25 Lessons on Turning 25

candle

 

This week I turn 25. Wow, TWENTY. FIVE.  A  whole quarter of a century, and the first big “milestone” as far as aging goes. It is surprising to me, because I still feel like I’m 15.  I often question who trusted me to live alone, have a real job and to be responsible to pay my own bills.  I guess age truly is just a number, not a state of mind. Over my 25 years of life, I have learned a lot of lessons;  some of which came fairly easy, and some were learned in excruciating painful, long and difficult ways.  All in all, I am thankful for everything I have been through and  for everyone  (good and bad) who has taught me life lessons along the way!

1. Family Matters Most: This is first for a reason. At the end of the day, your family is all that matters. I have been blessed with the most amazing parents (who have taught me 25 million good lessons) and a wonderful sister that I often take for granted. It seems we often take  our anger and frustration out on those who love us the most, and I am guilty of this a lot. My family has taught me that friends will come and go, but you can always rely on family to be there for you.

2. If you don’t know something, ask!: I used to be really shy and awkward when it came to asking questions. But I quickly learned this lesson at the Harris Teeter when I had to start shopping for myself.  Mom is not always near her phone when you’re scouring the aisles for fig or cumin. Sometimes you have to just ask. This is one of the most important lessons that I’ve learned. There’s A LOT I don’t know, and there’s a large chance someone else was wondering the same thing. I’ve never been embarrassed once finding out the answer.

3. Always include the date: My Grandmother always included the date on everything. And my Dad also passed this lesson down to me. You’ll be glad you did when you want to look back on that diary entry about your middle school crush, or NSYNC concert from 1998. Sadly, our memories will eventually fail us.

4. Handwritten notes go a long way: I once had a lady who I interviewed with tell me that I was the only person who wrote her a handwritten thank-you note after the interview, and that gave me a competitive edge of everyone else. Handwritten letters are a dying breed, and mean a lot more than an email.

5. AAA cuts you off after 9 calls a year: My sister and I learned this lesson the hard way. Don’t lock your keys in the car 3 times in one day if you expect your membership to last an entire year.

6. Don’t fight fire with fire: I can’t say that I’ve totally conquered this, but am working hard on it. It’s amazing how much a fight can escalate when you respond with yelling anger. I’ve noticed that if you sit in silence during an argument, the other person has no other choice but to calm down. Man, I wish I had learned this a long time ago!

6.  Positive thinking really does work: I read the book “The Secret” a few years ago, and think it’s one of the greatest philosophies I’ve heard of. The Secret teaches that every thought we have can actually will something into fruition. Good and bad, I’ve seen this work in real life. Ask for what you want and then believe you will get it.

8. Heartbreak sucks: Whether you’re 15 or 22, heartbreak sucks. I have had a broken heart that lasted a few weeks, and one that lasted a few years. But the good news is that it does eventually heal. There were times when I thought I would never get over it, but I now look back and laugh. Wounds eventually heal, and you come to find that you’re stronger and better because of it.

9. Always floss: There was a picture in my dentist’s office that said “Only floss the teeth you want to keep”, and I guess that’s accurate. My mom has been relentlessly telling me this for as long as I can remember. I wish I was better at it, and am trying to keep up with it. It’s always embarrassing getting called out at the dentist for not doing it.

10. Like a variety of music: I pride myself on my diverse iTunes selection. From The Allman Brothers to Lil Wayne, Trisha Yearwood to Foo Fighters, there is something on there for everyone. Liking many genres of music makes you more culturally diverse, plus you have an appropriate playlist for any occasion.

11. Bangs are the devil: I have made a strict covenant with myself that my daughters will never have bangs. Never. I look back on baby pictures and wonder what in the world Sandy was thinking. The worst part is that the bangs haunted me into Elementary School. Not only do the look horrible, but they are a bear to grow out.

12. Create a budget and stick to it: I am so grateful that I learned this lesson early on. There are so many people who are in debt because of bad financial decisions they  made when they were my age. I am glad I took the time to educate myself on savings, retirements and investing. I know one day I’ll look back and thank myself for being so diligent.

13. Trust in God: Along with family, God is the only person who will love me despite bad choice, bad bangs, and a multitude of other shortcomings. As hard as it is to remember and follow, the ultimate plan is up to Him. He has this whole life thing taken care of, I just have to trust that he is in charge. He knows what he’s doing, and he has my best interest at heart.

14. There, Their, They’re: I can thank my 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Keziah, for this invaluable life lesson. There is nothing worse than poor grammar. I am so glad I learned this lesson early on!

15. Get to the ocean at least once a year: Growing up we would spend a mandatory week at the beach each summer. Although it’s tough to take a full week off, and to schedule a week that’s good for everyone, I still try to get there. I used to have the flexibility to get there more often, but am thankful for when I do get there now. Living three hours from the coast and having gracious friends who are willing to share their beach houses with you is very lucky situation to be in. There is something so peaceful and serene about the beach that recharges your soul.

