01 June 2016

40 Things I've Learned in 40 Years

40 Things I've Learned in 40 Years. #parenting #lifelessons #birthday

Well, on Saturday I turn 40. I’m not quite sure how this happened. I certainly don’t feel 40. What is 40 supposed to feel like, anyway? If it’s still laughing at farts, using light sabers to play Star Wars in the toy isle at Target and enjoying episodes of Peppa Pig, then yeah – I’m 40. Otherwise, I’m not interested.

The thing is, I can clearly remember so many details about my childhood and teen years. I remember each house our family lived in growing up. I can clearly remember Christmas mornings at our home surrounded by family, the first day of school, dance recitals, the first boy I kissed, my father teaching me to drive a stick shift in the school parking lot behind our home on Wellington Drive. I remember the smell of my father’s pipe that he would light each night while he read his collection of National Geographic Magazines. The 16th surprise party my parents threw for me, the sleepovers and endless Sunday afternoons spent at the roller rink that smelled like a combination of feet, pee and bleach. All of these things and so much more I remember…

And it all seems just like yesterday.

But it’s not. It’s 40 years in the making and on Saturday, half of my life will be gone and it’s vanished within the blink of an eye. Along with four decades of life comes four decades of lessons. Some of them came easily while others…well…some of those were learned the hard way as a result of being extremely hard-headed and stubborn. Either way, my experiences in 40 years have made me the woman I am today and when I look in the mirror, I genuinely love what I see.

So here’s what I have to say about what I’ve learned about life in 40 years:

1. Regardless of business, family, friends or motherhood, never compromise your integrity. It’s who you are at your core so never compromise yourself for anything or anyone.

2. The worst thing you can ever do to yourself is to live in fear. Some of the best things that have happened to me in 40 years came as a result of taking a leap of faith that everything would be okay in the end and guess what – it is. Not everything has always worked out the way I wanted or planned but at the end of the day, I can say I at least tried and with that, I’m happy and have no regrets.

3. Never let anyone who has done nothing with their life tell you how to do anything with yours.

4. Learn to take responsibility for yourself. The world and the people in it owe you nothing.

5. No matter what society or anyone says, you don’t have to eat dinner with them, go to bed with them or live with them. EVER.

6. Don’t waste your time with explanations. People only hear what they want to hear and nine times out of ten, you don’t owe anyone an explanation anyway.

7. When in doubt, always choose kindness.

8. I’ve learned to let go of grudges and disappointments. The only person you’re hurting by hanging onto them is yourself.

9. I learned the true meaning of love the day I met my daughter. Find your love and never, ever let it go.

10. I’ve learned to say no politely and quickly. I don’t feel the need to be everything to everyone.

11. Life is too short to put up with bullshit. I’m a grown ass woman with grown ass responsibilities. I do what I want and what is right for my life and my family’s life.

12. I’ve learned to not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

13. I’ve learned to not make permanent decisions on temporary anger.

14. As much as it pains me to admit it, I’ve learned that my parents were right on most everything they told and taught me. Now I get to pass on this clichéd shit to my own daughter!

15. I’ve learned that as great as technology is, there is nothing better than reading a paper book, writing a hand-written letter and keeping a paper calendar.

16. Talk to your parents. Ask them about themselves. Learn about who they are as a person. We’re all so busy wanting to grow up that we often forget that they are growing older. Get to know your parents now while you can. Its been so much fun getting to know my parents now as friends. 

17. I’ve learned that life is unfair. PERIOD, end of story.

18. I’ve learned that not everyone will like you and it’s OKAY. Stay true to who you are. This is the only way you’ll ever attract those you’re supposed to share your life with.

19. Manners and humility impress me far more than money and materialistic things.

20. Karma is REAL and it can definitely be a bitch.

21. I’ve learned that my gut feeling is always right. Whenever I’ve gone against my intuition, my life has been a disaster. Always listen to your gut!

22. I’ve learned that the only thing constant is change.

23. I’ve learned to sleep as much as possible. There is nothing better for the body than rest.

24. I’ve learned to love every single one of my laugh lines. With each of them comes a great memory. How could I hate them?

25. I’ve learned there is no better feeling than doing a random act of kindness for someone else.

26. I’ve learned that being super-busy isn’t a badge of honor. It’s not important or impressive. It’s perfectly okay to live life at a slower pace.

27. I’ve learned that not every battle is worth fighting. Learning how to pick and choose your battles will save your soul.

28. I’ve learned that not everyone deserves to know the real you. Sometimes it’s okay to reserve the special parts of yourself for special people.

29. I’ve learned that the phrase, “Everything happens for a reason” is complete and utter bullshit. Sometimes, bad things happen to good people, period. And sometimes, good things happen. Sometimes LIFE simply happens.

30. I’ve learned that perfect sucks. It’s a huge lie we buy into young. I embrace the hot fucking mess that I am.

31. I’ve learned that it’s okay to cry. It’s a washing of the soul and in the end, it’s liberating.

32. I’ve learned that having a child wasn’t the end of my life. It was the beginning.

33. Except for rare life and death matters, nothing is as important as it first seems. Stress is highly overrated.

34. Winners do what losers don’t want to do.

35. When a person shows you their true colors, believe them. Don’t try to repaint them.

36. Knowing how to balance a checkbook is becoming an endangered species. One of the hardest lessons for me to learn was about debt and living within my means.

37. In your 20’s, you drink and laugh. In your 30’s you drink and cry. Now? I drink while listening to the smooth jazz station on Pandora. #oldladymusic

38. People told me as I got older that I’d become a more serious person. It hasn’t happened yet. Stay tuned.

39. I don’t care what anyone says, Vanilla Ice’s “To the Extreme” will always be one of the best albums of the 90’s. 

40. I don’t feel old so, fuck you 40. 

Courtney @ Shiraz In My Sippy Cup
Courtney @ Shiraz In My Sippy Cup

Courtney is a published author, mom, taco enthusiast, and a Star Wars and Tennessee Volunteers fanatic. She's never met a piece of sushi she didn’t like and enjoys an amazing glass of wine and a great cut of meat. You can read more of her wine-induced, sleep-deprived adventures on The Huffington Post and Scary Mommy.


  1. This is an amazing list, so many important life lessons I need to remember!

    Nellwyn | www.thecardinalpress.com

  2. This is a great list of life lessons. Happy Birthday!!!

  3. Some seriously great points here! Learning to say no is imperative, and not caring what everyone else thinks---golden! Hope you had a great birthday. Here's to the next 40 years :D

  4. What a great list of lessons, I can relate to so many of them. Happy Birthday!