Saturday, January 14, 2017

34 Things I've Learned By 34

I turned 34 this week and thought it may be fun to list some things I've learned in those years.  Some of these you've undoubtedly heard before, some will be funny, and others serious but hopefully there will be at least one of two that make you think.

1.)  Put your grocery cart/wagon in the cart corral or take it back in the store when you're done:
I'm sure the associate was excited to retrieve this..
Seriously, no one wants their car hit by a roving cart and the associates who bring them back inside don't need to be out chasing them on cold, wet, windy days.  Not only that, in areas that receive snow, trust me when I tell you that the plow guys get just a little pissed off when they have to stop, get out, and move carts out of the way.  Don't be an ass and put your cart in a dedicated area.

2.)  Don't use the handicap plate or placard if you're not handicap: 
We have a placard for Shawna.  Not only do I not use it when she's not with me, there are many times when I'll drop her off at the door and go park toward the back of the lot because if we don't need to use it, there's no sense occupying a spot someone may require more.  Again, don't be an ass.

3.)  Spend time being physically active:
I know I'm moving this toward a health/fitness/wellness type blog but for this, just be active.  Go outside, find something physical you enjoy and do it.  Use all you're muscles not just the ones that run the computer and TV remote.

4.)  Never stop learning:
Find something you enjoy and study it until you feel confident your understand it.  Pursue something that will have you learning for life.  Move onto new subjects as the desire to do so arises.  There is no right way to keep learning so find what works for you and get after it!

5.)  Navigate Social Media with Caution:
Social media can be fantastic.  You can reconnect with people, keep up with friends and family across the planet, spread love, joy, information, and .  However, it can also be used to misinform, bully, promote ignorance and harm others.  And for Christs sake, really consider whether or not to click, "comments".  

6.)  Players win games and coaches lose them:
Pretty much every coach I've ever talked to worth a shit says the same thing and after a couple years on the sideline, I couldn't agree more.

7.)  Hard work beats talent when talent refuses to work hard:
Yeah I know, it's a bit cliche' but I've also seen it.  You can get away with running on talent for awhile, but eventually the field catches up to you if you're putting in the work.

8.)  Accept that your experiences are not the same as others:
I live in Maine, I cannot know what life is really like in the city any more than someone who lives in the city can know what it's like to live like I do. This, of course, is a very simple example but you get the point.  If we start discussions with the understanding that people's experiences shape them and their views and their experiences are not the same as ours, we'll have crossed an incredible barrier to improving ourselves and our society.

9.)  Living in the past and acknowledging experiences before making future decisions are not the same: 
It's important to acknowledge your past but don't dwell on it and don't let it hold you back. You're not the person you were yesterday.

10.)  It's OK to agree with someone you generally disagree with and OK to disagree with people you generally agree with:
This happens in politics ALL THE TIME so I'll use that as an example.  Just because you voted for a person or party doesn't mean you need to follow them lockstep and even if you didn't vote for person A, it's OK to acknowledge when they do something right/you agree with.  This happens in other areas of life as well but as I said, politics is an easy example.

11.)  If you disagree with someone close to you, it's often best to do so in private:
It's OK to disagree with someone close to you but some ways to do so are better than others.  If I disagree with my wife on something regarding The Teen, I try to have that conversation with her in private.  Such things can also happen in regards to your job and other activities.  Proceed with caution when handling disagreements publicly.

12.)  When you're angry, don't hit send:
Ever been irate and written a letter, email, or DM that you regretted later?  I have.  Next time it happens, sit on that bad boy for a day before sending it.  If, after 24 hours, you still feel it's appropriate, send it. However, in general, I'm willing to bet that delete button will serve you better in the majority of situations.

13.)  Some friends are family and some blood is mud:
Just because someone is technically related, doesn't mean that you're somehow beholden to them contrary to what others (generally other family) may tell you. Choose your family predicated on behaviors, morals, and other traits you deem appropriate, necessary, and of value.

14.)  The busier you are, the less room you have for bullshit:
I've noticed that, in general, the people who get most upset and/or offended about stupid shit don't have much else going on in life.  When you're running a company, a household, volunteering to help others, and trying to keep up with daily life, ect, you have little time to concern yourself with things that don't directly affect you.  I'm not saying it never happens, I'm just saying when you look at who's telling you to be angry about things they generally have time other's don't.

