Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Stuff that matters - Thinking in print

I've been on a hunt for nearly a year now, trying to figure out what really matters in life. It's tempting to make the mistake of believing that the things that matter the most are the things that make you the happiest. That's a pretty egocentric way of thinking, so I'm trying to bar that idea and seek a more wholesome definition which still stays local to the heart of a person and avoids becoming about ethereal matters, as I believe there are enough people out there seeking OM at this time.

My sister suggested at one point that I write a mission statement for myself. I absolutely intended to, but the problem became that I couldn't define myself well enough to craft a statement that I thought would work for my entire life. It's safe to say that I don't define myself by my professional title, I also don't define myself by my financial well-being. I have learned, however, that what other people think of me factors into my definition much more than it should. Currently, I'm trying to figure out how to define who I am so that it is unaffected by temporary fluctuations in my surroundings.

Here's a question..."Is who I am important in figuring out what matters?" Certainly if I were going to tell you what *should* matter, it would have less to do with my specific life than trying to come up with the things that actually *do* matter. So now, I'm going to try to reverse this puzzle by figuring out what matters to me and then defining myself based on that.

First and foremost, it's my boys. They're a constant in my life and they make me happier than any one or thing ever has or ever can. I'll admit that I tend to forget this, especially when I'm heavy in to the quest to provide for them. I've been so consumed by figuring how to pay for our life that I've reduced their waking hours to daycare time. To make up for that, I'm going to bring them out of daycare over the summer and make sure that they get as much quality time with mommy as we can all handle.

Next, it's my family. The boys are included again (hey, they deserve it) but I mostly mean my Mom, Dad and Sisters. I've always been much more attached to them than I should be, but without them, I could no longer be myself.

After that (and at one point in my life I believed *before that*) is supposed to be romantic love. I guess this is a spot that I hold open, waiting for a man who deserves to be so high on my priority list that he actually defines who I am. I periodically test people for this section, but there is a major caveat to living here...the guy has to admit that he wants to.

You're probably seeing a trend with the things that mean the most in my life. It's practically all about people. I feel like the right thing to say here would be that my friends are the next most important thing - and they are - but really it's humanity in general. People mean something to me. Often, I feel truly and deeply for the people that I meet (good or bad) to the point where I actually take on some of their emotions myself. I had to leave peer counseling in middle school because I would absorb other people's problems and let them affect my heart. I've learned to control that quite a bit, but still find myself having to rationalize with my own mind when it comes to pulling back from someone who's taking advantage of my open heart.

What's next? Here's where I start running in to trouble. Does money matter to me? Only in-so-much as it allows me to provide the necessities of life and afford entertainment and adventure. Ah, now we're on to something! What kind of entertainment and / or adventure do I hold most dear?

EDUCATION. Yes, educational experiences and adventures of all kinds. Education of myself and my ability to help educate people around me. Education is definitely right there below the well-being of people in general.

Humor. This is probably the last of the elements that I consider to be at the foundation of what matters. It's very important to me that I bring humor in to the lives of others and that I have humor in my own life as well. This is why my life feels more complete with Jcomm.

There it is, the stuff that matters most in my life. All things that I believe will live there permanently. Now it's time to form that into a way of defining who I am.

I suppose I could stop now and encourage you to follow the same steps for putting together your own self-definition, but if you've been with me this far, you may have some interest in the outcome, so here it goes.

I am : A mother, a daughter and sister. I'm a woman. I care deeply for people and want to help in every way I can. I'm a student, a teacher and self-proclaimed comedian.

If I keep in mind what I am, then the opinions of others shouldn't ever cloud my opinion of myself.

To create a mission statement, I need to put into words my intention to tend to the things that matter in my life. After a couple of versions, here's what I've come up with.

My mission in life is to nurture my children in a way that reminds them every day that they are loved and able. I will take care of my family unfailingly, doing my part to make sure that they are never without life's necessities. My spouse will know what he means to me and will never have to doubt my love or fidelity. I will do my best to bolster others, without undermining myself or my virtues. Difficult decisions will be guided by my desire to make the world a better place through humor and education, combining the two whenever possible. Additionally, I will do my best to live my life surrounded by kindness, fairness and honesty.

So there.

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