1. If you don’t try things and always stay in the safe zone you will miss out on a chance to grow. Even if you fail or it doesn’t turn out the way you thought it would it is still worth it. You will still learn, grow, and stretch yourself. And that is what your should be doing every day of your life.

2. You need to do things that scare you. Dream bigger than you are comfortable with.  Put yourself in other cultures. Really put yourself  in them. Learn from them but also learn about yourself at the same time. Learn how to respond and find your place in uncomfortable situations. Learn how to react to people who look different or think different than us.

3. Get close to our friends. Really close. Where we walk through the hard things with them. Really be with them. Feel their pain, fear, and the unknown. Sit through the hard things by their side. In doing this you will learn compassion, and empathy. You learn how to comfort and how to be comfortable with pain.

4. Never stop learning. My Grandma Lynn has taught me this so well. (she made the quilt in the picture) She is always learning and taking classes. She is interested in other people and what they are doing. She never stops stretching herself and learning new things.  We need to take classes, read books, ask questions, make friends with a variety of people and learn from them. If something interests you, learn about it, if somethings scares you, learn about it and tackle it.

5. Invite people in. If someone doesn’t have family to spend the holidays with invite them to join ours. Ae the parent maybe your kids have a friend that always wants to hang out at your house. Let them, and spend time with them. Find out why they want to be with your family. We need to expand our hearts and accept people where they are at. It will stretch us and teach us. And your kids will watch you in this and learn. 

6. Be honest with those close to you, this will either destroy or strengthen your relationships. When pushed and squeezed all of our stuff comes up (like a pressure cooker). And we are forced to deal with it. This is good. When we face those things and deal with them and grow our relationships will be stronger than ever and we will be stronger in heart and mind.

7. Learn to love traveling. Not just vacation but travel. Learn when you are there. Talk to the locals. Ask them what their life is like. Eat where they eat, shop where they shop, go where they go. Don’t be afraid to try new foods and do new things. These experiences will shape and grow you. Teach you life skills. Things that you will need to know when you are older and if you take this advise you will find yourself in these types of situations. Learn to drive a stick shift (thank you Dad), start a fire, swim, eat what is put in front of you, greet people who do not speak your language, read a map, take public transportation and cook from scratch, (a least a few things so you won’t starve).

8. I promise not to shield you from all pain. It is hard to say goodbye to friends but your will learn to value friendships and family and work to keep them alive. If you don’t get all the food, toys, or activities you like you will be better for it. You will learn to sympathize with others and be a good friend and value what really matters.

9. Let the people in your life be on their own journey but encourage them to really be in it. To take chances, ask questions, try things, be themselves and find out what that journey is meant for. You should walk with them as they try these things and not judge them. Everyones journey is different but everyone should be stretching and growing.

Jessie Benkert