15.)  When it comes to relationships, find someone who makes you not only happy, but challenges you and helps you improve:
I wanted to write "makes you better" but I don't think anyone should make you better, you need to do that yourself.  What you should be looking for is someone who you believe in, who believes in you, who makes you want chase you dreams, and gives you the confidence to do so.  Who challenges you on multiple levels but not to the point where you feel on the defensive constantly.  I'm sure I'm missing a few things overview but the short of it is to simply find someone who'll help you attain your best you.  And this doesn't just go for romantic relationships.  Surround yourself with people who add value to your life.

16.)  There is far more gray in the world than black or white:
You wouldn't know that when you get on the internet where making definitive statements, particularly with the CAPS BUTTON ON, is the norm and where rather than spreading our wings we've instead created societal bubbles and echo chambers but the information is there for those willing to seek it.  Look outside your own thoughts and ideas from time to time and see how big the world is.  You might be surprised.

17.)  Being defensive sucks:
And not just for the person dealing with you, this wears on a person over time.  This was me for years and is something I still struggle with from time to time. The reality is that I'm not alone.  No one likes to be told that they're incorrect or that they're doing something wrong and often our first reaction to defend ourselves. When that happens try to take a deep breath and understand what the person is actually telling you.  Perhaps you'll take whatever advice they're offering and perhaps you won't but it doesn't hurt you to listen.

18.)  Write your goals down with details:
In an earlier post I discussed goal writing, so I won't get into too much detail here but don't just wing it. Have a plan and execute it.

19.)  The older I get, the more wisdom the adults in my life have obtained:
Never mind gaining my own wisdom, my parents and grandparents somehow went from knowing absolutely nothing during my childhood to looking like geniuses now.  They seem to have the ability to predict what's going to happen.  I have no idea how they've done it but my guess is, it's because they finally got the internet..

20.)  There are truths about cold weather:
I'd rather be cold than hot.  I can put more clothes on if I'm cold.  I can only take so much off before violating the law when it's hot.  Once you get below -20'F, it really doesn't matter:  Once it's that cold I honestly couldn't tell the difference (coldest I've was -38'F ambient air temp).  However, when a strong wind is added to any temp below 40'F, you get colder faster than if the temperature was instead lower.  Finally, there is no heat like wood heat, especially if you've spent a significant amount of time being cold.

21.)  Being angry requires a lot of energy:
Anger is absolutely a valid emotion that seems to be used far to often.  It seems like people seek out reasons to be angry and upset in our current society and it's unfortunate. It eats energy like a body builder scarfing their first cheat meal after a competition (that's a lottttt if you're unaware of the reference).  When you find something that gets under your skin, ask yourself if it's really worth your energy to focus on it.  I mean, do you really, actually, give a shit if someone is wearing white after labor day? (Is that reference too old?..)

22.)  Holding grudges is no way to go through life:
Similar to anger, holding a grudge eats a lot of energy. This is not to say that you must interact with whomever you've had issues with but don't hold onto that hurt/anger because chances are it's either a.) affecting you more than them, or b.) could be put to bed with a discussion.

23.)  Limit your time in front of the boob tube:
Listen, I love TV.  This morning I watched an interesting program about the redwoods of California.  But the truth is I've spent large portions of my life loving TV too much.  Turn it off.  Get outside, find new things to do.  Read a book.  Listen to a podcast. Start a new project.    

24.)  The one common denominator in an individuals problems looks at them each morning in the mirror:
I'm planning to cover this further in a later post but needless to say, once a person realizes that they're the one thing involved in every decision, disaster, failure, and success they have, life can truly begin to change.

25.)  It's easier to avoid addictions than recover from them:
I'm careful with my alcohol consumption because there's a history in my family of issues with it.  Quitting chewing tobacco sucked ass.  Opiate addiction in Maine and other areas of the country is exploding which is why I avoided them all together following my back surgery.  Avoidance isn't always the best policy but if you can avoid addictions, I'd advise it.  If you're already in an addictive state, please get help if you're ready.  If you need someone to talk to, don't hesitate to reach out.  If I don't have the resources I'll do my best to help point you in the right direction.

