Category Archives: SelfImprovement

50 Life Lessons to Live By

My sister shared this list written by Regina Brett on facebook and I was amazed at how many of the lessons we have already written about on The Suede Sofa, but also how many we have yet to learn!  I’ve already gone out and purchased the book that corresponds with this list titled, God Never Blinks, 50 Lessons for Life’s Little Detours.  I can’t wait to get started!

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You can find lots of great information on her website…

www.reginabrett.com

Regina Brett’s 45 life lessons and 5 to grow on

by Regina Brett, The Plain Dealer

May 28, 2006

To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me.

It is the most-requested column I’ve ever written. My odometer rolls over to 50 this week, so here’s an update:

1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.

8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.

12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don’t worry; God never blinks.

16. Life is too short for long pity parties. Get busy living, or get busy dying.

17. You can get through anything if you stay put in today.

18. A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write.

19. It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Overprepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: “In five years, will this matter?”

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive everyone everything.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.

35. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.

36. Growing old beats the alternative – dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.

38. Read the Psalms. They cover every human emotion.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.

41. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

42. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.

43. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

44. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

45. The best is yet to come.

46. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

47. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

48. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

49. Yield.

50. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.

~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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Set Up to Fail

This week my son and I started planting our seeds indoors so that when the weather warms up they will be strong enough to be transplanted outside.  Once we had picked out our seeds we planted them in self-watering containers that we learned how to make on Pinterest.  With the internet and Pinterest available for gardening tips and ideas it is easy to get started even if you have never grown a single thing before.  For some reason as my son and I were working on our self watering containers, I had a flashback to my first year of teaching and a window box planter I painted with my class and attempted to grow flowers in.  That was almost 15 years ago and I didn’t have “how to” information right at my fingertips.  I didn’t even have a computer with the internet in my classroom at that time.  I bought dirt, about 5 different kinds of seeds, and we started planting.  I planted all of the seeds together in the windowbox one on top of the other and to my naivety thought they were going to grow into a beautiful garden for my class to enjoy.  I didn’t check plant size, seed spacing, and I certainly didn’t know anything about starting seeds in starter pots and then transplanting them once they had matured.

One afternoon after the kids had been dismissed for the day I was watering the windowbox and a veteran teacher (and avid gardener) came in to see what I was doing.  I showed her all of the seed packets and told her that I was planting a windowbox garden with the kids.  I remember like it was yesterday her smile and words, “I’m sure it will be beautiful.”  That was all she said and walked out of my classroom.  Looking back, I realize she knew my garden was going to be a disaster and didn’t say anything to me about how to ReAlLy grow a garden.  She had a wealth of knowledge and years of experience and made a conscious decision to leave me in the dark and LeT Me FaiL.  It wouldn’t bother me so much if it was just me who was going to be disappointed, but I had 18 first graders who though they were growing a beautiful garden.  I will never know why she didn’t offer to help, or why she even bothered coming into my classroom to see what I was doing in the first place.  What I DO know is this…I will NEVER knowingly set someone up to fail.

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This is a lesson I will pass on to my children in hopes that the little voice inside their head will say, “Do the right thing” when faced with an opportunity to help a friend or even a stranger.  Life is hard enough when you know what you’re doing…having a little help when trying something new can only raise your chances at success.

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” Theodore Roosevelt

~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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If You’re Wrong, Admit It

Quotes from How to Win Friends & Influence People (Revised Edition) by Dale Carnegie:

Chapter: If You’re Wrong, Admit It.

Principle:  If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.

“If we know we are going to be rebuked anyhow, isn’t it far better to beat the other person to it and do it ourselves?  Isn’t it much easier to listen to self-criticism than to bear condemnation from alien lips?   Say about yourself all the derogatory things you know the other person is thinking or wants to say or intends to say – and say them before that person has a chance to say them.  The chances are a hundred to one that a generous, forgiving attitude will be taken and your mistakes will be minimized.”  (pg. 137)

“There is a certain degree of satisfaction in having the  courage to admit one’s errors.  It not only clears the air of guilt and defensiveness, but often helps solve the problem created by the error.’”  (pg. 138)

“Any fool can try to defend his or her mistakes  – and most fools do – but it raises one above the herd and gives one a feeling of nobility and exultation to admit one’s mistakes.”  (pg. 139)

“Remember the old proverb:  “By fighting you never get enough, but by yielding you get more than you expected.”‘  (pg. 142)

Principle:  If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.

Click here for beginning post of this series.

