30 Things Learned in 30 Years

An acquaintance of mine turned 30 this year and on his birthday, he shared a list of 30 things that he'd learned in his 30 years on Earth. I also turned 30 this year (in May) and it has been very illuminating to me. I haven't really made any ~Earth shattering decisions~ or anything, but it has been a turning point of sorts in several different areas of my life. So I decided to do something similar. Some of these may be relevant to others, while some may just be more about me. And I got pretty wordy so if you read it all, I'm going to send you some e-cookies! :) Thanks Bob, for inspiring this post!

30 Things I've Learned in 30 Years

30. Be forgiving. There are always going to be people who are rude and inconsiderate. As hard as it can be sometimes, try to be the bigger person and let go.

29. LET IT GO. I said it above and it warrants repeating: if you're holding on to something - a grudge, a burden, a long held argument, mistakes you've made, whatever it is...be free, my friend. Even if the other person hasn't or it hurts, it is *so* freeing to let go of negativity.

28. Friendships will come and go...and that's okay. I went from having high school friendships to married/moved/having a baby/suddenly having almost no friendships. I spent a lonely period of time where I had predominantly online friends. They got me through a lot and I still talk to the majority of them. But I also began to get out more, get involved in different things, and I've gained new friendships because of it. Some I've lost due to my own failures, some have moved on, and others have stayed and grown. I'm grateful for them all.

27. Don't waste your education. I received a pretty good scholarship to college and I squandered it because I wasn't totally prepared to be on my own. My life is great and I do not regret it, but I do wish that I would have finished my education while I was unattached and didn't have as many commitments. It is much harder to do things like that when you have more responsibilities.

26. With that being said though, if anyone scoffs at your dreams or where you're at in life right now, ignore them. I can't even begin to tell you how many people have "poo pooed" my being a stay at home mom or homeschooling my kids. Let them. They don't know you and they're not the one living your life - you are. As January Harshe says: "you do you, boo."

25. Find a way to pursue your passions. Even if you're not sure you can manage it or if it seems unattainable, don't stop chasing your dreams. I was able to get my doula certification during a pregnancy while juggling my kids, their activities, and my other responsibilities. My husband was able to complete his Bachelor's degree while working a full time (often overtime) job and keeping up with us, his other commitments, etc. You may have to ask for help, you might even need to give up something temporarily - but you'll be glad you did it later.

24. Plan but don't plan - do you know what I mean? Everyone has an idea of how they'd like their life to go. That's fine, but remember to be flexible. Some of the greatest opportunities in my life so far have been because I'm willing to bend or shake off the game plan and roll with it.

23. Be selective with certain things. You decide who you hang out with, what you want to do in life, what things you want to participate in or not - you can be selective and you don't have to make decisions based on what everyone else wants. You will never be able to please everyone.

22. Enjoy social media but put down that phone and enjoy your people too. I love taking pictures of my kiddos. (Probably too much.) And I love being able to stay in touch with my far away family on Facebook. I love talking to people on Twitter that I might not have been able to talk to otherwise. (James Woods!) Social media can be great. But it can also be draining, drama-filled, and downright exhausting. (And that's just the comments section!) When you're out on a date or at a concert or at a family dinner or enjoying a night alone with your spouse, feel free to take some selfies or share a status but then put the phone down and talk, laugh, joke, and enjoy each other's company.

21. Self-care is SO important. There have been times in my life where I've been depressed or trying to find myself and I've struggled greatly. At one point in time, I was so riddled with anxiety it was hard to drive. At another point in time I got so caught up in children that I stopped doing things that made me feel better about myself - I couldn't remember the last time I'd gotten a haircut or really spent time with friends, I didn't even want to look in a mirror. I was just surviving. Self-care is NOT selfish. It makes me a better person, friend, daughter, mother, and wife. "You can't pour from an empty cup."

20. In taking care of yourself, do what you love. What you love will probably be different from what I love. That's ok! Whatever makes you feel better and keeps you feeling like you. I love going on walks/jogs in the morning and seeing the Indiana country sunrise. I love reading historical fiction and mysteries. I love writing in this blog. I love being a scifi fan girl and watching Doctor Who and Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica and The Walking Dead. I need time with my friends to laugh and catch up and share about each other's lives. I need time with my husband, just us - talking about our lives and things we want to do and our love. All those things keep help to keep me grounded.