26.)  Change is hard but can be done:
I'm absolutely not the same person I was 10 years ago.  Some of it is the natural progression of maturity and attainment of knowledge but I'm also not going to reduce the amount of self analyzing, intentional procurement of specific information, and genuine work to the simple passing of years.  I had to face many hard revelations, admit some harsh truths, and own up to a lot of mistakes and poor judgments I made.  I had to take a real, honest look at myself in the mirror and break myself down. It's not pleasant in the least to admit the worst qualities about oneself but God damn if it's not required to make a complete and total life change.  And in the end, it's all worth it.

27.)  Being polite and using terms like Please and Thank You goes a long way with people:
It's really not that hard to say please and thank you, hold the door open for someone entering behind you, or warn someone that it's icy just outside the door but Christ, sometimes it seems like everyone has forgotten what's it's like to be polite and extend some humanity.

28.)  Proficiency based learning and common core suck:
My step-son is a freshman in high school and I can't stand they way they do things.  Not only that, I think it's detrimental to the upcoming generation.  All learning seems to be done simply to prepare for state and national testing.  Kids are graduating without knowledge of how to cook, clean, change a tire, balance a checkbook, save money, or think critically (to list just a few).  Yes, I know as parents we're not just supposed to rely on the schools to teach everything but there are days when he comes home and I can't tell if he learned anything valuable at all.  And I'm not putting that on the majority of teachers because I've talked to enough to know many of them hate it too.  And yes, this is 100% me bitching about something that drives me nuts but it's also true so it fits with today's theme.

29.)  Be your own medical advocate:
There are a lot of good medical professionals out there but like any profession there are some that aren't so good too.  I've had a couple that didn't just advise I take pain medication for injuries, but were actively pushing me to do so when I refused them.  I've been in appointments where Doctors tried to brush Shawna off and we had to say something or push our points.  It's your life and your body, make sure you're advocating for yourself because if you don't, no one else will.

30.)  Wear safety gear when doing dangerous activities: 
 I'm not sure I'd be here if I were wearing my logging helmet this past summer.  I'd spent a lot of time cutting without one but on that day, I'd made the decision to wear it thankfully.  I won't be taking tree's down without one on again I can tell you that.  It's not that difficult to put on a helmet or strap your seat belt on so do yourself a favor and do so.  I won't tell you to do it because you're an adult, but if you're reading this I want you around so you can continue keeping the traffic numbers up on my blog..

31.)  As parents we need to discuss and promote all types of post secondary education:
For too long the only thing parents and high schools have promoted are four year colleges and university's and that has allowed those institutions to raise their tuition's sky high (tuition is a MUCH more complicated issues than that, I admit).  Our kids are graduating thousands in debt with a limited employment field.  We've all but lost an entire generation of adults from the tax base and economy. This is not to say that those within that generation aren't responsible for their decisions (including myself) but we now know there are other and often times better ways and we need to insure that kids are aware of them.  Our job as parents isn't to build our kids lives but to give them the tools and some general directions.  

32.)  Big houses are great!!  Until you have to clean them and pay to heat them..:
Growing up I always wanted a huge house because ours wasn't overly big.  Now that I'm into my 30's I appreciate having a house that simply fits our needs.  It's easier and faster to keep (relatively) clean and organized and it certainly heats much better and much cheaper than some of the ones I see driving around.

33.)  Don't focus so hard on the end goal that you fail to enjoy the process:
I still have a hard time with this.  I'm often so driven to complete tasks, I don't actually enjoy what I'm doing. However, being aware does make a significant difference.  When I work out/train now I enjoy it more. When I'm working on a novel, I have days when I enjoy not just what I wrote but the process it took to put those words on the screen.  Enjoy the process because in the end that's where you're memories will be made.

34.)  Life is shorter than we believe:
No, seriously.  I woke up this week beginning my 34th year and I don't have a damn clue where the previous 33 went.  Love hard, laugh hard, lift hard, learn hard, work hard, pursue your passions, help people when you can, fit as much life into life as possible.  Attack life from today until departure.

Your dreams may seem crazy, but they're yours.  Pursue them.

I'm well aware that I probably missed a few that I'll think of later but all told, I think this is a pretty good list. Life is a series of lessons.  Some will be easily learned and others will take some time and can only come with experience.  Be open to the lessons when you can and be aware that they can happen at any time, whether you're willing and ready for them or not.

Here's hoping you found value in something I wrote today and don't forget, enjoy the simple things.      



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