My first thought of turning 36 this month is my new description. You know, if I ever went missing or committed a crime. Female, white... mid to late thirties.
Mid to late 30s.
Honestly, most days I still feel like I am 21. These numbers really don't hold the weight I thought they would. I still laugh, sing, have adventures and enjoy life.
In honor of the big 36, here are 36 things I have learned over my 36 years of life.. my little life tips...
1. There will never ever be an electronic device capable of giving the pure joy of reading a real paper book.
2. I never thought I would like being a mother, but it's actually pretty awesome.
3. Naps are amazing.
4. Happiness is a choice. And sometimes you really have to fight for it. Like really fight. But it's worth it. Life is too short to be content in sadness.
5. Your definition of love will change throughout the years. I used to think things always had to feel new and exciting... that they would be easy. But it's about learning to give and understanding it will always need an honest effort, open heart, and time. Be with someone you truly enjoy just being around.
6. Blood isn't the only requirement for families and stable bonds. It's not a requirement at all. Some of the most important people in our lives won't be blood family. And some of our blood family will let us down the most.
7. Don't waste your time stressing out over what other people think of you. They have the right to these opinions and it's not your job to change their minds. You know your worth and value as a person.
8. You're never too old to keep dreaming, using your imagination, and telling stories. Magic and pretend isn't just for our child years.
9. Cooking at home is actually pretty awesome. Eating out is great, but creating a meal, especially for someone else is so rewarding. And it's fun to learn new recipes and techniques.
10. You need hobbies and things for yourself. Let them be as simple as playing video games or as complex as building delicate models. If it gives you happiness, go for it. Everyone needs a break from the real world.
11. Be grateful, practice gratitude. Sprinkle more kindness in the world than their is sand on a beach.
12. Having a personal relationship with nature and the universe is life changing. There is a certain comfort in knowing everything is connected and that we were all once stars. Simple reflection sitting on a beach, or watching the moon. It's wonderful.
13. Accumulating memories and experiences are far more important than possessions. When it's our last days on this Earth, we won't be thinking about our $1000 cellphones. We will be thinking about our friends, family, and that last sunset.
14. Spend time in silence. Learn about Meditation. Time alone in your own mind is priceless.
15. Our company affects us. It shifts and molds who we are. And I am not just speaking as an empath, I believe this applies to everyone. Surround yourself with good people who put out good vibes. The others will eat at you and eventually become a burden on your mental health.
16. Let the people you love and care about know that you do... and as often as you can. You really don't know what will happen. Life is so short.
17. When people tell you that you've changed, you're weird, or you're not who you used to be. Take it as a compliment. Even if it wasn't intended that way. We as humans should always be changing. Growing, learning new things, new perspectives, and opinions. Change and growth is a good thing. Be wary of those who aren't able to change, adapt, and grow.
18. Let others have their views and opinions. Remember that as long as their opinion isn't causing harm to another's quality of life, it's really no concern to you. In a time of Trump, this is especially hard for me. But learning to pick and choose your battles is important. Just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t mean either of you are wrong. Contrast brings clarity and compassion.
19. Ask questions and never stop learning. Dare to learn new perspectives.
20. Spend less time on social media. The happiest people I have met over the years don't even have a facebook page. I think social media is an important tool for keeping in touch with old friends. But it also causing a lot of inauthenticity in our lives and can sometimes cause more harm than good. Kill the mindless scrolling.
21. Less really can be more in terms of value in our friendships. Quality over quantity is very important.
22. Most people are good, decent people. In our hardest times on this Earth, it can be hard to see it. Especially for someone who struggles with leaking back to her cynical feelings towards humanity as I do. Sigh... but really, I know this to be true.
23. You will get through that worst day of life. It's different for everyone, and you will know it when it hits you. But also know, it's going to get better.
24. The friends that still want to talk to you when you disappear for weeks, months, and even years at a time. When you forget to call or text. Love them, adore them. Those are your forever people. They are your tribe.
25. Credit and debit can destroy your life. I am not even kidding. Take care of your credit score.
26. Drink water. Lol yeah, I'm serious. And coconut oil is for the skin. Don't eat it.
27. Grow your own plants and even food if possible. Fresh fruits and vegetables are delicious and magically taste better when you're the one who grew them.
28. The hardest part of making big changes in your life is making the decision to do it. Once that happens, the rest seems to fall into place.
29. I am enough. I am. And so are you. The more you love yourself, the easier it is to find the imbalances in your life.
30. I've never regretted taking time to work out or do yoga. The fact that I run from it is pretty silly honestly.
31. Deep conversations about everything and nothing set my soul on fire.
32. Just the simple act of making your bed can make your entire day better. I am not even kidding. Try it.
33. When you stop constantly focusing on the bad things, or the problems. The solutions come.
34. Trust your gut feelings. Your intuition. The vibes you get from people and things. Most times you're probably right.
35. When it comes to coffee, tea, icecream, and sushi... spend the little extra money when you can indulge. The quality matters.
36. Sex is better in your 30s. Trust me.
*Bonus life lesson* We can call this, like the extra candle, one to grow on...
