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Thirty-Five...

Doesn't matter to me
I could take it or leave it
I could learn from way back when
And still live right now

With the sun on my shoulder
And the wind in my back
I will never grow older
At least not in my mind
 
I feel so wonderful, wonderful, wonderful the way I feel

- My Morning Jacket


One year old and obviously learning how not to eat

One year old and obviously learning how not to eat

When my mother was 35 years old, she already had six children between the ages of six and 15. Here I am, about to turn 35, and just a few weeks away from having my first child, a daughter. It’s been a long road to get to this place of finally being a mother. I used to worry about getting older, running out of time to do all the things I want to do, but now I’m realizing that the more self-aware you are, the more wisdom you can gain throughout the years, making the life ahead of you that much less stressful and that much more joyful. 

So with this life-changing event intermingling with this milestone birthday (No longer in the coveted 18-34 group, 35 is a whole new demographic for researchers!), I figured now was as good a time as any to share the wisdom I feel I’ve gained over the first part of my life. I’ve already lived a full and satisfying life before this amazing miracle took place. If I can’t look back at my life and think about how my experiences have shaped me, than what’s the point of any of this? So here goes in no particular order: 

35 important things I’ve learned on this journey called life…

  1. It’s ok for your mother to call you at 7:00 a.m. just to say, “I love you.” Early morning phone calls do not always mean someone has gotten injured or passed away, thankfully. 
  2. Dogs really do make the best companions, relieve stress, and bring joy to life. They are especially welcome when your husband goes away on a business trip for a few weeks and it’s hard to fall asleep alone. And they give the best snuggles, truly a gift from God to teach us about unconditional love. 
  3. Friends will come and go in your life, as we all go through phases and sometimes certain people are part of those phases and others aren’t. It’s ok. Just because you drift away from someone doesn’t mean your time together didn’t matter, or that you no longer care about one another. So don’t burn your bridges; instead provide grace to friends whose lives have moved in different directions, and cherish the memories you have left of one another.
  4. Getting a hug from your husband/partner is more important than making sure the dishes are done. The dishes can wait every time… 
  5. Making plans is different than making goals. You can’t plan for everything in life; things happen that you have no control over so you need to be flexible. But it’s perfectly reasonable to set goals and set realistic strategies to reach those goals. 
  6. Politics are NOT more important than family. When in doubt, shut your mouth.
  7. Things are always better when there’s music playing in the background.
  8. Just like people have different taste in food, they have different taste in music and that’s ok. Not everyone has to like the music I like, no matter how much I would like them to. Doesn’t mean I won’t try to make you a Pearl Jam or Avett Brothers mix to convince you they are amazing… but I understand now that it’s ok if my favorite bands just aren’t your thing.
  9. Good art (music, movie, TV show, book, painting, etc.) is worth the cost, especially if it makes you laugh, cry, reflect on your life, or learn something. 
  10. Hugs are the best. Never refuse a hug unless you or the other person is sick, or if the person trying to hug you is a creeper.
  11. When dressing to impress, comfort should still be a #1 factor. If you can’t fit into your shoes, then you shouldn’t have bought them, no matter how cute they are. You’re just going to go through the day wishing you had different shoes on and wind up not giving 100% to the task at hand.
  12. If you are crying on your way into work because you don’t want to be there, you’re probably at the wrong job. It’s ok to start looking and quit, even if you’ve only been there for a few months. It’s not worth the stress! We spend more time at work than at home and some workplaces are toxic, so get as far away from those places as you possibly can.
  13. Be yourself. Be vulnerable. Be honest. If people don’t like it, then that’s their problem. The more we hide our true selves, the more likely we are to get depressed.
  14. Leggings are not pants.  
  15. Although you don’t need a partner to have a happy life, if you have the right partner, it can make life so much more joyful than if you were alone. We are meant to live our lives in relationship with one another. Humans weren’t meant to go through life alone.
  16. You do not need to have children to be a “complete” woman. Also, you can be a “motherly” influence on children and adults who are not your own.
  17. It’s ok to not be ok (thanks to my friend Martha for this adage!). Sometimes life throws us curve balls and our first reaction is to break down in grief, and that’s ok. Surround yourself with loving supportive people, who will hold you and listen to you, or say nothing at all if that’s what you need. We don’t need to have ourselves “together” 100% of the time. Sometimes life sucks and you have to experience that suckiness so you can get through the other side stronger…
  18. Silence can be healing. 
