clearer before you fly off the handle (as we moms tend to do from time to time) and also make you realize that the small stuff is so stupid. When I was 18 years old I was so compulsive about every little thing that I had to get checked for ulcers. 18 years old and I was burning a hole through my stomach worrying about every single stupid decision I had to make. As a semi-well-adjusted woman of 29 (for the past 17 years) I find that mediation gives me focus, clarity and helps me move past the chatter in my head (and remember I just told you what a big talker I am – can you imagine all the shit I’m saying in my head, it’s like a bag of angry cats in there).

9-Don’t let anyone tell you what you can and cannot do…including yourself: I loved the show “Lost”, (well…except for the ending). My favorite line of the show was from John Locke, the character in the wheelchair, who yells “Don’t tell me what I can’t do” when he wants to go on a walkabout. I’m not saying life is easy, on the contrary, life will kick you in the ass every chance it gets. If you work hard, stay focused and dream BIG you can do things you never thought were possible.

10-Expect/Demand More: My goal is to raise two daughters who are confident, strong women who demand to be treated well. It doesn’t matter if it’s a spouse, a friend, or someone you hire to paint your room black (guess what color my anarchist wants to paint her room). You don’t take shit from anyone, you should expect more and demand more from yourselves and everyone in your life…you deserve it.



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