10 Reflections on my 58th Birthday

It's my 58th birthday today, and I am thinking about my life and all the lessons I have learned that have helped me grow into the person I am today.

1.  There is no such thing as fair.

Everyone gets handed things in life that aren't fair.  My brother passed away when he was three.  I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian disease in 1982, lupus in 1996, and breast cancer in 2009. This isn't a pity party.  Each of us our dealt our own hand.  It is what we do with the cards that matters.

2.  Worrying solves nothing.

Worrying is such a time waster.  There are so many things you can do in the same amount of time as worrying, and in the end, you will have a painting, a knitted blanket, or a blog post.  Worrying never solved a problem, made your bank account flush, or brought your spouse home any earlier.

3.  Cats are a little bit of heaven.

Yes, I have two dogs that I love dearly.  But when it comes to out-and-out love, my cats have always been the ones to show it the best.  Heidi, Bustopher and Tugger, I miss you.

4.  Being nice costs nothing.

I don't have to go anywhere, or buy anything to be nice.  I can wave, smile, pen a note, send an email, or make a call.  I can choose the words I say.  I can choose to say nothing. When I chose to be mean, I feel small all day long.  I'd much rather do something kind, say something kind and feel good about it.

5.  Never burn any bridges.

You never know when you might need someone's help.  As a classroom teacher I have had former students take care of me at a hospital, wait on me at a restaurant, drive me to the airport and hire me for a job.  It is important to me that people know that I value their contributions to my life and I try to tell them as much as I can.

6.  Diets suck.

Ok, so this is a new learning for me, even though I have been on diets for 40 years and have lost probably 300 pounds, I always gain it back.  I am figuring it out, although so slowly that it may not ever come to pass.  A healthy lifestyle is where its at.  I am going to have to fake it until I make it or I might not ever make it.

7.  It is what it is.

I had a big disappointment centered around my family this year. My family has never disappointed me before and I did NOT know how to handle something like this.  I moped.  I cried.  I cursed.  Did the situation change? Not one little bit.  I cannot change people, how they feel, what they believe is important or how they behave.  What is important that I love them for who they are, not for who I thought they were or wanted them to be.

8.  Good friends are where it's at.

I have good friends.  I have been so lucky in this regard.  I am not always a great friend, letting long periods of time go inbetween calls or texts. But my friends hang on, knowing how I am and loving me all the same.  I had a scary episode last year with a cancer diagnosis of one of my friends.  It was during this time that I discovered how much I loved her.  Now we tell each other often.  And we meet as much as we can, even though there is now 100 miles between us.

9.  Good neighbors are a must in life.

Our life is too short to have bad neighbors.  My husband and I found our current neighborhood four years ago and sometimes feel overwhelmed at how blessed we were.  We found a neighborhood of people who think like us (mostly), love their homes, party together, feed each other, and look out for one another.  It is such a beautiful thing. I had this growing up but didn't value it like I do now.

10.  Finding joy in everyday living makes living joyful.

I constantly have to find joy where I can.  My blog is an outlet of joy for me.  When I share recipes, or experiences or family events, or Christmas, that is me finding my joy.  I know that I can experience physical pain when I am unhappy or sad. I try to avoid such feelings as much as possible. I've learned that I have to do it for myself.  I can't ask or rely on others to provide my joy, because it is always disappointing.  I'm still learning this one.  It's hard, isn't it?

And a bonus one:  You don't always have to be right.  I think that says it all.

So as I approach my 59th year of life, my 40th high school reunion, my 40th wedding anniversary and my 8th year of being cancer-free, I want to take these lessons I have learned and get a better grade.  I am challenging myself to refine these lessons even more.  I'm looking forward to what changes might be in store.

Happy 58th birthday, Terri.  
Terri Steffes
Terri Steffes

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