70 years. In some ways, it seems like such a long time, yet it can feel like the blink of an eye.
This month I’ll have lived 70 years on this big, beautiful planet we call home. As such, Claire has asked me to impart some wisdom and bits of advice (hopefully mostly good!) from my time here.
A tall order for sure, but I do love a challenge!
This milestone also seems like an excellent opportunity to reflect and take stock of what I’ve learned. After all, life’s journey is all about the lessons we learn along the way. Every now and then it’s good to stop and write some of them down!
Below are some lessons I’ve learned through the years. They are no particular order—just a few words of wisdom passed down from mentors, friends, or family members, and other credos gleaned from seven decades on this beautiful Earth.
#1 Life is as good as my relationship with myself
I’m pretty sure I heard this from Zen Teacher Cheri Huber. I wrote it on a card and put it on my wall where I see it almost daily.
When I stop to read it, I take a deep inhale and am reminded how true this is for me. Loving ourselves is a radical act that radiates from the inside out. And, I’ve learned self-love is not a destination, rather something I have to work on constantly.
However, it is a beautiful journey. As our relationship with ourselves grows and evolves, so too does our perspective and experience of life.
#2 My emotional experience mirror’s my physical one.
How I feel emotionally is often a reflection of my physical well-being.
If I’m sick and I feel grumpy and crappy, I can remind myself it’s because my body aches and it will pass. For this reason, meditation and exercise have been a standard in my life. If I slack on either of them, my emotions sag too.
#3 Carry death on my shoulder
Certainly not your average piece of “feel-good” advice, but extremely important nonetheless.
In fact, facing mortality by keeping it close is a sober reminder of the goodness and beauty of life. If we knew life was eternal, the beauty of something like a sunset, for example, would be lost in the endless sea of time. It is the knowledge that we only get to see a limited number of sunsets that makes each one so magical.
This message came from my first meditation teacher in India. I have this one precious life to live right here, right now.
#4 Whenever I think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, it’s time to water my own grass.
My parents were married from 1950 until my father passed ten years ago in 2012. My father said five kids ‘sealed the deal’, but I do believe my mother’s motto is one reason their marriage lasted 62 years (hard to believe I’ll be married 50 years in 2025. And my Irish-American husband has a full head of green hair.)
We live in a world where, especially now with technology, we can always peer over the ‘other side of the fence’ (though quite often the grass isn’t truly as green as it seems). It can be easy to feel fed up with our lot in life and to yearn for something else.
But when I feel that way, I know it’s time to take stock and take care of all the things that make my own life so wonderful. And there is plenty of it, for all of us.
#5 Giving is receiving. Receiving is giving.
It’s a closed-loop, and learning this lesson was a big aha and relief for me.
I don’t have to keep score. I can give freely and receive freely with an open heart. One of the best gifts to give is gratitude—it’s free, it’s foundational, it’s the elixir of life.
#6 Difficult emotions are my teachers.
I spent a good deal of my early life fleeing from my feelings.
NVC has taught me to stop, look deeper, and discover the root of my unpleasant emotions. Just sitting in the fire of painful emotions until the embers die out feels like I’m burning old karma and I experience more ease, peace, and levity.
Now I see my painful emotions as teachers guiding me through life, helping me to arrive in a better, more whole place.
#7 Leap before I look.
Yes, you read that correctly.
Most of the truly daring and exciting things I’ve done in life did not start with a well-researched plan. If I had been planful, most of the exhilarating adventures I’ve had in life may not have happened.
“Let’s buy a one-way ticket to Hong Kong.” And, I haven’t regretted any of them…well maybe the time I overbought antiques at an auction and needed to rent space in an antique collective…definitely not my cup of tea.
But even the small number of regrets are more than worth a life well lived!
#8 Lead with humility.
Those who know me well may snicker at this one, and it’s the message I’m channeling late in life.
Humility is not necessarily the same as modesty. Whereas modesty makes light of one’s abilities, humility simply says “I’m still learning, growing, figuring things out and I’m open to change and new ideas. No one knows for sure what will happen tomorrow.”
#9 Turn off my brain and trust my instincts and intuition
Making decisions (especially the big ones) has been a struggle much of my life.
My mind wants to make the most ‘right’ decision and can spin in circles, especially in a world with a seemingly endless number of options to choose from (and only growing!). It can be so easy to get hung up on making the right decision, that we forget to simply make a decision.
However, when I drop down and let the wisdom of my gut and body take over, decisions come much easier and more skillfully. Bodies don’t lie.
#10 I only really encounter the self
If I am honest and look deeply, much of what I see in others is a mirror—a projection of myself.
Life is a journey from the vessel of our own minds. While we like to think we can see the world ‘objectively’, the truth is we only ever experience our own…experience. This means that all we see is a projection of all we are.
If there is something about me I don’t like, I probably won’t like it in you either. And the opposite is also true, so it seems I’ve come full circle back to #1!
What about you? Did any of what I shared resonate with you? Would you share some of your own insights? We’d love to hear what inspires, encourages, and uplifts you. Please add your worldly wisdom below.
*With a nod to Oprah Winfrey