I am 35 today! WOW how the years go by. I thought in honor of my birthday, I’d share 35 things I’ve learned in my 35 years.

1. Happiness is about choice. It is less about what happens TO you and around you and more about WHO you are.

2. You can’t change anyone’s behavior, their brand of crazy, their perspective, or their opinions. People are complex, and have years of ingrained beliefs and a lifetime of experience that makes them who they are. It’s not my place nor I am going to change any of it. People only change when they decide to change. I don’t have a magic wand!

2. Haters are always gonna be hatin’. Don’t be surprised if people do not like you. Maybe you really are a horrible person and they have good reason. No, I’m kidding. BUT No matter how nice you are, if you breathe and think, you will make people mad. Been there done it. I don’t know why, they just don’t like you or have their own hatin issues.

3. Never look at people who have struggles in their lives and judge. Take the time to get to know someone, understand their struggles and what led up to them, instead of making broad assumptions. Ask questions is you need to. We are all fallible and doing the best we can with what we have at the time.

4. Take care of your body. It’s the only body you have. When you are old, you don’t want to look back and wish. {Currently, trying to workout and it’s kicking my butt. If you need motivation, check out JustTriGirl on Facebook.}

5. Learn to have fun again, if you’ve lost it. Hey, you don’t have to tell me that being a grownup sucks all the fun out of life if you let it. I learned to start having fun again in my thirties after I said goodbye to the self-consciousness of my twenties. Letting ourselves be silly and have fun is a perfect way to balance all the stress and responsibilities of modern life.

6. Look for good friends who love finding the fun in every day life. I am so grateful for my friends, current, past and distance friends all have made my life what it is today.

7. The world doesn’t owe you a single thing. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Never be that person with an inflated sense of entitlement. I’ve learned time and time again that pride really does go before a fall. Pull up your big girl panties and stop expecting reality to be different than it is.

8. Life is better when you are open to new experiences. This year I tried Sushi, Crossfit and a few other things I can’t really mention. :)

9. The most important decisions you will make determining your happiness and success are: your spouse, your close friends, and your mentors. Choose them well. Friends who celebrate your successes, support you when you make dumb mistakes, and love you enough to tell you the truth even when it is uncomfortable are a treasure. Never take them for granted. Tell them often how much they mean to you! I love each of you!!

10. There will be times your marriage or relationship is rocky, don’t be surprised when the honeymoon phase is over and the stress of daily life takes a toll. It doesn’t mean your marriage or relationship is bad, it means you are both humans. Try harder!

11. People surprise you: both good and bad. Take the it both and decide if the bad is worth it and emphasize the good always!

12. You should treat your spouse the way you want your kids’ future spouses to treat them. The marital relationship you model will stay with your children for a lifetime. Kids are smarter than we give them credit for!

13. Birds of a feather really do tend to flock together. Sure the Internet has helped unlikely friendships form daily. That’s not true of average (non-computer-obsessed) people like me. People flock to those who they feel comfortable with and can relate to.

14. Everyone thinks their children are above average. Actually, most people think their children are exceptional geniuses full of charm and blessed with good looks. It is just the nature of parenting. And mine are of course – DUH!!  :)

15. Parenting is hard. Parenting is harder than you can ever imagine. All the exhaustion, the constant going, the neediness, and the chaos wears on you. AND the worry that you aren’t doing a good enough job gnaws at you EVERY DAY! Take care of yourself while you parent. You can’t give from an empty cup. You only have ONE shot to raise your kids!!!

16. Seek things that fill you up and help relieve stress.

17. Parenting, despite how soul-suckingly hard it is at times, is the most rewarding experience of my life. Parenting has help me grow as an individual, think more critically about my life and generally be a better person when I think – How will this impact my girls?

18. Helicopter parents raise children who don’t have enough self determination or will to stand up for themselves. If Jimmy’s mom is constantly complaining that her son is ignored on the playground, gets cheated out of a cupcake at lunch and didn’t get to be quarterback at football, how will he ever learn to assert himself through the years? Starting in elementary school, I think kids should be gently encouraged to take a stand and choose discomfort over letting Mommy fight their battles. {I’ll still be mommy bear when I have to thought.}

19. Your kids will respect that you will be the bad guy and keep them in check. No child, or adult for that matter, is happiest when given free reign. Too many choices and freedoms lead to mistakes. Give kids what freedom and space they have earned according to their level of maturity and by their behavior. When they mess up, reign them back in a little. You can do it and your kids will appreciate not being able to bulldoze you.

20. The best way to share your faith is by living it out. No one ever decided to change religions because some Judgy-McJudgerson told them they were going to hell. {Well.. okay… maybe some people have.}

21. Keeping up with the Joneses will have you following the Joneses all the way to bankruptcy court. You are not your bank account, your car or your house. Hard lesson for all of us to learn I think. I’ve learned it!

22. Always ask to talk to a manager if a flunky tells you no. I was a flunky once, I know the game. Also, be firm, but very nice to everyone regardless of job title. It just helps you be a nicer human and it also helps get great service. No one wants to help a jerk.

23. Get a contract. In this economy, people are cheap and selfish. They want everything for free and pay for nothing. If you need a job done by someone, pay them what they are owed, or don’t hire them at all.

24. People do not value what they get for free. People value what they have worked for and not what is given to them.

25. Republicans and Democrats are more similar than not. In this economy and state of the world, we need to start doing what is right and not what history says our party should do.

26. Divorce isn’t starting over, it’s a new path. While divorce is devastating, life isn’t over. It just means there is a new path to follow and new opportunities. Hurt is hard, healing is harder. It’s easier to be hurt. The real work means to heal, forgive and find peace with the past.

27. Family matters. As I have aged, I realize the important of family. I am close to my close and extended family. I love my close and extended family and friends. Nuff said. They are support, my love and my strength, every day.

28. Have integrity. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, I’ve let people down. It happens, we are human. However, I’ve learned reputation and integrity is everything. To those I’ve hurt or offend. I am very sorry. I make mistakes. My heart is always in the right place though.

29. Every day is an adventure. Go with the flow. It doesn’t matter how much I try and plan my day, it’s always inturrupted. I’ve tried to control way to much. Today, I stop.

30. Appreciate your partner. The man or woman in your life, you’ve choosen to share your life with. Life gets in the way. Apprecaite the difference  you bring to your relationship.

31. Hugs make everything better. Need I say more.

32. Do what you love.

33. I LOVE MY GIRLS! A mother’s love is one of the most amazing types of love I have ever felt. I worry about their future. I worry about them daily. I try and set a good example, teach them, guide them, tease them, have fun with them, and just BE WITH THEM! I know I am not perfect. I am sure they’ll need therapy, but I know I am doing the best I can.

34. The plan for my life, didn’t go as planned. I have learned you can make plans to take your life somewhere, but there are doors, opportunities, challenges, obstacles, trials, people and places that you can’t even imagine are waiting for you. Enjoy the journey!

35. I can honestly say I have NO idea what the next 35 years have in store for me. I know that today, December 8 on my 35th birthday. I am so thankful, grateful and have a full heart for my trials and successes! I have 2 wonderful girls, whom I love with all my heart. An amazing man, who loves me. Incredible circle of family and friends that mean the world to me.  I am very happy, healing and looking forward to the rest of my life!!! Here’s to the next 35 years!