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Hello 35!

35 Years

Today is my thirty-fifth birthday. It’s hard to believe I’m already in my mid-thirties! I keep wondering where the time goes. Time seems to go faster as I grow older.

Yesterday, while I was eating coffee cake and drinking coffee at Mt. Shasta Pastry, I wrote a list of lessons I’ve learned over the last thirty-five years.  Today, I decided to share my list with you:

1. Treat yourself like a best friend. Be kind, compassionate, and don’t forget to spoil yourself.

2. Empowerment is not for sale. You can try to buy your identity, shape your body through plastic surgery or the latest diet, but those behaviors won’t bring you happiness. Happiness comes from loving yourself.

3. Writing a book is hard, but it’s worth the effort. Buy journals, good pens, and other paper products that will aid your writing practice.

4. Go on mini-adventures to maintain your creative energy. Take road trips, cycling adventures, and weekend getaways.

5. Create a life that is rooted in flexibility. This flexibility will enable you to be resilient, even when loss makes life difficult.

6. Keep a journal. Journaling is a tool that has helps me find clarity and happiness, even when life seems to be falling apart. The pages in my journal are a place I can always retreat too; a place where I can record the good and bad events of the day.

Journal love

7. Slow down. Notice your surroundings. Exhale.

8. Express your love and gratitude to friends and family members.

9. Read often. Find authors that interest, challenge, and resonate with you.

10. Remember, it’s okay to be sad and to grieve. As Alain de Botton said, “Illness, death, and other nasty human experiences are part of the human condition.”

11. Pursing happiness requires vigilance. Eizabeth Gilbert said, “You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.”

12. Don’t forget to talk about the hard stuff and to ask for help when you need it.

13. If you feel stuck with work, go outside and take a walk; a twenty minute walk can transform your day.

Lake Siskiyou

14. Learn to be at ease in your own company. Connecting with others is part of the human experience, but it’s important to learn how to be alone.

15. Take lots of photos. Document the magic in your everyday life and share what you see with others.

16. Send letters, care-packages, and postcards to friends and family. Email is awesome. But a thoughtful note, written from a place of gratitude, love or concern, is much better.

17. Boycott perfection. It doesn’t exist and it won’t serve your aims in the long run.

18. Ask questions and listen.

19. Start a blog. Share a little bit of your creative work everyday. You never know where it will lead you.

20. Take naps.

21. Let go of old narratives when they no longer serve you. Life changes constantly and your story will too.

22. Listen to your intuition. It’s usually right.

23. Busyness for the sake of busyness won’t give you the space to focus on creative ideas. Instead, fuel your creative ideas by getting enough sleep and by doing nothing.

24. Believe it or not, you aren’t always right.

25. You never know who you will meet, so stay open. {I found true love at a bar.}

26. Have fun! Laugh often, smile more, and give hugs.

27. I wholeheartedly agree with Susannah’s comment about belief: “Believe in something. Whether it’s science, nature, god, spirit, kindness, gratitude, politics, the universe, atoms or love, believe in something.”

28. Wear comfortable clothes and say no to high heels.

29. Savor good food, good wine, and outside spaces.

30. Failure is part of life. Failure sucks, but there are many beautiful lessons that come from falling horribly. Think about what you can learn from the experience and apply those lessons to your next project.

31. Savor your morning view, while drinking coffee.

My morning view

32. You are worthy, you are enough, and you have a story to tell.

33. Tiny pleasures are the secret to a happy, joyful life.

34. As my friend Dee Williams said, “Take a moment and think about what thing you want to hold in your arms as you die. What favorite room in your house or space could accommodate that last breath?”

If we asked these questions more often, I think many of us would stay out of the mall. Remember that stuff is replaceable, people aren’t. Shift your attention toward the people you love and the experiences that make you happy.

35. You only get one shot at this thing called life, so live it well, be generous, and practice gratitude.

Be well,

P.S. This post was inspired by Susannah Conway‘s essay “Hello 40.”

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Julia November 6, 2013, 8:26 am

    I really enjoyed, this, and plan to read it again and again. Happy birthday! At nearly 57, I can tell you that YES, the years really do go faster and faster, whether we’re having fun or not – so we might as well be happy!

  • Robin November 6, 2013, 8:41 am

    Hi Tammy!

    This is a beautiful list – thank you so much for sharing it! Happy, happy birthday!

    Robin (from Davis!)

