40 is fabulous. Say what?
Some would say 40 is fine.
Some say 40 is freaking ridiculous.
Some would say 40 is old.
Some say 40 is effing awful,
But I simply say 40 is…
40 is for distinguished, put-together people with buttoned blazers, classy, gold watches, or shiny high heels. 40 is for the Leonardo DeCaprios and not for Bolton Carleys.
I still insert my foot in my mouth. I still trip going into a room. I still believe a hoody and a stocking cap make me look cool. I still get zits. I still don’t sink myself in a bottle of wine, and I’d still rather watch sports than the Real Housewives of Orange County.
And I struggle way too much with technology…
What does that tell us? I think it tells us that I continue to be in denial about aging. Lol. And here’s the thing: you all know that I am a reflective ager. As another decade sneaks up on me, I’m trying to disregard the weight gain and deafness and focus on my theory that my life gets better with each passing decade. My thirties were good to me – they brought me a house, a blog, a photography business, and, most importantly, my husband.
That statement seems so simple and so blasé. Yet, nothing matters more. Whether my 40’s bring me eye-glasses, back pain, elastic-waisted pants, or a failed writing career, I have chosen the right people to laugh with at my side.
As I always say, blessed are those that know it…
Got some thoughts on aging? I’ll take any and all advice. Or been there, done that? Feel free to prep me or commiserate. I’m listening.
Do you ever wonder how other people just “don’t get it?” And by “it,” I don’t mean that kind of it! I mean do you ever look around the room and wonder if you’re the only one present whose elevator actually goes to the brain-storing penthouse? Or if you’re surrounded in a store by people who have hamsters that haven’t figured out how to make their wheel go round? I am often baffled by the cluelessness of people I run into or that I see in the news. For instance, Zac Efron. Dude, you are a multi-millionaire, people think you’re gorgeous, you are clearly talented, and so you said to yourself, “Boy, I bet cocaine will make me even more popular.” Wow! You might want to rethink that one, buddy. And what’s with all the talented female singers thinking they obviously look their best in unitards? Trust me, that’s not the case, (cough, cough) Madonna.
For the life of me, I wonder what some people are thinking. I have to think you guys are with me on this one. I’m sure you’ve said WTH? plenty of times. So I’ve concluded there are a few things I’d like to stamp on the forehead of some that shall remain nameless. These are just some general truths I feel like I need to put out there into the world so us normal people can get on with our lives.
*First off, money does not replenish itself. It’s not like starfish. It doesn’t regenerate. At some point, you do have to pay. (How do people not get this???)
*Secondly, it’s not okay to drive in the fast lane to detain fast cars, to get a better view, or to flash the college boys in the convertible next you. (Okay, maybe the last one is if you’re in college, too. None of us are above it.)
*Third, here’s a novel concept: Amazingly enough, if you want to keep your spouse, you need to be nice to them, at least once in a while.
*Fourth, you will get older. You will turn into your mother or father. And if you try too hard not to, we’re going to talk about how you’re trying too hard with your teeny-bopper clothing and inflated lips. Just sayin’.
*Fifth, in the adult world, decent trumps pretty. You can be perfectly beautiful, but if you’re a raging bitch, people will avoid you, or at the very least, complain about you behind your back.
*Sixth, I know you can’t prove it by our magazines, our gyms, or our facebook posts, but there really is more to life than being skinny.
*Seventh, you can’t be a lying, cheating bastard and not have people find out. It’s called a cell phone. We can track you, numbnuts!
*Eighth, if you really like them, then by all means, feel free to continue wearing your thongs, but we can see those lines, too.
*Ninth, somebody loves you. They may wonder why, they may be stupid for it, they might even pay for it, but they love you. Quit pushing them away and appreciate it, damn it!
*Finally. Number 10: If you don’t want to raise an asshat, don’t be an asshat example or encourage asshattedness. (It makes sense, right?)
There. What do you think? You on board with me? Did I miss some you’d like to put out there? Throw ‘em in the comment section. You know they’re welcome.
Twenty years ago today, I graduated from high school. Holy buckets, batman! Twenty freaking years! And if you’re a kid, you’re saying “you’re old” and if you’re an adult, you’re saying “I know. Where does time go? I can’t possibly be that old.” (But you are. If you need proof, we didn’t have internet, cell phones, or boxers hanging out of sagging jeans. Hence, we are old.)
But the good news is, I’ve learned a few things. Now, would I first recommend Bill Gates’ advice on life? Yes. Do I have a few things to add? Yes. Are you shocked? No.