16. Wear Perfume: I used to be the person who would buy nice perfume, but never wear it. Or buy a great candle, but never burn it.  What was I saving it for? Wear your nice jewelry and underwear, sleep on the good sheets, use the good china. Enjoy it every day, don’t wait for special occasions.

17.  70 °F is warm enough to wear shorts: Apparently growing up, my sister and I wanted to wear shorts to school every day (not really sure why?). So my parents implemented a clever rule. If it was 70 degrees or warmer, we could wear shorts. Oddly enough, I  still use this rule today as a standard of what the temperature is. If its below 70, it must be cold out, and if it’s over 70, it’s going to be a nice day.

18.  Life is not a reality show: But I sometimes secretly wish it was… Drama and theatrics are for high school and Bravo. No, camera crews are not following you, and no, you don’t have a hair and makeup team. As I grow older, I’ve realized that petty drama is not entertaining, and adds nothing positive to friendships. I’d prefer to have a few close friends in my circle, then a lot of people I don’t trust.

19. Never mess with a swan or her baby: In High School I took a jog around the pond in my parents neighborhood. A quick jog that ended in bloodshed. Come to find, mother swans are extremely protective and won’t tolerate anyone near their babies.  Lesson learned. I’ll never forget how large the circumference of that swans neck was, or the Homeowners Association telling my father that it was a federal offense to shoot a swan after he threatened.

20. Hot dogs and salami cause cancer: Two of my favorite foods, of course. My Mother is the healthiest eater I know, and as a breast cancer survivor, she is very particular about the foods she eats. She has drilled it into our minds that processed foods are toxic. It’s taken a while to finally accept this, but the woman has a good point. There can’t be anything redeeming about ingesting chemicals.

21.  Google can answer anything: There has never been any question that I’ve had that Google hasn’t been able to answer. I’d love to know the average times I visit the site per day. My guess would be around 100.  It’s the quickest and most direct way to find any tidbit of knowledge you’d ever want to know. I praise the mastermind who was behind this ingenious idea.

22. The first pancake always turns out bad: Just accept it, make another, and move on.

23.  Know a few fun facts & keep up with current events: Read or watch the news daily. It gives you a leg up if you actually know what’s going on in the world. People who are informed and have an opinion are extremely interesting. You never know where a good conversation will lead you. Dinner and business meetings with strangers are awkward. Have a few fun facts up your sleeve for these events.

24.  Fall in love and dance: Falling in love with someone is the greatest joy a human can experience. I am so thankful that I have been able to experience this already at such a young age.  It is the most comforting feeling in the world to know that you’re loved by someone else. Dance. Dance a lot. Even it’s just a slow dance in the kitchen after dinner.

25.  Some good comes from all bad: In 5th grade I was assigned a project to interview my grandparents. At the time, it didn’t mean anything. Now that my grandparents are deceased, it means everything.  I vividly remember asking my Grandfather what quote would sum up his life, and he said, “some good comes from all bad“. Ain’t that the truth! I fully believe that every life event is a either a blessing or a lesson!

 

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1. theSkimm: “A daily newsletter that simplifies the headlines for the educated professional who knows enough to know she needs more. We do the reading for you and explain it with fresh editorial content, breaking down what you need to know to start the conversation.” I cannot tell you how much I enjoy getting this email every morning. TheSkimm scans noteworthy news, then puts it in simple terms that even I can understand. Sign up to receive it for free, here!

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2. RunPee App: Call me crazy, but I really don’t enjoy movies, especially going to the theater to see one. I think it might be the fact that you’re stuck in one spot for multiple hours with no access to the pause button.  Consume one of those jumbo Coke’s and you have a major problemo.  Until now! With the RunPee App, you download the free app, select the movie you’re seeing, start the timer on your phone after the credits are finished, and your phone will vibrate to notify you when a good time to “runpee” is. The timer picks a time of the movie where you can run away and not miss much of the movie. You can also read whats happening in the movie while you’re gone. Brilliant!

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3. Jesus Calling App: My dear friend, Caroline, sent me the Jesus Calling Devotional book. It is hands down one of the best gifts I have ever received. I make it a priority to read one devotion each morning.  Drying my hair takes FOREVER, so this is the perfect opportunity for me to spend some quiet time with the Big Man. I am always in awe of how perfect each days message is. It’s always exactly what I need to hear. The best part is that I just discovered there is a free app. The app has the exact same devotion as in the book, and it also has some other cool features. Perfect for on-the-go!

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4. Revlon File ‘N Peel 6-IN-1:  Simply peel away each layer when worn down to reveal a fresh one underneath. I love this idea for the office. It’s compact enough to fit in a your desk drawer, and you won’t have to replace often. Revlon also suggests to always begin with dry nails to prevent splitting, use the coarser side to file nails to desired length and shape and use the less coarse side to smooth and finish nail edges.

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5. Mark and Graham Linen Satin Stitch Cocktail Napkins: My sister received a set of these from her fabulous soon-to-be sister-in-law, and I fell in love. These linen napkins are perfect for your tabletop, but I love the idea for your bar area. The napkins come in so many fun and colorful colors and fonts. Modern yet traditional at the same time. LOVE!

