I’m a few days away from turning 55. My sister called last week and razzed me about my age. “You can’t be 55!” she said in mock horror. My older sister. My much older sister. I laughed and did the math for her. 2016-1961=55 Yep, 55.
Truth be told, I like being (almost) 55. It’s a damn sight better than 45 was, that’s for sure. She asked what words of wisdom I had to offer after these many years of living and I reminded her, ever so gently (ha!), that she’s had 18 more years here than I have and therefore must have more wisdom. She said I was born older and wiser than she is now. “Write it down,” she said. “Make a list.” I said I would. We talked a little longer but before we hung up, she reminded me. “Go make that list.”
So I did.
1. Time isn’t money, time is your life. All those minutes add up hours, which add up to days, weeks, months, and years. How you spend your time will define your life, so choose your people and activities well.
2. Some risks are worth taking. Some folks are adrenaline junkies. They jump out of airplanes, scale mountains, or drive cars on big oval tracks at 200 miles per hour. I’m not one of those people. But that doesn’t mean I’m not a risk-taker. When it comes to matters of the heart, I’m as brave as they come. I love deeply and fearlessly. Does that put me at risk? I suppose so. Going all in means taking the chance of being hurt as deeply as you love, but to give anything less absolutely guarantees getting something less than what’s possible. If I’m going to be a fool for something, I choose love.
3. We are meant to shine. Every single one of us has gifts to share. When we choose to stifle them, we cheat ourselves and the world.
4. Truth is beautiful. We sometimes shy away from our truth, preferring to decorate it with sparkly glitter. Doing that diminishes us. It says we don’t believe we’re worthy as is, denies us the enormous joy of being loved, and denies others the opportunity to truly love us since we don’t allow them to even see who we actually are.
5. One chapter does not your story make. Some time back, someone I love very much mentioned something that was painful for her and likened it to what she knows was the most devastating thing I’ve experienced. As the conversation continued, it became clear she was resigned to the idea that this difficulty would forever define her and would chart the path for her future. I shook my head. I told her that while my heart certainly had been broken, I had no intention of living joylessly because of it. “That was a chapter, but it is not my story.”
6. We bloom when we’re ready. I was not the coolest kid in my high school. I got pretty much straight As, wrote for the school paper, and had boobs & a wild mass of curls when Twiggy bodies and sleek hair were in fashion. Not the stuff of prom queens. But now, when people seem to pride themselves on being weird, I’m running with the cool crowd. Hell, I head up the cool crowd. 😉
7. Beauty is ageless. It’s a rare person who isn’t awed by the wonder of a newborn, inspired by the purity of childhood exuberance, and appreciative of the almost impossible physical perfection of those emerging into adulthood. Yet often, we fail to see the extraordinary beauty of those older than 25. We mistakenly view evidence of having lived as taking from, rather than enhancing beauty. Wrinkles aren’t failures of the epidermis, they’re proof of laughter, of weeping, and of squinting on lovely summer days. Stretch marks are reminders of the miracles we grew within us. And scars provide hope, for they show us that we have healed in the past and will heal again.
8. Good bras are worth the money. Same goes for cute undies. Not a deep, life-changing truth, but true nonetheless.
9. We steer our own ships. With the exception of childhood when we are at the mercy of our parents/caretakers, we are 100% in charge of our lives. I’m not saying we can steer our own ships, I’m saying we absolutely already are. We might be cruising them along nicely, heading them into rough seas, or keeping them moored at the dock, but in any case, we’re standing at the wheel.
10. A certain amount of crap is part of the deal. It just is.
11. It’s okay to change your mind. In fact, it’s essential. If you’d never changed your mind, what you’d want right now is a bottle, a nap, and someone to change your britches.
12. To everything there is a season. I loved the song when I was a kid and grew to appreciate its truth as I matured. It’d be good to play when we’re tempted to rush or find ourselves growing impatient. When we lean into life’s natural rhythms, everything falls nicely into place. Mother Earth graciously offers us her wisdom and we’re foolish if we ignore her.
