It’s finally here. One morning this week, I will roll over in bed, turn off my alarm, and greet an age I used to think was very, very old when I was very, very young. I like birthdays. I really do. When I see all those candles on my cake, I don’t begin experiencing heart palpitations, a dry mouth, and a sudden urge to call my doctor and order every test imaginable for a woman my age. I’d rather not reflect on the wrinkles that are slowly turning my face into a Fruit Roll-Up, the translucent skin that unwittingly allows anyone without x-ray vision a complete 360-degree view of my veins, and the gray hairs that are populating my scalp faster than two mice trying to keep warm for the winter—but instead, on all the wisdom I have acquired over the years.
I like to look at this chapter in my life not as Act II or Act III, but instead, as a brief intermission when I stop, catch my breath, and order a cocktail in the lobby. In my opinion, with every birthday comes the opportunity to ponder what is good about my life, what is not so good, and what lessons I can pass onto others. So with that said, I’ve listed the “Ten Tidbits of Advice for All You Young Whipper Snappers”:
- Read. Reading is a great opportunity to learn a lot of really big words to use at the next office holiday party. Plus, it makes you wiser about a lot of things—like life, love, and how to get red wine out of your carpet.
- Smile and be nice.Any day you are above ground is a good day. Open the door for someone and don’t do the “grit your teeth” smile that looks like you just stepped on a rusty nail. Make someone’s day and send your smile on a one-way trip from your soul to your eyes.
- Lower your expectations.Learn that you will never, ever open the plastic Christmas tub and find your lights miraculously untangled. The same goes for thinking your quirky Aunt Sally is going to stop saying, “My, my, how you’ve grown!” every time she sees you (even though you are now thirty years old).
- Stop being so judgmental. It really is okay if everyone doesn’t think the same way, buy the same lettuce, or listen to the same music as you. Life would be boring if we all acted alike. Embrace differences because if you don’t, I’m going to drive to your house and tap dance on your front porch until all your neighbors come out. Trust me, it won’t be pretty, especially after I yell that I’m your long-lost cousin and I play the banjo too.
- Listen.Learning to be a good listener is one of the hardest challenges in life. Record a conversation with a friend and listen how many times you interrupt. Then really try to change how you converse with others. Listen more than you talk. Ask open-ended questions. And whenever you want to do all the talking, chat it up with a plant.
- Network. Life is all about who you know and who you don’t. Exchange cards, make a lunch date, and turn it into an opportunity to brainstorm ideas. Seek advice from others because you will never know it all, and if you think you do, someone might call you a “know-it-all,” and that is never a good thing.
- Slow down. Remember when you were a kid and you used to play freeze tag? Right now, freeze! Look around. Enjoy the moment. And then remember that one time, very long ago, you could actually balance on one leg. That’s why you need to slow down. Life goes by in the blink of an eye.
- Stop worrying about what you can’t control. If it hasn’t happened, it hasn’t happened. Life is a series of one scary moment after the other. Change your way of thinking and face your fears. It really helps if you scream, “Come and get me, life, I’m ready!” every time you drive alone in your car.
- Stand up for someone. Somewhere out there, someone is battling something much bigger than themselves. Put on your cape and go rescue them. Super heroes are very cool, even though nine out of ten choose to wear tights.
- Laugh. You knew I was going to say it, but it’s true. Laughter lowers blood pressure, relieves stress, and reminds you of how weak your bladder muscles really are. I highly recommend it. Clowns are some of the happiest people I know. As Elbert Hubbard once said, “Don’t take life too seriously. You’ll never get out alive.” He really meant it. He’s dead.
Now go out and live your life. In the meantime, I’ll be busy stretching my legs, sipping my cocktail, and doing a little people watching. I just love intermissions because it means that very soon, the curtain will go up on the next act. I can’t wait.
By Vicky DeCoster, All Rights Reserved