Turning 43: 43 Life Lessons to Live By

It’s my birthday week and I’m turning 43! Yup, I can’t believe it either. Since life has been very challenging lately, I thought I’d have some fun and share 43 things I’ve learned in 43 years. Even though I’m not really into trends, I thought it would be a fun one to jump on. So here we go… In no particular order…

  1. It’s ok to be more spiritual than religious. I call myself a hippie that likes nice things, I believe in the power of crystals, staying still, and I read my horoscope just about every day. Whether you call it the Universe or God, I believe there is something out there guiding us, but don’t necessarily think it’s one man.
  2. CBD is a lifesaver! Seriously. no joke. I take it daily, sometimes even twice a day. I take it mainly for anxiety and to help me sleep. The brand I use is Soul CBD and they have just about everything but the gummies are my favorite.
  3. Don’t worry about the number on the tag. I am mostly referring to the size on your jeans or the sweater you’re wearing. If I’ve learned anything about the fashion industry it’s this – size literally doesn’t matter. You could hold up two pairs of size 4 jeans and they’re different measurements. It’s insane. But in addition to the size, don’t worry about the price from time to time too.
  4. It’s ok to “check out” from time to time. I literally now understand why bears hibernate. Going away for a period of time can be a good thing. It lets you rest, recharge and feel like yourself again. I do this every week. It might be only for a few hours at a time, but it’s worth it.
  5. House shoes are a REAL thing! When I was a kid, you couldn’t get me to wear slippers. I hated having things on my feet. I’m still kind of that way today, but as soon as I step inside my house my regular shoes come off and my slippers go on. They keep my feet warm and keep the germs out.
  6. You don’t have to share EVERYTHING with the world. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… I am NOT a fan of social media. Yes, I offer this as a service currently but it’s not my favorite thing to do. I believe too many of us share too much of ourselves on social media and there are certain things that should be kept private. My rule of thumb is if it’s going to be something of value or entertain or educate, then share away.
  7. You’re never an expert, you’re always a student. My clients have heard me say this before and I wholeheartedly believe it. Yes, there are things of I’m really great at and know really well. But, I believe there is always room to grow, learn and advance your skills and become a better person.
  8. The only thing that won’t judge you is your pet. Ok, maybe cats will be a little judgey from time to time but at the end of the day, they still love you. My dogs are always there when I need a snuggle or some extra love and they never worry about whether I’ve done something right or wrong.
  9. Don’t be ashamed if you go to therapy. I used to be super embarrassed about it. When I worked in corporate, I remember asking to leave a little early to go to therapy. Instead of being supported, I was asked “What kind of therapy?” Yup, not kidding. Looking back, I think it’s pretty pathetic that that happened to me. But I think it still happens because there’s a stigma about it. I go every two weeks, am not embarrassed one bit and I am so grateful for my therapist for helping me work through some of the challenges I’ve faced.
  10. Bath time is so much fun. If you’re my age, you can probably hear Burt and Ernie singing that in the bath tub on Sesame Street. We took them as kids but suddenly stopped when we became teenagers. Why?! I have no idea why I stopped. It’s truly one of the only places I can get real “me time”. Throw in a CBD Bath Bomb from Soul and it’s heavenly.
  11. I learned I can take care of myself. This one is both good and bad. After my suicide attempt, I am the one that pulled myself out of a deep dark hole. Therapy didn’t help because I only got 6 sessions covered by insurance. Since that time, I’ve become so independent that I can truly take care of myself and get myself through the really hard days.
  12. Education is more important than going to college. Yup, I said it! I don’t think you need to go to college to get an education. Yes, there are certainly some fields where it makes sense to get an advanced degree, but others definitely do not. I have a BA in Psychology and a MBA in Business Management and where did it get me? Straight into debt. My real world education has been so much more important and helpful.
  13. Learning to speak is so much more than just saying words. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for my Toastmasters experience. It was focused on giving speeches and speaking publicly, but taught me more than that. Speaking happens in conversations, giving presentations, in written text… And tone matters. How you speak is sometimes more important because of the feelings you put into the words you say.
