Happy Birthday to Me: 40 Life Lessons I’ve Collated as I’ve Grown Older

Another year, another birthday! This year marks a milestone birthday. I have now joined the league of people who cringe at the thought of adding another digit to their stats, yet I feel abundantly blessed to have got here.

I have so many fond memories to look back at in wonder. I’ve managed to jump so many hurdles and accomplish far more than I thought possible. I am healthy and self-sufficient, and surrounded by beautiful loving people. The older (somewhat) wiser me decided to pen together an entire list of life tips, more for my self-reference than anything. Hope you enjoy this!

40 Life Lessons from an Older & (somewhat) Wiser Tezzy:

  1. Practice Gratitude: It’s very easy to get swayed by negativity and to play the victim. I’ve had those “why me?” moments all too often, and then one day I asked myself why I’m not doing the “why me” cry when things are going good. We never realize the true value of a healthy body till a crazed cancer cell takes it over. We never realize the true value of a relationship till its too late. Value the present. Live in the present and be grateful for all the little things in life. Remember, breathing is a gift. As the wise Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said, “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.”
  2. Don’t Sweat the Small Things: A day only has 24 hours; a life only has a set number of years. But as human beings, we get so bogged down with the smaller things. Have you ever been at a party and had that evil gremlin whisper a list of imperfections to you? You have a paunch, your nail paint just chipped, you’re never going to be as pretty as the other girls. You worry about these mundane details so much that you wall yourself up and spend the rest of the night in utter self-pity. The irony of it all is that no one is even noticing; they are far too busy getting absorbed in their own misfortunes. Learn to shut that negative voice and get on with the partying. When you look back fondly at the photos, you might even be telling yourself how wonderful you looked.
  3. Things Can Only Get Better: I was always the shy kid in school. The girl who had her hair cropped because my mama thought it suited me. I got taunted for my boyish hair, yet I was so girly-girl inside. I grew a thicker skin and learnt early on how to treasure special friendships. I am still in touch with my closest childhood friends, and many of the girls who mocked my hair now follow my blog for beauty tips.
  4. Health Really Is Wealth: My beloved father was an inspiration for us kids. He had the most jovial demeanor at all times, was a non-smoker and never sipped alcohol his entire life. He used to always say we should be grateful for good health as it only takes one deranged cell in our own body to strike up a cancer scare. Ironically we lost my father to cancer, but till the very end his faith in the Almighty was rock-solid and it saw him through the grimmest of days. Seeing a man as fit as hearty as my father wither in a matter of months has taught me that life is so unexpected. We take things for granted far too often, especially our health. Live the moment and take good care of yourself the best you can, the future is unseen.
  5. Great Skin is a Myth: First we had to deal with the air-brushed models in magazines, and now we have beauty filter abusers who look so porcelain-perfect online that you would be forgiven for not recognizing them in real life. Life happens, the skin sags and ages. Think of your wrinkles as battle scars from a life well-lived. Follow a skincare regime that works for you. You can only be as good as a person your age; stop making comparisons to tweeners and those who’ve splurged to go under the knife.
  6. Take Care of Your Teeth: Make your smile your best asset. Look after your pearly whites and maintain dental hygiene. It can do wonders for your social (and not so social) life 😉
  7. Parents Are Your Biggest Allies: Are both the parents who raised you still alive? I consider you super-duper lucky. I lost my father 3 years ago. The pain of his absence may have numbed but will never go away. In my rebellious youth, I couldn’t wait to grow up and leave the nest. Their ideas may not always match yours, but their intentions are always for your best. Treasure your time with them, no one will ever have your back like they do.
  8. Take Loads of Photos: I’ve been blessed to be born in a click-happy family. Our family home in New Zealand has an entire library of albums (yes, the old-fashioned printed type that are bound in actual flippable books). From nappy-clad photos that I’d pay a handsome ransom to have burnt down to the awkward gawky teenage moments, special places and special people who have come and gone, photos are a visual treat that take me through memory lane, and great for anecdotes to share with the kids.
  9. There’s No Mr. Right: Over time, I’ve come to the conclusion that relationships can be compared to gardening. You need to breathe life into it, water it daily with nutritious compliments, provide sunshine and support, and preen out the weeds of discontent. And sometimes (just sometimes) you have to nip it at the bud. There will be fights and arguments, but it is the testing times that truly strengthen your bond. Appreciate your partner for the often-unspoken tokens of love and support. He isn’t my Mr. Right, but he is my Mr. ‘Right There When I Need Him’. I complain about him being a bum most days, but he’s the most doting father to our little girl. He’s far from romantic, yet I know he’ll be the first to hold my hand in times of adversity.
  10. The Outlaws: You don’t get to choose the family you are born into, but you definitely get a choice when it comes to the family you marry into. In the doe-eyed phase of dating, we often forget that marrying a man is actually a merger between two very different families. Marry into a family you feel welcome into, and that welcomes yours in return.
  11. Children Are Like Sponges: What you say and do can and will be used against you! Mold their fertile minds with positivity. Praise them for being kind, clever and strong. Being pretty should never be put across as a priority.
  12. Cool That Temper: Counting to ten before I let the hell-gates loose has really made me a better person. A ‘sorry’ can never take hurtful words or actions back.
  13. Be Your Own Kind of Beautiful: What kind of style sense are you most comfortable in? Dress for your body shape and skin-tone, and not for what social media and magazines tell you. If you give in to fads, you’ll be paying a fortune to keep up with looking like everyone else. Don’t be a bore. Explore your own individuality and invest in key pieces that you can mix and match for years to come.
