These are some lessons I learned from my seventy-plus-year-old mother. That means these lessons are time-tested throughout an entire lifetime’s worth of livin’.
1. When in doubt, turn to drugs. Her drugs of choice have always been nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, and ibuprofen. Mind you, she consumes most of those in moderation, at least most of the time. If you notice, these are all performance-enhancing drugs, at least for her. The nicotine calms her nerves, the caffeine gets her goin’, the alcohol takes the edge off, and the ibuprofen puts her back in the game. So if not abused, and utilized effectively, do drugs.
2. Shop till you drop. Money can’t buy happiness? Bullsh*t, according to my mom. Money buys clothes, knickknacks, furniture, food, presents-for-people, cars, even houses — basically, it buys a good-time. But there’s a caveat here: buying on credit leads to a bad time. Credit is something my mother used and abused and it’s something that always caused her problems. For her the money was typically there, but not quite enough, so she turned to credit — which invited stress.
3. Spend unabashedly. My mother would spend all the money she could get her hands on and then feel guilty about it. Basically it was the family’s money, the money her husband generated from his business. So the lesson here is: spend the money while believing yourself justified in doing so — don’t waver like she did. She couldn’t stop herself from spending, so why tack on the guilt? She eventually found a life-hack, in that she felt less guilty if she worked a part-time job.
4. Kids come first — right after mom. My mother was both selfless and selfish at the same time. In other words, she always put the happiness of her children first, right after her own happiness. We went on family vacations to Disney World because of HER dream to go to Disneyland when she was a kid. We had great Christmases because SHE lacked great Christmases growing up. Despite their constant fighting, she stayed with our dad because SHE grew up without one. So the lesson here is: if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. If you must believe yourself a martyr, at least make sure that cross is comfortable.
My overly conservative way of living and lack-minded thinking have gotten me nowhere in life. Whereas my mom lives an abundant life — she has her dream home, has plenty of spending money, worked her dream job (part-time at Disney) — she’d even admit that she lived a great life. So why fight the obvious? Existence on Earth isn’t sneaking-by as a fuddy-duddy — it’s unrepentant carefree frolicking through the funhouse. In other words, don’t bother trying to save it up till the end, the good stuff is now — Enjoy!