40 and 1/365 years

Today, I’m 40 and 1/365 years old. I’ve made it through growing up not-so-rich in a single-parent household, a fairly hard undergrad program while working at least one job, worked my way up from the bottom, through a very hard MBA program while watching my wife be very sick, been rich, been broke, been in love and held my wife in my arms as she died. If you think about it, as I have been lately, a lot has happened in the last 40 years and 1 day.

Rather than talk about how I avoided the emotional significance of my birthday and all that crap over the weekend, I felt maybe I could share a few things I’ve learned over this time.

Swallowing too many pills at once (of any kind) gives you the runs.

Surprise kisses are the best.

It’s ok to fight. It’s not ok to say mean things.

Babies and small children can be happier than you can. And angrier.

Kennel training is good for both pet and pet lover.

Future plans are about as dependable as writing on the sand.

There’s no such thing as a small water leak… or pimple.

A random stranger’s unsolicited compliment counts more than Mom’s.

It can get worse. It can also get better.

The choice to smile is yours and yours alone.

You get 30,000 days on this Earth. Live deliberately.

Installing a fancy custom stereo in your car is just inviting trouble of some kind or another.

Do something every once in a while JUST because it makes you nervous.

Every couple of weeks change which hand you use your mouse with.

If you want to have fun, be fun.

Wild squirrels are not for petting.

Smiles are fun to pass out.

People don’t trust people who smile too much.

Do good deeds often. Tell no one.

Keep a journal in some way. You’ll be amazed at how valuable it will be as time passes.

No, it’s not too late to <fill in your dream here.>

“Call me if you need anything” doesn’t help anyone.

Don’t kiss and tell. Ever. (Even about your wife.) It’s no one else’s business.

Backup your important files. Right now.

Write a will. Your loved ones will thank you. Trust me.

Having at least three or four definite goals working concurrently keeps life interesting and satisfying.

Always have at least one friend you can call without embarrassment or guilt late at night to bring you gas on the wrong side of town. And be prepared to do the same for them. Well, ok, it’s kinda hard not to be embarrassed.

The richer you are, the prettier you are, the bigger you are, or the sadder you are, the more you should be nice to other people.

Tell people what you want. Leave the mindreading to the mystics.

No one wants to be in a relationship with a mystic.

Money doesn’t make you interesting.

Love thyself but don’t be timid about self-improvement. Laser hair removal, eye surgery and balding cures are cheap these days. (If anyone needs any *cough* male enhancement pills, let me know. I get offers every day in my email.)

Celebrate often. Like every day. Seriously.

Make a big deal out of cool stuff. Pretend the not-so-cool stuff didn’t even happen.

Don’t fret about decisions you won’t remember making next year (or next month or tomorrow.)

Check Snopes before you forward email.

Don’t let ego get in the way of having a good time.

Don’t give the dog unfettered access to the cat’s litter box.

Blondes may or may not have more fun but they do get more attention.

Don’t get cancer. It’s not near as much fun as it seems.

Pick goals that involve other people so you can encourage each other when the going gets tough.

You really can only wear jeans about 3 or 4 times before they need to be washed again.

Giving people you care about permission to be who they want to be (or already are) is the nicest gift you can give.

A lot more people don’t wash their hands after they pee than you’d think.

Just because someone is educated doesn’t mean they are smart. Likewise, just because someone isn’t educated doesn’t mean they are stupid.

People tend to be a lot nicer than I anticipate.

I’m sure there’re many more that I’ll think of as soon as I post this but it’s a good start.  It made me smile to think about these things over the last few days.  I hope it made you smile, too.

14 thoughts on “40 and 1/365 years

  1. Hey Chris,
    It was 9 months for me on February 2nd since I lost my husband to CC. My 42nd birthday is tomorrow. Like you, I oscillate between sad and slightly more sad on a daily basis. Brad was told he was going to die 1 week after the birth of our second child. I’ve just been spinning ever since. Like you, I’m well educated (a high school teacher) and so fortunate for my career. It’s funny to me that Brad and I felt that as professionals that made all the “right” choices we somehow gained a sense of entitlement to everlasting happiness. I think we honestly felt that way. That feeling for me now has been replaced with an internal dialogue repeatedly saying, “how you you have been so stupid?” I grew up adopted and also put myself through school. I worked several jobs at a time also. I was reading your list above and wanted to add….”Intestinal fortitude does not guarantee happiness”. Oh, I guess it’s my birthday now since it’s after midnight. 9 months. Keep writing Chris, it’s good therapy not only for you but for me too.

  2. Yes, some of them made me LOL. Especially the one “Every couple of weeks change which hand you use your mouse with.” I laughed and then I had to try it. It was really challenging – maybe that was your point. What great advice!

  3. You are so so so awesome! I love this list, although it’s debateable about the washing jeans thing. I really hate crunchy jeans, so unless I get wing sauce on them, they’re pretty much staying out of the laundro. HUGE hugs from the north!!!

  4. Keep writing…just lost my husband of ten years to cc…diagnosed three months after the birth of our second son. He fought long and hard for three years…and knew Maggie through work. I am a few months behind you, but traveling the same road…in the same town….I check the blog all the time.

  5. So at 40,do you know what you want yet?

    I know you want what you have lost…and I completely sympathize…if I can say that. All the while I have been reading about 2 amazing people…and hope that even in the darkest of days you give yourself credit for your part in that.

    She is watching and waiting for you, and when you get there – whenever that is – ya gotta have something to talk about 🙂 So get out there and live, laugh and have fun and blow maggie a kiss when you know she’d be smiling too. hugs-

  6. No one ever said life was fair, but it’s still good.

    You’re good therapy. It’s always so nice to read your entries and I must admit that I am now officially hooked. It’s obvious you’re a great person, your life experiences have much to do with that. You should be proud of everything you’ve accomplished. Having lost Maggie, you also know just how precious life is. Your comment about celebrating often is so true. I hope you wished for something great this birthday.

    Take care,
    Suzanne

  7. Great blog Chris. Hope you don’t mind if I use some of your Chrisism Quotes. Your reflection on the past 40 years is quite enlightening.

  8. Ah, this was good Chris – I like it alot! Keep adding more as you come up with them. I forwarded this post to a friend who I thought might like them as well. “Don’t give the dog unfettered access to the cat’s litter box.” That made me laugh out loud. My dogs went shopping for ‘Kitty Snickers’ quite often when I had a cat.

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