Lesson #1 – Avoid pot-stirrers. They suck the life out of you behind your back. Always surround yourself with good people. They’re damn hard to find, but worth every penny, beer, and bowl of ice cream you have to bribe them with to keep them around.
Lesson #2 – Balance. Sure, it would be smart to balance your checkbook, your schedule, or weight, but really, the way I see it there are the things you need to be doing and the things you want to be doing. Rarely do they mesh so you have to balance between the two opposing sides. If you can do that, you’re effing amazing. Just sayin’.
Lesson #3 – Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses, unless of course that forces your hand to donate more to the local 4-H or church, coach a little league team that’s coach-less, or scoop the elderly lady’s driveway. If it’s to buy a pretentious car you can’t afford or put your children in a private horse club because that’s what the snotty bitches at work or next door do, then man up! In the real world, people like other people who have principles and integrity, not stupid sheep baaing at the herd. (Boy, do I hate sheep! They climb fences. They’re loud. Damn lambs.)
Lesson #4 – Be who you are and don’t look too close at it. Twenty years later, I still don’t fit in with the crowd. I still am a little overweight with bad teeth and a smart ass (it’s also big, but I prefer to think of the smart part). On the other hand, I am not so un-okay with myself that I have to have plastic surgery to fix my wrinkle creases on my forehead or suck the extra dimples off my butt. Just don’t stare in the mirror too long or judge your checking account too harshly and all is good.
Lesson #5 – Family first. Hate on whoever you want after that, but spouses, kids, parents, siblings, and whoever else you’re related to should get first priority. Why? Why wouldn’t they? We are often worst to the people who are the closest to us because they have to love us no matter what. Hence, love them no matter what and do what you can to be a member of the family without coddling. Don’t be juvenile and not talk to them. If you are an adult, act like one.
Lesson #6 – Money makes life easier so work your ass off for it. I know they say all that bullshit about money can’t buy happiness and it can’t, but it can buy an easier lifestyle. When you don’t have to panic about money or your health, life gets pretty easy. That’s just a little secret between us though. I wouldn’t want anybody else to catch on.
Lesson #7 – There will always be someone smarter, prettier, or more successful than you, but the flip side of that is that there will always be someone dumber, f-uglier, or more loserish than you… unless you’re in jail for murder or rape, in which case, you’re at the bottom of the barrel. You need more than my life’s lessons, dumbass.
Lesson #8 – Show consideration for others. Pleases, thank yous, sorrys, and here, let-me-take-thats pretty much make you better than most. However, don’t ever think you’re better than everyone else, unless you’re comparing yourself to murderers, rapists, or those stupid people that drive 45 in the fast lane. Actually, it’s probably just best that you don’t compare yourself to others, but if you figure out how to not do that, shoot me an email. Twenty years later, I still haven’t grown out of that one!
Lesson #9 – Age is relative. Lots of people spend the first 21 years wanting to be older and the rest of their lives trying not to be. Personally, unless you were a rockstar in high school, things only get better from there. My teen years sucked. My twenties were frustrating but okay. My thirties: they’re pretty damn good. In fact, you reach a point where you can’t even remember how old you are without having to think about it. And most people won’t care or talk about it too much unless of course you’re a tanned piece of leather hunched over, too thin, and coughing up a lung from emphysema or having a mid-life buying-a-convertible-doing-a-21-year-old breakdown. Seriously. Age only matters to the young.
Lesson #10 – Be selective. Work. Think. Play. Help. Vacation. Love. Just don’t settle for less than you deserve on any front even if there’s pressure from all other fronts. Success is a mind-set and you’re only as good as the decisions you make and the belief you have in what you’ve done. Put that on a Hallmark card and call it advice.
20 years ago today, I graduated from Oakland High School in a place I still call home. Today, I can tell you I’m not rich. I’m not famous. I’m not a good dancer, but at the end of the day, I can walk away knowing I pay my bills, I have Siri to answer my questions, and I have a husband who will probably say good things about me at my funeral…probably. Not bad for 20 years.
Got anything to add? Would love to have you add your lessons learned. Hit the comment button.
Some people think they know it all. According to my hubs, I’m one of them and since this is lecture #101, I figured I’d attempt to impart my wisdom, or lack thereof, upon you. As the professor to the lecture hall, here are 101 things that should keep you out of jail and in the black, or at least out of trouble and in the good graces of somebody who puts up with you:
101. Play nice.
100. Play fair (unless the bastard deserves it).
99. Make friends with all of us little people. We’re the ones that will look out for you.
98. Buy stuff because you like it, not to impress somebody.
97. If it involves family, you can bitch about it, but you can’t avoid it.
96. Say please and thank you like you mean it.
95. Never forget where you came from. For some, it will bring you smiles and for some, it will be fuel to your fire.
94. Realize there will always be somebody better than you, but don’t be afraid to try and change that fact.
93. Work is necessary, but it’s not the only thing.
92. Dance in the mirror (but possibly not in public unless properly clothed).
91. Dust twice a year whether it needs it or not.
90. Look in the mirror. If you see what you hated about your parent (unless it was that they acted like your parent), then it’s time to regroup like an overage boy band.
