I’m celebrating my 40th birthday this week! I keep thinking, surely my birthday is at least a month away—it can’t possibly be June already (plus I had ambitious plans to start exercising, lose the last of my baby weight, and get my roots colored before this milestone)…but here it is. And here I am…staring in the mirror at mid-life and all its official glory. Yes—in the reflection, I see grey hairs and wrinkles—but I also see a wise woman. Or at least wiser…wise enough to know what I don’t know and confident enough to know it’s okay not to know everything.
And the great news…at age 40—I actually do know some things…Praying a few of these nuggets will bless you!
So in no particular order…
1. You don’t owe everyone an explanation—just say no graciously…”Thanks but no, sorry I—can’t make it, can’t do it, can’t join you this time, can’t buy that…” This one took me a long time to get—but what a relief! I would anguish over how to explain why I couldn’t (or didn’t want) to do something…such a weight lifted when I realized I could just say no, short and sweet!
2. Use sunscreen.
3. Don’t drink Diet Soda…drink the real stuff (I will never give up my Dr. Pepper). I have gone decades drinking the diet stuff (I even believed the lies I told myself that it tastes better). When I decided to ditch all the weird diet chemicals, I didn’t notice a darn change in my weight—go for it! For the record—I know water is better for you…but sometimes you just need to treat yourself to what you love!
4. You are not the Holy Spirit—you can only do so much when it comes to your kids’ faith (and your spouse’s). This has been agonizing for me at times…but let God do what only God can do—give it to Him. You just need to love your people, pray, worry about the planks in your own eyes, and do the next right thing.
5. The Bible is amazing! I was actually embarrassed to be seen reading my bible when I was in my 20’s—I was awkward with it and sure my husband was going to think I was a Jesus Freak. Now he just knows I am (and loves me anyway). If you did not grow up reading the bible or memorizing scripture—please do not feel embarrassed. It is never to late to start! How do you start? Well—I was blessed to join neighbor ladies in a home bible study, and then I joined a group called Community Bible Study (which is located across the county—and I believe internationally). There are also great online studies—check out Proverbs 31 Ministries for groups and studies you might like to join. If you don’t own a small personal bible (I actually only had a giant, gold trimmed one from my 8th grade confirmation until I was 30 years old)—please get one! I personally love the NIV (New International Version) translation.
6. Take a nap—sleep is important!
7. Don’t rush. I have found that when I am in a hurry and feeling rushed, that is when I get feisty with my people. I would get angry with my sweet little babies when I felt like I was running late. Avoid this…How? See #8
8. Stop multi-tasking—I would think I could do just one more thing before jumping in the shower or getting the kids dressed…the next thing I knew, there would be 20 minutes left to get myself clean and brush the hair of three toddlers. Don’t do this to yourself!! You need to focus on one thing at a time—and if you need to leave the house within 2 hours and you have children under the age of 6—just focus on that (no laundry, no email, no making cookies—just shower and get out the door)!
9. RSVP—it just takes a second and is always appreciated!
10. Find a “style icon.” For years I just flopped around—never feeling quite confident about my wardrobe choices. And I am certainly no fashionista—but it helps me to think of my “icon,” and ask, “Would she wear this?” If the answer is no—then maybe I wouldn’t feel great in it either. I do not suggest J-Lo or Brittney as style icons—unless that floats your boat (and you are 23). I love Giada De Laurentiis’s style—plus she is petite like me (I’m 5’2”, so choosing someone who is 5’8” wouldn’t make much sense). Anyway—if you struggle with fashion…find someone (or find a few lovely ladies) to be your style mentor. It helps to think of them when I am feeling incredibly overwhelmed in the middle of the Gap.
11. Shoes—you tend to get what you pay for. Even when it comes to a relatively inexpensive purchase like flip flops…I own a pair of Reef sandals (flip flops) I bought on vacation in San Fransisco (because the shoes I brought on the trip were killing my feet)…10 years later, those darn shoes are still going strong! My teens and I fight for rights to these miraculous shoes—worth every penny.
12. Only buy clothes, shoes, accessories you love…that’s what I ask my girls, “Do you love it?” sometimes followed by, “Do you $50 love it?”
13. You don’t need a bunch of accessories—if you love green and you buy a fantastic pair of green earrings…you will be amazed at all the things green earrings go with! I’m not a quick decision maker (I tend to second guess myself), and so while staring at all my choices in the store, I inevitably start thinking, “Will this go with very much stuff? Maybe I should just buy something more neutral?” No, you will end up with a lot of jewelry you don’t really love—Buy the green earrings!
14. Say you’re sorry—model it for your kids by apologizing to them when you mess up. My mom was so great about coming to us and apologizing—her humble example has made it much easier for me to do the same thing. And say it to your spouse…even if he started it. In the heat of battle, you probably said some things that require forgiveness (or at least thought them!).