37. There is an saying... "Do what you love, and love what you do." The cynicism inside me always lead me to laugh at this as most people will not make a living doing what they love. And I know what you're thinking, don't you love photography, and yes - I do, it's my world. But what I love about it is the 100% freedom and control with my art. I don't get that much when doing work for clients. And that is ok, I am here to do what I am paid to do when it comes to business. I am happy with my job, but what I am trying to convey here is much deeper. I learned that just because something you love to do isn't bringing you financial gain doesn't mean it doesn't have real value in your life. You can do what you love, and make money in something else. You just need to find balance. You're allowed to have both. The most rewarding things in my life, what I truly love doing is helping people in my online communities for Lung Cancer, and my volunteer work in hospices. I don't make any money doing these things, but the value is truly priceless. And even with my art and photography... my favorite pictures will always be the ones that I took for free.
I hope this list brought some perspective into my adult life, and maybe some hope for yours as well. You don't have to agree with everything I have said here, or anything for that matter. We all have to find our own little place in this world.
Until next time, love and light friends.
Last night I dreamed about fishing at the lake with my dad... the lake off Webster ave in Pelham, NY. I often wonder how it looks now and if I am remembering it right and how much has changed over the years. One of my favorite things to do was see how much the trees grew in photos from the year before.
As the dream went on I started to remember my dad's Lung Cancer....I wonder why he isn't sick and why we are back in NY. Then it hits me....
My grandfather walks up to me, and we are both watching my dad fish.
I said to him, "he looks good, huh?"
He smiled at me...
I then said... "I know I'm sleeping."
His face dropped and everything around us went grey. Just a big empty space. My grandfather and I are the only two people there. I then said...
"It's ok. Thank you for letting me come here."
And he hugged me. He hugged me so tight I felt it and I swear it was real. I woke up feeling content.... and calm. Many times I dreamt about my dad or my grandparents it hits me that I am dreaming, but this is the first time I ever told them I knew.
My new sleepless night routine is listening to the old 1950s Scifi radio show X Minus One. I am obsessed. The story telling is great. A lot of it is predictable, but there are some surprises. I was very surprised at the quailty. Sounds as good as it did when it first aired I imagined.
I think it's also a cool way to connect with my dad as this was one of the shows he listened to as a kid. I find a lot of enjoyment in doing the things he loved. I truly believe that our loved ones live on through us. Doing their hobbies, listening to their music, telling their stories.
This time of year is always very hard for me. My grief is in constant waves. But June will always be the hardest. As memories pop up here on facebook, or people comment old posts (with the purest of intentions)... I have to remind myself that thinking about what I could or could not have done differently.... living in constant regret is only killing my soul slowly. It's not what my father would have wanted for his daughter. It isn't what I want for myself.
I am working on redefining what June means to *me*. It will always be sad... but maybe it doesn't have to be so difficult.
I sent a love and light package to my dear friend back home in Carlisle. Her and I both lost a loved one on the same day and I wanted to help her get through it even though I couldn't be there in person. Such a terrible thing to have in common with someone, but it created an amazing bond.
I talked my best friend into doing my baba Ram Dass's Summer Solstice Meditation Renewal. He has an open mind... but is probably like lol what am I getting myself into!
Finding hope.... looking forward to little things. It's what gets me by.
Time doesn't heal all wounds. Not when it comes to grief and loss of life. Time is simply the space we move through as we use our own trial and error coping systems in an effort to find ways within our lives to move forward. There is no getting over. You do not get over this kind of loss, you cope and learn how to move forward with a life without that person. Please stop trying to fix people who are grieving. Just listen. Sometimes the best way to help someone is to not say anything at all. Not every situation in life calls for advice, wisdom, and accidental opinions.
I continue to struggle with not having you in my life anymore. We're coming up on two years since you've been gone, but lately it feels like day too...not year two. I worry that I am not getting better. Sometimes I fear that I will never get better.
I find myself angry a lot. At myself, at the world. At everyone who can get up in the morning and live their lives. I am so livid that nothing feels the same. Like the colors around me. The greens in the grass, the golden oranges in pinks in a sunset. They don't look the same to me. They look off... like when I didn't set my apature properly. Like I am looking at a world with not enough light.
I am haunted by the things that were not said. Before you died.. the morning you passed you told Robbie there was still so much you wanted to tell me and it kills me that I will never know.
I am not the most loving person in the way of hugs or physical touch. And I wish, as an adult I would have hugged you more. I wish I could have given you more actions than words. And you know what I think about? Holding your hand as you passed and the last time I did that before that day. I think I was 12 or 13... you grabbed my hand to cross the street and I remember thinking oh god what if someone from school sees me. I feel guilty now for thinking that.
I am a mess of guilt and burdens that I know are not exactly mine to bare but it doesn't stop me from feeling them all. Knowing things were not my fault doesn't help me sleep at night.
We are soon entering the 3rd month of 2018. Tavo and I are faced with a life changing decision and I have no idea what to do. We are so very lost and I desperately need your wisdom. I feel like you are the only one who could have lead us in the right direction. Honestly, dad? My life has been a string of choices that haven't always been in my best interest since you passed. I find it so hard to even think about the direction my life should go as to me... my whole entire world has stopped moving.
I guess... here is some good news. I have reached back into therapy. That is where this letter is coming from. I am trying to deal with my PTSD in a constructive way. This letter. I know you will never ever read it, but maybe some day someone will come across it. Maybe it will help them.
I love and miss you. I hope there is more for you. I hope in some way you are still you and you are happy. I love you very much and I think about you every day. I know if I could be half the person you were my kids will be ok.
I will continue to write to you. And I hope that some day these letters won't be so sad.