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38 Things I've Learned in 38 Years

04/05/2013 10:58 EDT | Updated 06/05/2013 05:12 EDT
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Well, I'm turning 38 this weekend. Not quite sure when THAT happened?! I'm pretty sure it was just yesterday that I kissed my husband for the first time at 19 years old while watching lesbians make out at Beaver Lake (a park here in Montreal). But clearly, it's NOT yesterday. Not even close. I've got more wrinkles, more cellulite, and honeys... more wisdom.

So as an ode to approaching 40, and having you girls (and yes, a few guys) by my side, I thought I'd share the 38 things I've learned in my 38 years. I've learned these life lessons from my friends, family, and from you.

So here goes. In honor of turning 38, what I've learned:

1. I've learned that your name will stick with you for life. Make sure that name is good -- and synonymous with integrity, kindness and truth.

2. I've learned that you must be a person of your word. This comes back to integrity. Your word must be honorable.

3. I've learned that you must know what you need, and give it to yourself whenever possible. That means eat when you're hungry, sleep when you're tired, regardless of what any clock tells you the time is. When you listen to your body, good things happen to it.

4. I've learned to always cut the cloth according to the measure. If you don't know what that means, Google it.

5. I've learned that if I do the same thing, day in and day out, I become a zombie walker of this earth, and not a liver of this earth. Passion and happiness comes from trying new things, venturing scarily into the unknown, and pushing yourself to your own personal limits. Walt Disney said it best: "It's kind of fun to do the impossible." Try the impossible. Just try it once.

6. I've learned that God doesn't give us what we want, he gives us what we need. Every time. And although it may not seem like it in the moment, and we may be frustrated or angry, in the end, it's always what we need to grow. And I've also learned we shouldn't cry over spilled milk. Learn the lesson and then move on, but don't stay stuck in the past. It's a sure way to live the most unfulfilled and immobilized existence.

"So, ask every failure--and this is what I do with every failure, every crisis, every difficult time -- I say, what is this here to teach me? And as soon as you get the lesson, you get to move on. If you really get the lesson, you pass and you don't have to repeat the class. If you don't get the lesson, it shows up wearing another pair of pants -- or skirt -- to give you some remedial work." -- Oprah

7. I learned the true meaning of life the day I walked into Canyon Ranch on a retreat with Dove. The sign hanging in the front said, "BREATHE DEEPLY and appreciate the moment. Living in the moment could be the meaning of life." I've come to accept that as truth.

"All you have is this moment. BE IN IT FULLY. When you are driving, be present, and focus on your driving. When you are having dinner with your family, be there. Don't be on your business, or on tomorrow's agenda. Be at the dinner table, with your family. Because otherwise, it's as if you were not there. It's as if the experience never happened." -- Wise words someone once told me

8. I've learned that it's OK to try bad things, just don't make a habit out of it. Like when I tried smoking at eight years old and my dad bought me a pack of Craven A's for a Kibbitz! Again, if you don't know what Kibbitz means, Google it.

9. I learned that 400 degrees is the right temperature to cook your food, from chicken to steak to fish to potatoes to ANYTHING. And to stick a thermometer in your food, and pull it out not before, or after 165 degrees. That's your magic number.

10. I've learned it's always important to have fun and be silly. The funnier and sillier, the happier.

11. I've learned not to take no for an answer. I have never taken no for an answer if I believe in something, and it has served me well. Very well. Fight for what you want. And don't you be lazy! Never be afraid to DREAM BIG, and put it out into the Universe. If you work hard enough, the Universe will listen.

12. I've learned to always know your financial situation at any given time. Know what you have. Know what you need. Knowledge is power.

13. I've learned that if my hubby and I go too long without sex, wonky things happen to our marriage.

14. I learned that a great massage, a great glass of wine, a great song, and a great workout are a few of life's greatest treats. And again, as I pointed out in #13, great sex doesn't hurt either.

15. I've learned that success comes at a cost- there is no free lunch. I will leave it at that.

16. I've learned that self-esteem and confidence are not bad words. They're important words. It takes a lot of work to get there, but it's the foundation to thriving.

17. I've learned not to spend next week's paycheck.

18. I've learned to always face the music, no matter how dark it may sound.

19. I've learned that family comes first. Period. No exceptions to the rule.

20. I've learned to love what you have, and have what you love.

21. I've learned that music is often the perfect solution to a bad mood.

22. I've learned that the line is thin between pushing your child to the limit in order to not raise a quitter, and pulling back so as not to turn them off from life. I struggle daily.

23. I've learned that you can never kiss your kids too often. And I've also learned that nurturing your child is the way to raise a winner.

24. I've learned you can't just live off the fat of the land. It's crucial to give back. Give back in any way you can... with time, with ideas, with suggestions, with money, with WHATEVER. Give back. Give what you can, and much more will be received.

25. I've learned that change, while scary, is necessary to grow. We must adapt to change, and swim with the flow of the current, not against it. I've learned it's important to venture outside of your own backyard.

26. I've learned that every one of us was put on this earth for a purpose. Find that purpose. Whether you're a trust fund baby or a homeless man living on the streets, we all have a purpose.

27. I've learned that inspiration comes in the rarest of forms. I have learned much from my little children, much from people I don't particularly like, and much from severely troubled souls. Inspiration comes in many forms... find it.

28. I've learned to love the haters. We all have naysayers, or doubters, or haters. Their words can hurt us, haunt us, and tickle our insecurities. The important thing in life, is to take from it, learn from it, but NOT let it stop you. Haters and doubters often make us want to quit or even question our entire life plan. I can only say from experience, just work hard, and prove them wrong. Success comes from doing what you love, and working at it daily. Listen to the critics, because there's much to be learned, but follow your heart. And trust your instincts.

29. As I told you above, I've learned never to take no for an answer, but then again, I've learned: Don't beat a dead horse. The key is to know when to walk away. That just comes with age, practice and experience.

30. I've learned to always give 100 per cent. Give 110, 120 whenever possible.

31. I've learned that I have a love affair with music and food. If my hearing goes early in life, it will be worth it. And if I put on 5 more pounds but ate everything I loved, well, that'll be just fine. Life is about doing what you love.

32. I've learned that every day will not always be great.

33. I've learned that Life is too short to put up with bullshit. I now do the things I want to do, when I want to do them. I'm impatient with small talk, and sometimes it may come across as rude, but, well... um.. I don't know.

34. I've learned that we must speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves. Represent them. Help them.

35. I've learned we all have to be accountable for our own actions. It's easiest to blame others and not take personal responsibility for our own actions. But at the end of the day, it's the only way to live free.

36. I've learned that we should plan like girl scouts, but always leave room for the unexpected. Sometimes it's the unplanned that bears the best fruit. So therefore, I often go where the wind takes me.

37. I've learned that trying to keep up with the Joneses is a recipe for misery. Stop paying attention so much attention to what others have, and focus on your own path. Look at you, you beautiful thing! You've got the world by the balls! Now, go make your own shit happen. ;)

38. I've learned I still have SO MUCH more to learn.

Many blessings to you. Thank you for spending another birthday with me. I'd love to know, what have you learned about life?

Tips for aging gracefully