Mid-October Life Assessment: 14 Lessons I’ve Learned So Far or “Don’t Streak, Be True, Prioritize Passions, Vaccinate Your Kids, Do Scary Stuff, Delete Meanies, and More”

Here is a pretty picture of a leaf in the woods. It is October, so leaves right?

Here is a pretty picture of a leaf in the woods. It is October, so leaves right?

In the middle of the night last night, I was awake and figured I might as well dive head-first into my first annual Mid-October Assessment of the Year Thus Far. Here’s some stuff I’ve learned.

1) Streaking is a bad idea. Joining The Latest Challenge or diet or whatever is possibly probably a terrible idea. Your body needs more than grapefruit. My muscles do need rest days. It’s okay to take them. It’s okay to say, “Hey it’s cool that you can run every day or run super fast even though I can’t. I can do this other thing, which is also really neat.” Don’t try to be like someone else just because a bunch of someones are being or doing the same thing. Sometimes they’re all jumping off a cliff, and that’s rarely a good idea unless there’s water below and you’re already a good jumper and swimmer. I digress.

2) Overtraining is real. Shitty seasons are real. One week you’ll be on top of your game, and the next you’ll be sidelined. There’s a season to plant, one to water and grow, one to harvest, and one to rest. There’s also the fallow season – the long hibernation of soil/soul. Honor the season you’re in. Move with it.

3) Do what you love, and stop when it becomes work or an idol or something you hate but keep on saying you love even though it’s a lie. Tell yourself only true things first, and then do only true things.

I’ll start:
I hate running marathons.
There, I said it.
Now, I’m not going to run anymore marathons until that true statement changes.

4) Self-care is where others-care begins. You can’t pour from an empty glass, no matter what all those supermoms and lay popes try to make you believe. Do yoga. Read daily. Sip your coffee slowly, but don’t let it sit too long. Sleep in. Take your time on the toilet, especially if you have kids and can lock them out. And get super-full before you go emptying yourself into others who deserve you, and deserve the best of you.

5) It’s okay to care about everyone and everything, and believe every cause that matters to someone should matter to you too. But be careful, or you’ll be the guy donating $2 to every charity who sends him a letter. I mean, $2 to 500 causes is great. $1000 to the one that makes your heart stop and then start again is maybe better. (Did I math that right? Anyway.) So try to think of your passion like pennies: you only have so many, and it’s good to prioritize, to save up and drop the paper money on the Really Great Ones, rather than dropping a penny here or five there on a bunch of bottom bin gum drops that lose their flavor before the wrapper hits the floor. Also, be creative. Sometimes you don’t have to spend pennies to show you care.

6) Like nuclear waste, long-buried family secrets are still deadly toxic 50 years after the fact. Maybe moreso. Unbury that shit, name it, and torch it. Things might explode. Things might be irreparably damaged. People might not want to talk to you anymore. That might be okay.

7) When you’ve grown up and have left and cleft, your family is who you’ve married, who you’ve made, and who you choose. Blood isn’t really as thick as we’ve all been told. So when you’re big enough to choose your family, be picky. And know this: When blood family does spill your blood, you’re more likely to hemorrhage. So grow thicker skin and stay away from the ones with sharp words and ways.

8) Try to be the kind of parent who makes it easy for your kids to not have to worry about nuclear family waste and all that blood-letting stuff. The only thing they really really need to know is that they are loved no matter what, and that is enough. And maybe to also be kind to others because others are also loved.

9) Don’t be afraid of all those emotional taboos like depression meds and therapists. Your mind and spirit need and deserve the same level of care you give your body. If you’d see a doctor for cancer of the lungs, make sure you see one for cancers of the spirit. It’s my believe that everyone should have a therapist on call; mine has saved my life a few times.

10) Those cancers of the spirit and mind – depression, mental health disorders, etc – are real things. It’s not a bad day; it’s a chemical imbalance. Please don’t be mean and ignorant and suggest those who need help just need a good prayer partner or a PMA (Positive Mental Attitude!).

11) It’s okay to be an essential-oils-loving, chiropractor-seeing, acupuncture-getting hippie who shops 100% organic and has her own garden of fresh veggies and fruits. That’s really cool, actually. It’s also okay to eat out every night of the week, drink pop, take ibuprofen, and buy your non-organic gmo-full grapes at Target. Just don’t be a jerk to people who don’t do it like you do it.

This goes for pretty much everything, with one exception: Please vaccinate your kids.

12) Know your professional and personal worth. Some might think you’re an arrogant jerk for saying, “hey, you can’t treat me like that.” Or, “actually no, you need to pay me more. This is what I charge to do this, and you’re not the special exception.” This is especially important if you’re any kind of artist or creator. Those people are the jerks for treating you like that. Know your value. Work hard to grow your value. And don’t work for anyone who doesn’t affirm your value. Okay, scratch that. You need a job, and it’s too crappy an economy for everyone to be paid what they’re worth to do what they love. But you know what I’m saying: don’t let anyone screw you over. You’re better than that.

13) Do stuff that scares you. I don’t mean jump out of a plane, though that is scary. I mean, if you’ve been thinking about writing songs but you’re afraid they’ll suck, they probably will but write them anyway. That’s what I keep telling myself about doing this blog writing thing more often: It may suck. That’s okay. Ann Lamott said I have to write a shitty first draft, so here I am. Don’t not do something because you’re afraid it won’t end well. Do it because you’re bigger than your fears.

14) It’s okay to say goodbye. It’s okay to play fast and loose with your unfollow, delete, and block buttons on social forums. Most of us strive for respectability. All of us fail at times, maybe even often, forgetting those are humans typing at us and absorbing our rants from behind another screen somewhere. We can all do better. We can be nicer. We can think before we angry-type.

And we can also say to those who haven’t quite learned, “No, not with you. Not today. Not tomorrow either.”

What are some really important lessons you’ve learned so far this year?