“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished by how much he’d learned in seven years.” – Mark Twain
I recently celebrated my 40th birthday (as much as I kept hoping it wouldn’t happen). It’s impossible to not see 40 as a milestone – there’s so much stigma associated around that number, especially for women. Just look up “After 40″ in the Books section on Amazon.com and you’ll find a plethora of titles geared toward what we can, can’t, shouldn’t or should be doing, wearing, thinking – all after hitting the big 4-0.
I’ll admit I got a little grouchy about it. But after it happened, I didn’t feel any worse – and in fact, felt oddly that this milestone is really one that kicks you in the ass to look around your life and decide if you’re happy with it – and if you’re not, why not and just what the hell are you going to do about it? It has also pushed me to look back and think about what I’ve learned, what I’ve applied from those lessons and what I still need to push myself to do, try, apply, accomplish, or otherwise still explore. Here are 40 things I now know – whether or not I’m applying them (yet).
1) There is never a “right time” for a lot of things: having babies, getting married, starting your own business. No one can tell you the right time – you just have to trust your gut.
2) People have a lot of opinions – you can listen to them but you can’t live by them or you’ll go insane.
3) It’s okay to say no. (In fact, I should say no more often.)
4) I say “I’m sorry” way too much.
5) No one can prepare you for what it feels like to be a parent and how it will infinitely and constantly change and challenge you.
6) Your childhood experiences stay with you forever – whether you want them to or not. (Remember this often if you are a parent.)
7) There can never be too much: fun, laughter, friendship, food. There can be too much: sun, wine, tears, pressure.
8) Women need to support each other more.
9) Forgiveness is a powerful thing.
10) Sometimes the hardest thing to do is let go.
11) There’s never enough time in the day. So learn to manage it better. (I suck at this.)
12) Listen to what your kids say – they have a lot to teach you.
13) Regret is a wasted emotion.
14) For me, true and trusted friends are rare and should be treated with the greatest of appreciation and care and never, ever taken for granted.
15) Truly knowing yourself is one of the greatest things in life.
16) There’s no possible way everyone will like you. And that’s okay.
17) I do not want to discuss religion or politics at any dinner party, ever.
18) Sometimes you need to be selfish.
19) Some people are too selfish. Recognize them and decide if you can accept them the way they are or not – move forward accordingly with them in your life – or not.
20) Music is good for the soul. So is good wine, food and love.
21) Life really is short.
22) You can’t be honest with anyone else if you’re not honest with yourself first.
23) Saving for a rainy day is well and good, but so is having a little fun today.
24) Spend time often with your spouse alone – no matter how much you love your children and think no one on the planet is good enough to babysit.
25) Vacations don’t have to be extravagant. Take a day off, go shopping, have wine with lunch, get a massage, watch a movie – whatever gives you a reprieve from your normal routine and daily stress.
26) You can never say “I love you” too much.
27) Inspiration can be found in unexpected places. (I’m always looking for it in church or conferences and I need to give that up.)
28) My religion is not your religion. And that’s okay. We can share this world – even like each other – anyway.
29) Monsters exist.
30) So do miracles.
31) It’s okay not to get credit – do it anyway.
32) Some things can’t be fixed.
33) The most uncomfortable things are probably the things I need to work on the most.
34) I haven’t been dancing enough.
35) Caring what others think is exhausting.
36) It’s not hard to show someone how much you love them every day.
37) Be careful of your judgmental self. “So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” (John 8:7)
38) I suck at card games.
39) I believe playing hard is just as important, if not more important, than working hard.
40) I still have a lot to learn.