If you read my last blog entry – Vanessa’s reflections – you know I started this list last month. So now I’ve been 40 for almost a month rather than 9 days, but other than that, everything else still applies…
I have been 40 for exactly 9 days now and it was just when writing that headline that it started to sink in. Wow – I’m 40! There’s just something so different when you write it versus when you say it… Anyway, I won’t dwell in awe (at least not here). I’ve learned a lot in my 40 years – especially the last two spent in the cancer world – and thought I’d share some of it here. No, none of it’s brain surgery (and much of it’s splashed in pretty graphics on Facebook posts), but sometimes it’s nice just to be reminded of the simple things we all, hopefully, eventually come to realize. So here are 40* things I’ve learned in my 40 years:
- Smile. Even when you want to cry, scream, throw something, hit someone. Seriously, just smile. It does help.
- Don’t overanalyze. Anything. Men/women, doctors’ faces, actions, words, whatever. It’s doubtful you’ll figure out what they really think/mean/intend anyway. Why waste your time?
- If you don’t know, ask. Ask anyone anything. It’s the only way you have a chance at discovering the truth. And it’s the best way to learn.
- Never stop learning. Take a class, read a book, go to a seminar, join a club. I’m going to learn French (for real this time). And maybe even how to cook. (Nah, maybe I’ll leave that one to Cory.)
- There are at least two sides to every story. Even the one I’m telling right now. We all come at things from different perspectives, so can rarely see the full pictures ourselves. (Like Nick says I cook better than I give myself credit for, but I wouldn’t win any contests.)
- Speaking of – did you know that you have to enter contests to win?! That includes the lottery. Which probably explains why I haven’t won.
- It can take longer to convey your thought in 140 characters than it can in 500 words. (Just ask Jessi!)
- Listen. To everyone. Think about what they say. Consider. Absorb. Don’t just rush to respond, explain or prove your own point. Sometimes we need to just listen.
- I know that takes patience. Patience is truly a virtue. One I’ve often admitted in this blog that I don’t have. (Just ask Nick – he will confirm this.) But I am trying. If you see me taking lots and lots of deep breaths, you’ll know I’m trying to be patient. It definitely doesn’t come easy to me…
- Keep breathing. Literally and figuratively. Yes, there are some things beyond our control in this area – like getting the cancer diagnosis at 38. But there are so many things we can all do to improve our health and that will help us breathe a little easier – especially when walking up many flights of stairs!
- Any day can be your last. Or your loved one’s last. So make that day – and every day – count.
- Tell people you love them.
- Don’t hold grudges.
- Spend your time where it truly matters – with the people you love. Yes, we all have to go to work and other obligations, but…
- No one really cares if your house is clean. Probably not even your mother. She’d much rather you visit her than stay home scrubbing the tub.
- We don’t have to do everything for everyone. Even when we want to do it all, it doesn’t mean it’s the best idea – or even physically possible. So…
- Learn to say no. It’s really not a bad word. It’s not even four letters. You can say it nicely: “I’d really love to but…”
- Learn to ask for help. Or at least accept help when it’s offered. I was struggling to lug two suitcases and a giant purse the other day when a guy offered to carry one. What did I say? “No worries, I’ve got it.” Why? Why did I say that? Accept the help, Amy!
- Be kind. (That means to yourself, too!) Even when others are not. You never know what is going on in someone else’s life.
- Share. Share what you learn, share your experiences, share your thoughts, share your opinions. We all have a story to tell. And your story may just be the one that makes someone realize they’re not alone. That’s why I write this blog. If it can help just one person, it’s worth it.
*Disclaimer: I have learned more than 40 things in my 40 years. This is just a sampling of some of my favorite things I’ve learned, not an all-inclusive list. And yes, I realize there are only 20 above. The final 20 will be in the next blog – an exciting two-part series! 😉