Top 10 Life Lessons Learned in My 48 Years.

Via on Nov 2, 2012

I woke up today and…voilà! I’m 48 years old.

Born in the middle of the night, two weeks late, I violently entered the world at nine and a half pounds with a huge pile of dark hair on my head. (I got stuck, my mom hemorrhaged and, well, we’re all still alive to talk about it).

Gaping at the large feet and hands attached to this red thing that was supposed to be a baby, my mom was convinced that I was going to be a replica of my six foot one, large-boned aunt (sister to my dad, who is small boned).

My parents couldn’t agree on a name, so I remained nameless for a day or two. Referred to as the baby or, more hopefully, “Baby.” (I need to ask more questions about this fact that I learned only a holiday or two ago after my mom drank one glass of wine too many. Sorry, mom, this is my story. And it’s actually pretty humorous. I’m not trying to call you out as a bad mom).

Eventually they agreed upon Lynn. My dad’s name is E. Leonard and, at the time, they called him Lenny (the  initial “E” for  Elmer, so Lenny was definitely the better choice).

In my early years, family referred to me as Lynn Anne. Later, you can imagine the confusion. If you can’t, allow me to explain: Lenny got older and became Len. I didn’t like to be called Lynn Anne, so, thusly (I’ve always wanted to use that word in one of my posts!) I morphed into Lynn. During my teen years, when people phoned for my dad and I answered, trouble ensued. “Is Len there?” they would ask, pronouncing my dad’s name as (you guessed it!) Lynn. “This is Lynn,” I would say. “No Len!” They’d insist, still pronouncing my dad’s name as Lynn.

To top it off, I have an Aunt Lynne and a cousin Linda. Hey, it was almost worse. I could have been Cressie—my grandma (my  dad’s mom) wanted them to name me after her deceased sister Cressida.

So, I’ve never been a big fan of my name. Except when it turns into Lynnie, a nickname that some friends use on too rare an occasion.

Forty-eight years later—my baby fat dispersed properly with the exception of my knees where it seems to collect—I am who I am today. Lynn Hasselberger. (Side note: Just a few days ago, I celebrated my 20th anniversary. Before marriage, I was plain old Lynn Johnson. I could not wait to get married in order to jazz up my boring name. When I met my husband, I immediately thought: Nope, he’s not the one. I mean, Hasselberger?)

I’ve survived many struggles—from eating disorders and infertility… to (gulp) infidelity—and enjoyed quite a few triumphs, blessings and overall good times.

I’m wiser now (quite possibly, most of that wisdom came during the last eight years) and am learning to accept the fact that I’m aging. A fact I found difficult to accept only two years ago.

Enough about me! Here are the ten top things I learned so far:

1. Rich or poor, happiness comes from within. I’ve struggled with finances along the way (and still today after my husband’s two and a half year unemployment—he’s been working for over a year now!—unexpected medical expenses and the investment into my business that was never and never will be returned, and that we’re still paying off) and enjoyed “better” times when we were both working full time, each making six figures. I was not happier when we had more money, but we were able to eat out a lot, travel… and when something in the house broke we could fix it immediately with the only stress being which contractor to choose.

I’m happy for the most part right now. Give me some more money and my shoulders will soften, we’ll sleep easier and we can finally take that real family vacation that doesn’t require camping at someone’s house. A slight tick in happiness will probably occur but can only be sustained with what’s in our hearts.

And if we start making oodles of money, we’d be smarter with it. I wouldn’t buy that $250 pair of shoes (they lasted more than 10 years, so you could say it was a good buy) but I would treat myself to a massage and cleaning service weekly.

2. We have to accept ourselves, not try to be what other people think we should be. Over the years I’ve heard that I have to calm down my hair, my lips are too thin, I’m too thin, I need to loosen up and get out more (okay, I’d like to change that about myself), I’m too quiet, I should be this or that.

I’ve also imagined what others might think of me and what they think I should be. And tried to fit in. Not wild enough? Not fun enough? Not smart enough? Not pretty enough? Not successful enough?

Source: google.com via Kelly on Pinterest

 I used to try to prove I was those things in order for others to like me more.

But now I think: So the f*ck what? I am me. If you don’t like me as I am, move along. Nothing to see here.

