What I would tell my younger self

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This little plate is a memento from an event I attended a few weeks ago. Guests were asked to select one of the many burlap sacks hanging on an intention tree -- we picked the one we were most drawn to. Each hidden plate contained a different message. Mine could not be more fitting.

The words LIVE WELL are at the top of my mind as I celebrate my 40th birthday this month.

Most of the time, 40 totally feels like the new 30. But for some reason, turning 30 was less of a big deal. I have had to be so intentional about not overthinking things lately, not necessarily a bad thing. Questioning accomplishments and priorities; whether a career in law was a good idea; if me and my love are still growing together as a couple and if our little brood is still blending well as a family; if I’m a good Mom, partner and friend; am I truly happy; and what should I change (if anything)? Then there’s all the little things like should I start dying my hair, does my outfit look okay, and should I be botoxing? The list goes on.

Of course living well has a different meaning for everyone, which makes me think about meaningful life lessons and values to teach my daughters.

What would you tell your younger self if you had the chance?

My top 10 are below, mostly learned the hard way.

1. Put on your oxygen mask first

Take care of yourself or you won’t be able to take care of your loved ones. Your wellbeing is a priority. Health is everything! This is easy to forget in our busy lives.

Never be ashamed to ask for help if you need it.

2. Set boundaries!

Be selective about how you spend your time and energy. Set reasonable boundaries with people, work, etc. I find it’s rarely worth it to take on too much, adding stress unnecessarily. Pick your battles carefully, knowing when to concede and when to walk away. If you don’t like your job, find a new on that you do.

3. It’s okay to feel how you feel, it’s how you react that matters

There is nothing wrong with feeling anything but happy. It is okay to feel mad, disappointed, sad, anxious, etc., and to cry.

The question is what are you going to do about it? Hopefully you can channel it into something more positive and move forward.

4. Don’t look back

Hindsight is always 20/20. Live without regret. Always look forward, and for a light at the end of the tunnel.

5. Cherish your loved ones

Treat your loved ones the best. You never know when it might be the last time you see them.

We all know friends come and go. If you’re lucky, a few of the genuine souls will become your family. They’re loyal, supportive and always there for you when you need them.

Prioritize your relationships with the people that mean the world to you and you to them.

6. Embrace failure

Failure is relative and rarely a bad thing. It can teach us so much. Learn and grow from your mistakes and the mistakes of others.

7. Set realistic goals and priorities, but don’t be too rigid

You can’t plan everything in life but it isn’t a bad idea to write down your goals and have the grit to get back up when you’ve failed. Have faith in the universe, like things do tend to attract each other. (This includes writing down want you want in a partner, if having one is important to you -- never settle for something or someone that makes you unhappy. Be discerning.)

Even with the best laid plans, circumstances can arise that may throw us off track or change our lives completely. Financial stress, divorce, illness, etc. Things may not happen as quickly as we might want, or they might not happen at all. The Serenity prayer has helped put things into perspective for me.

Keep an eye out for silver lining when the dust clears.

8. Create good karma

Being kind isn’t always easy but something to strive for. Not everyone is going to like you (let go of your ego :).

Lead by example. Actions truly speak louder than words. Think before you speak. Always try to avoid judgment. Don’t be a bully. Be a girl’s girl! Use empathy as a guide. Enough said.

Giving back to your community is a win win, for yourself and others. Try to find something you’re passionate about contributing to.

9. There are 5 things you should do daily

Do one thing a day that makes you feel lighter or more balanced. We’re all working toward finding and maintaining our own sense of balance. Your sense of balance should be based on what is important to you at the time. You are not always going to be in your element, we are all a work in progress (patience is a virtue).

Clear your headspace, and let go of what is not serving you. For me stress tends to melt away with daily exercise, dancing with my daughters, laughing and yoga/meditation. Deep breathing or meditation both in the morning and before bed can be life changing (and super fun if you’re practising lion’s breathe with your kids!).

Be thankful for the things you’re grateful for. This takes practice so start small. My youngest daughter is often thankful for cupcakes, especially if she’s upset and it’s difficult for her to think of anything else - and it usually takes her mind off things when I ask her what flavour is her absolute favorite!

Make sleep a priority, drink enough water, and always use sunscreen. What you do when you’re young will have an impact on you as you get older. Read more about aging gracefully here.

Listen to your body. How you feel may vary from day to day or week to week. Don’t ignore this. Give yourself what you need.

10. Be kind to yourself

I cannot emphasize this enough. Most of my girlfriends agree that, as women, we don’t really know ourselves (or feel truly comfortable in our own skin) until we are in our mid thirties. Turning 40 is even more empowering.

We tell children all of the time that winning doesn’t matter, what matters is that you tried your best. Likewise, perfection is BS, doing the best you can is enough. You may need to relax your expectations for yourself and others.

When it comes to parenting, this quote from Kristina Kuzmic pretty much sums it up:

“More credit than criticism. More grace than judgment.”

You are enough. Respect and love yourself. Enjoy being in your own company so much so that it becomes easy to walk away from unhealthy relationships and situations.

Would love to hear your thoughts and comments below, please share!