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DIY: Monogrammed Acrylic Tray

I have been obsessed with the acrylic tray idea since I saw them being sold on the Haymarket Designs website. The obsession quickly came to a screeching halt when I realized they were selling anywhere from $85-$125! There had to be a cheaper alternative, so I set out to create my own DIY version.  With my sisters “Monograms and Mimosas” wedding shower right around the corner, I knew it would be the perfect place to debut my new creation!

1. Finding the tray: Finding the tray was the easy part. I purchased mine for $12 at The Container Store (while we’re on the subject of obsessions, can we talk about how FABULOUS The Container Store is???), but I have also seen them at Bed Bath & Beyond and Michael’s Arts and Crafts.

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2. Perfecting the insert: The possibilities for inserts are endless. The best part is that if you choose not to glue your insert in, you can remove it and mix-and-match for different occasions. I love the idea of having personalized inserts for different holidays.  Anyways, I headed to my favorite sercy shop in Charlotte, Paper Skyscraper, to find the perfect paper. After much debate, I decided on a gorgeous teal, navy and gold funky print. It was $4. What a steal! Other ideas for inserts could be wrapping paper, or designs you make yourself using programs on your computer.

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3. The extra touch: While I adored the paper I purchased, I figured my tray needed some extra pizzazz. Since this present was intended for a monogram shower (and who doesn’t love seeing their new married monogrammed on EVERYTHING?) – I knew what the extra touch would be. I ordered a 5″ interlocking decal from InitialYou’s Etsy shop for $4.95.  While I was there, I decided I should probably order my own monogram decal.

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4. Putting it all together: I simply traced the edges of the tray on the scrapbook paper and cut out the rectangle. Next step was applying the monogram deal. The was the only tricky part of the entire project. The monogram decal itself comes off of the paper easily just measuring and making sure it is centered took some time. Lastly, I took the cutout with monogram to Office Max to get it laminated. I figured if it would be used near a bar or bathroom, laminating the insert would be the smartest idea. Laminating only set me back $2.

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I am so in love with the final product! And for a grand total of $23, I think it turned out perfect! There are many things you can use your tray for. I paired it with my Altuzarra Neiman Marcus Target 18K Gold Double Old-Fashioned Glasses and a vintage wine opener that I found at the Junior League WeareHouse for .50! I also love the idea of using it on your dresser for perfume, jewelry, etc.

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I am so OBSESSED with this product that it deserved it’s own post. The Clarisonic Mia has transformed my life.  Literally, transforming! Over the past few months I started seeing the Mia everywhere. At the mall, on various blogs, in magazines, etc. So, I decided I would ask for one for Christmas. I’ve only been using it for a few weeks and can already tell a difference.  The Mia uses sonic frequency to remove 6X more makeup and 2X more dirt than you would get cleaning your face with your hands.  After the first time I used it it, my skin instantly felt smoother. My skin is clearer and has a natural glow that I’ve never had before. It is a little pricey, but definitely worth the results that I’ve seen. The Mia comes in a variety of colors and the best part…you can get it engraved with your initials….ahhhh!!!

Confession: Content vs. Complacent

I have a confession to make. When the clock struck midnight, I didn’t get the “Ra! Ra! 2013!” feeling that I think a lot of people did. Don’t get me wrong, I was extremely glad to be with the ones I love, and a new fresh start is always welcomed. But as I looked back on 2012, I accomplished a lot and was very proud of my results. I have the job I always wanted, arguably the best family, a sweetheart of a boyfriend, fantastic friends, great health, in a good place financially, the time and means to do fun things, and a roof over my head. But there was also a guilty feeling that also accompanied the feeling of success. How could I start the new year without a list of things to complete?  Did this mean I have no drive? Have I lost my motivation? Am I lazy…………………..?????

Then it hit me. There is a difference between being CONTENT and with being COMPLACENT.

I once heard happiness described as a three-legged stool; There is satisfaction of accomplishment about the past, there is optimism about the future and then there is happiness in the present. Is it just me, or is it hard to be content with the present? It seems like there is a nagging voice always telling me to achieve more, give more, love more, accomplish more! With the rat race of life it’s difficult to take a deep breath-in and just appreciate where you’re at. It’s OK to take time to relish in what you’ve achieved, to pat yourself on the back for hard work…take a breather once in a while.  To me, being content means being able to accept the reality of your situation. When you’re content you work on things you can change, and accept the things you can’t. Complacency occurs when you accept a “good enough” or “that’ll do” attitude and when you become satisfied with the status quo. To me this is a dangerous place to be in because you lack the drive to do more.

I guess the difference is this: we should be content with the things, relationships and circumstances we have and, at the same time, refrain from being complacent about what’s to come. For now, I am thankful that I’m at a peaceful place, and also hopeful and excited for whatever life might bring next.

 

We must ask God to help us strike a balance, so we can say like Paul, “For I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who  strengthens me”

(Philippians 4:11b-13 ).