35 Lessons at 35 Years

Today is my 35th birthday. How did that happen?

I’ve had so many good things in my life, but also some painful things. I don’t know everything, but I think I know most of the important stuff by now. I know what I need to know to keep moving forward, at least.

  1. Take time to enjoy the small things, like a pretty flower or a weird cloud.
  2. Make sure you’re not moving too fast. There are small things waiting to be noticed all around you.
  3. It’s okay to get really, ridiculously excited about those small things, too. Sometimes that’s more fun. Really find the joy.
  4. Be aware of your surroundings. Sometimes there are big things you really need to notice, too.
  5. No one is listening to you sing at karaoke.
  6. Be a tourist in the city you live in.
  7. Be a tourist in cities you don’t live in, too, but try to blend in as much as you can.
  8. Try not, do. Do or do not. There is no try. (Thanks for that one, Yoda.)
  9. Sometimes you don’t wanna, and that’s okay. You deserve a break.
  10. Sometimes you don’t wanna, but you gotta suck it up. It’ll be over before you know it.
  11. Just do it to make your grandma/grandpa happy.
  12. A bouquet of flowers really is worth the expense. They brighten a room.
  13. Always be prepared.
  14. Sometimes you can’t possibly be prepared. Be strong.
  15. Take naps with cats. They’re really good at it and you’ll learn some things.
  16. Enjoy other people’s dogs. They have a lot of personality to show you.
  17. Visit dog parks with your friends who have dogs (and their dogs, too, of course). I mean, it’s absolutely amazing to see the variety of dog breeds.
  18. Go to a cat show, too. Cat people are sometimes bizarre, but often they’re just happy to show off their cats.
  19. Smiles are infectious.
  20. Sometimes it’s okay to not smile. Sometimes you just gotta feel the emotions you are feeling. Own them. Let them guide you.
  21. If you’re afraid of having unwanted emotions at inopportune times, find a TV show or movie that you can rely on for a little bit of emotional release. Preferably watch alone so you can really just let go of whatever’s troubling you and you can blame this show. It will help you feel better.
  22. Go for walks with friends.
  23. Enjoy the view.
  24. Travel alone at least once, to a place you aren’t at all familiar with. Get a little lost. Find your way back (preferably before dark, but hopefully this place has taxis or other reliable transportation).
  25. Live alone for at least a year, too. Get a pet if you need someone to talk to sometimes.
  26. Adopt a pet from a shelter.
  27. Maybe don’t pet every cat you see on the street or in the country, but do treat it with respect. Do let it know that it deserves love. (This goes for dogs, raccoons, turkeys, deer, or humans, too — really any living thing.)
  28. Have friends that will embrace your weirdness and won’t be afraid to have their own weirdness around you.
  29. To each their own. Sometimes another’s “own” will make your life richer, too.
  30. Family is important, especially the family that you choose.
  31. Confrontation is hard. Try to look at it as an opportunity instead. (I just got this one from Tracey a few days ago — much appreciated!)
  32. Try to learn something new every day. Or at least every other day.
  33. Have an open mind.
  34. Do what you want. You only live once — at least in this life. #yolo
  35. Don’t should on yourself. Make your own rules. Figure out what makes you happy. Follow your bliss. (All of these lessons go together, so I don’t think I’m cheating by putting them all together as one lesson.)