Last week, I turned 30 years old. I love birthdays, but this one had me a bit emotional. I am not sure why except it had been a really tough few months and 30 looks nothing like I thought it would at 20. Crazy how fast a decade goes by and all of a sudden you are staring down a new decade wondering where the time went. It seems like yesterday I was celebrating 20 and looking forward to all my twenties would bring. In many ways, I am actually looking forward to my 30′s and glad to say goodbye to the past decade. So as I say goodbye, I came up with 30 things as I reflect over the past and dream for the future.
1. Time goes by so fast. I spent a long weekend with one of my best friends and we were talking about how it had been 5 years since we met. It didn’t seem possible and yet, from the time we met on a tiny tropical island to that long weekend, we had both gotten married, had babies, and settled down in towns neither of us ever intended on leaving.
2. Travel every chance you get. With a 15 month old, a full-time job and non-profit, I just don’t have the time these days to travel. I miss it most days and I am so thankful I took the chances I had when I had them. I know I will travel again, but for now, the memories I have of my trips are constant sources of lessons and reminders to take every opportunity in front of you.
3. Life looks different. Every year, every decision, every step brought me to the place I am at today. It looks incredibly different from I thought it would even a year ago, but each day I am learning the sweet joy of embracing life with all its ups and downs.
4. The older you get, the more important friends are. I have always struggled with friendships. In your early twenties, it’s just hard to make friends. But now on the brink of 30, I have a small group of women who I am growing closer to each month and who are quickly becoming the friends I have always wanted. They are the people I run to when life is tough and when I want to celebrate and together we are navigating lives of jobs and babies and marriages.
5. Laugh. A lot. They say laughter is the best medicine and I can assure you, it has gotten me through some dark days.
6. Learn how to say no. This is a lesson I am learning daily. As I head into my 30s, it is a lesson I want to master. I cannot do it all, be all, and conquer all. And that is 100% OK.
7. Being a mom is awesome. and exhausting. and emotional. and really really hard. I wouldn’t trade H for the world and he has brought more joy and love into my life than I ever thought possible. But he has also forced me to deal with some skeletons in my closet and admit I need help. I can’t do it all. And sometimes (or all the time), the house is just messy.
10. Wait for the right someone. I dated a few guys in my 20′s I thought I might marry. Looking back, I am so glad I didn’t.
11. Even with the right someone, marriage is hard. And in less than 3 years, we have changed jobs, had a baby, and started a non-profit. It’s been a lot and some days are really hard. But even on the hard days, I am thankful to be married to my best friend and thankful we are on this journey together.
12. You do you. This is something I think is especially important to me since becoming a mom. We spend too much time judging or proclaiming the right way to do things. It’s not worth it. Just be the best you can be at what God has called you to do and cheer on those around you as they do the same.
13. Enjoy college. Seriously, some days I wish I could go back to the time when the biggest issue was finishing my term paper or studying for a final exam. It’s easy to wish away each stage of life, but wherever you are, enjoy it. It will go by too quick and the next stage will bring more responsibility and more demands with it.
14. Be generous. There is no greater joy in my life than the chance to be generous. Whether it’s with your time, talent, or treasure, or even a kind word, be generous with those around you.
15. Take risks. Jump out of planes (literally and figuratively). Follow your passions. Pursue your dreams. Someone out there needs the dream you have in your heart.
16. Do hard things. Things that test you. The moment I had H after a drug-free labor, I felt like I could take on the world. It was hard, but it has given me a toughness I didn’t have before. Perhaps your hard thing is having a tough conversation or making a career move or ending a relationship. Whatever it is, do the hard thing. The rewards are worth it.
17. Say your sorry. Ask for forgiveness. The relationships restored are worth it.
18. Try new foods. I have made it a rule I will always try something offered to me. It has led me to try some interesting things and given me lots of stories to tell. But it has also opened my world and expanded my horizons.
19. Take care of yourself. I am learning this lesson the hard way right now. My body finally said enough and so I am slowly learning how to nourish and rebuild a healthy me.
20. Collect experiences. Stuff is nice, but experiences are better. Collect experiences-even if that’s just trying a new place for dinner.
21. Turn off the TV. It’s hardly ever on at our house and in our next house, it won’t even be in the main room. It forces us to get down on the floor and read a book or talk about our day. It has brought us closer as a family and I don’t feel like I am missing a thing.
22. Unplug. (see above) We live in a world where screens are a constant in many of our lives. Learn how to turn it off, put it down, and live without it. It’s not easy and I am by no means a master. I fail at this almost daily, but I am trying to reduce my dependence on my phone and on all things media related.
23. Call your parents. and your grandparents. I talk to my mom almost daily and I have made it a point to call my grandparents every few weeks. As I get older, those relationships become more cherished and valuable to me. After my husband lost both his grandmas in a year, I realized life is short and you just never know when this conversation could be your last.
24. Celebrate life. I wanted to have a big birthday party this year. No matter its was week before Christmas and I knew there are a million other parties going on. I threw H a big 1st birthday party. And almost daily I am clapping loudly and celebrating the tiny accomplishments like throwing the trash in the trashcan. Also, celebrate yourself if you are still reading this post!
25. Find a higher purpose in life. For me, it’s Jesus. He is the reason I live and breathe. And that keeps me going on the really hard and really tough days.
26. Befriend those around you. No matter how different they may be. Love them like Jesus says and include them in your circle. It will lead you down some crazy paths like delivering a Christmas tree to an ex-bouncer who wants to go to church with you because he sees something in your Jesus. And it will enrich your life in ways you never knew possible.
27. Wear your style. Don’t like style wear you. Disposable clothing is a trend. It’s the cheap outfit you buy for one event and never wear again either because it’s too trendy or poor quality. But the trend is hurting millions of workers around the world. I will admit its been hard for me at times to shift to buying ethically, but I have tried to stick to items I know will last season after season and when I can, purchase from fair trade and ethical companies.
28. Work hard. Because even if you don’t get the promotion or the recognition, you will feel accomplished and proud of yourself.
29. Start traditions wherever you are. As I have gotten married and now become a mom, traditions are becoming more important to me. They things I remember so fondly from my childhood and the things I want my own children to remember. Don’t get caught up in having a Pinterest perfect house or holiday and create your own quirky traditions.
30. Love out loud. No matter what you do, let it be done in love. Kindness wins every time.