Bejewell on February 19th, 2009

Dear Little Bean:

Two of my favorite things in this world are making lists and YOU. This is the marriage of them both.

This list is just the tip of the iceberg. There are a million more things I want to teach you as you grow; so many run through my head every day, I’d have to write a book. (And maybe I will.)

I don’t expect you to follow all of these to the letter — what fun would life be if you did everything your mom told you? Hell, even I don’t practice ALL of these. Some of them aren’t even lessons, they’re just observations. But they’re ALL true, at least as far as I’m concerned.

I’m sure the list will grow and change as you do, but this is a good beginning. I hope it serves you well someday.

I love you more than the sun and the moon and the stars and the sky and the Earth and everything on it. And I always will.

Your Mom

  1. The single greatest thing you can ever be in your life is COMPASSIONATE.
  2. The best gift you can give yourself is a SENSE OF HUMOR.
  3. Having what everyone else has will not automatically make you happy.
  4. Finding what WILL make you happy is one of the greatest challenges in life.
  5. Always be nice to your waiter… and never stiff anyone on a tip.
  6. Be smart. But more importantly, do not be stupid.
  7. Listen to all kinds of music – not just the current, popular crap. You’ll be surprised at how good the old stuff is, if you give it a chance.
  8. Never be afraid to dance or sing in front of other people.
  9. Eat fruit and vegetables every day. (P.S. If you’re looking for a giggle, asparagus makes your pee smell funny!)
  10. Be polite. Open doors. Don’t talk with your mouth full. Make words like “ma’am” and “sir” and “please” and “thank you” part of your everyday vernacular.
  11. When you hear a word like “vernacular,” look it up, learn what it means, and use it in a sentence.
  12. Not all friendships last forever.
  13. The friendships that DO last forever will be the most important relationships in your life. Appreciate and nurture them; they are worth the effort.
  14. Get at least a little exercise every day, even if it’s just jumping and dancing around the house on a cloudy day.
  15. Keep a journal. It doesn’t have to be an everyday thing, but at least write down the important stuff so you can remember how you felt about it later.
  16. Learn to play the piano and the guitar while you’re still young.
  17. Master at least one foreign language.
  18. Travel every opportunity you get.
  19. Try to find the beauty in everything you see. There’s a tremendous amount of beauty in this wacky world, but you won’t always see it unless you look for it specifically. And if you keep looking hard enough, you’ll find that some of the ugliest things are actually the most beautiful.
  20. White lies told to save someone’s feelings, for real, are the only lies that are ever okay. And even then, be careful. Trust is a very valuable commodity. You don’t want to lose it.
  21. Listen to the stories your grandparents tell. You’ll be SO GLAD later that you did.
  22. Take LOTS of pictures!
  23. Never say goodbye to someone you love without giving them a hug and a kiss and telling them so.
  24. Don’t expect anyone, not even yourself, to be perfect. Everybody makes mistakes. And pretty much everything of value you’ll learn from your life experience will come from the ones you make.
  25. Read, read, read, read, READ!
  26. LISTEN to other people when they talk. Don’t just watch their lips move. Don’t spend that time planning what you’ll say next. LISTEN.
  27. Give old black-and-white movies a shot. You might be surprised.
  28. DO NOT pick up smoking. It’s bad for you, it’s expensive, and it makes you smell awful. It’s also really, really hard to give up when you finally come to your senses.
  29. For some reason, the more clothes you put into the dryer, the faster they seem to dry. (This theory is not without its limit, however.)
  30. Being good at math and science can open many doors for you later in life. So pay attention – even when it’s hard, or when you think you’ll never use it.
  31. When a girl hits you or calls you names, it probably means she likes you.
  32. Always be kind to the girls who like you – even if you don’t like them back in that way.
  33. If you aren’t using your sunglasses, take them off. Do not wear them inside, or wrap them around the back of your head.
  34. Giving to charity will always make you feel better. If you have even a little to spare, share it. I have never regretted a single dime I’ve spent giving to others, and neither will you.
  35. If you see someone who needs help, help. Even if you’re in a hurry or have other things to do, stop. Help.
  36. Never, ever hurt someone’s feelings intentionally. Even if they hurt you first. It will solve nothing, and in the end you will only feel worse.
  37. Always be kind to animals. (Unless they are trying to maul you. Then you should probably run.)
  38. Make it a habit to give compliments. If you like someone’s shirt, tell them so. If you think a girl looks pretty that day, let her know. Everybody likes a compliment!
  39. If you’re sad, it’s okay to cry. It really is.
  40. Every new day is a fresh start.
  41. DO NOT INTERRUPT. It is unbelievably rude. Even if you think what you have to say is the most important thing ever said in the history of the world, let the other person finish their thought before you say it. Seriously.
  42. A wise man once said, “Silence is the hardest argument to refute.” And that is absolutely true.
  43. Never make a promise you don’t plan to keep. If you break your promises, no one will trust you. And you don’t want to be that guy.
  44. Always take responsibility for your own actions. If you screw up, OWN IT. The more time you spend blaming others or making excuses, the longer it will take you to learn from it and move on.
  45. Don’t expect everyone else to do things your way. One of the great things about this world is its diversity. There are lots of different ways to do lots of different things. Understand that, and embrace it.
  46. Play team sports. You’ll learn a lot about yourself and how to work with other people.
  47. Stand up for yourself if you’re being treated unfairly. Don’t be a doormat.