15. First impressions are not always correct—so be slow to make judgements.
16. People are struggling more than we know—so love them and make life a little better for everyone in your space. Smile, be patient, listen, give grace…
17. Do not try and convince someone to change their politics on Facebook.
18. Do not spill all the family tea on Facebook.
19. You might be right about a certain issue—but if you are being rude, ugly, self-righteous, or insensitive—you will do more harm than good. We see examples of this everyday…times when we feel embarrassed to be on the “same side,” as another person because they are being such a jerk. But I was also convicted of this when recalling reactions I’ve had in the privacy of my own home…my kids are watching. It is easy for me to mouth off something nasty to the man on tv (Yeah, I am so tough—take that!!)—something I would never say in public. But those harsh words are heard by my kids—and can give them the impression that I am judgmental, rude, and hypocritical. Teenagers have a radar for picking this up. I have tried to be more measured about what I say— remembering I am an Ambassador for Christ, even in the privacy of my home—especially in the privacy of my home.
20. Bring new moms food—what a blessing this has been to me over the years, and I have tried to bless others in this way when I could. Also—bring the food in disposable containers!!
21. Forgiving others can be hard—do it anyway. You may need to pray about this for a long time…remind yourself that you’ve hurt others and have offended God in ways you probably don’t even realize. Extend the same grace He extends to you. Give yourself grace as you work on forgiving.
22. Believe that God is good…things will not always make sense. Accept that you will not understand everything on this side of heaven. But hold onto the truth that God is good and He is for you.
23. Laugh at yourself!
24. Nothing cures self-pity like a dose of thankfulness.
25. Start your day with Jesus. Sometimes I try and run ahead—“I’ve got things to do…I’ll be with you in about an hour, Jesus.” This inevitably leads to me spinning my wheels for the rest of the day and is a huge fail. Jesus Calling is the daily devotional I am currently using—love it!
26. Do the “hard,” things first—I hate making phone calls…Oh how, I will procrastinate on making an appointment. Do that thing first—just get it over with and move on with your day.
27. Lists are a path to mental peace…Seriously, write it down and your mind can stop playing the reminders on a constant loop. I’m old school—give me some paper or a planner and I can write a list like nobody’s business…But maybe you are like my hubby…he puts notes on his phone.
28. Along with lists—your calendar is your BFF. For years I refused to go digital and use the calendar on my computer (which is synced with my phone). I loved my paper calendar and all its colorful scribbly madness. Jason (hubby) convinced me to make the switch—it took a lot of persuasion. It has honestly been a game changer for me—Jason can see what is going on at home (even when he is miles away). In general, he just feels more in the loop. He also adds business trips and other items that I need to be aware of (plus I can see important flight information). I can easily add items on my phone when I am out with the kids making appointments. We have so many activities and appointments between all our kids; I have no idea how I would even fit them all onto a paper planner/calendar anymore!
29. Nothing says I love you like clean undies and toilet paper on the roll (I have learned this wisdom from the FlyLady—she is amazing and you need her encouragement if housekeeping is a struggle).
30. Puppies are harder than babies.
31. Be transparent and real with people—when you allow yourself to be seen as who you truly are, other people feel safe allowing you to see them for who they truly are.
32. Don’t be afraid to be friends with someone who is in a different season of life—you both have much to offer each other!
33. Celebrate the success and joys of your friends, family, and co-workers…jealousy is not pretty and you are better than that! Be sincerely happy for them!
34. Friendships change over time. God puts some people in our lives for just short little bits. Some friends you will have forever—probably just a few. It’s all okay. You didn’t do anything wrong; they didn’t do anything wrong. Make peace with this truth.
35. Mental illness can happen to anyone’s child…you didn’t mess up or mess your kid up. You didn’t cause this, and God doesn’t make mistakes. It is a hard and lonely place. If you are walking that journey, please know my heart is hurting with your momma heart, and I am sending you love and prayers.
36. Strong-willed children. They are hard. But then they are lovely and confident and amazing (when they are not rolling their eyes). Be consistent when they are little—they smell weakness.
**You may also be interested in my 20 Lessons After 20 Years of Motherhood!
37. Be thankful for your health—cherish and protect it! Health can change quickly and when it does—it changes everything…One minute, at age 26, I was eating Thanksgiving dinner and within 2 hours I was in the ER, sicker than I’ve ever been and had surgery within days. My life has never been the same. One day, we found out our family of 6 was going to be a family of 8, not only were we having twins, but that they were mono amniotic and very high risk. They were born by emergency c-section at 26 weeks. To say life changed is an understatement. Health and wellness are true gifts!
38. Live your priorities. What truly matters became crystal clear when our twins were in the NICU…
39. It keeps getting harder to lose weight and takes more self-discipline…Do not give up after 3 days! The next morning, you will regret having the beer and Annie’s Pizza Snacks!
40. When things come to an end (be it a project, friendship/relationship, a move, a job)…end it gracefully. You won’t regret it…graceful closure is a good thing.
Cheers to 40 amazing years!
Love and Blessings,