50 things

Me at 50, taken by my daughter Kyle

When I was 40, I made a list of 40 things I wanted my kids to know. Some of those things I still believe and left on my list. Some I changed. Some I burned.

I turn 50 today. Here are 50 things I wish for my kids to know.

  1. Make bread when you are angry. Not only do you get to punch the dough, but by the time you allow it to rise and bake, you won’t be so angry anymore. Even if you’re still angry, you’ll have bread.
  2. When given a choice between love and fear, choose love.
  3. A friend is someone who is safe enough to see your hurts and hold you with compassion and kindness, and in turn, you do the same for them. Everyone else is an acquaintance.
  4. Know and respect the difference between a friend and an acquaintance.
  5. Good toilet paper is worth the extra 32 cents.
  6. It is acceptable to put a little perfume on for a person. However, they aren’t worth the perfume if they don’t love you when you fart.
  7. Sometimes, a long nap in the middle of chaos is exactly what you need.
  8. Never underestimate the gentle art of just sitting quietly with the brokenhearted. It is a gift only a few experience and fewer master.
  9. Kissing is like coloring. Everyone knows how to do it; some just color outside the lines.
  10. Always forgive. Unforgiveness leaves little weights in your heart and prevents you from flying.
  11. Give books a second chance. Time changes your heart, mind, and perspective.
  12. People are like books.
  13. My father once told me, “A whale never had to tell anyone he was big.” This is good wisdom.
  14. Sometimes, you don’t understand your parents’ advice and wisdom until you are grown.
  15. As much as parents, school, and life may teach you, your children will teach you more. Listen to them. Most of the magical and inspiring things I have learned, I learned from being your mother.
  16. Never underestimate the power of love. I have seen it change many things.
  17. Watch a sunrise.
  18. Twice.
  19. There are some things that are worth the wait. A few of these are a good partner, fresh bread, and Polaroid film.
  20. Take time to sit and watch people. A few good places to do this are museums, cafes, and train stations.
  21. Everyone has been given a little slice of power. Share yours with those who have less than you.
  22. When your babies are new and never sleep, you will be exhausted and very frustrated. However, take one night to enjoy their sweetness. Smell their head. Kiss their toes. Hold them until they are fast asleep. I promise this time will never come again, and you will not regret the memory. I don’t.
  23. Never pass up a warm cookie.
  24. Especially if your child made it.
  25. Kiss your partner often. And a lot. And time and time again.
  26. There are a few things in life that this world does not value, but that doesn’t make it less valuable. A new box of crayons is one of these.
  27. Sometimes you can’t get to where you are going by yourself. It doesn’t make you weak; it makes you human.
  28. If you notice that everyone around you is pissing you off- it is you. Have a snack, take a nap, and go for a slow walk.
  29. Loving yourself takes intentional work. It is worth it. Love your body, soul, and mind by giving them pleasure, rest, and new experiences.
  30. Nothing has given me more freedom in my feminity than learning that gender is a social construct.
  31. Learn to know yourself as good. Not perfect, just wonderfully and magically good.
  32. People change.
  33. So can you.
  34. Being authentically you is always enough.
  35. One morning, you will need coffee. Very, very strong coffee. On this morning, call your mother.
  36. Everyone will be an idiot. You will be an idiot. I will be an idiot. Friends will be idiots. Family members will be idiots.
  37. Forgive idiots.
  38. Make time for friendships. They are a gift that makes living lighter.
  39. Remember that no matter what, going home to mom and dad is always an option.
  40. What you think you know today might change. That doesn’t make you wishy-washy- it means you are willing to grow.
  41. Some of the things you believe today will make you cringe tomorrow. Trust me, my list from when I was 40 is a little embarrassing.
  42. If you are ever bored talking to another person, it is your flaw, not theirs. Learn to listen intently and openly to others. Everyone has something to teach you.
  43. Have hope outside of yourself. It can be faith, tradition, or community. Find what you can trust to hold onto when life gets hard.
  44. When making a big decision, ask what would make your 85-year-old self proud. I know this 50-year-old hasn’t been disappointed.
  45. Always have a book going. Suppose life is busy- poetry. If you have some time, learn something new. If you are bored- a classic. If you need to love others better- fiction.
  46. Know how to make quick meals with a few ingredients. If you are even too tired for that, come over to mom and dad’s.
  47. Know one joke and tell it well.
  48. A quiet inner life takes work.
  49. Peace doesn’t come peacefully.
  50. The thing I long for the most is for you to go to sleep each night knowing I love and adore you. If you ever question that, call me. I will never tire of telling you.

Staci Lee

I like my cameras old, my shoes comfortable, and my whiskey neat.

One comment

  • These 50 things are so good. Some are great reminders while some come with great advice. I really like the 50th one. That your children will know how much you love and adore them. If they doubt they are to call as you never tire of telling them. Thank you for sharing. Happy 50th Birthday!

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