  48. Stand up for others if THEY’RE being treated unfairly and can’t stand up for themselves.
  49. Be a good loser AND a good winner – in all aspects of your life.
  50. Take care of your skin and your teeth. You will be using them both for a very long time, and maintenance is key.
  51. Soaking something in white vinegar will remove the smell of cat pee. But then it will smell like vinegar.
  52. It is better to smell like vinegar than cat pee.
  53. Don’t try to be something you’re not for someone else, no matter who it is. ALWAYS BE YOU.
  54. Never say never. Life is WAY too full of surprises to ever know anything for sure. And just when you think you have it all figured out, that rug WILL get yanked out from under you.
  55. Don’t ever put anything in writing that you don’t want coming back to you later.
  56. When you’re driving, always assume that the other people on the road are going to do something stupid and reckless. And always be prepared to get out of their way if they do.
  57. Never never never never NEVER drink and drive, or get into a car with someone who’s been drinking. Never. NEVER. Did I say never?
  58. It’s good to work, and to love your work. But don’t let your work become your life. You owe yourself much more than that.
  59. There will always be people who are more successful, more popular, more put-together, smarter or better looking than you. Admire them all you want – but NEVER let yourself believe that they’re better people than you. They’re not.
  60. See as much live music and comedy as you can.
  61. Learn to ski – both water and snow.
  62. Do NOT get drunk at your office Christmas party. OR your high school reunion. (Both learned the hard way by dear old Mom.)
  63. Pay attention to politics, and vote in every election. You don’t have to be a rabble-rouser, but at the very least stay informed about the issues affecting you and your community.
  64. Drink lots of water!!
  65. Choose your battles wisely. There’s no point in arguing with someone unless you know with absolute certainty that you are right.
  66. Do NOT buy something unless you have the money to pay for it. (Credit cards = Bad.)
  67. Keep your receipts.
  68. Getting presents is fun – but it’s WAY more fun to give them. Try it and see!
  69. Never answer an email when you’re angry. And ALWAYS triple-check the “to” field before you hit “send.”
  70. You will never be able to please everyone. So do what’s most important to you and be as nice as you can to those it displeases.
  71. The absolute WORST place to show off for your friends is in your car.
  72. Never let your “stuff” define you. Take care of it, yes – but never let it become more important to you than the people in your life.
  73. Load the dishwasher with everything facing IN.
  74. Sadly, it’s a truth that not everyone in this world can be trusted. You shouldn’t be afraid to let new people into your life, but do be cautious about sharing your whole heart until you know they are worthy.
  75. Learn about cars. At the very least, know how to change the oil and replace a tire if you need to.
  76. All humans are equal – regardless of their skin color, religion, education, income level, political party, family history, sexual orientation, or nationality. Treat them as such.
  77. Be self-aware. Know your strengths but also your weaknesses. And recognize when they change, for better or worse.
  78. Acting out in anger, especially physically, is not acceptable. You are above this.
  79. Eat a good breakfast every morning. Start your day off right.
  80. Religion is a personal choice. Learn everything you can about the options out there and make your own educated decision. DO NOT believe something just because other people tell you to, no matter who they are. And NEVER judge other people for believing something different.
  81. Offer your most sincere sympathy to someone in emotional pain. It may not seem like enough, but it almost always is.
  82. Don’t let the fear of failure stop you from doing something you want to do. The scariest things are usually the ones that are most worth it in the end.
  83. Whatever age you are, remember: Nobody likes a whiner.
  84. Nothing you say matters at all unless you back it up with action.
  85. Don’t be a slave to fashion trends – simple and clean is always best. (And I have the photos of spiked hair and parachute pants to prove it.)
  86. Don’t take yourself too seriously! What’s the point of any of it if you can’t have a laugh?
  87. Always look at the moon and the stars with wonder. Doesn’t matter how much you know about the science behind them — they are still magical.
  88. Respect the planet that we live on. Recycle, don’t litter, and buy green when you can.
  89. Always be original. Copycats are boring!
  90. Forgiveness is one of the hardest things to offer someone – and also one of the most rewarding.
  91. Dust first, then vacuum or sweep.
  92. When people are called “weird” or “nerds” or “freaks,” it just means they aren’t afraid to be themselves. And that makes them BRAVE. Always remember that and respect it.
  93. DO. NOT. GOSSIP.
  94. Appreciate history. The ancient Greeks, the Egyptians who built the pyramids, the founding fathers, the old settlers – they were all just people, like you and me. Their stories can teach you so much about life – it would be a shame to ignore it.
  95. Always observe your birthday, even if it’s just in a small way. It’s the one day you have each year to celebrate being alive. Recognize that, and enjoy it!
  96. Learn to spell. Learn proper grammar and punctuation. Put this knowledge to use.
  97. When people ask you how you’re doing, they don’t always want to know the truth.
  98. You can do anything you want in this life, as long as you’re willing to work hard for it. Because you will always have the full support of your family behind you.
  99. When you feel overwhelmed by negative thoughts, stop. Take a deep breath, and remember that a lot of people love you.
  100. Nobody in this world will ever love you or believe in you as much as your mom does. Ever. And you should show her that you know that by giving her a big hug every day.
  101. No, really. Where’s my hug?
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39 Responses to “101 Thoughts on Life: A Letter of Lessons for My Son”

