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School of life offers abundance of lessons

Advice is cheap and plentiful this time of year. We adults, filled with years of valuable experiences, are eager to give members of the graduating class of 2002 an earful on how to succeed, or even just to get by in this wild world. Educational institutions often pay big money for a motivational speaker to offer hints on everything from how to be competitive in the job market to how to live a full and meaningful life.In front of God, my parents, classmates, administrators, teachers, and John Denver, I received my high school diploma 25 years ago. Twenty years ago, I married, and 14 years ago I had my first child. Even after all these years, I’m constantly amazed at how little I know.I would, however, like to humbly offer the following:On work:-Be on time. It’s a good habit to form. Being fashionably late isn’t fashionable. It’s obnoxious and can cost you a job, a raise or a promotion. -Do just a little more work than is required. Until you are the boss or your own boss, even if you are exhausted, ask if there is anything else you can do.-Keep your commitments. No matter how small or insignificant they may seem to you, they may mean a lot to someone else.-Dress nicely. It says you care about yourself and your job.-If you’re going to use fancy words that make you look smart, make sure you know what they mean.-Lose the nose, eyebrow, lip and tongue jewelry. It doesn’t make you look like an individual, it makes you look like a rebel who is bent on following his own set of rules. You can be a straight-up, honest worker who is never late and will do more than is asked of you, and you can be passed over for a job or promotion by some slouch who is dressed nicely and doesn’t have a ring hanging out of his nose.-Ladies, lose the black lipstick. It makes you look dead, and nobody wants to hire a corpse.On life:-Don’t make fun of old people. If you’re lucky, you’ll be one yourself one day.-Keep your car tuned and in good repair. It’ll last longer and pollute less.-Buy quality tires. They’ll last longer and make your drive safer.-Don’t get your kicks driving fast. The instant you realize it isn’t a good idea is the instant you crash.-Don’t drink and drive. If you have to be reminded of this then you have learned little in your 18 years of life.-Life isn’t fair, and it’s not intended to be. If it was, it would be dull and void of challenge. If you feel that life is treating you unjustly, read John Steinbeck’s novel, “The Grapes of Wrath.”-Enjoy your freedom. If you feel like you’re stuck in some prison in this life, then read “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich,” or any other book by Alexander Solzhenitsyn. -Take a first aid/CPR class every year.-Learn to garden. Gardening teaches patience and nurturing, and the rewards, be they flowers or food, are 10-fold at least. -Learn the role pollinators play in the world. Through development, their habitats are being systematically destroyed. Once you learn that pollinators bring beauty and food to the world, and realize how barren the earth would be without them, you may be less likely to destroy their homes.-Don’t make romance novels, beauty or entertainment magazines your literature of choice. They’re fine as a snack, but they offer little substance that can improve your life.-Don’t buy a pet on impulse. If you plan to buy a pet, first answer one question, and answer it honestly: “If I were this animal, would I want me taking care of me?”On relationships and families:-Love will not see you through everything, but it’s great while it lasts.-Be honest with your mate and with yourself.-Matches are not made in heaven, they’re made between two people. -With the exception of conceiving, having a baby is not romantic. From morning sickness on, it’s hard work, endless commitment, and very expensive.-If you think having a baby won’t change your life all that much, think again. If your life doesn’t change much after having a baby, you probably aren’t much of a parent.-Raising children offers the greatest joys and the deepest heartaches of any of life’s experiences.-Make every attempt to attend your high school reunions. Spend more time listening than talking.-Take good care of yourself. When others fail you, you can always rely on you.-Don’t charge more on a credit card than you can afford to pay off at the end of the month, don’t buy something just because it’s on sale, and balance your checkbook to the penny every month.Last, but far from least, take responsibility for all that happens to you – the good and the bad. If you blame someone else for your problems, your failures and your losses, you no longer have control.As my parents would say, “Life is about solving one problem after another.” The real problems in your life lie ahead of you, and so do the solutions.Tamie Meck is a Post Independent staff writer. Her column runs on Tuesdays.


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