  19. Worrying about something you have no control over is a waste of energy and will suck the joy out of your life quicker than anything else.
  20. The easiest way to clean your house quickly is to start in one corner in one room, and work your way through to each room until you’re done (thanks to mom for this one!) Saturday morning spring cleaning, with the windows open and the music blaring definitely helps with motivation as well.
  21. Money and material possessions are temporary. Love and memories are eternal. Cheesy, I know. But very true.  
  22. Society's idea of beauty is a farce. We are all uniquely beautiful, snowflakes, puzzle pieces, just different enough to stand out, and to find our own special place in this world.
  23. You can believe the Holy Bible is the inspired word of God and still interpret it differently from someone who also believes it is the inspired word of God. People have been fighting over the interpretation of scripture for 2,000 years. It’s not going to stop now. But we may be able to do more for the Kingdom of God by focusing on what we agree on than what we differ on, and keeping the essence of the Gospel in the forefront of everything we say and do: Love!
  24. Everyone is a hypocrite. We all do things that go against what we say we believe. That’s because no one is perfect. So playing the self-righteous card is pointless and hurtful. I used to do it a lot. I’m trying to catch myself now when I can. I’m trying to provide more grace and love, and less judgment and condemnation. It’s hard… but that’s what I got Jesus for, to show me the way…
  25. It’s always best to try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes before judging their actions. We all come from different points of views, different life experiences, and usually we all have something going on in our life behind the scenes that most people just aren’t aware of. So if you want to know why someone is behaving or speaking a certain way, ask them “what’s going on” instead of immediately jumping on them for not acting or speaking the way you think they should. You never know what someone went through moments before they interacted with you. Their behavior may have nothing to do with you.
  26. Bitterness is the devil. Sometimes it’s hard to let it go, but once you can you will feel so much more free and able to enjoy other people’s joy.
  27. You don’t need to agree with someone to be able to love them.
  28. Diversity of thought and culture is a good thing, particularly if you go out of your way to listen to those who are different from you and want to learn from them, instead of trying to change them. We can all learn something from one another, without compromising our own core beliefs. Relationships are meant to challenge and encourage, not divide and isolate.
  29. Being married is hard work, and requires two people to mutually submit to one another. If you’re both committed to being together, and willing to put in the work, you can get through almost anything. However, no one should be made to feel guilty for leaving a person who is emotionally or physically abusive and unwilling to seek help.  
  30. In person, face-to-face, one-on-one interaction is always substantially better, more fulfilling, and more effective than phone, text, email, Facebook, Facetime, Skype, etc.
  31. No one can motivate you enough to change for the better. You need to want to change for yourself. 
  32. We all have issues, and even if you think you’re the only person with your particular issue, you probably aren’t. So seek out others who are going through similar struggles, listen to one another, and support one another. The more open we are about our own struggles, the more healing we can experience, and the more we can influence others to see they are not alone and can seek help themselves.
  33. It’s ok to say “no.” There’s a real fine line between being available for the people in your life, and setting boundaries for yourself so you can maintain a healthy balance between home, work, friends, family, church, etc. 
  34. Never stop saying “I love you.” Ever. No matter how kind you think you’re being, people in your life need to hear it. 
  35. I’m stronger than I ever thought I was. I am capable of so much more than I realize. And you are too. 
34 going on 35... just a few weeks before my next phase in life begins

34 going on 35... just a few weeks before my next phase in life begins

This last piece of wisdom is the most important one I think… it’s the one that I’m just realizing… My dad, a confident man who has lived his entire life with a physical disability, always taught us kids to “never say can’t.”  That’s always been super hard for me, as I like to feel comfortable and in control. I never want to put myself in a position where I felt out of control, and I have a tendency to either quit things half way through or just say no to something before even trying it.  But I’m realizing the more I say no, the more I miss out on life… 

Now that I’m 35 and about to enter this next phase – parenthood – I want to start saying yes. Yes to fun. Yes to exploration. Yes to the unknown. Yes to messiness. Yes to the unplanned. Yes to discomfort. Yes to living in the moment. Yes to no regrets. Yes to joy. Our life here on earth with one another is finite. I’m almost half way done and don’t want to miss out on another minute with those I love, especially those I love who have yet to be born… 

So here’s to the next 35 years and continuing to love, to experience joy, to live in the moment, and to shut my mouth and listen…