19. It's ok to go to bed and do the rest of it tomorrow. This is a lesson I can thank my husband for. Evenings can be magical in my house - once the kids finally go to sleep and the house is quiet, I am usually tempted to stay up and work on things around the house or blog (like I probably am now), or just veg out in front of the TV. While that's not all bad, it can turn into a bad habit. All those things will still be there tomorrow. Moderation is the key here, I think. :)

18. Research and educate yourself. You will make so many decisions in your life - sometimes it requires doing more than just making a decision - sometimes you have to get opinions from multiple people, read books or articles; or even consult doctors, teachers, or other knowledgeable people. Don't just take everything at face value. I have learned and continue to learn so much just from being open to do research on things.

17. There will be a lot of people in our life for a lot of different reasons. This is long and it's by Tyler Perry's Madea but bear with me because honey, it is one heck of a life lesson:

"Most people are like leaves: when the wind blows they go to one side of the tree, and then the wind blows the other way and they are on the other side. They are totally unstable. All they do is take from the tree and give shade. When the seasons change they wither and fall off the tree. But don’t be angry with them; this is who they are. God put them in your life just for a season.

Some people are like branches on the tree but watch out for them. They make you think they are your friends but the minute you step out, they break and leave you.

Oh, but God bless those folks who are the roots. Find two or three people who are your roots. They are there to help you live and give stability to your life. A tree may have one thousand branches but just a few roots. Hold on to these people.

The lesson is to be able to let people and relationships go. And learn how to be alone and first love yourself. Learn to be peaceful. With your later years, you should learn to be at peace with yourself and others. Get rid of the dysfunction and let people go who continue to create drama and dysfunction in your life."

16. If you're a parent, let your kids be kids. Play with them, take them on walks, build, create, bake, and share with them. Read them stories and take an interest in the things they like. Take the time now to show them that you care about them and that they are important to you - it lays the groundwork for when they are older.

15. Another if you're a parent thought: the days are long but the years are short. I know, I know...it's sooooooo cliche. But it's also so stinking true. I remember sitting up nights, rocking a baby I thought WOULD NEVER SLEEP. I was so, so tired and exhausted and worn out. Now he's almost taller than me. I love that he's growing up into his own person but it's also so bittersweet to think about the tiny baby he used to be, that I could rock and hold and comfort.

14. Take care of your body. I wish I would have listened to this one a bit more. Of course you should be allowed to indulge and "treat yo self" but don't go hog wild every day. It's easier to lose weight/run/exercise/just generally stay healthier when you're younger. I kind of feel like the older you get, the harder it gets. I'm not ancient and elderly by any means but goodness...it is a challenge.

13. I've learned to agree to disagree. There are going to be people you don't agree with. It's generally okay to ask them "why" they believe what they do, or how they came to their conclusion, or if they're interested in learning something else. But sometimes it is just not worth it. For some relationships - family, friends, working - it's better to just agree that you don't agree on something and move on.

12. Stop being judgmental. If you read this blog or know me at all, you know that we do some things that others might not totally understand or even agree with - I have had babies at home, we homeschool, we have a lot of kids, etc. That's okay, I don't judge others for sending their kids to public school, having babies in the hospital, or having one (or no) children. To each his own. We have become such a judgmental society and are constantly wondering WHY people are doing what they're doing. Who cares?! If they are happy and healthy, if their families are happy and healthy, why is it any of our business?

11. For people who are married with kids: don't forget who you are as a couple. I have seen so many relationships disintegrate in the last couple years. Several of them were people who were awesome parents but struggled in their relationship because they just became passing ships, people cohabiting in the same house but never connecting. Remember why you married that person and make time to let them know that you still remember. Show them you love them in ways that are important to them.

