Tuesday, April 5, 2011

38 by 38

Tomorrow is my birthday, and I will be 38 years old.

In light of that milestone, I have spent the past couple of months collecting a list that I’ve been calling “38 by 38”, that is, 38 Things I’ve Learned in My 38 Years.

I got the idea back in February when I happened upon this post by Tara Reed, who created a list of 42 things she had learned in her 42 years. As soon as I saw that title, I stopped reading, because I wanted to make my own list without being influenced by hers. (I just went back and read her list today, and found it to be quite different.)

Also, just a week ago or so, my Teacher/Mommy/Blogging friend Jen wrote this post about the Secrets of Adulthood, which is an exercise in Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project. So my idea here isn’t all that original, but the lessons I’ve learned are extremely personal and specific to my life and experiences.

You’ll find in this list my beliefs, big ideas, thoughts on etiquette and safety, and organizing tips—pretty much the gamut of life lessons learned!

38 By 38, or
38 Things I've Learned in My 38 Years

1. There aren’t too many things in life that you can count on for sure, but there are a whole lot of things that are worth the risk.

2. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

3. Life is made immeasurably richer when it’s lived in the company of friends
4. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

5. Write it down; you will forget.

6. Get your keys out of your purse before you leave the building.

7. Moisturize and hydrate.

8. Look people in the eye when you are interacting with them—check-out clerks, librarians, postal workers—everyone deserves that out of courtesy and respect.

9. The table can be wiped, the rug can be vacuumed, and the scraps can be collected. Let the kids do arts and crafts—often!

10. Say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.

11. Achieving “balance” is an elusive goal; enjoy life out of balance.

12. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.

13. Visiting artists’ blogs is fun and inspiring, but cannot take the place of making my own art daily.

14. Finding times and places to talk about your struggles—divorce, miscarriages, postpartum depression—can make a big difference to someone else’s life. Not because you offer any great advice or insight, but simply because you are willing to let your humanity show, and present yourself as a fellow traveler, a fellow sufferer, and a fellow survivor.

15. Take time each day to enjoy deep breaths, crunchy foods, a pain-free lower back—because tomorrow you might have a stuffy nose, a new crown, or an aching back, and it’s nice to live on the memories!

16. “Count your many blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done” (from the song, “Count Your Blessings”).

17. God walks with us through grief and loss, waiting for us to turn our heads and notice Him there. And when we come to the “other side” of our grief and loss experience and we finally see God there, and realize He’s been there with us all along, our faith in Him and our relationship with Him is immeasurably strengthened.

18. I won’t often know the impact I have on another person’s life, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t keep trying to reach out, to draw near.

19. Perfectionism seldom leads to perfection, and usually prevents anything from getting accomplished in the first place.

20. Nothing can replace a mother’s love (or if it can, I’m so grateful I haven’t had to figure out what it is—thanks, Mom!).

21. Life is too short to keep reading a book you aren’t enjoying.

22. Getting organized—that is, being able to find what you need when you need it—shall set you free!

23. The opposite of faith is not doubt; it’s apathy.

24. People will forget what you said and even what you did, but they won’t forget how you made them feel. (I’m pretty sure I took that from Mother Theresa!)

25. If you want to learn about trust, joy, or creativity, look to a child. They come by all these naturally, unselfconsciously, purely.

26. Think long and hard—there just aren’t that many occasions when it’s better to hit “Reply All.”

27. I’m never too old to begin something new.

28. Shortcuts are usually anything but short. They often lead to more work, or even having to start over from the beginning.

29. You can’t keep the house neat unless everything has a home. You can’t put stuff away if you haven’t figured out where it belongs!

30. I don’t need to be a “one-woman show” for my kids. They benefit from some solo play, and it prevents me from burning out on any given day.

31. Pretty much ANYTHING can be used to contribute to your art. Be careful what you throw away (and good luck storing it all)!

32. We are our own worst critics.

33. If a compliment flashes in your mind when you see someone—about their hair, their outfit, their project, their idea—TELL THEM! We all benefit from hearing a kind word once in awhile.

34. I am not the same person I was 15 or 20 years ago. My space and my life need to reflect who I am now.

35. Cleaning up usually involves making an even bigger mess first. (This is super-evident to me right now, as I try to organize my art/craft spaces, but more about that in a different post!)

36. A quick way to calm down is to hold a child or pat a cat.

37. I won’t write anything down that I do not want someone someday to read….just in case.

38. Time spent outside in fresh air never feels like wasted time.

There are a whole lot of life experiences standing behind these "lessons learned"! 

As personal and specific to me as this list may be, I’m curious as to which of these resonate most with you, as well?


A "Freakin' Angel" said...

