5 Things I Know After 45 Years

Originally published October 2013

As I embark on another year walking this planet, I write to remind myself of what I know. And it seems the best lessons are those we learn over and again—and rarely anything taught in front of a blackboard. Here are the 5 things I know that work for me:

There’s grace in every moment. Every single solitary happy/crappy/stressbomb/fantastical moment. No one’s journey is an easy one. We’re faced every day with trials and tribulations as mundane as “What the hell am I making for dinner tonight?” to the heartwrenching, such as quality of life decisions on the behalf of family members.

Sitting in traffic over the weekend, talking out loud to no one in the car about the outrageous length of time it takes to reconstruct on underpass, I saw an organ recovery vehicle at a stop light. Having lived through that “experience” twice, I was immediately reminded that traffic is nothing in comparison to signing an order that allows one life to end and another to continue. The entire spectrum of the human emotional experience on four wheels. Perspective, folks.

Having a rotten day at work? Look out a window and watch the leaves rustle in wind. Sullen teenager forced to sit on the sidelines of another sibling’s sporting event? Try to catch the colors in the sky. Finding the beauty of a moment doesn’t alleviate a traffic jam or reward you with a better boss, but it is grounding.

What Yoda said. It’s that simple. Do. Or do not. There is no try. Truer words have never been spoken. Want a new job and are struggling with applications and interviews and rejections and roadblocks? Trying to lose weight and are struggling with the mind-numbing slowness the pounds are falling off? Listen up—you are on the path. You are doing. Keep on doing.

Everything in moderation, except all the stuff you love. Life is too short to skip anything, unless you are allergic to it and a single bite would kill you. Or, of course, you’re a hoarder. Nothing good comes out of saving the scrum from your vacuum bag for a future craft project. And maybe you shouldn’t twerk in church. Or anywhere. No one’s gonna want that tape played at their 65th birthday party.

Have a glass of wine with a dish of ice cream after 11 p.m. at night. Watch too much damn TV with the kids. Ride the rollercoaster. Play hooky. Rock it out. Have FUN.

Failure is indicative of only one thing—progress. I witnessed a perfect example of this axiom in action just this weekend, as my son’s high school band took an unfair (It was! It was totally unfair!) beating at a Saturday night competition. Rather than get up on Sunday for the second competition in a single weekend and just phone it in, they dusted off their bibs, beat the drums and raised their instruments to the sky, capturing an overall first, less than 24 hours after that first defeat.


We as humans face failure every day—it’s up to the individual to either fold, or learn from those mistakes (Did I use baking soda instead of baking powder? Did I accidentally hit “reply all” and inadvertently tell my boss to take a long walk off a short pier?) and move forward.

Books are always better—with one exception. Honestly, there isn’t a single funk that can’t be undone by watching “Sense and Sensibility.” It’s Hugh.Freakin.Grant and Alan.Freakin.Rickman and it’s the most romantic thing ever and E.L. James could learn a thing or two from Ms. Austen.

Live by those rules, and you can’t go wrong.

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