Obviously as we age, we learn stuff but I feel like over the past 4 years I have really had some major realizations. Maybe it’s because I became a mom within that time, or because I stumbled upon Paleo during that time, or because my marriage struggled during that time… it’s probably all of those things. I just felt the need to kind of write them out because maybe someone can relate or maybe my realizations can help someone who is feeling a little lost right now.
This is a long one so, hopefully I don’t lose ya in the midst of my rambling.
1. You will always offend someone. It bothers me when someone takes my opinion or thoughts the wrong way. My intentions are never to hurt someones feelings but sometimes that happens… and I hate to think that someone thinks less of me because of it. However, since starting this blog and actively reading so many other blogs, I have really learned that you can’t please everyone. No matter how you type or talk, someone, somewhere, somehow will get the wrong impression… and you just gotta let it go. Stand behind what you believe in and if it hurt’s someone’s feelings, oh well. It is bound to happen. Bottom line: YOU know your intentions.
2. It’s better to focus on moments, experiences, and people than material stuff. I never really thought of myself as a materialistic person. I grew up with everything I needed and probably on the spoiled side but I never expected anything. Looking back on my 20’s though… I see how I relied on “stuff” to make me happy. New clothes, make-up, shoes, house decor, cars and everything that goes with them, etc. That stuff is fun, don’t get me wrong, but it’s so short-lived. The newness wears off and you’re left with this superficial attachment which means a whole lotta nothing. Looking back on awesome memories of time spent with loved ones (belly laughs & deep conversations, in particular), traveling, or other fun events are so much more meaningful and fulfilling. Those are the things that make life amazing.
3. Simplifying removes stress. Lately, I’ve been really focusing on simplifying my life. The biggest thing is reducing my wants/needs. This comes back to material stuff. For awhile, I was bad about retail therapy (mainly for house stuff). I have more empty picture frames than a person should ever own along with other random decor stuff I wind up selling in yard sales. Same goes with clothes… with tags! I let money burn a hole in my pocket for what? Stuff. Stuff to try to impress other people? (Why else do we take pix of stuff and upload it to facebook and instagram?) So many of us do things to try to impress others (whether we realize it or not) to either prove we have it good, have money, have style, have friends, whatever. And then guess what? We desire more and more. Everything we have doesn’t feel like enough because we compare to others in real life and certainly on social media. It’s stressful and completely unnecessary. Reducing the wants by really assessing the needs is so… freeing. Letting go of what I talk about in #4 is a HUGE release.
4. Not everyone is meant to fit the All-American cookie-cutter mold or keep up with the Jones’. I’ve thought about this a TON. In high school, I remember the dream was to find that soul mate, have an amazing wedding, buy a house, have a kid, and live happily ever after. Maybe some of us also factored in college and a dream career making “bank”. I have accomplished most of those things but for some time, I still felt empty. I wasn’t happy even though I had what some might think as “having it all.” I kept thinking, “Is this it? What’s next?” Thing is… I wasn’t doing the things that made me truly happy. I was dwelling on everything that made me unhappy (many times stupid, petty stuff) and I wasn’t making any plans to makes changes to get where I wanted to be. I wasn’t even sure of where I wanted to be…
May 2012 my family took a vacation to the Outer Banks and it was one of the best trips I’ve ever taken. The beach is so healing for me and I’m pretty sure it’s because I grew up a beach kid. I was at the beach in Florida every weekend from age 0 to about 8-9 when we moved north. Saltwater runs in my veins. My feet require sand between the toes. I miss it dearly.
My husband and I were both in tears when it was time to leave (me more-so than him) and that is when we decided we had to make a change. We don’t fit that cookie-cutter mold and we shouldn’t try to just because that has become the expectation or “American Dream”. Granted vacation is vacation but there is something to be said about being so stressed and unhappy by your normal every day life that you do not want to come back to it.
When we returned home we decided we don’t need a big, fancy house (not that we have one but it used to be a goal) because we want to spend most of our time outside in nature. The house would merely be to eat, rest/relax, and provide shelter from the elements. We seriously want a cottage/shack with the basics on the beach, doing what we love for work. (Ok, yeah, Id prob get into the decorating but I’ll try to keep it minimal. Cute and functional, not lush and extravagant.) We both are in positions currently that are paying bills… that’s about it. There is no passion there. No sense of accomplishment or gratification. So, we both have taken leaps to put ourselves out there, working toward our dreams… to live on a beach with what we truly need, the ability to travel everywhere – showing our son the world, experiencing different cultures, living simpler… yet so much deeper.
Hippies or gypsies?
Meh. We’d rather be one of those than the stressed out corporate disaster that we are working to distance ourselves from. (Once we completely get out of the corporate world, I will blog more about that.)
