Turning 30 – 3 Decades of Lessons
(Author’s note: this was written in May. My birthday is May 24th)
As I am turning 30 this month, I want to share the lessons that have been omnipresent in my life for years and some that are very new realizations. Understand these are my opinions and perspective, I am sharing the lens through which I see the world, in an effort to help strengthen your views and way of living life, even if they are totally opposite of what you believe.
- “The more you see the less you know. The less you find out as you go. I knew much more then than I do now” – U2 City of Blinding Lights Being open and allowing yourself to have new experiences broadens your perspective. When things are scary and uncomfortable I rely on the perspectives that have been shared with me from friends, family, fellow travelers, and kind strangers. Knowing you don’t know it all allows faith and courage to come into play.
- Be wary of self-judgement. Ask yourself “Is what I am telling myself, really the truth?” Self-judgement, self-loathing, and lack of self-esteem hurts you and those that love you. I am on a continuous process of reminding myself that just because I think it about myself, doesn’t mean it’s true. Developing a practice of thanking my little voice for “her concern” and then trying to ignore the crappy story I am telling myself, has empowered me to realize I am bigger than my own self-judgement.
- “Fear is a gatekeeper.”Fear often tries to keep the gate to change closed. When there is fear change comes ripping through the gate and causes pain, trauma, and pure frustration. Think about it this way: why not unlock the gate and let change enter peacefully? Do this by dissecting your fears. Write down your worst fears and the worst case scenarios and what you would do if that happened. Often times, acknowledging that the fear exists is enough to ease the grip it has on your mind.
- “I will hug him and squeeze him and call him George.” Watch what you try to control. This is my favorite line out of the John Steinback novel, Of Mice and Men. Lennie loves animals but doesn’t know his own strength. You can gather what happens to George and that’s what happens when we want something so badly that we try to control that outcome. We squeeze the joy right out of life. When I notice fear, I always recognize control isn’t far behind. I recite the above quote to myself and laugh. It’s a reminder that I don’t want to squeeze the joy out of what I want to achieve so passionately.
- “I never lose, I either win or learn.” As an athlete during my teen years, I feel pretty confident that this is a lesson I learned and internalized. Losing isn’t failure, it’s the opportunity to improve. As a basketball coach, I’ve always told my players “A win is not always a win and a loss is not always a loss.” The take away is that while the scoreboard may say we won, but if we didn’t work as a team, played poorly, and weren’t good sports, we’ve got to work harder and grow from this experience. The same with a loss, it’s the opportunity to look at what not only we did wrong, but what we did right and how we can capitalize on each. How can you learn from the losses in your life?
- Acceptance means “Everything Happens Perfectly” When you resist what happens in your life, the challenges become more painful and harder to overcome. I have adopted this beautiful mantra from my partner, Chad who worked to develop this meaningful phrase for several years to get over his own loss of a dream. The mindset of acceptance guides us through the struggles and celebrates that come with the seasons of life.
- Save some money! Have a cushion. I have never lived paycheck-to-paycheck and do not intend to if I can help it. It’s so stressful to wonder how you are going to pay your next bill. I’ve always had the mindset that I’d rather be frugal, sacrifice eating out or going to fancy hotels on vacation so I can have a cushion for the unexpected, like when I had to have surgery and pay thousands of dollars out of pocket. I had my fund to back me up. That’s security.
- Define your core values. How do you wish to live your life? I’ve found my values have stayed about the same for the last decade but my list is long, so some are of higher priority than others at different times in my life. Right now, I wish to be compassionate with myself and others, create and provide fulfillment, and be more peaceful. What are your values?
- We are all creative and creativity can be cultivated and increased. Do you go through like thinking you aren’t creative? How do you solve a problem if you aren’t creative? We take “being creative” too literally. But do pursue some creative activities like writing, music, pottery, dance, a painting class at your local bar. My coach shared with me the best creative advice: “Do something low-risk creative.” Meaning something like collage or free-flow writing, so you aren’t frustrated by your perceived “lack” of ability. Any of us can write or cut pieces of paper from a magazine and arrange them. I now have vision board colleges all over my house. It’s such an easy, quick, relaxing craft for me.
- Set intentions instead of goals and don’t be too focused on the end result. I prefer to set intentions or as Dainelle Laporte encourages in her book, The Desire Map: find your core desired feelings and do things that bring those feelings. Either way setting an intention or finding a feeling you like to have on a regular basis say, peace and do something to invoke that feeling or intention. Often times, when we set super specific goals it’s easy to become narrow-minded and miss the beauty of the process getting to said goal. When you have an intention or feeling in mind, you see the detours and u-turns and even wrong turns as an opportunity to make your intention that much better and more powerful.
- Intimate Relationships will be the hardest yet most rewarding thing you will ever, ever do. I am learning this lesson currently. I no longer believe in pop culture’s definition of love, that’s infatuation and it’s not sustainable. Intimate relationships are f*cking hard. They will rock your world, knock you off your feet, and also teach you how flexible and powerful the human condition truly is. Love can heal, love will teach you to grow and wow, is that a messy, uncomfortable, totally empowering, and worthwhile process. I am thankful to be in love and I am thankful to be loved.
- “You know you are in complete control of your reactions, right?” Omph, I totally had that coming. I was recently reminded that my victim mentality and power-giving-away-tendencies are unacceptable. Don’t give your power away to anyone. You 100% responsible for your actions and reactions. If you find you give your power away by blaming others or accepting poor behavior from loved ones, it’s time to consider boundaries and standing up for yourself. Meditate, visualize, breathe, you have the courage to do this!
