Feature Stories,  Health & Wellness,  Life

The 40 things I’ve learned in 40 years


I remember when my parents were fortyish and thinking it was SO old (sorry mom, sorry dad). I could never imagine being forty, it seemed like a lifetime away and I was already a teenager at the time.  Little did I know that after the 3 years of high school, everything would speed up – or at least it felt that way. And with each passing decade time would feel exponentially faster than ever before.

So here I am at forty – I thought that word would hit me like a ton of bricks and in the weeks leading up to it, I certainly felt like I got a few rocks in the face.  Its a time for reflection after all, so you’re bound to get hit with something. But then it happened and like every other year, the birthday came and went and now I’m just in my forties. To be honest, I feel pretty damn good at forty.  I mean don’t get me wrong, there is always room for improvement, but in the grand scheme of things – I am pretty lucky and have a lot to be grateful for.

I am nowhere near perfect, but I am perfectly me and that is something to be celebrated! So in honour of that, I thought I would share some of the lessons I’ve learned that are helping me live and love my life better every day.

Before you read – remember, I’m not here trying to tell you how to live your life, I’m just sharing things that have happened over the years that make sense for ME.

Here they are in no particular order:

  1. I try to laugh as much as I possibly can, because as cliché as it sounds – laughter really is the best medicine. Ask me about the laughing yoga class I ended up in by accident. People that bring the silly out in you are the best kind of people.
  2. Experiences are much more important than stuff. I am always making efforts to DO MORE and buy less.  There are certain things that are important to me, like having a home that we love spending time in, so I will buy things to make that feeling come to life – just ask Clint about my pillow obsession. But outside of that,  I am constantly pushing to spend more time together with the people I love creating memories.
  3. I am always trying to spend more time in nature. We are so lucky there is still so much beauty left in the world, despite what we have done to it and connecting with nature feeds my soul in a way nothing else does – I’m telling you there is nothing like the feeling you get from camping in the mountains, swimming in the ocean, or playing in the park.  This is so important to me and something I strive to instil in our daughter as she grows up.
  4. Travel, travel, travel.  I try to travel often and to different places each time. If it’s possible for you, I suggest traveling on your own at least once.  Traveling to a place that feels strange or traveling in a way that is uncomfortable is scary, beautiful, and positively life changing.  I know travel can be expensive and tough with large families, but it is still possible.  It doesn’t have to be going across the world to India or Croatia, it can be a road trip to a tiny town or bigger city, either way it will enrich your life.
  5. I dream big, take risks and work hard – it really does pay off in the end.  The ‘take risks’ part is the one I struggle with now.  Having a family makes it easy for me to come up with excuses of why I shouldn’t go after something; I want to make sure they are protected, so the scary things like quitting your job to pursue your passion become things I tell myself I can’t do.  But the thing is (and I know this to be true), taking risks allows me to learn and grow and become a bigger, better version of myself and that’s the ME my family deserves.
  6. It is NEVER too late to make change; it is however scary as hell sometimes. But, but, but – this life is it and I want to get the most I possibly can out of it.  In order to do that I have to be willing to see things differently and do things differently.  Which brings me to the next point.
  7. I welcome change with open arms, no matter how scary it may be – because change is inevitable, it’s going to happen around me anyways; so the more I am open to what it might bring, the more it usually brings.  It can be pretty damn awesome sometimes.
  8. Sometimes I fail learn and sometimes I’m successful, both are equally important to my growth. Its easy to look at failure as a bad thing, but I’m telling you – the times I failed i learned the most valuable lessons.  Failure is as important if not more than success.  And if you look at it from this perspective, it becomes way less frightening.
  9. When I fall, I try my hardest to get back up again. And don’t get me wrong, falling down literally and figuratively hurts more at this age but what happens when you get back up again is so worth the fall. And, hopefully you have a little cushion in the form of a few people rooting for you and helping you get back up.
  10. Work is a necessary component in life and also probably one of the most challenging things to get right. What I mean by that is that work shouldn’t just be this thing you have to do (which it is for a lot of people, me included at times).  I do think there’s a sweet spot – finding some combination of what you’re good at, what you love and what the world values.   I’m not totally there yet, but I will be.
  11. Creativity is a fundamental way for me to express who I am and it is necessary to my well-being. Everyone is creative in some way, believe me.  There is so much beauty in creating, but I believe it is best when done for yourself, not others.  Now, if it resonates with other people and they want to buy it – that is awesome.  But what matters most is how it sets YOU on fire! Creating something from nothing is an incredible feeling. Give it a try…
  12. I have become self aware – for me this happened quite a long time ago.  At the time, I didn’t love the way I handled and reacted to certain situations; I saw some uglier characteristics rearing their head. So, in response, I actively worked towards self awareness so that when I found myself in these situations I could CHOOSE to behave differently.  This is a never ending work in progress for me, I’m not perfect at it and I imagine I never will be – but I will also NEVER stop working at it.
