As each birthday creeps up, I become reflective, lovey dovey and overall critical. I take a good look at the last year of life I’ve been gifted, and think hard about the choices I made, what I would’ve and should’ve done a bit differently, what I straight up fell on my face doing, and what worked out pretty darn well.

I thought down through the gift of this year of life and considered what it taught me; for better or for worse. It’s no secret that this past year won the award for The Most “Holy Moly What Is Going On?!” Moments, so this was quite the interesting writing session. Jumbled in a myriad of wonderfully messy memories, triumphs and trials, I pulled 6 of the most prominent lessons and compiled them together for below. For you, my Dear Team and Readers of my Ramblings:

1.) Get a second opinion. Or third. Or fourth. Or fifteenth. I had always heard this one, but never quite needed it until this past year. But the truth is, not following your gut and not listening to your body could kill you. It may seem harsh, but I have seen and I have experienced it myself. If I had stuck with  and settled on the first opinion I received upon the discovery of my tumor, a false diagnosis of “feminine pain and probable kidney stones” would have paralyzed me or even worse. 100%. Yes, it’s a lot of research. Yes, it’s a lot of work. And don’t even get started on the amount of copays you may rack up. But Team, this is your life. Your life depends on this. So go. Pick up your own life and carry it into the hands of someone who believes you and pushes for your health like their life depends on it too. Be “that patient”, and get enough opinions until one settles and sits well. You will know when it is the right one. I pinky swear.

2.) Unfollow them. Virtually or physically. If it is costing you your peace, your self-esteem and/or making you question anything about your own path, time to press the button. I have seen so many people continue to follow others just to mind their P’s & Q’s. What the what? You are sacrificing your own comfort for the comfort of someone who is costing you your heart. If they retaliate? Well, point proven.

3.) The people nearest to you will make or break every situation you’re thrown. At the end of the day, you are responsible for your own life. However, we were never meant to do life alone. Thank. You. Jesus. Community is truly essential in navigating the waves, rapids and most certainly, riptides you will ride. Who you share your life with is extremely important. It’s imperative to be selective of who you really let speak into your life. No, I am not telling you to be closed off and take no prisoners. Quite the contrary. Be friends with everyone. Be family with a very carefully selected few. Those that are speaking into your story and you are receiving with an open heart can and will direct your path into bueno or not-so-bueno territory. When I was sick, my Uncle Travis quoted me the incredible words of Stuart Scott: “Fight like hell. And when you get too tired to fight, lay down and rest and let somebody else fight for you.” Look at your circle. Is everyone in it someone that would fight for you when you need to wave the white flag for a moment or two?

4.) Your age doesn’t matter. Two jobs ago, in my first leadership role, I was proud to share my age whenever prompted. I was 22 and rocking a name tag with the word “manager” on it. Freshly graduated and settling into a “Big Girl” job, clearly, I had it all figured out…Two weeks in, a male leader on the Executive Team asked me my age. From there on, he would declare it at staff meetings, in front of entire lunch rooms, even in front of guests. I was the same age of his son, so, “what did I know, anyway?”. I hid my age from then on out. I grew to feel that my youth in the workplace would forever be something to be ashamed of as no one would take me seriously. As the miracles of this past year settled in, I shook that fear away. I discovered the truth about age. The truth is: they’ll take you seriously if they are to be taken seriously. Age, status, titles aside. Period.

5.) Saying “no” is the simplest and quickest way to freedom. Stop compromising your own free time, thoughts, morals, etc. just to please someone else. Is there a toxic conversation being had you want nothing to do with? Leave the room. Do you need to turn down a Happy Hour invitation to take some time to do a heart check? Call for a rain check and head home.

6) “One day” is now. Cliche, right? Nope. Think about it. Raise your hand if you have ever said, to yourself or to someone else, “In another life, I would…”. *currently raising both hands and attempting to raise both feet as I try not to fall off my porch chair*  This one is my favorite. A few months ago, I was driving on the stretch of Overseas Highway, an hour deep into a heart to heart with a dear friend. (Can you really drive into The Keys without landing on a heart to heart conversation at least once? Nope!). I shared with her, “In another life, I would write a book.” She very simply and instantly responded with, “Why not this life, Kels?” Phewwww. Such a simple statement, but it’s completely changed my life since that moment. To all of those “one day” wishes and “in another life” dreams: one day is now and this life is your one and only life.  Start today and do it in this life. It’s on your heart because it’s meant to be done, by you, now. Please start.

Here’s to another year of being our own biggest advocates. Another year of minding our P’s & Q’s for our own selves. A year of embracing our tribe and celebrating our age. A year of saying no to people pleasing. Here’s to a year of fighting every day to make the “one day” today, and “another life” this life.

Big Hugs & Far Too Many Leftover Birthday Pumpkin Muffins.



Featured Image: The Queens of making “one day” today:  The Inquisitor Wine

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