- There are people on your path that are more enlightened than you. And some of those people are here to teach you very, very challenging and sometimes painful lessons. This knowledge has allowed me to accept that the people who have caused me anger, frustration and pain are not bad people, but perhaps more enlightened than I am and are meant to mend and mold me into a stronger, more courageous version of myself. Who in your life might be challenging you to grow?
- Hormones are intense and powerful. Respect them. Honor them. I jokingly told my mom that women have been suppressed for centuries because men are terrified of the power we harness within our bodies in the form of hormones.
- Being emotional and sensitive is not only ok, it is absolutely necessary for some of us. About 2 years ago I was told I was too emotional at work. And it pissed me off. In fact, I am still pissed about it. I use that anger as motivation to accept and encourage other people who are emotional and sensitive, to let it out. It’s healthy, it’s normal (whatever that means anyways) and anyone that can’t handle your emotions, doesn’t deserve to have the rest of you either.
- Creating secure attachments in the form of friendships is monumental to your mental and physical health. Please don’t take your friendships for granted. Make time for your friends even if life is crazy, they are the ones who will help calm you down, celebrate with you, and show support when you need it most. I give thanks for my support network on a daily basis because honestly, I don’t know how I would do it without a kind text, smile, and big margarita every once in awhile.
- Do what you need to do, not what society tells you to do. This is a hard one, but something I feel that is so important. Don’t go for unconventional for unconventional’s sake but if you don’t want to go the traditional route in life, don’t. If you do, please do. I think with all the talk about tradition versus unconventional we forget that we’re all just people doing our very best. Traditional and unconventional are just labels afterall, so be who your heart asks you to be.
- Learn from you parents, but don’t take everything they have given you. Our parents did the best they could with the knowledge and resources they had to give. An important part of growing into your own person is learning what you want to take from your parents and what you want to give back. Don’t internalize every story and every lesson you were provided. Build on the foundation of love and security that was provided but acknowledge that what worked for them, how they viewed the world, and what their path looked like, do not necessarily need to be yours.
- “Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable…” Anthony Bourdain Travel is idealized in our culture. If you don’t travel you aren’t hip. But the truth is, travel isn’t easy. It’s stressful and it puts you far beyond your comfort zone. But that’s not a bad thing. What I have found with travel that it opens my mind and stretches me to grow. My comfort zone continues to get larger and I build confidence every time I explore a new place.
- Grieving can happen even if you haven’t lost anyone. I recently had a friend tell me “I grieved for a future I wouldn’t have.” The idea that we can grieve based on our expectations and hopes for the future is not one that had occurred to me but it shifted my entire paradigm. I have been “grieving” a future I may or may not have. I realize now that we all grieve and we need to allow ourselves appropriate time to heal when we move on a from a dream, future or relationship that is no longer serving us but changes and hurts us deeply. I encourage you to think how you can create space for yourself to heal.
- Give up. Give up trying to have the perfect body, the impeccable wardrobe, being the most interesting person in the room. Give up trying to live up to anyone’s expectations, especially your own. Give up the idea that there is a set path and a right way to do life.
- Stop making excuses and sleep! Stop undervaluing sleep right now. It’s not something our bodies can go without. If you don’t have time to sleep cut something else out of your life. Also, cut the caffeine habit too, it’s a vicious cycle.
- Nature heals. Spending time outside in the sun is good for your body. Walking barefoot helps ground you. Breathing fresh air, seeing birds fly, and flowers bloom reconnect you to the natural beauty of our world. It also reminds us to take care of the environment because we are all connected and when we hurt our environment we hurt human and animal kind.
- Practicing gratitude and adopting an abundance mindset will change your life. Being grateful for what you have and knowing that there is more than enough to go around for everyone to be happy and healthy is a life-altering mindset. The book The Magic by Rhonda Bryne is one of my all time favorite books. If you need to jumpstart your gratitude practice, check out this book! The moment you begin to be more grateful for what you have, the less lack you will feel and the more abundance you will create.
- Contribute to a cause and share your gifts. Identify the gifts you have been given. Some of us are connectors, some of us are writers, some of us are lovers, and some of us haven’t acknowledged our gifts yet. Ask your friends and family what you contribute if you need help identifying your gifts. Look at what brings you joy. Share it with someone or a cause. Giving back not only helps someone else, it makes you feel wonderful.
- Move your body, daily. I believe we would have a lot less depression and lifestyle disease if people moved their bodies, daily. No, it’s not always comfortable…at first, but the end result is so powerful. I don’t just mean working out at the gym, I mean dancing, laughing, stretching, walking, having sex, enjoying nature, swinging, swimming, any movement at all.
- Always collect knowledge. Libraries are my refuge – my mother was a librarian and she started my love of knowledge. Now I am an avid reader, enjoy asking others about their lives and perspectives, and am able to travel and learn about new cultures and ideals. It keeps my mind and heart open. How do you gather knowledge?
- Without health, you have nothing. Manage your stress. Develop a self-care regimen. Move. Breathe. Read. Dream. Love. Remember that your health and the health of those around you is the greatest blessing. If your lifestyle is taking away from your ability to be and do what you want, start to make changes.
- Do no harm, take no shit. I have a few role models in my life that embody this motto. One of my aunt’s in particular sticks out in reference to this saying. She is the sweetest, most gentle soul, but she is no pushover. That woman has moxie and confidence. She inspires me to be courageous and kind every day. Who in your life can be a model for how you wish to live?
- Drink more Bubbly. I LOVE prosecco, cava, and champagne. I drink it out of a fancy glass, even when everyone else is drinking beer out of solo cups. It’s the one elegant thing about me. I own it! And I like to celebrate everyday life! Not just birthdays and weddings. It’s good to celebrate living another day. Walking another mile. Honoring yourself and making the world a better place.
And yes, I’ll have something bubbly in honor of my 3 decades of incredibly blessed experiences.