My forty-seventh birthday was this week. It passed without angst despite the fact that fifty seems incredibly close. Maybe I’m making peace with aging more than I was this time last year. Or maybe fifty just doesn’t seem as scary as it seemed. Or maybe I’m kind of digging the silver streaks in my hair.
One of the reasons I catalog lessons I’ve learned in the previous year is to have the reminder of not just what I’ve learned, but to serve as the reminder that I am choosing evolve and grow into who I am.
“Our birthdays are feathers in the broad wing of time.” –Jean Paul
Becoming forty-seven has been a deeply thoughtful journey; here are twenty of the lessons I have learned:
One – You and your life deserve devotion to your daily life. When I wrote my list of lessons learned in 2014, I vowed that the mantra for my journey to forty-seven was: “Be like a Monk in Devotion to myself.” Being devoted to my daily life has been the underlying current of my deepest satisfactions about my life.
Two – The details matter. The tiniest of details help differ between surviving and thriving in your life. You deserve to tend them.
Three – You get to ask questions. No matter how ancient the history, you have a right to dig into your own past for answers. Just know that you may not like some of the answers you get. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth asking the questions. There is both comfort and power in having answers.
Four – Forgiveness is necessary. Forgive others. Extend grace. Most importantly, forgive yourself for past mistakes.
Five – Be open to learning new things and new ways. Each day presents an opportunity to grow your brain, expand your horizons and change your perspective. If you get too closed to this as a possibility, then your life will shrink and you will become more and more brittle. Kindle and feed your inner fires. Feed your own passions.
Six – Be open to new voices of wisdom. By new, I don’t necessarily mean “new age” or recently released books. Sometimes an ancient text opens our eyes or minds or hearts. What’s important is that the new to us voices (or words) inspire us to question the status quo.
Seven – Befriend your shadows. Our fears lurk in the dark, but they help us find ferret out our deeper passions as well as our truths.
Eight – Be willing to do your work. When you are aware of your triggers, what’s holding you back, or where you are getting in your own way, be willing to do the work to level up or shed what isn’t serving you.
Nine – You have to show up every day for your own life. Some days you will feel stalled and stuck and that’s ok. Be willing to show up for yourself. Sometimes, showing up for yourself means spending a day laying in a hammock reading a book from start to finish without moving except to refresh your drink, eat, and visit the washroom. Every day, though, choose to be all in.
Ten – Don’t do what’s popular if it doesn’t resonate with you. Long ago I learned that trendy fashions don’t work on my body type, so in the fashion realm, I stick with classics. The same goes for business trends and more.
Eleven – Be honest with yourself about your motivation. We humans take action and make decisions based often on either the motivations of either fear or desire. We are also motivated by sex, power and money. You don’t have to tell anyone what’s motivating you, but at least be honest with yourself.
Twelve – Take time off. Take vacations. Take an afternoon. Take a day. This doesn’t mean work a little, but don’t work. Unplug from social media. Turn off your email.
Thirteen – We all have our things: be unapologetic about yours. Won’t leave the house without lipstick? Can’t stand having dishes in the sink? Only like one particular flavor of toothpaste? Darling, own your thing and don’t apologize to anyone for your little idiosyncrasies.
Fourteen – Compassionate discipline is a part of the path to living a daily life that feels loving and nourishing.
- (a) Your body deserves whole, high quality food.
- (b) Sleep is crucial. If I’m feeling off-kilter or cranky, take a good look at how I’ve been sleeping.
- (c) Solitude isn’t the enemy, it is my asset. Spirituality demands attention.
- (d) We aren’t just flesh and blood, we are spirit. Remember to nourish and feed your soul, too.
Fifteen – Be willing to love the people in your life without putting up walls. Yes, it means that sometimes you’ll be hurt. But it also means that being vulnerable will allow you to give – and receive – a deeper love.
Sixteen – Be willing to believe in what you believe. Have faith in what your heart tells you is true and right, even if science doesn’t prove it as indisputable fact.
Seventeen – Don’t try to address every area of your life at one time. Focus on one or two things at a time and let the rest of your life fall into place.
Eighteen – Allow glimpses into your joy to grow. Tiny threads of joy can lead you to deep happiness.
Nineteen– I have been reminded this year that I am always in choice. Sometimes we choose what’s easy and then realize that it didn’t give us kind of experience we really long for. However, we are always best served if we choose what our heart tells us is right, even if it doesn’t seem easy.
Twenty – We get to own our own story. Our story – and how we interpret it – is our right. We can seek the wise voices of others, but it’s up to us to own it. We also get to re-write our story. Not in a way to delude ourselves, but in an attempt to see if from a different perspective so that we can find our own happiness.
Maybe the reason turning forty-seven didn’t stress me out was that I understand that each day is an opportunity to start fresh and see the day as a blank, unwritten page that I am blessed with the opportunity to write on.
What about you, darling? What lessons are you learning as your wind your way into your next year?