35 Things I’ve Learned in 35 Years of Life

 

This month I turn 35 years old. As a kid, or even in my 20’s, 35 felt so far away. Yet here it is already, and rather than feeling anxious about how fast life sometimes feels, I find myself endlessly grateful to experience another year on this Earth. Today, I thought I’d celebrate by sharing with you 35 things I’ve learned in the past 35 years!

  1. The older I get, the more I realize I don’t know. And the things I felt absolutely sure of? It turns out, those things aren’t as set in stone as I thought. I’m thankful to have the opportunity to learn, to form new opinions based on new information, and to meet those with whom I disagree with grace and curiosity.
  2. Learn to make homemade pizza. It tastes infinitely better than delivery, is better for you, and truly isn’t hard to do. If you’re a beginner, check out this dough recipe!
  3. The faith life is a journey. I often am discouraged when I feel far away from God, when prayer is the last thing I want to do. But I’m also reminded that my faith is a marathon, not a sprint. There will be times when I’m absolutely motivated to continue, and there will be times when I just want to quit. There’s no prize for being first. It’s all about finishing the race.
  4. Bathing children is overrated. Unless you can actually smell them, weekly baths are sufficient.
  5. Establish family traditions. Pick something your family loves to do, and make it A Thing. Every Saturday night in our house is Pizza Night Movie Night {as dubbed by my oldest}. We make pizza and watch a new movie. That’s it. And it is the highlight of our week.
  6. Read. Read what you love. Read the classics. Read books in translation. Read something that challenges you. Read to learn. Read to recapture hope. Read to deepen your soul. Read to your kids. Just read.
  7. On reading what you love: truly, read what you love. I love romance novels. Give me a good enemies-to-lovers slow burn with an outlandish Happily Ever After, and I’m a happy woman.
  8. Give yourself permission every once in a while to give your kids cereal {or popcorn, or cheese and crackers, or heck, even ice cream} for dinner and call it good. I promise, they will be fine.
  9. Go outside more. Research overwhelmingly shows the benefits of being outside regularly. It’s better for us physically, mentally, and spiritually. Soak up that vitamin D and breathe in some fresh air {followed by taking your allergy pill, because this is Houston}.
  10. And if you’re spending that extra time outside, don’t forget: apply sunscreen daily!
  11. Hot soup and fresh bread is the perfect meal. For a dose of comfort ready in 30 minutes, keep the ingredients for this soup on hand {almost all pantry items!} and a loaf of crusty bread in the freezer.
  12. Cultivate a hobby to call your own. I’m all for finding things you love to do with your spouse, your kids, your friends. But sometimes, I want something that’s just mine. For me, it’s reading. For you, maybe it’s pottery. Or triathlons. Or sitting quietly outside and listening to the breeze rustle leaves. You do you. That’s the beauty of a hobby chosen just for you.
  13. On that note, don’t only pursue solitary hobbies. My husband and I have our separate interests, but it is important for our relationship that we have something that both of us equally love to do, together. For us, it’s cycling and drinking IPAs.
  14. Even though I love a good IPA, as a born and bred Texas girl, I have to say, “There’s nothing finer than an ice cold Shiner!” It was my beer of choice right after my son was born.
  15. Daily walks are the best form of exercise. It’s outside. It can be done solo or in the company of others. It’s gentle and low impact. It can be done to the tune of your favorite podcast or a robin’s morning song or a cricket’s evening symphony. And it’s sustainable, a form of exercise you’ll be able to do for a long time.
  16. Cultivate a home library. Studies show that just having books in your house can improve children’s literacy, vocabulary, and academic performance, just to name a few of the benefits. This is what I tell my husband when I bring home yet another book. It’s for the kids, babe!
  17. Drink more water. It really does make a huge difference.
  18. The first half of my 30’s has been 100x better than my 20’s. I am more confident, more relaxed, more gracious. In a word, I feel settled, and I love it. Aging is a privilege that I am grateful to experience.
  19. On that note, I’m looking forward to getting older. Is that weird?
  20. Seek out wonder in your everyday life. Read a poem each morning. Take in the sunrise with your cup of coffee. Breathe in the scent of your baby’s head. Visit a beautiful church, or take your lunch break outside in the park. When we pause to recognize wonder, we remember that life, even in the darkest of times, is still full of beauty.
  21. Take regular breaks from social media. A month, a week, a day. Whatever it is, let’s remember that we were created to live in this world, not the digital one.
  22. You’re the best expert on your children. Yes, we can, and should, seek out advice from experienced moms and doctors and other professionals. But in the end, we know our children best. Trust your gut, and let the pressure for your kid to reach an arbitrary standard fade away.
  23. Flamin’ Limon Cheetos are a culinary delight.
  24. My husband and I are re-watching Home Improvement, and I have laughed hysterically at every episode. Yes, I know, the sexist humor isn’t in keeping with modern times, but the hilarious depiction of family life is spot on.
  25. Continuing on the television thread, Bluey is a fantastic children’s show. Go watch the episode “Grannies” and tell me you didn’t literally LOL. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
  26. Exercise shouldn’t be a form of torture. I don’t like burpees. So I don’t do them. Find a form of movement that you love, and you’ll be more likely to keep it up.
  27. Read, or reread, children’s books. As C.S. Lewis says, “No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally- and often far more- worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond.” I recently read Anne of Green Gables for the first time, and it was, as Anne says, simply splendid.
  28. Learn something simply for the pleasure of learning it. I love learning how to preserve foods. Jams, beef jerky, dried fruits and veggies. It’s easier, and probably cheaper, to get it at the grocery store, but way more satisfying to do it myself.
  29. We weren’t made to live in isolation, so seek out community. Meet your neighbors, join a moms group, participate in a book club. Seek out people who value what you value, but also challenge you to be the best version of yourself you can be.
  30. Invite people into your home, even if your home looks like a wreck. No one will care. If we can’t even practice hospitality with our friends and neighbors, how can we show our children what it means to welcome the stranger and feed the hungry?
  31. Support your local library. Y’all, they have books. For free! Plus, libraries offer audiobooks, weekly story times and activities for all ages, book clubs, computer and internet services, and so much more. Libraries are an integral part of our communities.
  32. Seek to listen more, rather than to be listened to.
  33. Give yourself permission to take a break. Sometimes, when it’s been A Day, or one of my kids is having a hard time, I nix our plans for the rest of the day. We make cozy nests of pillows and blankets and turn on a movie. And suddenly, life looks a tiny bit better.
  34. Everyday life is where it’s at. Yes, I love vacations and parties and romantic nights out. But also? I love drinking a beer and watching my kids ride their bikes. Ordinary moments make me feel alive in a way that no accomplishment or fancy restaurant ever will.
  35. And finally, lead with love. If I’ve learned one thing in 35 years, it’s that you cannot hope to change someone’s mind or heart if you approach them with judgment and shame. When we teach our children, when we speak to our neighbors, and when we argue with our spouse: begin with love.

mother stands with three kids in ocean

 


 

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Rebecca S. is a born and raised Houstonian; she grew up in Katy, graduated with a BS in Hotel and Restaurant Management from the University of Houston {go Coogs!}, and made a home in West Houston with her native Houstonian husband. She quickly realized that the chaotic lifestyle of the hospitality industry was not for her and soon found her calling in education. She taught while earning her masters in Library Science from the University of North Texas. Currently, she is staying home with her son, Thomas {2016} and daughter Charlie {2020}. In her free time, she loves to read, write, run, and roam the world. While her roots are firmly planted in H-town, she takes every available opportunity to go on an adventure and explore historic cities, hike and run new trails, and, of course, try beers from every country.

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