It’s been a while, I admit. We went to Vegas (and took about thirty hours getting home). Then, there was some writer’s block. Then, it was my birthday. I turned 35 last Tuesday (because, as discussed when I turned 34, my birthday has made a yearly habit of ignoring the fact that each week contains a Friday, Saturday and Sunday). I had a lovely birthday. Ryan, Fiona and Bridget wished me a happy birthday first thing Tuesday morning. A good friend left a bottle of red on my desk for me to discover upon my arrival at work. Co-workers treated me to lunch.The Facebook love was being free-poured. After work, I went out for dinner with my family, who gave me some wonderful presents. And they sneakily made me an adorable cake while I was out of the house:
Some days, I feel every bit of 35. Most days, though, I have to shake my head like there’s a fly buzzing around inside it when I consider my age. I am now a teenager’s lifetime past my teen years. I am half of 70. This doesn’t upset me, but it surprises me – I feel like 35 jumped out of a closet at me and yelled “boo”. Wasn’t I 25 just a couple of years ago? Where did my twenties go anyway? Aren’t my thirties a new thing? They (the oft-quoted they who are never done saying things) say that with age comes wisdom. I don’t know if I’ve become ever-so-much wiser – but I do know that I’ve learned many useful things. Some of them, I’m still working on – but it’s always rewarding when I get it right. Because I’m a blogger, I just know the world can’t go on turning unless I share my observations. In the spirit of my current state, I give you 35 things I know now that I’m 35:
1. Try not to watch everything through cross-hairs. Every now and then, put down the camera and soak in the moment. Pictures are wonderful, but they’re no match for being there.
2. That being said, take pictures (or videos, whatever’s your thing). Most things only happen at this time, this way, with these people once. You can’t repeat the past, but you can make a collection of pleasant reminders that you will enjoy for years to come.
3. Embrace shortcuts. There’s no shame in doing some things quick-n-dirty, especially if they are just things you need to get through in order to move on to what you really want. Don’t buy clothing that needs to be ironed. Your baby doesn’t need homemade applesauce made from organic apples. Don’t torture yourself trying to replicate what you see on Pinterest: craft kits and colouring sheets for everyone! Unless you’re a seamstress, the real fun is trick-or-treating – just buy a Halloween costume. You get the idea.
4. Flowers only bloom for a little while. Enjoy them while they are here, don’t wait until it’s convenient to do so – they may be gone by the time that happens.
5. If you screwed up, eat crow. Sometimes, people – particularly those who love you and expect alot of you – need to hear “I’m sorry”. And saying it can be as good for you as hearing it is for them.
6. Some things are just a broken heart waiting to happen. Balloons. Pet fish. Clothing a size too small because you’re working on losing weight. Items that require batteries other than AAs and AAAs or specialty light bulbs. Most new year’s resolutions.
7. You can’t change people, they have to change themselves. You can present your side to them, and down the road they won’t be able to say you didn’t tell them – and that’s about it.
8. When it comes to make-up, less really is more. You look way better wearing not enough than you do wearing too much. Think about the dreaded foundation line ….
9. You don’t get a do-over on some things. Births, deaths, weddings, divorces – people will remember forever who made their day, and who dragged them down.
10. Not everything is a hill to die on. If you have a hard head and a nasty temper like me, you want to win everything, all the time. But some battles probably won’t matter as little as an hour from now, and aren’t worth my time or energy.
11. Listen to people. All it costs is your time, and maybe a bit of your patience, but it might mean the world to the person who’s talking.
12. Sometimes, the only prize for being right is knowing you’re right.
13. As I move through life, encountering more circumstances and gathering more experience, I find myself forgiving many people I once condemned. Because life can kick your ass, and you don’t know how you’ll be affected by it until it’s happened.
14. Brown-bag it at least half the week. You will save so much money.
15. Speaking of lunch, don’t put off packing your lunch until morning – do it the night before. Mornings are crazy enough.
16. Tasks that are boring, stupid or awful (or all three) don’t improve with procrastination. Getting them done lifts a weight from your shoulders and gives you peace of mind.
17. Make lists. Until you commit them to a list of some kind, your to-dos will buzz around in your brain, generating stress. Writing them down frees up space in your head that you probably didn’t know they were hogging – and an uncluttered mind feels good.
18. Don’t be inconsiderate. Replace the toilet paper if you use the last square. Open a new bag of milk if you drained the old one. Empty the trash can if you see that it’s full. Say “please” and “thank you” and “excuse me”, even if you’re just talking to the people you see every day. These little everyday bits of courtesy make everyone’s life easier and more pleasant.
19. There are no boring people – people who may seem boring are just people you don’t know well enough yet. Everybody has something to offer. Sometimes you have to dig really deep, and you may decide that it’s not worth the fuss – and that’s ok, too. We don’t all have to get along all the time.
20. Work with what you’ve got. There’s no guarantee that you will ever have more money or time, or a better job, or be thinner, or have nicer hair. All you can be certain of is this version of you and this point in time. So take what you have and use it to the best of your ability to accomplish whatever it is you want.
21. There’s always someone who does it better – or wears it better or has it better. Enjoy what you have. If you must compare, try to remember that there’s also always somebody who does it worse.
22. Be as kind as you possibly can, always. You don’t know what’s in other people’s hearts, or what their lives are like.
23. Don’t wait til you’re ready for the big things – because you never will be. Nobody’s ever actually ready to move across the country or get married or have babies or quit their job to go back to school. Just do it.
24. Some things should not be rushed. Cooking, gardening, conversations, hugs, a cup of tea or a glass of wine, a good book – these things should be savoured, not guzzled.
25. When dealing with a dramatic daughter, hug first and ask questions later. Or maybe never. Sometimes, a hug is all that’s needed.
26. Don’t put it on your credit card if you don’t have it in your bank account. Alot of people I know, myself included, have learned that lesson the hard way – and credit card companies are tough teachers.
27. Don’t over-commit. I try to be everything to everyone way too often. I end up tired, stressed, frustrated by my lack of free time, and resenting everyone I started out wanting to help.
28. Never ignore plumbing problems, leaks or insect infestations. They never go away on their own.
29. Take care of yourself. It’s far easier to maintain good health and a decent weight than it is to restore yourself to health or lose weight.
30. Experiences trump stuff, every time. You will never smile wistfully (or laugh til you cry) as you flip through photos of your new couch or your crown mouldings or your immaculate lawn.
31. Sometimes, the brand is worth it. When it comes to clothing, though, all a brand name says about you is that you are willing to pay more than you have to for what you wear. The people of Walmart are smarter than they look.
32. Surround yourself with things that make you smile. Whether it’s your favourite colour, your children’s artwork, potted plants, candles, good music – or all of the above – set the scene, and suddenly even ordinary moments have a touch of grace and beauty to them.
33. Figure out your best features and play them up (this applies both to appearance and character). Accept what you can’t change, because – well, you can’t change it!
34. If you weren’t out looking for it, you probably don’t need it – so say “no” to telemarketers and those people who flag you down and wave you over to their kiosk at the mall.
35. Do not worry about what other people think of you. As my Dad always said, people gossiping about you says more about them than you – imagine what a sad life they live, with nothing better to talk about than what you’re up to.
These 35 things are in no particular order, and I’m still wrestling with many of them – and I think the list could be alot longer if I really applied myself. However, writer’s block has set in again – and I only promised 35 things anyway.