33 Life Lessons on My Birthday
Updated: Feb 12
Tomorrow is my 34th birthday… and as I look back on my 33rd year I can’t help but reflect. Here are 33 things that l learned in my 33rd year around the sun.
1. Apparently…. I’m extreme. At the beginning of this year, I enrolled in two very in-depth personal growth courses AT. THE. SAME. TIME. Like who does that?! And in my one my sessions, my coach told me she knew she could always count on me to follow through or bounce techniques off of because I was extreme. I laughed until I cried when she told me this. Because until that moment I didn’t see it. But now I’m just owning it! ;)
2. How to just be. I feel like this has been one of the hardest lessons I’ve ever learned. Let me be straight... I’m a do-er. I do things, many things, and usually multiple things at the same time. (hence the 2 personal growth courses at the same time). But, in April I attended a 10-day Vipassana Meditation Course. 10 hours of meditation a day for 10 days. That’s 100 hours of just being. It was hard, it was uncomfortable (both mentally and physically), it was an experience.
3. To play. I feel like play has been a lost art for adults. To engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose. I’ll be honest... this isn’t something I used to do. But I remember when I read one of Brené Brown’s books (I forget which one. They’re all good. Just read them all. 😉), she mentioned that in her research she discovered that wholehearted adults play. The concept was as foreign to me as it was to her. Everything I did, I did for a reason. But I made FUN a core value this year. Which means now I play. And let me tell you, it’s pretty freaking amazing!
4. That happiness is a choice. In the midst of overwhelmed weeks and to-do lists, I can choose to be happy or I can choose otherwise. In the past, I have told myself that I will be happy when I achieve this or get that. When I just finish school, I can be happy. When I just lose the weight, I can be happy. When I’m on vacation, I can be happy. The list goes on... I realized how I react and the mood I wake up in is a choice. Today, I choose to be happy.
5. I am not alone. If you have ever suffered from depression, I think you can agree that it can be extremely isolating. I have a very close and supportive family. But the years of struggling with depression have compelled me to keep them at an arm’s length away. This past year I let them in, truly. I received their love and let myself feel their support.
6. That the clunking noise my car makes is not old age…. Let me start by explaining that, I really hate the whole car thing. I like being able to drive around at my free will but when it comes to knowing anything about cars… I can put in gas and check my oil and well, that’s about it… Yes, I grew up on a farm, but I spent the majority of my time with the cattle and not in the shop with Dad. I innocently asked a friend of mine a question about my steering. He took it for a test drive to troubleshoot it. He came back with a diagnosis and told me I should probably take care of the clunking noise as well… my response “what clunking noise?” As I relayed the info to my father over the phone, I could hear his head shaking and his remarks to turn my music down once and awhile. My defence was “I just thought it was getting a little creaky like people do when they get old...” Needless to say, he wasn’t impressed… 😂
7. That I can love my body the way that it is. This was a big one for me. True acceptance doesn’t happen overnight. It’s taken me 33 years to reach this point. And I recognize that some people never do. But fully accepting yourself as you are is the greatest gift of all.
8. Forgive. Forgive not because they deserve forgiveness but because I deserve peace. Forgiveness is hard. But holding on to past pain is even harder. In Chinese medicine, the liver is considered the “seat of anger.” Holding on to anger can literally affect our health and our ability to detoxify not only our bodies but our emotions.
9. Lean in. When I struggled and wanted to give up, I leaned in. Lean into the discomfort, it’s where the healing occurs. This was a hard lesson. Because when you struggle the last thing you want to do is lean in. I know that for myself, running away – figuratively and quite literally with the amount of running I used to do – is a far more comfortable solution at the time. But when you lean in, you allow yourself to be present with what is coming up for you. You allow yourself to view it in a new light and it softens. And eventually dissipates. (when in doubt lean in)
10. It’s okay to say no. I stopped being a people pleaser. For the most part. Stepping into the “no” when I really didn’t want to do something was really the most liberating feeling of all. Choose discomfort over resentment. If you’re a Brené Brown fan, you may have heard that before. For 32 years I lived in resentment that someone “made” me do something. But really, it was a choice that I made. This year I made a different choice. The discomfort of telling someone “no” is short-lived when compared to the resentment I would feel afterwards.
