40 Lessons in 40 Years

40 year old me has a lot to teach 14 year old me.
While 40 seemed like the oldest of old when I was a kid, I feel like I got here pretty damn fast. In that time, life has taught be a bunch of lessons that I have learned over and over again because I am stubborn and because I didn't always see the lesson for the pain. I am still a flawed work in progress but as I live and learn, these are some lessons that stick out.

  1. If you choose to help someone who is hurting, you may be hurt in the process.
  2. Saying no is a complete sentence in itself and can help you establish boundaries, for which you should not apologize.
  3. No one wakes up happy every day, I don't care how much their social media feed tries to make you believe that. It takes a conscious effort on a regular basis.
  4. Having had a lot of sad moments/days I often felt like I was failing at life but sadness is a feeling like any other and deserves respect just like the more positive feelings.
  5. Having boundaries and sticking to them for your own sanity is not selfish and does not require apologies.
  6. There are so many instances where women are expected to put themselves last or after others. Being a wife, mother, sister, daughter, business-owner, friend all seem to have more value than the woman herself. Screw that. Love yourself enough to make yourself a priority. It'll make many of these lessons much easier to live by.
  7. Set limits and you'll see that your kids/partners/friends and family will still love you and in the end, you can empower others to do the same.
  8. Accepting myself and others as a work in progress and not taking things so personally because it's not all about me.
  9. I spent a lot of time catering my life to what others thought of me. It made most of these lessons feel impossible. Once I realized that what those people thought of me wasn't changing my life in any way, I felt free.
  10. When all else feels too difficult, try to be kind - to yourself and others. It makes a world of difference for all involved but it's not easy to do. I still work on defining what is kind to myself but I won't stop trying.
  11. I cannot love away trauma. Love can guide my actions but there needs to be a lot of other tools in the mix.
  12. I read that you can be a warning or an example to others. Both have been profound teachers in my life.
  13. We should work harder to have integrity than to have material items. When we're gone, our integrity is really what we leave behind and will form our legacy. I've seen this so many times as a widow.
  14. My voice is a powerful tool and I have to yield it accordingly. Just because I have an opinion/thought, doesn't mean I have to say it every time. I work on this daily.
  15. I have seen more acts of faith in situations on the streets than in a church. Faith is such a personal thing, it can't be limited to one place, once a week.
  16. Self care is important - take that bath, nap more often, eat the chocolate. But, that won't heal trauma, pain, sadness, depression or anxiety. I preserve my mental health with therapy, healthy coping skills and trying various outlets for healing. They have saved me when nothing else could.
  17. Everyone needs therapy. No one can stay stable and pursue happiness on their own all of the time (see #3). My therapist has cheered me on in good times, offered an unbiased perspective, and held me accountable when others could not.
  18. I am not ashamed of my anti-anxiety medication. If my heart were faulty, I'd change my diet, take meds, etc. to keep it ticking. My mind is just as important as my heart. I have to treat it with the same persistence in order to live an all-around healthy life.
  19. Moving my body strengthens my mind. Mind-body connection is a real thing and it has been a powerful tool in my healing and coping.
  20. If I want sex, I should go for it. If I don't, I can say no without an apology. I wish I had learned this decades ago.
  21. Not everything is worth the mental exhaustion of a fight. Sometimes sucking it up and moving on has been the best thing towards managing my mental health.
  22. I didn't realize how critical sleep was to my overall health until I could no longer sleep more than 2–3 hours at a time.
  23. Sometimes my body and mind call for a day or two of taking it easy. Those moments are essential. I used to think I was wasting time if I wasn't on the go all the time but have learned that I need to recharge sometimes so I can give 100%.
  24. I can easily jump to conclusions and have to work on this constantly. I also overthink things and jump towards the negative. It is rarely helpful and I have to remind myself of that before I go too deep into false conclusions.
  25. I used to say there weren't enough hours in the day but then I realized I needed to get better at saying no so that the 24 hours work for me.
  26. Any time I have the potential for success, I have an equal chance for failure, which has always terrified me. I have had to accept that failure can happen and have seen time and time again that failure won't be the end of the world. This has allowed me the freedom to take the risks necessary to meet my potential.
  27. I can't think of a single regret that isn't from something I didn't do. Even failures served as lessons and led to something positive. But not doing something I should have done always affects me negatively.
  28. Some people don't want to be helped or help themselves. It's hard to walk away from them when I love them but I have been unsuccessful at helping those who don't want to be helped or refuse to help themselves.
  29. Whenever I've been surrounded by drama, I have found myself being sucked into more of it, like vicious cycle. Now, I avoid it like the plague.
  30. I have never seen revenge work out the way the perpetrator expects. I have seen it eat up a person's life and create a barrier to their healing. I prefer karma to do its thing.
  31. I am not naturally optimistic. I have to work at it all the time. It's not easy but I try to recognize when I am getting negative and move away from whatever I'm doing to exacerbate that because it can get out of hand. With positivity, I often fake it till I make it believable to myself.
  32. I will never be perfect - not for me, or for everyone else. Trying to be is unhealthy and I need to stop and remember that I am flawed, we all are and that is nothing to be ashamed or try so desperately to hide.
  33. I used to think it was vulgar to drop the F bomb until I started using it more often. It is so versatile! It needs more love and respect so I sprinkle it into my day as often as needed.
  34. I love hacks but when it comes to the things I have accomplished, from careers to health, there were no shortcuts, just a lot of hard work, strategic decisions and sacrifices.
  35. I have many loves and have spent lots of time exploring how to monetize them but it has taken them from hobbies and enjoyable talents to "work". No thanks. I prefer to continue to have hobbies I enjoy that have nothing to do with my income sources.
  36. I need more naps in my life.
  37. It's super hard to bite my tongue but it has saved me a lot of grief. It's something I continue to battle.
  38. I love the friends I have chosen. We love, support and respect each other. We also have spats, get on each other's nerves, and take breaks from each other - just like family.
  39. There are days when waking up is the best I can do. I used to beat myself up about it but I have come to realize what an accomplishment that can be and I am learning to see it as progress when that is all I can offer the world.
  40. Sometimes a little thing makes me smile and while it often takes thought and peace to find that one thing when I am intentional about finding those reasons, it becomes easier to find more.