With 49 on the horizon, I’ve caught myself thinking about where I’ve been and how I arrived here. Have I done enough with my life? Did I zig when I should have zagged? Are those times I was a complete asshole going to come back to haunt me? Have I left people better than I found them? I’m not sure of any of those answers but, what I am sure of, is that I’ve learned a lot about myself and other people over the last 17,857 days.
A few years ago I made a list of the 25 most important things I’ve learned in life. After hanging out near the reflection pool these days, I’ve added to that list to bring it up to 48. Of course I wish I would have realized the majority of these things earlier in life but, I suppose living to discover them is what life is all about.
1. Don’t underestimate high quality bath towels or owning only one or two great knives. A luxury towel makes getting out of the shower much more enjoyable and really, who uses all the knives in a set? Functionality beats “supposed to have” any day and that can be applied to more things than you even realize.
2. The word commitment is viewed in a negative light. We tend to attach it to an ownership principle when it comes to relationships. It took me a long time to understand that commitment wasn’t a guarantee of fidelity or protection from heartache but rather an understanding between two people that they will give each other the freedom to be themselves and grow with or out of the situation. Who wants prisoners in their life? Avoiding pain is human nature but it’s not the end of the world- growth from pain is necessary.
3. Wrinkles are ok. I have lines and imperfections, but they represent where smiles, laughter, and sunshine have lingered. I also have WTF lines between my eyebrows. Meh, life happens.
4. If you don’t have attainable goals with a plan or even an idea on how to achieve them get ready to be surprised at how quickly time passes and nothing has changed. Talk to people who are where you want to be or are working towards it. They’ll inspire you with their stories- we all start at day one, step one.
4. Fuck negative people- figuratively.
5. Raising children, house plants, and pets aren’t that different from one another. Food, water, love, and consistency are necessary ingredients.
6. You’ll be told that your self worth can’t be found in another person. This is the truth. Be your own damn cake and let other people be the icing or the sprinkles. Scrape that shit off and you’re still a deliciously beautiful cake.
7. Until you heal your past you’ll stay on a treadmill of repeated patterns and outcomes- only the faces will change.
8. You don’t need spectators in your life. Surround yourself with active participants that add value. People looking in will only have their perception to build their own story about your life and it’s usually wrong- block their view.
9. Take pictures of everything. I’ve had shitty days where things felt like they’d never turn right side up. I have plenty of picture proof that life is greater than my current hang up.
10. Intent and intention are not the same. You can have good intentions and never act on them. Instead, live with the clear intent to leave people better than you found them.
11. Feelings are visitors. Acknowledge them, enjoy them, or work your way through them but understand they will pass.
12. Be a morning person. Sunrises bring new perspectives and second chances.
13. The ugly parts of your story will be a powerful piece of your testimony that will help other people and remind you of your incredible strength.
14. Stop being indecisive. Quit being afraid to choose whatever it is in front of you. Not making a decision is still a decision and it’s a mediocre one.
15. Waiting for closure in order to move on is self destructive and overrated. Let. That. Shit. Go.
16. You deserve to be someone’s first choice. Some days that someone will be yourself. Other days it will be someone who cherishes you.
17. Age means nothing especially when it comes to depth and experience. Who I trust, who I find intriguing, and who calms my soul span decades.
18. Over thinking takes a lot of energy away from things that are actually happening around you. Worrying about things that haven’t happened yet is counter productive and, no amount of anxiety is going to change the future.
19. There’s no shame in liking what you like or being attracted to who you’re attracted to. Someone’s crooked smile or the way they make you laugh is there for your enjoyment not other people’s approval. The ones that feel like home are worth every risk.
20. Be selfish. Not everyone is deserving of you. A great friend of mine said she knows what she brings to the table and she’s not afraid to eat alone. Amen.
21. The scariest thing you’ll ever do is tell someone how you feel. You may not always get the answer you’re hoping for and they may end up feeling like unfinished business in your life but that’s part of being an authentic person. Rejection can’t rule your life and trust me, it’s something you’ll face every day in some form.
22. Not knowing what’s next in your life is ok. Focus on today, set goals (reference #4), and be willing to make adjustments as life unfolds.
23. When life throws changes at you, especially unexpected ones, look for what you have to gain from it and take that path with grace.
24. If it’s unappetizing don’t eat, date, or sign up for it.
25. There’s nothing wrong with having great sex and letting it be nothing more than great sex. Be mutual, be clumsy, bump heads, miss when you kiss, and laugh when it happens. Forget worrying about extra pounds, the size of parts, and things that are meaningless. Save expectations for outside that arena- be more wolf than human and howl at the moon.
26. The attitude you have about yourself will determine how your life unfolds. Self indulging pity will draw in the sponges to soak up every last bit you have to give. How about you love the fuck out of yourself and show whoever is out there looking for you how it’s done?
27. You attract what you’re ready for- you always have. Higher quality thoughts about yourself will equal much better company.
28. Compliment strangers and smile at kids. Their reaction will make your day every time.
29. Never apologize for loving someone. There’s nothing wrong with loving people who aren’t biologically or romantically involved in your life. Saying I love you to your friends feels right and wonderful.
30. Stop being so humble. When people tell you that you’re strong or amazing believe them and let that strength inspire others.
31. Appreciate what’s going on right now even if it sucks. You never know when serendipity will show up.
32. A smile will always be the prettiest thing you wear daily.
33. Learn the difference between sacrifice and compromise. One involves two people trying to figure something out and the other is one person being asked to give something up. One isn’t always fun and the other can create huge resentments. It’s a thin, blurry line at times.
34. Put a blindfold on your minds eye every now and again. It sees ideals and sometimes reality doesn’t match that. Stop breaking your own heart by clinging to the way you think it should be.
35. Brevity is ok. Why use 20 words when 10 would do? Not everything needs that much explanation or detail.
36. Hand write a card or letter. There’s something soul warming about someone taking the time to do that. Effort feels good.
37. To heal a wound you need to stop touching it. Thinking about the woulda, shoulda, coulda, isn’t helping the process.
38. Remember that nothing is permanent in this life- not even our problems. You have choices. You can think new thoughts. You can learn something new.
39. If you’re telling more than three people about a problem, you’re not looking for a solution, you’re looking for attention.
40. Understand the difference between missing a person and missing a feeling. I’ve had pockets of goodness with people not meant for me. I miss the way I felt in those moments, not them.
41. You will always have time for things you put first. Period.
42. Parking isn’t easy. I don’t care if it’s parallel or backing in. I’ve been doing it wrong since 1986.
43. You will be the villain in someone else’s story even when you did what you felt was right. Keep being a good person anyway.
44. If you want to know something, ask. Stop filling in the blanks with your own thoughts. You’re usually wrong and create unnecessary internal chaos.
45. A good conversation becomes a great one with eye contact.
46. Brains really are the new tits. Boobs are good, but intelligence is equally if not more alluring.
47. Your hair will be one of the first things people will notice about you. Find a stylist that speaks that same language as you.
48. Lastly, the thing you’ve sought your whole life and could never name- I hope you find what that is…..finally.