One thing about me: I'mma make a list.

I have a running list in my mind for multiple tasks at any given time. I have a grocery list, a Costco list (different from the grocery list), a to-do list, a goals list, a wish list, a watch list, a work list, a creative ideas list... you name it! When I was pregnant, both times, I kept a running list of all the things I needed to ask my doctor at the next appointment, otherwise I'd forget. Right now I keep a list of baby firsts to compile into a scrapbook I'll make once Christian turns one. Am I clear enough here? Ya girl loves her some lists!

About seven (!!!) years ago, I made a 30 Before 30 list. I never wrote a follow up after I crossed over to the other side, probably because I had my hands and my brain full of new-mom responsibilities, but I accomplished majority of the action items. 

Instead of making another one for 40, I've been doing more reflecting on the things I've learned in life thus far. It's wild to look back at all the ignorance, naivety, and cluelessness of my 20s. They weren't horrible by any means, but they sure were full of lessons. So today, on my 32nd birthday (technically the day after because I couldn't find the time to post!), I'm sharing 32 things I've learned over these years. I've been writing this list since January, adding items as they popped in my head - no matter where I was or what I was doing. Some of the stuff is super small and simple; some are bigger life concepts.

Grab a cup of something. This is a long one. 

1. Fill your creative bank. Lots of people view creativity as transactional, and in order to withdraw from your creative bank, you need to make regular deposits so there's something to withdraw from. My creative process is cyclical. Consume > Digest > Create. If I'm feeling blocked creatively, I need to either take time to find inspiration, or chew over some thoughts and ideas floating in my head. Either way, I need to carve out the mental space to make a creative withdrawal. Here's a video explaining this concept.

2. You can’t always fake it until you make it. Sometimes you need to keep it real and humble yourself. There is so much power in confidently saying "I don't know" or "I'm figuring it out" when asked about things I'm unsure of. Pretending like you've got it when you don't can come back to bite you.

3. Clothes that feel good are better than clothes that just look good. And if you find an article of clothing that looks good AND feels good, buy it immediately. Bonus points if it doesn't need to be dry cleaned.

4. Fabric shower liners are the only way. Those cheap, vinyl liners will develop mildew and soap scum, and no matter how many times you scrub it down, you'll have to replace them. Cloth liners are machine washable and will look good as new when freshly laundered. I've had the same microfiber liner for almost a decade, and I just replaced it last month with an identical version because it had gotten worn down from countless rounds in the washer/dryer. 

5. Speaking of laundry, close the duvet before washing it. Otherwise it will ball up into itself and never get properly cleaned or fully dry in the dryer.

6. Eat the fat. Most items marketed as "fat free" in the grocery store still have a crappy nutritional profile. The fat has all the flavor, so when they take it out, they have to compensate, and they usually do that by adding more sodium or sugar. My body responds so well when I include more quality fat into my diet.

7. You’ll never “get" time to rest. You have to be deliberate about your rest. Take it, and forsake everything else you “should” be doing in that moment. There will always an option that feels more productive than sitting on the couch with a book in hand or a fresh show on the screen, but rest is just as important as work

8. Next to water, wine is the elite liquid offering. It's in a class of its own.

9. Additionally, eating from home is elite life management. Planning meals, making a grocery list, going to the grocery store (sometimes multiple stores depending on what you need), unloading the groceries, washing and prepping the produce, cooking the food, storing the leftovers, cleaning up everything afterwards... I'm getting tired just typing all this out! To do all this on a regular - usually weekly - basis is so much work, and sometimes the rewards don't even outweigh the effort. Sometimes that new recipe isn't as good as you hoped; sometimes you're winging it and it comes out bad - or burnt. Yet and still, it's usually cheaper and healthier than eating out or ordering food delivery. 

10. Along those lines, money is not the only form of currency. Paying for convenience is 100% worth it if you can afford it. Your energy is far more valuable than money, and time is the supreme form of currency because you can't get it back. Money comes and goes. Energy is renewable. But time? Once it's gone, it's gone. There have been plenty of times I've wasted money but didn't think twice about it, but when my energy is wasted? I am not happy. And when my time is wasted, I agonize and figure out how to make sure it doesn't happen again. So hire landscapers instead of laying the sod yourself because it will take all day on a Saturday and it's the only free day you have to spend with your family. Pay extra for a booth at the lounge instead of that general admission standing-room-only ticket because you want to spend your energy enjoying the band instead of feeling the ache in those heels. If something will save me time and energy, like a 2for1 combo, I will gladly throw money at it.

11. Cash is king, but credit is queen. And as I’ve learned in the game of chess, the queen protects the king.

12. If you have to buy into a sale, it’s not a deal. Buy-one-get-one means you have to spend money to save money, and it's only worth it if you already needed more than one. Don’t pay for a discount. BOGO is only good if you still get half off one item (shoutout to Publix, their BOGO always works this way!). 