  13. I know who I am and what I believe in and I stand behind it fiercely.  That doesn’t mean I’m perfect – far from it in fact; what it does mean is I am committed to who I am and what I believe in. Because…
  14. I am also unapologetically me. Listen, I am like everyone else – at times in my life there are things about myself (both physical and psychological) I would have changed if I could, but these days I just don’t feel like that anymore.  I am me; and I accept myself and make efforts to love each and every part of myself – mind, body and soul.  It is the only way I can truly be happy.  And here’s the thing, I’m sure I know there are people that don’t like parts of me, or all of me – but guess what, they’re not the ones that have to live my life, I am; so their opinions don’t mean ANYTHING. Being me doesn’t mean I don’t strive for more, I am always working on myself, to me its a lifelong project – but it is for ME, not anyone else.
  15. Confidence is everything.  There are things about myself I don’t love, there are things I’m not great at and wish I was better at, and there are situations that make me uncomfortable – like everyone else.  But I try and approach everything with the same confidence I have when I’m killing it, and you know what – it works. Confidence is key, you can still be working on things in the background.
  16. I know what stress looks like for me and I mostly know what I need to manage it. Stress is different for everyone, both the causes and the manifestation; but one thing is for sure – we all feel stress at some point or another and it can have deadly consequences on our mental, emotional and physical health if not looked after.  It is super important to me to be aware of my stress reactions so I can manage them before they completely take over and I’m a disaster for everyone else to deal with.
  17. I say NO to things and people that don’t serve my life well; and I don’t mean I say no to helping someone because there’s nothing in it for me, this isn’t a selfish act.  This is me saying no to people that only ever take from me, because those people are constantly leaving me feeling empty for the people in my life that deserve to have me when my cup is full.  Its also saying no to doing things that make me feel overwhelmed and stressed out. These aren’t necessarily the same each time, it depends on what else is going on in my life; it’s just recognizing that its ok to reschedule a play date or drinks, and miss a yoga class sometimes.
  18. I am no longer willing to invest myself in people that aren’t willing to invest in me.  This is by far one of the hardest and most painful lessons I am still learning, but also one of the most important.   For most of my life I have continually invested in relationships with people that I felt were important to me, regardless of whether or not I was important to them. Over the years I always found a way to make excuses for why I felt shitty about the way some people in my life were not showing up for me. Having a baby definitely put things into perspective for me because frankly I’m modeling the way I want my daughter should be treated later on in life, by the way I allow myself to be treated now…which brings me to my next point.
  19. People who I’m important to WILL make time and space for me in their life; and if they don’t it’s because I’m not and it’s time to move on.  And I’m not talking about someone bailing on dinner because their kids aren’t sleeping great, or their husband ended up having to work, or the season they’re in has made it challenging for them right now.  I’m talking about people, who in general are visibly making time for their friends, and you are consistently not one of them. Believe me when I say, it is easy to create reasons for why someone doesn’t make time for you because YOU think you should be important to them, but it doesn’t matter what you think – it matters what that person actually does.  This lesson hurts my heart on so many levels, because it means letting go of people that I truly believed were my world. But the positive – I have to believe that letting these people go, opens up the capacity to connect with someone else I didn’t realize was already making space for the moment I decide to show up.
  20. Forgiveness isn’t for the people I’m forgiving (they probably don’t notice or care).  Forgiveness is for me to create space in my head and heart to be happy.  
  21.  I need to ask for what I want, or the chances of me getting it are slim to none – people don’t read minds; and I have always had a bad habit of assuming they do; its not fair to you or them.  If something is so important to me that it not happening is going to make me feel badly in some way – it is my job to clearly lay it out.
  22. Comparison of my life to other peoples lives just kills my ability to be grateful and happy.  Instagram, I’m talking about you. The fact is we don’t see the intricacies of other peoples lives, we see a pretty in pink highlight reel – and hey there’s something awesome and inspiring about that in its own way; I just have to be realistic about my expectations. So I try to make efforts to build what I want in my life from the bottom of my heart; not what has made someone else I don’t know look happy on camera.
  23. My immediate family are those I choose (friends included), not necessarily only or even those I’m related to and they ALWAYS come first.  This can be challenging because we all have different family dynamics, but feeling obligated to people, family or otherwise can be overwhelming and in the end doesn’t serve anyone. This is exactly why I believe the family I create out of the people that are most important to me are just that – the most important.  They are my forever, and you will NEVER regret spending more time with them over others.
  24. I surround myself with people that inspire me to be more in my life, not less.  We have all had people in our lives that are bothered by our being happy and striving for more.  I’m not talking about someone who is just going through a rough time, because we ALL fit in that category at some point or another.  I’m talking about the people that in general are  just negative, unhappy, angry and uninspired to make positive change.  If you want more, different, better – you need to be around more, different, better.
