Saturday, September 17, 2011

26 Lessons Learned

Happy Saturday!!!  My Saturday is going to be spent going to my sorority's recruitment workshop - they needed alumni volunteers - running last minute errands and throwing a mini dinner party for my birthday.  On the menu for this evening is hummus with veggies, prosciutto wrapped dates, baked brie with pecans, cranberries & thyme, alexia fries and champagne punch.  I'm so excited to see all of my friends and celebrate my birthday

In honor of my birthday and the 26 years I've spent on earth, I thought that I would like to take some time to reflect on a variety of things.  I could be upset about turning 26, but I'm really not.  I feel like every year that passes, life gets better and better.  While I do miss my days in college spending, so much time with all my friends and beginning to figure out who I am, I wouldn't trade that for who I am today.  I believe it was Frank Sinatra who sang "the best is yet to come" and I truly believe that.  Each year, I become a little more sympathetic, a little more resilient, a little more grown up and a little more grateful.  So this year, I wanted to take a little time to share the things I'm thankful for, the things I've learned and the things I appreciate. 

I hope you're ready :)

1. Don't ask yourself what the world needs.  Ask yourself what you love, because when you do what you love, the world will need it. - Howard Thurman

2. It's your choice to be happy throughout the challenges that life throws at you - it's hard not to say my life will be perfect when I graduate or when I find a career I love or when I get into grad school or when I fall in love or when I buy a house or when I (fill in anything else you can think of here) - the trouble with that thinking is this is your life - right this second.  Do you really want to waste all that time being unhappy by reaching for this time in the future where everything in your life will be "perfect"?  Your life is perfect right now.  Sheryl Crow did say, "it's not having what you want, it's wanting what you've got"

3. Take time to appreciate the beauty in everyday.  The way the sun comes over the ground when you're driving to work, the birds in the trees, the chilly fall days, the people you pass in the hallway.  When you see the beauty in life, you become more appreciative of the fact that you get to be here, and honestly you are pretty damn lucky.

4.  Your family and friends are the most important thing in your life, they should be your whole life and if it's not that way you might need to step back and re-prioritize what is really important - or in simpler terms, love is the most important thing.  Two days before my grandpa died, he said to me "I never would have gotten through this without grandma and you kids, you're my whole life".  In that instant, I knew that's exactly how I wanted to feel about my life, I wanted my family (and my friends of course) to be the most important things in my life.

5. If you haven't done it yet, now's the time to clear out all of the toxic friends out of your life.  At some point, everyone has had them.  The friends that don't care about your feelings, the friends that bring you down or make you feel bad about yourself or the friends that are hurtful to others in ways you couldn't imagine - cut the ties.  You don't need negative energy in your life.

6. Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul, and sings the tune - without the words, and never stops at all. -Emily Dickinson

7. You should always follow your heart, even when it takes you into the unknown.  Wouldn't you rather lead a life of oh well's than a life of what if's?

8.  Find your own personal style.  Maybe you like boots or big earrings or maybe you hate shopping.  Whichever the case, find what works for you and what flatters you.  Wear what you love.  I love scarves and skinny jeans :)

9.  Being an aunt is the best thing in the entire world.  Now, you have to be an even better person, because there is a little person who is full of so much love that is going to look up to you someday.  Your refrigerator will become decorated with artwork.  Your heart will melt when you see that even though they don't see you that often, they know exactly who you are.

10.  Families come in all shapes and sizes.  I grew up with my grandparents, so they were like my parents.  My aunt is like my sister.  My cousin is my niece.  Sometimes I feel like my mom behaves more like a sister than my mom haha.  Who cares.  All that matters is that we love each other, which is truly all that matters.

11. Don't be afraid to stand up for yourself.  I grow in this area a little bit more every year.  I'll admit that being an only child didn't give me the world's greatest starting point.  I was pretty sensitive and probably at times a bit of a pushover.  Not anymore.  Life is so much easier when you say how you feel and don't let people take advantage of your kindness.  Remember that.

12.  Take a little time every day to just be quiet with your own thoughts.  No one knows you better than you know yourself. 

