Happy Birthday to me!
The fetes and presents have already begun, because I have learned that I have to be aggressively in control of my own celebration if I want one. Cell phone cameras make this process easier. CLICK. SEND.
“Please have the kids buy me this book; it is available at any bookstore.”
(Although, in Taxman’s defense, he did come up with some surprises. And there was cake.)
So in celebration of my 40th birthday (which doesn’t feel nearly as old as When Harry Met Sally made it out to be), I am going to share all my wisdom with you.
Except not all of it — I can’t remember half of what I need to. Because ’80s song lyrics.
- If you have chance to use a bathroom, use it.
- Jealousy is usually a wasted emotion. If being envious lights a competitive spark in you that drives you to be or do better or achieve more, great. But if it’s going nowhere, just sitting in the pit of your stomach? Leave it. Seriously.
- Life is too short to finish a book that you don’t like. (Obviously this applies to books that are voluntary, not compulsory.)
- Life is NOT too short to read a book that you love again (and again and again).
- Having inside jokes is awesome.
- Being with someone who holds you when you cry and otherwise makes you laugh is fantastic.
- Soliciting your child’s giggle is one of the “Top 5” feelings in the universe.
- Most of the people who are literally saving the world will not have the time or headspace to have their own kids. This makes me really upset.
- So much hate in the world because people feel compelled to think we are different from one another – and the realization that the divisions are not going away. Yuck.
- Exercise. Yeah. Even lazy people like me need it.
- But with enough time and regularity, you’ll be able to meet some, um, physical challenges.
- You will become intimately familiar with your strengths and weaknesses.
- This means that you will become much, much better at not giving a shit about things that you can’t control or fix.
- This also means that you will be able to say no and yes much more effectively.
- (A hugely awesome summary of above three points that I wish I had written is here.)
- You will learn to appreciate people for their expertise that is wildly different from yours. If you are me, you’ll happily throw money at them to keep being experts as you appreciate it. This can mean anything from contracting a service to clean your house, to hiring someone to teach your kid sewing, to paying someone to do your makeup for a special occasion.
- Work that is meaningful and world-changing is super, but it’s impossible to achieve for everyone or at every stage of life. Sometimes it’s as simple as work = money, and money = a roof over your head or food in your fridge or books all over the place. Hopefully all three.
- I am not exactly saying that money can buy happiness, but it can buy cookie ingredients, which is sometimes all you need. (Oven baking optional.)
- You will never get over your worst bullying (as the victim). It will pop up at random times.
- You will never stop feeling guilty about your worst bullying (as the aggressor), because now you, at your worst, are in someone’s head forever.
- You will never be able to fully understand someone else’s marriage. Or divorce. Or child-rearing. Or life. It’s really hard not to judge, but it’s really better not to.
- You will try to actively avoid situations that will make you uncomfortable or upset.
- But you will handle the non-optional uncomfortable situations with more grace at 40 than at 30 and way more than at 20.
- That single item in your closet that you never wear anymore but can’t part with? It’s not hurting anyone.
- These kids, man.
- The greatest part of parenting is not seeing yourself in your children – that’s actually turning out to be the part that makes me want to hide under the bed – but seeing how someone who lives in your house can be so different from you, with totally different interests, talents, and perspectives. You’ll learn a hell of a lot.
- For example, I now know our solar system contains a dwarf planet called Makemake.
- You shouldn’t have to do it alone. Whatever “it” is.
- It is really important to have people who get your situation – work, marriage, parenting, life – and be able to freely contact them just to tell them something that they will understand but others won’t.
- You’ll learn to avoid people who suck your life-force.
- You’ll probably be able to rid yourself of one bad habit at a time, but not all of them and certainly not all of them at once.
- We tend to be our own harshest critics. (I’m hoping, though, that the “reign of not caring so much” will mellow that.)
- Whatever you do or see in your life that makes you smile? Do it more. Look at it again. You won’t be sorry.
- It’s ok that you’re not like everyone else. Fantastic, really.
- It’s ok that your kids are not like everyone else’s kids, but damn, it is awkward sometimes.
- It is very difficult to get rid of a reputation.
- But you usually have one before you realize what’s happening. (Luckily, I can live with “snarky” and “grammatically punctilious” and “espresso-based lifeform.”)
- You’ll never stop learning.
- Humility looks good on everyone.
- If you think the last bite will make you feel ill? STOP.
- Write that shit down; you’ll never remember. (Trust me. I wish I had.)