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17 Life Lessons in 32 Years

My grandmother used to tell me…

“Enjoy today because the older you get, the faster time goes by.”

As a kid, I always rolled my eyes at this comment. But she was right. Time is a non-renewable resource and it goes by extremely quickly. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about the time I’ve spent on the planet.

Why? Well…

On Saturday, November 6th, I’ll be 32 years old! 🙂

Birthdays are always a good time to reflect on life lessons and I wanted to share some of those lessons with you.

Before we get going, find a piece of paper or open up a text edit program. I’ve included micro-actions throughout this post. As you’re reading along, write down your thoughts and ideas. Also, the numbers below aren’t in any particular order and I’ve left some items out because this is already a super long post. 🙂

1. Empowerment isn’t for sale.

Consumerism has propagated a myth that you can buy anything, including empowerment. But that isn’t true. You can’t buy empowerment at the mall. Empowering yourself requires intense self-examination. And intense self-examination requires a lot of reading, writing, and thinking.

Micro-action: Define what empowerment means to you?

2. Simplicity rocks.

The number of blogs and books relating to voluntary simplicity, minimalism, and downsizing grow everyday. It’s fantastic to see so much discussion around the topic of simplicity. Whatever you call it, the people in this movement are thinking and talking about new ways to live intentional authentic lives. The ideas in this movement have had a powerful effect on my life and I think they can help you too.

Micro-action: How can you start integrating the principles of simplicity into your life?

3. Embrace fear.

Fear never goes away, especially when it comes to making big life changes. Part of pushing past fear requires intense self-reflection and being aware of your physical and emotional state. Being aware means you can start to dig deeper, listen to what you truly need, and learn to embrace change.

A wise yogi recently told me, “Change means embracing fear. Criticism of the mind, self-doubt, and lack of trust are all limitations imposed by the mind. Doubt your doubts. Your doubts are not real. Doubts are just illusions created to keep yourself from taking a risk, because you’re afraid of failing.”

Micro-action: What is one fear you can conquer this month?

4. Biking and walking are the best forms of transportation.

Selling our cars was a scary choice, but I’m glad we took the plunge. By riding my bike and walking to my destination, I’ve noticed incredible details. Details that I wouldn’t have noticed 5 years ago; things like the subtle clues of changing seasons.

As I bike or walk down the streets, I’m awe struck by the changing leaves and the blue sky. When I drove everywhere, I failed to notice these beautiful details. A huge part of being car-free is about slowing down and savoring the details of life.

Micro-action: How can you start integrating more walking and biking into your daily routine.

5. Building strong relationships is the key to happiness.

My Great Aunt Mamie used to collect little toys in Cracker Jack boxes. She put these toys in a small red box and as a little girl I would come over and ask for her special little red box. Every time I opened the box, I was filled with awe and amazement. There were little wheels, tiny Disney figurines, and a very tiny Santa. I loved the little toys, but more than anything I loved spending time with my Aunt. She had beautiful blue eyes, a big smile and always played with me. She taught me that building strong relationships is the key to real, long lasting happiness.

Micro-action: Are there any relationships you’ve been neglecting? And why?

6. Yoga is a life expanding practice.

I’ve only been practicing yoga for over a year and still have a lot to learn. But I do know this: similar to being car-free, practicing yoga has taught me to slow down and be mindful of the present moment. I’ve also learned that my body is capable of amazing things; I am a strong and healthy and that is something to be extremely grateful for. Plus, the practice has decreased my stress levels and made me a whole lot happier.

Micro-action: Start practicing yoga.

7. My definition of success is constantly changing.

When I finished college I thought that being successful required making a lot of money, owning a few cars, and living in a big house. I’ve learned that I don’t care about success; at least not in the traditional sense. My version of success is much more scaled down.

Rather than worry about materialism, I’m more interested in doing work I love, paying my bills, and being happy.

Micro-action: Define what success means to you.

8. Be on your own side.

I’m a lot harder on myself that I am on others. Right now I’m reading a fascinating book called, Buddha’s Brain and the authors point out that “small positive actions every day will add up to large changes over time, as you gradually build new neural structures. To keep at it, you need to be on your own side.”

A lot of the latest research on the human brain shows that we can actually change how we think and begin to develop a more positive and constructive perspective. But to do that we have to be on our own side and learn to stop feeding the lizard brain with daily doses of “worry”.

If you’re anything like me and constantly hard on yourself, remember to be on your own side. When the negative self talk starts to infiltrate your brain, think about what you would tell a small child. Would you tell the child that he or she was stupid? Or that they would never reach a particular goal.

No, you would provide that child with encouragement, be understanding, and probably give that little person a hug. Do the same for yourself.

Micro-action: Be mindful of how you talk to yourself.

9. Single tasking is easier than multi-tasking.

Technology can be very distracting. To get work done I have to focus on one thing at a time. Practicing single tasking has changed the way I work for the better. For example, if you’re checking email just do that. If you’re writing an essay, focus on writing. Or if you’re talking to a friend, talk to that friend.

Micro-action: Read Leo’s new book, Focus. I’m about half way through the book and love it. 🙂

10. It’s okay to ask for help.

After years of struggling with an eating disorder and low self-esteem, I finally caught on that it’s okay to ask for help. For a long time, I felt like I had to do everything by myself. It can be scary asking for help, but in the long-run it’s worth it. Asking for help can make happier, is empowering, and can expand your social support network.

Micro-action: Do you avoid asking for help? Can you change that today?

11. The personal is political.

The problems we face (like climate change, lack of clean drinking water, and increasing levels of violence against women and children) are huge and systemic. Reading and thinking these issues can paralyze people. But it’s important to remember, the personal is political. The changes you chose to make in your own life do have political consequences.

Micro-action: Start flexing your “citizen muscle” by voting, attending city council meetings, or writing to your elected officials.

12. Words matter.

Words matter. Before you send an email, tweet, or publish a blog post, ask yourself: Is this helpful or hurtful? Words have a huge impact on the people in your life, so it’s essential to be thoughtful and considerate when you craft any type of correspondence.

Micro-action: Sign up for 750words.

13. Practice gratitude.

The latest happiness research emphasizes the importance of practicing gratitude. Show your gratitude to your spouse, friends, and family members by writing a gratitude letter, calling them at unexpected times, or making that person a lovely dinner.

In our busy world full of emails, tweets, and everyday work lives, it’s easy to get very wrapped up in yourself and forget about all the people who have helped improve your life along the way.

Micro-action: Write a gratitude letter.

14. Take time out for a nap.

Getting enough sleep is one of the many keys to a healthy and happy life. I know when I’m sleep deprived I start acting like a fool, rather being a thoughtful and loving person.

Micro-action: You might not be able to nap on the weekdays, but you can nap on the weekends. Give yourself that flexibility and make time for a 30 minute nap.

15. Being slightly obsessive about the things you love is perfectly okay.

Research shows that people who are happier enjoy the “small mundane joys of life.” For instance, coffee, writing, walks in the park, and yoga are a few of these things I have a slight obsession with (although I do have a tendency to go overboard on my coffee consumption). 🙂

Remember to savor life and the little things that make you happy.

Micro-action: What are some of your healthy and unhealthy obsessions? Think of three ways you can cultivate better habits.

16. Never stop learning.

Life is a continuous learning process, so don’t stop. Keep reading, writing, and be open to new perspectives. Being a life long learner also means you have to learn to stop making assumptions about folks. The trick is to become aware of those assumptions.

Micro-action: Start reading one book a week.

17. Follow your dreams.

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be President of the United States. I was absolutely positive that I’d be perfect for the job. Obviously, my career direction changed as I grew older. But that makes me wonder why. Little kids have the confidence to dream big. But somewhere along the way, they start diverging from those big and awesome dreams.

Adults are good at telling little kids, “Ohhh you can’t be the President. That is totally unrealistic. Why don’t you consider being a nurse instead.”

Think about the dreams you’ve never pursued and ask yourself why.

Micro-action: Write down your dreams and make a life list.


If you made it this far, congratulations! Thank you for reading and all your support. 🙂

Logan is organizing a birthday brewery tour for me on Saturday. So if you’re in town, feel free to join us. It’s going to be an easy going walking tour. 🙂 Click here for more details.

Update: Check out this series of articles on life lessons! Very inspiring stuff. 🙂

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • T.C. Judd November 3, 2010, 8:26 am

    Fantastic list, Tammy! Tons of wisdom packed into a short list, superb!