Click here for last week’s post.

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The Weight is On

As we are approaching the warm weather I once again find myself having to deal with the excess weight that I have put on over the winter.  Every year I say I am not going to gain weight during the winter, and every year I find myself in the same predicament.  Last summer I reached my lowest weight since having my kids.  I was so proud of my achievement, but did that stop me from over indulging during the month-long Christmas festivities…NO!  Then once Christmas came and went there was New Years, the Super Bowl, and I can’t forget to mention my new obsession with Golden Oreos.  I watched the numbers on the scale creep up until yesterday I realized I had put on a full 15 pounds since the summer and am once again miserable with what I see in the mirror when the clothes come off.

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I decided to take out my camera phone and take 3 pictures of myself…front, back, and side views in my bathing suit.  What I saw in the pictures was even worse than the image that had been staring at me in the mirror.  As I said in a past weight loss post (Put On Your Big Girl Panties and Deal With It), to many friends and family members it may not seem like I need to lost weight, but I know that I can do better.  Weight loss isn’t about how you look compared to other people, it is about how you feel about yourself.

Using my pictures as a starting off point, I am excited to get my butt in gear and start working towards the Robyn that I know I can be!  With today being the first day of spring…NOW is as good a time as any to change the eating habits that have crept up through the cold.  Any readers who can relate…GET OUT YOUR CAMERAS and let’s go!

~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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The Big Secret Of Dealing With People

Quotes from How to Win Friends & Influence People (Revised Edition) by Dale Carnegie:

Chapter:  The Big Secret Of Dealing With People

Principle:  Give honest and sincere appreciation.

“One of the first people in American business to be paid a salary of over a million dollars a year (when there was no income tax and a person earning fifty dollars a week was considered well off) was Charles Schwab…

Schwab says that he was paid this salary largely because of his ability to deal with people…

“I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among my people,” said Schwab, “the greatest asset I possess, and the way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement.

There is nothing else that so kills the ambitions of a person as criticisms from superiors.  I never criticize anyone.  I believe in giving a person incentive to work.  So I am anxious to praise but loath to find fault.  If I like anything, I am hearty in my approbation and lavish in my praise…

In my wide association in life, meeting with many and great people in various parts of the world,” Schwab declared, “I have yet to find the person, however great or exalted his station, who did not do better work and put forth greater effort under a spirit of approval than he would ever do under a spirit of criticism.”  (pg 24-25)

“We nourish the bodies of our children and friends and employees, but how seldom do we nourish their self-esteem?  We provide them with roast beef and potatoes to build energy, but we neglect to give them kind words of appreciation that would sing in their memories for years like the music of the morning stars.”  (pg. 28)

“I shall pass this way but once; any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now.  Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” (pg. 31)

“Let’s cease thinking of our accomplishments, our wants.  Let’s try to figure out the other person’s good points.  Then forget flattery.  Give honest, sincere appreciation.  Be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.” and people will cherish your words and treasure them and repeat them over a lifetime – repeat them years after you have forgotten them.”  (pg. 31)

Principle: Give honest and sincere appreciation.

Click here for the previous chapter.

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Parenting Resolutions Worth Keeping

As we all begin our New Years Resolutions I PrOmIsE you WilL NoT find me walking around with a shiny new gym membership. Ooooooooh no!!! You all know I couldn’t even follow through with The Lazy Girls Workout!  Looking back on that post, maybe I was pushing myself with saying I was going to start out aiming to workout 3 to 4 times a week.  If I had started with 1 to 2 and gradually added on maybe I would have stuck with it!  Anyway…I’ll worry about toning in the spring and stick with these ReAlisTiC ReSoLuTiOnS that will benefit my entire family!

resolution

I found this while looking for cute winter crafts on Pinterest and realized these are all things that I need to do not only for my family, but for MySeLf!  I spend way too much time trying to get everything done and need to focus more on the important things in life.  They may seem simple, but they so often get overlooked and could be the difference in making your child’s day go from OK to OuTanDiNg!

Happy New Year!

~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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If You Want To Gather Honey Don’t Kick Over The Beehive

One of the greatest skills we can learn is people skills and one of the best books on that subject is How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie.  Another name for this book could be How to Love People because it really is about treating people like you would like them to treat you.

What a great way to start the year – learning how to treat people right.  For the next several weeks I am going to take my copy of How to Win People & Influence People and give a little snippet of each chapter.  This won’t exactly be Cliff Notes of the book, rather, I’ll give you the title of the chapter and some clips of quotes from the book that I have outlined.  I’ll progressively move through the book, chapter, by chapter.

