My Birthday "List"
It's June, and for our family that means several things. It's one of the busiest months of the year, with two birthdays (Anya and me), Father's day, and the end of the school year. It's transition time, yet again, from a busy scheduled school day routine to the more laid back, easy morning and lazy evening groove of summer. Despite its craziness, I actually love June, partially because I love birthdays (especially my own), and because of the slow slide into less structure and more downtime to enjoy the sunshine and warm days.
This year I turn 45. That's a big one for me, I think 40 was like last year, but alas, it must have been 5 years ago. Where have my 45 years gone? What have I done? How have I spent my time? These are BIG questions I'm sure many of us ask ourselves around our birthdays, or maybe you are the type of person that tries to scoot by the day without much hubbub and very little focus on your age. Either way, it's a good idea to sit with these questions sometimes to drive yourself into self-reflection and bring about awareness of opportunities yet to be conquered.
For some reading this, you'll think 45 is young, for others, 45 might sound old, but I can assure you I don't feel old, however, nor do I feel young anymore. My body is aging, despite my constant beratement at it doing so. I have aches and pains and weird health issues pop up out of nowhere, I try to take it all in stride and not fuss too much about the aging process. I have over the years, like most people, acquired knowledge about life through experiences, travel, family, work, and friendships. I wanted to share with you all some of my, dare I say "philosophies", that I try to live by. These have served me well in times of stress, heartache, joy, and frustration. Some are health and fitness related, and others are just simple things that make life easier to handle.
Let me indulge myself (since it's my birthday) and share tidbits of lessons learned though my 45 trips around the sun. These are in no particular order.
1. Don't take yourself too seriously-
Be silly, especially in front of your kids. If you feel like a buffoon, that's ok. You will laugh and smile about that time later on. Life's too short to be serious, have fun, don't care what others may think, it's very freeing to just be ridiculous sometimes.
2. Tell those you love, that you love them- ALL THE TIME!-
Life is unpredictable, you never know what may happen and the last thing you want would be to leave something on a sour note and then never get to say, "I'm sorry- I meant to say I love you."
On a personal note, we have always tried to make everyday for Elin her "best day ever" because we never know what may happen. A couple years ago I was reflecting on this and thought, "huh, why don't I try to do this for everyone I love, including myself?" You just never know, so say it loud and proud to those you care about as much as possible.
3. Move everyday-
Motion is lotion, take a walk, stretch, take a class, lift weights, go for a swim, hike, bike, paddle- JUST MOVE!!!
4. Call your mom/dad just to say hi-
They are thinking about you all the time. Don't just call when you need something, call just because you are thinking about them too. It makes their day!
5. Forgive, and actually let go of it-
This is a tough one for most of us. No one likes to say "I told you so" more than me, especially when you live with someone who "may" think he knows everything (cough cough). It does no good to hold onto a grudge or lord a mistake over someone when they screw up. Just let it go and pat yourself on the back later.
6. Kiss your kids when they are sleeping-
cuz- sweetest creatures ever when asleep. 'nuff said.
7. Do something that scares you often- challenge yourself-
Fun fact- I'm TERRIFIED of horses (or at least I used to be). Then I decided to ride them and try to master that fear. I'm not gonna lie, every time I get on a horse I'm nervous and shaky, then I settle in and relax (a little). It's taken years for me to feel confident enough to get to this level of comfortable discomfort. Now we own a horse and I love him but he still makes me nervous.
As adults we find our comfort zone and ride the wave for years. I encourage you to try something new, you will learn so much about yourself when you do it. As kids we are constantly trying new things, but as adults we lose that drive to learn through exploring and doing things that make us feel nervous or challenge our belief in ourselves.
8. Worrying doesn't solve anything-
Staying in a state of paralysis from fretting is not going to help anyone or solve the problem. Instead, spend that time looking for a solution or just forget about it.
We are often asked, "how do you sleep at night knowing Elin might be having seizures in her bed?" The answer is fairly straightforward, if we didn't sleep, would that solve the problem, or just create more problems (ie zombie parents). We trust that she will be fine, we can't make any other choice and still sleep, worrying about her is not going to help anything. (reference #2-for how we feel ok making this choice)
9. Look people in the eyes and actually listen to what they are saying-
This may seem silly, but seriously, it's a problem. I don't know how many times I see people check their phone or watch when someone is talking to them. (I'm also guilty of this so I'm not just pointing fingers- I'm working on it) Just think about how you feel when you are in a conversation with someone and they check their phone- It's like a little stab of rejection- right? You are right in front of them, but something else may be more important than you.
So please, just put it upside down and don't look at it when someone is talking to you. Be an active listener and engage with them. Be present and you will feel better and be less distracted yourself.
10. Resiliency is built over time, it's not innate-
I hate to break it to you, but there are no superheroes. Resiliency is baked in over time and the ingredients are stress, turmoil, frustration, and consistency. Robust humans are manufactured by stressing their systems, adapting to the stress, and recovering from it, resulting in a more resilient system. This can come in many forms- emotional resilience, mental resilience, physical resilience, and spiritual resilience.
Building emotional resilience is key to being more confident, empathetic and emotionally available when things get tough. Unfortunately, stress is usually the best way to build this skill, but not all stress is "bad" stress, and even "bad" stress can be considered helpful if you build resilience from it.
Don't shy away from facing stressors that can build resilience- I guarantee it's a skill you will be happy to have onboard for future events.
11. Build muscle-
You are WAY stronger than you think you are, you can lift heavier weights. Building muscle is the easiest way to help you control your weight, regulate your hormones, and not get hurt. There is no downside to being strong- EVER!
12. Moderation is key-
My best nutrition advice is to follow the 80/20 rule. If 80% of the food you eat is unprocessed, whole foods, 20% can be crap and you'll still be ok. Preferably not total crap, but you get the idea. Fill your meals with whole foods, sprinkle in the junk. Total abstinence from food groups, or all or nothing diets, don't work long term. Use moderation with food and alcohol and you will be able to stay healthy. You know if the pendulum is swinging in the wrong direction, correct course and moderate your behaviors to suit your goals.
13. Give yourself (and others) grace-
No one is perfect, not even you! We all have a little voice in our head and for many of us, it isn't saying very nice things to us much of the time. Recognizing when your own inner monologue is being critical and attempting to quiet it or re-frame your thought patterns into a more positive direction is empowering and necessary for your self-esteem. In this same vein, extending grace to others will make you (and them) feel better. Be kind.
14. Maintain social bonds-
Make adult friends. Keep social ties strong to past friends and reach out to meet new people no matter how old you are. Friendships and social connection is a key player in mental and physical well being. My favorite part of moving to Gig Harbor has been the new female friendships I have cultivated. For our family in particular, it truly "takes a village" sometimes to keep things running smoothly and we value and cherish all our village members!
I could keep going...... but these are the main pieces of advice I can offer that have made the biggest impact on my life thus far. If you read this, thank you for indulging me and Happy Birthday to me! :)