    I think I’d pick 2, 3, 13, 15, and 17 as my Top 5, though they’re all great. Committing to those micro-actions now…and maybe picking up a few more in the days to come.

    Thanks for the insights and the challenges!

  • Katy @ The Non-Consumer Advocate November 3, 2010, 8:28 am

    Great list. I found that I didn’t really find my niche until I was round 35, so you’re a few years ahead of me. (Of course, parenting small children takes away the focus on self, so that’s my excuse.)

    As a 42-year-old woman, I am content with who I am and my choices in life. I always think it’s funny how society thinks that a person peaks in their twenties, when I actually consider that decade to still be a bit awkward.

    And the store “Forever 21?” *Shudder!*

    Happy early birthday Tammy!

    Katy Wolk-Stanley
    “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”

  • Paul Strobl November 3, 2010, 8:28 am

    Another awesome post, Tammy, I love this! Have a happy birthday, and I hope Bridgeport is on your list of breweries to hit! Back in 1997, I backpacked around the northwest JUST to go beer tasting. Deschutes, Bridgeport (IPA!), Rogue and BigTime Brewing in Seattle were my favorites at the time–I’m sure there’s a lot more places today than there were then. (I even got to meet Michael Jackson–the important beer and scotch icon, not the other one–as he was judging a homebrew competition!)

  • David Robert Hogg November 3, 2010, 8:52 am

    A really thoughtful list that I’m sure you’ve been secretly collecting for years. I particularly love #’s 1,2,4 and 9.

    I’ll admit I have a little trouble with #17: Adults are good at telling little kids, “Ohhh you can’t be the President. That is totally unrealistic. Why don’t you consider being a nurse instead.” — Maybe I’m reading it too literally but even still this doesn’t sound like anything I hear on a regular basis.

    That said, very well done.

    • Tammy November 3, 2010, 10:33 am

      @David – well maybe it’s just the adults in my life? That was the standard line I got as a little girl. I’m not trying to put a negative spin on all adults. But I do think we have a tendency to set our expectations a lot lower than they should be, and as a result that garbage gets projected onto kids.

      Also, if you look at any of the research on gender role socialization it’s pretty striking.

      Thanks for reading! 🙂

      • Mollie November 3, 2010, 4:05 pm

        Actually, I did hear things like that a lot when I was a teen. I told my mom I wanted to be an archeologist and she told me “only daughters of wealthy families get to do things like that”.

        My son wants to be a writer and he constantly hears remarks like “so you want to be poor” or “what is your back up plan”. It makes me so mad! I tell him not everything in life is about being rich!

        Thanks, Tammy. I started my own web site about my decision to slow down. I’m so reluctant to post out of FEAR of course! I’m trying to kick that bad habit.


      • Paul Strobl November 5, 2010, 6:05 am

        Tammy, you reminded me of a gender study (from my undergrad in Anthropology) that showed just how early we begin learning to be male or female–by the way both men and women treat infants! The entire study is available for free here:


        Gender roles are definitely learned, not biologically determined. That being said, even if something is biologically or genetically determined, you can always choose whether to believe it.

        • Tammy November 5, 2010, 6:45 am

          Hey Paul – thanks for the link. During my Masters program, my thesis focused on how gender roles influence career choices. I surveyed about 500 freshmen and the results were striking. A majority of the men and women in my little study wanted to go into “traditional careers.” For instance, a majority of the men wanted to be doctors, engineers, and run for political office; On the other hand, the women in the study wanted to be women wanted to be teachers and nurses. There isn’t anything wrong with those choices, but it always blows me away how we are shaped by our parents, peers, teachers, and the media so early in our life.

  • Meg November 3, 2010, 8:54 am

    A sweet and wise post. #11 is the one I wish more seekers of simplicity and minimalism would understand. Unfortunately many feel politics “clutters” their lives, and refuse to participate.

    Best wishes for the day and ever after.

  • Lisa November 3, 2010, 8:57 am

    What an excellent post! It’ll give me food for thought that should last for days. Thanks Tammy! I hope you have a terrific birthday.