Or deal with this:

I’m not a big fan of large groups and big, loud parties. My hair is at times frizzy or just tossed into a ponytail. I can be quirky. I  don’t watch reality shows. I find it important to continue to learn and be open-minded. I do the best and love as much as I can and forgive you no matter what (unless you kill my cat or do something even more heinous, but even then…). I will  show off my big ugly feet with their weird long monkey toes and even paint them a crazy color on occasion. I will get stressed at laundry. I will run outdoors as long as my legs and body will cooperate. I will mostly eat healthy food. I will tell you if I’m feeling low or about what bugs me. I will utter non sequitors often. I will wear my pj’s some days when I work at home and occasionally nag. I will be quiet at times. I will be cautious if I don’t know you well enough yet. I will stop at one or two drinks. I like to be in bed reading by 9 p.m. I will turn down your invitation sometimes not because I don’t appreciate you but because I simply feel like hanging out at home because I’m just worn out. My house will not be spotless and I can’t guarantee shaved armpits on a daily basis. I’m spiritual but not into organized religion and you’ll never witness me squashing a spider. I’m a tree hugger and believe humans are accelerating climate change by emitting more carbon into the atmosphere than the oceans and vegetation can absorb, throwing off they way the climate system would work without our interference. And unless you’re a climate scientist, you can’t convince me otherwise. I voted for Obama.

And I’m okay with that. If you’re not, then so be it.

Source: Uploaded by user via Elizabeth on Pinterest

3. Aging isn’t bad. It’s a badge of honor. Every day we wake up is truly amazing. I have to admit, I tried “filler” on my face a couple years ago. I was a) trying to mask the horizontal lines that were forming around my lips and b) at battle with my thin lips. Since they were already poking me with a painful needle, I allowed them to fill in the crease above my chin and soften my laugh lines. The changes made me feel more attractive (after all the nasty swelling and bruising vacated my face) but didn’t make me feel any happier.

I was in a mid-life freak out zone at the time. Thanks to my husband’s layoff, my adventure into unnatural fillers was put to an end.

We’re all getting older. That means wrinkles, getting tired faster and finding long hairs in weird places. In preparation for the years ahead, I’m learning to embrace these facts. Although I’m a bit concerned about how menopause will tamper with my mood and wreak havoc in other unknown ways.

Self-disclosure: I cover my grays, though, and that’s something I haven’t found the courage to walk away from. It may take me another 10 years or more. But definitely, by 70, I will let my hair go.

P.S. Fillers and hair coloring are not good for us or the planet. I am admittedly not a 100 percent flawless tree hugger.

4. Holding onto anger is worse than whatever caused the anger in the first place. It ages us and wastes our energy. Forgiveness is key.

 

5. When sh*t happens, you’ll know who your true friends are. How? Because they’ll still be around. And if they disappear, it’s probably for the best. (A couple years ago, I told a person I considered a good friend that I was feeling depressed. I never heard from her again. She didn’t return my messages and even disconnected from me on LinkedIn!)

Absorb the goodness your friends (and even your enemies) have to offer while they’re in your life… you’ll be better for it.

Source: via Tanith on Pinterest

 

6. Exfoliation is important.
Not only are my feet f*ckin’ ugly, they’re dry. It wasn’t until sometime after college that I learned about pedicures and exfoliation. I treat myself to a pedicure at the turn of every season and otherwise exfoliate my feet right here in the comfort of my own home. I also exfoliate the rest of my fine self with loofah during most showers. Afterward, I apply raw shea butter mixed with an essential oil. Quite the process and not something I have time for every day, believe me!

On a more positive note, I appreciate my feet. Although they can’t dance and are often clutzy, they have served me well all these years. I think they, in turn, appreciate the exfoliation.

7. I am not meant to drink more than two drinks. I try to tell this to people when they say, “Oh come on, have fun! Have another drink. Live a little.” (Who knew peer pressure would live on past the age of 15?) Believe me, by avoiding a third drink, I  will have more fun tomorrow and the next day. Drinking one drink is actually enough. And to think, back in college and into my twenties, I partied hard most days of the week. How did I graduate, much less survive? Now drinking just makes me sleepy and wakes me up in the middle of the night.

8. I don’t have to do anything.

This has been my new mantra for the last few days ago and I hope I always remember it. I had been waking up anxious, thinking of all the things I had to do that day. I’d write down the top three things that really had to get done—although, honestly, the world would have carried on without me completing those things—and put all the rest on a longer list which I could pull from if I happened complete the three things and found myself looking for something to do. Invariably, all the tasks plus worries about finance and other stuff I had forgotten to put on the list would jumble around in my head and paralyze me.

