It is the eve of my 30th birthday and I’m reflecting on how I got to where I am today. What an interestingly reflective thought process that became. There are thoughts that make my heart fill with joy and then there are memories that make my heart ache. There are realizations that make me laugh at myself, like why must I constantly learn things the hard way over and over again? There are blessings that make me want to well up with tears because God has blessed me beyond anything that I could ever come close to deserving. I have a lot to be grateful for. I have not always had the easiest wade through life’s waters (sometimes I feel like alligators are chasing me) or made the best decisions but with each year that passes I feel like I am growing as a person and moving farther along the projected path that God has laid out for me. My self observation compelled me to write the thirty biggest life lessons I’ve learned in light of my thirtieth birthday tomorrow. Here they are, in no particular order…
1. Time really does fly. What people don’t tell you is that time flies even when you’re not having fun so make the most of it. The time will pass you by anyway so you may as well be purposeful about what you do with it.
2. Burned bridges are worth repairing if you burned them in haste. I haven’t always made the best decisions socially in life and have burned a few bridges that I’ve had to go back and rebuild and ask forgiveness for. Most times, it’s not in anticipation of crossing those bridges again daily with those people but more of a symbol of, “I know I was wrong and I’m sorry. The bridge is always open if you need me.” I’d like to think I insinuate there’s also a “Welcome” sign on mine.
3. It’s okay not to be right all the time. Or know everything 100% of the time. Some of you will be shocked to hear that from me but alas, a sign of growing up! I used to think being wrong or not knowing was a sign of weakness or lack of something (intelligence, couth, leadership, etc.). I am okay with, gasp, not knowing everything all of the time. I am currently settling at 90%.
4. Being a “Mom” is truly one of the most amazing blessings ever. I am working daily not to scar my children too badly.
5. Making consistent, good decisions doesn’t necessarily get easier. Whether it’s eating healthy, choosing to exercise or finish the items on your task list, doing what you should is not always the easiest mindset to keep.
6. You can train yourself to authentic happiness. The book Authentic Happiness was a game changer for me combined with the book 1,000 Gifts.
7. Being in the Word daily will make all the difference in the world.
8. Good friends are hard to come by. They are truly a rarity as you get older. I find great joy in the people in my life that I call friends because there aren’t many. I have found that it gets increasingly more difficult to come by people who have genuine interest in your well being and investing their time in listening, giving advice and presence just for the company it provides without an ulterior motive.
9. Don’t be as selfish as you naturally (we are human) want to be. You cannot possibly grow yourself if you only please yourself daily.
10. Growth begins outside of your comfort zone. Even just a tiny, tip toe outside of your comfort zone brings about a heightened sense of awareness in any facet.
11. The things worth having don’t come easy. I have found this to be true in every single area of my life. Whether it’s balancing a family with work, being a home owner, a wife, a business owner, the list goes on and on and on. If it’s worth having, you must work for it and do you know what else I’ve found? It’s always worth it.
12. Have the grace to find joy and be grateful in all situations. It is a painful mental journey to this realization but what an amazingly positive understanding of His plan once you’re there.
13. Love is an action. Feelings come and go (Hello?! I am a woman. I think I have had 53 different feelings since I started typing this sentence and I type 75 wpm). Love is choosing to wake up every day and love your spouse, dog, children, self, job and following that decision with actions that support it. Which leads into the next one…
14. Actions speak louder than words. Words are easy to come by (prior to 9 p.m. most week nights). Perhaps because there are always words to be found for most occasions, I have always felt that actions are a more telling and truthful story. This sentiment has not changed over time for me.
15. Priority is a singular word. You can only have one priority at a time and that is an achingly truthful realization for me. Sometimes you have to place things in a priority position that you’d rather not admit but, for me, the pain has to be worth the future gain. I am always working on this.
16. I am not a people pleaser. Who knew? (Don’t be cocky) I went a large part of my life thinking I was a people pleaser. As it turns out, I am not. I actually have a deep disregard for other’s approval so long as my actions/ thoughts/ words are in line with my insanely & surprisingly tight moral compass (surprising only after my wild spell as a teenager, I feel positive my parents were always aiming for this outcome.)
17. I like awards and accolades. I was also unaware of this until recently. I refused this truth at first but then I realized it’s true. Funny but true. Bring on the “Best Mom in the World” mugs! My confession here is that I always wanted to be ranked in a Top 30 Under 30 category…..there’s always the top 40 Under 40 though!
18. Goals are not set in stone until you say them out loud…to another human being. What is it about telling your goal(s) to someone else that makes it a legitimate objective? I am still not sure on that but I am sure it is true. (Did you see what I did there? Aiming for the Top 40 Under 40 now…. It’s out.)
19. People come in and out of your life for a reason. There are a lot of different people and situations that I could expand on here but I will leave it at that. I will say that I am forever grateful to every person that has been in my life because they each, some in the tiniest but most meaningful ways, have helped shape the person I have become.
20. God is in control. I have always known this to be true but why is it so hard for to “let go” control (as if I ever really had it anyway) of things in life? I am sure I will be working on this for my entire life, along with submission. Cue the laughter here.
21. It’s okay to fail. Who knew it would be so easy to chalk things up to a “life lesson”, get up and move on? I become more and more humble on a daily basis.
22. Someone, some where is looking up to you. This was an eye-opener for me.
23. Be purposeful. Life is a gift, time is a luxury and family is a privilege. Be purposeful with all of it.
24. Say what’s on your heart. It makes it a lot lighter.
25. Don’t always say what’s on your mind. I realize that I have a sharp tongue and my mind doesn’t always provide a filter. I have learned not to impulsively react, slowly but surely and not always but I’m getting there.
26. If you put yourself in the path of opportunity, you will find it. Don’t let it pass you by though.
27. Have a solid, concrete set of standards for yourself in everything that you do.
28. Be kind. You have no idea what people are going through. Finding compassion in every situation can be life changing not just for others but for you, too.
29. Hug your children and tell them how much you love them daily. Seriously. People say this all the time but with the craziness that I’ve seen in my lifetime of school shootings, terrorist attacks, freak accidents this is imperative for me. Again, though, God is in control. I do know this and above all else they know that God loves them and they love him too but….I digress. I am letting go.
30. I am not where I thought I would be but I know that I am where I am supposed to be. If you had asked me twelve years ago about where I’d like to be ten years from then, it would have been in a big city with a high level business career as a single person with no children. Here I am twelve years later with four kids, a husband and a small business turning 30 in the place I grew up, yet there’s not a doubt in my mind that I am exactly where God intended me to be at this very moment.