  • Farnoosh November 3, 2010, 9:12 am

    Just love this list – I have so many in common with you – even if I am a *tiny bit* older 😉
    Yoga – simplicity – facing our fears – obsession of things I love – and oh, the dream thing and learning thing!! Tammy, I love this list and I sent you a tweet to see if you’d be willing to participate with this toward Life Lesson Series which Abubakar Jamil (dot) com started. All you would need to do is make a note somewhere that it’s part of that series and you’d be our 71st blogger to participate; let us know and thanks so much!

  • Lauren M.F. November 3, 2010, 9:17 am

    I love these, particularly #15. Being slightly obsessive about the things you love is perfectly okay. I’ve found that I feel like I don’t truly know someone until I discover what they’re passionate enough about to be slightly obsessed with it, and the few people I’ve met who don’t have such a thing make me kind of sad.

    I’m doing NaNoWriMo this month, so lots of other writing is kind of impossible, but I will definitely keep your micro-actions in mind for future musings.

  • Mars Dorian November 3, 2010, 9:27 am

    Hey Tammy,

    really awesome post. You have made some kick-ass reflections, and I like the way you implement it.
    ” Words matter” is one of my favorites.

    Words matter indeed, and I wish I had been more careful with their use. Thinking about: will this hurt or nourish ? is grrreat. I nowadays try to put out the good words, even though a bad one slips in here and there 🙂

    Never stop learning is also a major one. If you stop, you decrease. You have to keep on learning, and moving forward.
    I personally believe that true happiness comes from progress – having more experience today than yesterday and going with it !

    Thanks for this heart-warming mind bath, Tammy 🙂

  • Hugh November 3, 2010, 9:44 am

    What a great list and a great post! I just turned 30 so I’m going to make my own list and include your micro-actions. I look fwd to following these kittens…

  • Diggy November 3, 2010, 9:48 am

    Hey Tammy,
    Awesome list and happy birthday for soon:)

    I’ve also drafted a post (yet to be finished) as I will be turning 24 later this month, and wanted to share 24 things I’ve learned in 24 years on this planet!

    P.S. I really Love your blog and writing style 🙂

  • Girl Seeks Good Life November 3, 2010, 9:48 am

    Thank you! This was inspiring and reminded me about all the stuff that was on my unwritten, mental life list that I’d forgotten about! Maybe it’s time to put it to paper…

    My birthday’s coming up…I wonder what I’ve learned at 26.

  • Corbett November 3, 2010, 10:02 am

    Hey Tammy, happy birthday! Fantastic list here. I absolutely agree with every one of them. #1 is especially important to absorb (empowerment isn’t for sale). Thanks for the reminder to do more of #13 (practice gratitude). It’s easy to become self-centered when you’re working so hard on everything else on the list. I’m going to tell someone how much I appreciate him/her today.

  • Amanda Bretz November 3, 2010, 10:19 am

    Awesome post!
    It’s funny, but I think we often don’t realize how wise our grandparents, parents and older relatives are until we’re adults. Over the past five years or so, I have found myself thinking back on the wisdom my grandma shared with me throughout her good years, (she now has advanced Alzheimer’s). Now I wish I’d written down her advice on life, a child of the Depression, she was one of the most frugal people I have ever known!
    Thanks for sharing your life lessons. I’ll be practicing micro-action 14 this weekend 😉
    Have a good birthday!

  • Sean November 3, 2010, 10:26 am

    Great list Tammy! This seemed a lot more thoughtful than similar types of lists and I really appreciated that. I especially liked the “micro actions”.

    The yoga part is one that I think could be one of the most beneficial things I can do in my life. I did it for one term in school and it had a huge impact, yet for some reason haven’t done it since.

    Happy early birthday and looking forward to seeing you this afternoon!

    • Tammy November 3, 2010, 10:34 am

      Thanks Sean! Looking forward to seeing you! 🙂

  • Stanley Lee November 3, 2010, 10:28 am

    Happy birthday Tammy. What are your plans for your birthday digital sabbatical? Are you getting ready for the freedom business summit?