  25. I support my friends in their dreams, their love and their life.  I listen to their ideas, go to their events, buy what they’re selling, I share their posts, celebrate their successes, talk them through their challenges, and give them an extra push when they need it.  At the end of the day, I simply hope they do the same for me.
  26. The best moments are now, not before and not after.  This is so much harder for me then it should be, I have a very hard time being present because I am ALWAYS thinking about tomorrow, what am I making for dinner, what do I need to get done, am I prepared for that meeting and so on.  But this is SO important because as hippy dippy as it sounds – the exact moment that I’m in right now is the only one that’s guaranteed.
  27. It is my choice to get offended, no one can give offence to me.  It is my choice to let someones words or actions hurt my feelings. And I’m not saying that they don’t, I mean I’m human after all; what I’m saying is that what other people say and think is really none of my business. If I choose to get offended by every single thing I see or hear that mostly has NOTHING to do with me, life will become a very dark place to live. I choose instead to remember that perception is everything – what people say and do is a result of what they’ve experienced in their lives, and it’s not about me.  It doesn’t mean I have to agree with people, it just means I mind my own business as much as possible.
  28. Honesty is part of the foundation I live my life from.  When I speak, I do so honestly. That doesn’t mean I always say what I think (although in my case I often do), it just means that when I choose to engage I will say what I mean, NOT what you want to hear.  In my life that has made me unpopular sometimes, but only with people who don’t know me and if being honest means someone thinks I’m harsh, bitchy, opinionated, insert other descriptor here, I’m ok with that.  In the end – people find out the truth anyways, so you mind as well give it to them straight to begin with.
  29. I try to always be accountable for my actions.  Like I said, I’m not perfect and sometimes I make questionable decisions, or say stupid shit like everyone else. I can’t change what already happened, but what I can do is take responsibility and use it as an opportunity to do better next time.
  30. Sleep is important and when I’m able to get 8 hours a night I do. Challenging when my kid gets up at 5 AM every day, but its possible – sometimes. The easiest way to do it is to commit to going to bed earlier, even 15 minutes makes a difference.
  31. Exercise exercise exercise – I try at least 30 minutes a day, it isn’t always intensive, but sometimes it is and it SHOULD be.   I walk often, chase my kid at the park, do a workout class here and there. The key is to always be moving.
  32. Food is fuel not just for my body, but my mind and soul as well.  Believe me when I say FOOD can do amazing things for you. The things I try and accomplish when it comes to food – I eat whole foods, eat raw foods, I try and eat more fruits & vegetables than I do meat & dairy, I eat healthyish in general, I don’t bother counting calories, I’m not afraid to indulge, I eat at home a lot, cook often and cook together, and I eat with family and friends.
  33. Parenting is the hardest, most rewarding job I’ve done so far; but there is no better feeling than watching Luna live life, even if sometimes it makes me want to pull my hair out.
  34. Mom guilt is a very real and overwhelming thing, but I have learned how to deal with it.  I acknowledge it, accept it and then move on from it.  It is still there, but it doesn’t define how I feel about myself as a mom.  I am a great mom and it doesn’t serve anyone well to have me wallow in something that I swear is built in the minute that test says positive.
  35. When I’m having a bad day I can’t shake, I add water. I have a hot cup of tea, I run a bath or take a shower.  It works 99% of the time in grounding me in a calming way.
  36. I try and drink more water everyday.  Why is it so hard? I am terrible at it, I always have been –  but I am always making efforts to sneak it in and make it part of my routine. Water is life.
  37. There is no such thing as work-life balance.  The fact is there are moments when more time and effort are required at home with my family and moments when more time and effort are required at work and so on. My best defence in feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, or stressed out is communicating this with my partner, being realistic about how much I can take on, and asking for help.  It’s not a perfect system, but it is better than striving for something unrealistic and losing my shit in the end.
  38. The most important currency in my life is time, yes money is necessary to live, but money can always be made. Time is fleeting and none of us can get it back. Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean I don’t strive to make more money in my life – I do, like anyone else; but for me the reason to make more money is the freedom it will allow me to spend more time where it’s most important to me.
  39. Fashion is fun.  I feel like I’ve gone through a lot of stages with my style, and now at 40, I just want to have a little fun.  I don’t worry about all the rules people put around what you should and should not wear.  if I want to wear overalls I will, if I want to put a scrunchy in my hair I’ll do that too.  I care about how I feel in my clothes, and that is it.
  40. Kindness, love and empathy are the best qualities and if I can teach my daughter three things in life, these are them.

So that is them, a combination of lessons I’ve learned, words that resonate and challenges I’m still trying to overcome.  I hope that some of these things resonate with you and add a little sunshine to your day.

I sometimes wonder if I knew in my twenties what I know now, how different my life would be if at all.  Would it be easier being wiser?  Who knows.  All I do know  is that life is beautiful, hard, unpredictable and fun as hell and I’m grateful to be along for this ride.

Till the next post,

Kristen xo


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