In 2017 Virginia passed the 30-year marker since her undergraduate university graduation, which means twenty years of added experience after the commencement advice whipped up for the Class of 1997 (as shared here last week.)
Twenty years for Virginia (the person, not to be confused with the state) that included more time in the Middle East, studying hard for (& earning) a graduate degree, a short stint in the relief context of war torn Kosovo, a globetrotting job managing a safe-water initiative for 14 countries, 4 years working in Tanzania, and a (much longer than expected) care-giving gig looking after her bedfast quadriplegic Papa and arthritic wheelchair riding Mama.
With the opportunity to impart life advice from the standpoint of an older (hopefully wiser) Virginia, here (as promised last week) are a few more tidbits to add to the 1997 list.
Wearing sunscreen is still important (especially for red heads schlepping suitcases full of it to Africa where the sun burned even brighter than the Middle East!)
Virginia’s Advice to the Class of 2017
(& learners of all ages today)
What you do is important, but how you do it (not trampling others in the process) matters more in the Heavenly scheme of things.
You only have one set of parents: honor them.
You may be battered and bruised by life, but you are a valuable diamond of God’s delight – and diamonds are hard to crush.
Respect yourself. Respect others (& maybe others will more readily respect you.)
Pain is part and parcel of life; misery, however, is a choice.
Joy is a choice: choose joy.
Peace is a choice: choose peace.
Love is a choice: choose love.
Healing is a journey of discovery, recovery and new beginnings. It can take a long time (& loads of effort.)
Take time to be mesmerized by God’s heavenly paintbrushes busy in creation all around you – and within you.
Music enhances our life grooves, the soundtrack of our lives. It’s OK to turn up the volume.
Put God first, then figuring out the rest is not such an ordeal.
Keep trying new things, learning new things. It’s never too late to learn something new.
Small acts of kindness make a difference (& big acts, too.)
Make laughter a regular part of your schedule.
Presents are good, but the gift of your compassionate presence means even more (especially in tough times.)
God’s will is like an oriental carpet woven a little haphazardly on one side, but beautifully patterned on the other side (especially from the distance of time) for all to see.
When you’re tired, rest. When you’re tired of, take a break, rest (and pray.)
Burnout happens. Let go of yourself for awhile. Do something different (or do nothing at all) until you find the joy of doing again.
Chocolate comes in vegan varieties. It’s still good.
Bitterness is a poison best spit out, not swallowed over and over again.
Regret something, but get over wallowing in it.
Take initiative. Why not try?
Be thankful. An attitude of gratitude goes a long way when the chips are down.
Failures happen. They can be opportunities to learn, stepping stones into the new you (& something new.)
Celebrate your uniqueness and the diverse uniqueness of others.
Conformity is overrated. Be yourself.
Agree to disagree: value friends and others with differing opinions.
Honey works (most times) better than vinegar. Doesn’t mean there aren’t times for acerbic accountability (bees sting when threatened.)
Read. Read to learn. Read to remember. Read for fun. Read to enlarge your world. Read to understand. Read to grow. Read until your eyes can’t see words on the page (& then get better glasses.)
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but wisdom.
Despair is everywhere. You never know when a smile, joke or kind interaction could be a spark of light in the despondence of another person.
Check your facts. Forwarding lies about other people means you are participating in those lies.
You can’t take it with you (really.) Don’t let your possessions possess you.
Giving is a joy (vs. a duty.) How you give, whatever you give, matters.
Time is a gift. Spend it wisely.
Keep in touch, make that call. No one is an island. Relationships take effort.
Take time to smell the roses. (If you’re allergic, at least enjoy admiring them from afar.)
Roses on Valentine’s Day are worth it (even if you give them to yourself.)
A mate does not define who you are – you are who you are as you.
Quality vs. quantity: would you rather have one nice skirt that lasts ten years, or ten that last a few months?
Faith is not about rationality but Love. Hope. Mercy. Grace. Belief.
‘What ifs?’ Don’t go there. Now is today’s opportunity to be the best me I can be.
Life is a gift. (However painful & challenging, it is still a gift.)
Wearing sunscreen, as we get older, is still good advice.
Very good advice.
Oh, and one last thing. When our whacked out world crashes our peace of mind —
grace, peace & (non-panicking) life advice
Virginia : )
p.s. A shout out to Theresa Ollice for her encouragement to share this second list from older (& hopefully wiser) Virginia. Thank you, Theresa, for being an inspiration to me – may God continue to bless you in all you do!