  • Joanne Wright November 3, 2010, 10:42 am

    Happy Birthday Tammy! Your Grandma was so right. I am in my mid-thirties and have an impending feeling of time slipping away and there is so much I want to do. They say ‘youth is wasted on the young’ – (Oscar Wilde maybe?)… oh to go back 20 years but know what I know now! For me I’d say the most critical thing is not to put anything off – ‘Tomorrow never comes’ (no idea who said that?) – if it all goes a bit wrong then that’s okay – thats how we learn ‘Show me someone who never made a mistake and I’ll show you someone who has never lived’ (totally paraphrasing Joan Collins?) -I’m living life now and blogs such as yours help me to keep focus – Thanks again and raise a birthday glass for me xx

  • Sue November 3, 2010, 10:44 am

    Hi Tammy,

    A ton of good wishes and blessings for your birthday on Saturday and for the upcoming year.

    Thank you for sharing your life lessons along with the micro actions that people can take. I so agree with you that, despite what the ad agencies would have us believe, we cannot buy empowerment. (Those ad agencies are, however, frighteningly effective at convincing us otherwise while simultaneously tearing down the foundational stones of empowerment–self-worth and self-confidence–to convince that we need to buy whatever product it is that will make us beautiful, rich, or powerful.)

    I think one of the biggest steps people can take to empower themselves is to learn to think critically and challenge way more of the assumptions we are fed through mainstream media. Learning to honour and trust one’s inner wisdom is also a great way to empower one’s self.

    I absolutely agree with you about being life-long learners. I would add that it’s often more fun to learn or to develop new, life-affirming habits and activities in a group. The Northwest Earth Institute, located in Portland Oregon, offers quite a few different curricula for reading/learning circles on topics ranging from voluntary simplicity to reducing one’s carbon based energy usage, food systems and shifting toward a more sustainable, vegetarian diet, deep ecology, etc.

    Thanks again for an insightful, well thought out post that inspires readers to take action!

  • Darci November 3, 2010, 10:45 am

    Amazing, uplifting, phenomenal post! Thank you for sharing your wisdom. A lot of it resonated with me as well. LOVE it!

    • Leaidan October 21, 2011, 2:36 am

      Essays like this are so imopartnt to broadening people’s horizons.

  • eva November 3, 2010, 10:52 am

    Hey Tammy, we had a long power outage at my office job today and I decided to sit in the dark with a cup of tea and actually write out my responses to the micro-actions. It was an unexpected and enlightening excersize…I feel surprisingly better about my life in only twenty minutes.

  • Michelle November 3, 2010, 11:19 am

    Impressive thoughtfulness and insight from someone who is only 32 years old.

  • Nina Yau November 3, 2010, 11:35 am

    Happy early birthday, Tammy! Your life lessons are an inspiration to all. Thank you for being such a positive change this world so desperately needs.

    Along the lines of #3 and #7 (fear and success, respectively), this month is a pivotal month for me (and we barely got started!) for I handed in my resignation on Monday and will say farewell to the corporate structure at long last. That, and I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month. These two challenges alone has caused me to think a lot about my fears and also what success means to me.

    Does success mean a stable, every 3-years promotion up the corporate ladder? Does success mean a New York Times bestselling novel or book? Success is the word that encapsulates the accomplishment we all want, we all yearn for, and we all desire. I’m thankful to have discovered what it means to me and I know this is just the beginning …. 🙂

  • lisasfoods November 3, 2010, 11:45 am

    Love this post, Tammy. As someone who’s 31 and is working towards a simpler lifestyle, I know how you feel, and you’ve made so many great points. (I especially like the micro-actions.)

    #4 is a big one for me. My partner and I live in a rural town (the closest grocery store is 15 miles away), so it’s much easier to get around by car, so we share one. But yesterday when I went out to vote, it was beautiful out and I craved a walk, so I walked the two miles there and back. I might have been the only one in our whole town to do so, but I did exactly what I craved. And it felt great.

  • puerhan November 3, 2010, 11:58 am

    Great list, inspiring + Happy Birthday!

    I think you might be overlooking something with coffee though, it seems quite out of congruence with the values you promote strongly. It’s really not a healthy substance to be putting a lot of into your body. I’m sure you are flushing it out with walking, running and yoga… but just think how much happier your body would be without having to deal with it in the first place!

    Best wishes! 🙂

  • Rob November 3, 2010, 12:03 pm

    Absolutely fantastic list! I have to say my favourite is no. 5 though. There’s nothing like good friends and a close bond. Everything else is a luxury.

