Saturday, May 5, 2018

41 Things I've Learned at 41

Today is my birthday.  In usual Skiff fashion, I spent the first few hours of it in the most dramatic way possible; at the hospital, on morphine, with a raging kidney infection.  Fun times.
Now that I am coming down off the drugs, I have decided to make a list of things I have learned over the past 41 years.  The goal is to have 41 lessons I've learned at 41 but I'm not sure that I'm that wise.  But we are going to give it the old college try.

1) Live life laughing.  Let's be honest, life can be crappy at times but if you find something to laugh about, the crap stinks a little less.

2) Be nice to people. This is particularly funny coming from me today because coming down off pain meds makes me a raging bitch.  But on the whole, I have found that if you genuinely smile and are kind to the people in your life, life goes much smoother.

3) Live life charitably.  When you see a need and you have the means to help, help out. It's simple.  The high you get from giving is like no other. You honestly get back so much more than you ever could give.

4) When you give, give freely, with no strings attached.  It isn't truly a gift, unless you have let go of it and any expectation of what will happen to it. A gift with strings, isn't a gift, it's a tool to manipulate.

5)Forgiveness is essential for your mental health.  For real, unforgiveness led me to some very dark places.

6) Forgiveness is not the same thing as forgetting, nor does it mean that you have to restore the relationship.  Sometimes people are genuinely toxic for you or your family. Forgiving the wrongs the have done against you does not mean that you have to let them back into your life.  You can forgive and move on without them.

7) Have a few ,very close, friends. The kind of friends who will laugh with you at inappropriate things, who will hold your hands and cry with you through the crap that life slings your way and will help you bury the bodies, should the need arise. *I'm not saying that the need has arisen*

8) Have some shallow friends and acquaintances. I'm just learning this one.  We talk about shallow relationships like they are a bad thing. If ALL your relationships are only skin deep, that is an issue. But it is important to have people in your life that you just shoot the breeze with and laugh.  They don't need to know all your crap and you don't need to know theirs.  Not every relationship has to be strong and deep.  It's good to have a little levity in your life.

9) Be young while you're young.  I grew up way faster than I should have.  Looking back, I wish I had embraced my youth and had fun with it.  I was too serious and too responsible way too early.

10) Be grown when you're grown.  You cannot relive your youth.  For everything there is a time and a season.  Enjoy the season you are in because once it is over, it's gone.

11) Embrace your inner bitch.  Now hear me out, I'm not saying that it is okay to just be nasty and bitchy all the time. (refer to lesson 2) However, there are times when you have to be strong, unbending and even short.  If you are a woman, some idiots in the world will view that as you being a bitch.  That's okay. Embrace it; not everyone has to like you.

12) This brings me to my next point: You cannot please everyone. Don't even try. Live life making the best choices you know to make, with a clear conscience. Live the life you want to live.  If you live it trying to make other people happy, you will never succeed and you will be miserable because you aren't being true to yourself.

13) Be true to yourself.  The deepest betrayal, one of the hardest to forgive and overcome, is when you betray yourself.  Live a life that allows you to like the person that you see looking back at you in the mirror.  Forgiving yourself is the hardest thing to do. Believe me, I speak from experience.

14) Have Faith, not religion.  I have a deep and abiding faith but I no longer have a religion.  For years I mistook religiosity as faith.  I look back on those years in shame.  Religion made me intractable and judgmental.  Faith has made me grateful, loving and accepting.

15) I don't know everything. In fact, I know less every year.  I used to think I had the answers to so many of life's quandaries. Everything was so black and white; it was so simple.  Then I grew up and experienced more of life's roadblocks than I had ever anticipated.  I now understand that very few things in life are either simple or black and white.  In deed, most of life is lived in varying shades of grey.....and orange....and blue....and pink....and yellow.  Life is a veritable rainbow of life experiences.  How sad and boring would it be if it really was only black and white.

16) Date and date a lot.  I grew up in the "I kissed dating goodbye" era.  What a foolish notion that was!  Dating is a skill, it takes practice to do it well.  It takes time to know someone.  How incredibly stressful is it to think that every first date is the person you are trying to marry!! Go on casual dates, have fun, get to know a person without the stress of a lifetime hanging over your heads.  For the love of Pete, HAVE FUN!!

17) Make time for fun!! I am working on this one.  Life is short and we only get one chance at it.  Don't spend it so locked down that you miss out on fun!

