Patrick Sallee admits he’s a thief who steals from his own kids. But in this case, the ends justify the means.
My twin daughters, Avery and Makenna, are the coolest people I know. They have the same great qualities most kids have, which the world often beats out of us. Recently I have been thinking about what makes them engaging, fun to be around and how I can incorporate more of those traits in my own life in the coming year.
1. Enjoy the activity not just the outcome
One of the activities I use to keep busy while waiting on dinner to be finished or if we have a few minutes between activities, is coloring. It is easy and fun, and the girls love it. They will show me what they are working on, but very rarely are they concerned with the finished product. They are focused on and thoroughly enjoy the activity.
Reflecting on how much my girls enjoy the process of coloring, I realized I spend way too much time consumed with the outcome of what I’m doing. Whatever the task or activity, I’m often distracted or anxious and in a rush to complete it so I can be done and move on to the next thing on my list. In 2015, I resolve to do more things simply for the sake of enjoying the activity. In that spirit, I will do more things my kids do; ride a bike, color a picture, play a game, and forget about being an adult for a little while and enjoy some time!
2. Laugh often
If you have spent any time around kids, you know they are usually quick to laugh. Makenna thinks she is hilarious. She’s fond of saying, “I crack myself up.” She’s quick with a comment and quick to laugh and smile, and her happy mood is contagious. Many times we are with the rest of our family and she will have the whole dinner table laughing by the end of the meal.
Makenna has taught me that we all take ourselves too seriously. I regularly find myself laughing at a quote online or a parody Instagram account, but it still doesn’t reach the level of laughter I see from Avery and Makenna. They think they are hilarious, laugh with abandon, and it’s awesome. When was the last time you laughed like a kid with the people you work with? Or even your friends when out to dinner? Life is much better when you are laughing. I resolve in 2015 to laugh like a kid every chance I get.
3. Be fearless
Avery and Makenna are very independent four-year-olds, regularly telling me “I don’t need your help!” Most of the time it’s with small stuff at home, and I find it pretty funny. This past weekend I took the girls ice-skating—the first time for any of us to have worn skates or been on ice. As we got going, we all held tightly to the wall, wobbling around, with me holding their hands. Within just 20 minutes Avery pushed off the wall and told me very clearly she didn’t need me to hold her hand. She did great and will now tell you proudly that she knows how to skate!
Like most of us, I spend much of my time in and around my comfort zone of activities. Pushing outside of what we know can be challenging and frightening. But Avery reminded me how much more fun would life be if I confidently tried new things, without fear of failure. So what? You fall, you get up, you learn something new and stretch yourself. I resolve in 2015 to broaden the range of things I will try, the topics I talk about, and pick up a new hobby or two, because expanding our possibilities makes us more interesting and enjoyable to be around.
4. Be curious
Like most four-year-olds, my girls ask a lot of questions. They ask why things work the way they do, who was on the phone, what did they want, what does this or that mean? It’s basic stuff, but it’s consistent. They are curious about everything and want to learn as much as possible.
On a recent Friday afternoon I was talking with a coworker whose family came to this country from Cuba when she was young. Admittedly, before this conversation I could tell you very little about life in Cuba and what laws are in place in the U.S. to help Cuban refugees. The conversation reminded me how important it is to stay curious and open to learning. There is always something new to learn and understand. In 2015, I resolve to be curious and ask more questions, even it means displaying my ignorance about something for everyone to see. There’s no shame in being curious.
5. Do you
While being born on the same day, two minutes apart, Avery and Makenna each have their own distinct personalities. They have different interests and hobbies and obsessions. Avery is a spunky little tomboy into sports and Tae Kwon Doe. For Halloween she has been Spider-Man and Ninja Turtles. Makenna is all girl, into dance, princesses … Frozen. What I love about their differences is that they each own their uniqueness. In everything they want, from new toys to bed sheets or clothing, they stick to their choices and what they love.
This summer, at our local pool, Makenna was wearing her standard leopard print, girly swimsuit, while Avery had on the top from a girl’s two-piece over boy swim trunks with Spider-Man. A friend’s son asked Avery “Why do you have boy trunks on?” Her response: “Because I like Spider-Man.”
People who know who they are and what they want, regardless of their specific interests, are so much more engaging and real than those trying to please everyone. For years I tried to be someone other people would value until I finally realized not that long ago that life is much better not stressing about that. My girls remind me of this on a daily basis, because they love what they love and won’t be convinced otherwise. So I resolve in 2015 to be myself, for myself, and not let anyone stop me.
I’m usually not big on the whole New Year’s resolutions thing, but I always see the calendar changeover as a time to assess life—to focus on what I like, what I want to improve on, and how to get there. In 2015, I resolve to be more like Avery and Makenna.
Photo courtesy of author.