What I've Learned in 41 Years of Breathing

Or, I'm starting to sound like my mother.
Publish date:
August 5, 2011
positivity, aging, kindness

I'm not quite ready to start collecting Hummel figures and watching reruns of "Murder, She Wrote" featuring that plucky little minx Angela Lansbury. But I'm not exactly getting new piercings or following the cast of "The Jersey Shore," either. I'm 41. I've been around the block a few (hundred) times. And I know a few things.

Read ahead, dear reader, and learn something. Or else turn on MTV. I think that Snoopy girl is drunk again. Or something.

1. Stop being such a creep to yourself.

I know you're doing it. Each and every day you're telling yourself something that if you heard someone tell another girl, you'd punch them in the throat.

"I'm such a cow, I shouldn't eat that."

"I suck, which is why my cell phone is shut off because I didn't pay the bill."

"I'm never going to get a raise because I'm stupid."

"He didn't call because I'm a dumb whore for letting him stay over."

"I'm not good enough, smart enough, thin enough, pretty enough.. I'm not, I'm not, I'm not."

Tell your inner Negative Nelly to STFU. We all do this to some extent. On a daily basis you will encounter people all too happy to cut you down in one way or another, don't join them. Be KIND to yourself. Unless you are serial killin' or runnin' your own puppy mill, you are just fine as you are. You are smart, funny, cool, and that shirt looks amazing on you. If your inner critic shows up, send her my way. I'll punch her in the throat.

2. Remember that dumb fad you heard about in the mid-90's called Practice Random Acts Of Kindness?

It wasn't dumb. Do that.

I'm not a religious girl, per se. But I do believe in THE GOLDEN RULE. And I believe in taking the golden rule and stretching the concept any way you see fit. This can be as big or small as you want it to be.

Volunteer. Anywhere, for any cause you feel passionate about. At an animal shelter. At Planned Parenthood. Be a big brother or big sister. Bake some cookies and drop them off at a nursing home. Bring with your stack of back issues of Vogue and Wallpaper.

No time to volunteer? No money to donate? You know that ugly necklace you bought at Urban Outfitters for 75 percent off you will never wear? Carry it in your bag. The next time you see a mom with a 3-year-old losing her shit in the grocery checkout give it to the screaming kid and tell her you have been looking for a princess to all week to give it to. Watch kid stop crying, watch mother mouth THANK YOU.

Open doors. For EVERYONE. Write a letter to your local coffee shop telling them what a great job your usual server is doing. Smile at old people. Smile at dog owners. Smile at the jerk who cuts you off in traffic. We all live on this big planet. Doing any of the above is your rent for living on it. I'm here to tell you your rent is due.

3. Call your grandmother.

Call you mother. Call your sister. Call your aunt, former girl scout leader, lady third-grade English teacher, best friend from when you were 12.

At some point in this life you had a female who made you feel like a rockstar, who built you up, who made you feel like you were perfect, just as you are. Tell them so.

4: See above.

Same thing, with a male. Lather, rinse, repeat.

5: Men.

I'm not here to tell you who to date, sleep with, move in with, marry. I'm here to tell you about TELLS. Every man is different, but there are certain TELLS which tell you to run the other way, as fast as you can.

It goes without saying the mother of all holy tells is a guy who lays a hand on you in anger. You're a smart cookie, you knew that all ready. First tell? Any man who displays cruelty to an animal, in any shape or form. I'm not talking about a guy who says " I don't like cats." I'm talking about a guy who shoves a cat when it rubs against him.

Second tell: any man who calls his mother a bitchass, no good crackwhore. Even if she was a bitchass, no good crackwhore. There is a difference between saying " My mother had problems" and calling her a bitchass crackwhore.

Third tell? A guy who doesn't open doors for others, mainly women, pregnant women, women with children, old people, anyone carrying a package. Unless his arms are full of groceries or he is on crutches, If he doesn't open doors, he sucks.

Fourth tell: Any man who hints at an interest in children. I'm not saying a man who buys you a schoolgirl costume and wants to play naughty professor and co-ed, I'm talking a man who leers at a group of actual schoolgirls outside the junior high.There are many other tells, these are the biggies.

These are just some of the things I have learned during my 41 years of breathing. I know a couple more, which I may share at a later date. In the meantime, what are some things you know for sure? What are some of your habits, traits, creeds, mottos that make you happy, saner, and able to navigate through life better? School me.