Yesterday was a biggie birthday.  Honestly, I have mixed feelings about it. There’s two choices every time a monumental birthday shows up. (Really, the first one that required a shift in thinking was my 40th.  I struggled with it.) Now, at 50, either I can let the arrival of this number defeat whatever joyful thoughts there may be in my brain, or just decide to rock the new decade I’ve been gifted. I’ve made the decision to squash those negative thoughts, pounding them flat, and silent.  I don’t feel 50. Not a day over 49. Ha!  Fifty is the new 30!!

So here are my thoughts on important lessons I’ve learned over the years.  Most of these have been learned the hard way. Once I succumbed to the wisdom found in each, my life was much better.

Make your bed EVERY morning.

This is so important. You have probably seen the speech by Admiral McRaven proclaiming this easy, but difficult for some, maxim. There are very few days where this little feat does not happen in my bedroom.  I need the small feeling of accomplishment to launch into the day’s  busyness. I need to start my day with some degree of organization and calm, even if the rest of the hours contained in it only give me chaos.  Then, when I come back to my bed at the end of the day, the feeling I get when I survey a made bed gives even more peacefulness.  I really can’t explain how important this small act is to me.

Clean up the kitchen EVERY night.

I remember well those days with little ones. They were happy and long. Then I spent 17 years homeschooling and still nothing was ever finished.  Both my hubby and I would literally nod off nightly during those years as we rocked one or more of them to sleep.  The last thing I wanted to do was mountains of dinner dishes after getting them down.  But then if I didn’t do them, and then found them in the morning, I was instantly behind. Not a great thought before coffee.  I learned that I hated the feeling of starting the day ‘already behind’ more than staying up the extra few minutes to tidy up the kitchen.

Cast iron cooks better.

I have only come to this realization in the last year or so.  The hubby and I have had lots of ‘words’ about cast iron over the years.  He loves to cook with it.  He’s a hunter and camper and it just is better for such endeavors.  I always complained how heavy it is and how that fact did not jive with our military moving weight allowance.

Lately though, I’ve been cooking with it more and it just cooks more evenly and thoroughly, for everything from eggs on the stovetop to biscuits in the oven. After it’s been seasoned, it’s easier to clean up as it is just indestructible. A quick spritz with oil or cooking spray after it’s been washed and dried and you’re all set. And, interestingly,  it also helps in the daily intake of  iron as it infuses food with some in the cooking process, a double plus.

Learning something new keeps you young.

A known and accepted ‘fact’:  you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.  Untrue.  Learning something new and maybe with a degree of difficulty is possible.  I have spent the last few weeks learning the technical aspects of blogging, including SEO and some HTML. It leads to new self confidence and satisfaction.  I learned some German when we lived in the German countryside.  I learned how to homeschool my kids many years ago, a feat that initially gave me profound trepidation.  Any new idea or physical endeavor that we attempt and really even fail  changes your perspective and opens up new doors of experience.  Try something new without fear!!

TV makes you dumb, reading makes you smart.

In a world of digital screens, it takes effort to purpose to turn off the TV.  I did it more often the last few months as I tired of hearing the screaming election process.  How is your vocabulary these days?  The boob tube will not lead you to new heights of word usage.  It used to be a personal goal to further our every day vocabulary.  Somehow after the SATs and college this ideation of learning and using new words gets lost.  Bloggers are told to write in the vernacular.  How does that help anyone?  Historically speaking, we have dumbed ourselves down so much in the last 100 years that schools today cannot compete with the vocabulary and literature choices from back then. Read. Learn new words.

 Impress someone with your vocabulary.

You never regret making the effort.

Unfortunately, this one is hard.  I have lots of regrets of things I didn’t do. This is especially difficult in light of dear ones’ deaths. Make the effort.  Write the letter.  Plan the trip.  Dial the phone. Just do it.

You can get through anything for a few minutes.

My mother used to tell me this frequently. Often it was in response to an upcoming baby’s delivery, but it proves true over and over.  Life is about doing things we don’t like or want to do.  She would say, “You can walk through fire for a minute or two!”  I’ve walked through many fiery situations in recent years.  Some of those involved my kids, some involved laying to rest loved ones, some involved difficult physical burdens, some emotional hurdles.  He equips us with exactly the strength we need for the moment. Every time.

God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love and of a sound mind.  (2 Timothy 1:7) 

When buying groceries, only shop on the outside perimeter.

Stop eating fake food!  We were created to eat proteins and vegetables.  The onslaught of diseases like diabetes, autoimmune phenomena and even depression can stem from imbalances in the  gut.  All the processed choices found in the middle of a grocery store aren’t really food.  I have some thyroid issues that made resulted in a sick me a few years ago.  Lots of research led to changed diets for my family.   I’ve determined to buy fresh when I can and severely limit processed items.

Nature is important;  it is therapy for the senses.

After living all over everywhere for 26 years, my hubby and I long to live out our days where beauty is easily seen.  The idea of only seeing concrete and cars  on a daily basis just seems so sad.  Though we were and are open to wherever He may lead, He’s given us the longing for green.  Hubby has much more of a green thumb than I do, but I want to learn with a hearty garden.  I want to participate in the growing process. We need to be outside to enjoy that green for all the seasons, or  to see with our own eyes the magnitude of an ocean.  It changes an attitude to smell the fresh earth, or hear the power of a rushing river.  Just having a little herb garden on the window sill provides a measurable degree of happiness.  A walk in the woods provides such peace and nearness to God the Creator while  showing our diminutive size in comparison.  We serve a God who gifts us with beauty.  The least we can do is acknowledge and enjoy it.

Spend quiet moments every day, preferably morning and night, to regroup.

How often do you purpose to ‘do quiet’?  Really?  When we had little ones underfoot, getting up earlier than they did just to seek Jesus in the quiet was difficult. I know.  Now it takes discipline to put down the screen for a few minutes.  He tells us in His word to be still.  Why do we find such comfort in being busy?  Most of it is nonsense. Most of our chaos is our own making. He’s impossible to hear when all the noise, both audible and digital, is rattling around in our brains. He’s quiet.  And He waits for us to be quiet too. The quiet itself is so needed today.  We’re so noisy. Peace never comes loudly.

So there you go.  Maybe these are similar to your own rules for living.

Do you have some that you would add?

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