30 for 30

I am less than two weeks away from my 30th birthday. In my line of work birthdays are a huge deal. For pre-teens, there is no better day. It can be the beginning of February, you can mention something that occurs next August and no less than three girls will scream, “That’s my birthday! My birthday is in August! Is this about my birthday? Cause that’s my birthday!” Before you know it those three are up and walking around the room basically handing out invitations to Hot Skates. I do not recall this hysteria but I have always lived in Jesus’s shadow with a birthday of December 27th and as always, to each her own. As I approach this milestone, I’m reviewing some of the life lessons I’ve learned in the past decade, or maybe over the past three. This feels a little similar to my blog self-evident truths but this feels like what I need to write right now. Also, doing this might be a little obvious but again, when you’re 30, you do what you want. Here’s my friend Steph’s own version from July.


1. a. Do not cut your own bangs. Leave that to the professionals like Karen Spence at East Bank Hair. 

  1. b. I am so lucky to have been raised by Nancy and Dick. They made us ride bikes in Baltimore City. Dad taught us how to fish. Mom did not call cuts “boo boos,” but rather “lacerations.” And although they’ll tell you they didn’t know what they were doing, they were the perfect parents. I imagine most of my circle of friends (I’ve really got some friends who are #blessed) know that their parents have been the perfect parents for them. For those who don’t have that, I’m so incredibly sorry. It’s not fair.
  2. Aubrey is by far the best gift my parents ever gave me. If you’ve ever witnessed how close we are, you’re nodding right now. A distant but legit second place gift from Nancy and Dick goes to Playstation (first generation) and the game Crash Bandicoot.
  3. Although cleaning is time-consuming and exhausting and never done, there’s a calmness that comes from an orderly environment.
  4. Although exercising is time-consuming and exhausting and never really done, there’s a calmness that comes from working out.
  5. Pets enhance life. RIP Nike and Duffy. Growing up with these incredible dogs as my brothers was a combination of the following: raucous, dander-filled, humorous, entertaining, full of love, hairy, messy, adorable, and it taught Aub and me about life and death.
  6. Say “I love you” even if you’re not sure if the other person will say it back. I spent at least a half-dozen years telling my grandfather “I love you” to which he’d reply “Thank you.” Eventually, he started saying it back, even though I knew it all along. I come from an “I love you” family and I will continue to impose that on the rest of the world. Hey you, I love you!
  7. It is futile to wait for a situation, relationship, or job to get better. Either change it or leave it.
  8. Be happy alone before you can be happy with someone else. I don’t need this one anymore because Chas is my forever but I remember seeking solace in another person’s company even though I was not actually interested in that person. That was unfair. You’ve got to be able to do you before you can do we.
  9. Tone is important. And it is completely lost in emails, texts, letters, and even blogs. If you have to say something important, say it.
  10. Less emails is always better than more emails. Words get lost when there are too many of them. Be concise to be effective.
  11. Being with friends = medicine.
  12. You get one set of teeth that actually look right inside your head. Take care of them. My gram was very proud of her 86-year-old full set. Chas’s 94-year-old Grandma Frieda loves to say “I got my feet and my teeth.” Dental hygiene deserves our attention and I am not just saying that because Aunt Mo is a dental hygienist. I love you, Aunt Mo.
  13. It’s okay to watch The Bachelor or whatever your trashy choice. Sometimes we just need mindless television to come back to normal. Life is just so real. The Bachelor is…some form of real. Put them together–you’ve got a well balanced life.
  14. Nature feels good. And I know that I am definitely a four seasons kind of girl.
  15. Yoga is pretty all inclusive. It’s meditative, fun, challenging, relaxing, toning, communal, and a lot more. Yoga improves lives.
  16. If you’re going back and forth between doing something and not doing something, it will be exactly 100% easier not to do it. But it will also be 100% less rewarding. Eat the peach.
  17. As an educator, you have to be able to hold conflicting facts to be true at the same time. You can’t help everyone. You can help everyone. One will make you feel normal, the other will make you feel crazy. Know them both to be true.
  18. Consignment shopping is environmentally friendly, affordable, and fun. Most of my clothes are consignment and I dress cute, right?! (See tank top and sweater combination above.)
  19. Travel is life-altering. The experiences you get while traveling, especially on a shoestring, are more worthy of your paychecks than nice cars, name brand throw pillows, and whatever new boot brand people are raving about these days.
  20. You can’t make a meal out of only crabs. You have to pad your stomach with bread, corn, and Natty Boh. Crabs are just too rich to be eaten alone.
  21. Live plants and even fake plants improve the look of a room.
  22. Western medicine is not the end all and be all. Acupuncture, yoga, energy work, essential oils have each enhanced my life in a myriad of ways.
  23. As above, our way is not the only way. And that applies to all of the “ours” in our lives.
  24. Most things in life are not one size fits all. These leggings that I want for Christmas are apparently one size fits all (HINT: CHAS). But most things are not. People deal with joy in different ways. People deal with tragedy in different ways. What works for you…works for you.
  25. It really pains me to admit this one but I’ll say it. Acne is not just a teenage problem.
  26. Money is not a reason to live, not a reason to do a job. Money should not count as your life’s goal or your life’s work.
  27. That said, often times “throwing money at a problem” is very effective, especially when traveling.
  28. Reading is literally all things. It’s a cop out when people say “I don’t like to read.” Reading is the entire world. Learn to like it.
  29. Always, always find a way to apologize for things. But don’t say “sorry” instead of “excuse me” or other things that do not require actual sorrow. Okay, Emily? Humbling yourself to apologize for things that matter to someone else or to you is always worth it.
  30. Family, whatever you conceive family to be, is important.