  • Natalie November 6, 2013, 8:47 am

    Beautifully written. Happy Birthday! 🙂

  • Alicia November 6, 2013, 8:51 am

    I enjoyed this post – thoughtful, beautiful, honest. Thanks so much for sharing! Happy Birthday, Tammy!

  • Heather November 6, 2013, 8:58 am

    Happy birthday, Tammy! You are a lovely, bright shining light. Thank you.

    • Tammy Strobel November 6, 2013, 9:03 am

      Thank you Heather! Love you big. Give the boys kisses and hugs for me.

  • Liana Cleary November 6, 2013, 9:10 am

    Happy birthday, Tammy! This was a fantastic essay. I’m so happy to have discovered your blog this month. I’m already an avid reader and quickly becoming a fan. I hope this year is full of wonders, challenges, growth opportunities, exhilarating experiences, and love for you and yours.

  • Gita Engelen November 6, 2013, 9:16 am

    So true. Happy Birthday!

  • L.McG.-E. November 6, 2013, 9:29 am

    Happy birthday Tammy. Have a wonderful day. This is a fabulous list. I hope the next few years bring you several new things you can add to it.

  • Indika De Fonseka November 6, 2013, 9:35 am

    Happy Birthday Tammy!
    Hope you have an awesome day!

    I loved this post and the life lessons that you have shared so generously. So many of them resonated with me and brought a smile to my face.

    I am so grateful I got to know you and your work, as your example has led me to things that have enriched and brightened up my life in so many ways. I should add that my wife might have an axe to grind, because I am always taking pictures of things with my phone now : ) I’m only kidding! She loves you too.
    Take care my friend and enjoy your day,
    Indika and the girls
    P.S. I love the picture of you (the one at the top)! Not only is it lovely but it also allows us a glimpse of Tammy in action

  • Sabina November 6, 2013, 9:36 am

    Wish you a very Happy Birthday Tammy! Thank you for sharing this list. All the best 🙂

  • Kayla Dawn Thomas November 6, 2013, 9:38 am

    Beautiful post. I turn 35 next summer, and it got me thinking over my life. Seems like my most important lessons have been learned in the last four years. Thank you for sharing your reflections. Your work inspires me.

  • Ralph (rj) November 6, 2013, 9:46 am

    Such a beautiful post, with obviously a lot of reflection born of experience and a sensitive spirit. Have a wonderful day of earned indulgence on this special day!

  • Cynthia November 6, 2013, 10:01 am

    Happy Birthday Tammy! I hope you have a lovely day. That is a wonderful list 🙂

  • Caroline McGraw / A Wish Come Clear November 6, 2013, 10:32 am

    Happy Birthday Tammy!!! Thank you for sharing this lovely list with us — I particularly loved & needed #32. xoxoxoxox and best wishes for a beautiful year!

  • Sandra Pawula November 6, 2013, 10:44 am

    Happy birthday, Tammy! I’m so happy to know you and benefit from all the happiness lessons you share with us. Wishing you a beautiful year.

  • Tess The Bold Life November 6, 2013, 11:16 am

    Love this! Happy Birthday again! I’ll be saying hello 60 in March. I better start my post now;)

  • Sharle Kinnear November 6, 2013, 11:17 am

    Happy Birthday! You’ve learned a lot of wise stuff in 35 years . . . blessings to you for another wisdom-filled year.

  • Barbara November 6, 2013, 11:24 am

    Happy Birthday, Tammy! That’s a fantastic list for any age. Love the photos! 🙂

  • Kathy November 6, 2013, 11:24 am

    I have done sporadic journaling but now I see through your words, it is absolutely necessary to record my thoughts, dreams and feelings. As you said, “6. Keep a journal. Journaling is a tool that has helps me find clarity and happiness, even when life seems to be falling apart. The pages in my journal are a place I can always retreat too; a place where I can record the good and bad events of the day.” I do need to solidify my life by making a record of all that has happened, good or bad.

  • Kari November 6, 2013, 11:47 am

    Happy Birthday Tammy! What a darling picture of you! Enjoy your day as much as I enjoyed this post. Thank you! 🙂

  • Dorthe November 6, 2013, 11:50 am

    Dear Tammy,

    Warm wishes for a wonderful day. Thank you for sharing your list. As always you are inspirational. I enjoy following you very much. Thank you also, for introducing Cheryl Strayed to me last year. Following her and her work has been such an eyeopener.