  • Kori Golightly November 3, 2010, 12:43 pm

    I love your list and your optimism. You have such a lovely and gentle way of encouraging people to live with intention, and I really admire that.

    Joyeux anniversaire en avance!

  • Anna November 3, 2010, 12:46 pm

    Thanks for all of these reminders! Happy Birthday!

  • Naomi November 3, 2010, 1:27 pm

    Happy, happy birthday to one of my role models for simpler living! I hope you have a wonderful weekend.


    (p.s. “Buddha’s Brain” is on my reading list.)

  • Robin Cangie November 3, 2010, 2:02 pm

    This is such a lovely post! Thank you for the list of microactions. In the midst of making a big change, it’s always important to remember the importance of taking small steps.

  • Trish November 3, 2010, 2:33 pm

    Hi Tammy, lovely and insiteful post. You are so fortunate to recognize what is important to you, and to have the courage to pursue it. I am left with those people who are telling me I can’t be president. In particular, one sister who I am relatively close to, 8 yrs older than me, is a very big naysayer in my ear when I try to talk about my lifestyle. She is a consumer, and is always quick to point out that that is what society pushes us towards. I think that she really feels that this is going to make her happy. She urges me to hire a maid, splash out on a big TV, etc. I can’t convince her that I don’t want those things. I think she sees my mindset as naive and rebellious. We can afford these things, but I don’t want them. BTW, I am 45 and she is 53.

    So, bottom line is that I am so impressed with you for choosing your life when society pushes , shoves us in a different direction. and for the naysayers, I need to choose my audience more carefully. No point in discussing how a lovely, simple (not easy, but simple) way of life agrees with me, may as well ask how how that HDTV is. The wonderful thing is that not only are you doing this yourself, but you are helping other people to gain the courage of their convictions, and change their lives for the better. Thanks for being out there in the blogosphere!

  • Glad November 3, 2010, 2:41 pm

    I find many of your lessons wise and meaningful. I especially like No. 17. I spent a long time (too long) living the life I thought I was supposed to live. I’m finally smarter, and am chasing my dream. It’s not easy. And I am often lost and confused. But I love it.

    Thanks for sharing your list! And Happy Birthday (a wee bit early).

  • Kristen Sloan November 3, 2010, 2:57 pm

    Happy Birthday!! Hope you have a great day and get a chance to eat cake 🙂
    #7 is my favorite. I’ve learned that success is very flexible and changing depending on who you are. Often we look to others to base out success on and that isn’t right. Success is what makes you happy and fulfilled, not how you think others perceive your success. THanks for the great post!

  • channeling bliss November 3, 2010, 3:26 pm

    What an awesome list, Tammy! I do love a nice long post with lots of good stuff to think about.

    My favorite “good obsession” is Celtic music…going to concerts and festivals is joy incarnate for me, and listening to jigs and reels can instantly sweep away any crummy stuff that’s happened during my day. I love it!

    I recently wrote out my Life List in detail, articulating many of the things I’ve always wanted to do. At the top of the list is “go to Ireland” and I’m making plans to go next August with my Mom and my sister. The most recent thing on the list is “learn Irish,” which is pretty daunting, but stepping stones get you across the river, and I’ve begun by learning the correct pronunciation of the many songs and tunes in my collection that are in Irish. So much fun!

    It’s posts like this that have inspired me to do these kinds of things. Keep it up! 🙂 And happy birthday!
    Laurie in Michigan

  • Susan November 3, 2010, 4:24 pm

    My hubster’s birthday is also the 6th! He’s turning the very tender age of 37.

    Love this post, very timely for me as I venture into new, frightening, exhilarating territories. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Adrienne November 3, 2010, 6:46 pm

    Hi Tammy,

    It looks like you were born on the best day of the year…my birthday! 😉 Technically, I guess it was yours first, since you are a few years older than me (I’ll be turning 27). Cheers to scorpios! I dearly hope that I’ll find as much wisdom as you have, and will be living my life accordingly, over the next 5 years. Over the past few years, I have changed quite a bit as I’ve discovered more about myself, the world, and what’s really important in life. Many of the things I’ve discovered are included in your list…I’m especially fond of building relationships, simplifying, yoga, learning, obsessing over coffee, and living my dreams. Fortunately, I had a mom who was extremely supportive of my dreams and a constant source of encouragement, which has made all the difference in the world.

