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20 Lessons in 29 Years

It is my birthday week. Yay!

There is a running joke in my family that I think my birthday is coming up when it is still January and my birthday is in October haha! Anyone else a fan of their birthday?

It is always fun to take time to reflect on lessons you have learned in your lifetime close to your birthday, so here is mine and I hope you enjoy them.

1. Small efforts done often, really do add up to big results.

I do almost EVERYTHING in small stretches. It all feels much more sustainable that way and getting tasks done adds up to those big results more than ignoring tasks due to overwhelm.

2. Work with your energy.

In almost everything I do, I work with my energy. Here is what I mean:

When I think about energy, I consider the four areas of energy we all have: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual (check out the book below to learn more).

Personally, in the morning, I feel that I am most energized physically and mentally, and as the day goes on these energy resources drain. At the end of the day, I generally have the most emotional energy, however, first thing in the morning, not so much. Spiritual energy is derived from us having a sense of purpose throughout the day.

I use this knowledge of when my energy is highest and lowest to plan the kinds of tasks I do throughout the day. In the morning when I am mentally and physically sharp, I read and journal. At night, when I am generally more emotionally energized, I have my family meeting with my husband. I use the knowledge of my energy to plan chores, when I will schedule doctor's appointments, and more. Being too tired is a common excuse for not doing many things, am I right? Well, planning my day this way generally helps me prevent that.

3. Work often takes as much time as you give it.

I have learned that work can expand or shrink to the amount of time we allow for it to be done. Depending on our time constraints, we can speed up or slow down. We can be concise or we can be superfluous. We can be distracted or focused. This is helpful to know and take the time to consider how long you want something to take rather than allowing it to take what it takes.

4. Research companies when you make resumes.

When applying for a job, cater your resume to the company. Look at the job description. What skills does the job require? If you have those skills then include them in your skills section. Connect your past experience with their current need in your bio. Do not make one resume and blast them out to multiple companies. Tiny tweaks to cater to each specific company goes a long way.

5. Cook your tortillas. I'm never going back.

That is all. Ever since using the Magnolia Cookbook, I never leave my tortillas uncooked. They taste so much better this way. It is not complicated. I buy the packaged ones from the store and heat them on the stove for only about a minute. However, stay tuned because I plan to make them from scratch this year!

6. A little knowledge applied is worth way more than a ton of knowledge acquired.

Acquiring knowledge solely can fool us into thinking we are growing, but if we do not apply it, fooled is all we are. Applied knowledge is what changes our life.

7. Erase the word "struggling" from your vocabulary.

I needed to erase this word personally. Maybe you don't but I used the word "struggling" too often. When I took the time to zoom out and put things into perspective, I realized I was using "struggling" to describe a minor inconvenience that I had added some drama to. Everyone has days that aren't smooth. Everyone has things that inconvenience them. I finally decided I didn't want to make those things more of a thing than they needed to be.

8. Set a good tone.

For me, setting a good tone means having good beginnings. Having a good beginning of the week (Sunday), starting my day off well, starting conversations well, etc. I realized very quickly, starting poorly often causes weeks, days, conversations, and more to end poorly. I have become a fierce protector of how I start and set the tone.

9. Silence is golden. Don't interrupt it.

I didn't quite appreciate the goldenness of silence until I had children. Silence is a place of rest, thought, reflection, and in that white space, the giver of meaning to all the noise. I have learned to deepen practices of silence for myself, but the larger lesson I have to learn is not to interrupt others' silence all the time and generally that mostly applied to my husband.

10. Neutral thoughts are better than negative ones.

If you have a difficult time with positivity, and you feel like you can not transition from a negative thought to a positive one then try a neutral thought. Maybe you have a hard time with the way you look. Instead of thinking, "I am unattractive," you can think something as neutral as, "I have brown hair."

11. A family meeting can be a game-changer for your household.

This last year, I have learned the depth of impact that a family meeting can have. In this blog, I share the questions that we use in our family meeting.

12. A chia-egg definitely can work in a meatloaf.

As of the day I write this, my son is allergic to eggs. I wondered if a chia-egg could work in a meatloaf and it did!

13. Don't underestimate the power of owning what you don't love.

Sometimes getting rid of something you do not love has great power. You don't realize the impact it had until it is gone. I just feel lighter.

14. Make sure you can get breaks when it is possible.

This is especially true for those mamas and dads of littles out there. I have come to realize taking turns watching the kids so the other parent can have a break has great value. The degree of difficulty for the parent watching both kids is smaller than the degree of refreshment the parent getting a break receives. What I am trying to say is it is only a little more difficult for one parent and can completely rejuvenate the other, so if you take turns doing this, both will be in a much better mental health state.

15. Magazines can be a good replacement for social media.

If you are trying to decrease your social media use, magazines are a great replacement! They have a variety of content like social media, with short stories that can give you that long-caption vibe, and they are generally beautiful to look at. It is not the same but it can help break bad habits.

16. "Someone once defined hard work as the accumulation of easy things you didn't do when you should have." John C. Maxwell

17. If work is not getting done, it is because it is too hard.

This lesson is similar to the John C. Maxwell quote above but it differs slightly. Sometimes hard work is in reality easy work with unnecessary obstacles. One example in our home is putting the vacuum away. Our vacuum goes in our front closet. I strategically place our coats so they are not difficult to navigate around to put it away, but there are many areas this applies to. I would ask yourself, "Is something making this unnecessarily difficult?"

18. When you have a baby, do not check your phone all the time in the middle of the night.

This applies for two reasons. First, the blue light makes you feel more wakeful. The second reason is there is a big difference between feeling tired and thinking about how tired you are. When I am checking my phone and keeping track of my sleep deficit, I find that I actually feel more tired and irritable than if I had not checked at all. Feeling tired is more of a physical sensation, but ruminating on that physical sensation can make it significantly more emotional than it needs to be.

We will be emotional with a sleep deficit. We will have a sleep deficit with babies. But we do not need the added drama of ruminating on it.

19. You must CHOOSE rest even if there is work still to be done.

This is a lesson my husband had to tell me many times before it actually sunk in. If there is a necessity for something to be done, generally it always finds a way to get done. Our opportunities for kid-free breaks are very limited and for the longest time, I was filling those precious moments with housework. Depending on the day, the unfinished work could be obviously seen and hard to ignore, but when the kids are napping, I am learning to read, rest, and do whatever fills my cup.

20. You do not need to do a routine every day for it to be impactful.

Sometimes when applying new routines, we want to do them daily to believe they will have any impact. It is a sort of perfectionism or all-or-nothing-thinking, but I have observed I do not have to do everything daily for it to have an impact.

Here are a list of things that if you do them sometimes or most of the time, they will have great impact:


Reading to your kids


Speaking affirmations over your kids

Expressing gratitude



Giving compliments

Writing letters

And the list goes on and on. If you do some of these things some of the time, there is a good likelihood you will be remembered for them. (Except showering, if you do that one only sometimes, you may be remembered for not showering.)

If you would like to continue this discussion, I would love you to join my Facebook Group. You can share your own list of life lessons! Hope you are blessed friends.

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