36 Gifts From 36 Years

36 Gifts From 36 Years
Words by Laura Quick
  1. Time. I have learned, though it took me many, many years, that time is my friend. It is a great teacher and gift. Time tells us things that often (depending on health and mindset and infatuation level) our heart and mind will often miss. Six months is a good amount of time for the truth to show up.
  2. I am my surroundings. I am the people I do life with most often. I am the sum of the food I eat. The drinks I drink. The content I take in. You cannot be in things constantly and not become them.
  3. Be a reader. I didn’t like reading when I was young. Somehow I thought if my head was in a book I might miss something, or someone might miss me—ha! But reading is a great gift. My Bible, fiction, education… a love I wish I would’ve fallen for sooner.
  4. Be kind. I came into this world and had a front row seat of what it looked like to be unkind. I decided early on to choose kindness and make it an abiding principle. You will NEVER look back and regret choosing kindness.
  5. Ask God questions. I spent so much of my life being disgruntled or frustrated or confused or angry with God. Then one day someone told me I could actually tell him that. I could ask him where he was in the middle of my story that seemed Godless. He always answers. So ask him. God isn’t intimidated by our questions.
  6. Travel your face off. Look, GO. Just go. And keep your eyes open, keep your ears open. See and experience people who are totally different than you. Don’t say one day. Take the damn trip. Get out of your comfort zone. Eat ramen for a month if you have to. But GO. See. Listen. Taste.
  7. Get a housekeeper. Maybe that seems pretentious. But cleaning your house is a profession. And if you have a full time job (or you suck at it) then give up eating out twice a week and get someone to come in once a month. Thank me later.
  8. Legalism looks like crap on you. It is COMPLETELY acceptable for you to stand on the firm foundation of your beliefs and the path you took to learn/discover them without becoming a preacher. Leave some room for people to figure crap out. Need help? Try and remember what you looked like lost as hell. Seek grace and pray.
  9. Say you are sorry. To your kids. To your spouse. To your best friend. To someone you cut off in traffic. And don’t wait based on what percentage you own. Say you are sorry for what you DO OWN. It will free you. And free is so good. Real talk.
  10. Healthy isn’t boring. I thought for a long time getting healthy might make me lose my edge at work. Like somehow being healthy meant I wouldn’t want to work hard? Idk. But I think unhealthy gets comfortable and becomes a sort of medication. Put the drug down. You will still be cool when you are healthy.
  11. Find a new table. If one day you wake up and you are pursuing new, good, healthy patterns and everyone at your table makes you feel small… get up and find a new table. I know, I know… you’ve been friends with them for 600 years. SO WHAT. If they aren’t cheering for your health and building you up, GET UP AND GO.
  12. Write down your personal boundaries. Write them down at the beginning of each new year. Then try and read them every day. I lived a ton of my life without boundaries. I lacked the knowledge of where I stopped and others began. So I have to study where I start and stop. That’s not sad, that’s the damn work. When we learn to respect our own boundaries only then can we respect others.
  13. Lean into uncomfortable. When I am uncomfortable I look at it more as an invitation than an imposition. Uncomfortable moments are so much more tolerable if we get curious about them instead of griping about them. I like to think of my own discomfort as a puzzle that only I can put together or take apart.
  14. Be okay alone. You are stuck with you. And wherever you go, there you’ll be, with you. Practice eating alone. Practice riding in silence in your car. Put down your devices and sit with yourself often… if you don’t like being with you, no one else will either!
  15. Pray. Praying isn’t scary. Prayer is as simple as calling out for God. It is as beautiful as sitting down for the BEST conversations you’ll ever have. It is uttering thank you a million times a day. It can be reverent or messy and sometimes BOTH.
  16. Get a therapist. There are still tons of stupid stigmas around therapy. But guess what? WHO CARES. Go to therapy before you need to. Go to therapy when it is long overdue. Just go to therapy. If you are an adult reading this, you’ve lived through enough trauma and it always a good idea to get help navigating out most wounded parts from professionals.
  17. Gratitude. This is the key to happiness and fulfillment. Thankfulness. It interrupts anxiety. It makes what we have more than enough. And it is a MULTIPLIER. Write it. Whisper it. Keep it on your phone digitally. But create a gratitude for every day and it will CHANGE YOUR LIFE.
