27 life learnings (and some carrot cake)


This post originally appeared on Holstee's online magazine, Mindful Matter.


Around the holidays, everyone starts thinking about all the things they want to do to improve themselves in the new year. Some people deem these self-evaluations as their resolutions, their decided course of action, the mantra by which to live out, at the very least, the next 365 days.

This year, I had a different thought. A revelation, if I may, in connection to our concluding issue of the first year of Mindful Matter that correlates quite well with another upcoming occasion: tomorrow, the day after this issue is posted, is my birthday. I will be twenty-eight years old.

Birthdays tend to bring out a similar reaction of resolving and goal-making in many people. After all, it’s basically your very own New Year. You are another year in, you have seen things, you have had blissful highs and dismal lows. You are rewarded (or consoled?) with cake and given a chance to think it over: Do you feel older? Would you have done anything differently? And what about the year ahead, this next one you’ve been given: what will you do with it?

These are good questions. Important questions, really, as I’m a firm believer in having vague plans. By that I mean: know what you want, but go with the flow. If you expect things to go your way just because you believe they should (think, “But I had aplan!” she cried), you will find yourself virtually stranded and, probably pretty often, pissed off.

And while I approach being twenty-eight fully hopeful, with a grateful heart and what I believe to be an air of ladylike grace, instead of simply deciding what the next year should look like, I would instead like to begin by treasuring what I have learned in past twelve months of being twenty-seven.

Here is what I think:

1. When things go wrong, you can blame other people or you can do something about it.

2. In October, I had my second anniversary with my husband, Colin. I’m positive that our marriage on the whole has a lot to teach us still, but every day I’m reminded that love is a choice: choose it.

3. Dance it out. If the handyman is three hours late or your computer crashes right after you had (but forgot to save) your latest breakthrough, dance. it. out.

4. Honesty is the kindest thing you can offer anyone.

5. Investing in your food is investing in yourself, so eat well.

6. If you’re having a bad hair day (present), remember this: “You would know exactly how bright and beautiful you are if you saw yourself in the moments where you are truly yourself.” Via A Cup Of Jo.

7. Being cool is not even sort of important. If someone tries to make you feel bad or stupid or less than awesome because your interests or talents or looks don't measure up to their definition of "coolness," don't apologize. You are enough.

8. It's not going to get easier, so don't wait for that. Look for ways to learn instead of seeking the mythical painless escape.

9. If it scares you, do it.

10. Even though I already knew this one, these (including those not pictured) are some seriously wonderful people. Via Fabian Pfortmüller on Instagram.

11. Have a plan you're willing to divert from. (See above.)

12. If it’s funny, laugh. Via Vincent Lai on Instagram.

13. If you keep meaning to visit someone, call them up, tell them you love them, don’t wait. There will never be a good time, plane tickets will never be cheap enough and life is short.

14. Don’t give up on something before you try. Fail first. Fail again. Fail until you’ve tried everything.

15. Lose yourself in nature as often as possible.

16. Writing doesn’t come easy to anyone.

17. In fact, creating of any kind doesn’t come easy to anyone. There will be moments and waves but most of the time, it will be a struggle. You will get distracted, you will overeat, and at the very worst points, you will even cry. Just keep making. It all leads somewhere.

18. I choose wholeness over happiness.

19. What the hell is water? This is.

20. Read a lot. (So far, I’ve read 30 books this year, some favorites among them being Wild by Cheryl Strayed, This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz, Thrive by Arianna Huffington and The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit.)

21. Treasure small goodness. Find it everywhere.

22. We will all have those days. The unbearable ones, the blinding panics, the boredoms, the stresses, the falling outs, the darkest moments we have ever endured. And even though those days may outnumber the others, the blissful, the wildly sunny, the carefree, live through it. Learn from it. Build pockets of stillness, tuck within them, think it over, tell about it.

23. Give what you can.

24. Forgive. Even when it’s hard.

25. Every now and then, look up.

26. Be a person.

27. Life is short. Life is short. Life is short.

Psst: Looking for that carrot cake recipe? Heard that: it's right here.