I started this blog on a whim. The premise was to try 30 new things in the 30 days before I turned 30. In some ways, it was just an excuse to make myself practice the art of writing every day. (As it turns out, that is harder to do than I thought it would be.) In other ways, it was a reason to get excited about a milestone that I see many people get bummed out about. Some of you may think it is really just a self-indulgent project that underscores my own egotism.
Regardless of the true nature of the beast, I know that I’ve gotten a lot out of this experiment and a lot of it has to do with YOU. I’ve heard from friends far and near who say they feel like we’re having an ongoing conversation in a way that wouldn’t be possible otherwise (due to distance, hectic schedules, and the like). You’ve shared your stories of empathy, sometimes privately and sometimes for all to see. I’ve witnessed the generosity of colleagues and loved ones giving to a deserving charity, banding together to come up with creative ideas, or simply sending me a kind word of encouragement. I want to thank you for reading. I appreciate the times you told me you like my writing (even if every one of them was a bald-faced lie). It has made me so happy to hear that I made a few of you laugh or prompted you to participate in something that made you feel good about yourselves. I also want to thank those of you who helped me to open myself up and to try new things, whether it was cooking authentically or flying high in a hot air balloon. I feel truly blessed to have such wonderful people in my life and I hope that I can dedicate the next 30 years of my life to reciprocating your big-heartedness, your thoughtfulness, and even your caustic humor (when appropriate, of course).
To cap off today’s new thing—reflecting on what I’ve learned from creating this blog—may I submit to you a list of “lessons learned” along the way. (I’m working from the most specific to the most generally applicable, so you might want to skip to the bottom for the good stuff.)
Things I learned about myself:
- Pablo Neruda is my. favorite. poet. ever.
- Stick to the fried stuff on a stick and leave the scotch eggs to the Brits.
- If at first you don’t like flan, try and try again.
- I’m probably way too uncoordinated to use a neti pot for its intended purpose.
- Don’t let your husband carve the jack-o-lantern without supervision.
- My friends and family are mighty generous.
Things I learned about specific life experiences:
- You can never eat too many apple products in one day.
- Farm animals aren’t as soft as they look.
- Avoid Route 66 whenever possible.
- When you have a cold, your senses of sweet and sour seem to keep going strong while your salty and bitter taste buds loose their steam. Skip the chicken noodle soup and go right for the Twizzlers and pickles.
- Staying home from work and taking a nap when you really need it really does help you heal faster.
- Talking to strangers can sometimes be a wonderful thing.
- If you feel like screaming your lungs out over a pathetically childish ride, do it.
- Life soundtracks can be more interesting than the last party mix you put together.
- You don’t need meat to make a mean paella (and certainly not a combo of chicken, and sausage, and seafood as the “touristy” American version of paella goes). No, you need a great teacher and a little bit of elbow grease.
- While cutting with a spoon may be more humane (and, in many instances, safer), using a Santoku is much more satisfying.
- They say that it isn’t the destination that matters but the journey. In some cases, this even applies to journeys on elevators.
- Don’t be size-ist; tiny apples can be just a scrumptious as larger apples.
- When a bartender tells you that one of the ingredients is “other stuff,” say no.
Things I learned about life in general:
- It’s easy to “go big or go home” when you’re already home.
- Hang on tight and enjoy the ride.
- Don’t give up.
- It is never a bad time to get in touch with your inner child and just do something silly and fun for the heck of it.
- One new thing often leads to another.
- Planning to make a plan takes longer than it does to just make the plan already!
- Take a day off.
- Knowledge doesn’t often make us feel less scared but it can make us feel more prepared.
- Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
- The big, momentous things stand out as the things that define our lives. But it is actually all of the small things that define each individual day; they are truly the things that add up to a life worth living.
- You gotta know when to get on your soapbox. Like, now would be a good time.
- If you open yourself up to something you think you won’t like, you just might be surprised.
- Some habits die hard. But it is good to be reminded every now and then that we have those pesky habits to begin with.
- (In the words of Douglas MacArthur) “Years wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.”
- Hard work and a fabulous mentor can really get you places you want to go!
- Don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you care.
- Good things are even better when you share them.
Thanks again for tuning in! I’d love to hear what you think about any of these lessons learned or about the blog experiment in general. Now, what to do next . . . ?