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Well, it’s here…

My 30th birthday is here. I am not one to mourn the passing of another year, but to embrace it. I’ve been known to yell “IT’S MY BIRTHDAY!!!!!” randomly throughout the day in the past. I am sure it will happen today at some point. Oh wait, I did already. The only people home when I did it were my dogs though, so maybe it doesn’t count. I plan to spend the day working a job I LOVE. Then, a little QT with my hubby and the puppies. Joey is either making me dinner or taking me out. I haven’t decided yet. I’ve gotten so many Facebook comments, phone calls and text messages that I am ready to throw my phone out the window. With all of that said, I couldn’t be more blessed or happier with my life.

A few years ago, I couldn’t imagine having everything I wanted. Nothing seemed to come easy. Now as I look back on that, I am glad it didn’t come easy. I learned from each and every experience. I became who I am today because of those experiences. This post might get a little long, but IT’S MY BIRTHDAY so I’ll write what I want!

Ten things I’ve learned in my 30 years:

1. Don’t live with your friends for too long.

When I went to college, I was assigned to room with a total stranger. I was pretty excited to meet someone new, but nervous because I didn’t know this broad. We spoke on the phone prior to moving in, but didn’t really know what to expect. Once we moved in, we were immediately best friends. We were inseparable. We had so much in common it was kind of weird. People actually referred to me as “Nicole of Lindsay & Nicole.” We came as a pair. Everyone knew it. When our sophomore year roommate requests came, we of course picked each other. That’s where it went wrong. We loved each other, but being so close (it was a dorm room for Pete’s sake) for so long damaged our friendship. We are still friends, but nowhere near as close. I miss her sometimes, but know if I ever needed anything or vice versa, we’d be there for each other.

2. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

OK, so maybe that first job out of college is about what you know, but after that, it doesn’t matter anymore. Life is about networking. The more people you know, the better. And make sure those people come from all walks of life. All colors, shapes, sizes, textures, personalities… You never know when you might need them. Or they might need you. Not that I am saying you should abuse your relationships, but “need” comes in may different forms.

3. You’re never too old to need your parents.

One of the first people I call when I am mad, happy, sad, or all three is my mom. She listens, takes my side, tells me I am acting stupid and loves me all the same. It’s unconditional. When I am sick, I want my mom. When I need to vent, I call my mom. When I have a question about my garden, I call my mom. When I am stuck in traffic, I call my mom. When my mom called this morning to wish me happy birthday, I thanked her for having me. And loving me.

4. Learn the value of a dollar.

I got a job when I was 16. Before that, I had been earning my keep by doing chores and helping my mom around the house. Since it was just the two of us, I had to help out. I know what it’s like to live on food stamps. I know what it’s like to not have designer clothes like my friends. I had to save every summer so that I could afford to go to college. I am not saying that people who haven’t had these experiences don’t know the value of a dollar. I am saying that despite all of these things, my mom instilled a work ethic in me that every parent should. I am not afraid of a little hard work. I know that with that hard work comes rewards. Every child should be taught that so they can appreciate what they have and not take it for granted.

5. Trust your instincts.

Even if those instincts lead you into something bad, it happens for a reason. I’ve made A LOT of mistakes in my life, but I know now that I will never make those mistakes again. Ever heard of “fight or flight?” It is real. Your body will tell you whether it is worth it to fight or run. Trust it.

6. Exercise and eat healthy (most of the time)

As you know, I’ve recently taken my health back. It was the best 30th birthday gift I could have even given myself. I feel better about myself than I have since high school. I am strong. I am confident. It feels good to be me. I am not saying I don’t indulge in the occasional dessert or gorge myself on pasta from time to time or drink beer and wine (Lord knows I do a lot of that!). But I know that if I want another 30+ years on this planet, I have to take care of myself. Like right now, I just saw a commercial for a ChocoTaco and thought, “Oh wow, I want one.” We’re not perfect, but you do the best you can.

7. Find what you are passionate about and do it.

You remember the advice from people when you were choosing your major in college? They all said, “Pick something you’ll enjoy doing. Don’t worry about how much you’ll get paid.” Part of me has to call bullshit on that, part of me says “amen.” I can’t think of many college kids who know what they want to do for the rest of their lives. But as long as you keep exploring your dreams and striving to reach your goals, you will end up being happy with your life and career choice. Take me for instance. A year ago, I was working in a job that paid the bills, but I dreaded going to work every day. I was miserable. Now, I am doing something I love and am incredibly passionate about. I love going to work. It is overwhelming at times, but I love it. I am a better person because of it. You keep reaching for it and eventually you will catch it.

8. Be a good friend.

I wasn’t always the best friend. I didn’t always make attempts to see my friends or spend time with them. I’ve put work, school, boyfriends, or my own laziness over my friends. But as I have gotten older, I realized just how important good friends are. You’ll lead a pretty boring and lonely life without friends. I would have never met Joey without my friends – one introduced us, the other agreed to go out with me that night so I wouldn’t have to be alone. They are the ones to buy you a birthday drink or bring over a bottle of wine when your heart gets broken. They don’t judge you and you can be yourself with them. Don’t take them for granted because you never know when they may be gone.

9. Don’t forget to schedule playtime.

I do this all the time. Forget that is. I work a lot. Sundays are my only real day off. Six days a week at between 8-10 hours a day makes for a long week. I am not afraid to admit that I have to schedule time to see my friends or spend some time with my hubby and puppies. It is so important to remember to fill your life with things you enjoy and not just working all day, every day. Go to a movie. Take a hike. Throw the ball for your dogs in the backyard. Sit on the deck on a warm spring morning and read a book. Whatever your pleasure, make sure you do it. Even if you do love your job, your life shouldn’t revolve around it.

10. Love fiercely.

I would honestly do any and everything for my family and friends. My husband means more to me than I ever thought possible. I literally mean it when I say, “If you hurt him, I’ll kill you.” Ok, well maybe I’d just break their knee caps, but you know. I am honest with the people I love. Sometimes brutally. But they know that is just the type of person I am and they expect it. I knew three months in to my relationship with Joey that I would marry him someday. We always put each other first. We always kiss and say “I love you” before we go to sleep. He gives the best hugs. He makes a mean spaghetti sauce. He is the only person I can imagine growing old with. I hope every single one of you feel the same way about your significant other. Everyone deserves to have that feeling.

Now, as I take my old bones and get ready to meet some new potential brides this afternoon, I will be thinking of everything I am so grateful for and how lucky I am to have the life I do. And if you hear me yell “IT’S MY BIRTHDAY” today, you’ll know why. I’m celebrating life.


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