44 Thoughts On My 44th!

Today is my 44th Birthday! I love the number 44. Divisible by two and 11! Hooray! I’ve loved the lists made by Kevin Kelly on his birthdays and set out to make my own. Mine is nowhere near as profound as Kevin’s but it’s mine, and I think that counts for something, right?. These are 44 pieces of wisdom/lessons/tidbits of life that stood out to me as I was drinking coffee yesterday morning and I finished them off today. 

Every day is a gift. Every year is a gift. Most of the things on my little list are things I’ve learned from people who are much wiser than I am. One or two are unique to me and my own way of looking at things.  I wish I had more time to think through these, but if I were going to write 45 things, the 45th would be “done is better than perfect.” So here they are, 44 pieces of imperfect wisdom. They’re my gift to you on my birthday! If you want a better list, check out Kevin’s HERE

  1. I’ll go weird right out of the gate! This is my birthday list and so I’m feeling free to go wherever I want to go for it! This is my #1. Ready? There is a ball of pure love and light inside everyone. It doesn’t ever dim or go away, no matter what the person says or does or is done to them. I call this light the imago dei but there are lots of names for it.  If you look for it, you can see it in absolutely everyone and if you find a way to connect with it, you can love absolutely everyone. Everyone. Without a single exception. 
  1. Sometimes life will hand you a problem with two possible solutions, both bad. That’s when it’s time ask “what’s the third way?” 
  1. Sometimes the juice is not worth the squeeze and the sooner you figure that out, the sooner you can stop squeezin’. 
  1. If something is important to you, you’ll make time for it. “I don’t have time” is a lie/excuse. Sometimes people who say that are lying to themselves but they’re still lying. There’s time for anything and everything you truly care about. 
  1. Nobody comes into your life by accident, whether they’re there for a day, a year, or a decade. Sometimes you think they’re gone forever and then they come back around in the most unexpected way. 
  1. The best way to heat up leftover pizza is in a pan on the stove over medium-high heat. The crust crisps up. 
  1. When it comes to money and happiness, there is a floor and a ceiling, and it’s different for everyone. If you think more money alone will make you happier, give it a try and then come report back. 
  1. Related: you will not be twice as happy in a house that is twice as big (or twice as expensive.) 
  1. There are false lines drawn around almost every category, discipline, diagnosis, or theory you can think of. If you learn to ignore the boundaries (at least some of the time), you can make new discoveries, break out of boxes, find unexpected joy and peace, and think in new ways. Everything is connected to everything else. 
  1. If you ask people what they would do if they had more time, they often say read. 
  1.  Una cosa es lo que piensa el burro y otra el que lo monta. // The donkey thinks one thing, but the rider thinks something else. 
  1. Often (but not always) the more success/fame someone has, the deeper their insecurity and inner disarray. So many hyper-successful and capable people are running around with deep feelings of unworthiness while floppy, incompetent people are running around with level 10 confidence. Weird, but true. 
  1. Time is more important than money. You can’t get time back. You can’t make more of it. It’s just gone. Spending time on things that don’t matter is never worth it. 
  1. Learn to recognize and delight in simple and inexpensive pleasures. Some of my favorites: are sourdough bread with butter, coffee, and tulips. All three at once would be great. 
  1. To get out of a funk, try the following (in order): shower, clothes (not pajamas), a cup of coffee, and a short walk outside. Come back inside, eat a salad and drink some water. Much better. 
  1. Related: If you have a friend in a funk: take them on a walk, out for coffee or bring them a salad and some water. 
  1. Don’t paper over the problems of the people you love with platitudes about everything being ok or not as bad as it seems. Just listen and keep listening and then listen some more. Don’t fix it, just keep showing up for them. 
  1. Grand gestures, always. 
  1. Writers write. Writer’s block is real, but too many people use it as an excuse. If you don’t know what to write, open up the document and start writing absolutely anything at all: what you had for breakfast, where you’re sitting or even, “Here I am sitting in front of my computer with no idea what to write. I wonder if I’ll ever figure it out…” more profound thoughts will come. If you want to be a writer, start writing. 
  1. Compete against yourself and no one else. Root for the people in the same space as you because you can all succeed together. Truly. It’s not a pie. There’s enough for everyone, and if you make your competitors your friends, you will be so, so happy.
  1. Make unlikely friends: people who are older than you, or younger, or from a different culture. You’ll have to work through some culture clashes, but it’ll be worth it. 