89. If the situation doesn’t change, it’s going to stay the same so either be down with it or do something about it.
88. Allow your guilt to win (especially if it will keep you out of jail).
87. Flattery should be saved for those that deserve it.
86. Find something to be good at (preferably something non-harmful).
85. Laugh when you can and cry when you gotta.
84. Be humble but not a doormat.
83. Go outside.
82. See the truth, but not the worst in everybody.
81. Sing with the radio.
79. Be loyal to somebody…always.
78. Do right by your family.
76. Know parliamentary procedure, how to set the table, and how to tie a tie.
75. Do not sit passively and watch the ship set sail unless you like the view.
74. Golden Rule, baby: treat others as you wish to be treated.
73. Tattle only if you’ve given the source a chance to redeem himself/herself first.
72. Don’t take people for granted…Appliances – yes. People – no.
71. Exercise, even if you’re the fattest one in the group and always will be.
70. Admit your jealousy (You can pull off a comb-over if you have millions. Damn it.)
69. Open the door. Hold the door. Be the last in the door.
68. Help yourself.
67. Never let the garbage pile up. (metaphorically or literally)
66. Sleep. (people will be a lot happier with you)
65. Work ethic matters.
64. Color with children. Talk old times with the elderly.
63. Have a hobby, or 10.
62. Go on vacation…a lot.
61. Pray just as much in good times as in bad.
60. Shave for someone…or the possibility of someone.
59. Have a drink. Have a cookie. Have both.
58. Watch a sunset, a snowflake, rain storm, anything in nature like you do a newborn – with awe.
57. Kiss a little ass, not a lot, just enough to make your life as easy as possible.
56. Make plans (so you always have something to look forward to).
55. Always stick with former 4-Hers, Boy Scouts, or Girl Scouts. They’ll take care of you.
54. Memorize your times tables and how to do percentages when you’re shopping.
53. Never, ever wear high-waisted pants/jeans. (You’ll look like shit. Just sayin.)
52. Have photos taken (and probably a few should not have a beer can or you flipping off the cameraman).
51. Read the fine print.
50. Check the expiration dates.
49. Make your own money.
48. Remember to evaluate where you are now from 20 years ago.
47. Breathe in, breathe out.
46. Don’t piss into the wind.
45. Love the one you’re with, unless you shouldn’t, in which case make a clean break immediately.
44. Give a shit, even if nobody around you does.
43. Brush your teeth, brush your hair, brush aside insulting remarks.
42. You are always more than your high school self.
41. Find somebody who can put up with you when you’re unemployed, broke, fat, and/or have a bad case of PMS or MMS if you’re male.
40. Don’t throw everything away.
39. Laugh at yourself.
38. Realize that somebody somewhere is bitching about you whether you did the right thing or not.
37. Love yourself as much as you can.
36. Always have an emergency money stash.
35. Keep a box of the thank yous and compliments to read when you need a reminder.
34. Do something good for the next generation.
33. Don’t forget you were a child once, too.
32. Feel free to laugh like a teenager about “that’s what she said” kind-of jokes.
31. Pick your battles more often than your nose.
30. Be able to do nothing, but not all the time.
29. Know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away. – Kenny was right and not just about laundry.
28. Think before you do something stupid.
27. Dress appropriately for the occasion.
26. Have a bucket list.
25. Have priorities…the right ones.
24. Give gifts.
23. Most things aren’t black or white, accept the grays.
22. Rely on common sense, if you don’t have your own, use somebody else’s.
21. Time does heal all wounds as long as you don’t pick the scab.
20. Don’t quit your day job.
19. Support will come in the most unlikely places as long as you’re willing to ask for it.
18. Keep your shit together.
17. Speak to your setting.
16. Animals cannot be used as replacements for humans.
15. Stick with Confucius – he said only contract friendship with those better than thyself.
14. Know how to be comfortable.
13. Be appreciative.
12. Don’t look too close (unless you’re playing Where’s Waldo?)
11. When choosing chocolates, parking spaces, or spouses, choose wisely, not desperately.
10. Be as well-rounded as possible (but hopefully, not in your belly only).
9. Defy gravity.
8. Count your blessings and not the tire tracks on your face.
7. Help keep the crazy to a minimum.
6. Hide when you need to. Surface when it’s time.
5. Don’t save your party panties for special occasions.
4. Live your life as if it’s a Shakespearean play and you do not wish to play the fool.
3. We all have baggage. Keep yours packed up and out of the way.
2. Always have clean clothes, a clean scent, a clean record (and an unclean mouth if you’re gonna hang with me).
1. Don’t screw it up. (What? Isn’t that the pep talk you were expecting from me??? Listen, you know it’s true. Life isn’t easy, but it isn’t a trigonometry problem either. Do the best you can and if you suck, don’t worry, you won’t be alone.)
