31 Lessons I’ve Learned in 31 Years

Full Moon at Laguna de Apoyo, Nicaragua 2014I’m not sure that I’m ready to turn 31 on Saturday, simply because the past year has been the best year of my life and I don’t see how I could possibly top it. But the best is yet to come, right? I feel like I am just starting to hit my stride and figure things out in life. I guess I’m a late bloomer. I’m also just kinda glad that my 20s are over.

This year on my birthday, I will be performing with friends from Mendocino Moonlight Flow Arts at Noyo Food Forest‘s Earth Day Festival at the Learning Garden at the Fort Bragg high school (we’re on at 2:30). NFF is a great local organization and if you get there early, you might be able to snag some goodies at their plant sale. The day before, we’ll be celebrating with a few friends at B. Bryan Preserve, a local wildlife preserve that houses giraffes, antelopes, and most importantly ZEBRAS in big open tracts of land in nearby Point Arena. If you know me at all, you know that I love zebra print and zebras are my power animal. So to say that I’m excited to see the zebras is a bit of an understatement!

The older I get, the faster time goes, and the more I seem to learn from everyday life. I may have forgotten most of high school chemistry and at least half those art history facts I had to memorize in college, but I’ve picked up a few hard-earned life lessons in my 31 years. So in no particular order, here are 31 things I’ve learned that are worth passing on:

  1. Don’t wrap your life too tightly around any one person or thing — no one holds the reigns to your life except you. You create your own reality. Don’t be in the passenger seat of your own life — drive it like it’s hot!
  2. In general, people are good-hearted, and if you treat them based upon this assumption, you’ll find that more often than not, it’s true. Be careful and observant, but don’t be so guarded that you close yourself off to new people and experiences.
  3. Seek balance. Happiness comes naturally when you and your life are in a state of balance. Balance work and play, balance your time among passions and people, balance your own needs with those of your loved ones and the world. Seek the middle path between the extremes.
  4. The only constant is change. It is the ONLY thing in life you can count on happening for sure.
  5. You are not entitled to anything in life, so don’t expect anything to be easy or free and assume nothing. Anything you are given is a gift. Be grateful for everything you have, for many others have much less. Express gratitude often.
  6. We do not forget how to play because we grow old, we grow old because we forget how to play. Free, joyous, expressive play is essential to keeping childlike wonder in your life. You are never too old to play! This is why flow arts are so awesome.
  7. Every person you meet is a window to another world. You expand your own world by opening your heart to others.
  8. There is nothing more sacred than life. Every living being has a presence, value, and a voice. We might not be able to hear it, but if we try hard enough, we can feel it. All life is connected in one symbiotic web.
  9. We are all in this together. Cooperate and communicate. We’ll get a lot further working together than by focusing on what divides us and working against each other.
  10. Humans are not separate from nature. We are nature. The further we remove ourselves from it, the further we get from our true selves and the more sick our society becomes. The more we try to understand the cosmos, live in harmony with nature’s rhythms and work with nature instead of against it, the more sustainable and happy our lives will be.
  11. All of the answers, and all of the questions, are within each of us. The essential truths do not need to be dictated to us from authority figures, dogma, politics, religion, society, or other people. Truth can be found by simply being, silently focusing, and looking within. Your truth is your own, all you have to do is seek it out.
  12. Listen to your heart. Use your head, too, but let your heart guide you on what really matters.
  13. Music and movement are magic, medicine, meditation, and essential to a happy healthy life. Support live music and get out and dance as often as you can. Never be afraid to sing your song, shake your booty or find your flow!
  14. Whatever you daydream about doing while sitting around bored at work or school, whatever you feel driven to be involved in, whatever feeds your soul and gives you an outlet for your passions, talents, and energy — do that. That is your calling. Try to find a way to make it your living.
  15. Help others every chance you get. You will never regret lending a hand to others and there are SO MANY worthy causes that need  help. Be a giver, even if all you have to give is your time.
  16. You are not a plant. You might have roots, but you don’t have to stay where you are planted. Explore. Travel. Engage with the world. Get out, get away, even if it’s just a hike in a local park. The further you go and the more you travel, the more you connect with others, broaden your frame of reference, and expand your world. You’ll also realize just how connected we are to everything and everyone, and how precious this amazing planet we call home really is.
  17. Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. 
  18. Work to live but don’t live to work. Life is not all about making money. Make time to relax, play, explore, and learn, too. Don’t let work stress poison your life or health. Don’t let money rule your life and don’t let what you own end up owning you.
  19. Never stop learning. There is always more to learn and discover. Never stop growing either. Always be working on yourself and trying to be a better person.
  20. Don’t compare yourself to other people. Each of us is on our own path and it does us no good to compare ours with another’s. The only person worth comparing yourself to is the person you were yesterday. Comparison leads to jealousy, division, and hate. Ain’t nobody got time for that shit!
  21. Push yourself to try new things. Even if they scare you a little.
  22. Keep your word. Follow through with the commitments you make with people and only make commitments you can keep.
  23. Don’t be a hater. You don’t know everyone’s story and judging someone or something only closes you off to the lessons they could teach you. Bringing others down only brings you down with them. Others are simply a mirror and what we see in them if often a reflection of ourselves. Lift others up instead.
  24. Your perspective is important. Change the way you look at the world and you change your world entirely.
  25. What you focus on and give energy to grows. If you’re constantly focusing on what’s wrong, negativity, complaints and problems, more of those things will manifest in your life. If you focus instead on positive things, the silver linings in every situation, the good in life and what you’re grateful for, you’ll get more of that in your life.
  26. Let go. If something or someone is no longer serving your life, let it go. Let go of expectations and approach everything with an open mind. The more tightly you try to hold on to something, the more easily it will slip through your fingers.
  27. Love yourself and tell yourself so often. Take good care of yourself and listen to your body. Don’t be afraid to be alone. Know that you are enough and don’t be so hard on yourself. Watch the words you use to describe yourself, even in your thoughts. Words have power. Use them wisely.
  28. Shit happens. To everyone, at some point. Breathe, let it go, and trust that you’ll get through it when it does. You wouldn’t appreciate the good times as much without the bad. You got this! And if you don’t, lean on your friends when you need them. A good support network is priceless.
  29. There is no such thing as normal and you should never ever try to be it or live up to anyone else’s standards but your own if you want to be truly happy and free. FUCK NORMAL.
  30. Happiness is a choice and a practice. It’s all a matter of where you direct your energy and focus and your attitude.
  31. Love is the most powerful force in the universe. Treasure it, give it, receive it, be it, live it and you can’t help but be happy and fulfilled. Love is all we need. Be love! <3

2 Replies to “31 Lessons I’ve Learned in 31 Years”

  1. Thanks mama! Love you. And you know, I learned a lot of these things from family like you – maybe you didn’t even know you taught me so much, but you did. And best of all, you nurtured my creative abilities always. Thank you! <3

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