    Have a great day,


  • Delicia November 6, 2013, 11:59 am

    May your day and new year bring you all you need and desire. Happy birthday Tammy. I loved your list and in particular #26 and #35 are so very true. I had a little giggle at #24 and oh my, it’s so true. Lovely! xxx

  • Kelvin November 6, 2013, 12:07 pm

    Thank you for sharing Tammy! I really love your list. It’s a reminder to value ourselves and things we often take granted. Thank you for your inspiration to us all. Happy, Happy Birthday! Enjoy your day!!

  • Tekisha November 6, 2013, 12:29 pm

    This is so awesome! I just turned 36 a few weeks ago and this was a nice reminder of how awesome it is to enjoy the lessons I’ve learned so far and to be open to new ones. Happy Birthday! woot woot!

  • Zachary Whitten November 6, 2013, 1:26 pm

    Happy birhtday!

  • Zachary Whitten November 6, 2013, 1:28 pm

    Er, “birthday.”

    Apparently, my hands type at slightly different speeds…

  • becky November 6, 2013, 1:47 pm

    beautiful, again, Tammy! and happy birthday to a very special person, YOU!

  • Darris November 6, 2013, 2:15 pm

    Lovely post Tammy ~ HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

    I say, “it’s hard to believe I’m ‘X'” every year . . . this year it was 58. You’ve gained a lot of wisdom in a fairly short amount of years (my take ; ) and generously shared with us along the way. So happy to have ‘met’ you ~ enjoy your birthday week!

  • Elizabeth November 6, 2013, 2:23 pm

    For a 35-year-old, you are very wise. 😉

    Thanks for writing such a wonderful, inspiring blog based upon your wonderful, inspiring life.

    Many happy returns!

  • Ian November 6, 2013, 2:53 pm

    Happy Birthday Tammy. I’m sure you will have a wonderful day. Sounds like you’ve already done the remembrance part, and the treating yourself to some nice making happy things. Wishing you the rest of your day to be all the good things you focus on.
    Cheers and best wishes.

  • Britt Reints November 6, 2013, 3:36 pm

    Beautiful lessons. Happy birthday, Tammy!

  • Jenny November 6, 2013, 3:54 pm

    Happiest of birthdays! I enjoyed your lessons learned. 🙂

  • Ute Mercado November 6, 2013, 3:56 pm

    Happy 35! Even at 5’2″ I agree with “no high heels”.

  • Anna November 6, 2013, 4:41 pm

    I love this, thanks for sharing! And, Happy Birthday.

  • Vani November 6, 2013, 5:11 pm

    Happy Birthday Tammy ! 😀

    Very nice list. Before you mentioned Alain de Botton, I was already thinking you two would agree a lot!
    Can you imagine how the list of someone who is 80 would look like?
    Thanks for sharing …I’m a bit younger than you, but I’ll try to remember this list and save myself some time 😛

  • Anne-Marie November 6, 2013, 5:44 pm

    Happy Birthday Tammy! Hope your day was wonderful.
    Such a great list you have put together. Really enjoyed reading it.

  • Linda November 6, 2013, 6:11 pm

    Happy Birthday, Tammy! Hope it’s been a fantastic day!

  • Colleen November 6, 2013, 7:25 pm

    Happy birthday! Thanks for sharing your list. I’ve been loving your photos! What a blessing to live in such a gorgeous place 🙂

  • The DC November 6, 2013, 8:47 pm

    Happiest of birthdays to you (if a bit late),my friend! Hope it was better than last year’s,but not quite as good as the next one 🙂 Wait till you hit 40 (like I did in June),then you’ll REALLY wonder where time went :p

    The DC

  • Martina November 6, 2013, 11:20 pm

    Dear Tammy, happy birthday and many, many happy returns! I love your wonderful list – it’s so full of wisdom and experience. I will copy down some points in my diary to remind me to take better care of others and also myself…
    How good that YOU started a blog. What a blessing for all of us!
    And I love your photography – always. Your coffee mug. The gorgeous landscape, so far away from me. (Counts as a virtual and otherwise impossible weekend trip, doesn’t it?) The cat’s tail…
    Best to you, Martina

  • Faith November 7, 2013, 4:37 am

    Such great advice/life lessons. And we share the same birthday! Happy Birthday 🙂

  • John P. November 7, 2013, 6:08 am

    You’re right about time in our lives. Someone said that “time in anyone’s life is like a roll of toilet paper: the closer to the end we get, the faster it goes!”