Recently, my husband and I spent two nights in the city for our anniversary. It took quite a bit to get myself out the door and onto that train (we don’t do much to avoid spending money!) but once I was at the hotel, clothes put neatly away in the drawers, everything I had to do left my mind. Well, not all at once. But by day two, I was carefree. We didn’t go around the city spending money like drunken sailors. We ate and walked and took in the scene. I even gave breakfast to three homeless men.

Nothing fell apart during those two days. I had fun!

This led to an epiphany. I don’t have to do anything. I don’t have to wake up to thoughts of what I have to do that day. I don’t have to stress  about anything.

Telling myself I don’t have to do anything—a simple mind trick, similar to believing in fairies who will clean the kitchen and bathrooms in the middle of the night—has reduced my stress. And I’m more productive. My mind is clear. I’m approaching my life differently, from a place of abundance—look how full my life is! I have a family that I love, which leads to a couple of messes and extra laundry. How great is that?! How lucky am I?

I just have to follow my passion. My passion doesn’t have to be on a list.

Yes, I have responsibilities, but waking every morning with all them crashing against each other inside my skull until I can put them on a list and begin cramming them into a day just doesn’t work.

I don’t have to do anything. And my mind believes that! My anxiety? Extinguished.

I sure hope my mind doesn’t realize what I’m up to!

Source: oprah.com via Lynn on Pinterest

 

9. Food is fuel and medicine. Exercise makes me feel better.

It’s quite simple. I’ve written about my strange and evolving relationship with food, with self-medication disguised as a sugar tooth and eating disorder. Now I know—healthy food and exercise makes me feel better. And, please, I do eat crap once in a while including a pint of ice cream every week.

10. Time flies and every moment is a reward for this thing we call life.

Even the most unpleasant, f*cked up days are a gift.

I go through periods in my life, when it feels like time is slipping away and I feel myself grasping at it as if I could slow it down or stop it  altogether.

But squandering moments or stressing over our perceived lack of time is a waste of energy. I know this from experience. Chasing time is exhausting work!

I’ve decided this very moment to expand upon my mind trick (#8) and tell myself I have all the time I need. Ha! It’s also all the time I’ll ever have available to me. It is precious.

We need to embrace the good and the bad. After the bad, it could get worse, but then it will get better. Or… it might not. But no matter what happens, odds are in your favor that there’s someone else out there who’s experiencing something worse.

In the moments we have, we need to find a way to make a difference, no matter how small. Inspire by sharing our passions. Or simply smile at someone, wave at our neighbor, support a friend when they’re down. Sign a petition for human rights or the planet.

Be grateful for this moment. And the one that just passed.

Live the moment. Get to know it. Learn from it. For it will inevitably be whisked away before you can say “Time flies!” (By the way, time does not fly if you’re serving it.)

And then we die.

Source: Uploaded by user via rami on Pinterest

Of course I’ve learned much more. But 10 is a nice round number.

The rest I’ll leave up to your imagination.

P.S. I’m grateful to everyone in my life and I hope to enjoy many more moments with all of you.

Happy birthday to everyone!

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About Lynn Hasselberger

Lynn Hasselberger lives in Chicagoland with her son, husband and two cats. She loves sunrises, running, yoga, chocolate, and NYR, and has a voracious appetite for comedy. In her spare time, she blogs at myEARTH360.com and LynnHasselberger.com. A "Green Diva" and social media addict, you'll most likely find Lynn on twitter (@LynnHasselbrgr & @myEARTH360) and facebook. She hopes to make the world a better place, have more fun, re-develop her math skills and overcome her fear of public speaking. Like her writing? Subscribe to her posts.

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54 Responses to “Top 10 Life Lessons Learned in My 48 Years.”

  1. honey_b says:

    This is a great post, and the thing I noticed right away is: your feet look just like mine! And I think of my feet as one of my most beautiful features, LOL. I even had a man who likes feet travel out from Las Vegas to meet me because he saw a pic of them. But anyway, I'm 42 and slowly coming around to many of these conclusions myself. Thank you :)

  2. Happy Birthday Lynn!!! Great post!

  3. Carolina says:

    Happy Birthday Lynn!!! We're as old as we feel and I just turned 37 : )

  4. Celia Aurora de Blas Aurora says:

    Nice:) Happy Birthday, Lynn! I love your honesty!

  5. mithuhassan says:

    Happy Birthday,

  6. [...] Top 10 Top Things I Learned in My 48 Years. | elephant journal. Share this:TwitterFacebookGoogle +1PinterestLinkedInLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. [...]

