40 Things I've Learned in 40 Years

I've learned that being a "secretive" or "private" person, never sharing details about yourself or your life at the risk of looking vulnerable, weak or imperfect to others comes down to self-esteem (it generally means it's low) and can hold us back in life.
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Well, I turn 40 this week. Not quite sure when that happened! I'm pretty sure it was just yesterday that I kissed my husband for the first time at 20 years old, while watching two girls make out at Beaver Lake (a park here in Montreal). But clearly, it wasn't yesterday. Not even close. I've got more wrinkles, more cellulite and, honeys, more wisdom.

So as an ode to turning 40, and having you girls (and yes a few guys) by my side, I thought I'd share the 40 things I've learned in my 40 years. I've learned these life lessons from my friends, family and from you.

So here goes. In honor of turning 40 (ahem), here's what I've learned:

1. I've learned that the most important thing in life, business, motherhood and all else is to never compromise on your integrity. Don't compromise yourself -- you're all you've got.

2. I've learned that you must know what you need, and give it to yourself whenever possible. That means eat when you're hungry and sleep when you're tired, regardless of what any clock tells you the time is. When you listen to your body, good things happen to it.

3. I've learned that whatever you're afraid of, you must try that sh*t! The worst thing that's gonna happen is you're gonna fail. But that's worse than living with the regret of having never tried.

4. I've also learned that sometimes you have to take the leap of faith and build your wings on the way down.

5. I've learned that if I do the same thing, day in and day out, I become a zombie walker of this Earth, and not a "liver" of this Earth. Passion and happiness come from trying new things, venturing scarily into the unknown and pushing yourself to your own personal limits. Walt Disney said it best: "It's kind of fun to do the impossible." Try the impossible. Just try it once.

6. I've learned that God doesn't give us what we want; He gives us what we need. Every time. And although it may not seem like it in the moment, and we may be frustrated or angry, in the end, it's always what we need to grow. And I've also learned we shouldn't cry over spilled milk. Learn the lesson and then move on, but don't stay stuck in the past. It's a sure way to live the most unfulfilled and immobilized existence.

So, ask every failure -- and this is what I do with every failure, every crisis, every difficult time -- I say, what is this here to teach me? And as soon as you get the lesson, you get to move on. If you really get the lesson, you pass and you don't have to repeat the class. If you don't get the lesson, it shows up wearing another pair of pants -- or skirt -- to give you some remedial work. -- Oprah

7. I learned the true meaning of life the day I walked into Canyon Ranch on a retreat with Dove. The sign hanging in the front said: "BREATHE DEEPLY and appreciate the moment. Living in the moment could be the meaning of life." I've come to accept that as truth. All you have is this moment. Be in it fully.

When you are driving, be present, and focus on your driving. When you are having dinner with your family, be there. Don't be on your business or on tomorrow's agenda. Be at the dinner table, with your family. Otherwise, it's as if you were not there. It's as if the experience never happened. -- Wise words someone once told me

8. I've learned that it's ok to try bad things, just don't make a habit out of it. Like when I tried smoking at eight years old and my dad bought me a pack of Craven 'A's for a kibitz! If you don't know what kibitz means, Google it.

9. I've learned that if you're great at something, play it up. All successful women play up their strengths. They don't minimize their talents. Thanks for this advice, Barbara Corcoran.

10. I've learned it's always important to have fun and be silly. The funnier and sillier, the happier.

11. I've learned not to take no for an answer. I have never taken no for an answer if I believe in something, and it has served me well. Fight for what you want. And don't you be lazy! Never be afraid to dream big, and put it out into the universe. If you work hard enough, the universe will listen. I've learned that the harder I work, the luckier I get.

12. I've learned that every time you state what you want, you're the first to hear it. It's a message to you and others about what you think is possible. Thanks again, Oprah.

13. I've learned that if my hubby and I go too long without sex, wonky things happen to our marriage.

14. I learned that a great massage, a great glass of wine, a great song and a great workout are a few of life's greatest treats. And again, as I pointed out in #13, great sex doesn't hurt either.

15. I've learned that success comes at a cost -- there is no free lunch. I will leave it at that.

16. I've learned that self-esteem and confidence are not bad words. They're important words. It takes a lot of work to get there, but it's the foundation to thriving.

