Based on recent personal experience, I can frankly vouch that having a 40th birthday is FAB. You know it. I know it. Hooray for fabulous. I used to fear the big four-oh, but I now choose to welcome it. I am grateful for it. I celebrate it. I relish it.
I bungeed into my big milestone birthday with a crew of longtime friends from different factions of my life — past and present. We did it with fire and fun (and a humongous, obnoxious, hot-pink-and-gold pile of glittery sugar in the shape of my name, disguised as a cake). Make a wish. Cheers.
As a kid, I had big ideas about what I wanted to do when I grew up. My goals ranged and rotated between going to UCLA, being a singer/actress on Broadway, writing a book, performing on TV, living in Los Angeles, riding on a Rose Parade float, living in New York City, winning Miss America, singing the National Anthem for pro sports games, working as a local news personality, getting married, traveling to Greece/Egypt/Paris and so on and so on. Believe me when I say how *absolutely humbled* I am to fess up that pretty much every single goal I wanted to do as a kid has been checked off my list — before turning 40 (with the exceptions of the Broadway thing, winning Miss America and visiting Greece/Egypt/Paris). I know how preposterous this sounds (to admit that most of my childhood goals actually came true) and I feel very lucky. No wonder I’m exhausted.
Ironically, I never imagined myself being mom — how stupid of me, considering that my daughters are now the driving-force of this whole ‘FAB MOM’ operation that has kept me focused in life and career after babies. Lesson learned: Many of life’s best gifts come from things you were once scared of.
I look back at myself, as a little girl, and think “If only you knew then what you’ve learned now….”
We all learn lessons and get smarter through experience, through age. (Hello, that’s the catch.) But IF I could go back, would I give that little girl all the cheat-sheets, the things I’ve learned over 40 years to make her road to mid-life more controlled, less uncertain and a whole lot more relaxed? Nope — because living the actual journey is where and how those gifts are attained, the journey is the magic. (Duh.)
I wouldn’t tell her… but I’ll tell you. 40 facts I’ve learned in 40 years of life. For you to do with as you please…
- Smiling makes you more confident and makes others believe you know what you’re doing (even if you don’t). This pertains to how I handle motherhood, by the way.
- What’s meant to be will always find a way (even if you think otherwise, so just calm down). This was my go-to calming phrase whenever I’d get crazy about career stalls.
- If you don’t get into the front door (for college or a job), befriend someone who controls when and how that back window opens and they will let you in. This is how I got into UCLA, people.
- Work hard and be persistent, put your time in even if others around you think you’re wasting time — eventually your turn will come.
- Don’t think you’re too advanced or feel too proud to take that ‘How to Be On-Camera’ class (for beginners) from the local news director right after you just lost an on-air competition that would’ve scored you a big break by a hair — that news director might see something in you that he/she didn’t realize was there and give you that break anyways. This was how my TV career was launched… on Los Angeles’s KTLA Morning News.
- Set a time limit on your goals — being persistent is important, but knowing when to quit and move on from something that’s futile is also a skill.
- Washing hands frequently really does prevent illness!
- If a guy is sending you flirty texts but isn’t actually calling you or asking you out normally (or saying “it’s not a right time”) then he is NOT into you (even if his friends say, “No he really likes you!”) — he doesn’t. AND IT WILL BE OKAY! PROMISE.
- If you can say yes to something outside of your comfort zone, just hold your breath and do it — you will learn something from it to take with you that will be useful for you at a later, unexpected time.
- Don’t be afraid to mess up, it happens. The thing you feel like you fail at might actually be a springboard to launch you in the right direction. And, if you mess up, OWN IT and shrug it off. People will most likely forget about it sooner than you think.
- If someone wrongs you, forgive them and then get away from them. Don’t waste time investing in others who don’t want to see you happy or successful. And if a friend shows you who they really are, and it doesn’t vibe with who you are, then move on.
- If you get dumped 3 months before your wedding but are still in love with your wedding dress, keep that gown that already arrived locked away as a symbol that you will in fact find real love in the future with someone wonderful and much more worthy… and then wear that same gown down the aisle… and then frame it on your wall in your home to remind yourself of your strength and faith that all things in your life will most always turn out great, no matter how you might feel while you’re going through it. True story.
- Refusing to talk $hit will keep you out of trouble. Don’t focus on stupidity — stupid people and stupid stories are not worth your time. But listening to someone else talk $hit is sometimes okay. Because, we’re human and some folks do jacked up things that require discussion/venting.
- Move fast in daily life — cleaning, getting dressed, loading your dishwasher. If you mind the seconds, the hours take care of themselves.
