Within a year of being a newly wed, we moved from one side of the country to the other. From Washington state to North Carolina. To say it was a drastic change would be the understatement of the year.
New life, new baby, new husband, new roads to learn, new stores to learn……….and no friends, no mom, no mother in law, no funny Aunt’s living near by. Back in the dark ages, no computers, no cell phones, basically no contact. To make a phone call was extremely expensive and you had to wait until the weekend or after certain times.
We were alone. period. Two young kids and a baby. Culture shock is the perfect way to describe it.
Rules of being newly married, um? I was clueless. Honest. In no way am I putting myself down. I just didn’t have a clue. I was the person that could barely remember “my turn” to clean the bathroom once a week while in college. I kind of don’t even remember if we had a vacuum?
Back in the day, we stumbled upon a little book, not too expensive, and was a whole lot easier to read and remember than a 5 pound Emily Post Etiquette book I had.
I needed help. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I left home with oodles of knowledge. How to set a table for a formal tea. How to send a proper thank you note, sympathy note (what color ink to use), what to say in a get well card and house-warming card. How to send a proper invitation to a dinner party. How to set the table with good china and crystal. What to wear to a funeral. When to wear gloves or not to wear gloves to any occasion. The proper title and how to address any envelope. I know the proper direction to pass food at a dining room table. The proper shoes to wear with the proper purse. If you had an etiquette or good manners question, I had the proper answer.
By all means, good manners have gotten me through many a situations. I lived in a very structured and proper world.
Real life, um, not so much. I needed, I craved a list of rules. What to do, how to do it. I just wanted a list that would help me live my life. Yes, I had/have several etiquette books, we have several Bibles, Mr. Right had volumes of books on proper behavior for an Army guy. Heck, we even had a copy of Dr. Spock’s book on how to raise a child.
Big thick books that really are a bit overwhelming at times.
I/we needed help. Fast, quick, black & white rules to live by.
Oh yes, I came armed with oodles of etiquette and proper behavior knowledge. I just didn’t know about “life rules”.
H. Jackson Brown Jr. is the author and his son Adam was leaving home for his freshman year in college. He wrote the book for his son. He wanted to send him off into the world with a little help.
It is really a collection of advise, rules, observations and reminders on how to live a happy and rewarding life. They totaled 511.
Our book’s spine is broken. That is how much we used it.
Keep a tight rein on your temper.
Learn to disagree without being disagreeable.
Over tip breakfast waitresses.
Give thanks before every meal.
Take a brisk 30 minutes walk each day.
Think twice before burdening a friend with a secret.
Plant flowers every spring.
NEVER criticize the person who signs your paycheck. If you are unhappy with your job, resign.
Every day look for some small way to improve your marriage.
Lie on your back and look at the stars.
Give yourself a year and read the Bible cover to cover.
Learn your representatives in Washington DC.
Let your children overhear you saying complementary things about them to other adults.
Learn 3 clean jokes.
Don’t postpone joy.
Plant a tree on your birthday.
Be forgiving of yourself and others.
The list goes on and on.
You would be amazed at how many of the 511 things we do every single day of our lives. They were/are our rules. We read them and we memorized them and we put them into practice.
Give little surprise WRAPPED gifts to your spouse for no apparent reason. Not a birthday, or anniversary, just because. Make sure you take the time to wrap them.