Tomorrow is my 40th birthday. Gulp. It’s tough to say.
Yes, I’m going to be 40 years old.
And so begins a new decade of my life. A new age bracket.
I remember when I turned 30. I was so excited. I felt mature. I felt like people would take me more seriously.
I had no idea of all the growing and maturing I still had to do in my 30s. Seriously, I had no idea!
When I was 30 years old, I had a two-year-old son, I just moved home to Denver from Chicago, and I was pregnant with my daughter. I hadn’t been diagnosed with celiac disease yet, and I had no idea that the next decade of my life would be so life-changing for me personally and professionally.
So on the eve of my 40th birthday, I wanted to share with you 40 things that I learned in my 30s. I can only imagine the learning I still have to do in the next decade of my life.
- No one and nothing is perfect. Imperfections make me who I am. As Leonard Cohen says, “There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”
- Things have a funny way of working out. There is a universal GPS in your life. It will guide you to where you need to go and reroute you if you get off course. Don’t worry if you get off path. Your GPS will guide you back to center. Things really do have a funny way of working out as they should.
- Don’t waste your pain. I learned that it’s never productive to sulk and stew in your pain. My daughter said to me the other day, “You gotta feel the pain to get through the pain.” Yes indeed! Lean into your pain. Feel it. Then use it to your advantage. I talk about how I didn’t waste my pain in this article.
- Enjoy your parents while you can. I learned that spending time with your parents should be a priority. Invite your parents to join you on adventures while they’re still mobile and active. It makes me sad when people waste this opportunity, like my brother does. I write more about this here.
- “Beauty and youth are not accomplishments.” This is a quote once said by the late Carrie Fisher when she was criticized for her looks. No one can look like Princess Leah forever. Nothing beats talent, kindness and showing up.
- Tolerate disappointments. No one is immune to disappointments in their lives. I’ve come to realize that I have a high tolerance for disappointments and rejections. I bounce back quickly from disappointment and believe that is key to being happy and successful in life.
- Let go of who you were to become who you are meant to be. I learned to let go of who I was so I could become who I was meant to be. Shedding old skin allows you to be you.
- Green juicing is real. If you aren’t taking care of yourself in your 30s, you’ll pay dearly in your 40s, 50s and beyond. Nothing beats cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other chronic illness like eating or drinking fresh vegetables every day. Nothing. Oh, and it makes your skin glow. I think juicing is like drinking from the fountain of youth. Here are many reasons to juice.
- A diagnosis doesn’t define you. My diagnosis doesn’t define who I am, it only adds to who I am and who I was meant to be. Embrace who you are, warts and all.
- Worrying about what other people think of you is exhausting. I’ve finally learned that the only person whose opinion matters on this topic is mine.
- It’s okay to shed negative people. I have little room for negative energy and drama in my life. I have given myself permission to disassociate from people in my life who offer nothing to enhance my life. I no longer talk to my brother and his wife because of their negative energy.
- You are who you hang out with. Yep, it’s true. If you hang out with nasty people, others will think you’re pretty nasty too.
- Cherish your spouse. I’ve realized that my kids will grow up and start their own lives and be fine without me… but my husband is who will be with me for the long haul. I’ve learned to spend time with my husband every day and we work hard to grow together in our love, life and spirituality. My husband is my #1 person. I love him more today than I did when I married him!
- Don’t be so sensitive. I’ve learned that sometimes people say stupid things. Just move on and get over it. Don’t live life where every little thing triggers you to get mad, angry, sad, etc. Who has time for that?!?
- Own it. Don’t live in a world where you twist the story in your favor. We all make mistakes. Own it and move on. Those who love you will forgive you and move forward in peace.
- Don’t be afraid of change. What I thought I wanted to be is no longer true. I’ve learned that it’s okay to change, grow and even start over at any age.
- There is no such thing as a coincidence. The universe has a plan for all of us and will make things happen that were meant to happen in due time.
- Don’t rest on your laurels. I’ve learned that you’re only as good as your last (fill in the blank). Never stop working hard to grow. It doesn’t matter what you did in your past – it only matters what you’re doing now.
- Have a good relationship with money. I’ve learned to let go of money (10% of my income to be specific). The universe has a funny way of making sure your needs are met (and then some) when you live a giving life.
