On her birthday last week, a former SJS co-worker posted this status update: “At the tender young age of 45, I find myself entirely held together by (in no particular order) faith, hope, love, ibuprofen, bad habits, and freckles.”
I love it!
As I turn 51, there are many things that hold me together: the grace of others, lessons learned and values hammered out one mistake at a time. Herewith, what I’ve figured out the hard way:
• Let life surprise you.
• If you can’t bake, buy the darn cupcakes. Nobody will care.
• God doesn’t care what church you go to. Really.
• Don’t drink wine and cut your bangs.
• Find something to laugh at every day and you’ll live longer. Learn to laugh at yourself and you might live forever.
• A mixture of chocolate and peanut butter will cure anything.
• It’s not weird if your best friend has four legs. I promise.
• Recycle. It’s easy, and it matters.
• Cherish your wonderful body… because in 20 years, you will give anything for the body you have today.
• Want to give yourself a present? Forgive those who have hurt, embarrassed or patronized you. Take a deep breath and let it go.
• Forget the old adage that after 40 a woman must choose between her body or her face. You can have both, if you’ve got plenty of money and unlimited time. So, yes, I’m lying.
• If someone you love says you drink too much, you probably drink too much.
• You can live without a dishwasher more easily than you think you can.
• When you’re over 40, candlelight covers a multitude of sins. Just don’t use it to shave your legs.
• Whether your goal is to love, decorate, diet or learn, give it all you’ve got.
• If friends are coming by and your house is a mess, throw everything in the bathtub and pull the curtain. If they peek, they deserve the shock.
• Life is not a contest. The only person you need to impress is yourself.
• Very few people can tell the difference between costume jewelry and the real shebang.
• If it comes down to sending flowers or going to the funeral, go to the funeral.
• Don’t under-estimate the power of exercise; it can change your life.
• People like to be helpful, so let them.
• Nobody will look after your money like you do.
• Swallowing your pride costs nothing and has no calories, so practice doing it.
• If your friend is a nice person but is rude to waitresses, your friend is not a nice person. (Same goes for tailgating, littering and texting during movies.)
• The days mean more when you have a purpose.
• Oatmeal with coconut milk may be the most delicious thing you ever put in your mouth.
• Karma is real.
• An hour or two of “Nick at Nite” and hot chicken broth will cure most insomnia. Plan B: A pint of Ben & Jerry’s.
• King-sized beds are over-rated.
• Everyone has a boss. Everyone.
• Alec Baldwin is living proof that money can’t buy class. (The guy’s hilarious… and mean.)
• Stop squinting and buy the bifocals.
• Most people will do the right thing, given half a chance.
• Try cumin. It tastes good and opens your sinuses.
• Real life, with its confusion, amazement, joy and disappointment, is way more interesting than a computer screen. Or so I’m told.
Julie R. Smith, who’s learning as she goes, can be reached at email@example.com.