- Go to church and develop a relationship with God and your faith — it is one of life’s most important practices to give you peace and the ability to cope with anything.
- Take your kids to church and give them the gift of lifelong spiritual strength though faith — a child raised without faith is a travesty.
- Putting vaseline on your lips and eyelashes every night will keep them younger, longer. My personal tip based on nothing except my own experience.
- Don’t question why certain things happen — just keep going.
- Work for free (for a limited time) if you know it will bring you something valuable you need to get closer to a goal — experience, exposure or a connection.
- Don’t work for free after you’ve already gleaned what you needed for working for free all those previous times.
- If and when you get a snip of that dream job that you’ve been toiling away to make happen for years, make the most of it! Introduce yourself to everyone at all levels, go above and beyond to grow your ‘small part’ into a ‘starring role,’ become the office (or, station’s) “new favorite gal” by having a kick-a$$ positive attitude no matter what. It just might morph a temporary, once-a-week gig into a respectable, twice-a-week, 2-year job that earns you credibility, respect and recognizability against usual odds. Thank you, CBS Los Angeles.
- Doing something randomly-nice for someone who might need it makes the world better. Make the casserole for your friend who says she really doesn’t need anything during that hard time in her life (I guarantee she really does need it and she will remember that feeling of what real friendship and love means forever, as will you).
- Being unafraid to tell your kids ‘no,’ not handing them an iPad in restaurants/stores/cars and insisting on reinforcing rules when they’re young (no matter how much hell they raise) will set you up for easier parenting/family life later. Living proof here: I swear, this is why I’ve never had problems with my kids in public places…
- Going to bed early at least a few nights a week will change your life for the better. These days, it’s literally 8:30pm on weeknights for me. And yes, I feel the difference.
- If you get into the habit of outsourcing all kinds of tasks all the time, you will eventually forget how to do anything — this includes cooking, cleaning, working, raising kids. Don’t unintentionally kill your own capability.
- If you don’t clean the kitchen before you go to bed, you wake up the next day already feeling absolutely defeated before the day begins. So just clean it.
- Looking at someone else’s life/family/spouse/house/car and thinking “I want that” even for a minute will sledgehammer your own happiness in a second. Don’t even go there.
- If putting on makeup and/or wearing fake hair makes you feel more powerful, then do it shamelessly!
- If you cancel your honeymoon (to Greece!) because of a huge TV co-hosting job opportunity, you most likely will never go on that honeymoon. Make your choices according to what pulls you at the time and don’t question them later. Thank you, Travel Channel’s “America’s Worst Driver” back in 2010. Turned out to *not* be the star-making series I was hoping it’d be at the time… ha.
- Committing to saving hard-earned money (I say save 50%, spend 50%) can add up in ways you quickly become very grateful for when it comes time to use that money for something important.
- If you lose touch with someone who used to be important in your life, it’s never too late and always worth it to reach out and reconnect. I mean, what’s Facebook for?
- If someone who once caused you a lot of trouble or pain tries to reconnect after years of not communicating… DELETING (without responding) is the wisest way to go. Done it.
- Social media will make your brain crazy if you don’t commit to staying away from it on weekends (beginning on Fridays). This is why I’m (mostly) radio silent on weekends.
- If something’s really not working for you — then stop doing it and don’t look back. Hello, breastfeeding and other new mom “must-do’s” that I said forget-that to and reinvented according to my own needs…
- If you want something done, YOU must kick yourself in the butt, roll up your sleeves to muscle it up and get down and dirty and make it happen. Depend on no one, because they don’t know how to do it like you. AKA: My personal experience with hiring PR for my book.
- Paying off credit charges in full every month gives you peace of mind and major power. In other words, don’t buy stuff you can’t afford to pay in full every month! (But, you do get a 3-times in a lifetime loophole via #39 below…)
- Remove the option of feeling guilty (about pretty much everything) from your armada of feelings. Guilt is a wasted emotion. One of the best philosophies this special lady taught me.
- If you can wear the super-short skirt or midriff-bearing top or extra-high heels, then wear them! There will be a day when you can’t pull that $hit off anymore and you will look back and think “Why wasn’t I running around in short skirts, midriff-bearing tops and high heels all the time?”
- If you want the one thing that’s a bit outside of your price range, but will bring you a unique, special kind of deep joy that you will enjoy most every single day for a very long time, then suck it up, pay the extra bucks and then lock your wallet for the next several years.
- Whatever happens, remember that God won’t give you anything you can’t handle.
AND: Wearing sunglasses and jeans with a huge hole in the knee will always make you look and feel younger. Cheers to wisdom that only comes with age…