13. Okra and cilantro are not fit for human consumption. If I believed in the devil, I’d say those things are his work, but I don’t. Plus, the devil, being, you know, devilish, would create things that are wildly tempting. Like Johnny Depp.
14. You should like whatever you like. Trends come and go and some stuff is never going to be considered cool. You don’t have to like what everyone (or anyone) else likes. Just be yourself and like what you like.
15. Worry is a killer. I don’t know if being a worrier shaves actual years off our lives (though it wouldn’t surprise me if it did), but there’s no doubt it kills our joy. Kick its sorry ass to the curb.
16. We should give with grace or not at all. No one likes a martyr. Give of yourself because you want to. If you don’t want to, it’s not the right kind of giving for you. Find what is and do that instead.
17. It’s never a bad idea to express our love. Say it and say it often. Show it too, every chance you get.
18. What we see is who we are. When we’re filled with love and optimism, we see the world as alive with possibility. If we begin to view the world and those in it suspiciously, it’s time to take a look inside and do a little rehabbing.
19. We need to be ourselves everywhere and always. We’ve all known people who are one way in public, another in private. One way on their walls, another in private messages. Blech.
20. Anything worth anything boils down to love. When you reduce something to its core and what you find isn’t love, that something shouldn’t take up much of your time or energy.
21. Magic and miracles are everywhere. Scoop them up, toss them into the air, and stand in awe as they sprinkle down upon you.
22. Inability to do something well shouldn’t stop us from doing it. Sing, dance, paint, write. If it brings you joy, that’s reason enough.
23. We need to make space for everyone. That includes people with whom we disagree. It’s fine—preferable, even—if that space is far, far away from us, but they have every bit as much a right to be themselves as we do to be us.
24. It’s important to know what is and what isn’t our business. When we’re busy tending our own grass, we don’t have time to wonder if someone else’s is greener.
25. Guilt is a huge waste of time and energy. If you feel bad about something you’ve done, apologize, forgive yourself, do better from here on out, and let it go.
26. Still & quiet is a luscious combo. Meditate. It’s a date with yourself where you’re always glad you said yes.
27. Today is better than tomorrow. Postponing happiness is a dangerous roll of the dice. Don’t wait until you lose the weight, retire, or find the right person. You’re the right person. Be happy now.
28. Food is not our enemy. Veggies are good. Cake is, too. Whatever we eat, it doesn’t make any sense to poison it with guilt and remorse. Love your veggies. Love your cake.
29. Less is more (more or less). We have genuine needs, but once we have three hots and a cot, the rest is gravy. And like gravy, a little might be delicious, but too much takes over the whole plate and makes a mess of everything.
30. We needn’t be strong every day in every way. We’re all strong and we’re all weak and vulnerable. It’s okay to let someone pick us up, dust us off, and help us regain our footing. That’s part of the work of love.
31. It begins and ends with the person in the mirror. The only thing we can control or change is ourselves.
32. Hugs heal. Beautifully.
33. Spending a lifetime with someone is a beautiful thing. I’ve always said that in marriage, the joys are multiplied by two and the heartaches divided by two. That’s certainly true. Equally true is that in sharing a life, you will sometimes look at your mate and wonder what the hell you ever saw in them. Before you linger in that mindset for too long, it’s important to remind yourself that they’ve surely had cause to wonder the same about you.
34. Trees know stuff. Important stuff. Love and life and spirit stuff. Listen to and learn from them.
35. Family isn’t about DNA. Family is who loves you, accepts you exactly as you are, and wants the very best for you.
36. We are not all created equal. It’s a lovely poetic notion, but any fool can tell that some of us are dealt a better hand than others. We are absolutely equally valuable, but to pretend that the only difference between one person and the next is their willingness to pull themselves up by their bootstraps is a load of crap.
37. We should speak when we need to and remain quite if we want to. Sometimes we feel an aching need to address something that gnaws at us. Other times it feels better to let it be. In either case, our hearts will tell us what to do.
