Tag Archives: Take Care of Yourself

31 Lessons For 31 Years

It’s become a trend in the blogosphere ( which is an actual word according to my spell checker) to take a moment on your birthday and reflect back over lessons learned in the time you’ve been here. Since yesterday was my 31st birthday I thought I would follow suit with 31 things I’ve learned in these 31 years.

Note: I won’t be including things learned in the first 5 years of my life, because I feel like learning to walk, talk, and not pee myself is probably a given.

So here we go, totally random thoughts in no particular order… other than numerical.

1. Bigger Does Not Equal Better (For Me)

I’m at a point where most people want more stuff. They start moving up to bigger houses with more storage space and extra bathrooms, filling up spare bedrooms with nice sets of furniture and adding TVs to guest rooms. But I’m going the opposite direction. I want less things and more experiences. Even if we do build another house at some point it will be small and simple. I have things I would rather do with my time than take care of a big house and the things that fill it.

2. Being Positive Creates Opportunities

I’m a pretty content person. I’m sure that’s partly just my nature and partly an intentional choice I make to stay positive. But it really does go a long way toward creating opportunities. I won’t get all new agey on you, but positive thinking really is all it’s cracked up to be.

3. You Aren’t Your College Major

I graduated college with a degree in software applications programming. In layman’s terms that means Big Huge Nerd. This is definitely true, but beyond that I’m a creative. I write and draw, I design and constantly look for art in everyday things. This is something I’ve done as long as I can remember, and it’s time to stop ignoring it. The programming background helps when I work on websites, but my college major didn’t define who I am today.

4. Do Everything You’re Big Enough To And Then Some

I’ve spent far too much time being worried about what other people think and listening to the voices in my head that say I’m not one of those people who does big things. This last year especially has shown me how important it is to do what you want and do it now. You only have so much time here, don’t waste it wishing you had done more.

5. Luck Doesn’t Happen On Its Own

Wayne Gretzky had a great quote about this one – “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. I firmly believe that luck is the intersection between created opportunities and hard work.

6. Mornings Are Awesome

I wasn’t always a morning person, but I definitely have been for most of my adult life. Mornings are quiet time, the world hasn’t fully woken up yet, thoughts can float around all free and happy, and you become part of the day as it wakes up. If I sleep later than 7 o’clock I feel like I’ve missed something.

7. Travel Often

Not only is it fun to get away and see new things, but leaving your comfort zone can open up parts of you that you didn’t know existed. Go somewhere new, try a strange food, maybe walk around with an Australian accent all day because no one knows any different. You won’t regret it.

8. You Aren’t Going To Please Everybody

The only way to not have haters is to never do anything. Make the choice instead to make yourself happy, the people that matter will follow if they’re meant to. On the same note, some people will never be happy, no matter what you do.

9. If You Don’t Ask The Answer Will Always Be No

I actually wrote about this one here, and it’s still proving itself to be more true every day.

10. Eating Raw Cookie Dough Probably Won’t Kill You

Despite what my mom said. I ate some last night, and I feel fine.

11. Relationships Are Important

This one seems kind of like a no brainer, but I have a tendency to get so involved in my own life that I don’t take the time to keep up with my friends. I lost a good friend from college that way… I’m sure he got tired of me not answering the phone. Nowadays I try harder to be there, because some things you can’t erase.

12. Cats Are Jerks

Which is probably why they’re so fuzzy and adorable. But they’re still jerks.

13. Investing In Yourself Is Worth It

I don’t like spending money, especially on myself. But I’ve learned that sometimes investing in a course, conference, or just a haircut can have a profound effect on how I feel and act.

14. Everybody Has Fears

I honestly thought I was the only one who had that little voice who said I wasn’t good enough or people would think I was a fraud if I tried to do the things I wanted to do. Turns out, pretty much everybody has some version of that voice. And they’re all wrong.

15. Redbox Is One Of The Best Inventions Of All Time

Seriously, whoever decided to put movies in a vending machine was a genius. The only thing better would be a pizza oven mounted on the side.

16. Better Is Better

This is related to #1. I’ve recently learned that while more stuff doesn’t make me happier, better stuff does. And fortunately enough when you buy better instead of more you tend to spend the same amount of money in the end.

