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What Matters: Sleep On It

Updated on August 17, 2015

What Matters

I posed the question: What Matters...?... based on the quote by Jonathan Kozol: "Pick battles bigenough to matter and small enough to win."

I dedicate my writing on this subject to my sister-in-law. Dawn will forever be an inspirational reminder of living every day to the fullest, while pursuing what matters to you. I also thank Faith Reaper for remembering my sweetest friend.

What Matters...
What Matters... | Source

"It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning, after the committee of sleep has worked on it." (John Steinbeck)

Sleep On It...

I don't know about you, but each day is a complete and different surprise for me, at least in some small way. Waking up with the best of intentions, any number of both positive and negative factors can influence the outcome of that very same day.

This morning at my desk, I am remarkably calm and happy. The sun is shining and the birds are singing. What a gorgeous Spring day!

Just ten hours ago, I was driving white - knuckled down the Philadelphia Expressway after a class I had taught, wondering if the speed limit had been raised to 80mph, in the slow lane, without my knowledge...?

Mom was wise in so many ways. There are many phrases and sayings in my toolbox of life skills that are straight out of her mouth. The following are a few of the many expressions I learned from Miss Sammie:

* Sleeping on it... If it still really matters in the morning 'that's another story'.

* Putting some things 'on the back burner'. While neither of us were ever great cooks, family, education, work and responsibilities mattered first and foremost.

* Remembering 'not to bite off more than I can chew'... Oh Momma, I do struggle with this every day. I may just get there one day!

* Not 'burning the candle at both ends'... For some strange reason, the older I get, the easier this gets! These days I just burn the scented votives.

To me, everyone has priorities. In my professional experience as a nurse, I have seen a wide range of judgment, wisdom and insight where these priorities are concerned.

I may not assume that what matters to me, actually matters to someone else. Only lately, am I getting better at asserting that what matters to someone else, does not have to become my pressing cause or priority. Ahhh, the back burner again... now we're cooking, Miss Sammie!

"It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning, after the committee of sleep has worked on it."

— John Steinbeck

Let It Go...

There have been two major situations in my life where forgiveness was in order.

One situation was very personal. Two members of my family, who love me, each thought they had my best interest in mind. In a sense, I was forced to choose one over the other.

Although the decision was a no - brainer, it felt wrong to me. I could also see the heartbreak my Mom experienced and that was unacceptable.

Through various means, stubborn beliefs melted and relations were reestablished. I totally agree that life is way too short to nurse animosity.

While the second situation was professional, it effected me quite personally. Because of the erratic actions of a drug - impaired individual, I helplessly watched a beloved friend die, as I fought for my own life.

Through years of deep soul searching and honest acknowledgement of my feelings, I know now that self - forgiveness is always within our power.

Whether an action is deliberate or accidental, I do not wish to be burdened with the job of registering wrongs. I believe what matters is moving on from the past and making things as right as you can. I am grateful that I do not have to be the judge in any situation, unless it has to do with me or my personal actions.

I worked with a manager who taught me that ... communication, at best, is difficult.

There can be misunderstandings with the best of intentions. Therefore, in daily interactions with those I care about, work with or even casually encounter, a prompt, honest and direct approach works best for me.

"Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs."

— Charlotte Bronte

Johnny Cash: The Gambler

"Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree."

— Martin Luther King, Jr

When Tomorrow Comes ...

None of us knows what tomorrow will bring.

Although I try to be organized to a fault, even I realize I cannot plan the timing or nature of my death.

So much of life is a crap shoot. Despite having a deep faith and base of spitituality, I recognize that very little of life is truly within our control.

So why would death be any different...? Death is a part of life.

None of us tend to imagine in our childhood years: "One day (maybe now), I will have cancer, heart disease or be a fatality in a criminal act.

Mom had a way of being both cut and dry and comfortingly tender about life and death issues.

Some of her expressions that I think of to this day are:

** 'When it's your time to go ... it's your time to go'. This was sometimes even accompanied by a: 'You can't fight City Hall'.

** 'Keep your house ready. Always be prepared...' Through this attitude and mindset, I learned how to prioritize what truly matters. For me, when someone or something is truly special to me, nurturing that relationship or issue is of utmost priority.

In our family, this maternal attitude translated to stepping up when family and friends need us.

An individual approach is needed for everyone. Some members in our family welcome closeness in illness, deriving support from frequent visits. Still others prefer privacy, especially during times of serious illness.

I have learned that what matters is respecting the wishes of your loved one.

I would personally prefer to say my good - byes on my terms. When you treat every conversation as though it may be your last, it is so much easier to 'keep your house in order' and settle petty misunderstandings promptly with those you love.

And when things are out of your control, take as much control as you can ... even if it is by planting / sending a tree, bush or flower in honor of someone you love.

"Pick battles big enough to matter, small enough to win."

— Jonathan Kozol

Pick the Hill You Die On ....

In the tapestry of my professional nursing career, I was blessed to have worked with a compassionate, rational and wise Labor Relations Coordinator for about four years.

In my role as a Nursing Administrator, we sat together at many a Union negotiation table, for a myriad of issues.

Ralph had a way of making these potentially volatile meetings quite tolerable. In fact, with our combined personalities, we were able to cut much tension with a relaxed, yet respectful atmosphere.

What made Ralph so wise was the application of his life philosophy throughout his work ethic. I continue to apply two of his kernals of wisdom throughout most every decision / action in my life:

** 'Be hard on the issue and not the person.' I discover time after time, that sticking to the facts and keeping objective... not at all personal... is most effective in resolving issues, from major to minor. What matters is the resolution and return to harmony.

** 'Pick the hill you die on'. This one made absolutely no sense to me, as I had no military point of reference. Ralph certainly did, with having served our country in Vietnam. He taught me to consider if proving a point / taking a stand was truly worth any casualities from my action.

If any person helped me decide what truly matters, besides my Momma, I would give this distinction to Ralph.

© Maria Jordan ( revised August, 2015)


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