I’ve always been a big fan of birthdays. It’s my own personal holiday; what’s not to like? I’m 28 years old today (or at least I will be at 10:16 p.m.) and as a writer, feel like there is no better way mark this occasion than sharing what I’ve learned (and am still learning) from 28 trips around the sun.
Note: I am still working on many of these issues myself. At 28, I consider myself a work in progress. Maybe I’ll nail this list by 29. 😉
- Know that time goes so fast. What a cliche, right? But my goodness, it’s true. My baby girl is approaching 5 months old, but I swear I had her last week. Along these lines…
- Unplug. I’m learning to unglue my eyes from my phone and cherish what is in front of me. You miss the things happening in real time when you’re looking down at a screen.
- Be grateful. Acknowledge your blessings and give thanks for what you have. All the time, not just on Thanksgiving.
- Keep in touch with family. Maybe it is something about having a baby, I don’t know. But I am beginning to understand how important it is to keep these connections strong and thriving.
- Enjoy having friends who are like family. I am lucky to have a tribe of friends who would drop everything if I needed help. Most of these friends I don’t speak to every day; some live far away and I hardly ever see. But they are my people, and I love them.
- Connect with your church. Since close friends and family may be far away, reach out to those in your church for connection. Even better, be part of a genuine small group. They don’t call it a church “family” for nothing.
- Make sure that you say “I love you.” To everyone you love. Say it often, but not without meaning behind it.
- Speak the love language of those you love. Building up your loved ones in this way is the number one thing they need from you.
- Do good. For your community. For your world. When we are so busy that our worldview shrinks to just ourselves, we have a problem. Look at the bigger picture and pitch in where you can.
- Speak up. If there is something you want, say so. Don’t expect people to anticipate your needs if you don’t voice them. Bonus tip: This is especially true in marriage.
- Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to say something when you can’t do it all. Saying “no” is okay too.
- Pray. Daily. When Emmanuella was born, Dustin and I started doing this every night. They are simple prayers, nothing flowery or impressive. Sometimes we’re tired at the end of the day, or irritated. We pray anyway. The change this has made in us is incredible and honestly hard to put down in words.
- Trust God. If you’re a worrier, this is easier said that done. But I’ve found things have a way of working out in His timing (see Romans 8:28).
- Listen to others. If you like to be the life of the party like me, this is harder to do and takes discipline. But there is so much to learn if we train ourselves to be quiet every once in awhile.
- Smile at people. You don’t even have to say anything. But at least make eye contact and smile. For some people, it might be the best thing that happens to them all day.
- Take care of yourself. Physically, mentally, and emotionally. I’m preaching to myself here as well. I REALLY like French fries and milkshakes (preferably together) and know that I should eat more fresh fruits and veggies than I do (and I’m a vegetarian!). Not surprisingly, when I eat well, I also feel better mentally and am less likely to feel overwhelmed or stressed.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself. Beating yourself up doesn’t make a situation any better. Forgiving yourself is important too.
- Go outside. More often. There are few things that a walk in fresh air can’t fix. And if it can’t fix it, it will at least clear your head.
- Play board games instead of watching Netflix every once in awhile. It’s just as relaxing, but you get to actually engage with people while you do it. Speaking of which, I asked for Ticket to Ride for my birthday. So whoever wants to come over a play is welcome!
- Spend smart. Think about where your money should go. Think about needs vs. wants. Our resources aren’t really ours. Remember this and use them (or give, save, invest, etc.) accordingly.
- Purge. If you have something that you don’t need or use, but another person does and would, let it go.
- Be generous. Of your money. Of your stuff. Of your time. Giving feels good, y’all. Do it, and frequently.
- Make goals and strive to reach them. I’m looking at this list and there are some challenging goals here to reach for. That’s a start.
- Set aside time to rest. As a new mom, I’ve learned that rest is such a gift. Our lives are no longer planned within an inch of our lives and I like it. Sometimes it’s okay to just be.
- Make time for the important things. Think about priorities. Cuddling my baby is much higher on my list than laundry (which is why the hamper has been constantly overflowing since her birth).
- Keep learning. I want to be a lifelong learner. But this doesn’t mean everything I learn has to be found in a book. Learning new skills is just as important.
- Don’t get caught up in the “I’ll be happy when” mentality. This is a dangerous trap that leaves you chasing the next thing. You WON’T be happy when you make more money, get married, etc. if you can’t find contentment now.
- Celebrate! Both big days like birthdays (!) and little things like accomplishing something on your to-do list. I was once told that my personality type is the kind that comes to a wall and throws a party (instead of strategizing a way to get over the wall or blowing through the wall). This is an accurate way to describe me AND a fun way to live your life.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. I have so much more to learn, and hope that this year brings many more life lessons. But see #26. I do aspire to be a lifelong learner.
And with that, let us begin my 29th year on this earth.