Last November I completed 40 pretty fantastic years, by my account. And by ‘fantastic’ I mean there were no televised scandals or involuntary video releases, no psychotic episodes, or uninvited house guests. Nothing exploded, nor did anyone try to maim or kill me. To the best of my knowledge I have no unacknowledged parents, siblings or offspring lurking around. No criminal charges are pending, and no one is expecting me to testify for or against anyone. It’s been mahhhhhvalous honey.
And so what about the things that did try to ‘come get me’ over the last 40 years? I beat them with a blunt object. I kicked them in the shins and ran the heck away. I fought back, and I won. I’m still here, and I’m angling for another 40 years.
But…I am 40 for goodness sake, so I am constantly lightening my load. Life does not get easier folks, in fact, it gets harder, but you can start to set some new rules to brighten your path and lengthen your days. You have the right to say, “Excuse me, but I’m done with that…”
So in the wake of 40 I just DO NOT:
- Ignore the signs. When you are young and stupid you can see trouble coming and willfully ignore it because you think it’s easier; just look the other way, simple. Well, life has taught me that when you look away, someone walks up and steals your stuff. If you doubt me, go leave some stuff in the mall. Do it today. All I’m trying to say is pay attention to your life. Don’t ignore the signs.
- Hold on to feelings for people who don’t have any feelings left for me. If you are over me, I applaud you for the accomplishment, because I’m pretty damn amazing. No worries, I’ll get, and give, my loving elsewhere. Thank you very much for your time.
- Overeat, oversleep, or overthink. Excesses of any kind are a pretty bad idea. They all lead to the same dark alley where anxiety and regret jump out, beat you unconscious and rob you of any desire or will to do better in life. I intend to keep getting better in life, so I let excess go. So long, bye bye.
- Wear constricting undergarments. Difficulty breathing is not something to mess with at this stage of life. I can’t break that truth down any further.
- Have fake friendships. Friendships require work, which is fine because real friends deserve the effort. On the flip side however, are the fake friends, who oddly enough require their own convoluted crazy kind of work. Keeping fake friends is like mixing a cake when you don’t own an oven. All that effort when in the end, nothing is going to hold that foolishness together!
- Buy new. New things are ridiculously overrated. Nowadays, people are so simultaneously compulsive, bored and broke that they sell things they’ve never fully used, and might even still need! If that’s you my friend, I’ll gladly take that year-before-last model iPhone off your hands. Thanks.
- Believe I’m right. I may be right. I may be wrong. I may be going left when I should be going right. To all of this I say a hearty, ‘Mehhh’. That’s life folks, from beginning to end: twisty-turny, upside-downy. I’m not worried, you shouldn’t be either. In the fullness of time I’ll figure it out.
- Party. Now, let’s be clear, I go to parties. I looooove doing that. What I’m talking about here is when you party as a verb, not a noun. I don’t do the verb thing. Sleep is a real important part of my life-time warranty right now.
- Follow fashion or make up trends. Unlike the latest fads, my figure and my face are pretty much the same every single day. As a result, I resolve to only wear what works with the face and the shape I’ve got. Have you ever seen Oprah in short-shorts and a sleeveless top? No. Be like Oprah. Wear what works.
- Disrespect my hair. No perming, combing, straightening, nothing. My hair is afro-kinky, nappy, naughty, whatever you want to call her; she don’t care. She does not want to sway in the breeze; that’s not her thing. Much like me, she’d just like to have a refreshing drink and be left alone.
- Try to get attention. The life of a girl is all about being seen; either she’s seen too little or seen too much. It’s about blossoming and coming-of-age and receiving lots of deeply craved attention from others (mainly dudes). This need to please and preen, be noticed and be chosen is an Alcatraz hell-hole that not every woman is able to escape, and many never do. But hallelujah Jesus, what a Saviour, I got out! And I am never ever ever going back.
- Make excuses. If you did it, then own it. Excuses are fundamentally useless. Furthermore, there’s a pretty good chance that when we take ownership of our actions, we can also make things better. But hey, if no one owns the problem, then no one will fix it.
- Cut other women down. This is a tough one. I thoroughly love women and sisterhood, but I’ve tangled with some troubled, broken women who are foul and disturbed and begging to be lit up with fire and brimstone. Sometimes you make a decision and ride it out purely on principle, and this is one of those for me. Being female is hard enough (see #11), the damage is real; I’m not going to cut other women down.
- Care about the wrong things. I’m not trying to die rich, famous, or even old (though that would be quite nice). I only want to die free. Life has way too many systems that are built to suppress the human spirit, and there seems to be an extra set of shackles just for women plus a ball and chain made exclusively for people of color. It can take the better part of your entire life to recognize and break free from all of this oppression, but it’s worth the fight. It’s what matters…at least to me.
- Judge. I’m simply not qualified. I’ve made too many mistakes, and I have too many unanswered questions to go around being anyone’s judge. Most of what I see out in the world confuses and troubles me, but then so does what I see on the inside of my very self and in the people I love. So though I’ll continue to have questions and opinions, feelings and positions, I’ll leave judgement to the One who sits on the throne. Meanwhile, I’ll keep lightening my load.