It’s my birthday and I’ll cry if I want to.

Forty-eight years old. Holy crap. I have no idea how that happened. Ew gross. I swear to God, I was 25 yesterday. I still feel like I’m 25 – at least, emotionally. That said, I’ve grown up in all of the important ways. Most notably: I get things done. Life as a web designer/creative director has taught me to respect deadlines, manage multiple projects, and adeptly maneuver through a constantly changing pool of clients and their variety of personalities. Juggling both work and motherhood has forced me to let go of any impulse for procrastination I had lingering from childhood. Like I said, I get things done.

Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way on those 48 trips around the sun.

  1. Almost nothing is worth getting upset over. Truly. Almost nothing. It takes A LOT to ruffle my feathers. I had the simultaneously wonderful and horrendous experience of surviving trauma at a young age. I remember my mother telling me, “I promise, it doesn’t get worse than this.” She was right although I’m pretty sure it would have killed me to admit it at the time. Mom, you were right. There, I said it. The truth is, trauma, when it happens young or old, changes you–sometimes in unpredictable ways. For a while I handled it poorly. I chose to be numb instead of feeling those uncomfortable emotions. By the grace of God I didn’t die and I was able to pull myself out of the abyss. The wonderful part is that I now walk around with¬†perspective. I know what big stuff is so I legit don’t sweat the small stuff. Sometimes, when I see someone freaking out over something insignificant, I wonder if they’ve never experienced something big…
  2. You can’t save anyone but yourself. I learned this one the hard way. Twice. First, with my college boyfriend, with whom I was madly in love; next, with my cousin, whom I also loved dearly. Both were addicts. Even as I teach and train people, I still feel the frustration when they continue unhealthy behavior. I can’t do the changing for them. I can only give them the tools to succeed. I can only cheer them on in their successes. I can only tell them – as I did with both my college boyfriend and my cousin – that their flaws do not define them, nor do they lessen my opinion of them. I’m rooting for them. I’m supporting them. But that’s all I can do and that’s been a tough lesson for me to learn.
  3. Sunscreen matters. Seriously, wear that shit.
  4. Staying angry only hurts you. Ok, this is related to #1. It’s true that almost nothing is worth getting upset over. But let me be clear, there are still some major assholes in the world and it is inevitable that something will happen that will cause you to be upset. For realz. Go ahead and feel it. Have a good yell, throw out some profanity. And then let it go. Don’t just stop yelling, but continue to carry it around with you, letting it fester. Let it go for real. This is where meditation and exercise become your best friends in life. This takes practice. Rule your mind or it will rule you.
  5. Gratitude is the key to happiness. That’s some trite Hallmark bullshit right there. It’s 100% true though. I often lead my students through gratitude meditations and it’s the sweetest thing ever to see mouths curl up at the corners as they lie on their mats, eyes closed, visualizing something for which they are grateful. The final part of that meditation exercise is to make a body memory of what that feels like. Gratitude isn’t just in your mind or your heart. It’s a whole body experience and you can experience it anytime you want.