I’m turning 40 at the end of this month and I kind of can’t believe it. So here’s the deal, friend. I sat down to write a post that somehow weaves organizing into lessons on turning 40 because I know most of you are here for organizing advice. But I promised myself that when I turned 40 I would stop doing things just to please others. So it starts now. And right now I don’t feel like writing about organizing.
I feel like writing about how through determination, grit, and a lot of mistakes, I have created a life that I’m super proud of. As a mom of two little ones, I reflect a lot on the life I am creating for them, and also on my own childhood. I won’t bore you with the details of the jagged line that brought me to where I am today. I don’t feel like sharing too much of the suffering . . the journey . . . the healing. But I will share with you the five big lessons I learned. And five promises I’m making to myself for the next 40.
5 Lessons I Learned
- One of my greatest attributes is how deeply I feel. Both joy and pain. I experience my own pain in an agonizing, overwhelming way. And it is an enormous gift because it affords me a profound compassion for others. And it also means my joy is so, so big. I’ve learned not to shy away from these big feelings because experiencing them fully is what life is about.
- Your neighbor’s grass is irrelevant. I was fortunate to learn this one at a very young age and it has served me well. But, it is never too late to realize it. Your neighbor’s grass might look greener. But, it might not even be grass to begin with. It might be turf. Or weeds. Or just plain old dirt. But you know what, friend? It does not matter. Because the other lawns you’ve been looking at might meet each of your neighbor’s exact needs, but they will never, ever meet yours. Look inside, see what you need and want, and tend to growing and nourishing only that.
- Love takes work. I don’t know why we think it is supposed to be easy. It is the cultivating of it that makes it so very satisfying.
- Being a mother is the hardest, most excruciating job on the planet. And listen closely, friend. Some kids are harder than others. They just are. And you did nothing to make those kids easy or to make them hard. They were born that way. So don’t judge another mom’s choices. You have no idea what goes on behind closed doors. And you need to hear this. You are doing a great job. My kids sometimes tell me that I’m not the nicest or coolest mom. And I say, “great”! I have no aspirations for that. I do aspire to be the mom that loved them the most. And they cannot argue that truth. If my kids feel loved at the end of every day, I did an amazing job.
- Choose fun and be kind. We get one chance at this life. Choose to look on the bright side. Choose to give others – and yourself – the benefit of the doubt. But recognize that you have the choice. The power is in your hands. *Ok, here’s a bonus*. Perfect is boring. I tried to be perfect for so long. Let it go. Perfect doesn’t even exist. Just choose fun and be kind and you’ll be so much happier.
So, those are my five big lessons learned. Sometimes I yearn for a life of less responsibility and more excitement. I miss living in NYC. I miss big, daily adventures. But I am happier than I have ever been. So here are the five promises I made to myself to ensure these next 40 years are even more amazing than the first.
- I’m going to say no a lot more. And I’m not going to feel badly about it. Or explain myself. You heard it here first, friend. So don’t take it personally.
- I spent a year decluttering my house, and it was profound and life changing, but I didn’t document any of it. I’m going to spend the next year decluttering all the lingering bad habits, thoughts, and relationships that I have not yet kicked to the curb. I’ll be sharing my journey here and on IG in the hopes that it helps you, too.
- I’m going to continue to share how decluttering and organizing improved my life. And I’m going to try my hardest to share with as many people as possible the tools I’ve learned and used so that they can do the same for themselves. (I couldn’t avoid discussing organizing entirely. I mean, at this point it is so intertwined with who I am!)
- I’m going to spend way more time in the moment. All the years (decades!) of planning and working have paid off and set me up for an abundant and streamlined life. And now, I plan to enjoy it. I’m goal-oriented, so this will not be easy.
- As often as I can, I am going to feel proud of myself. Proud of my choices, proud of everything I have overcome, proud of the life I have built, proud of the wife and mother that I am. My friend told me the other day how proud of herself she is for the mother she has become, and it brought tears to my eyes. It is so powerful to be in the presence of those who feel pride in who they are.
So, there you have it friends. I’ve lived a big, full life. I’ve traveled the world. I’ve set enormous goals for myself that I’ve achieved. And some that I haven’t. I do have some regrets and there are things that I would change. And that is OK. Here’s to living in the present!
Tell me, what’s one life lesson you’ve learned and one big goal you have for yourself? I’m so curious to hear!
P.S. That grainy photo is the first picture I ever posted on social media in 2007!