The holidays are a time of family and friends, of love, of recalling and creating memories, and along with the good inevitably comes the tougher stuff. Some relationships drift apart, some fizzle and rekindle, some grow slowly over time, some pop into your life quickly, and some are those gems that no matter how long you go without talking, you pick up the phone and it’s like no time has passed. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown into and out of relationships, as we all have, and learned a lot along the way – especially about how NOT to act with other people.
Lesson 1: I’ve learned not to take people, and their kindness, for granted.
Lesson 2: Listen just as much, if not more, than you speak (which is difficult for a loudmouth like me) and yes, your closest friends are there to vent to about anything and everything, but everyone has a limit, and it’s important to learn and respect that limit.
Lesson 3: Make sure that the people in your inner circle support you and lift you up, as opposed to the opposite.
Lesson 4: Understand that others’ actions are almost always not about you. At all. Really.
Lesson 5: Ensure that you’re gaining as much as you’re giving in your relationships. The seesaw may wobble from time to time, it may tilt more one way or another when someone is in need, but balance is everything in relationships.
Lesson 6: Communicate in a clear, kind, and direct way, because no one reads minds (sorry, Sylvia Browne).
Lesson 7: It’s okay to step away from a relationship if you need to, as long as it is done with kindness and clarity. Refer to Lesson 6.
Lesson 8: Constantly put yourself in other people’s shoes, both to understand where they are coming from, and to see how your actions affect others.
I’m sure all of you learned these lessons a BILLION years ago and I’m the only emotionally delayed one here, but if you haven’t… Get on it. Because you never know who you may be walking all over unintentionally, who may be taking advantage of you or your loved ones, who may feel hurt or lonely and need you at this very moment. Today, with the season of love upon us and my anniversary coming up, all I want to do is send love, whether they ever know it or not, to all of my beautiful friends – from those with whom I have constant contact to those with whom I have drifted away from along the way. Take a moment, wherever YOU are, no matter how busy you are in the whirl of the holiday madness, to think about the people who you’ve loved. Whether near or far, be they a friend or a stranger now, no matter if your connections were lost from a gradual separation or from a blowup, you loved every single one of those people for a reason, so honor them and the memories you made with them with a little smile in your heart today. Not regret, not sadness, not bitterness – just love. Happy holidays, y’all.