17. If It Scares You It’s Probably Worth It

In general if you find yourself uncomfortable or afraid of taking the next step you’re probably headed in the right direction. Unless you’re approaching a bear, rabid wolf, or giant cave cricket. Then you should back slowly away, perhaps using your Australian accent to confuse them.

18. My 30s Are Already Better Than My 20s

My 20s were good years, lots of great things happened – I got married, built my first house, and had a ton of fun. But as far as my self esteem and attitude towards life in general my 30s are clear winners so far. I spent a lot of my 20’s wondering if what I was doing was right or wrong, wondering what I wanted to be when I grew up, and feeling not so hot about all of it. Now I have a clearer purpose, a better sense of who I am, and better hair… I can’t explain that last one.

19. Marry Someone You Like

I don’t care how uncool it might be to want to hang out with my own husband (really, when did that become uncool?). He’s my best friend and we have fun together no matter what we do. I couldn’t imagine it any other way, and I highly recommend marrying someone you actually like to be around.

20. You Don’t Live In A Bubble

Although I wouldn’t consider myself an introvert I’ve spent years acting like I live and work in a bubble. I’m realizing now that it doesn’t matter what you do or how good you are at it, you need other people around you to succeed.

21. Consistency Matters

You become what you do every day. Do the things that will lead you where you want to go and you’ll eventually get there. Do the wrong things consistently and the grand gestures won’t matter.

22. If You Don’t Make A Change No One Else Will Do It For You

If you are stuck at a certain point in your life, spending your time unhappy and wishing things were different, you have to cause change to happen before it will. No one is going to come along and offer you a new life. Unless you witness a murder.

23. The Journey Is More Important Than The Destination

You should have a destination in mind, but don’t rush the journey trying to get there. Enjoy it, savor it, get lost a little along the way. You may end up somewhere better than you even expected.

24. Laugh Everyday

Even if it’s just at yourself. Find something to laugh at everyday and you’ll be just fine.

25. Don’t Worry So Much

It doesn’t do any good most of the time. I’m not great at this one, but I’m working on it.

26. Find Something You Love And Do It Often

When I was younger I read a lot, wrote often, sketched regularly, made cool things out of random stuff I found outside, and had a ton of fun. As I grew up I quit doing those things because they didn’t fit my new life. Now I find myself going back to the very things I loved to do growing up, and even incorporating them into my dream job.

27. Start Now

Whatever it is you want to do or be, if you start now you’ll be that much closer a year from today. The time will pass whether you start or stay where you are.

28. Do Your Best And Then Let It Go

I’m a perfectionist, if I can’t get something just exactly like I want it I have a tendency to trash the whole thing. But sometimes done is better than perfect, and sometimes the act of doing is more important than the result.

29. Don’t Take Yourself So Seriously

This whole life thing is marvelous, but unfortunately you’re not going to make it out alive. I hope you already knew that, if not I’m sorry for ruining your Tuesday. But now that you know you might as well make the most of it… have fun, laugh, play, work hard, do big things, and eat cake.

30. You Will Regret What You Don’t Do More Than The Things You Did

This speaks for itself. Base your decisions on whether you will look back at the end of your life (see #29) and wish you hadn’t been too much of a wuss to (insert awesome thing here).

31. Keep Learning Everyday

Try your hardest to learn something every day. If you pay attention it doesn’t even take that much effort. There are lessons everywhere, and there is always someone who knows more than you do. Ask questions, pay attention, read everything you can, and soak it in.

Ironically enough I wasn’t sure I knew 31 things when I sat down to write this post, but 1800 words later I guess I’ve proven myself wrong!  If you made it this far I commend you, and your commemorative lapel pin will be in the mail shortly.

Do you have any lessons to add? What would you tell you from a decade ago if you had the chance?



30 Minutes To A Better Day… AKA Go To Bed Stupid

* I’m sending a ton of love to everyone affected by the bombing in Boston yesterday… I don’t know what to say other than that.

I want to be that girl that can work all day and stay up all night working towards my goals. I really, really want to be one of those people. In fact I was one of those people in college… I routinely stayed up until 2am studying playing Final Fantasy online, got back up at 6:30, worked all day, drove an hour to school, and got back home at 10pm. I’m a little tired just typing that out.

