37 lessons for 37 years

I turned 37 a few months ago, and I wanted to collect a “few” lessons I’ve learned along the way. Here they are in no particular order.

Just because you have a high pain tolerance as a child doesn’t mean you’ll have one as an adult.

Having a named, agreed upon, signed-on-the-dotted-line best friend isn’t a long-term guaranteed friendship.

Years of trust, being there for each other, telling the truth, laughing together, cheering each other on, connecting points: these are the marks of a friendship that lasts.

You don’t have to have a group of friends. You just need one person who gets you.

The more underwear you have, the less laundry you have to do.

Read more. Read everything. Read outside your faith. Read outside your opinions. Read good books. Read bad ones. Read poems and prose, opinions and news, analysis and plays. Words build your life.

Stand in the sunshine, not just because you have a vitamin D deficiency but also because it’s nice to be warm.

You need hobbies. Start one and see where the fun leads you.

Truth comes in layers. There is no way to know it all, but you can hold each piece at a time. You can be captured by its beauty, you can turn it over in your hands, you can let it sink deep and transform you.

It takes time to discover the lifestyles that make you anxious and fearful. But when you discover what they are and the people who represent them in your life, start cutting anxiety triggers out.

Therapy is one of your keys to living well, but therapy only works if you will tell the truth. Whatever layer of truth that may be.

You cannot expect someone to simultaneously diagnose what’s wrong with you and tell you that everything is fine.

Perfectionism is not your friend.

Failure is your friend. But only if you can see it as an invitation to move forward.

Marriage is good. Marriage is hard. Let it be whatever it needs to be.

You judge in others what you are most afraid of in your own life. Instead of judging others, examine your own life.

Never judge another parent.

Judging others achieves nothing.

The only life you can change is yours.

Pray. About everything. At all times. It is the only thing you can do about matters outside of your control.

You get to say no. About anything you want. For absolutely no “good” reason.

Listen to your body, she is your friend, what she has to tell you is important.

Women who put you down are not your friend.

Say you’re sorry when you do something wrong or make a mistake. When you can, find ways to right your wrongs. This is true repentance.

Listen to your hunger. Explore your hunger. Find the deepest thing that you are hungry for and feed it.

You don’t have to stay in therapy with a therapist you don’t connect with or like. You don’t have to give reasons for not going.

Trust is hard. It is supposed to be hard.

Your kids will drive you crazy.

Watching your kids grow will be one of the greatest joys of your life.

Motherhood is a close negotiation between who you are and who your kids are.

Getting older is a treasure, with every year you glow brighter, rough edges rubbed off, you are becoming more beautiful, wiser, stronger, better.

Go back to your doctor. The point of a general practitioner is continuity of care. The more they see you, the better picture they get of your overall health. Don’t just go when something bad happens, go for a follow up. Take their instruction seriously. Take their advice. But also know when not to.

Instead of worrying, look for what you can do. Act or put it aside.

Practice discernment by practicing reflection. Pay attention to what works over time and what doesn’t work.

Say thank you every day.

When you see something beautiful, when you feel something lovely, hold it in your heart a little longer. There’s no need to rush past.

Life is a gift. Your life is a gift. So live.

Now it’s your turn: What lessons have you learned this year?

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