Today is my 40th birthday or as someone suggested, I’ve achieved the 40th level in my life, which sounds infinitely cooler.
These are some of the big ands small life lessons I’ve learned in my 40 years alive on this planet. Well, 41. One to grow on.
40 Life Lessons I’ve Learned in 40 Years
1. Most food tastes best when it’s fresh and in season. I have not found an exception to this, although I will eat avocados all year round. Store bought tomatoes will disappoint you every single time.
2. Movement is a powerful healer. Whether yoga or swimming or dancing in your kitchen or walking around the block, movement has the power to heal.
3. Busy-ness is not holiness. Being busy all of the time doesn’t make me superior. It makes me busy. Unavailable. Lonely. Busy-ness is a drug.
4. You can change your story anytime you want to. You carry within you lots of stories. Some of them are true. Many of them were once true and no longer are true but you still carry them with you and consider them true. Some of them are not true at all, but you believe them to be true. You have the power to rewrite your stories to reflect who you really are.
5. There is almost nothing as satisfying as a great poop.
6. Babies don’t need fancy toys or lots of clothes. They will destroy both and cause you more stress than you need. Babies also don’t need all of the stuff — changing tables, mobiles, rockers, bouncy swings, walkers, play stations with the seat they can walk around in. Put your kid on the floor. Let them roll and play and explore.
7. A healthy pelvic floor is a big deal. We need to talk about this more. This yoga practice from my pelvic floor to yours, is a good place to start.
8. A little kindness goes a long way.
9. I don’t have to be in charge of everything. I might want to be in charge of everything, but I don’t have to be. This is a lesson I am still learning and will likely still be learning until the day I die.
10. Finding people you can laugh with is essential.
11. Meditation won’t solve all of your problems. We’re told that meditation will help you do all kinds of things ranging from keeping your cool around your kids to helping you lose weight. The former is a nice pipe dream; the latter is harmful bullshit.
Regardless, you should still sit in meditation every day. Even if you just sit with your eyes closed for 60 seconds. Everyone needs to learn how to breathe and make space for themselves when they need it.
12. Magic is real.
13. Never ask a woman if she is pregnant.
14. Worrying about what other people think of you is a colossal waste of time. Sing loudly in the car with the windows down. Dance to the songs that you hear in the grocery store. Wear whatever clothes you want.
15. You are never too old to jump in puddles or dye your hair silly colors.
16. Befriend your elders. Learn their stories. This is how we create living history, connecting past, present, and future. I would give almost anything to spend a few more days with my Auntie Milly and listen to her stories again. I’ve already forgotten too many of them.
17. Never tell a mom she looks tired. Believe me when I say, she already knows.
18. Choose partners who prioritize your pleasure.
19. Spend the money on the expensive mattress. It is worth every penny. Ditto for nice sheets, sunglasses, and knives.
20. Climbing trees is therapeutic. So is walking in the woods.
21. Having close girlfriends is a gift.
22. Emotions are not a design flaw. Ignoring them, shutting them down, or mocking them, only causes harm. Teaching kids and adults that our emotions are normal and healthy is a valuable lesson.
23. Loving my body is a necessity. I lost too many years to self-loathing — hating my body, specifically. I am unwilling to continue to hate my body at the expense of my mental health or my basic joy. And I am unwilling to pass this tendency on to my children. They deserve to love themselves entirely, without reservation or exception.
24. Toxic positivity is just privilege in different clothes. Some phrases to avoid: “everything happens for a reason,” “the universe will provide,” “god/the universe never gives me more than I can handle,”
25. Protecting this planet is a responsibility we all have and we all should take more seriously.
26. Rest is not laziness. Rest is necessary.
27. There is no wrong way to dance.
28. It costs me more to be silent than it does to speak up.
29. It’s ok to be wrong. It’s ok to make mistakes. The key to being wrong and making mistakes is whether or not you’re willing to learn and grow.
30. Saying I’m sorry is a necessary skill. The key to saying I’m sorry is actually meaning it.
31. Buy clothes that actually fit.
32. Small steps and simple actions often yield bigger, more powerful results in the long run.
33. Asking for help is a survival skill.
34. Science is real. You can’t love and light away illness or injury.
35. My children are my greatest teachers. I am not always the greatest mom, but I try every single day to learn from my mistakes, to apologize when I screw up, to love them fiercely, and give them hugs freely.
36. I am incapable of being fake. I distrust people who do not tell the full truth or intentionally hide certain details to make a story sound more interesting or to make themselves sound more cool.
37. Trust, clear communication, honesty, and phenomenal orgasms are the keys to a healthy relationship.
38. I will never regret staying in bed with my kids for as long as they need to fall asleep.
39. Racism is real. Misogyny is real. Homophobia is real. Anti-Semitism is real. It is the responsibility of those who do not experience oppression in those forms to work hard to dismantle it.
40. Daily dental hygiene is crucial.
41. Love is the most powerful force in the universe