I sometimes still wish I was that way, I want to work my day job, do my afternoon chores, then spend the night working on my business. I’d stay up late and churn out designs and blog posts, thrive on very little sleep and wake up with my morning coffee, ready to do it all over again. Like a caffeinated robot. I know some of that goes back to my college days as a software programmer. That’s just what geeks do, we stay up late and live on Jolt cola. At least that’s what I thought back then.

Even today though, I constantly hear entrepreneurs and other people who do generally awesome things talk about working late nights, getting up two hours before the crack of dawn, working themselves to the bone while building a business and living their dreams. I have to ask, how in the hell do they function like that? Is that why those nasty energy drinks are so popular? What kind of health are these people going to be in here in a few years? Or do I just require an inordinate amount of maintenance?

Nowadays, I stay up till 10:45 one night and spend the whole next day exhausted, struggling to get even menial tasks done. I stay up late again that night because now I’m tired and bummed and starting to think very negatively about my whole situation, I obviously need to work harder. The next day, after two nights of staying up into the wee hours of nearly 11pm, I’m clinically depressed.

The day after two nights of this I’m convinced that a) I’m a talentless hack, b) I’m stuck in a desk job forever, because I don’t have the skills or motivation to improve my position, and c) my entire life is crumbling around me, plus I probably smell funny. I wish I were exaggerating… ask my husband. He strongly encourages me to go to sleep on time.

The funny thing is, I didn’t even realize what was happening at first. I honestly thought these horrible feelings were real, and that just made it worse. I would stay grumpy, negative, and just generally bummed out for several days, then finally wear myself out and have to go to bed earlier on night 3 or 4, and the weirdest thing would happen. The next day would be great. I would get stuff done, the design I’d been working on for days would just fall into place, and several times I even made a sale or gained some kind of acknowledgement that I really didn’t have any control over. I have to lay that last one off on karma… you get back what you put out there, I take care of myself and the universe rewards me.

It took me too long to realize this cycle, as is the usual trend with me realizing things about myself. But now that I know how I function I can work with it.

I know that if I stay up past 10:30 I’m trading an entire days worth of productivity for an extra 30 minutes that night. Some nights I still make that trade, but I do it consciously, and I try not to do it often. I also know how to recognize the signs of self-neglect… if I’m feeling really negative or whiny I stop and think about what I may have done to cause it, then I give myself a pass that day – I get done what I can but I don’t push myself to do amazing things, because it’s not happening. That’s the hardest part for me still, realizing that my mood isn’t a direct reflection of external problems, but instead is a result of pissing of my body.

I also know that I feel better if I go for a run, a long walk, or do something equally active, at least 3 days a week. This usually takes me an hour or so, between stretching, warming up, cooling down, showering, and the actual activity.

I started out feeling a lot of guilt about taking the time to do that for myself instead of working… I have clients waiting on their projects, I should be focusing all my available time on that. I have things I should be doing for the business or around the house. Those things should take priority shouldn’t they?

Not quite.

It’s like the oxygen mask speech. You’re no good to anyone else if you don’t take care of yourself. That sounds so obvious and I’ve heard it a million times, but it’s not as easy to actually implement. It’s not easy to do something for yourself or feel like you’re putting yourself first, because in turn you have to put someone else last when you do that. But I can tell you from first hand experience: it’s very necessary.

Learn what your body needs to function at a higher level, take the time to take care of yourself, and you’ll be more efficient, happier, and turn out better widgets. Your widgets might not have anything to do with work but instead be how you take care of your family, it doesn’t matter. Whatever your widget is you’ll actually make up for the time you lost by functioning better.

I personally am able to work better, faster, and more efficiently when I’m clear headed and awake. Getting a good nights sleep and going for a run helps me be that way. Things go 100 times better for me when I do the things I know I should and listen to my own body. Not to mention that some of my biggest stumbling blocks have been worked out while running down a quiet road letting my mind roam.

I’m not perfect, this is something I’m still working on and I probably always will be to some extent, but I’m learning to recognize it and I’ve seen the rewards of doing the right thing.

Your thing might not be running, and you may function fine on 5 hours of sleep, but I bet there’s something you’re putting aside that you shouldn’t be. You may not even realize it… I didn’t.

I want to challenge you to pay attention to your moods and your patterns. Find what’s lacking, and make it a point to start being more intentional about including it in your day. I promise it won’t hurt a thing.