  1. The funniest people I know are pediatric hospice chaplains and funeral directors. They have seen it all, know how fragile life is, and know how to laugh. The laughter also protects them from rotting from the inside out. Laugh with funny people, but also take care of them, because they’re funny for a reason. 
  1. To be a good gift giver: pay attention. To be a good gift receiver: say thank you. 
  1. If you’re running an executive board or committee of some kind, the members of that board want to show you that they’re capable and contributing to the conversation. Sometimes they show this by criticizing everything, and right out of the gate. Fight/counteract this by asking them what they like about what you’re saying first. You’ll start the conversation off on a positive and help them get that “I’m a good participant” muscle stretched. You can deal with the problems later. 
  1. Drink cortado. Cortado is ½ espresso and ½ whole milk. It’s creamy and balanced and perfect and just the right size. 
  1. Ask for what you need. Most people want to give it to you, if they can, but it’s so hard to ask. 
  1. Opportunities (and relationships) are like doors you push on. You push and they push back. Most of them stay closed, but the best ones push all the way through to the other side of the universe. 
  1. Routines and habits are boring (at least they are to me) but they are essential for freedom, happiness, safety, and security. Kids need them. You need them. Routines can save you from just… floating away. Load the dishwasher every day. Practice gratitude every week. Sit down to dinner together three times a week. Put the tree up every year. The things you do over and over and over change your life. 
  1. Make sure any children under your care know that they are loved for who they are and not what they do, and teach them that they contain a ball of pure light and love inside of them that never dims no matter what they say or do, or is done to them.  
  1. I’m from the Prairie State. Prairies are amazing ecosystems. If you’re not familiar with them, they just look like a bunch of grass and mosquitoes, but they are so much more. There is as much biodiversity in a prairie as there is in a rainforest. More than two-thirds of the prairie ecosystem is underground with deep roots and networks. The animals burrow underground as well. Fire is essential to prairies to keep them healthy, both to burn off the species that don’t belong and to give the prairie an opportunity to rejuvenate. If you ever have a chance to visit a prairie or learn more about them: do. 
  1. It’s not hard to make a turkey, a poached egg, or crepes. People seem to overcomplicate all of those in youtube directions and recipes. For the turkey: season it and put it in the oven until it’s done. For the poached egg: put it in simmering water until it’s done how you like it. For crepes, find a good recipe. (I like the one from Smitten Kitchen.) 
  1. Ask and you will receive. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened for you. 
  1. To everything, there is a season.
  1. If you play an instrument, don’t quit the band (or the orchestra) and if you do, find your way back to one… even if it takes a long time. 
  1. All of your mistakes and regrets and roads not taken go into a big compost heap where they turn into rich soil. Out of that soil, the most beautiful and healthy flowers can grow. 
  1. Most people are thinking about themselves, not you. 
  1. If the house is a mess, get everybody together and do a 20-minute clean-up. You’ll make a huge difference. 
  1. My favorite spiritual practice is lighting candles. Light candles for yourself and others. Write your prayers/desires on slips of paper and stick them under the candle. Sprinkle glitter in the candle if you want. Do this every day and make sure people know you do it.
  1. When you’re attacked by people who are choosing to use guerrilla tactics it’s really tempting to respond by using the same terrible tactics. This is exactly the moment to step back and find your center. The best fighters are never angry. 
  1. Every living thing is made out of energy and energy is not created or destroyed. This is something to not only know intellectually but to experience and feel. I wish I could explain this better in words. You can feel it if you’re around someone who has just been born, or someone who has just died. Sometimes the energy hangs around for days before it goes where it’s going to go.
  1. Time only goes in one direction (it seems) but I believe it’s just because we, humans, haven’t figured out how to unlock that. Past, present, and future are all happening at the same time. 
  1. Make lists! Lists of things you love about people. Lists of ideas or thoughts or quotes or dreams or book ideas. The notes app is a great place to store them. 
  1. Find out what people love/are passionate about and ask them as many questions as you can about it. It’s never a waste of time. 
  1. The wind blows where it wants to blow. You don’t know where it’s coming from or where it’s going! 

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