Learnings from 35

Learnings from 35

I’m 35. Yesterday was my birthday.

I remember when I was 20 and in college. One day I was out for a walk at the Stanford Dish and was behind two women pushing strollers. One had remarked on being 30. I remember feeling for probably the first time that the next 10 years were probably going to go by faster than expected, and that I’d be 30 before I knew it (and somehow 30 didn’t seem as old as it used to). Kind of funny to look back now — those 10 years did go quickly, and now another five years have happened too. In 15 more years I’ll be 50. And that’ll be here before I know it. Life is interesting!

I was thinking about some of the lessons I’ve learned in the past 15 years (and really, really started to understand this past year), that have made life a lot more fun:

  1. Pretty much nothing is personal (unless I choose to make it personal). What someone else says to me? Nope, not personal — has much more to do with their view of the world.
  2. Everyone has a different view of things and is “right” — and it is okay if the view is different than mine. I may agree or not — and it’s fine. However, when I’m not allowing another to have her/his own point of view, I’m stifling my own in the process and shutting myself down.
  3. When I allow space for others to surprise me (rather than get stuck in how I think they’ll act), there is much more potential for the outcome to be positive for both parties.
  4. I’m not broken or a failure, and I’ve never been. I’m human. Everyone has their own struggles. 
  5. Asking a thoughtful and open question (and then really listening to the answer) can lead to a totally unexpected and awesome conversation. Do it often.
  6. I’m the one getting in my own way the most and limiting my possibilities (it’s internal, not external). Let others deal with their stuff — focus and work on myself. That is where the most magic will happen.
  7. A new definition of forgiveness: Giving up the hope that the past could have been any different (thank you, Oprah!). It doesn’t mean condoning or agreeing with something that may have really hurt, or forgetting, or pretending it never happened, or just getting “over it,” or “being okay” with it, or forcing anything. It simply means letting go of wishing that things could have happened differently (because they didn’t — they happened as they did and wishing they hadn’t is wasted energy). Learning this has been HUGE for me.
  8. I like to write. I never thought I did much before. Perhaps it’s because I now let myself write about what I want to write about rather than what I think I should write about.
  9. Breathing creates space — and in the space, something different can happen. When I’m not sure what else to do, taking some deep breaths will usually help give me an idea of which direction to go.
  10. It’s okay (and safe) for me to feel uncomfortable. It’s only in the discomfort that change can happen.
  11. Self-care is not selfish or fluffy or just a buzzword. It’s mission critical. It may look different for different people. What matters is that I take the time to do the stuff that helps me reassemble myself and work out the wonkies each day.
  12. Feelings and emotions matter. Feel them. When I don’t, things go to south quickly.
  13. Listen to my kids (and other kids too). Like seriously — actually listen when they talk. What they say often surprises me (and usually teaches me something).
  14. My body likes water — a lot; real food (i.e., whole foods or with ingredients I can read) also leaves me feeling much better than processed stuff. And when I’m feeling physically crappy, it’s really hard to show up in life.
  15. Things always work out. It may not happen exactly as I think it “should” or when. And yet it always does work out for the greatest good when I step back and look at the bigger picture. And when I can quit fighting whatever is happening in the now (fight energy = suffering), things generally work out quicker.

I hope your next year is the best yet. Mine will be, I just know it.

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