My family does not buy me presents for Mother’s Day, birthdays, or any days. I don’t care about cell phones, bags, or jewlery. I don’t want cut, dying flowers or a card from a store. There are many things I want and love, but they can’t be found in stores. So what are my most valued possessions?
There’s an exercise as part of the class I teach to get providers in touch with the experiences of their patients. In brief, each person has 6 cards. They are asked to write one thing on each card: 2 things you love the most, 2 of your goals or dreams for your life, and 2 of the most important people alive.
A story is read walking someone through what it may be like on the journey from finding a lump, receiving a diagnosis, going through treatments, then taking their last breath. At times along this imaginary journey participants are asked to crumple up one of those sheets of paper, symbolizing the loss of what’s most important.
During the debriefing after each exercise, the responses are similar. The first to go are often the physical possessions. Last to go are always our loved ones. This powerful exercise brings a tear to my eye every time I do it.
Working with cancer patients does affect me. It affects my spending and saving choices. That’s because this line of work has influenced my values.
Related article: Cancer Awareness Month: Why I Won’t Quit My Day Job
I’ve learned that there are many things I want to possess. But I’d rather possess certain attributes rather than stuff.
What I want to possess consistent with my values:
Devoting myself to my Husband
Being physically and emotionally present for my children
Loving to my parents, sister, and aunts
Being a good friend
Gratitude for what I have
A commitment to wasting little
Doing Good (not doing well for myself, but good things for others)
Even the physical items I cherish hold sentimental value:
A mug my son colored for me when he was 2
My car that took me through grad school, moved me away to internship, brought me home for post-doc, drove me to and from 6 places I lived, and in which I brought all 3 of my kids home from the hospital
The home I share with my husband and kids, filled with memories
Related Article: Are You Wasting Money on Unwanted Gifts
This Mother’s Day
Good Housekeeping published an article Experts Reveal How Much Should Actually Spend on Mother’s Day Gifts (It’s Probably Less Than You Think). They cite a 2019 survey of how much money people spent on mother’s day gifts this year. Compared to last year, spending on our own mothers increased by 43% to $60, but spending on wives and mother-in-laws both decreased. I’m glad to see that even the experts recommend doing things to show love or share experiences rather than buying store-bought gifts.
Rather than going out to eat or receiving gifts, this Mother’s Day I decided to act in a way that’s consistent with my values. My husband, oldest son and I will be running our first 5K. This quality time with family will create lasting memories, challenge me as an individual, and the training has helped me to live a healthier lifestyle. I’m excited that my mother, aunt, sister, niece, and my younger children will share this experience with us. I am also grateful to my friends who have supported me through my training.
Related Article: Reasons to be Thankful
What I want to possess cannot be found in any store. The things I cherish most cannot be replaced. Rather than trying to buy happiness, I have decided to live in a way that moves me closer to my values. That’s the best gift I can give to myself and my children.
What are your most valued possessions?