Fair warning: this post is long. Read it in chunks. Read only a little. Read the whole lot. Let me know what you think.
Yesterday I turned twenty-seven. That’s only three years away from thirty, and a whole decade since I graduated high school. Scary, huh?
Last night I finished the last page of the journal I have been writing in for the past two years. A lot has happened since I turned twenty-five; those pages are weighed heavy by the highs and lows of a woman-in-progress. And though some of the events left scars on my heart, others have turned me into a firework sparking through the night sky. I would like to believe that none of those moment, those highs and lows, have been in vain. I would like to believe that I have learned from each of them and used that experience to inform my choices as I moved through my life.
My birthday always gives me a lot of pause for thought and today to mark the beginning of my life as a twenty-seven year old I am sharing with you my twenty-seven thoughts about life.
1. Take care of your family. Let them know that you love them. ‘Blood is thicker than water’ does not mean you can ignore or mistreat the people closest to you on the DNA tree and then expect them to support you when you come running home. Be careful with their hearts and show them how much they mean to you every day.
2. Keep your heart open – love is waiting in unexpected places. Someday that person might just pull up a barstool next to you and sweep you off your feet with their sense of humour, quick wit, and sparkling green-eyed smile. You need to be open to that. Take a chance on love because you never know where it might lead.
3. Read. Lots of things. All the things. Never stop. Words and knowledge are power. The right words will cripple you, tear you down, and build you back up again. Be greedy in your consumption of words and nourish your soul and your mind.
4. Eat well. Eat all the things. Eat cookies and kale. Eat in celebration and in moderation. Eat the healthy and the not-so-healthy. Eat the way that feels right to you. Eat kindly to yourself and the planet.
5. Adopt a dog (or a cat or a goldfish or heck, even a salamander). Give life to someone who has been rejected and they will return the love ten-fold. You have never known unconditional love until you come through the door to someone who is happy because you just showed up.
6. Run or walk or swim or cycle. Let your heart pump blood through this body you have been gifted.
7. Be thankful. For the big things and the small. Say it out loud – people don’t hear it enough anymore.
8. Be grateful. Find something each day, even the smallest thing on the worst day, and be grateful for it. Write it down and read over the list on the days when gratitude is the hardest.
9. Be humble. Don’t live your life simply in the pursuit of praise. Live your life in pursuit of making someone’s day easier without them even knowing.
10. Be boastful. Shout your loved one’s and your friend’s achievement from the rooftops. Tell the world of their amazingness.
11. Hold on tight. We are nothing without each other. We are everything together. The world will try to tear you down enough with its ebbs and flows. Hold on tight to those around you and we can weather any storm.
12. Know when to let go. Anger, humiliation, grief, and pain all have their place in life, but don’t let them become your whole life or you will wither from the poison they send forth.
13.Make friends. Fall in love with your friends. You will know amazing, awesome, creative, caring, intelligent people when you come across them. Make them your friend and never let them go (see number 11).
14.Create something. Write a book, paint a picture, plant a garden, rebuild an engine, make a person – leave the planet a little richer than you found it.
15. Save your money. Extravagance is not always the right thing. Sometimes you just need a kitchen table, a pot of pasta, and the best people you know in order to have the best night of your life.
16. Spend your money. Give to charity. Be independent of your parents. Pay your bills. Buy a little something for someone to brighten their day, sometimes that someone is yourself.
17.Find something to believe in. Is that God? Is that science? Is that other people? Find a belief in something outside yourself that will keep you here when everything else fails.
18. Get outta here! Travel. Place yourself firmly outside your comfort zone and watch yourself thrive. Learn how others live. Listen to their stories. Take the lessons back to your own life.
19. Love where you are. Home is where the heart is, but sometimes loving the place takes time. Invest in where you are. Seek the hidden treasures and the path less travelled in your own hometown. I am still working on this one.
20. Be the change you wish to see in the world. You don’t have to end all the wars, but you can spread peace in your own life, your own community. Imagine if we all made our own little corner a little better. Now that’s crowdsourcing.
21. Learn the rules. Learn which ones to break and which ones to make a fundamental practice in your life. Colouring inside the lines? Overrated. Saying thank you to a waiter? Essential.
22. Respect the humanity of everyone you come across. The person cleaning your office deserves just as much respect and dignity as the person who signs your pay cheque, and in some cases, so much more. Would you walk a mile in their shoes? Show some respect for the road they are on.
23. Laugh. At yourself, with other people, at the funny, the not so funny, and sometimes the sad. Just never lose your ability to laugh. Life really is funny if you let it tickle your funny bone.
24. Cry. Sometimes there is nothing to do but let the tears wash away the blues. Let yourself feel the feeling and let it flow.
25. Take big walks. This is slightly different to number 6. Big walks aren’t just for exercising the body: they are for exercising the heart and soul. Big walks are where you tackle the big questions you are afraid to ask yourself in the confines of a room. Big walks are where you stride alongside your sister and pour your heart out and listen to her wisdom. Big walks are where you hold hands with the one you love and stare at the sky in awed silence that in this vast universe you found your heart’s match. Big walks are where you plot and plan what you want your life to be and where you want to wander.
26. Work hard for your dream. Find something you want to do with your life and do it with all your might. Stay up late, get up early and keep hustling in pursuit of your dream.
27. Make time for rest. Put your feet up, lay your head on someone’s lap and look around at your life. Be mindful of the moment when you stop and just let yourself float into the atmosphere chasing the nothingness of a lazy afternoon. Let yourself have a Sunday.
These are things I have learned, that I am learning, that from my twenty-seven year old perspective seem important for living an authentic life: a thoroughly nourished life.