45 Things I Wish I'd Learned Sooner Than I Did

45 Things I Wish I’d Learned Sooner Than I Did

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I turned 45 recently, and I suddenly feel like a mom on the D-list. I am officially stalking 50 (hey, you always round up, right?), and half of my life is over, if I am fortunate enough to make it to 90. (My mom died at age 64.)

I am—gulp!—a middle-aged woman. But what does it mean?

If I am carded, it’s only because it’s store policy. Some not-so-smart people refer to me as “ma’am” instead of “miss,” and I earned a frown line giving them my signature perplexed response. Gravity is mercilessly pulling in the wrong direction. Every bagel I consume (or even think of eating) winds up on my thighs. I wonder when I will get my first gray hair. I worry about preserving my health.

Late at night, as part of my involuntary, anxiety-provoking daily recap before I go to sleep, I find myself taking stock of the first 45. I’ve lived an action-adventure-suspense-comedy-horror-romance that any Hollywood screenwriter would struggle to retell. I have had blockbusters—the birth of my beloved son; the dizzying euphoria of falling in love with my husband after a brutal divorce; fulfilling my mom’s dream of penning a children’s book— and rotten tomatoes— an excruciatingly painful miscarriage; the betrayal of my “best friend” of 25 years; and the ultimate devastation of witnessing my mother’s soul-crushing death after a long, valiant battle with ovarian cancer.

Through it all, I have learned, and I have always managed to dust off my star for another sequel.

Here’s 45 takeaways from the first 45 years:

1. Envy can creep up like bad underwear. Re-adjust yourself.

2. Believe in what you’re selling.

3. Check your past baggage before you take flight with someone new.

4. Marry for love. It’s the only way your union stands a chance in this wild world.

5. Don’t forget about your own dreams while you’re so busy helping others achieve theirs.

6. Take that step. It’s the only way to move forward.

7. Don’t all-out ban carbs, no matter what the scale says.

8. When someone shows you their true colors, believe them the first time. Don’t try to paint them differently. You’re not Picasso.

9. Play music that matches your mood. And turn it up.

10. Salt is a cure-all—tears, sweat, the sea…or bag of chips.

11. Help your children become who they are. Don’t pressure your kids to be what you wanted to be. You have your chance. Give them theirs.

12. Too much pride won’t get you anywhere. Ask for assistance if you need it.

13. Give yourself time to transform. The soul of a butterfly is a caterpillar.

14. Be unapologetically bold.

15. Know your worth. Don’t ever compromise it.

16. You need to be selfless at times, and you need to be selfish at times. Find the balance.

17. Old friends should be treasured. New friends should be welcomed.

18. Always remember your truth. Believe in the sanctity of your spoken and written word.

19. Live in hope.

20. If work is always a four letter word, find another job.

21. Have the intestinal fortitude to persevere. Obstacles be damned.

22. When in doubt, caffeinate.

23. Only apologize if you need to. Do not say you’re sorry for other people’s mistakes.

24. Love relentlessly. Passionately. Fearlessly.

25. Treat yourself to a facial once in awhile. You deserve it.

26. Grief is the price you pay for love. Fighting it is futile. Death changes your DNA. You will never be the same, and that is okay.

27. Don’t worry about something before you have something to worry about.

28. Never lose your sense of wonder. 

29. Anger is a day-to-day tenant. Don’t make it a permanent resident in your heart.

30. Life is funny. Laugh at yourself.

31. Don’t be the kind of person who has a fake laugh.

32. Write love letters.

33. Try to fight fair, and concede valid points.

34. Embrace your flaws with a warm hug. They’re yours. Own them.

35. You set the standard for how you will be treated. Aim high.

36. Nourish yourself, in every way imaginable.

37. Don’t spew verbal venom that will permanently damage a loved one. Scream into a pillow if you have to.

38. Always be grateful you woke up this morning.

39. Good friends are therapists without the co-pay. Don’t devalue them, no matter who you’re with or what you have going on in your life.

40. Stargaze.

41. You’re only as old as you act. Savor your silly!

42. What other people think of you is none of your business.                                          

43. Time is not on your side. It never is. Cherish it.

44. You are your own brand of magic.

45. Smile. You’ve got this.

What have you learned from your first 45?