A couple of years ago I started an annual post around my birthday where I created a list with the number of items coinciding with my age. I intend to live a long time so I may need to rethink this concept in the future. For now, with a little thinking, I’m managing. Check out 52 Things I am Grateful For and 53 Lesson.
This year I’m 54
I do not take the years I’ve had for granted. I believe that we are here to learn and each lesson when complete feels like something to celebrate—a success. So, here I am 54 years in thinking about how the lessons swirl into successes—big and small, in my life—so far.
You may enjoy some. You may agree with some. You may roll your eyes at some. You may even judge or shake your head. That’s okay because this is my list. The big successes opened the door to littler ones that caused a sweet and adventurous domino effect in my semi-ordinary life.
I have let go of the opinions of others (who don’t matter). I sincerely try my best every day. Do I fail sometimes? Of course. Do I keep trying to do my best? Of course. I’m not perfect but what is perfect is that I don’t swallow the criticisms of those who are not on my team.
I don’t obsess about my appearance anymore. I care about how I present as we are mostly, and initially, visual animals but I don’t let this subject eat up my thoughts. Man, when I think about how much brain time I spent on this—and at the end of the proverbial day it made no real difference. I’m grateful that my body is healthy and keeps me moving forward. I prefer walking to sitting on the couch any day. And honestly, did anyone other than me care what size I was (am) or what my hair or outfit looked like? Probably not. Success.
I got over my fear of heights. It was a knee-shaking, heart-palpitating, nerve-wracking, sweat-dripping experience. There was no deodorant on the market to keep my pits dry when I got up too high. How’d I get over it? I climbed things as often as I could. At first, I hated it. Eventually, it became a thrill. I took myself to the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, The Duomo in Florence Italy and I walked across the glass floor at the CN Tower in Toronto until my stiff and trembling walk turned into a swagger. Yeah, that’s right—a swagger. I climbed Mount Olympus and some other climbs in the Rockies that challenged my fears. Success. I went up in a hot air balloon in Saskatchewan and then took the challenge a little further floating quietly over the otherworldly landscape of Cappadocia.
I got over my fear of public speaking. How’d I do it? It started with being a waitress. Then I moved on to small group critiques in art school. Finally, I became a teacher to teenagers—the toughest audience out there. Twenty-five years later speaking to groups big or small is actually fun. If I could go back in time and tell teen me she’d never believe it. Success.
I learned to trust my physical body. I’ve trekked up mountains, crossed the finish line of a half marathon, and ziplined. I have a black stripe in a martial art and I belly danced for six years. That, my friends, is a different kind of confidence. Go me.
I learned to love winter. This is a big win as I am not moving from this part of Canada which means I better damn well accept the cold. I own a warm parka, a ton of toques, and a pair of sorels. Are they sexy? I pretend they are. To really have a good relationship you have to spend time quality time together. So Old Man Winter and I have been on cross-country ski dates, snowshoeing, and skating. I like shoveling. Huge success.
I built my own home. No co-signer. No negotiating with someone. I did it. Alone. It was a feat! And a lot of decisions. But like the half marathon or the mountain, I did it one step at a time and now I know I can do it again—if I want to. I’ve learned to manage money with a determined and solid boundary.
I use boundaries like a forcefield.
I take decent photos of others. I also take a decent photo of myself-–and even if I don’t, it doesn’t matter.
I have learned how to divert fights and mediate. This comes from working with youth, learning to empathize, and knowing what’s worth the fight and what isn’t. I do my best to come from a place of non-judgment.
I am an explorer, whether it’s my backyard or the world. This opened up a relationship with nature appreciating camping, forests, and generally being outside. I love to travel. Also, I am a good traveler—tucking and rolling with the discomfort of adventure. North America. South America. Central America. Europe. Asia.
I have found people, my people, folks I call true friends all over the place, of all ages and experiences. I have a team. And, I have learned to dig myself enough to find my person—the one who matches me so very well. This person is an outstanding human. This is a huge success—Finally, I’ve found the person that laughs as much as I do and matches my energy level and well as my values.
I drive manual cars. This may not big a big deal to some but it’s an example of another way to be independent and free.
I have fallen in love with systems. I hate the word organize. Systems are way sexier and more pragmatic than the vague concepts of organization.
Storytelling through visual art, journals, directing stage plays, formally published books, and this blog. Apparently I have things to say.
I have thrown some good parties. I have organized celebrations for others.
I appreciate the commute.
I found Christmas.
I trust my inner knowing and that little voice. Success.
I. Am. Never. Bored. I find humor in a lot. Laughing is good medicine—for real. I am a problem solver. The pandemic taught me this. I have a toolbox for my mental health. I can easily identify what makes me happy.
I can make a really good meal out of ‘nothing in the fridge.’ I have accepted my addiction to coffee. Is this a success? Yes. Because it’s delicious. Good enough.
Brave and crazy can be sort of the same thing and I teeter from one to the other. I trust my inner knowing. I understand when to push through and when to rest. I know that as long as I start something and chip away at it—it will happen. What is meant for me will not pass me by.
Change is an exciting challenge that can be horrifying and fun at the same time.
Lists are an amazing key to success.
Was that 54 things?
There is an adventure waiting around every corner and I will keep on keeping on because this metaphorical show is not over. I am not sure if I have 54 things on this list. I think I do. Smirk. In a statement of total honesty, I’m not sure if I will do this next year. I think perhaps the idea will evolve—because I like change. And because—why not.
I’m grateful to be alive.
What are your successes? I hope I have you thinking of them in your sweet and amazing life.
As always, thank you for reading lovelies.