38. I doubt I’ll ever understand super-pet-people. I like animals. We’ve had dogs (and a variety of other critters when the kids were growing up) for all of our married life and I’ve loved them. I’m terribly impatient with the puppy year (or, you know, year and a freaking half), but once we’ve passed that, I’ve enjoyed the company of the dogs who’ve shared our home. Still, I’ve never been and will never be one of those people who see their pets as their fur-kids.
A few weeks ago I made an appointment to have our dog groomed. The lady asked for our dog’s name and I told her. Later in the conversation, she was filling out our contact info. She said, “And what’s Harper’s last name?” I knew what she wanted. She wanted my last name. My husband’s. Our son’s. The one our daughters answered to before they were married. But what she asked for was our dog’s last name. Our dog’s last name. I wanted to say Barkenowski, Mutterson, McPooch, or Canini. Instead, I gave her the answer she was expecting but after I hung up, I babbled on about it (kind of like I’m doing now) to my husband, who sat there and grinned at me.
39. Guns might not be able to kill people without people to pull their triggers, but that’s exactly why we need sensible gun laws. Nobody is out to take your guns. Well, unless you’ve got a criminal record or a history of mental illness, in which case I say your right to bear arms ends where my right to live in as safe a community as possible begins.
40. Love is love is love. You don’t have to like or approve of folks in the LGBTQ community, but your dislike and/or disapproval doesn’t give you the right to limit their rights. If you don’t like gay people, don’t invite any to your house for a pot luck supper. But don’t support legislation that limits their ability to get married and raise their families in peace. That doesn’t make you a shining example, it makes you a dick.
41. People who are too lazy to vote forfeit their right to gripe about politicians and the state of the Union. People died for the right to vote. Died. And you won’t wait in line for a few minutes? Really?
42. Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker. Totes love Ogden Nash.
43. Pot should be legal. Or booze not. Really the first one, not the second. We don’t live in Uncle Sam’s house. He’s a hired hand in ours so he needs to know his place. In general, that means out of our everyday business.
44. There’s no war on Christmas. Commercial Christmas is everywhere and religious Christmas lives in the hearts of believers. And anyway, war, what it is good for? Absolutely nothin’. Say it again.
45. Being pro-life can’t end at birth. Lives matter or they don’t. Buy your ticket, but then ride your train all the way to the last stop.
46. The road to happiness is paved with gratitude. Living with a thankful heart draws even more things for which we can be grateful and enriches both today and tomorrow.
47. Peace doesn’t come from great sweeping world movements. It happens one person at a time and one choice at a time. A peaceful choice might be to reach out or it might be to quietly walk away. If we’re honest with ourselves, we always know which one is right for us.
48. Sleep is an underrated delight. The years when my children were young and the years when my hormones were jacked up taught me to really appreciate the simple beauty of a good night’s sleep.
49. Illegal and immoral are very different things. It’s important to make the distinction. Some are one, some are the other, and some are both.
50. There’s plenty for everyone. Plenty of food, plenty of success, plenty of happiness, plenty of love. Plenty of everything.
51. If your kids always like you, you’re probably not doing right by them. Parents have to be willing to make unpopular decisions. It’s part of the job description. We have to require that our kids do things they don’t want to and say no to some of what they do want. It’s not always fun and they won’t always like it (or us), but if we’re fair, loving, and consistent, they’ll respect it (and us). They can like us later.
52. There’s always new stuff to learn. Curiosity might have killed the cat, but at least the poor thing didn’t die of boredom.
53. You have a voice for a reason. So many people refuse to ask for what they want and need, but then resent those around them for not magically knowing how to please them. Madness.
54. People are awesome. No matter how many stories make the news showing us the darker side of life, in every town and on every street, there are people doing small, loving things. Those little everyday acts of kindness are enormously powerful—they shape us and our world.
55. The Voice Within is always right. Every single time. Whenever you’re uncertain, just be still, hush, and listen.
Phew! Done. Mission accomplished, assignment completed. T minus three days to cake.
~*~ Today’s image courtesy of pexels ~ Free and fabulous. ~*~