13. We all face challenges and struggles - that in no way means that mine are any more difficult for me to deal with than yours and vice versa.  Challenges and struggles all present the same emotions - frustration, sadness, pain, anger - those are all emotions that we can all relate to.

14.  Bethenny Frankel said that you might not always be the most beautiful person in the world, but you should always be the most interesting.  I couldn't agree more - if you don't have hobbies, you need to find them.  Mine are baking, cooking, going to barre classes, meditation, making cards, blogging... sure they might not be things that everyone loves - but they are definitely mine.

15. There’s another kind of love. One that gives you the courage to be better than you are, not less than you are. One that makes you feel that anything is possible. I want you to know that you could have that. I want you to hold out for it. – Nights in Rodanthe.  I don't know about you, but I don't plan on settling for any less than that.

16. Sometimes it's hard to be a good friend because you don't always know what to say.  Whether it's the friend who's going through a devastating breakup, lost her job, broken a leg, one who's just had her mother die, sometimes you just don't understand if you haven't been there.  The thing to know is that it's okay, it's completely okay to say to someone I want to be there for you but I don't know how because of xyz, what is it that you need? Do you need me to listen? Do you need me to hang out with you to take your mind off of it?  Above all though, don't ignore the elephant in the room - because then, you just look like the crappy friend who doesn't ask or care and I guarantee that person is never going to forget about that.  Oh yeah and don't make comparisons about well that happened to me but mine was so much worse because of xyz = don't do it!!

17.  Unfortunately, life with blind side you occasionally.  That's okay, because it's part of being human. When it does, whether it's due to losing your job, your significant other, a parent, a friend, don't allow it to make your heart bitter.

18.  If you don't know what you want to do for a career even if you already have a career, don't panic.  You have plenty of time to figure it out.  Whether you're in college and constantly switching majors or already have a degree, there is always time to go back if you make time.  You can accomplish anything you set your mind to do.

19. There are two ways to live: you can live if nothing is a miracle, you can life if everything is a miracle. - Albert Einstein.

20. One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. "Which road do I take?" she asked. "Where do you want to go?" was his response.  "I don't know," Alice answered. Then, said the cat, "it doesn't matter." - Lewis Carroll

21. Take good care of yourself.  Eat well, exercise and get enough sleep at night.  Wear sunscreen and don't use tanning beds.  You only get one body and if you don't take good care of it now, chances are you are going to be really upset about that later.

22. Who knows where the road will lead you, only a fool would say.  And yes, I did just modify Frank Sinatra to get that, but it's true.  It's good to have a plan, but be a little flexible because you might end up somewhere even better than where you thought you were going.  When I couldn't find a job right out of my internship, I was devastated...but then I ended up getting a full scholarship to graduate school, made amazing new friends and expanded my horizons.  It wasn't what I planned for, it was better.

23.  When someone you love dies, it never gets easier, your life as you know it will never be the same.  Everyone will tell you that it will get easier with time and time heals all, but I would be lying to you if I told you that.  This is what will happen instead - you will learn how to cope.  You will learn how to get out of bed every morning and you will learn how to go on with your life.  You will learn that the person you lost is always with you - you can pray to them, you might dream about them.  Things will happen when you need them and you'll completely fall apart.  Your life won't be the same but you'll be okay.  You'll realize that you're a more empathetic person than you ever were before and you know that you'll be able to help your friends more so than anyone helped you when you have to go through the same thing.

24.  Pray for other people if you don't already do.  Not only does it connect you more to the fact that we really all the same, but it really helps you to see the good in every person.  Some of the women from my high school started a facebook group where announcements will go out for alumni who have sick children, or spouses or who might be sick themselves.  It's comforting to be able to see that much love and support going out to someone you may not even know.

25.  Music makes everything better and yes it really is that simple.

26.  Each year you learn something.  Things happened that you never expected to happen, both good and bad.  Sometimes I like to ponder who I'll be in the future, what will I be like?  The most important question to ask yourself is who do I want to be?  Then, you can plan the steps to get there :)

What lessons have you learned?