Last week was my birthday. I love birthdays. It is a chance to celebrate someone when, so often, we fail to do so. To be honest my husband and I don’t celebrate birthdays much. We say that we celebrate each other all the time, so there is no real need. But nonetheless, I love birthdays because of how reflective they make us. We think about our lives in terms of years, and we often find a way to define a certain year of our lives. For example, when I think of being 21, I think of it as a huge, life-changing age. I got married, graduated from college, moved across the country, and discovered photography. Big year! When I think of 26, I think of how I bought my first home. When I think of 16, I think about meeting the love of my life.
But aside from reflecting on the things we’ve done, it is a chance to start anew. It is a chance to evaluate if you really are the person you want to be, or if you need to change something. For me, there is always something to change. The only question is what I am going to change. I spent the last year of my life changing course. I stopped doing a lot of the things I had done before – business and personal – and laid the foundation for a new life. This year, I am living it. Year 28 will be one of discovering my dreams. Dreaming bigger. Dreaming in my own way. Letting dreams define me.
I emailed someone the other day about a big project I’m working on. His response was “This is an absolutely crazy idea”. And that made my heart soar with joy. “Yes,” I thought, “that is the kind of life I want to live.”
Getting older means learning lessons. It means failing miserably. It means succeeding wildly. It means changing perspective on life. And this is what it has meant to me:
2. Life cannot be quantified in years. If I died right now, I will have lived the best life possible. This I can say with absolute confidence and love.
3. I would rather be crazy than boring. After all, I am the only one I can count on to entertain myself.
4. Not everything will work out, because if it did, we wouldn’t be able to see the gems through the dust.
5. There is never an excuse for boredom.
6. Being present in all that you do means you will never feel like life has passed you by.
7. Being genuine will get you farther than attempting to please people.
8. When you refuse to compromise your beliefs, you attract like-minded people into your life.
9. If you treat failure like an old friend, he will always be there to help you back up when he knocks you down.
10. Kindness should never be dependent on someone else’s actions.
11. Fears are friends wearing masks. Get close enough to see the face of fear.
12. Give your love without need for reciprocation. Receive love like you deserve it.
13. The words “best” and “worst” should never be used to describe someone. We will only look foolish when we are proved wrong.
14. Tell someone why you love them.
15. Live your life to make someone else’s life better.
16. Look forward to each day you grow older. The alternative is death.
17. If you build a community, take care of that community.
18. Dream as though it will happen.
What I have learned this past year can be summed up in these words: Love wholly. Give repeatedly. Create selfishly. Challenge yourself regularly. Live beautifully.
Good morning, 28.
If you would like to send along a birthday gift (trust me, this is not a crazy narcissist sentence…) you can donate to the Fibromyalgia awareness campaign I have running, create an image with a butterfly to raise awareness, or join me on May 9 for the Caterpillar Walk. Alternately, you can donate photo equipment for the photography school I am starting in India for survivors of human trafficking – The Light Space. Signing up for the new After Dark conference will help donate to the school. Or simply check out my Giving Back page for ways to get involved.