The name of this post is actually the title of the first chapter, but the principle is this:

“Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.”

Here’s some of what this chapter has to say on the matter:

“Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes him strive to justify himself.  Criticism is dangerous, because it wounds a person’s precious pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses resentment.

B.F. Skinner, the world-famous psychologist, proved through his experiments that an animal rewarded for good behavior will learn much more rapidly and retain what it learns far more effectively than an animal punished for bad behavior.”  (pg. 5)

“Do you know someone you would like to change and regulate and improve?  Good!  That is fine.  I am all in favor of it.  But why not begin on yourself?  From a purely selfish standpoint, that is a lot more profitable than trying to improve others -  yes, and a lot less dangerous.” (pg.13)

“Benjamin Franklin – tactless in his youth, became so diplomatic, so adroit at handling people, that he was made American Ambassador to France.  The secret of his success?  “I will speak ill of no man,” he said,”… and speak all the good I know of everybody.”

Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain – and most fools do.  But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.  “A great man shows his greatness,” said Carlyle, “by the way he treats little men.”” (pg. 14)

“Instead of condemning people, let’s try to understand .  Let’s try to figure out why they do what they do.  That’s a lot more profitable and intriguing than criticism; and it breeds sympathy, tolerance and kindness.”  (pg. 17)

Take-home message:

Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.

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Pay It Forward

This summer my family spent 9 AmAzInG days in Disney World.  It was the first trip for my two kids and the second trip for my niece Taylor.  With 3 kids ages 5 and under and my parents who toughed out the long days and heat…the fast pass system which can save you up to an hour and a half of waiting on lines is a NeCiSsItY.  My sister was given 8 fast passes for the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror from one of the ride managers.  If you haven’t been to Disney World, these two rides are located in the Hollywood Studios theme park and  have an average wait time of at least an hour.  Throughout the day our family used the passes that we wanted, but she still had a handful left over.  Before we left the park, my sister decided to go to each ride and give out her fast passes to people who were waiting on the actual lines which as I said before were about an hour-long.  She was met with SmiLeS, ThAnKs, and DisBeLiEf!  One recipient said to her, “Thank you so much, I’ve done this for other people, but no one has ever done it for me…way to PAY IT FORWARD.”

In the upcoming months we will be asking YOU to share your own PAY IT FORWARD stories!  Remember…a little bit of kindness goes a long way.

~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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You Are {Wanted!} And Needed!!

As I have said in a previous post, Lara and I are reading the book The Resolution For Women by Pricilla Shirer.  Today’s reading was so good, I just had to share.  It is taken from the chapter titled “Supernatural Selection” (page 58).

“We were each created by God to do our part.  And if we fail to do it because we don’t think it’s valuable enough, great loss will be suffered.  Someone, somewhere, needs you-in all of your uniqueness-to step up to the plate of your calling.

So come take your place.  Embrace your special role.  Enjoy the thrill of capitalizing on your strengths without wallowing in misery over your lacks and differences or allowing yourself to feel threatened by those traits you should be celebrating in those you admire.  You are not a mistake, no mere outcome of happenstance.  Your creation was supernaturally superintended by Almighty God.  You are extraordinarily significant.

Rather than seeking to impress and outperform others, and rather than feeling ashamed by what you don’t have and can’t do, relish the opportunity to stand as a living, walking, eating, breathing example of what God’s grace can do with a woman He has set apart, weaknesses and all, to be a sacred vessel in His service.  You are a purposeful place setting.  A masterpiece worth celebrating.

Nothing commonplace about that.”

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Are You Focused?

Have you stayed focused on the goals you set for yourself to accomplish before the summer months hit?  Are there areas you need to target as the weather warms up and the BBQ’s get grilling?  I think we all start out with great intentions to succeed, but somehow LiFe just gets in the way of achieving our goals.

For me the struggle continues to be diet and exercise.  I’m not going to lie…It’s been weeks since I wrote a post about starting The Lazy Girls Workout and this lazy girl has not worked out OnCe since that day.  That is unless you count a few games of freeze tag around the yard with my son, but other than that…NoThInG!

I think when life gets too hectic to find time for ourselves or when we are finding it hard to get moving (in my case literally GeT MoViNg!) it is important to find things to use a motivators.  For me it is going to be my new right out of the box Lands End bathing suit.  Don’t give up on your goals…we all have time to get back in the GaMe!

~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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