10. But also, to clarify: no relationship is perfect. My husband and I are great together. Sometimes we are also terrible together. We gripe at each other about something the other one didn't do, we lose our tempers and argue. We've gotten better about these things as time has went on but we both also know that that is how relationships really are - you fight, you love, you argue, you make up. Perfect relationships where people never fight, disagree, or show the other their faults are in fairy tales.

9. No one person can complete you. To quote Katy Perry:

"They say it's hard to meet your match, gotta find my better half - so we make perfect shapes.
If stars don't align, if it doesn't stop time, if you can't see the sign - wait for it.
One hundred percent, worth every penny spent. He'll be the one that finishes your sentences."

Sometimes people do that for you. I have had a few people in my life that I feel are my "people" - they get me, they know me, I've told them my secrets, we share our dreams, and I'm not afraid to tell them about challenges I'm going through. They love me. BUT they cannot complete me. They are human and if I put all my faith and trust and hope in them, they will probably fail me. For me personally, completeness comes from being aware of who I am as an individual person and through my faith in God.

8. Childbirth is totally completely amazing. Obviously, this won't apply to all of you...but after having multiple kids and studying childbirth and pregnancy extensively, I have learned so, so much about the human body and all it is capable of. I will always, always get teary at a birth because it is absolutely a privilege to be included in welcoming a baby into this world, to watch them breathe their first breath. If you or your spouse is pregnant, I highly advise you to do your research and learn all you can about childbirth.

7. Be grateful for all that you have. There are so many people in this world who are struggling - trying to take care of their children, trying to keep their job, unsure of their living situation, trying to get food on the table, or find someplace to sleep for the night. I'm sure it sounds trite to say that but it's something that is so easily forgotten. I was reminded of this while driving with my son the other day - there was a man on the corner of a busy intersection holding a sign who appeared to be homeless. We had a long discussion about homelessness and he told me genuinely that he thought that only happened "in big cities." (We live in a very rural area for clarification.) No son, people struggle everywhere.

6. Volunteer, contribute, and/or give. Going along with my previous statement, I try to teach my kids about giving back and helping others. Not because it will make us feel good, but because I want them to be compassionate and kind. I care about animals so I try to share things from our local animal shelter and I hope to take the kids there to volunteer once they're old enough. We've visited the elderly in the nursing home because we've had family there and know how lonely it can get, and how the residents like visitors. I've helped at the pregnancy center because so many of those women are at-risk for different situations and I feel like every woman deserves someone to support her.

5, Love is a verb. Also probably cliche but true. Love is something that has to be acted on. I can say "I love you" all I want to my husband, but I also need to show him that I love him by doing things that I know will make him happy or that he'll appreciate.

4. It's okay to say no. I said it earlier but you cannot please everyone. It's totally fine to be involved in things, to help out, to do your best, and work hard. But you have to be careful to not spread yourself too thin or to get so involved with others that you neglect yourself or your family. Do not be afraid to say "I don't have time for that right now" or "I'm sorry, I really need to focus on _____ right now." I have had to learn this lesson and it can be very hard.

3. Done, not perfect. This is a lesson recently learned for me. Sometimes a task just needs to be done, even if it's not quite perfectly done. That's totally okay. If we waited for everything to be "perfect" before something was finished, it might never be done. That's not saying to haphazardly do everything and just say, "WELL, IT'S DONE!" Instead, do your very best but also don't expect perfection all the time.

2. You can't make someone do something/be something/etc. If I go into a relationship or friendship hoping to change the way a person does something or make them be something else, I'm going to be sorely disappointed. The only person I can change is myself.

1. Don't use the easy way out. It is so easy to say: "I don't have the time to go back to school" or "I really don't feel like exercising today" or "I'm too tired to go outside with the kids" or a multitude of other things. We can procrastinate and be lazy but what does it get us? A lot of "I should have done that" or "I wish I would have done that." Of course there are certain points in our life and times where it's totally okay to slack off a bit, sleep in, skip something...but I'm talking about in general here. I hate to sound like Nike but just do it. Sometimes it's really hard but I generally you'll be happy that you did it. 😊

If you made it all the way here, congratulations! 😀 Let me know what you think in the comments and if I missed anything!

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