Wednesday, September 14, 2016

35 Thoughts as I Turn 35

All week long I've been hearing Deana Carter singing in my head, "I still remember when 30 was old..."  I was 15 when "Strawberry Wine" came out, and 30 did seem so old at that point in time. And now, here I am turning 35 today...but I'm far from old, right? Right?!!?

Hands down, my 30s have been the best decade of my life thus far. It's the new 21...with a little cash to spend! I got married, I became a mom, I've got a great job, a fabulous family and incredible friends. I really have no complaints...except that time is flying by faster than I ever imagined was possible. Don't get me wrong, there are bumps in the road and challenging days {weeks!}, but it just recently hit me that I am happy...truly and genuinely happy. I'm in a very good place, and I am so incredibly grateful for this crazy, chaotic life I lead.

35 Life Lessons on My 35th Birthday

Today, as I begin my 36th trip around the sun {I had to seriously think about that for a's my 35th birthday, so that means I'm beginning my 36th year...#deepthoughts}, I thought I'd share with you some things I've learned, observed or experienced along the way...
  1. Birthdays are a blessing. Getting older is part of life’s natural progression…and it’s obviously better than the alternative. Celebrate big or celebrate small…but no matter what, you must eat cake on your birthday!

    Birthday Cake

  2. Live within your means. Better yet, live below your means. Saving money is crucial! Maintain a savings account {that is fairly liquid} at a level sufficient to cover at least six months of general living expenses…just in case!

  3. Use your head as more than a hat rack. Think for yourself…outside of the box. Don’t just go along with the crowd. Think before you speak or react.

  4. You’ve got to be a friend to have a friend. This goes back to the good ‘ole Golden Rule…

    Do Unto Others as you would have them do unto you

  5. Don’t accept a counteroffer from an employer after you’ve resigned to take another job. A recruiter shared this article with me when I was faced with this decision, and it really stuck with me. Sure, it’s incredibly flattering to receive an offer for a promotion or raise if you’ll stay at the current job, but why weren’t you worth that extra money and more prestigious title before you quit? Plus, the reasons you had for wanting to leave the original job in the first place will still exist.

  6. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. Pulling out my economics background for this one {I did learn something in college!}. Simply put: you can’t get something for nothing. Digging a little deeper into it: when faced with a decision, you must carefully consider what you’re giving up by choosing one option over the other.

  7. YouTube is a form of continuing education. Tutorials and how-to videos on anything and everything you could ever want to learn are available on YouTube. Don’t ever stop learning!

  8. Dress for success. Dress for the position you want, not the position you have. In the professional world, always err on the conservative side. When you look your best, you feel your best and, thus, produce the best results.

  9. On the same note, quality shoes are worth the extra money. Life is too short for painful shoes, no matter how cute they may be.

  10. Lipstick can change your entire look. Even if you aren’t wearing any other makeup, a little lipstick {or gloss} will make you look {and feel} pulled together.  Plus, bright/bold lipsticks will instantly make your teeth look whiter.

    Lipstick, Elizabeth Taylor

  11. Hope for the best, but plan for the worst. No one wants to think about death or disability, but planning for unexpected tragedies is especially imperative if you have children. Buy life insurance. Write a will that designates legal guardians for your children. This is an incredibly sensitive topic and a difficult decision to make…but if you don’t do it, it will be left up to the state. It’s worth the money to consult with an estate planning attorney to aid with this process.  Don’t put it off!

  12. There are three sides to every story: your side, the other person’s side and the unbiased truth. It’s all about perspective.

  13. Spend as much time as possible with your grandparents…and truly listen when they’re talking to you. No amount of money can buy the knowledge they’ll share with you in a simple conversation.

    Landon & me with Grandma & Granddad, May 2016

  14. A wedding planner is worth their weight in gold.  Not only will they get you through the planning process {and save you significant money due to the relationships they’ve built with vendors}, but you’ll also be able to enjoy your entire wedding day without worrying about a thing.

  15. Proofread...and then proofread again! Get it right when you write. Incorrect spelling and/or typos on your resume/cover letter/any related documents will most likely send your application straight to File 13 {i.e. the trashcan!}.

  16. The cost of alcohol is inversely correlated with the severity of the headache you’ll have the next morning. The cheaper the booze, the worse the hangover. Buy the good stuff!

  17. Your toughest critics are often also your biggest fans. These are the people who see potential in you that you may not even see yourself. They push you hard because they believe in you and refuse to allow you to settle for less than you deserve. Stay close to these people and thank them for helping you achieve success.

  18. The Five Love Languages book is legit. Figure out your own love language as well as your partner’s. They may be different {most likely will be}, but that’s ok. Learn to speak your partner’s love language…and when you start to struggle with it, read the book again.

  19. Don’t underestimate the power of hand-written notes. Dropping a hand-written note in the mail is a small gesture that makes a BIG impact.

  20. “Good Enough” doesn’t cut it. You’ll never get ahead by just getting by. You’ve got to go above and beyond what is expected of you to get noticed.

