September 4, 2014

The View From Here: Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

Kayso, this week's View will be perfect after the heaviness I posted yesterday.
Because I snagged the one and only Darcy Perdu of So Then Stories!

The name is fake, but her funny writing is so NOT.
She has been selected as a BlogHer Voice of the Year the past two years, as well as
1st place in the National Society of Newspaper Columnists in the blog category.

Here ya go!

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff – In Fact, Don’t Sweat

So then…Jennifer Hall of Dancing in the Rain invites me to guest post for her series The View From Here where writers share their “unique perspective on life”.

My immediate thought is, “Holy Cow! Does Jennifer’s website have enough ROOM to print my voluminous LIFE philosophy? I could go on for 47 HOURS on this topic!”
But then I decide to focus on just one of my favorite perspectives that I learned from my parents:

Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Growing up in a boisterous family of seven – and moving cities every 1 to 3 years, I learned very quickly that “sweating the small stuff” would lead to a life of misery. 

If I took umbrage every time a sibling swiped a toy, ate the last donut, or refused to change the channel to Star Trek – I’d be in a constant state of agitation. 

5 kids and 1 TV – you do the math.

7 people living in a camper on cross-country vacations, riding for hours upon hours in close quarters, with annoying siblings playing the “What? I’m not touching you! See? I’m not touching you!” game.

12 Ding Dongs in a box, divided by 5 kids? Yeah, that math don’t work! (Especially when the first person to find the box re-hides it in a new location, until someone else finds it, then they re-hide it elsewhere, and on-and-on in the musical chairs of treats in our house!)

By the time I was 10, I’d lived in 7 different towns – 2 of which were in foreign countries.

So whenever someone would start to complain – or protest that life wasn’t fair – my Mom and Dad would say, “Ah, don’t sweat the small stuff.”

Kid: My ice cream cone fell in the dirt. Parents: Oh well.
Kid: Everyone got a turn on the tire swing but me! Parents: You’ll have a chance another day.
Kid: This food tastes weird; I don’t like it. Parents: That’s dinner.  Eat.
Kid: I skinned my knee; blood is everywhere! Parents: Shake it off.
Kid: I liked our old house better. This bed is so uncomfortable! Parents: You’ll get used to it.
Kid: I’m DYING of heat in here! Parents: Don’t sweat the small stuff. Literally – do.not.sweat.the.small.stuff. It’s a little heat. You’ll live.

Don’t get me wrong. My parents loved us kids something fierce, but they didn’t cater to our every whim – and they didn’t try to make the world “fair”.

Not enough popsicles to go around? Oh well. Maybe next time. 

(As opposed to MY house where it’s all “What? There’s no cherry popsicles left? I want cherry! I don’t care if we have grape and orange! I only eat cherry! How can there be NO MORE CHERRY popsicles!? Life is SO UNFAIR!!!! We have to go to the store for cherry RIGHT NOW! RIGHT NOW!! Ahhh, I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe! I NEED CHERRY RIGHT NOW!”

And that’s just ME.  Don’t get me started on my KIDS.

Anyway, our parents were very loving and caring – but they taught us to ignore the minor inconveniences, small physical discomforts and petty annoyances. They guided us to focus on the important stuff – like friendship, compassion, honesty and integrity, and supporting each other through thick and thin. In fact, as adults, my siblings and I are very close and the first to help each other out. I hardly ever hide the Ding Dongs when they come over.

As the middle child sandwiched between an older brother and older sister -- and a younger brother and a younger sister -- I quickly realized that it’s simply easier to just roll along – adapt – compromise – share – mediate – and negotiate – rather than freak out. 

(These skills have come in very handy in the workplace, by the way. It’s amazing how many clients and employees easily fit into categories like the Annoying Brother or Whiny Sister or Attention-Hogging Sibling – which is marvelous, because I have well-worn strategies to deal with ALL o’ that nonsense!)

Looking back on my childhood, I’m pretty impressed that my parents had such a great attitude. With so many kids and so many moves, it would have been a nightmare if they were high-strung perfectionists who freaked out whenever something went wrong. Instead, they were pretty cool cats who had a great time, enjoyed lots of laughs and lots of love – and provided a happy, upbeat environment at home.

I hope I’ve been a good role model by passing that “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” philosophy on to my kids. Our household is pretty upbeat and happy.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get to the store for some #*&@% CHERRY POPSICLES!!!

Not sweating the small stuff is one of the best life lessons to learn!
It's not ALL small stuff, but quite a bit of it is.

So now, go visit Darcy, and ask if she'll share her cherry popsicles, at her:

**Remember, The View From Here is wrapping up its year-long tenure this month
and I'm going to start a new series called Ask Jen. Check it out!**

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