13. And to round out these points about money, invest in gold. Currency is a weird thing these days. It's practically invisible thanks to things like crypto and NFTs. You know what's not weird or invisible? Gold. Solid gold. The price is constantly in flux, but it's always valuable. When I say invest in it, I'm literally talking about gold bars (I'm not there yet, but it's a goal). Also, jewelry. Invest in gold jewelry. Not gold plated, not gold vermeil, not even gold filled. 10k, 14k, 18k is always the best option for jewelry (next to platinum)(and assuming you don't have a gold allergy).

14. Oh, and now, since I've mentioned jewelry, go for screw back earring studs. The traditional push backs get lost so easily, and the stud hurts the skin behind your ears if your head gets smushed for any reason. Screw backs solve that problem. 

15. Also, gifted jewelry will always feel more special when you wear it than jewelry you buy for yourself. 

16. Less really is more. Streamlining your wardrobe, your skincare, your jewelry, your makeup collection, etc. makes it so much quicker and easier to get ready each day and hop in the bed each evening. The only things I use on my face these days are cleanser and moisturizer, and my skin has literally never looked better! It's so much easier to just use one styling product on my hair after I wash it than to use all the creams, butters, gels and oils in hopes of having it look ~perfect~. Perfection is overrated. 

17. Social media is not real life. 

18. Stamps. You will need stamps. There will be a string of unpredictable instances in life where you need to send something in the mail, and stamps are required for this task. Always have stamps on hand. I bought a roll of 100 forever stamps earlier this year, just to have them. Future-me will thank past-me for that.

19. Checks. You will need checks. They may seem outdated, but they're really not - especially when you're dealing with any kind of government agency (getting a copy of your birth certificate, renewing vehicle registration) or home repair or renovation service (pest control, toilet installation). They're also a great option to help avoid credit card fees. There have been plenty of times when I wrote a check because I simply didn't want to pay a 3% merchant fee for using my MasterCard. 

20. You need to floss. Everyday. I'm still working on this one.

21. I know I said earlier that less is more, but sometimes more is more. There are instances where you'd do best to do the most. Over moisturize your skin on cold, dry winter days. Over communicate in your most valued relationships.

22. There is something so beautifully natural about having clipped and bare nails and toes, grown-out natural brows and wild "un-styled" hair. It's low maintenance, too!

23. Oh, and again with the hair, a quality curly haircut is worth more than all the hair products combined.
24. Invest in home. 2020 made me outrageously grateful for our home and all it's little comforts. It's easily my most cherished investment, and I'm so thankful for all the little ways we've made it both functional and cozy. 

25. Take every media headline with a thick grain of salt. And don't just read the headline and make snap judgements. Read the actual articles to the end and assess the source(s).

26. You don’t have to be the loudest one in the room to make an impression. One on one moments are more impactful.

27. Diamonds are absolutely stunning, but they are infamously overpriced. There are lots of other gemstones that look just as beautiful depending on your taste and will also stand the test of time.

28. There is power in speaking your goals and writing them down. You don't even have to talk about them with another person. Just saying them aloud is enough. 

29. Walking is plenty good exercise. You don't need a gym, a yoga class, or even a home HIIT workout. They're nice, and they have their place for sure, but a brisk walk gets the job done well in terms of exercise.

30. Get an external drive and back up your digital life. Carrie Bradshaw learned the hard way what happens when you don't back up your stuff. "Apparently, everybody's secretly running home at night and backing up their work." IYKYK. I don't do it at night, but I do it once a month and all at once. I back up my iPhone, my iPad, my iMac, the SD cards in my cameras, and specifically, the photos from my iphone. I drop everything on my external hard drive instead of using cloud services because 1) there's no monthly fee for using an external HD, and 2) I just don't trust "the cloud."

31. Buy the class ring. I remember during my senior year of high school, lots of people were saying they didn't want a class ring because "it was just high school" "the college one matters more" and various other reasons. I ended up getting one (thanks, Mom), and to this day, I still wear it! I've had it resized a couple times with the company's lifetime service warranty, and I honestly will probably wear it well into my retirement years. I love it so much. I never did end up getting a college ring, because I was happy enough with the one I already have. The college rings were also more expensive, and as a broke college student, a ring was the last thing I could financially prioritize.

32. You can have it all, but you probably can't have it all at the same time. I feel like there's always been an obsession, for women, to have it all: a family, a career, a social life, fulfilling hobbies, etc. Here's the thing. We can have all of that. And more! But having it all at once will run you ragged. There will be times when family life is amazing and I'm crushing it at work but I have no time to spend with my friends. There will be times when I'm getting regular exercise and my hobbies are keeping me refreshed and inspired but my spiritual life needs work. The key to balancing it all is to not try balancing it all at once. It's an overarching strategy, not a daily goal. When I look back over the past few years, I can clearly see how the scales were steady, but if I were to analyze it day to day, I'd feel so defeated.  Staying big-picture minded keeps me sane.

And that's that!

If you're still here, thank you for reading all the way to the end. And please share some of your life lessons with me!