Honestly, I could keep going. Maybe I will do 30 more next week. Thanks for the idea, Uncle Michael. I wonder how many of these things I will still agree with when I’m 60. I can only hope the acne is gone by then.

11 thoughts on “30 for 30

  1. This list is about 20 years too late for me. I could have used the advice in #12 a long time ago. Next week I will be getting my 9th fake tooth…although I am going to blame bad genetics rather than lack of care. Thank God we live in a time when technology allows us to replace failing teeth with ones that look just like the real thing. I may have grown up close to Dundalk (Sparrows Point – home of the boys and girls 2017 Maryland State Soccer Championship Teams)…but with my full set of real/fake teeth nobody would ever know that (unless they pick up on my south Baltimore accent, right Renee? 🙂 )


  2. 1. Never buy anything without a coupon. Everything is overpriced as it is.
    1b. It is not tacky to use a coupon on a first date. It shows the girl (or boy, or non-gender person) you are with that you take managing your money seriously…and if it doesn’t work out then it didn’t cost you all that much anyway.
    2. Thanksgiving is a way better holiday than Christmas. Family has the opportunity to get together without the stress of commercialized gift-giving.
    2b. When your son asks you for a computer for Christmas because he knows that is the cornerstone of what the future will be….do not cheap out and buy him a typewriter (#stillbitter)
    3. I have never figured out the appeal of skinny jeans. Subconsciously, I probably don’t like them because I don’t really want people to know how skinny my legs actually are. It is like trying to put a sofa cover from Ikea over one of their couches…it is almost impossible and who really wants to put that much effort into getting dressed.
    4. Teachers who leave the classroom for a central office or administrator position are not doing it because they “feel like they can make a bigger impact” in a position outside of the classroom. It is about more money plain and simple. The further removed from students you are the less impact you are going to make in education.
    5. There has been no better development for the consumer than Amazon Prime (sorry small businesses). I can order stuff and have it delivered to my house for free in under two days without having to deal with the crazies at Walmart….yes please. And for Christmas, the stuff I order comes in its own ready to wrap box…brilliant!

    Oh I almost forgot this is Amanda’s blog 🙂 It could be very easy to make a top 100 list. Great blog this week Amanda!


  3. I don’t know how distant the 2nd place is for Crash Bandicoot. that may be a closer race than you realize! That was a SWEET game, and I am not always that sweet.


  4. Just because I run everyday doesn’t mean I LIKE running. I run because of what it gives me: meditation, relaxation, fitness, strength of character.


  5. I love #6 (see what I did there). I come from an I love you family too, my mom won’t get off the phone until we say it. Often, she has to say good-bye 10 times before she’ll hang up, so I get 10 I love yous. My favorite is calling my grandparents and hearing my them say “we love you too Bug” (Bug is their nickname for each other, their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren). I find myself doing this with Bryan now too, I won’t get off the phone until I say it!


  6. I would say be kind every chance you get in life, but you learned that at your lovey mother’s knee. Old fashioned way of saying Dick and Nancy did a great job with you and Aubrey. Keep being you my introspective daughter in law. I need a better word for that, I just can’t call you dil 😉


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