17. I've learned not to spend next week's paycheck (lesson from dad).

18. I've learned to always face the music, no matter how dark it may sound.

19. I've learned that family comes first. Period. No exceptions to the rule.

20. I've learned that sometimes you win. Sometimes you learn.

21. I've learned that music is often the perfect solution to a bad mood.

22. I've learned that the line is thin between pushing your child to the limit in order to not raise a quitter, and pulling back to not turn them off from life. I struggle daily.

23. I've learned that you can never kiss your kids too often. And I've also learned that nurturing your child is the way to raise a winner.

24. I've learned you can't just live off the fat of the land. It's crucial to give back. Give back in any way you can -- with time, with ideas, with suggestions, with money, with WHATEVER. Give back. Give what you can, and much more will be received.

25. I've learned that change, while scary, is necessary to grow. We must adapt to change, and swim with the flow of the current, not against it. I've learned it's important to venture outside of your own backyard.

26. I've learned that we often don't do that particular good thing for ourselves when we actually need it the most; but gently pushing ourselves especially when we feel most depleted is often the key to better health and wellbeing.

27. I've learned that inspiration comes in the rarest of forms. I have learned much from my children, much from people I don't particularly like, and much from severely troubled souls. Inspiration comes in many forms. Find it.

28. I've learned to love the haters. We all have naysayers, doubters and haters. Their words can hurt us, haunt us and tickle our insecurities. The important thing in life, is to take from it, learn from it, but not let it stop you. Haters and doubters often make us want to quit or even question our entire life plan. I can only say from experience, just work hard and prove them wrong. Success comes from doing what you love, and working at it daily. Listen to the critics, because there's much to be learned, but follow your heart. And trust your instincts. And remember who those hateful words are coming from.

29. As I told you above (see #11), I've learned never to take no for an answer, but then again, I've learned: Don't beat a dead horse. The key is to know when to walk away. That just comes with age, practice and experience.

30. I've learned to always give 100 percent. Give 110, 120 whenever possible.

31. I've learned that I have a love affair with music and food. If my hearing goes early in life, it will be worth it. And if I put on five more pounds, but ate everything I loved, well, that'll be just fine. Life is about doing what you love.

32. I've learned that sometimes we find our purpose on purpose, and sometimes our purpose finds us by accident. The importance is to explore it once you know.

33. I've learned that life is too short to put up with bullsh*t. I now do the things I want to do, when I want to do them, and with whom I want to do them with. I'm impatient with small talk, and sometimes it may come across as rude, but, well... um.. I don't know!

34. I've learned that when someone goes out on a limb and shows you their vulnerable side, encourage them. Praise their authenticity. You have no idea how hard it may have been for them to show you.

35. I've learned we all have to be accountable for our own actions. It's easiest to blame others and not take personal responsibility for our own actions. But at the end of the day, it's the only way to live free.

36. I've learned that we should plan like Girl Scouts, but always leave room for the unexpected. Sometimes it's the unplanned that bears the best fruit. So therefore, I often go where the wind takes me.

37. I've learned that time spent doing nothing is never wasted if you enjoyed it, relaxed and smiled. Really.

38. I've learned that being a "secretive" or "private" person, never sharing details about yourself or your life at the risk of looking vulnerable, weak or imperfect to others comes down to self-esteem (it generally means it's low) and can hold us back in life. When you can be forthright and honest about your situation, sharing your story in the hopes of helping others, it in turn helps yourself and the world opens up for you. Please try it. Just once.

39. I've learned being a parent is the scariest thing I've ever had to do in my entire life. These little people I am responsible for, they will grow up and hopefully become good citizens, contribute to society in a positive way (if they're raised the right way). That's a lot pressure! Being a parent is a big undertaking. Like massive. That's scary as hell. I get scared sometimes.

40. I've learned that life is short, it ain't no dress rehearsal and you've gotta WAKE UP to your life, or you could miss it, Ferris.

Thank you for spending another birthday with me. Thank to you, I made it off the fence.

I'd love to know: What have you learned about life?

Previously published on WomenOnTheFence.com

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