18) Have adventures!! Again, we only get to do this rodeo once.  Make it a ride that others will talk about long after you are gone

19) Speak truthfully and frankly.  Don't couch everything you say in so much fluff that your point is lost.  Speak your mind. Speak the truth.

20) Balance your truthfulness and frankness with kindness.  Being truthful does not mean you must be harsh.  You can be kind even while being direct.

21) Fly first class, at least once.  Life is short, pay the extra money for the experiences at least once.

22) If you need it, get therapy or take meds.  Do what it takes to be healthy, not only in your body but also in your mind and soul.  There is no shame in admitting you need help.

23) Don't marry your "better half".  Be the better half someone wants to marry.  If you go into marriage expecting the other person to make up for your own lack, you are starting your marriage off ready to fail.  Be the best you. Let them be the best them.  Come together as complete, separate people who are choosing to journey together because you each bring your best self to the table.

24) Find heroes.  Find people that are worthy of your respect, people further along the journey than you.  Listen to them, learn from them, spend time with them just absorbing the character traits you admire. You will become what you surround yourself with.  Surround yourself with greatness.

25) You cannot control anyone or anything but yourself.  It's a hard but real truth.  Accept it and move on with your life.  You cannot change anything or anyone but you.  So work on yourself and stop wasting your time trying to force others to change.

26) Being female does not make you less than. God did not create women as a lesser sex.  We are created equal to men.  Having a penis does not entitle someone to respect or deference.  Respect only people who have earned your respect, regardless of their genitalia.

27) Drive in city traffic (also known as Do the hard things).  It will teach you patience, self control and sharpen your skills.  Also, you will gain self confidence.

28) Learn to fail.  Don't Fail to learn.  You will fail in life because almost everything we do in life takes practice.  So learn to accept failure as part of the journey and learn from it.  If you back away from every challenge out of fear of failure, you will never learn.

29)Get the hair cut.  Hair grows.  Get that funky hair cut or dye your hair the crazy color.  Do it!! If you don't like it, who cares. Hair grows.

30) Do your make-up. Wear the dress.  Wear the fascinator. Bling it out!  We only live once.  Do it with style and pizzazz. (if that's your thing) Don't walk around as a Neutral Nelly if you are Blingy Betty on the inside. Be true to who you are.

31) Remember pain does not last forever.  Whether emotional or physical, this too shall pass.  Don't lose sight of the hope in the midst of the pain.

32) Read all the books!!! You can never read too much.

33) Finish the books you start.....unless they are free on Kindle and completely unreadable!

34) Memorize poetry.  Make it a part of your soul. Quote it often and aloud.

35) Listen to ALL the music. Sing it!! Sing it loudly!!!  Make your very breath a song.

36) Love art! Appreciate it!! Go to the art museums and admire the greats. Buy from the street artist! Collect what you can afford to collect! Support artist just starting out and artist that have been around a long time.  Surround yourself with art that stirs your soul, not what has a great investment value.

37) Create traditions for your children.  Celebrate the holidays and birthdays.  Show them the joy in celebration.  Teach them the reverence of tradition.  Tradition anchors them to the richness past while giving them something to look forward to.

38) Don't treasure things. Treasure people and memories.  Things are temporary and can be gone in an instant.  The memories that we make with the people we love, last a lifetime.  Pass those memories down to your children.  It is important for them to understand where they come from.

39) Make time to be alone.  Make it a priority.  Be comfortable and at peace in your own company.  Take a vacation all by yourself. You need that time to relearn yourself, to ground yourself, to prioritize your life.

40) Age is more than just a number, it is the mile marker of your life.  It shows how long you've been on this journey and how much you have learned along the way. Learn to embrace your age (I'm still working on this).

41) Order the Pop Rock pancakes ( also known as: don't be afraid to do the silly things that make you happy).  Once we went to Denny's; I ordered a special pancake that they had as a promotion for Star Wars. I didn't realize the pancakes came with Pop Rocks on them.  My first bite was an explosion of sizzley, snapping, popping flavor and I LOVED it. My husband and son laughed at my Pop Rocks pancakes because they were so
silly (all in good fun mind you).  But I loved the fun they brought to my life.  And the next time we went to Denny's you better believe I ordered the Pop Rock pancakes once more!  I have no regrets.

41 things for 41 years. If you made it this far, bless you.  I know this has been a long one. However, 41 years earns you a few words (or in my case, more than a few). Happy Birthday To Me!!! Now go buy Pop Rock Pancakes!~ Kristine

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