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Robin L. Silverman

Mommying My Life
by Robin L. Silverman

At this, what is probably the more-than-midpoint of my life, Iíve realized one thing: my life has always benefited from some mommying. My mother has either told or demonstrated to me a dozen things that, upon reflection, are really good ideas for living a happier, more fulfilled life. Here they are:

1) Sit up straight. (and wash your hands)

Mom was right: no one looks good when they are slumping in a chair. Posture is important, not just for self-esteem and making eye contact, but for better digestion, less back pain and the breathing that results in a clearer mind. Now that Iím of an age where I take calcium and teach personal energy management, I truly appreciate the value of sitting up straight. Mom was smart about the soap-and-water thing, too. Both doctors and hard experience have shown me that if I want to lessen the amount of germs and viruses I ingest, washing my hands is a lot cheaper and easier than penicillin.

Something Wonderful is About to Happen by Robin Silverman

2) Put your coat on.

This was also very smart thinking on my motherís part, although I like to think of this advice metaphorically, rather than literally. Itís easy to "catch cold" when I go out into the elements of a stormy situation without any protection. In the harsh "climate" of some situations and relationships, Iíve learned that Iím better off with a warm, soft coat of personal peace to put a buffer between me and the chill of a cold shoulder, the snap of a sharp, windy remark, or the blinding blizzard of too much verbal precipitation.

3) Sit down and eat.

Sit down and eat used to mean dining (not just eating) at a table with others. Now it means trying not to let the barbecue sauce from your fast food spill on your suit as you drive home to work on your computer all night. Like many Americans, I have become adept at being a "stuff it-on-the-runner," and it has not served me. My mother had dinner on the table every night, and it was a time to rest, restore and renew contact with my siblings and parents. Although my entire family is not together often any more, I try to make my table a daily destination for satisfaction and appreciation with my husband, friends or a good book.

4) Do your homework.

My father often went back to his office at night, so when it came to homework, Mom was in charge. It had top priority, and we got it done, right and on time. Mom knew that it was not only required by the teacher, but was important both for the eventual tests we would face and for our self-esteem in class. I admit that I got sloppy about doing my homework as I got older, figuring that hope, optimism and hard work would be enough to make anything work. But life has thrown me tests for which I wasnít prepared, and my daily activities often include questions I canít readily answer. Whenever I make doing my homework before leaping in to a situation a top priority now, I think of Mom.

5) Say your prayers.

When I was a little girl, my mother sent me to Sunday school. I hated it. She sent me anyway. Iím glad she did. As I grew older, I could see how important a connection to God really is. In Judaism, we are each responsible for creating or own personal relationship with God, and Iím glad I learned a way to do it that also connects me with people around the world and a deeper sense of history.

6) Kiss the boo-boos.

When I was a child, my mother knew how to fix what hurt. I ran to her with every bump, bruise, scrape and cut. Sheíd patch me up, kiss the sore spot, and send me off to play again. I donít know when I started to realize that I was throwing dirt on every little wound, not taking care of them and allowing them to heal. So Iím back to Momís way, which worked much better to keep my life going.

7) Never ask "why?"

At age 14, I was my piano teacherís top student. I was last on the recital program, the one who was supposed to Wow! the audience with my well-trained skills. And I practiced my very complicated piece for months, until I knew it in my sleep. But the day of the recital, I went blank. I forgot every note, and even when the teacher sighed and put the music in front of me, I froze. I ended up leaving the auditorium in tears, and never played the piano again. Amazingly, my mother never, ever brought it up. She never asked me why I couldnít perform, or why I wouldnít. Although we never talked about it, my guess is that she simply couldnít see the point in going over something that had obviously made me feel terrible. She just let it go. Eventually, so did I. Now, whenever I find myself obsessing about why I did or didnít do this or that, I remember Momís way, and simply let things go.

8) Dress for the occasion.

Once upon a time, there were work clothes and play clothes. Clothes for traveling, and clothes to wear when you arrived. And the wonderful thing about these clothes is that they were like putting on a costume. My mother taught me how to love clothes and the way they could help prepare you to better enjoy the experience you were about to have. I donít change my clothes three times a day any more, which saves time, but little else. So now, I try to change my mental outfit by intentionally shifting gears as I go from one part of my day to another, although thatís easier to do if I change a piece of clothing or two in the process.

The Ten Gifts by Robin Silverman

9) Put family first.

My mother (and my father) has always put family first. Neither my brothers nor our children have any doubt about her love and support, which is a wonderful thing in a time when our priorities tend to shift with the wind. Although I have also done this, I often find that my career is at odds with my family life. Not so with Mom: Iíve watched as Momís love for us helped her create meaningful work. When my brother had trouble learning, she went back to get a masterís degree so she could work more confidently with him at home. After he left for college, she became a teacher of adult learners. Now, decades later, she still teaches. Many of her students have found their literary voice through her classes. In the process of taking care of us, she found a job that has helped many others.

10) Go to camp.

My mother (and father) sent all three of us to camp, although it was Mom who took on the heavy task of making all the arrangements. She sewed name tags in every sock, t-shirt and piece of underwear; bought, packed and often transported the endless gear on a three hour drive; and wrote letters to us every day. I hated my first few years of camp, but later, learned to love the skills I learned. I discovered how to make friends with total strangers and live cooperatively with others. I found ways to resolve my differences when I couldnít go running to her for help with every little dispute. And I found that a few weeks away from home made me appreciate it all the more. I still believe in getting away for new, unscripted experiences, breaking the pattern of the ordinary to see what emerges. (But Iím glad I donít have to wear the uniforms any more!)

11) Include others.

Mom was, and is, great about including others in her life. She lets people know sheís thinking about them, not by saying, "Oh! Iíve been thinking about you!" but with action. When a friend is sick, sheís the first to call. When a child is born, her gift arrives right away. When she says she wants to see someone, she picks up the phone and makes a date. I often work alone, and find, when the weekend comes, that I often havenít made any plans to get together with friends. When I find myself making excuses about why I donít have time to include others in my life, I try to remember Momís example: that people are more important than constant problem-solving.

12) Keep learning.

Momís not just a teacher; both she and my Dad are life-long learners. Sheís always willing to try something new. Their house is filled with books, magazines and newspapers: the stuff of ideas. By staying mentally fit, she far outpaces her friends in both activities and good health. Sheís the reason I try to learn something new every day.

Now that my children are grown and mostly off on their own, Iím going to try Mommying my own life a little more. The nurturing would do me--and, Iím guessing, a lot of the people around me--a lot of good.

© Copyright 2005 Robin L. Silverman.  All Rights Reserved.

Robin L. Silverman
Robin L. Silverman teaches Fullistic Livingô, the art of aligning mind, body and spirit for more freedom, fun and personal peace. She is the author of six books, including "Ten Ten Gifts," "Something Wonderful is About to Happen," "Reaching Your Goals," and "Americaís Land of Tranquility." Her "Take a Load Off!" program is helping men and women lose weight not by dieting, but by gaining more happiness.



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