  7. denniscoble says:

    Happy Birthday Anniversary, Lynn :) In a few days, I will also cross over another milestone. Great post!

  8. tylinharris says:

    Great post! And, we have that whole Lynn/Len thing going on in my family too!

  9. swissbusinessclub says:

    Happy Birthday dear Lynn! Great and interesting article! Thank you so much for sharing! Have a wonderful day! Best, Lucas

  10. WebNode says:

    Many more happy returns of the day Lynn Hasselberger. By the way thanks for this great post.

  11. Jeet Jeet says:

    Happy birthday, Lynn! Here are a few observations, in no particular order, on your special day – there can be more, but then again, I do not want to match the length of the original article with the length of my comment, so I will keep it short. (a) I admire how well you dealt with coming to terms with the little blip in your marriage – I didn't know you back in March of last year when you wrote that article, but after reading it now, I must admit that you could teach a lesson or two in resilience, hope and perseverance for one's family's sake to most of us. (b) There's nothing wrong with your feet – so they are not tiny like some others, but so what? They are distinctly yours, and they get the job done, don't they? They're just as beautiful or just as ugly as any other feet – it depends on what 'you' think of them. They're just fine, IMHO, but then again, I'm a man, and I might not have some inbuilt standard of evaluating body parts and how they compare with other comparable ones. Also, my yoga teacher's feet are exactly the same as yours, but guess what? She takes care of her special needs son, teaches yoga to other special needs kids, and is a really great mom, in spite of her own autoimmune disease – she's a hero to me, and I admire her commitment; so her feet, just by association, become beautiful. (c) You're right about someone else always having it worse, no matter how bad one is feeling at any moment. I always tell myself that each time I'm feeling down, and practice 'tong len'. You can surely practice 'tong Lynn' (sorry, couldn't resist it after the story behind your name) :-) (d) It's strange that your friend reacted the way she did when you told her that you were depressed. Some 'friend' – and I say that in a non-judgmental, shaking-my-head kind of way! This does not surprise me though, since it is in line with the standard American greeting that I doubt I will ever come to terms with – "How're you doing?" I don't think anyone really cares about the honest answer – the socially acceptable answer is "Good! How about you?", to which the response is "Good! Thanks!" – of course, the language can vary ever so slightly, and some people who ask might genuinely care, but the robotic set of exchanges irks me quite a bit! In India, where I grew up, the standard greeting of "Namaste" is a much better substitute, and even if someone asks how one is doing, the honest answer is usually met with a sympathetic ear, and a time of their day, with an honest (not always nosy) and genuine curiosity to help in any way possible. In keeping with that tradition, please feel free to tell me any time you're depressed, and I'll absorb it like a sponge. I didn't know that I'd been doing 'tong len' most of my life, until I got exposed to Shambhala – but I love being there for my friends, and I consider you as one! (e) Thank you for signing petitions – it is a win even if one out of 100 brings about the desired result, and every small win matters. Also, it helps spread awareness – so, thank you! (f) I have, in the past, struggled to fit in – and even now I relapse into that mindset in certain unique situations. But overall, I am a recovering 'fitter-inner'! :-) If people do not like me based on some external factors or some intrinsic judgmental standards, then amen to that! Not the easiest pill to swallow, especially when I'm least expecting it, but practice takes me closer to perfect with each such occurrence. :-) (g) I love the way you ended the article, by wishing a Happy Birthday to everyone. To the greatest critic of reincarnation, I ask them to imagine what Swami Prabhupada mentioned about how if we don't have such a hard time with the fact that the same 'I' persists through different bodies as we are growing up, then why do we have such a hard time that the 'I' will not move to a different host when this body is no longer usable? I like to stretch that a little further – in the same context, I like to think of every single moment as a new moment, a new chance to start afresh, no matter where in our lives' journeys we might be – every day is a birthday, every moment is a birth moment, every instant is an opportunity to reincarnate our minds. On that note, Happy Birthday, Lynn Johnson Hasselberger – "So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish" (of course, I meant your article, but had to throw in a Douglas Adams reference, even though it might have been more apt on your "42"-nd birthday – oops, another one). :-D

    • Wow! Love everything you said, Jeet! And hilarious Lynn/Len reference. I think you need to submit your writing to elephant! Cheers!

