I’ve reached “that” birthday when the DMV comes calling and wants a more recent picture for your license. You know, the one that looks like you now. Thankfully I have the greatest children in the world. They said I look the same as my last one. I won’t tell them the lines on the card aren’t flaws on the plastic. The truth is, I am alright with aging. I haven’t always been on speaking terms with the clock, but now I’ve leaned into the inevitable. Wow, I am truly that cliche, comfortable in my skin. Life wouldn’t be what it is without all those bumps we narrowly avoided and the ones we hit head-on. Either way, we have wisdom and some gray hairs to prove that we not only made it, but we are still going strong with our creeks and groans aplenty. I was lucky enough to have influential people pass me some wisdom, so I shall pay it forward.
1) Surround yourself with funny people- I love to laugh. It’s one of my favorite things to do. On a scientific level, it lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormones, triggers endorphins, and tones the tummy. Let’s face it; my favorite is the gut-busting belly roll. Not unlike yawning, laughing is contagious and will spread like wildfire. That’s why comedians have such a huge entourage. When in doubt, fly with the fun and hang with the humor.
2) Live moment to moment- Take a brief (30 second) pause and be right where you are. There is no need to retrieve that decorative pillow you scored with a crazy discount from Homegoods. It is meant to be simple and easy so that you can practice it several times a day with no desire for perfection. Try to be patient with yourself by gently directing your mind and bring it back to center as you would a wandering toddler. Focus on the ground at your feet, the wind on your face, and the smell in the air.
3) Let the little things go- Put things into perspective. I think it’s human nature to allow all those little annoyances to build up before we deal with them. Usually, when we are having a day of it, we mentally keep tabs of all the wrongs against us. Throw that list away. Having one bad moment doesn’t mean there is a train to follow. Allow the one to be the only one. Life can change in the blink of an eye, and that doesn’t have to be negative. Good can come from something frustrating and even irritating. Give it to the atmosphere, done and done.
4) Have visitors even when your home is not spotless- My true friends know I am not lazy and they also know my house is not perfect. I have never intended to give off a persona that I can do it all. I can’t, and I don’t try. My kids have clean dishes to eat with, clean clothes to wear to school, and healthy food to eat. My bathrooms aren’t deep cleaned every week, and my living room is not void of dust. I permit myself to not stress about what others think of me over what is important in my life. My children are growing up quicker than I ever anticipated, and I refuse to miss out because someone might notice a dust bunny in the corner.
5) Sleep is essential- When I was in my 20’s, I was a high functioning insomniac. Now that I’ve been 39 for a few years, I know that without sleep, I don’t know your name or possibly mine, remember what I went back to the bedroom for or having to explain why the milk is in the cupboard and my keys are in the fridge. In order to remember the entire point to your conversations, hit the snooze button and sleep those glorious eight hours you know you want.
6) Plant flowers- There isn’t anything that a rich color scheme can’t fix. I find the brighter the flower, the more joyous I am. Science has proven that flowers trigger positive emotional health. Now don’t go out and buy the entire Garden Center. A little does go a long way. A smile is imminent with the daily reminder that the simple things in life are what to pay attention too. The way we look at life is a choice by either choosing to focus on the simple beauty of the world or the negative energy that tries to slip through. So pull that irritating dandelion and garden away.
7) Pack less- Yes, I went there. I can almost hear the gasps in the room. Note to self: you don’t need your heels for a casual hiking trip. I challenge you to try it once. It will change everything. You will be surprised how little you need to escape.
8) Spend more time with friends and family- Time=love. I know we all need to work to pay bills and take care of responsibilities. I needed to discover where all my time was going, and not surprisingly, it was on my phone or just palling around inside my head. Once I figured that out, it was easier to adjust it. I set limits for my phone use, which brought me out of my head. Technology has a way of isolating us from important people and adventures. Find your time sucker and give it a reboot.
9) Stop beating yourself up about your past- Where you are is exactly where you should be. We all have things we aren’t proud of that cling to our backs like a sloth to a tree. It’s helped shape us into the people we are today. Not unlike that lingering house guest, thank you, pack your shit, and “bye Felicia.”
10) Finish something you started- For me, this is extremely personal. I have been working on a few novels for longer than I care to admit. I intend to finish them, but for what I can only account as fear, I haven’t. What if people don’t like it? What if someone judges me? I am 100% sure that it is going to happen. All people aren’t going to love and adore you. My goal has changed from writing the best selling book to doing my best and finishing a book. That is completely alright with me.
11) Practice acceptance- We are living in an unfortunate age where people can hide behind their screens and judge others most cruelly. It doesn’t make for practicing acceptance any easier, but it can happen. I have allowed myself to evolve into a person who can embrace the differences of others and understand they don’t have to believe in everything I do. Judging others is something we automatically do before we are aware it’s happening. Turn those thoughts around. Allow differences to prosper, and don’t try to change the ones around us. We are all beautifully flawed.
12) Eat Healthier- We are aging; therefore, our cells are aging. To keep everything running like a well-oiled machine make that pesky appointment for a physical. Change those regular visits to the local pizza joint occasional and eat simply. My motto is that food on your plate should be colorful and fresh. Take it from me; your cholesterol and blood pressure will thank you.
13) Volunteer- I have been volunteering at my children’s school for many years. No matter what kind of garbage is going on in my head, I consistently end with a happy heart and a clear mind. There is something about donating one’s time to another that can shake the goop loose. Most cities have a plethora of organizations in need of assistance.
14) Stop comparing yourself to others- Remember your journey is not going to look anything like your neighbors. You can celebrate their achievements without feeling bad about your own. I’m confident you will have your time to shine.
Out of the mouths of a wise young man, “Life moves pretty fast; if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller