My birthday’s here. 3-0. I’m one of the last to join the club, and so I feel like it’s a threshold I’ve already passed, with a line of spectators waiting on the sidelines for me to finish, screaming encouraging words my way like the end of a race, so excited for me to join them on the other side.
I’ve already started saying I’m 30. I used to always graduate to the next age when my BFF turned older than me in January. Since I started dating Jeff when I was 20, I feel like I’ve spent the last year in his and Nikki’s shadow, watching and learning and practicing for someday when.
But 30 still means something anyways, because doesn’t every year? Every threshold? Every moment. It’s a day like all others, except it’s not, because it is a reminder to ourselves to check up on our integrities and make sure we’re in line. At least, that’s how I feel about it.
I usually try to do this on my birthdays, to share and ask you to learn something, do something, be something, change something. 30’s no different. Some modest advice, and requests, from me to you. Without further ado:
ONE: Sign up to donate blood marrow.
TWO: Find somewhere to donate blood locally.
THREE: Donate your time. This is one of our great equalizers, isn’t it? I’ve been neglecting this one, and I’ve got to get back to it. Alternatively, donate your old shit. You probably don’t need it.
FOUR: Help me save the bees. No bees, no food, big problem. Our bees (and other animals) are on the decline, and we have to do our best to help save them.
FIVE: Educate yourself about inequality. Watch for it. Bear witness to it. Change it. Example: the other day someone mentioned something to me about how I don’t like confetti or balloons because I’m not “that kind of girl.” What? Hello? I don’t really like (or purchase) confetti or balloons because I care about the environment, and find those things wasteful. I’m pretty sure I don’t think that has anything to do with my gender, however.
SIX: Find something every day to be thankful for. Practice gratitude. It can be so hard, but each day honestly is such a gift and we should all try to be a little more appreciative. Try to remember this when you’re cut off at a light or late to work or drop your breakfast or spill your coffee.
SEVEN: Speak up every time you stand. Speak up for those who can’t. Speak up for those who won’t. Speak up and speak out. Speaking your mind is one of the greatest gifts of our free countries. I hate when people say “Let’s not talk politics” because politics encompasses lit’rally everything about who we are as people and community and because it all affects us. We must have civil discourse in order to advance our thinking. Speak to open minds, but keep yours open, too.
EIGHT: There is always someone with more than you. There is always someone with less than you. Jealously and envy beget bad juju. Instead, see SIX and also: every time you see someone with something you want – a) figure out if you want it because you need it; b) think about how you could obtain it; c) think about what obtaining it would really mean d) do something about it or let it go.
NINE: Vote, please. Just do it. Civic duties have come at a cost.
TEN: Pay the fuck attention to food. Please?! Friends, please, please learn about what you’re putting into your body and how you’re fueling your life. Here is a good start.
ELEVEN: Share your tunes with me. I am jamming to new Matt Wertz, Brett Dennen, Beyoncé, and of course Hamilton. What’re you up to?
TWELVE: Open a door for someone else. It doesn’t have to be a real door. Recommend someone for a job. Offer to read someone’s paper/story/resume. Keep your eyes peeled for that perfect chair someone mentioned to you. Pay it forward in little ways that don’t really take much time out of your life. It’ll make everyone’s life just a little easier.
THIRTEEN: Practice your mantra. Here are some good ones, “Other people do that, I don’t do that.”; “Good for her, not for me.”; “Just breathe.”; “I am here.”
FOURTEEN: Try something new. Eat a new food, listen to a new band, drive to work a different way, walk a new path, try a new exercise, learn a new style of clothing or dance or speech. Keep it fresh, keep it fun, but challenge yourself!
FIFTEEN: Put yourself first where you can. The healthier you are, the healthier you can be for, to, and with others.
SIXTEEN: Get outside! Enjoy the outdoor world! Here’s a site for places near LA, but I swear, a quick Google search will help you find a place near you. You’d be surprised what some fresh air can do.
SEVENTEEN: Drink more water.
EIGHTEEN: Taking breaks is OK. Quitting is OK. Crying is OK.
NINETEEN: You know that thing you always want to do but never get to? Today, do it. #TreatYoSelf
TWENTY: Put the phone down. Look into someone’s eyes. Pay people attention. We all are guilty of not doing this more.
TWENTY ONE: Tell people who you love that you love them.
TWENTY TWO: Get into yoga. Here are some places to get started. (Here, too.)
TWENTY THREE: Be aware of the environment. Shower shorter. Sort your trash and recycling. Use reusable bags. Reuse paper. Turn off the lights. In the words of me (apply as necessary relating to your local struggles) “THERE IS A DROUGHT, PEOPLE.” We get one world, like our one life. Use it wisely. Here’s some help.
TWENTY FOUR: Never be embarrassed of who you are. What the fuck for? I love Hanson. I love bad TV. I love good books, I love love, I sing loud in the car, I speak my mind whenever I want. I am loud most of the time, I like to talk, and I like to tell people stories, and I don’t shy away from any of it. Whatever, this is me. Get used to it.
TWENTY FIVE: Treat others how you’d want strangers to treat your mom.
TWENTY SIX: Find your anthem. Play it loud and proud. Mine jam now is “Sorry” by Beyoncé.
TWENTY SEVEN: Everybody fucks up sometimes. If you do, do your best to fix it, learn from it, and leave it behind.
TWENTY EIGHT: Just breathe.
TWENTY NINE: Stop those little habits you hate that you do. Pay attention and spend time trying to stop. (For me, I pick at my nails when I’m nervous…I’m working on it.)
THIRTY: Keep on learning. Learning is living.
Mom, thanks for having me 30 years ago. Y’all, thanks for reading this. I love ya to bits.