10 Lessons Lived & Learned By My 35th Birthday

It happens to the best of us if we're lucky - growing older.

Do you love your birthday? Or do you hide under the covers hoping no one says a word?

I've always loved birthdays. Mine, my family's, my friends, even strangers! I've popped bottles at the club, indulged in spa days, embarked on group vacations, nails done, hair done, super duper fly. But as the years pass I'm more reflective. Are you noticing that happening to you, too? 

Who am I? Where am I going? What's next? Am I on the right track? Cake or cupcakes? (Cupcakes. Always cupcakes.)

I'm doing something different this year. Why wait until December? I'm doing a year end review right now before my upcoming birthday. 

 
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10 Things I Know Now

1. THE POWER OF "NO." I get to say no. You get to say no. The world won't come to an end. Making my desires a priority is my right & a privilege. Someone may be disappointed. But no one who matters is going to stop loving or liking me. Sometimes I need a nap. Speaking of naps...

2. NAPS ARE EVERYTHING! If I could tell young me anything it would be to enjoy every nap. Velvety pale pink blanket, thumb in my mouth, drool on my chin. Most adults are grumpy. We need more naps.

3. SOME PEOPLE LIKE ME. SOME PEOPLE DON'T. I honestly still struggle with this one. Being likable is a big deal isn't it? Our friendships, intimate relationships, cooperation of our colleagues, approval from our bosses depends on it - well we at least think they do. But the pressure to be liked can have you performing tricks like a circus animal. We run the risk of performing so often that we forget who we are. We assign our likability to another's opinion. Truth: My ability to survive doesn't depend on everyone liking me. It does depend on me liking myself.

4. THE BEACH = MY SACRED PLACE. Turquoise water with gentle waves crashing against the shore. Fluffy white sand. I feel safe, alive & connected to the Divine at the beach. We're so consumed with the daily grind that peace falls so far down our list it falls off! Where is your sacred place? The park, a garden, the mountains, lakeside, your porch, your tub? Spend as much time there as you can. If you can't get there visualize yourself there. 

5. DAY PARTIES ARE WONDERFUL. Breakfast and lunch options, bottomless mimosas, music, I'm home by 7pm & in bed by 10pm?!? Be still my heart.

6. DEEP BREATHING IS KEY TO UNITING MY HEAD & MY HEART. Overthinker? Check. Sensitive? Check. The combo sometimes has me feeling anxious out of nowhere. What the hell happened? I started thinking about 101 things - calls to make, texts to reply to, emails to read, errands to run, is ___ok?, I have to make plans to get together with___, and on and on and on. Cue overwhelm. Want to know my super simple solution? Stop. Take a deep belly breath. Exhale slowly. Repeat for as many times necessary until you can feel your thoughts start slowing down. It's my version of a reboot. Try it & let me know what you think.

7LAUGH AS OFTEN AS POSSIBLE. I laugh with my whole body - head thrown back, eyes shut, shoulders bobbing up & down. My laugh is loud as hell, contagious & honest. I don't kind of laugh. I laugh like I've never heard anything funnier. It's not ladylike? Ok. It's too loud? Ok. Am I going to change the way I laugh cause it makes someone uncomfortable? Nope. Laugh more. Laugh alone. Tell a good joke. Tell a corny one. Enjoy!

8. COMPASSION IS THE MISSING INGREDIENT. Confession: my self-talk has been trash most of my life. The pressure I've put on myself to be better and do better along with the shame I've felt when I've felt I haven't succeeded has been pretty intense. The understanding I've shown others just disappeared when it came to myself. I had no idea how harshly I was treating myself until my coaches pointed it out. It's a process. Some days I'm my best cheerleader and sometimes my Inner Critic is on a roll. But I'm more aware and getting better at treating myself with kindness. Do you realize how you're speaking to yourself? How about how you speak about yourself to others? Try it for a day. Set a timer on your phone to check in with yourself a few times. Place a sticky note on your computer that says "Choose compassion." Notice how you feel. Notice your thoughts and your spoken words. Maybe compassion is a key ingredient in the Recipe of You that's missing.

9. LISTEN. LISTEN A LOT. LISTEN EVEN MORE. We talk too much. We talk to be heard, to feel seen, to feel validated. And we get mad when we think no one is listening. Trust me, I understand because when I'm in the mood talk ::insert P. Diddy's singing voice:: Can't nobody take my voice! Can't nobody shut me up! Oh no! I've got to keep on talking! Sometimes, I'll have a Loha-ism that is so good, so juicy, so brilliant I say "I'm sorry to cut you off but..." But who hates it when that happens to them? ::Raises hand:: So, I've decided to be a better listener. You know what I've noticed? The more I listen the more engaged my convo partner is when I speak because she actually knows she's been heard.

10. WHO I WAS, WHO I AM & WHO I AM BECOMING IS WELCOME. You know how you have a tendency to cook a dish the same way all the time? Then one day you're watching a cooking show or browsing the internet for recipes and someone says to add paprika to the chicken. So you add paprika & boom! The chicken is amazing & you're super geeked to cook chicken again. But after awhile you get bored so instead of paprika you add coriander & it's horrible. You're not cooking it like that again! There wasn't anything wrong with the first, second or third way. You learned, you tried, added what you enjoyed to your bag of tricks & stored what you didn't enjoy under the "Not again" file. Some of my past sucked. But some of it was excellent. My present is pretty amazing & my future is going to be awesome. I love all of me & even though I wouldn't want to live through some of my past again I know the totality of my life has led me to be the woman I am today.