Andria, I loved this! I'm going to have to steal the idea for my 42nd birthday coming up in July. Will start jotting down thoughts now. There are many you have here that I can identify with and others that are so uniquely and wonderfully you. Thanks for sharing!

Jenny said...

That was great! It makes me think of how many things we can keep on learning as we go along.

laurie said...

Happy Birthday!!!! i love this idea and agree with all of your "lessons learned". have you received any postcards, yet? i just got another one today. and (TA-DA) i took mine to the post office today and sent mine all out on their way!

Andria said...

Can't wait to see your list, Kim! Thanks for you comment, Jenny. Congrats on getting your cards out, Laurie; I've only gotten two back, and can't wait to see the rest of them!

lee said...

great list many I can identify with

Design Elements said...

happy b-day!!! that was great! wonderful lessons! I'm reading a book by Tina Seelig called What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20: A Crash Course on Making Your Place in the World. I like it a lot


Janet said...

Happy Birthday!!! You made a great list. I think if I did that I'd run out of things before I reached 68, which I'll be on my next birthday but I might try.

Parabolic Muse said...


when I hit 40, my life just kept getting BETTER.

Carin Winkelman said...

Happy Birthday Andria! I wonder if I can come up with 41 things for my birthday, haha. Enjoy yours!

Angela said...

Loved your post! HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I turned38 this past February. #13 made me smile as I have been telling myself this for months...it's so easy to get lost in everyone else's creativity and be too tired at the end to pursue mine!

and #21...I have recently MADE time to read (one of my most favorite pastimes) and I have come to that conclusion also...life's too short!

Thanks for stopping by today. Hoping to get my postcards out tomorrow!

Happy Wednesday!


Jennifer Ward said...


Happy birthday!

Thanks for the mention! I loved putting my list together, and loved reading yours, especially number 21. For whatever reason, it took me a long time to realize this. I would trudge through books just to get through them. Sort of kills the joy of reading.

Great list!


Donna said...

Happy Birthday Andria! I did not read your list, as I want to do one also in June, but I have a lot more to list so I better get started.
Do you have pic's of your alterd bottles on your site?
Would love to see them!

Andria said...

Thanks for stopping by, Lee. I will check out Seelig's book, Design Elements; thanks for telling me about it! (There's a TON of stuff I wish I had known at 20, but I guess things wouldn't have worked out like they have, in that case.) Janet, Caatje, and Donna, I want to see those lists! :-) By the way, Donna, I don't have the bottles on my blog yet, but maybe I'll post about them soon. Parabolic Muse, I'm happy to hear it! Angi and Jen, thank you for sharing the ones you identify with the most. Thanks to everyone for stopping by and commenting! That was a great birthday gift.

K said...

Happy belated birthday!
Thank you for the kind comment about my journaling, I'm sure that you'll stick to it as long as I am if you do whatever it pleases with it :)

Timi said...

Hi, thanks for visiting my blog. It's nice to look around hear and it was really good to read your list. I shall make a list about myself, cos writing down makes me understand and remember a bit more. Thanks for the inspiration, I'll be back again :D
Happy (belated) Birthday!!

Unknown said...

What a fantastic list! I think my favourites where 9 and 16 :D

Thanks for sharing.


Mescrap said...

Happy belated birthday !!
Love the list, i love to make one too :)

Isabel Marques said...

Lists are great and challenging! have fun with it!

Fairlie - www.feetonforeignlands.com said...

Found you through a link on Gretchen Rubin's site. This is a great idea, and an inspiring and thought-provoking list. The "I won’t write anything down that I do not want someone someday to read….just in case" item really resonates with me.

Happy birthday!

Deirdre said...

Also found via GR's site---love your list. So many resonated with me, but especially the last. I'm keenly aware lately of the speed of time, and love your notion that any time spent out in nature is not wasted.

Anonymous said...

I relate to so many of these, it's hard to narrow it down. So glad I found your site through The Happiness Project.

Jessica said...

I just turned 30 and feel so aimless - I needed all of these. Well maybe not the Reply All, but the others, for sure. :)

Conor Neill said...

23 and 32 totally agree and learnt it the hard way. Stop reading a poor book... need to implement this!

Leslie said...

This is awesome! I'm inspired to try this exercise on my next Birthday. Yours are fabulous. Such great lessons.. and many more to come, I'm sure!

Rachel said...

I saw this post linked to from The Happiness Project. Wonderful list!

Cheryl said...

My favorites are:
- Perfectionism seldom leads to perfection, and usually prevents anything from getting accomplished in the first place.
- Achieving “balance” is an elusive goal; enjoy life out of balance.

I need to write these down and keep them on my fridge so I can see them every day and remember how true they are!