Was your dad the “cool” dad that all the other kids liked? Was yours the one that wore those embarrassing wife beaters to your basketball games? Or was yours the one that gave you big hugs in front of other kids even when you were in high school? I was pretty lucky because mine was the one that raced me home after the game if we’d both driven. Shh…you can’t tell my mom that, okay?
But just in case you’ve been living under a rock, or are the most clueless person on the planet, it’s Father’s Day. And when you think about it, there are 3 types of people: the ones that have a great dad, ones that had a great dad, and the ones that wish they did.
My favorite thing to hear about dads is what they taught you. Sure, there are the dads that taught you what you never wanted to be, but even they had their moments. I love hearing how moms taught you to sew or bake cookies or garden or something useful. But let me guess. Your dad taught you how to belch the alphabet? He taught you how to golf (because of course mom said he couldn’t go golfing without taking you because she needed some “alone” time). He taught you how to drive the truck when you were 9! Or he taught you how to gamble at poker in case you were to someday encounter a game of strip poker with a busload of hot Swedish girls!
Oh, and am I wrong? Did your dad give you your first sip of beer? Shocker! Did he give you your first gun and take you hunting? Or maybe he scared you to death by putting a worm on your fishing rod when he was teaching you how to fish (which of course you can only do while drinking beer which is why you had to learn how to drive him home)? Did you learn all your best cuss words from your dad while he was “fixing” something in the garage? These are the great life lessons dads teach. For me, my dad showed me how to play a mean game of cards and how to cuss like a sailor at cattle (just as long as mom’s not around)! And the only thing better than the brilliant lessons dads teach, is the fabulous words of wisdom they give.
Come on, tell me one of your all-time favorite dad quotes. One of my favorites was when my dad said to me, “If you don’t get caught, it doesn’t count” – now, that could be a pretty reckless quote in the hands of the wrong kid, but I of course was a good, wholesome kid and wouldn’t do any more wrong than my dad’s senior goat-in-the-principal’s-office prank. He was always trying to get me to lighten up, except the moments when I was in trouble when he would sing, “You better watch out. You better not cry. You better not pout. I’m tellin’ you why…” Still think of him every time that song comes on at Christmas. Boy, did he win a lot of battles with that one. I’m sure you have your own stories of the brilliant words that haunt you or help you when you need them most.
However, there’s also all that stuff that dads don’t say, because they can’t. That’s the thing about dads. They may completely love you, but they don’t always know how to say it or show it. It’s just part of being a guy and really, they can’t be held accountable for that. As Lady GaGa would say: they were born that way. My rule of thumb is that you should always measure the man by his actions not by his words or the lack there of, as the case may be. I’ve watched my dad save many baby calves’ lives when it would have been easier not to. I’ve watched some other dads drink themselves into oblivion because they didn’t think they made enough money to support you. It’s not right, but I could about bet you money that had I have had a conversation with your dad, he would have bragged about you. He’d probably tell me stories and rave about you the likes of which never came out of his mouth when he was actually talking to you. That’s just how it works. And I bet if you think about it, you can remember a time when he checked your oil before you left on a trip, or he carried a picture of you when you were a baby in his wallet, or he bought you a Coke and a smile after you lost the big game. They sure may not be perfect but then if they knew even half the stuff you did, they’d realize you weren’t either.
But next time you sit down with beers to watch the big game, or throw some steaks on the grill, or duck tape something instead of buying new because you hate going to the store, or even hold your own kid in your arms, don’t forget who gave you that chance. Happy Father’s Day, guys!
So it’s graduation for a bunch of kids we remember being in diapers, riding tricycles, and going to kindergarten. I know that Bill Gates has the best graduation speech ever and Buz Luhrmann had that song that we thought was the shit about Always Wear Sunscreen, but I thought perhaps I should throw my hat in the ring.