    Thanks for pointing out “Buddha’s Brain,” it sounds really interesting. I’ll have to add that to my ever growing queue… 🙂

  • Tammy November 3, 2010, 7:08 pm

    Peeps – I’m completely blown away by all the amazing comments and happy b-day wishes! Thank you so so much. 🙂

  • Kohilam November 3, 2010, 7:38 pm

    Excellent list, thanks, I got it via some soul who put it up on Twitter and I will do the same. I’m already thinking of sharing this on my Facebook page and starting some of the things over the weekend. Thank you. Wish I could join you on Saturday but I’m about a gazillion miles away!!! Have fun 🙂

  • Chuck rylant November 3, 2010, 8:02 pm

    I really enjoyed this list. Thanks for sharing

  • alexfaye November 3, 2010, 8:53 pm

    Beautiful and sweet blog post; I love it that you are so wise. I am remembering myself at 32; I had a 2-year old baby and my marriage was going down in flames, and was no where near as reflective and grounded as you are today. I put a link to this post on my blog on the page entitled, A Life To-Do, and the link is called “I think this young woman is on to something.” Happy birthday! Oh, and like Kohilam, I was sent to your blog via Twitter. I have NO idea how I ended up following Chris Guillebeau — he has nearly 50,000 followers! — but I am glad that I followed the link to your post.

  • Rajat Roy, India November 3, 2010, 9:23 pm

    Its great ! ! Basically you are a very sweet person who thinks journey of life can be fully of happiness.

  • Kristin Whitten November 3, 2010, 9:44 pm

    I very much enjoyed your list, but I hope that you (or parents/impressionable adults that you know) don’t associate a career in nursing with loss ambition or acceptance of the status quo.

    I chose to enter this ever-evolving, dynamic field because it challenges me on a daily basis and gives my life purpose. I don’t feel as though I’ve settled =]

    • Tammy November 4, 2010, 6:14 am

      @Kristin – Nursing is an amazing career and I admire people who go into that field. The point of that lesson is to follow your dreams. It’s very easy to get swayed in directions you’re not passionate about.

  • Kristin Whitten November 3, 2010, 9:47 pm

    *loss OF ambition … haha

  • Tara November 4, 2010, 2:45 am

    Happy birthday!
    I’ve been quietly enjoying your blog for some time now. Today’s post is so wonderful I had to come out of hiding and leave a comment. Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us.

  • Gene November 4, 2010, 3:34 am


    You have 2 years to campaign until the next election! If a peanut farmer (Carter), actor (Reagan), and community organizer (Obama) can do it, why can’t a GREAT BLOGGER be President???

    Happy Birthday!

    • Tammy November 4, 2010, 6:15 am

      @Gene – LOL! While I had presidential ambitions when I was five, I don’t think I’d be suited for that role now. 🙂 Thanks for reading!

      • Gene November 5, 2010, 4:58 am


        You’re right. You are not suited for that role now. I forgot that you have to be 35 years old to be President.

        TAMMY FOR PRESIDENT – 2016!!!


  • J November 4, 2010, 4:28 am

    I have been following your blog for a few months now but this is the first time I’ve commented. You have inspired my family and I to begin the process of simplifying our lives. I use the term process because I’m finding that it is exactly that. A series of concious steps and choices in each compartment of our lives. Thank you for the list of life lessons and happy birthday on Sunday! 🙂

  • Suzanne Laba November 4, 2010, 4:33 am

    I tried to access the page 750 words and can’t seem to read the entire page or able to sign up for it. Any suggestions?

  • James November 4, 2010, 8:43 am

    Happy Birthday, Tammy! I’m not that far behind at 30…

    Agreed with the gender roles bit mentioned earlier. It’s sickening to think what little molds we’re formed into. These often crush individuality, which is a beautiful gift.


  • KevinC November 4, 2010, 10:27 am

    Great post, Tammy!

    I’m in my early 30’s too and pondering life. Thanks for putting together such a great list. I’m working on #9 especially, always feel like there is a ton on my plate.

    Happy Birthday!

  • ET November 4, 2010, 11:23 am

    Don’t forget to have fun & laugh!