  21. Pets are part of the family. The pure excitement they show when they see you and the unconditional love of a pet is priceless.

  22. Be on time. Better yet, show up early! It’s disrespectful of others’ time when you’re late.

  23. Don’t ever forget where you came from. You wouldn’t be who you are today if it weren’t for your background and upbringing. Show gratitude to everyone who helped you along the way, most importantly, your parents.

    "Back where I come from...I'm proud as anyone..."
    the Gyp Hills of Barber County, Kansas

  24. Pay your dues. Nobody starts at the top. You’ve got to work to get there. Hard work will pay off in the long run. The harder you work, the luckier you get.

  25. College is as much about growing up as it is the actual education. It’s the first time you’re out on your own, fending for yourself, fully responsible for your own decisions and actions. How you deal with this newfound freedom will likely evolve throughout your college experience. Somewhere along the way you'll figure out how to manage your time {balance your social and academic schedules} and money. In fact, you may even think you're ready for "the real world" by the time you graduate. Turns out, "the real world" is a little different than college life.

  26. At some point during the college years, you’ll probably realize your parents were always right. They had your best interest at heart in all of the rules and restrictions they set. When you finally accept that your parents are the smartest people you know, tell them! This will be a big turning point in that relationship.

  27. Maintain your faith. Keep God at the center of your life. Continuously pray. It’s easy to turn to God in times of distress, but don’t forget to thank Him for all of your blessings as well.

  28. Make yourself indispensable. Whatever you’re doing, do it well…better than anyone else. Make sure you’re adding value. Put yourself in a position so that you can’t be easily replaced.

  29. You’re responsible for your own happiness. The basis of true happiness comes from within. Once you reach a point where you’re happy with your life on your own, you’ll be surprised how quickly other things fall into place.


  30. Own up to your mistakes, and sincerely apologize when it’s necessary. "Sincerely" is the key word. Mean what you say, and let it be obvious that it comes from the heart.

  31. Revel in your success for a moment…and then do more! Don’t stop trying to better yourself just because you’ve accomplished one goal. Dream big. Set the next goal and keep learning and improving.

  32. Surround yourself with the right people. It's hard to soar with the eagles when you’re surrounded by turkeys.

  33. The bigger the risk, the greater the reward. Don’t be afraid to take chances. On the other hand, fully assess the risk and make sure you’re comfortable with the possibility of losing what you have invested {time, money, emotions}.

  34. You’ll never be 100% “ready” to have kids. If you know you want to have a child, but you’re “waiting for the right time” {when you have enough money, when you’re far enough along in your career, when you’re grown up/responsible enough}, I guarantee that time will never arrive. I can also promise that once that tiny babe is in your arms, you’ll be ready to do whatever it takes to give that child the very best life you possibly can.

  35. Take lots of photos…and make sure you’re IN some of them. One day, all your children will have is pictures…and they won’t care how your hair looked or if you were wearing makeup…they’ll just want to see you!

Cheers to 35!

What are some life lessons you've learned along the way?


  1. Leslie, I hope you had a wonderful birthday. You are a brilliant writer and I love reading your blog! Love you!

  2. Very well said! It always amazes me everytime I read your blog. I love you Leslie Jo.

  3. What a amazing amount of wisdom you have gained at such a young age!!! I loved reading this and agree whole-heartedly with it all! You are loved! M'Lou

  4. Happy Birthday friend. I love all of these and they are all so true. Here's to the next 35!

  5. I love reading your thoughts in your blog and i hope you had an amazing birthday!!!

  6. I love all of these! The good shoes one is one I've come to terms with recently. Buying cheap versions seems like a good idea at the time, buy I'm cursing myself when they're falling apart or giving me horrible blisters! All of my grandparents (I had five because of my parents divorcing--one died before I was born) passed away before I even graduated college. I so regret not spending more time with all of them. I LOVE that 'three sides to every story.' So so true. And yes to pets being part of the family!

  7. #10 (I've only recently learned this--wish I would have started wearing lipstick sooner!). #11 (clearly, estate planning is important to me!). ;) #15 (I've started paying for the Grammarly app and am enjoying it). #19 (I've been using this TY formula for a while, and I really like it And one I'd add: build in self-care/downtime/alone time to your weekly routine--burnout is just around the corner!!

  8. Love these life lessons! Happy Birthday to a wonderful wife, mom and sister!

  9. I love all of these!! Happiest of Birthdays to you!!

  10. I love the lipstick one! And my dad always told me "dress for the job you want, not the job you have" and it was some of the best advice I've ever gotten!! This makes me excited for my thirties! Have a wonderful birthday!

  11. These are all so perfect! Happy happy birthday to you :)

  12. Ummm I LOVE ALL OF THIS!!! I can't even choose a favorite but I want to send this to every young professional I know.... along with a note that says not to burn any bridges. You never know who you will meet or need later on down the road. lol