The Little Things (Or, A Tale of Many Hats)

Life is big and crazy and weird. Sometimes a little empty snail shell on the sidewalk is all it takes to remind me it can also be very small and beautiful too.

I wear a great deal of hats. Not physical hats, but metaphorical ones. Hats that stand in for the different responsibilities I handle in the many roles I play in daily life. The work hat, the mother hat, the student hat, the research hat, the teaching assistant hat. The constant swapping of roles can take a toll on me occasionally. All things considered, I feel that I roll with the punches as best as humanly possible. Today I was just getting into work and noticed a small snail shell on the sidewalk… I picked it up and noticed the snail had moved out, but that it was perfectly shaped, almost conical, and slightly larger than the ones my daughter and I have been finding in the backyard of late (she loves bugs). This tiny, perfectly shaped little marvel of nature brought me down to earth this morning in a completely unexpected way.

Seven Commandments for Wellbeing

I wrote these as sort of a personal manifesto- a set of rules that I want to try to live my life by. It may not work in the end, but I think I’ll be a better person for having tried. I was inspired by Gretchen Rubin’s post on the Happiness Project, my own personal take on my fair-weather Buddhism, and a few choice personal flaws and/or failings.

  1. Always err on the side of compassion.
    • There are good parts in everyone, including yourself. There are gray areas between success and failure or good and evil. Be kind when you/they/it don’t fall on the expected side of the line.
  2. Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others.
    • Take care of yourself first. You are important and if you’re not happy, you can’t reasonably expect to help anyone else be happy.
  3. Be who you are.
    • Present yourself with dignity. Be the best you that you can be. Lies and confabulations only force you to pretend to be something you’re not.
  4. Your past belongs there.
    • Not everyone needs or deserves full disclosure. Do not let the black marks of yesterday stain your tomorrow.
  5. Cleanliness is next to godliness.
    • Being comfortable in your surroundings is paramount. Stay organized. When in doubt, make a list.
  6. Take aim.
    • Focus on, plan for, and work towards your goals. Pick your battles. Take control only over what you can. Say “no”.
  7. Breathe.
    • You are the sky- everything else is just the weather. Don’t let the bastards get you down.