I never understood people who didn't look forward to their birthdays. Adults who moaned, "Ugh, don't even talk about it!" confused me. Don't even talk about it?? That day that everyone celebrates the fact that you're walking on this planet with cake and presents??
But this year, when my wife asked what I wanted to do for my birthday, I cried and said I didn't want to think about it. A difficult year and the sense of being somehow behind on the path of life left me feeling like time was moving forward without me. And my birthday was a very specific representation of that.
I had a new understanding of all those folks who hate their birthdays.
I came around eventually and talked to my wife about celebrating, ultimately enjoying the cake she baked and the evening with friends. And I started thinking about all that I've learned in the last 35 years, all the ways I'm not "behind," all the ways I've really got my stuff figured out.
So here they are.
35 Things I've Learned These Past 35 Years
1. An episode of Murder She Wrote is a satisfactory antidote to a bad day at work, though two episodes makes the escape complete.
2. Giving friends a second chance when needed is almost always the best policy. No one is perfect, and most of us have received second chances we didn't even know were second chances.
3. Sparkly shoes can step in for self-confidence when necessary.
4. No emotion lasts forever, at least not in the same form.
5. A contagious laugh is way sexier than cleavage.
6. Buying the smaller size because you're going to lose a few pounds is never a good idea.
7. The right shampoo really does make a difference.
8. Learning to accept love and support from friends may be one of life's greatest struggles. And gifts.
9. The world is not a fair place. Trying to mend wounds for others feels better than dwelling on what feels unfair to you.
10. Ratios for water to grain are: rice - 2:1, grits - 4:1, oats - 2:1.
11. Making things with your hands heals your soul.
12. Use of the Oxford Comma is a point of controversy in the U.S. even though your eleventh grade English teacher beat it into you as the word of God.
13. Your partner cannot read your mind, and their kindness is no less kind because you suggested it.
14. Friends have love languages too. Learning and accepting the ways friends care and receive care will go a long way toward meaningful relationships.
15. People will disappoint you, and you will disappoint people. That's usually not the end.
16. A non-greasy, non-smelly hand lotion is a thing to be treasured.
17. Prayer is about what happens inside.
18. No matter what size you are, you're still you, with all the same gifts and failings.
19. The tension on a sewing machine is a dark and mysterious force that must be honored and feared.
20. Tending plants in your own vegetable garden is a special kind of wonderful.
21. Gratitude works.
22. If you can't find gratitude today, you might tomorrow. (Repeat.)
23. Facebook can make you feel connected or disconnected, depending on how you use it. Commenting and engaging feels better.
24. A Sunday afternoon on the couch with a good book is Heaven.
25. Avoiding all conflict will result in losing opportunities for closeness. Sometimes fair and honest arguments are the path forward.
26. It is best to get your skis onto the ground before you slide off the lift.
27. Any day with kitchen dancing is a success.
28. Cheetos will not solve your problems. (See #21).
29. Compassion is more likely to bring about change than judgment - in yourself and others.
30. Fresh flowers on the table make up for a little messiness elsewhere.
31. Any person who can regularly make you laugh until you cry and/or pee just a little in your pants is to be cherished as an angel on Earth.
32. Everybody has shit they're working through and not talking about.
33. Reading the recipe slowly and carefully before beginning a new dish is probably a good idea.
34. Asking for what you need is generally the best way to get what you need.
35. Everything will not be okay. Some things will. Others won't. With time, that will be okay.