So, a few days ago, was my 38th birthday. I can hardly believe that I’ve come so far. I still remember middle school and high school days so vividly, it doesn’t seem like that period of my life was over 20 years ago. Now, I’m entering an entire new phase of my life. According to new data, the average life span of a person living in the United States is 79 years of age. That makes me pretty close to middle-aged. I know this is normally a scary time for most people, but I welcome the adventure. The older I get, the more I love myself for exactly who I am and the less I care about what other people think of me. Life feels more freeing, more fun, and less worrisome. Most of my friends who are similar in age have started traveling more, and some have even moved to warmer nicer locations, like Florida, where, I hear, your lifespan can increase. Me and my husband haven’t ruled out moving there ourselves in the future. But currently, we are in search of our dream house. This is such a great period of life; a period of both reflection and reinvention.
So, as I reflected on my life as a woman with many hats to wear: wife, mother, daughter, aunt, sister, friend; I started thinking about what I have learned over the years of my life. Through the battles and the triumphs, how have I grown as a person? And now, as I enter the next phase of my life, what do I want to take with me and what do I want to leave behind? After living for 38 years I feel like I have learned a few things about what’s good for me and what’s not. I want to bring only the good things into the next phase of my life, and leave behind all that hinders me from being my absolute best self. Here are 5 things I’m NOT taking with me, into my next journey of life:
- Social Media: Don’t get me wrong, social media is great for connecting with friends and family. And it’s a nice way to keep up with current events as well. The best part about social media, is the business aspect. Being able to get free advertising and creating a platform for you to sell more products and services. However, there are a few downsides to it as well, such as: private information being sold to companies, sites retaining ownership of photographs and personal information, lack of productivity from spending too much time on social media and cyber bullying. But those are not the ones I’m mainly concerned with. I’ve decided to leave behind social media because it’s emotionally unhealthy. Scrolling through my timeline daily, I see everyone’s vacations pics, photo shoots from parties, outfits of the day, random “look at me, love me from the neck up” car selfies, “I’m so cute” bathroom selfies, “I’m eating the best meal ever” food pics, and “I have money to blow, look at my expensive stuff” shots. It’s like a collection of everyone’s life on a highlight reel. Unfortunately, I find it to be superficial and disingenuous. It’s like having two different lives, your real life and your online persona. While that’s fine for people who are strictly on social media for business purposes, for everyone else, I think we should take a deeper look at why we feel it necessary to share this type of information. Except for a few random pseudo-intellectual posts, we are sharing on our page what we truly value; money, materials, and popularity. If you don’t have an already high self-esteem, you could get bummed out scrolling through Facebook or Instagram. But then, you realize you could do the same thing if you cared enough. For me, I eat great food every day, I usually like my outfit, I do lots of fun things with my family and friends. But I almost never think to post pictures on Facebook or Instagram. I’m usually too busy having a good time to think about posting pictures, or better yet, live videos of me having a good time. What I do enjoy sharing are ideas, wisdom, scriptures, inspirational or informational videos, and things that I’ve created. If everyone on Facebook and Instagram did this in addition to photos of them being adventurous, or traveling to other countries, or helping the less fortunate, or accomplishing a goal or creating something special, then social media would become something different. It would be a place to share information, knowledge, and wisdom rather than boast about money, cars, clothes, and good looks. It would be uplifting and motivational. It would become a space for you to gather ideas to apply to your own life. Imagine if there was a site you could scroll through daily that added something to your life; and when you logged off the site, you felt more energetic, more intelligent, and more blessed. I don’t know about anyone else, but when I log off Facebook, I feel drained, foggy, and less productive. And on the days when I don’t feel so great about life, it does nothing to uplift me, if anything, it makes me feel worse. I’m not saying I’m going to delete my account (again), I’m just going to reduce my views dramatically. There are, however, a few social media sites I do enjoy. My favorite is Goodreads, I’m a total bookworm, and there, people reflect more on book reviews than anything else, plus I get to keep a list of all the books I want to read and the ones I’ve already read, which makes things a lot easier when I’m in the library looking for my next read. You can even share book selections with friends. I also like Pinterest, which is more like a collection of ideas and creativity than anything else. I love going on Pinterest and getting craft ideas, DIY projects, and recipes. Pinterest gives me inspiration to get up and do something fun and interesting. I think it’s all about finding what it is that you truly value as a person, and then filling your life with more of it. Share what you value.
