Jana Says

Living life from cover to cover

38 Life Lessons

This Friday is my 38th birthday. Like most people, I’ve gathered a whole bunch of knowledge in my years and, because I’m generous, I’m going to share some of it with you. 38 pearls of wisdom (which is actually more clever than it sounds because I’m going to be 38 and pearl is my (hideous) birthstone), if you will. Or 38 life lessons. Whatever you’d like to call them. 

You’re welcome.life lessons

  1. Your strengths, flaws, quirks, skills, dreams, failures…they all make you you. Embrace them all. 
  2. Don’t worry about what people say about you behind your back. I always remind myself that if the best they can do is talk about me, their own lives must not be that interesting. Because I’m pretty damn boring.
  3. It’s never too late to start working on a dream.
  4. Goals are important. Have them. Work towards them. When you achieve them, set new ones. Never stop dreaming (while you’re at it, don’t stop believin’, either). 
  5. Be responsible with your money. 
  6. Travel. Experience new people and places. You never know how they’ll change your mind about something.
  7. Surround yourself with people that make you feel good. Ain’t nobody got time for toxic friends.
  8. Have a pet, even if it’s a fish. They have a way of making lonely days a little less lonely.
  9. Speaking of lonely, it’s okay to spend time by yourself. In fact, I recommend it. 
  10. “No” is a perfectly acceptable sentence and it can be applicable in any situation.
  11. Don’t overobligate or overschedule yourself (or your children, if you have them). Know your priorities. Make time for people, places, and things that matter. Don’t waste time on the ones that don’t.
  12. Smile at strangers. Say hello once and awhile, too.
  13. Force yourself to do things that intimidate or scare you. Unless that thing is ride a horse. Then you have my permission to avoid it.
  14. Learn proper grammar. Then write it and speak it. 
  15. Have good manners. Say please and thank you and excuse me and bless you and I’m sorry and cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze. Hold the door open for the person behind you, especially if that person is elderly or has a stroller. Don’t park in the handicap spot or the spot for pregnant mothers if you’re not one of those.
  16. Perfect your “autograph signature” because you never know.
  17. Forge friendships with people of all ages. 
  18. Read. Books, magazines, blogs, even the back of shampoo bottles. Anything. Just read.
  19. Keep private matters off of Facebook. 
  20. Watch a sunrise or sunset at least once a year.
  21. Know what you believe in and stand for. But don’t be a dick about it. If someone has a differing opinion, respect that.
  22. Vote.
  23. Learn to cook one great dish or dessert. You never know when you’ll need to make one or have someone you want to impress.
  24. Nostalgia is good but don’t live in the past. 
  25. Practice compassion, empathy, and generosity. But don’t let yourself be taken advantage of. Know when to draw the line.
  26. Wear sunscreen. Go to the dentist. Eat your vegetables.
  27. Understand that there will be bad days. Some will be very bad. But no matter how bad they seem, they will pass. Things will get easier, days will get better and you will be amazed at how much stronger you are than you think. 
  28. Be kind to animals.
  29. Personal responsibility and accountability are two of the best qualities you can have. 
  30. Put your cell phone away when you’re paying for something. Cashiers and sales clerks are not invisible and having a conversation in front of them like they’re not there is rude and obnoxious. Your call can wait. If it can’t, step out of line.
  31. Do what works for you and your family and don’t worry what anyone else says (there are certain caveats like, you know, illegal behavior).
  32. Never pass up the chance to take a nap. 
  33. Call your parents and grandparents.
  34. Don’t underestimate the value or a rainy day spent inside in your pajamas. 
  35. Have a personal anthem, motto, quote, or saying. Use it on the days that are really hard.
  36. Never, EVER be ashamed of anything you’re good at. Or bad at.
  37. Win and lose gracefully and graciously.
  38. Keep a sense of humor about you. Laugh at yourself and laugh with others. Don’t take anything too seriously that doesn’t need to be taken seriously. Life’s too short for that shit.


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  1. ellesees.blogspot.com

    happy birthday and welcome to 38! nice to have another blogger friend in the 38 club!! love the life lessons as they are SO true.
    ellesees.blogspot.com recently posted…Current Fave Shoes for Spring and Summer!My Profile

  2. Ali A

    All great lessons; couldn’t agree more. Happy (almost) birthday!!!
    Ali A recently posted…The Anti-FemaleMy Profile

  3. SMD @ Life According to Steph

    I love this list, heartily agree with all.

    Happy birthday week!
    SMD @ Life According to Steph recently posted…TWTW – the last one in MayMy Profile

  4. Ashley

    Amen sista!

  5. Kellli

    I would add be silly no matter how old you are, it keeps you young!