  14. Wear Color: Don’t get me wrong, I have a whole load of black in my wardrobe too. Black makes you look slimmer, black disguises food puddles… but black is so morbidly boring. Color therapy is no hogwash, but a proven science. Color adds vibrancy to your skin-tone and entire aura. Revel in rainbow hues and dare to stand out from the crowd.
  15. Self-Love is Your Super Power: It’s taken me 4 decades to realize this. That one person who will be with you right till the end is staring right back at you in the mirror. When you fall in love with yourself, you give yourself the right to be the best version of ‘you’. You gain enough self-respect to let go of the bull and the nagging thought of what others will think. Live your life for yourself, not others.
  16. Sometimes Being Alone Is a Great Idea: As I’ve grown older, I cherish the wee hours of the week that I get entirely to myself. I sit back, meditate take notes on my life at that present time. Being alone, I can hear my own inner voice more clearly. Me-time rejuvenates the soul and makes you a better equipped at dealing with whatever life throws your way.
  17. Rest When Possible: Whether it’s a booking at a quiet retreat or just catching a decadent 20-minute siesta between chores, make it a habit to check on yourself. Your body will let you know when it wants a break.
  18. Not Everyone Will Love You: And 99% of the time its because you have something they don’t 😉
  19. There are Many Types of BFF’s: When I was a little girl, I had that 1 special bestie. Then there were two. And over the years, I’ve collected so many more. I have a best-friend who lives across the planet yet is at my beckon and call to hear me weep over the most mundane of things. I have another who I can’t party without, and yet another who’s my biggest fashion critique. There are BFF’s who’ve got your back since adolescence, there are BFF’s who’ve come together from your Mummies Group, and surely there are more who will knock your door as life continues to unfold. The list goes on. Each friendship has a special place. Nurture them as true friends are hard to find.
  20. Keep in Touch: This is a life advice I do very poorly at myself. Life will always get in the way but make time for keeping in touch with those who matter most. You never know how much longer you have them with you. A few minutes is all it takes to say hello and literally hear that smile on the other end.
  21. Learn to Burn Bridges: Sometimes some relationships take a toll on your soul. Life is too short for negative vibes. Remind yourself that it is ok to move on.
  22. Music Track Your Life: Music is therapy. It has the power to take you back to another realm. Create a playlist of songs that take you back to happier times.
  23. Read, Read Read: One of the best qualities my father installed in me at an early age is the need to read. It is scientifically proven that reading can reduce stress levels drastically. Reading widens your view of the world and great reads do wonders to your vocabulary.
  24. Positivity: Always tell yourself something wonderful is about to happen. This is the best piece of advice I’ve ever received. When walking into that daunting interview, tell yourself you can’t wait to start because you know you’re going to totally rock it. Positive thoughts decrease stress levels. Lower stress levels keeps wrinkles at bay.
  25. Less is More: Quality over quantity. This applies to the wardrobe, shoes and household items, but more importantly, it applies to people. Nurture the relationships that count and don’t get drowned in the crowd.
  26. Save for a Rainy Day: I’m still working on this one! I am such a shopaholic. But the more years you churn up, you get more wary of nasty surprises that might be hiding just around the bend. Not everything is in your control, but money sure makes the rough times a whole lot smoother.
  27. Splurge on What You Love: Contradictory to my last point (yet quite related to the point before it), I really do believe in spoiling myself once in a while. I’d rather pay the price for 2 really comfy, super-stylish designer sneakers than filling up my limited space with a pile of bargain buys.
  28. Acting Your Age is Overrated: Age really is just a number. I don’t feel any different than I did in my 20’s. Yes we take on more responsibilities as we grow older. From a professional career to juggling the home-front and mummyhood, I wear quite a number of caps on a given day. But don’t let anyone else decide what you keep and give up in the bargain of jugging it all.
  29. Hug & Kiss Often: I believe we should dedicate an entire first chapter on this topic in parenting books. Hugs and kisses cost nothing but mean the world to someone who loves you. Dote on your family and do it often.
  30. It’s OK to Cry: Crying is not a weakness, but rather a strength. It shows us we are human and washes away all the negativity that we’ve bottled up inside. Grab a box of tissues, let it out.
  31. Learn to Laugh at Yourself:
  32. You Don’t Have to Know the Moves to Dance Your Heart Out: Who made the rules anyway? Let go of your inhibitions. Everyone is too busy nurturing their own anyway. Get on that dancefloor and flaunt your bikini body to the warmth of the sun and sand.  
  33. Give in to Ice-Cream Now and Then: I’m a diehard foodie and appreciate the effort it takes to make a spectacular meal. Life is too short for being miserably skinny and deprived. Feed your need now and then.
  34. Get Outside that Comfort Zone: Jump off a building, take up rock-climbing, learn to knit. Do something that’s totally crazy-unexpected of you. It keeps you interesting, and might even fuel the need to do more!
  35. Embrace Change: Saying goodbye to a chapter of your life is never easy but let the excitement of new adventures keep you going.
  36. Make Friends with Total Strangers: Talk to people from a totally different social background. Travel and make friends with foreigners. Don’t let age, race or religion get in your way. Instead, see the difference as an opportunity to explore and build on your own world beliefs.
  37. Keep a Journal: A life well lived is a life worth documenting. Keep a journal of special photos, souvenirs and special letters. These will be worth so much more to you in the years to come.
  38. Travel: The world is your oyster. Explore new terrains, eat local cuisines and try on different ethnic costumes. Expand your horizons.
  39. Learn to Cook: It’s a survival skill! And when you cook a meal all by yourself, you are 100% certain about what went into making it.
  40. Women Get Naughty at 4-Nought 40: I’d like to see my life as half-full rather than empty. I will not half-mast myself for reaching my prime, but rather look back fondly at the past 4 decades of my existence. They say women get naughty at 4-Nought 40 so watch out world, here’s Tezzy Version 4.0 😉