- Lose the chemicals. I’ve learned that chemicals have little place in our homes, in food, and in our world. You don’t need a house smelling like chemicals to know it’s clean. Chemicals cause tumors.
- Spend where it counts. I watch people spend money frivolously on things that don’t count, yet they won’t spend an extra $.50 on an organic apple. I spend my money on what counts – my health. Good health is EVERYTHING.
- Stop saying, “I don’t have time.” My husband once told me that instead of saying, “I don’t have time for that,” to say, “It’s not a priority,” and see how it feels. Everyone has the same amount of time in the world. I strive to use my time on earth wisely.
- Credibility counts. By the time you’re 40, you have built up a credibility bank. Every time you do something good, you earn more credibility. I’ve learned that, on occasion, you need to make a withdrawal from your credibility bank. It’s not fun to do, but if you’ve spent a lifetime saving, you’ll be okay in the end.
- Trust your gut. Your gut is your second brain. Trust it. My gut has never lead me astray, but my head and heart… well, they can’t be trusted.
- Don’t work after 7pm. Sleep is important. I allow my brain time to rest and rejuvenate. Anyone who says they’ll have plenty of time to sleep when they’re dead will be dead sooner than you (and will probably live a life full of chronic illness). Exhaustion and working through the night are not badges of honor or status symbols of hard work.
- Being uncomfortable is good. I’ve learned that when things don’t go as planned, it often means I’m on the verge of breakthrough. Being uncomfortable is okay. It means you care.
- You don’t need others to validate you. I don’t get my self esteem from others; I find it from within.
- Get rid of anything that doesn’t bring you joy. There’s no room in my closet, house or life for things that no longer bring me joy. If you try on a dress and don’t like the way it looks anymore, get rid of it. Need help decluttering your life? The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up* can help you.
- Build your own success. I had a partnership in business once, and will never enter into one again. NEVER again. I’ve learned that you don’t need a partner in business to be successful and that it’s best when you control and build your own success. Don’t depend on someone else to do it for you or with you.
- There’s a difference between happiness and joy. I’ve learned that happiness is often dictated by external circumstances and acquiring things. It comes and goes. However, joy is a deep spiritual connection and feeling of gratitude lingering deep inside of us. (I learned this from a life-changing book, The Gifts of Imperfection*.)
- Hang out with people who inspire you. I love hanging out with my blogger friends and experts who speak at our blogger club events. They all truly inspire me. Join a club or group comprised of people who inspire you, challenge you and bring out your creative side. (If you can’t find a group, start one.)
- Don’t cave to obligation. I admit, I am still working on this one. I’ve learned that feeling obligated to do something brings me no joy or passion. And it usually blows up in my face.
- Quit saying, “I’ll be happy when…” I’ve learned to be happy now with who I am and what I have. Thinking you’ll be happier when you’re skinnier, richer, retired, etc. is just fruitless.
- Show up. When I tell someone I’ll be there, I show up. I have little room in my life for flakes. Do what you say you’re going to do – no excuses! (And RSVP to invitations in a timely fashion – don’t flake. Someone took the time to plan an event and invited you, the least you could do is RSVP.)
- Lead with kindness. Always choose being kind over being right. It’s freeing when you do.
- Learn to say, “No.” I’ve learned to say “No” more often without making apologies of justifications. (This is another one I’m still working on.) Set boundaries and limits on what you’re willing to do or contribute. If you don’t, people will take advantage of you.
- Belonging is better than fitting in. I don’t try to “fit in.” Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be to be accepted. Belonging doesn’t require you to change, it just requires you to be who you are. (Another lesson from The Gifts of Imperfection*)
- Have fear and move forward anyway. Sometimes the things we fear most are the things we need most.
- It’s hard to tell the good news from the bad news. A friend told me that he can’t tell the good news from the bad news in his life. It really made me think how the things I thought were so bad at the time are the things that have shaped me into who I am today. Many of those “bad” things weren’t so bad in hindsight.
- Laughter really is the best medicine. I’m grateful every day that I’m married to someone who makes me laugh all of the time (and loves watching raunchy comedies with me!). Surround yourself with people who make you laugh and who don’t take themselves so seriously. Make time for laughter every day. It’s the best medicine!
There you have it – 40 bits of wisdom on the eve of my 40th birthday.
Tomorrow I enter a new decade of my life as a better, wiser version of me. I can’t wait to see what the next decade brings. Bring it on!
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