So I’m just guessing that graduation day was one of those days you looked forward to with the idea that you would, in fact, finally be considered an adult and allowed to do as you damn well pleased. Then, you heard the pomp and circumstance, got panicky, sentimental, and waxed poetic about your childhood before finding a graduation party kegger to relieve all thought. Again, just a guess. And I wonder if somebody had stood up there and told us the important things in life if we would have listened to them? I might have, but I wouldn’t bet the ranch on it either.
I’m pretty sure none of us have all the answers, and obviously, if I did, I’d have a lot more money and a national best seller, but that would be just too easy, now wouldn’t it? But here’s what I’d say:
Congratulations class of 2011! I’m here today to speak to you not because I’m the smartest person or because I’m a rich person or married to the president. I’m here because I tell it like it is, and this is how it is:
The real world does make you an adult. It expects you to work and clean up after yourself and get some form of education or training or at least a job. And amazingly enough, it expects you to buy your own food instead living in your mom and dad’s basement for the rest of your life and becoming Brad Paisley’s Online posterchild.
Speaking of living with your parents, the real world doesn’t like excuses. You know what I’m talking about, the ones that mom and dad have been making for you for the last 18 years that spoiled you… Yeah, they don’t work in the real world. Nobody in the real world cares whether you have ADD or whether your dog died, they just care that you show up every day, on time, and do your damn job while you’re there. They could care less if traffic was bad, the electricity went off, or if you’re just not in the mood to work today.
Another thing about the real world? We expect you to do your laundry, because honestly, nobody likes a foul-smelling co-worker or friend. You should have outgrown the hatred of baths when you were 13. Plus, we’re not big fans of the sniff test either. It may be okay in college, but after that, it’s pretty obvious whose clothes are wrinkled and a little on the ripe side. Oh, and we’re not gonna like working next to you if you wear enough perfume to be an old lady or enough Axe to be a middle schooler. No thank you. Keep it clean and classy.
As for family, it’s best to forgive and forget and you better damn well hope they do the same! You only get one and they may not be what you would have picked out and you may be ready to run away from them now, but they have the same genetics and you might need a kidney someday. Just sayin’.
Money. I’d like to tell you the best things in life are free, but really, you can buy an awful lot of happiness. It buys you cars that don’t break down constantly. It buys you nice clothes so you look presentable despite your arm-length snake tattoo at a job interview. It pays for your mom and dad’s nursing home care that you never pondered having to pay for. It buys tutu skirts for your daughter and cell phones for your teenager. You know, the one you swore you’d never have because you know how bad you were… Yeah, that one. It buys airplane tickets to visit your sister in California and bologna sandwiches for your sack lunch you take to work so you can afford to go to California. It pays for wedding rings, starter homes, and baby cribs. It pays for all the good trappings in life. And the only way to have it, unless of course you’re the child of a Buffett, a Gates, or a Hilton, is if you work for it. It sounds sucky, but there’s really no better feeling than that of accomplishment.
See, I’m not telling you anything you haven’t already heard, but maybe you just need a reminder that what lies ahead of you is a world far better than what you’ve known with the molds you’re about to break out of. When you walk out that door to wherever you are going, you can start over. You no longer have to be Johnny Pee Pants, the boy who wet his pants in P.E. in 1st grade when Kelsy Rae hit you in the gut with a baseball. You no longer have to be Joe the class clown or Kate the boring studier. You can finally be you and I hope when you get there, you remember who that is. And I hope that the person you become is a good person because life will be full of shitty situations and even worse people, but I hope you’re more than that.
I hope that you want to be the best friend they turn to when things go wrong, or the worker that everybody wants a desk next to, or the guy who makes a lot of money but only uses it to take his kids to McDonald’s and go fishing, or the girl that goes back to her hometown to run for mayor or fix up the main street as a restaurant district. I don’t really care if the whole world knows your name or if you are just the whole world to your mom, son, and your dog, Teddy.
What I do want is to know that you didn’t steal from someone, or shoot them because you didn’t like what they said, or quit working because the welfare check was more than you were making at the QuikTrip. I want to know that you mastered life as it was handed to you – that you didn’t fall apart (at least not for very long) and you had relationships that made someone cry when good and bad things happened to you and you found your way when it didn’t seem like you could. For most people, life isn’t necessarily becoming a rock star or an NFL player, it’s about becoming who you were meant to be and never forgetting where you came from. For I know no greater way to judge a person (which I know I shouldn’t do, but in the real world – it happens all the time) than by the way he treats others in his little section of the world.
So kick off your snotty high schooler shoes, buckle up your big girl and boy belts, and do what you gotta do for the rest of your life with the invincibility, audacity, conviction, and emotion of an 18 year old getting a diploma wearing only flip flops and boxers under his robe on graduation day.