11. How to set boundaries. I remember my very first therapy session and my psychologist brought up boundaries. My first thought was “WTF are boundaries?!” Clearly, I was there for a reason… It took some time and practice to set boundaries and I think it’s an evolving process as we learn and grow.
12. Sometimes, you outgrow people. I don’t mean physically but emotionally. When you’re on the path of personal growth not everyone in your life is coming along with the ride. And that’s okay. You do you. It’s okay to say goodbye. I believe people will come into and out of your life for a certain period of time. Each person is there to teach you a lesson, to help you grow in one form or the other.
13. Listen. Like really listen. Listening is really the most effective tool. You have two ears and one mouth for a reason…
14. It’s okay to make mistakes. Making a mistake is something to learn from. Without mistakes we wouldn’t grow, we wouldn’t evolve, we wouldn’t move forward. (accept the mistakes)
15. Tell the people you love that you love them each chance you get. You don’t know what tomorrow will bring. You don’t know what they are truly struggling with. Letting someone know that you love them and that you’re thinking of them can brighten their world. After a couple of hard weeks, I woke up one morning to a text from my niece. “Good morning. I hope you have an amazing day. I love you.” Such a simple thing for her brought the light back into my day. I also may have shed a few grateful tears…
16. Other people’s opinions of me are none of my business. I first heard this from Rachel Hollis and loved it! Because it’s soooo true. What matters is how I view myself.
17. There is no such thing as perfection. As a recovering perfectionist, I get your struggles with this one. The strive to be perfect is exhausting and frankly, unattainable. When I finally let go of the idea of the “perfect diet”, the world did not end, and I did not gain back all the weight I had lost. “The idea of a perfect diet – or perfect anything, for that matter – is about as realistic as capturing a unicorn.” - Julian Hayes II
18. My body is wiser than I give it credit for. I read a book titled, “The body keeps the score”, an interesting read about how trauma affects our bodies and we hold on to that energy. Even if your mind tries to protect you by burying the memory, your body remembers. And that trauma can manifest in the body in different ways.
19. Not being able to run is not the end of the world. I injured my ankle in October of 2017 and I haven’t run a race since. But I had previously used running as my solution to EVERY. SINGLE. ISSUE. that I had. I called it my “fix”. My relationship with running began as I started to lose weight. When I stopped using food for comfort, I turned to running. I determined that I need a minimum of 5 km to relief from anxiety. But 7-10 km was the sweet spot. The distance I needed to for my runner’s high. I had the route mapped out to the km from my apartment door. I knew exactly where to turn around, exactly where if I run to this point, I will achieve this level of endorphins. For months after my injury, I was in a slump. Nothing I tried gave me the same relief, the same escape, the same “high”. Nothing allowed me to feel as free as I did with a 10 km run. I hit a pretty deep depression for months after my injury. And I turned to meditation as I struggled to make sense of it and cope. I have meditated off and on for years but when I started doing it daily is when things shifted. Today, I can run intervals if I want to. I still really enjoy it, but I no longer NEED it. I no longer need it to function. My relationship with running is now like a really great friendship instead of a codependent relationship. The need to run 60 km a week just to feel sane is gone.
20. Be. Grateful. Every. Single. Day. I started writing daily gratitude lists every night before bed. 10 things I am grateful for each day. On the toughest of days, it has allowed me to appreciate the smaller things in life. It’s not the material stuff that matters each day. Though I am fortunate enough to have a roof over my head, healthy food in my fridge and reliable transportation. I am most grateful for the people in my life that lift me up. (gratitude is the best attitude)
21. Yoga doesn’t have to be painful. For years I have told myself that I should do yoga because I know the benefits. But I never really enjoyed the classes. Until I tried Kundalini Yoga. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s more of a spiritual yoga. Every class is so different. And each time I walk in, it’s as if my teacher is speaking right to me, knowing exactly what I need that day. If you’re in Calgary and want to try it, check out Krista’s class at Yoga Santosha!