    Happy Birthday!
    Kellli recently posted…It’s All About The Books – Vol. 3My Profile

  6. Linda sheridan

    This is a beautiful list. I have a June birthday and so does my Stephen. It’s a wonderful month to me, because it’s summertime. Alexandrite has also been assigned as a June birthstone. I like pearl earrings. My birthday always falls around or on Father’s Day ! Enjoy your birthday month.
    Love, Steph’s Momma

  7. Karen

    Great list! I love all of them, especially number 38. Enjoy your birthday festivities!
    Karen recently posted…Back To Running…My Profile

  8. alyssa

    I want to pick out just a few but I can’t because I believe so fully in all of them too. I’m not flawless though, of course, so a reminder always helps. I think the one I’m trying to work hardest on and need to be reminded of these days is #10. “No is a complete sentence” is a piece of advice I’ve heard several times, but I still have trouble getting suckered into things I don’t really have time for (#11!) or don’t really want to spend my free time doing because “I don’t really have a good reason not to.” No! Protecting my free time IS a reason, and it’s not one I have to share with anyone. “No” is sufficient and I think women especially are led to believe that’s not true. But screw that! Thanks for the reminder. Happy birthday a few days early, though I’m sure I’ll say it again 🙂

  9. Abigail @ipickuppennies

    Happy birthday! I’m staring down my 37th in August. Don’t know that I have 37 lessons to impart, but I’ll have to give it some thought.
    Abigail @ipickuppennies recently posted…My grandmother diedMy Profile

  10. Tonya@Budget and the Beach

    Love this list Jana and agree with every single one of them. One regret I do have is when I moved from Detroit to Seattle, I wasn’t in touch with my Grandparents as much as I really should have been. My brother and I were there only grandchildren and he’s an ass, so I think they might have been lonely, something that still makes me upset to this day. When you’re in your 20’s and 30’s life whizzes by, but when you’re older, time slows down and you get sad if you think people forgot about you. As much as my mom drives me insane when I talk to her on the phone, I still try to call as much as possible.
    Tonya@Budget and the Beach recently posted…May Review/June GoalsMy Profile

  11. Nadine

    Yes to every single one of these!!! I agree with all of them so much! I hope that you have a fabulous birthday week!!! Happy Birthday! 🙂
    Nadine recently posted…Weekend ShenanigansMy Profile

  12. Amber

    Happy Birthday! I love this list and I agree with it. I love to spend time with myself. Reading. Going to the movies. Shopping. It’s awesome.
    Amber recently posted…The End Of The Year Gymnastics Program With A Grumpy TeenagerMy Profile

  13. Lindsay

    Wise words, Jana. *nods*. Happy early birthday if I forget by Friday xoxo
    Lindsay recently posted…Weekend Recap & Summer Fun Giveaway RafflecopterMy Profile

  14. Kristin

    #9,10,11 go right together, don’t they?

    Also, you could probably just call #21 “Don’t be a dick”. All-encompassing.
    Kristin recently posted…The last 2 weeks in pictures (mostly)My Profile

  15. Julia @ Grace Makes New

    Happy early birthday!! 🙂 Love this list, yes to all! Love what you said about there being bad days, but that they will pass and you will see how strong you are, I SO need to hear this right now!
    Julia @ Grace Makes New recently posted…Weekend Recap: Hello June!My Profile

  16. Kerry

    Love so many of these, epecially spending a day in your pajamas. Being kind to animals is a sign of a kind person. Read, read, read!! Happy Birthday week!
    Kerry recently posted…Girl’s WeekendMy Profile

  17. kathy @ real talk

    yes to all of this! esp manners and not being a rude dick to others!
    kathy @ real talk recently posted…randomnessMy Profile

  18. Kateri Von Steal

    #3 – YES! Never too late to start!

    9,11,13 – Yes, and I giggled at the ride the horse thing.

    12 – I always smile or say hello to strangers – you never know what a little happiness will do for them (or yourself).

    15,25,30 – Nods, Preach! Sister! Preach!

    🙂 Amazing list
    Kateri Von Steal recently posted…June Goals – Getting back to Strong!My Profile

  19. lisacng @ expandng.com

    So great! So great! (I actually like pearls! But nothing too precious) I like so so so many of them but guess the one that stood out the most is don’t let yourself be taken advantage of, standing up for yourself and knowing when to draw the line. I hope my children learn this lesson sooner rather than later. So funny about never passing up the opportunity to take a nap :). Happy early birthday, Jana!

  20. Kati Rose

    While all of these are very spot on, I think I’m happiest to see number 1 being the first one you read. It’s totally true and it takes you years to understand that you wouldn’t be who you are without ALL those things – good, bad, weird… one little thing would change it.
    Kati Rose recently posted…MN Instagram LoveMy Profile

  21. Christina

    This is a really great list! I still need to find a dish or dessert I’m good at. Haha! I absolutely hate it when people are on their phone in the check out line. It’s so rude! I love the one about naps. I was never a nap taker, but have fully embraced them over the last year or so. I take one just about every weekend if I can.
    Christina recently posted…Daniel RadcliffeMy Profile

  22. Kristen

    I love this list.. seriously, I was nodding along saying yep yep oh definitely to all of them! except #22. womp womp. though I do think everyone should, I can’t! boo.
    Kristen recently posted…10 Books that need to be moviesMy Profile

  23. Erin of TexErin-in-SydneyLand

    Good gosh almighty, this is a good list. I may need to print it out and post it on my mirror, so I’ll read it regularly. You want to know another reason that we are blogging twins? June babies. Yep, I was born June 17th.
    Erin of TexErin-in-SydneyLand recently posted…HelloooooooooooMy Profile


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