Monday, February 10, 2020

10 Rules To (Try To) Live By

[“Let Inga Tell You,” La Jolla Light, published Feb. 12, 2020] ©2020

I’ve long since given up on New Year’s Resolutions but for years I’ve kept a somewhat varying list of Ten Rules to Live By.  At the end of the year, I look at it and give myself a grade.  Some stuff just should just get dropped from the list because I get an ‘F’ every time.  But where it’s health-oriented, I feel morally obligated to at least pretend I’m going to do better next year. 

Here’s the 2019 list:

(1) Never pass a kid’s lemonade stand without stopping.  (A+)

It’s always good to have goals at which you’re guaranteed to succeed.  My kids loved having lemonade stands although I’ve noticed somewhat usurious inflation since their era.  $1.00 for a small paper cup of frozen lemonade concentrate mix?  But it doesn’t matter. It’s just really fun to watch the kiddies pour and make change.  Plus, I still owe the universe for all those passers-by who bought cherry tomatoes for $.16 each from my young grandchildren two years ago.  BTW, a corollary to this goal is “Never turn away a Girl Scout bearing cookies.”

(2) Do some sort of exercise every day. (A)

I’ve been a life-long walker probably thanks to my mother cancelling school bus service when we were in elementary school and paying us the money instead.  Aside from the exercise, I think she was motivated by the fact that bus kids were excused on snow days but non-bus kids weren’t. She was so averse to the three of us ricocheting off the walls for whole days at a time that she was willing to ship us out the door even in some pretty major blizzards. I think there were times when she hoped they wouldn’t find us until spring.   In her defense, she did always call the school and make sure we got there eventually.  To this day, however, I love the calming introspective effect of walking (maybe not in blizzards) and have written previously about the concept of solvitur ambulando – Latin for “it is solved by walking.”  Yup, it really is. 

(3) Do some really challenging exercise at least twice a week.   (C-)

Other than walking, I seriously hate exercise.  Fortunately, childhood polio and an auto accident give me plenty of excuses not to do it.

(4) Take good care of your teeth.  (A-)

About 30 years ago, I read an article that interviewed 100 elderly people asking them what they would do differently in their lives.  And the number one answer was “take better care of my teeth.”  I’m listening.

(5) Maintain a normal body weight. (F)

Why why why do I even bother to add this?  For years, I blamed it on a “temporary” weight gain after my divorce (40 pounds on the Mrs. Fields Chocolate Chip Cookie and Chardonnay Depression Diet.)  But the fiction is getting harder of maintain when I remember that I was divorced in 1983.

(6) While it would be nice to be able to save the world, there are a dozen opportunities every day for big or small kindnesses. Try to avail yourself of as many of them as possible.  (A-)
This one is a legacy of my parents and it’s nice to do not only in their memory but because it’s just a good idea.  And on a purely selfish level, it makes me happy.  I kind of have a contest with myself to see how early in the day I can log my first good deed. Sometimes it’s really small stuff – letting the person with one item go ahead of you in the grocery line, or saying something nice to the bagger who’s just been abused by a crabby shopper.  Or smiling at people you pass as you’re walking (although in some countries I’ve lived, they’d throw a net over you for this.)

(7) Challenge bigotry – in yourself and others. (B+)

This is truly my biggest legacy from my parents.  They were as flawed as any parents but their biggest gift to their children was that they didn’t hate.  I never once heard them refer negatively to anyone by race or religion.  My mother taught ESL and we always had a houseful of immigrants she was helping, on her own time, to get driver’s licenses, jobs, and simply navigate a new land. My mother always said, “What you accept, you teach.” Amen.

(8) Go barefoot and watch sunsets (not necessarily at the same time). (A)

Yup, this is my other easy “A” besides the lemonade stand and the Girl Scout cookies.  I have literally watched thousands of sunsets from either my front yard or a park nearby. 

(9) Apologize when you screw up. (A)

I simply get so much practice so it’s another easy “A”.  My motto for decades has been “A closed mouth gathers no feet.” 

(10) Stop screwing up so much.  (D)

Not so good at following the motto.

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