Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Things Vanessa Taught Us

56 years ago today, the world changed. Vanessa Joan (pronounced Jo-anne... don't get it wrong) Craft (later Barrett) entered this world. But really, doesn't the world change each time one of us is born? Doesn't the world change when each one of us dies? I think that's how Vanessa felt. Each of us has a unique task of leaving this world better than we found it.

On this, what would be her 56th birthday, I think it is important for us to remember that Vanessa left this world better than she found it. Vanessa, my dear mother, was a teacher. Not only in the classroom, this brave woman sought to teach each and every person she met. I believe that she succeeded. Listed below are 56 lessons that Vanessa taught us.

I hope you enjoy the list, laughing at the funny lessons, and humbly remembering the somber ones... but most of all, I hope you share this list, both by sharing the list itself with others, but even more so by living out the lessons.

1. Meals can be one course. This course can be popcorn, Shells-n-Cheese, nachos, or any other number of foods that require little to no effort to prepare.

2. Of all fast-food restaurants, always choose Taco Bell (unless the Taco Bell has been closed by the health department... then choose Arby's).

3. The healthiest competition comes from card games. Also, don't mess with a Craft woman, especially when she is playing Phase 10, Skip-bo, or Wizard.

4. Teachers have first names. They really like to be called by them, too!

5. The only way to be happy is to be yourself.

6. Everyone has a talent. If you think you don't, you haven't tried hard enough.

7. Travelling in large groups is risky, especially when you don't know the language. Always have a meeting spot in case of emergencies.

8. If something seems like a bad idea, DON'T DO IT!

9. No child is a lost cause.

10. Likewise, every child deserves to be loved and to be given a second chance.

11. Again, likewise, children are not their parents.

12. Love transcends divisions. That doesn't make divisions less hard to deal with, but love is worth persevering in.

13. If you have troubles remembering your 9 times tables, hold both hands in the air (working under the assumption that you have all and only 10 fingers). To figure out 9 x 4, (starting at the left) count over four fingers (your left pointer finger). Put it down. To the left of it will be 3 fingers, to the right of it will 6. 9 x 4 = 36. 9 x 6 = ? Count over six, put down your right thumb. 5 to the left, 4 to the right. 9 x 6 = 54.

14. The only ab workout you need is laughter.

15. Don't take yourself so seriously.

16. The best way you can love your children is to love your parenting partner. (She phrased it, "The best way a man can love his children is to love his wife." I have altered the lesson to be inclusive.)

17. When stuck in a conflict, "BUILD A BRIDGE and GET OVER IT!"

18. Things don't always have to be tidy to be organized.

19. If a group of people is getting together and have invited you, you declining the invitation means that you will be the subject of conversation.

20. Life is short. Spend time with friends and family.

21. Friendship is the most precious gift you have. You are not limited to one best friend. The more, the better.

22. You can live on less than 1 kidney. For a long time.

23. If you don't know the answer, admit it. Don't make an answer up. It does no good to anyone.

24. Take the questions of children seriously. You might learn something in the answering.

25. There is truth to the command to "make a joyful noise." Tone-deaf is merely a state of mind.

26. If you're feeling sorry for yourself, others probably are, too. You are worth more than feeling sorry for yourself.

27. Doctors should be nice to you. You are buying their houses, their cars, and (as the case of Vanessa's nephrologist) funding their divorces.

28. Once you get the "teacher look," you'll never forget it. Phrases like "suck a duck" will incite said look.

29. The "mom glare" is strikingly similar to the "teacher look."

30. If you can't play sports (or just aren't any good at 'em), encourage the people who do!

31. Cherish your sorority sisters. They're the only ones who won't think you're crazy when you sing the songs/do the dances you remember from college.

32. Always designate a friend to remove your "bedside/top drawer" contents in the case of your untimely death. Your children won't ever thank you for it, but really they're thankful.

33. Pepsi is addictive. Never trust a Coca-Cola drinker (even if you marry one).

34. Children are never mistakes. They are gifts to be cherished.

35. Do not try to iron your clothes while you're wearing them.

36. Family is family, no matter what.

37. Never underestimate the power of a smile. It lifts your own spirits more than it lifts the spirits of others.

38. Kids grow up, most of the time before you even know it. Savor childhood.

39. Relax. Yes, you. RELAX.

40. When making puppy chow, always double-bag.

41. Relationships (especially with your kids) are more important than keeping a perfect house.

42. The only color of Laffy Taffy worth eating is the yellow. And if you don't think the jokes are funny? Well, see #15!

43. When being intimate under the Christmas tree, watch out for needles. Or buy a fake tree.

44. When sneezing, remember to squeeze. This maneuver is (cleverly) titled the "sneeze-n-squeeze).

45. You are perfect, but your life won't and doesn't have to be. Trying to make it so is a wasted effort.

46. You never know when Kilroy is watching.

47. It is convenient to name your kid the same thing as the next door neighbor's kid. It cuts down on the yelling.

48. Hug people. You probably need it more than they do, but it will brighten their day and lift their spirit.

49. A dog will always love you, no matter how badly you snore.

50. Open your home to those who need it.

51. Your paycheck does not define you.

52. Everyone has a nickname. If they don't, it is your responsibility to make one up!

53. Give until you can't give anymore.

54. Like most music, Barry Manilow is best heard on vinyl.

55. Your legacy will continue to affect people long after you have left this earth. People you've never met... make sure it is one worth leaving.

56. Never forget the 4 L's... Learn, Laugh, Love, Live

So, which is your favorite? Which are you best at? On which do you need to work?

*a special thanks to Diane for inspiring this post
** a VERY special thank you to all who shared lessons and memories on facebook. I couldn't have compiled this list without you!


revmom said...

OMG! #13 totally rocks! These are the exact problems I struggle with.

Anonymous said...

Much love to you my friend! Your sharing is priceless.

Kristy said...

Love and appreciate this, Anna. My favorites are 12 and 16 and I'm going to have to say 33 is a tad discriminatory. :) Thank you for sharing your mother's insight and wisdom. She sounds wonderful. Thinking of you and praying for you and your heart today on her 56th.

Connie said...

With huge alligator tears in my eyes, I thank you.

Connie said...

With huge alligator tears in my eyes, thank you!

Toni said...

I loved this. I really liked 16, but 32 made me really laugh out loud. She was such an amazing person. Thanks for all the great memories.

Jan said...

Wow, Anna! I REALLY enjoyed reading this blog - it does sound just like your mom:)

Kathy said...

The one I remember the most is "Annatude". She was such a wonderful and special person.

Jerry said...

I laughed out loud at the same name one...cuts down on the yelling...nice. She sure had a lot of them...I remember a few of them. Thanks for documenting them.

Michele said...

I completely forgot (along with the one about the lunch invite) - if you don't go to church, you don't get to go to post-church lunch.

John Daniel said...

#48 answered a question I had been thinking about. Thanks for the post, I think I will share it!

Diane said...

Anna, this is beautiful! I'm so glad to see your mother's wisdom living in you! <3