57 Things I Have Learned In 57 Years

1) If you find yourself in a place where you don’t speak the language, you can accomplish almost anything by pointing and smiling.

2) The written word is a magical thing. Reading can take you places you’d never get to on your own, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

3) I have a voice inside me that guides me better than any other voice. The more I allow myself to be guided by it, the happier I am. The same is likely true for you.

4) That said, sometimes other people have good advice to give. This can be taken on a case-by-case basis. Let no one be your advisor on all things.

5) I can actually sing. It’s only shyness that makes my voice wobble off-key.

6) There is a bigger life lesson in that.

7) Anyone who tries to tell you that they’re the only one who can see how special you are is someone you need to avoid at all costs.

8) Quitting is always an option.

9) If you’re going to quit, it’s good to have some way of supporting yourself lined up. It doesn’t have to be your next big thing, but you do need to keep body and soul together.

10) But sometimes you need to take that step into the unknown before your next step becomes apparent.

11) Your judgments of others have ways of turning around and making a fool of you. Take this with as much grace as you can and know that it means you’re learning. Eventually, you will learn not to judge.

12) Hand lotion does not make a suitable conditioner, no matter how desperate you are for it to work.

13) Conditioner, on the other hand, makes a dandy shaving cream and keeps one more container from cluttering up your bathtub.

14) Forgiveness is not a do-it-once-and-you’re-done thing. It’s a choice you have to make each time you interact with the one who’s done you wrong (even if the interaction is only in your imagining or remembering). This makes it tiresome while also affording you endless opportunities to try again.

15) If you can sleep, you can heal. Physically, emotionally, spiritually.

16) Never underestimate the restorative power of a good belly laugh.

17) It’s a good idea to to something that scares you a little, every day. Fear creeps in, little by little and makes your world small. Don’t let this happen.

18) It’s equally important to have some fun every day.

19) Huge, impossible tasks are accomplished in small manageable bits. I learned this by starting a retirement fund by rolling loose change and depositing it in a special account. Little bits of nothing added up to something and inspired me to do more. Now I look for other impossible tasks to make a tiny start on.

20) The most important things you will do today will not be on your To Do list.

21) To Do lists are still a good way to remember things and feel better about yourself.

22) A sandwich is a suitable (and easy!) dinner option.

23) A dinner without candlelight is an opportunity missed.

24) It’s not just snowflakes that are entirely unique. Every animal, every flower, every leaf looks a little different if you take the time to study them. Nature is abundant and generous. There is great comfort in that thought.

25) When the weather forecast is variable, you’re going to be dressed wrong at some point in the day. Embrace this. Choose the unsuitable outfit that makes your heart sing.

26) Disagreeing with your doctor, your priest and your boss is a rite of passage and perfectly OK. It’s probably best to listen to your plumber, though.

27) Speaking of experts, the decorators who tell you that painted floors are a high-maintenance nightmare are wrong.

28) If you can get over worrying about what other people will think of you (chances are, they’re not), you’ll have a lot more fun in life.

29) Grief, like forgiveness, is an ongoing process. You never get over it. You learn to incorporate it into your life.

30) It is perfectly possible to have your biggest dreams come to nothing and still have a happy life.

31) If you haven’t bothered to practise or study or prepare for something you were supposed to practise or study or prepare for don’t kid yourself that they won’t notice. They always notice. Do the work.

32) Procrastination feels awful. Do what you need to do and then give yourself a treat.

33) If you find yourself constantly procrastinating on a certain task, you need to wonder why. Maybe it’s time to remove that activity from your life.

34) You cannot make yourself love a job, course or role no matter how hard you try or how much you want to. You have to allow yourself to gravitate to the situations that are right for you.

35) Books are your friends. Surround yourself with them.

36) Everyone should have a dog or cat at least once in their life. Opening your home to another species opens your heart.

37) Regret over chances not taken is far more painful than regret over mistakes you have made. I call this the ‘Kiss That Boy’ rule.

38) It is not actually possible to die of embarrassment. So get out there and do the thing that you think will be embarrassing.

39) Spring always comes.

40) Summer is never long enough.

41) Experts are just amateurs who have been give a little extra training. Question their authority.

42) There is no point to any of this. So you might as well enjoy it.

43) A cup of tea will make even the worst of days better.

44) “Just a “trim” means something entirely different to a hairdresser than it does  to customers. I have never worked out what phrase hairdressers actually use to mean “just a trim”.

45) Admitting that you’ve given up and taken to cutting your own hair gets you looked at funny, but that’s OK (see 38).

46) Even though we’re all meant to be creative, many people fear creativity. I don’t know why this is.

47) If you’re trying to make a decision and you don’t know what to do, it’s not time to decide yet. When it’s time to decide, you’ll know what to do.

48) There are no monsters under the bed.

49) Telling your husband to be careful when he’s about to do something alarming is not actually helpful. Asking what the hell is wrong with him when things go badly is unkind.

50) None of us needs to earn our place on this earth.

51) If you are at a dinner party and don’t know which fork to use, take a breath and watch what others are doing. There is a bigger life lesson in this.

52) It’s called depression, not being lazy. And there is no shame in having it.

53) A library card will take you more places than your passport ever could. Make ample use of it.

54) Do not lend out your books. Either give them away or keep them close. Lending them out makes everything weird as you either hound your friends to giver them back or bitterly resent them for not returning them.

55) If you have a nice sweater, good stationery or a bottle of champagne, wear it out, use it up or drink it, lest the moths eat it, mildew ruin it or time dull its sparkle. Nice things are a celebration in themselves. Don’t save them for a special occasion that may never come.

56) There is no part of the human body that won’t eventually sag or wrinkle.

57) Our time on this earth is precious and short. Live each day to the full, whatever that means to you.

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10 Responses to 57 Things I Have Learned In 57 Years

  1. Heidi Ruttinger says:

    So lovely, Barb! And you are the cutest little cutie in all those pics! Happy 57th!

  2. Anu says:

    Oh so well said, Barb! Hope your 58th year is full of small and large delights.
    Xx a

  3. Pam says:

    3, 10 ,36

    What a fantastic list of the ways to live the best you can. Thanks, Barb


  4. Mindy Gough says:

    Love this. Happy birthday, Barb.

  5. Kim says:

    Wonderful list and yummy food for thought! Cheers to 57 years xo

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