  14. You don’t have to be a parent to care for others. I’m a childless, dog momma and I’m totally happy with my life. When my husband and I were getting married, the pressure to have children was so intense that it actually backfired. I love my family – My cousins, nieces, nephews, etc. But sometimes the animals that can’t talk back are great too! I have motherly instincts but never wanted to go through the act of childbirth. I always had a feeling it just wasn’t for me.
  15. A 9PM bedtime isn’t all that bad. I love starting my night time routine around 8:30PM. It gives me time to wind down, disconnect and do all the necessary things we have to do before we lie down. While this might be too early for you, find a time that works and allows you to ease into it.
  16. Talking about feelings is hard! Therapy is helping, but I’m still not great at it. I grew up in a family where we never really talked about feelings. If we fell, we’d hear “Oh, did you break the floor?” I know it helps prevent a kid from crying, but it taught me not to let emotions out. Ask me how emotional I am now…
  17. Whatever you loved as a kid will tell you what you need as an adult. This was a good one. I thought back to my childhood and thought about what I loved. Sports, Legos, Coloring Books and Harry Potter. That last one was a little later in life, but you get the point. As an adult, what I need is community, creativity, imagination, structure, quiet time, true friendship and maybe a little magic.
  18. Sometimes retail therapy really does help. I’m actually planning on doing this on my birthday. I’m taking myself out, going shopping and not worrying about the number on the tag. Retail therapy isn’t always the act of purchasing something. For me, it’s the time spent alone, getting to browse the aisles without being rushed. And hey, if I get to treat myself, then great!
  19. Social media is BUNK! I know, I already mentioned this in number 6, but I need to say it again. Social media has turned our culture into a world we compare ourselves constantly. Now it’s about going viral and how many likes, comments, shares and saves we get. If I had my choice, all my accounts would be closed today.
  20. It’s not you, it’s them. This can apply to so many things. On my monitor, I have a label that says this so I remember that when people are being rude, mean, disrespectful, fill in the blank, it’s because they just are that way or there’s another underlying reason for their behavior. The behavior is not always intended to be directed at you.
  21. Silence can be a good thing. In relationships, there’s the “silent treatment”. Sometimes this isn’t the greatest because the other party you’re giving the treatment to, has no idea what to think. On the other hand, it can be a good thing because it’s not really about the lack of noise. Sitting in silence, even with ambient sounds in the background can open your mind, help you focus and even receive answers to questions you’ve been asking yourself.
  22. There are no coincidences. I believe in signs. I never used to but after reading a few of Gabby Bernstein’s books, I started to. Sometimes I ask for an owl and when I least expect it, I’ll see one. The sign isn’t meant to be this earth shattering thing, but more validation or confirmation of what you’re thinking and feeling. Pick your sign and ask for it.
  23. Things are just that… Things. The older I get, the less materials items matter to me. As long as I have clothes to wear, shoes on my feet (when I leave the house) and a roof over my head, I’m good. Now, it’s more about the memories I create with my friends and family. But I still love a good retail therapy session every now and then.
  24. Education is great, but un-learning can be even better. Hear me out. When we’re a kid, the beliefs that are instilled in us come from our parents and the adults we have around us. As an adult, we have to let go of some of those beliefs once we learn on our own. I had to grow and understand that I don’t have to limit myself in life. That process made me realize that almost anything can be unlearned.
  25. Using “I feel…” statements are more important during tough chats. I literally had to use these the other day. Maybe it’s my psychology background, but I know how important these are. Using these puts the onus on ourself and helps you explain how your feeling and/or thinking without placing any blame or judgment on the other person.
  26. The phrase “Just Breathe” is one of the BEST reminders! I hear this when I’m having an anxiety or panic attack and in my head I’m like “I know… I know…”. It’s not always the best advice in the moment, but it does work! I use 4-7-8 breathing and it has literally changed my life.
  27. If it’s not a “Hell yes!”, then it’s a “Hell no.” It took me awhile to figure this one out. It’s what I use to respond to a lot of things now. Your initial gut reaction is almost always the right one. Go with it and don’t question it.