22. A barbell to the lip really hurts. I started CrossFit over a year ago but with my shoulder injury, I have struggled with any overhead movements. So, in the interest of being pain-free, I have avoided all overhead movements until recently. I finally had imaging done on my shoulder that showed there was no tear. But I realized that I was still letting my shoulder injury define me. “Hi, I’m Jenna. I have an injury to my left shoulder, so I can’t do anything”. When I changed the message and started to feed positive energy into my shoulder instead of limiting it, I found I do could do some overhead movements with lightweight. So, I tried the Jerk part of the Clean & Jerk (an Olympic lifting movement that is frequently performed in CrossFit). And I failed to move my head out of the way fast enough, which lead to the 15 lb barbell making direct contact with my bottom lip. I was in tears from pain, my sympathetic sister, on the other hand, was in tears from laughter. (isn't family the best)
23. It’s okay to ask for help. Admitting that I’m in over my head with a project has been liberating. Recognizing that I can’t do everything and some things are better left to someone who knows more than me. Asking for help has allowed me to focus on what actually lights me up, helping my nutrition clients.
24. How to skip! Now at 65 in a row. Baby steps! (or should it be baby skips ...)
25. That my dad’s “meal plans” would put me out of business. The last time my parents visited me in Calgary, I was telling them about meal planning for clients. My dad was like “I’ll give you a meal plan that would really work.” And then proceeds to pull out his notepad from his front pocket (he always carries one, so he can write things down. Cute I know). It reads Breakfast – 2 beer; Lunch – prime rib, mashed taters, corn on cob, 2 decaf coffee; Snack – 1 cookie, 1 beer; Supper – roast pork, baked tater, creamed carrots, steamed brockle, apple pie, 1 beer. (breakfast of champions /meat and taters)
26. That packing up your apartment is more enjoyable with a glass of wine. I hate moving. I hate the chaos that comes with moving. With boxes everywhere and not really knowing where things in even though I labelled the boxes. Wine made the whole process more enjoyable this time around.
27. To choose alignment over hustle. I learned this from Amber Kupina, “When we are aligned there is less force, less work, where the universe can provide for you in an effortless way.” (choose alignment)
28. That my nieces could beat me up. Literally. They’ve travelled to Greece and Austria to compete in world champions and came home with silver and bronze medals. I’m always a little scared of them after I watch them fight. (my nieces are badass)
29. That the older I get the longer the hangover lasts… (two day hangovers are real)
30. How to receive love. I know it sounds ridiculous at first, but hear me out. I’ve struggled with self-worth for a very long time and with that, I had this belief I was unworthy of love. As I’ve healed past beliefs my ability to receive love has opened.
31. That I am here to serve. I have always had this innate feeling that I had a purpose much larger than I could comprehend. This year was the first year that I feel as if I stepped into my purpose of helping others return to loving themselves.
32. To trust my intuition. Okay, maybe this one is still a work in progress, but I’ve definitely come a long way. I used to negate my intuitive pings (this deep sense of knowing). This past year, I started to just watch them. If something came up, I’d stop and say well, that’s interesting instead of totally negating it. (go with your gut feeling)
33. That fermented garlic does not keep mosquitos away from horses and only makes you and everything you own smell like fermented garlic. I went on a trail ride in Radisson. When I arrived, my trail guide was spraying the horse with a homemade insect “repellant”. The holistic part of me was intrigued, I asked her what was in it and if it works well. Her reply, fermented garlic. Oh yep, I can smell it! And that she wasn’t sure, but it made her feel better that she was trying. Let me be super clear, fermented garlic DOES NOT repel insects. Though I had a wonderful time riding through the beautiful mountain trails, I left my trail ride with more mosquito bites than I could count and smelling like I just took a garlic bath. I swear it was seeping out of my pores. I had to quarantine my riding clothes but unfortunately only brought one jacket for my weekend of mountain adventures. I found some very un-holistic vanilla car air freshener spray in the back of my vehicle and soaked my jacket in it. Needless to say, vanilla and garlic don’t really go that well together… (live and learn)
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