I recently had my 33rd birthday and after the day had come and gone, I sat down to paint a quick portrait to capture how I look right now in this moment.
As I was painting I reflected on the past year and how different my life is now than it was just 12 months ago. I have made huge changes to my lifestyle to give myself more time to do the things I enjoy and more space mentally and physically from things that bring me stress. I made a list of 33 things I have learnt and try to live by not just to help you but also to refer back to myself for guidance - here they are.
33 Things I learned before turning 33
1. Trust your instincts
I can't tell you how many times I have ignored this advice (given to me by my Grandma) only for my first instinct to be proven right in the end.
2. Being interested makes you interesting
Having hobbies and passions gives you things to talk about with others and gives other people the opportunity to relate to you.
3. A smile costs nothing
It also can make people's day, help you make friends and give a great first impression. There is no point dressing to impress and having a face like a slapped behind.
4. Ironing is worth the time
Ironing always seemed like a boring waste of time but as I've gotten older, I understand the benefit of putting a couple of extra minutes into taking care of your clothes, they are softer, last longer and look more expensive to name a few.
5. The amount of energy you have in a day is limited
It's up to you what you spend it on.
6. Routine is essential
Training yourself to wake up at the same time every day and go to bed at the same time every night, and not disrupting that routine at the weekend makes life simpler, more predictable and easier to organise.
7. You are what you consume
- not just what you eat.
8. Food is life
Teaching myself to cook has given me freedom. I am not confined to recipes and can always whip something up when the cupboards are seemingly bare. Cooking and baking for others is a way to show love, bring people together and build bridges and is a valuable tool in my belt.
9. Being able to apologize when you have hurt someone shows strength
Hurting someone important to you can sometimes happen unintentionally, and apologising as soon as you realise will save a lifetime of pain and resentment.
10. When someone shows you who they are, believe them
When the veil has dropped and you see the real person underneath, remember that and don't allow yourself to be gaslighted.
11. Journaling helps
When you feel like you need someone to talk to, your journal is there ready to listen and will never betray you. When I am being my best self, I am journaling every morning and this allows me to start every day fresh with weightless shoulders
12. Good value does not mean cheap
Finding good value for a product often means spending more than the bottom end, though that doesn't mean the most expensive version of said product is the best quality either. Finding brands that I trust and can rely on is one of the small joys and comforts in life I have come to appreciate as I get older
13. Take your makeup off before you go to sleep
This is one of the easiest ways to improve your skin but is a hurdle every makeup wearer has fallen at. The trick is to take it off before you are tired and have a "getting ready for bed" time which is before your "go to bed" time.
14. Find an exercise that you enjoy and do it
I love walking so I aim to walk for 2 hours every day. We got our beautiful Labrador, Hope to give us an excuse to indulge in this luxurious workout routine and we have never felt better.
15. Cultivate your circle
Knowing good people and having great relationships with them is the most important asset you can have when you're trying to achieve anything.
16. Allowing people to mistreat you won't make them like you
Letting rude comments and passive aggression go over your head with the idea that it will pass and you will win them over eventually is only going to end one way. They will never like you, just draw a line through it now and move on.
17. A tidy space is a tidy mind
It's impossible to function in a dirty and disorganised environment, sort your space out and the rest will follow.
18. Writing a list gets things done
Having a visual list in front of you is the easiest way to motivate yourself to do what needs doing. Think of your list as a manager, give yourself a small handful of tasks to do each day and when you find your mind wandering, refer back to your list to keep yourself on track.
19. Distractions are necessary
When I was in hospital recently, I distracted myself from my worried thoughts by playing calming music on my headphones constantly to relax my nerves. Meanwhile, I read books, painted and chatted to my new neighbours to take my mind off what I was going through. Each of these things helped me immensely.
20. There are real problems then there is everything else
Rain on your birthday or not having the perfect top for those trousers aren't problems. Health is wealth so appreciate it while you and those you love have it.
21. Happiness is something you have to work for
We have the power to create our realities to a certain extent, and that extent is much larger than you first realise. Think of your mood as a bar and everything you do pushes that bar one way or the other, every time you complain it goes down, and every time you smile it goes up. You can't always control what happens but you can control your reactions. Laughing things off even when you don't feel like it will ultimately make you and everyone around you feel better. Focus on the good and ignore the bad as much as you can.
22. Clean hair is better than styled hair
Having clean hair makes me feel fresh and alive. When I was a teenager I thought washing my hair was so much of an effort because of the hours of styling I thought I had to do after it that I would avoid washing my hair so I could spend that time straightening, blow-drying and curling. I have learnt that clean hair is better than styled hair in my later years and if I have limited time I will wash and dry now over styling.
23. Turn off notifications
I have turned off almost all notifications on my phone including email, Instagram, Facebook, calls and text messages. I have learnt that being contactable 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is too much pressure for me. I check my emails and certain apps periodically throughout the day but I can't always respond as soon as someone sends a message, and that is ok.
24. Saying no is saying yes to yourself
Learning to have respect and confidence in your morals and values is not something to be shy about. Saying no to things is often saying yes to those beliefs and ways you want to live your life. I used to be embarrassed by my Grandmaish ways, saying no to nights out and going to bed early are now things I do with pride because I know that even though I may be disappointing someone else, I am making myself happy.
25. Being in an equal relationship doesn't mean everyone does 50% of everything
I have previously found myself in a point-scoring relationship where every act of kindness and penny spent was calculated and tallied. I have learnt that there is always going to be one person who earns more than the other, one person who does more of the cleaning than the other and you have to find a balance that suits your lifestyle and needs. Love is not about point-scoring and chasing your tail trying to keep up, love is acceptance.
26. Quality over quantity
It is better to have 1 excellent pair of jeans that is comfortable, lifts and pulls you in at all the right places and goes with everything than 10 pairs of jeans that are too tight, too long and make you miserable every time you wear them. Apply this metaphor to everything in life, friends, clutter, shoes and you will soon be living a higher quality life.
27. Know what you suck at
I suck at cleaning bathrooms, technology and small talk. Some of those things I have to do in my everyday life and career and I continue to learn as I go, but I have learned to seek help from others in areas that I don't excel in. Victoria Beckham knew she couldn't hit those high notes in the Spice Girls but that was ok, because Melanie C could, so let people fill in these gaps for you when they can - work as a team.
28. I don't have to attend all of the things
I am an introvert and am easily drained by almost all social encounters and have learnt that I don't need to attend them all but turning up for a few minutes is better than not at all.
29. The best things in life are free
Laughing with your best friend, watching a sunset with your partner and taking your dog for a nice walk all cost nothing and these are the types of activities that I want to fill my days with. I still appreciate a beautiful handbag and enjoy meals out in nice restaurants, but I have learnt that the superficial parts of my life that I enjoy are much further down on the scale of my priorities than they used to be.
30. Be genuine
When giving compliments, be genuine, if you aren't happy with something then say it. Biting your tongue and sitting on the fence does not make you a nice person and nobody will thank you for it. You will be respected more if you are genuine and stand up for yourself when the moment calls for it.
31. People don't change
Waiting for someone to see the light or trying to change someone will only waste your time. Accepting people for how they are doesn't mean that you have to endure them.
32. Take breaks
Taking regular short breaks throughout the day gives your mind a moment to recalibrate, get some nourishment and some perspective on the day. Sometimes those short breaks need to be bigger breaks depending on what has happened, try not to be hard on yourself when you need some time, your body will thank you for it.
33. Always do your best
Inevitably your best will sometimes not be good enough and sometimes you will make the wrong decisions but as long as you have the peace of mind that you were doing those things for the right reasons then you can sleep soundly.