Today is my 50th birthday.
It’s hard to wrap your head around 50 years of living. I’ve tried a lot in the last months to make sense of this journey, to see, in looking backwards, how the years past have shaped and formed the ‘Me’ that is celebrating a half century of life today. Sometimes it’s painful; other times, exhilarating, and always it’s a fascinating retrospect of a life that I am blessed to call my own. It isn’t perfect by any means. But it’s mine and I treasure it. Life lessons and all, the ‘A-ha!’ moments, the 20-20 hindsight, the path that spiraled and twisted until it led me straight to where I am right now, it’s all been one wild ride and I wouldn’t go back and change one bit of it.
So what has it shown me, this exploration of the past and this life? Here’s 50 meaningful insights I’ve come up with as I look back:
1. Pain is a necessary part of growth, but it doesn’t have to control you.
2. There will be many, many regrets. Let them go.
3. Therapy can vital to happiness and is never a sign of weakness.
4. Having pets in your home can change bad to good in one fuzzy and enthusiastic embrace.
5. Never, ever stop seeking whatever it is that will make you shine, inside and out.
6. Keep your brain and body active. Your life will be much better for it.
7. Try something new all the time, whether new foods, new experiences, new routes to drive, new magazines to read.
8. Let go of material goods as being what defines who you are. Because they don’t.
9. Allow yourself to let go of everything that ceases to work for you.
10. Get outside every day and breathe the air, feel the sunshine and move around.
11. Sleep when you’re tired. It’s not a sign that you’re old, it’s your body telling you it’s had enough for that day.
12. Seek the friendships that enhance your soul and well-being, not your image.
13. Mistakes are tools to learn by; figure out what each mistake taught you, and move on.
14. It’s perfectly all right to cry.
15. Laugh often, loudly and with others.
16. Good food makes for a healthy body, but don’t ever turn down a piece of cake.
17. Value the importance of staying physically strong as you age. Your body really does need to lift weights.
18. Kick through the leaves every Fall, make a Snow Angel in the Winter and seek out the first blooms each Spring.
19. Give more than you ever get.
20. Read real books.
21. Make your mantra ‘Never stop learning’
22. Marvel at the first snowfall every year.
23. Graciously release yourself of the need to be perfect. And right.
24. Believe that the world will keep spinning if you are sick and need to stay home and in bed.
25. Make your own traditions.
26. Learn how to care for your home, your car and other mechanical needs. Even if you aren’t alone now, you might be one day, and you’ll need those skills.
27. There is far more value placed on treasured memories, than on a dusty box of items you no longer need or use.
28. Love everyone unconditionally. How they live their life is none of your business.
29. Grace is the hardest thing to give that gives you the highest reward, but it is so worth offering to everyone you meet.
30. You don’t have to accept anything that someone else does, but it never gives you license to lecture or challenge them about it.
31. A hot shower does so much to help shift perspective.
32. Nothing we ever do, gain or achieve is because of luck. Luck is when you find money.
33. Celebrate the big and the little milestones in your life. Every day.
34. Schedule a ‘Do Nothing’ day at least once a month, or more.
35. Date your spouse or partner. Often.
36. Be gracious, patient, and kind to anyone working at a cash register, serving your food or stocking a shelf.
37. Buy the good towels that are thick and absorbent, and sheets with a high thread count. Your skin will always be happier for it.
38. Burn candles regularly. The flickering light is soothing beyond imagination.
39. No one benefits when you stretch yourself out too thin, least of all, you.
40. Understand that the more you say ‘No’ to what you don’t want or need, the better equipped you are at saying ‘Yes’ to what makes you happy.
41. Make a playlist of songs you love to sing along with. It’s an instant mood lifter.
42. Offer your skills to help others learn what they don’t know.
43. Be grateful every morning that you have another 24 hours.
44. If you haven’t used it, worn it or looked at it for a year or more, get rid of it.
45. Be kind to your feet; you can’t even imagine the miles they’ve taken you.
46. Build an impenetrable filter between your brain and your mouth. And use it constantly.
47. Grief of any kind, for any reason, happens on your own terms, not someone else’s.
48. Time alone is absolutely vital to your well-being, and is never a sign of selfishness.
49. Yes, it really does matter that you drink plenty of water.
50. Friendships will inevitably change over time. You will find the ones that mean the world to you, and learn to understand when it’s best to let go of those that don’t. Cherish, treasure and keep close those friends who walk with you during the darkest moments. You will know who they are by the hand that takes hold of yours when the lights go out.