Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

The New Year is a time for new beginnings, a time to make a fresh start and implement changes. For me it is especially poignant because my birthday is on New Year's Eve. It is definitely a time for closing chapters and opening new ones as well as a time of reflection.

Last year on my birthday I wrote this list of 40+ things I have learned in 40+ years. This year I added # 42 to the list and hope to continue adding to this list for many years. There is wisdom that comes with experience and hence age. I didn't believe that in my 20's, I thought I had a handle on life, then life happened. There are many things we experience that are out of our control as we go through life; death, sickness, financial downturn. I do believe things happen for a reason and it is our reaction to them (see #39) that builds our character.

I have had the fortune to know a few elderly women who have a sparkle in their eye, they have taken on life and won, I don't know how to describe the peace that surrounds them. These women have lost spouses and children, had health issues and been through many tragedies and they have found joy and peace in their life. To find that peace is my goal...luckily I have a few more years to get it!

This year's addition (#42) comes from two books I read in 2010. Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder and Three Cups Of Tea by Greg Mortenson. Both are stories of men who have dedicated their lives to helping people who are living in situations most of us only hear about. Greg Mortenson has been building schools in Central Asia and Dr. Paul Farmer is bringing medical care to Haitians. These books spoke to something in me and I am looking at my life and realizing how much I have. I have never been without education, medical care, or even a meal. They are helping people who truly cannot help themselves. I was so touched and inspired I wanted to do something immediately so I organized a drive to collect items for our local woman's shelter. It is only a small thing but I am determined to give back in some way, as often as possible.

Here is my birthday list, with #42 added. I can't wait to see what I learn next year!

40+ things I have learned in 40+ years:

1. My life is a miracle. Not just the "normal" kind of miracle but the fact that I was adopted by two loving parents and guided to a special husband makes it a miracle twice over.

2. It is OK to let a friendship go. Certain friendships are for certain times of your life and if one is no longer serving you let it go. If you have changed and are growing in different directions it is not healthy to keep hanging on because of your past. Make room for a new friendship.

3. When in doubt just be polite. This advise came to me via Dr. Laura's radio program, it has helped me through some tough times and relationships.

4. Have Fun. No matter what your life's circumstance are you can and should have a little fun now and then. No matter what your responsibilities are you will be a better (mother, caretaker, cook, etc.) if you take a break and do something really fun.

5. All the Proverbs are true, don't judge a man till you've walked in his shoes, early to bed early to rise, you catch more flies with honey, a penny saved is a penny earned...

6. The best thing you can do for a friend is to listen. Being a good listener is a skill I am still working on. I have noticed in the time I have been working on it all of my relationships have improved, especially my marriage and friendships.

7. Good Advice: Make a Bucket List. Write down the things you want to accomplish before you "kick the bucket" and keep it where you will see it often. Start making those things happen!

8. Listen to your body. Don't keep going and going when it is telling you to slow down. Learn to cancel appointments if you need to and let yourself have down time.

9. Sleep- the most important thing you can do for your body. Arrange your life so that you get enough, whether that means a full 8 hours or a nap in the day. If you are feeling a little off get some sleep.

10. Every day is a new start, if you don't like the way things went today tomorrow you can start fresh.

11. Children are worth it!

12. You can make a difference in someone else's life and when you do you find meaning in your own life.

13. I would rather walk than ride.

14. Laughter really is the best medicine.

15. There is beauty all around all the time, you just need to look for it.

16. I like to take pictures.

17. Sometimes the best way to help someone is to be patient while they figure the problem out themselves.

18. When someone does something that really makes you crazy, take a look at yourself. The problem isn't with them, it is with you.

19. The only thing that is certain is change. So if you are hoping a situation will change, be patient it will. If you are hoping things will stay the same, enjoy them because they won't.

20. Pick your battles and your goals, you can make things happen but you can't make everything happen (at least not all at once).

21. Having a plan doesn't mean you have to stick to it.

22. Travel is the best education available.

23. Music can change your mood in a moment.

24. Dogs are worth it.

25. Saying "I'm sorry" changes everything.

26. Health is the biggest and best blessing of all, cherish it.

27. My favorite place to be is in the garden.

28. Prayer can get you through anything.

29. To truly change your life you need to have a plan and be diligent.

30. Mid-life crisis is a real phenomenon.

31. Snow is beautiful.

32. Karma is real.

33. Teaching is my calling.

34. Love makes the world go 'round.

35. The best way to enjoy life is to focus on people not things.

36. Mother nature is smarter than I am.

37. True friends.....priceless!

38. Spend time with your kids, teach them about every facet of life and when they leave
you won't worry quite as much.

39. Your reaction to a problem is more important than the problem ever will be.

40. Life is full of surprises!

41. One day at a time, one child at a time, one meal at a time....enjoy the moment.

42. Even one person can make a huge difference in many lives. Find something you can do to help others and start working on it today.


  1. Karen, what a beautiful post. I love your list and bless your heart for the work you are doing at the woman's shelter. Have a great birthday and New Years Eve, Ina

  2. I like #21 the best! It's true, you don't know squat until you have a few decades under your belt. I feel like I'm finally living in my 30's! Happy New Year to you and yours. :)

  3. I love all of these. It's hard to pick a favorite, but I might make a plaque out of #41 for my kitchen. Happy Happy Birthday!!!!