  1. It looks like you’ve covered it all. You are very wise. Peace, Mike.

  2. You sound really wise at the moment. I am in awe.

    My latest entry is a list, but somewhat less profound. Oh dear.

    Razs last blog post..A Quarter-Century Of Facts

  3. This is the best thing I’ve read in a long time. Your son is very lucky.

  4. Excellent advice. The next time I see you I fully expect to see a song and dance routine.

  5. Could I love this post more? No. No, I don’t think it would be possible to love it more when I already think it’s so awesome! I want to copy it and laminate it and make my boys wear it around their necks on string, that’s how much I love it.

    foradifferentkindofgirl (FADKOG)s last blog post..jolly good, england. jolly good, indeed

  6. Ha! I read it all! And it was great…11,12,68,69,83,85…love those…well, pretty much loved them all, actually!

    pgoodnesss last blog post..Happy Valentine’s Day!

  7. These are all great points, Bejewell, but the two most important ones on the list for me are #52 & #53 – because it is sooo true.

    kailas last blog post..A boring tale of shut down slides, elevator tag, re-usable hotel keys and puked up lungs….

  8. beautifully said and listed. :D

  9. Although you say not to copy, is it okay to borrow? I would like to show this list to my girls – because all but #50 are applicable (and that one isn’t only because they don’t have balls).

    These are fantastic life lessons that you are never too old to employ.

    swirl girls last blog post..The One in Which She Just Does’t Feel Like Writing

  10. What a fantastic post! I think everyone could benefit from reading something like this on a regular basis.

    Dawns last blog post..Grace in Small Things 27:365

  11. This is totally reminding of the Liz Phair song “Whip Smart.” In particular, this line: And I’m gonna lock my son up in a tower/Till I write my whole life story on the back of his big brown eyes.