  • Clara November 4, 2010, 11:29 am

    Happy birthday on Saturday! My birthday is Friday 🙂 way to go for Scorpios on the blogging scene 🙂

  • Benny November 4, 2010, 1:22 pm

    Hi Tammy,

    Congrats, in advance! I turned 23 yesterday! So reversed. Nice post, again.
    Enjoy your day as it comes. 🙂


  • Scott Kostolni November 5, 2010, 7:42 am


    This is an awesome post! I’m saving this as one of my favorites. Number 8 is something I don’t do enough of and it’s good to remember, and Number 13 is extremely important. Being grateful makes a huge impact on your quality of life. I think this year I’ll start sending out gratitude letters to the important people in my life. I haven’t done that in a while.


    P.S. Happy early birthday! I hope it’s absolutely awesome!

  • edgar November 5, 2010, 8:10 am

    Thank you for writing these practical and helpful suggestions. Each day becomes an enjoyable day.

  • Berthold November 5, 2010, 11:19 am

    Being on your own side – that one really touched me. I’ve spent the better part of my life fighting against myself and I’m still pretty hard on myself. It really is important for everybody’s well-being to listen how you talk to yourself and be mindful about when and why you hate yourself. You don’t want to be your own prisoner, because nobody knows you as well as you do and nobody can be as relentlessly cruel.

    If you feel you’re battling yourself, step back, examine and change what you’re doing. I’ve gone from a self-loathing freelancer to an optimistic design student, but it took leaving a lot behind. I’m much much better off for it now though.

    Thanks for the insights Tammy, and all the best tomorrow!

    PS: If you want to know what I think about how our inner voices are formed, you could check out my article titled “switches” I’d love to hear your feedback.

  • JobJenny November 5, 2010, 12:14 pm

    First, happiest of birthdays! Fellow PDXer and I’ve just started reading your blog more intently. This is one lovely post, lady. It’s thoughtful, well-written and will absolutely get people thinking.

    Being a word person, I absolutly adore #12.

    And being a native of the Motor City, I admittedly struggle with the concept of #4! 😉

    Well done. You have a new fan.

    Cheers, Jenny Foss

  • Azulitoclaro November 6, 2010, 9:43 am

    Happy Birthday! And thanks for share these lessons (and all your motivating thoughts) with us. I´m trying to simplify my life and you and your words help me a lot.
    Have a good B-day and a good ride!

  • Lisa Sperling November 6, 2010, 8:54 pm

    Dear Tammy ~

    Wishing you a happy 32nd birthday! I love reading your posts and have learned a lot from you over the last months. So, THANK YOU for all your wisdom and inspiration!


  • Ellen November 7, 2010, 4:54 am

    A slightly belated “Happy Birthday!” to the both of us! I turned a staggering (no, not really) 36 yrs yesterday, but I really love this mental aging process – focusing more and more on what´s really important in life; My kids, good health, family, oppurtunities, and that first cup of coffee in the morning… ^^

    Thanks you for your wise words!


  • Elizabeth in Yuma November 16, 2010, 12:17 pm

    “Be on your own side.” Wow. Those words are resonating in me…I think time for a micro action which lists ways in which I am NOT on my own side. Then a plan of attack to change that! My life lessons, at 35, are a little different than yours, but we can all glean wisdom from each other. Happy belated birthday to you, and when I go back to PDX at Christmas maybe I will cross paths with you in one of those fabulous breweries/restaurants!

  • arina nikitina November 17, 2010, 1:35 pm

    Hi Tammy! From where I am, your birthday must have been a blast! Not so much with the party but with these wise realizations all written down. The life lessons are indeed worthy of celebration; and there’s more to celebrate for you because you’ve started on the right foot at viewing and living life. So for the next 32 years, I’m gonna see you even wiser, smarter and funnier. 🙂

    Thanks for this post. We all do need to re-evaluate our lives and point out valuable lessons that defines who we are. We cannot just live and struggle according to the “usual standards” and “assumed roles”, but we could definitely live meaningfully in ways we are truly ourselves, in ways that make us happy.

    Keep writing, Tamm! Until you’re like… 73 years old maybe? Make it 91! LOL!


  • Alicia November 29, 2010, 7:10 am

    I love this post, especially “embrace fear.” My grandmother once told me, “Fear is a doorway. Step over the threshold and discover gifts hidden in the shadows.”

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