      • Jeet Jeet says:

        Thank you, Lynn! :-) Glad you liked my 'short' comment! :-P Yes, maybe some day I will take time out to come up with some original writing, but until then, friends like you keep fueling my creative fire! Thanks for that! :-) Take care!

  12. Bud Wilson Bud Wilson says:

    Hi Lynnie, :) can't wait to hear your "report" in another 10 years! You're just a spring chicken ( actually, not a chicken, I totally admire your courage to continuously speak truth to power)! I empathize with your Dad's "E" dilemma. For a while, I tried H. Eugene Wilson to avoid what I thought was a dorky first name and to avoid confusion around the house growing up since I shared my dad's name. lol Glad to learn we share the same day of the month as our B-Days – mine's the 2nd of December – I'll try to remember what I've learned in my 108 years! Thanks for a fun read! Bud

  13. Rhonda says:

    48 next year and have learned sooo much of this myself, only recently. Thanks for this. Rx

    • Thank you, Rhonda, for reading and for taking the time to comment. Just thinking now of the boy in my high school graduating class who died tragically the summer after my freshman year in college. Living each day, each year, is a privilege! Cheers to you.

  14. Brianna says:

    Super sweet, fun, passionate post Lynn. Thanks for passing on your wisdom!

  15. Bryonie Wise laydowninthetallgrass says:

    Fantastic post Lynn! Thanks for sharing your heart and your wisdom! ~ Bryonie

  16. [...] Today, while at my local coffee house, instead of tucking my head into my iPhone to kill the time—as I usually do while I wait for my order—I decided to see what it would be like to not have that distraction and be present in the room with everyone else. [...]

  17. Dearbhla Kelly Dearbhla says:

    Really lovely. Thanks Lynn.

  18. terrinakamura says:

    Happy birthday, Lynn, and thanks!

  19. ManifestYogaJen says:

    this is one of my very favorite things I have read in ages xoox Bravo and happy bday. love this. shared on my page

  20. Chris Grosso says:

    YES! Loved this! “We have to accept ourselves, not try to be what other people think we should be.” Amen sister, amen!

  21. pcmtnguy says:

    I would like to use this and modify to my life as a 48yr old male that has gone through much of what you have posted. I had 7 step fathers, 1 mom that was rarely around and learned to raise 2 younger siblings (when I could)..This brings out feelings that have been suppressed for decades…your truth on the issues are so clear and precise..so much to learn

  22. Happy beautiful birthday and joyful returns. Thank you for sharing your birthday with us and giving us the birthday gift of a sweet taste of your experience here.

  23. Happy birthday Lynn, and thank you for your heart-warming wisdom of 48 years.

    I have been impacted by Pushpa Vij, my late grandmother's take on youth. Many years ago, I remember asking her why she didn't color her hair. "If I did then I wouldn't look my age," she said.

    I was confused. Most women I knew had long been victimized by anti-aging industries.

    "Do you really want to look your age?" I asked.

    "Absolutely," she said. "At thirty, you should look.. thirty, and at fifty, I think you should look….well, fifty."

    Her response impacted me for life and much of what I do now is dedicated to her. Here's to eternal wisdom.

    Best,
    Reenita http://www.reenita.com

  24. Genna says:

    Happy Birthday, Lynn. Loved your article. As easy to read as a delightful conversation with a friend.

  25. [...] you look at my life through the lens of what you’re supposed to be, I shouldn’t be [...]

  26. [...] posted this 19 minutes ago. It (the intro, not the article, which is excellent, and a hit) made me [...]

  27. Alana says:

    I like all your observations, and as a stranger, I'd like to extend a happy birthday to you! As for photographic subtext, another thing I'd like to add to the list: walking down the railroad tracks, holding a large bottle of booze and wearing Daisy Dukes, is probably not an option at age 48 – or at least, not an option with a pleasant outcome. :-D

    Wishing you the best!

  28. [...] think we’ve all worn the shoes of being that person. The one who is in a state of confusion, fear or some other emotional space, which makes for behavior that is inconsiderate or even [...]

  29. [...] with my PMS mood-swings. As I approach the menopause years (I’m 48) these mood-swings are more like Full Metal Jacket, but less predictable. I’m not sure if [...]

  30. [...] The lessons you need to learn are the lessons you need to learn, and Miss Cheeky Universe is going to keep on throwing them in your pathway until you stop tripping over them and falling, and instead, see them for the shiny gems and jewels of direction and transformation that they are. [...]

  31. [...] As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to understand [...]

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