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Sunday, November 12, 2017

33 Things

Happy birthday to me!!

I recently turned 33 and, inspired by posts like this and this, I decided to build my own list of 33 things. I had a lovely birthday exploring San Francisco - staying at an Air BnB with chickens outside the city and stuffing my face with delicious waffles, cannoli, and crunchy fries in between long walks to burn off all those carbs.

1. Enjoy today, you aren't guaranteed a tomorrow.
The world doesn't owe you anything and that bus is always just around the corner. Have fun today, laugh, spread some joy, make sure that if today is your last day - you did the best you could. No regrets.

2. Wealth doesn't guarantee happiness.
Being poor, you can still be happy. Being rich doesn't grant you happiness automatically. Having your basic needs met, health, a positive outlook, and something you are passionate about goes a long way to creating happiness.

3. The 3rd-world isn't far away. It is never, ever, far away.
There are always people suffering, without opportunity, without hope, in pain. Most of the time the general populace operates with a veil of willful ignorance, but it isn't hard to lift that veil. Challenge yourself to lift that veil occasionally, do something good for the people on the other side.

4. Beware desperation.
It is easy to fell into desperation if / when you do lift that veil. Desperation robs us of power. A desperate person is driven to do things they are ashamed of, a desperate situation shuts all routes of escape. Don't succumb to desperation. Recognize it, fight it, face it and let it go, but never let it rule you.

5. Learn to recognize and walk away from high-pressure or negging sales techniques.
We've all been there. The stereotypical high-pressure salesman of the used car lot seems obvious, but what about the college loan officer, the insurance agent, the health-plan navigator, your doctor, or that guy at the party who just wants your number? There's an adage about how to a surgeon even a papercut requires stiches...beware the motives of others, especially when they stand to gain financially from your situation.

6. Try new foods.
Try them. Even the wierd ones!

7. Tech is not almighty.
Working in tech isn't for everyone, and that's a good thing!

8. Wear sunscreen.
This recommendation is in almost every "things I wish I knew list," so, if you are reading this - listen!

9. Yoga.
If you don't use it you lose it. Watch the cultural appropriation - but stretching is generally good for you; as is taking some time for yourself, time to calm down, time to chillax. So, grab a space, clear your mind, touch your toes.

10. Go to the green.
Spend some time with nature if you can. Even if you are in the city - get a window box, grow some herbs on your windowsill inside. Low light? Try an orchid or violet.  Go to a park, stare up at a tree, get your hands dirty!

11. Water.
Drink it, conserve it, respect it - it won't last much longer.

12. Free public bathrooms.
Access to a bathroom is a privilege not a right...even though it probably should be. If you ever doubt this, try watching a homeless person get access to a coffee shop restroom. Watch the face they get, the "customer only speech," the rejection. Know where your free public bathrooms are. I base the friendliness of a place partially upon access to a clean, free, public bathroom.

13. An honest smile is the key to communication.
It will get you more from life than a scowl, and it buys grace when you don't know the language!

14. Don't hold onto clothes you'll "wear again someday."
Love yourself the way you are. Unless you are going through a dramatic a rapid body change - baby, surgery, cancer, etc - let the clothes of the past belong to the past.

15. You look fine.
You look better than you think you do and in 50 years when you look back at pictures of yourself, you'll want to see the real you - not some airbrushed, scrunched, and filtered version of a half-memory of you. Own yourself.

16. Don't read the comments.
It never ends well.

17. Figure out a travel kit and learn to become a traveler.
I keep a little travel kit, always good to go, and it saves me tons of time sorting out little bottles and finding that other pair of nail trimmers. Figure out what essentials work for you and build a little back-up kit.

18. Clean plain nails are fine.
I used to keep my nails painted all the time. For a while I felt pretty proud of the rainbow of nail polish I kept and I was obsessive about getting a chip in my manicure. But, it is a frivolity for me and healthy plain nails are perfectly fine...and much less maintenance! Now I save that time (and space) for things I enjoy more like sleep, baking, or playing cards with a friend.

19. Not everything has to be online.
Have an offline life. Life is not the internet and the internet isn't life.

20. Everyone has the right to die.
We tend to shy away from death in this country, and sometimes that causes us to turn a blind eye to the suffering of others. I'm talking about the man with the end stages of liver cancer, the one where treatment isn't an option, alone with no family, who is in extreme pain with no end.

I believe quality hospice care should be available for all, not just the rich. No one should have to blow out their brains, beg a friend, or craft a cocktail. If we have the right to quality healthcare(which I hope we do!), we also need to consider the right to a quality death.

21. Don't be afraid to stand for what you believe in, but don't be an ass about it either.
Simple enough.

22. Take good care of your teeth and gums.
You only get one adult set - so floss!

23. Soup.
Soup really is good for most things that make you ill. Chicken, barley, pho, doesn't matter - just get a cup of soup and things will be a little brighter tomorrow!

24. Be kind.
Simple enough.

25. Train your dogs.
If you have a dog, take responsibility for it - that means picking up poop, making sure it is fed and watered, providing it an education, watching out for physical and emotional needs. Dogs are super fun, but they are also a huge responsibility!

26. Read.
Grab a book once in a while. Grab a book more often if you can. Audiobooks are also a wonderful option!

27. Don't waste your time.
I often hear folks saying that they'd like to do more with their day but that there just isn't enough time to get it all done...but then they watch TV for 3 hours. If you need 3 hours of TV to chill, okay, but you can do some ironing while binge-watching?

28.  Life is what we make it.
Catastrophes happen. Laughter also happens. At the same time you are crying, somewhere in the world someone else is dancing, laughing, trying a new recipe, getting married, going on vacation, or finding their passion. We can focus on the sadness, or we can focus on the joy. Our lives are made or lost by that determination.

29. A good cup of tea is a little luxury.
Coffee might be your choice, or wine, or a beer - in any case, set yourself up to enjoy it!
Like all things - moderation is key.

30. Save your money.
Seriously, save as much as you can. Be smart with what you have, invest, experiment, get yourself something nice - but also save. Always be saving for that rainy day, for that house, for that retirement, for that medical bill.

31. Living a closeted life sucks. If you can, get out.
Some folks can't come out and that's more about our failure as a culture than theirs. They might fear losing their job, housing, physical safety, family relations, whatever - any reason to stay in the closet is a valid one, and I'm not going to judge that - but living in the closet is a tough life. If you can, get out.

32. The stuff you own really does own you.
It is a tired adage, but really honestly true.
Washing, drying, folding, ironing, cleaning, polishing, dusting, sweeping, painting, trimming - these are all activities we do for our things instead of for ourselves. See #27 and make decisions about what things are worth that time.

33. Always be improving.
We are all human and so we live in the space between being absolutely perfect in every way and eternally flawed. In any given moment we are exactly where we need to be, exactly the right size, right shape, right time, right everything. But - there's always little things we could do to make it better. That's not a negative thing - seeking to improve is not saying that we are horrible or bad, just little things that we can do next time.