  18. Go for a walk. When you are feeling frustrated or confused or hurt or pissed or scared… go for a walk. No music, no podcast, no audiobook. Just a walk. There is something magic about a couple of miles to help you sort out your emotions. Walks have helped me go from reactions to responding. The difference between a tantrum and being a grown up. Take a walk.  
  19. Ask more questions. There is always so much more to discover. Asking questions helps us move out of judgment and into understanding. PLUS, asking questions is a beautiful way to develop deeper connections with people. Try it!
  20. Get an animal! I’ve had three dogs I loved deeply; but two dogs that I’ve been awake enough to understand all the things dogs each us. They are good for our souls. They are hard work (don’t get me wrong) but man, so worth it.
  21. Be a great friend. We ATTRACT what we are. Want amazing friends? Be an amazing friend. It’s not lame to write down what you are looking for in a healthy set of friends and start holding yourself to that standard. This also works for significant others AND work. You will keep attracting the level of health to you that YOU ARE.
  22. It’s probably you. So, listen. In relationships, we are always tempted to go into “fixing.” We hear a sermon or we read a book or listen to a podcast and think of someone else (spouse, friend, parents)... but it’s FOR YOU. Our best efforts and work should always be inward. The best way to help others is by helping yourself. FIX YOU. Inspire YOU. Then live what you learn. Invite your people in by how you live. 
  23. Choose grace. Give it. Receive it. Believe in it. Grace is choosing not to make yourself or someone feel small or holding them to the fire but instead respond in love. Try it on yourself first, then others. Practicing this is a glimpse into deep salvation.
  24. Self care. Wash your damn face before bed. Get a massage. Buy products that are good for you. Make good choices for YOU and your body. Don’t buy disposable clothes when you don’t have to anymore. Wear jewelry. And lipliner. Take care of your insides and outsides. But do what works for you; keep stepping toward the best you. One decision at a time. 
  25. Consult your future self. The BEST advice I seek is from future ME. I’m constantly making decisions through the filter of “Will this decision get me closer to who I want to become? Will 40 or 50 or 60 year old me be proud of these decisions?”
  26. Don’t love “stuff.” It’s super easy to get attached to your stuff. Purses and shoes and flat irons and makeup and art and cars and decor fill in the blank. You can like stuff but don’t get attached. Don’t attach your identity to any of it. It could be all gone in minutes. You are not the sum of your stuff.
  27. Remove all tags. Go through all your clothes and take out all of the sizes. This way you will only wear what FITS YOU. Not just the stuff that matches the ideal size the world says you need to be.
  28. Burn all the ships. At least once. Take a REALLY BIG RIDICULOUS RISK. Take the road you HAVE to make your path on.
  29. Be honest even if it sucks. So, when I was younger I HAD TO LIE  to myself… well, that’s what I thought. But lying to ourselves leads to lying to others. When I am tempted to hide something I call one of two people and tell them immediately. Truthfulness IS kindness. To yourself and to others.
  30. Not everyone needs to know. Sometimes we make the mistake of oversharing with the wrong audience. Not everyone is SAFE to share your journey with… false vulnerability can scare good people off and keep you from real vulnerability. When you are in the middle of figuring stuff out keep it CLOSE.
  31. Ask for what you need. You will never get what you need if you don’t ask for it.
  32. Ask for what you want. You will never get what you are hoping for if you don’t ask for it. Maybe this means writing it down, or talking to the right people but you MUST be bold enough to ASK.
  33. Don’t ever WANT it more than you’ll WORK for it. It’s great to dream big crazy dreams. But don’t talk about them more than you are GETTING AFTER THEM. Be a doer. WORK FOR WHAT YOU WANT.
  34. Shame is like shit on your shoes. “God doesn’t want us walking around with shame—because he already wore that for us on the cross. If you have questions about this I would love to talk to you about it.” Shane said this to me when I was telling him about my past, a moment I thought he might say he never wanted to see me again, was actually a moment he was walking me home to Jesus.
  35. Keep showing up. There will be times you want to bail… there will be times old you pops up and is like, “hey, let’s bail” but don’t. Instead, keep showing up and doing the work even when you don’t want to. Showing up is always more about who you are becoming than your surroundings.
  36. Be an obsessive learner. Stay hungry to learn for the rest of your life. Don’t ever stop asking questions and seeking truth. Seek people out who live lives that inspire you and ask them their secrets. Mostly, remember the best way to learn is through loving everyone. Because not all of them will be easy. But they will all be worth it.