    Indeed.

    Alias Mothers last blog post..It’s okay, babies, Alias Mother is right here

  12. Well said. Well done. And very true.

  13. i was writing this long article for my thoughts on living for my two daughters, my son-in-law, and my grandson. i thought it was really cool.

    Then i read your list and threw it away. Yours pretty much covered it all…well, nearly all.

    oh yes, i violated 36 items on your list…today.

  14. genious…better than the list I wrote 3 years ago.

    Shannons last blog post..Who the hell is Craig, anyway?

  15. Very lovely, and true :)

    Foz Meadowss last blog post..Commodified Education

  16. first time visitor here…what a wonderful list you have written..what a lucky bean.

  17. What a wonderful list. Maybe I’ll save it and bring it out in a few years for Sam!

    Rachaels last blog post..The Waiting is the Hardest Part

  18. Wow. And I thought you weren’t listening…..

  19. That is an awesome list. Your son is one lucky dude.

    all things BDs last blog post..Worth a Look

  20. Love your list.

    You forgot the bit about wearing clean underwear.

    (I can’t give that advice to my own son, b/c I’d be a hypocrite. Also, the whole meat underwear thing. You know.)

  21. wow,
    I love this list…ill pass it on to my daughter too

  22. This made me want to have lunch with you again very very soon.

    :)

    rockzees last blog post..Some of the deep conversations that happen around here

  23. This list is very laminateable.

    Laminatable?

    I should laminate it.

    There.

    San Diego Mommas last blog post..Fodder

  24. Yeah.

    Can I just drop off my kids and let you finish raising them? Might be better for ALL of us.

    Love the amount of love it too to write this and, even more so, that I know you mean it.

    XOXOX

    Anissa@hope4peytons last blog post..This post is really just for me, you don’t even have to bother to read it.

  25. Very very nice. I have a lot to work on.

    Ann’s Rantss last blog post..Is “Madeline” On The List of Banned Books?

  26. Beautiful post. You don’t mention how to eat bananas however. A small oversight surely!

    Barbaras last blog post..53/365 – Peaceful

  27. Congrats babe!

    This post is officially the best of the web in the Family category.

    Check it out & grab your badge to brag!

    http://worthingtonwire.com

    Love, Alli

  28. I love #81. That’s a great lesson to learn in life. Unfortunately, few people heed this advice until it’s too late to turn back . . .

    tysdaddys last blog post..Lemonade or: How to Enjoy Your Layoff Without Really Trying

  29. And I love the new look around here . . . sweet . . .

    tysdaddys last blog post..Lemonade or: How to Enjoy Your Layoff Without Really Trying

  30. and again, you are fabulous.
    This was perfect and I love it and I looooove the new look.

    rachel-asouthernfairytales last blog post..Voices That Touched My Soul

  31. Oooooooooo, how wonderful.
    I’m thinking of printing this and adding to the journal I’m writing for my son.

  32. I love it. Just love it. I could have said so many of the same things. I think I’ll keep this and show it to my boys when they’re older.

  33. What a great list!

    Not sure about #20. Long term, any kind of lie can be discovered and then it’s worse.

    Totally agree with #99 in my own kids’ case, but not so sure about some other people, unfortunately.

    Sending to all my friends.

  34. Great list and post. I really enjoyed reading it.

  35. ever make a grown man cry??? u just did!

  36. This is seriously amazing. You are very wise and your son is seriously one of the luckiest kids ever. I love your list so much that I want to hang it on my son’s bedroom wall. You should think about making this into a poster that you can sell… you would make lots of money guaranteed.

  37. Cold Water is great for Nice Skin

  38. I turned this list into a framed 6 1/2-foot tall poster for my nine-year-old son. It makes quite a statement. One of those gifts I hope he keeps around the rest of his life… a little more useful than just another Xbox game :)

  39. I’m printing this out and reading it to my kids, one item each morning, to see what they think. That way you can preach to my kids and I can hear which ones I have to hit harder before they go to college.

    Awesome list.

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