5. Life is most certainly not a race. I think so many times we get caught up in getting to the next thing in our lives instead of slowing it down and fully enjoying the right now. What are we rushing for? We can’t beat death so why on earth are we racing to the finish line? Life is full of ups and downs and the downs really suck but those hard times are when we really, REALLY learn things. Life is a journey. Enjoy where you are right now even if it’s not where you want to be quite yet (Believe me, I am practicing this now!). You wont get today back so you have to make the best of it (easier said than done sometimes). Your job might not be what you want and your schedule could be hectic but you have to figure out a way to not let the day pass without making something good out of it. It doesn’t have to be big. It could be cooking an awesome dinner for the family, soaking in the tub, finally going to bed early, playing with your kid(s)/pet(s), sitting outside soaking up some sun or star-gazing, enjoying a warm cup of tea while watching a favorite show… focus on the little things that make life sweet. Totally not saying you shouldn’t still work toward your dreams but to enjoy the journey because the time will pass anyway.
6. Marriage is hard! I’ve been married for 6 years. My husband has been in my life for a decade. He is my best friend and my worst enemy. He knows how I tick and what buttons to push but he is also the one who is always there to catch me in his big arms… a warm (muscle-y) place to land. He puts up with everything I throw at him and I was a hormonal mess for a few years of our relationship. At one point in time, I hated my husband (I’m being completely raw and honest here). I thought he had ruined my life and I thought we’d never last. We stopped communicating and lived separate lives.
Then something changed.
I can’t really point out any specific thing – it was a combination of changes we both made. Improved our health (how we felt about ourselves which improved our moods) and started really discovering what we wanted from life as individuals, parents, a couple… and things made a huge turn around. The appreciation for each other returned and in a new way. I think marriages go through those stages as people grow and change. I can’t remember who told me this but it’s pretty good advice: People grow apart – even for long periods of time but they usually come back together. Evaluate your commitment and realize it’s not very fair to give up on each other when you need each other the most – even if it’s at a distance. Someone who waits for you and understands you need that time… is someone you do not want to lose.
7. Friendships are harder. Over the past few years, I have really learned about friendship. I’ve had a few very dramatic things happen in my life with friends that I’m pretty sure have helped shape how I view them. I’ve been burned pretty bad and I don’t say that to play the victim. I’m sure I’ve done my share of burning even though I feel it’s been unintentional. I’m a pretty sensitive soul and I genuinely care about people I let in my life. I don’t have siblings so I may lean on my friends a little too much with issues I have in my life and like I have mentioned, a few years ago I was so unhappy and unhealthy that I’m sure I was not the best company. The people who stuck by my side and the people who became my new friends during my lowest times showed me what real friends really are. It is really easy to be friends with someone when times are good… but what about when times are bad? The ones who stick around through the bad times are the real ones. They walk in when the rest of the world walks out.
With that said, after you have a family, it is difficult to maintain friendships sometimes. Your family always comes first but some friends are like family so it’s very hard to keep a balance at all times. The most important thing in a friendship, or ANY relationship, is communication. Sometimes plans don’t work out and sometimes feelings get hurt but BOTH parties needs to be able to express how they feel without fear of causing an argument or the friendship to fall apart.
8. Be the change you wish to see. I am a health geek and I can get very heated and passionate about this topic. I am thoroughly disappointed with where this country stands on the health scale… and not just obesity rates. I’m talking mental and emotional health too. So many of us are stressed out, hormonal messes. I see it more and more in people around me the more I learn about holistic health. When did it get this way? When did the focus go from happiness and healthfulness to working our lives away and creating economic empires? Success to me does not equate to how much stuff/money/power you have… Are you happy? Are you peaceful? Are you healthy on the whole?
9. Nature is the best healer. This one kind of ties in with #4. The beach for me is the ultimate healer but I enjoy any natural beauty. The mountains, a lake, a valley, a vineyard, the forest… I appreciate all of it. When you are stressed with work and you’ve been staring at your computer screen for hours, doesn’t it feel good to walk outside, look at the sky, and take a deep slow breath? When we go on vacation… where do we go? Out in nature somewhere, right? We are not meant to be cooped up in white walls with fluorescent lights staring at blue-light monitors yet many of us spend much of our lives doing exactly that.
Get outside. Slow down. Enjoy whatever the weather is… all of it is beautiful. Look at the clouds, feel the breeze, look at the bugs crawling in the grass, watch birds, listen to waves crashing… whatever. Fully live in the moment experiencing your environment with all of your senses. It is incredibly grounding and healing.
What realizations have you come across since turning 30? Anything that stands out?