34 things I have learned along the way

Hey extraordinary humans, I celebrated my 34th birthday this week. Sometimes I wonder if the ignorance of youth helps or hinders us. When I was a youngster in my career, I showed up, eager to prove myself, never questioning whether I should contribute or make a point. People let me do that, maybe because I wasn't a threat. But as I get older, I find that I am expected to know my place, hold back and by more cautious. Now, we are in the shark tank. 

The same holds true through the personal lens. As youngsters, we think we know everything about humans. Looking back it is embarrassing to remember how certain I felt about it all. And yet, perhaps if I hadn't had that confidence and clarity, I wouldn't have chased my life so unabashedly. Nothing has changed really, except now I have a keen sense of the risk and more empathy for the choices we all make to get by. 

So this year, I am trying something new - a list of 34 life lessons. Some of these are things I have learned, either the easy way or the hard way, and others are observations that I think warrant consideration. 

LESSON 1 - Relax your inhibitions and do the things that make you a little bit uncomfortable. Like getting that Masters degree. 

Donna in Victoria in 2013 to receive Master of Arts in Leadership from Royal Roads University. Already five weeks pregnant with Dominic. 

Donna in Victoria in 2013 to receive Master of Arts in Leadership from Royal Roads University. Already five weeks pregnant with Dominic. 

LESSON 2 - Be honest with yourself always. The best gift you can give yourself in all things is self-awareness. 

LESSON 3 - Hold the people you love dearly and honour them with your thoughts, feelings, words and deeds. 

Donna and her mum, Carol, in October 2016.

Donna and her mum, Carol, in October 2016.

LESSON 4 - Choose your people carefully. Let people in who will stoke your life force. 

LESSON 5 - Let go of the people who hurt you no matter who they are. 

LESSON 6 - Find purposes that ignite you and pursue them. Life is not a lottery where we all have to find the one thing that defines us. We are multi-dimensional. We all need a variety of experiences to make us whole. 

LESSON 7 - Work as hard as you must, be do not give all of yourself. We all need to keep a piece of ourselves just for us, for our family and loved ones, and to pursue other passions. 

Andy, Dominic, Donna and Cameron in 2016. 

Andy, Dominic, Donna and Cameron in 2016. 

LESSON 8 -  Say good things about yourself to yourself and to others. 

LESSON 9 - Life is not about looking like a model. 

LESSON 10 - Taking care of yourself is important. We all need to take the time to do the things that recharge us. 

LESSON 11 - When haters are hating, don't give them more airtime than is deserved. Focus on what your champions are saying to help you make your decisions. One day you will realize that you knew what to do all along. 

LESSON 12 - It is what it is. Sometimes ugly things will happen in your life that are outside of your control. Let them be and find what feels right to keep moving ahead. 

LESSON 13 - Motherhood is amazing. I shouldn't have been afraid of labour or birth or parenting. 

Cameron was born in August 2015. 

Cameron was born in August 2015. 

LESSON 14 - If you are a woman, your career will be negatively impacted by your gender and your decision to have children.

LESSON 15 - The things that you thought you would never do might be the very things that you should do. Like getting a tattoo or starting your own business. 

LESSON 16 - Get a tattoo. It's fun.

LESSON 17 - Get more tattoos. 

LESSON 18 - Life is not a competition with your friends on Instagram. 

LESSON 19 - When you find a badass woman who has your back, she's a keeper. 

LESSON 20 - Stop wearing mascara. It will improve your quality of life. No more raccoon. No more makeup remover. 

LESSON 21 - Do not fritter away what you have earned. It pays to value the dollar. 

LESSON 22 - It's okay to say no. 

LESSON 23 - Taking care of your physical body helps you to take care of your heart and your mind. Live in your body  and notice the signals it gives you about your state of mind and health. 

Dominic, Andy and Donna in Hawaii in September, 2014. 

Dominic, Andy and Donna in Hawaii in September, 2014. 

LESSON 24 - Life is not long enough but this is what makes it precious. 

LESSON 25 - Resilience is an essential skill. We all need mental, emotional and physical stamina to live this life. 

LESSON 26 - If you aren't coping well, ask for help. We all need support systems. 

LESSON 27 - Every body is a beach body. 

LESSON 28 - Take pictures. When you are old, you won't care how your hair looked when you gaze on that picture in your nursing home and remember what it felt like to be young and vital. 

LESSON 29 - Embrace gratitude and plant your heart and mind there. Don't worry about the things you don't have or you'll forget the things that you do have. 

LESSON 30 - Horror can strike your life without warning. So don't waste your days. 

Cameron, Andy and Dominic in December 2015. 

Cameron, Andy and Dominic in December 2015. 

LESSON 31 - A good partner in life is a ticket to the future. 

LESSON 32 - Naps are the best thing ever. 

LESSON 33 - Look where you want to go. Don't fixate on the road blocks or you will hit the breaks. 

LESSON 34 - Being a genuine human is a gift you can give yourself and others. 

If this moves you, I invite you to share and comment on social media.