  28. If something o someone is important to you, you’ll make time for it or them. This one might sting a bit. I feel like it doesn’t need any explanation at all but if it does, here it goes… If you think of someone, text them. If you see something someone might like, get it for them. These small acts can go a long way.
  29. A podcast is usually the cliff notes behind the book. I love books, but man, podcasts are my jam. I literally listen to them every day. I speed mine up to 1.25x to get through them faster because there is so much free knowledge being shared I just want to take in all of it.
  30. In a marriage, you both have strengths and weaknesses. In mine, I’m the planner and maintain all the structural things that need a hand with timing. My husband is a jack-of-all-trades and can do just about anything… Except plan. It’s ok, though, because we lean on each other.
  31. A little bit of planning goes a very, very long way. Even if it’s a five minute chat to get everyone on the same page. It can be tremendously helpful. Remember, communication is key.
  32. You never actually reach the finish line until the very end. What I mean by that is, you’re always taking steps and moving forward. It should be to grow, personally and professional, become a better person, learn how you can help your community better… The goal should be to reach the finish line and run the race well, not necessarily to get there the fastest.
  33. Being the black sheep isn’t so bad. I consider myself a black sheep. I’m the overachiever in my family and am always trying to level up. I have this vision of being the best at something but have realized that you don’t have to be the best to live a good, fulfilling, successful life. But you bet your butt I’m going to make something of myself.
  34. Trying new things is scary, but doable. After surgery, I’m taking a pottery class. Why a pottery class? I honestly don’t know. I’ve always wanted to take one and see if it’s something I like. And it’s something that’s outside of my norm. I don’t do it every day but think it would be fun to learn.
  35. If you’re heated, count to 10. You don’t have to do this verbally, but can if you feel called to. I count to 10 in my head on a regular basis. Those 10 seconds will slow you down and help you see things more clearly in a tense situation.
  36. In every hardship there is a lesson to be learned. We go through a lot of things in life. In many cases, they just pass us by and we’re onto the next thing. When we cool down, or in my case, get older, we look back on those hardships and see what we could have done differently. Hence the life lessons. Don’t wait too long to see them.
  37. Get a planner that can act as a diary and use it daily. I’m not saying this because I am a planner. I’m saying this because one day, you’re going to want to look back and remember the important moments in your life. I use mine to jot down the things that made me happy, the memories I want to remember and anything else that I feel called to.
  38. Only try to control what you can control. This one is super hard for me. As an Enneagram 1, a Type A, I always try to control everything. But as I get older, I realize I can’t. So instead, I look at the bigger picture and I try to see things for what they actually are.
  39. Solo vacations are amazing! If you’ve never done one, I challenge you to try it. Start small and go somewhere you can drive to. I did it a few years ago and was able to rent an AirBnB, go hiking and do whatever I wanted with zero responsibilities. I need to do another one.
  40. Clean your phone, internally and externally. Every six months, go through your phone. What apps have you not used in the last six months? Delete them. I know you’re going to be afraid to but if you haven’t used them in the last six months, what are the chance you’ll use them in the next six? Also, clean your phone externally too! Each week, clean the screen, the outside and even the case. Bacteria lies everywhere and it can be really gross.
  41. Headaches are usually just a sign of dehydration. Before you take meds, drink an entire glass of water. Better yet, add some Liquid IV to it. If that doesn’t work, then take meds.
  42. Get some sunshine, every day, if possible. I know living in the Northeast part of the US, it isn’t always possible to get outside in the winter. But you can draw the shades and let the natural light into your house. Natural light has a tendency to lift spirits faster than a speeding bullet.
  43. Trust your gut. I had to save the best for last. As a kid, I was called a “worry wort”. I literally worried about everything. I wanted to make others happy, please them, do what I was supposed to do. So I always did as I was told, even if it felt wrong. Your gut is your second brain so listen to it. If it feels wrong, it probably is. But if it feels right, it probably is.

There’s my 43! I know I’m only halfway there, but these lessons have helped me get through the first 43 years on this planet. If any of them were a wake up call or opened your eyes, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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