  • Marian Knowles November 7, 2013, 8:28 am

    Hi Tammy,
    This post is a wonderful gift to your readers. Thank you, keep inspiring us and I hope you had a very Happy Birthday with many more to come!

  • Chelsea Gale November 7, 2013, 10:24 am

    Happy Birthday, Tammy! Thank you for sharing these nuggets of wisdom xo

  • Sabine November 8, 2013, 4:14 am

    Dear Tammy! Happy, happy birthday and a glorious, wonderful day with your friends and family. Keep up with the good work you’re doing and enjoy every moment. Wish you health, happiness, joy for the work you do and always a happy song on your lips.
    Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us!

  • Mickey@EuroAmerican Home November 8, 2013, 9:18 am

    Happy belated birthday, Tammy!

  • Ann November 8, 2013, 11:05 am

    Happy birthday, Tammy. I hope you had a great day. What an inspiring list; so many important things to remember and practice. Thank you for sharing. Take care!

  • Stephen in Eastern TN November 8, 2013, 12:56 pm

    I’m a bit late,but hope you had the happiest of birthdays,my friend! As always,awesome post/thoughts (and dont’ worry,I will definitely be saying no to high heels :p ). I just hit the big 4-0 here this year myself,though inside my head I’m still a big kid of 16,you’re so right,ENJOY your life,and never grow up,it’s a trap that no one makes it out alive from,LOL 🙂


  • Deena November 8, 2013, 2:47 pm

    (Belatedly) wishing you happiness and health, Tammy. Thanks, as always, for sharing your insightful, honest and inspiring perspective.

  • DaleD November 8, 2013, 6:53 pm

    Happy Birthday Tammy!

    Been reading your book baby today and just happened to decide to stop by the blog, and I’m glad I did.

    P.S. …the time isn’t going faster, you’re just remembering less of it! JK of course… I’m 46 myself.

  • Anna P November 9, 2013, 1:45 am

    Happiest Birthday, Tammy! I do hope you had a good one. <3

  • Kazumoto Sakai November 9, 2013, 5:55 am

    Happy Birthday, Tammy!
    I read the Japanese translation “You Can Buy Happiness is (and It’s Cheap)” of your book.
    Thank you so much writing this book!

  • Jlynn November 9, 2013, 7:33 am

    This is so powerful and really resonates with me at a time in my life where one chapter has ended and another is beginning. Creating a life routed in flexibility, to create a space that allows for the ebbs and flows of life. And finally, this line, really hits at the core of my journey right now: “21. Let go of old narratives when they no longer serve you. Life changes constantly and your story will too.” Thank you for this post. As I sit, drinking a pumpkin spiced hot beverage, I find great comfort and energy to keep being and becoming. Thank you!

  • Diane November 9, 2013, 8:09 am

    Thanks for this! Lots of good things to focus on here… and things don’t change that much from 35 to 50, just the sense of time going faster. I hope you don’t mind, I linked back to this post from my own blog.

  • sally November 9, 2013, 7:08 pm

    Lovely list! Thank you for sharing your ideas and photos.

    I especially like #28.

    Have an awesome birthday, and many happy returns of the day.

  • Timothy November 10, 2013, 12:13 am

    36. Get a cat (looks like you have this one covered) – you will learn how to appreciate the simple things in life, like a snooze in the sun, and the joy of showing appreciation for the even the smallest gestures of love.. *purrrr*

  • Kaylin Lydia November 10, 2013, 8:25 am

    I love this, thank you.

  • Laurie J. November 10, 2013, 11:51 am

    Loved this. Thank you so much for a beautiful post.

  • Jen Dunbabin November 10, 2013, 9:53 pm

    dear tammy
    belated happy birtday
    thank you for the happiness you share through your writing and also the wisdom.
    wishing you a wonderful year

  • Samantha Grayson November 11, 2013, 1:42 am

    Thank you, a beautiful to remind me the things I am doing right in life and those things I need to work on.

    happy birthday to you

  • Pasquale November 12, 2013, 1:41 am

    Hello Tammy,
    thank you for your post. It will be my inspiration list for a better life.

    Have a nice day

  • Jenny November 13, 2013, 3:49 pm

    Great post and a much needed reminder to appreciate everyday life. 🙂

  • Jessie November 14, 2013, 5:33 pm

    Wonderful post!! I gave up high heels a long time ago! 😉 Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Kaye November 17, 2013, 10:32 pm

    Very insightful and inspiring. I enjoy your blog and love how you express yourself. In other words, I like how you roll. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!