- Television: Honestly, I don’t really watch much television anymore. Lately there seems to be more commercials than actual shows. I only have one cable box in my house, soon to be reduced to zero, because I feel like I’m paying Direct TV to advertise to me. So mostly, on the days when I turn the TV on, I’m usually watching Netflix, which has some great shows and documentaries. I’ll probably keep my Netflix subscription, but I won’t be tuning in as much, here’s why. The shows make me too emotional. Maybe it’s a cancer thing, as cancers are very emotional people, but I no longer enjoy the emotional roller coaster that TV takes me through. Scandal, Empire, The Walking Dead, The Haves and The Have Nots, and Orange is the New Black were some of my favorites, but I find myself laughing one moment, crying the next, and then I’m angry. And the emotions don’t stop because I’ve turned the TV off, they stay with me. I don’t like having negative feelings for fictional characters. And I don’t like being so invested in the storyline either. It’s really a big waste of time. Our brain cells could be put to much better use. Have you ever heard two people engrossed in a juicy conversation about people you think they know personally, only to find out they were talking about characters in a television series? Sure, it’s fun to chat about the storyline and the characters, but what is it really adding to your life? It’s not really fulfillment and it doesn’t make you smarter, happier, healthier, or richer. I’m sure you can think of a hundred things you’d rather do than sit in front of the TV. So why do we do it? How do we wind up being so engrossed in these characters’ lives, and so disconnected from our own? I’m now at a time in my life, when I have goals, and focus, and drive. I don’t have room for useless information. The less clutter in my mind, the better. I’m now starting to think about my legacy, and what type of person I want to be as I age. And an avid TV watcher is not on my list. It’s not even a good form of entertainment. Entertainment to me is going to a concert with my friends, traveling with my husband, doing crafts with my daughter, hiking in nature, working on a hobby, or writing a blog. Instead of sitting around on the couch, getting fat, I just rather do something special with my time. After all, we can’t get time back. Once you lose it, it’s gone forever. The way a person spends their time, says a lot about their character. How do you want to spend your time?
- Processed Food: This is going to be tough being that I’m not that great of a cook. However, eliminating processed foods are a must for me. I’ve struggled with my weight my entire adult life. And I’ve known the key to true lasting success for a long time. But asking me to give up my prepackaged easy vegan meals is like asking me to give up a kidney. But I’m almost 40 years old, and I should have done this like 20 years ago. I’m nearing the stage of life when most of my relatives have gotten diabetes and started taking high blood pressure medications. If I don’t act fast, that could be me; spending vacation money on medications, having to inject myself with needles in the stomach, checking my blood sugar 3 times a day. God knows, I don’t want that for my life. I want to remain young and healthy and mobile for as long as possible. I know what I should do, it’s just a matter of saying “NO” to the things that are not good for me. I feel like I still look pretty good for being 38 years old, and I desperately want to turn back the hands of time, or at least stop them in their tracks. Besides, during the times of my life when I’ve been able to cut out the processed foods for 1-2 months at a time, the results were amazing. In a short span of time, I would lose weight, my skin would clear, my energy would increase, my mood would increase, and my body felt great. I didn’t need as much sleep and I wouldn’t get sick if a juiced at least once per day. This is the type of vitality I want to carry into my forties and fifties. I don’t ever want a bad habit to keep me from enjoying life. I know for some, eating tasty foods are a part of enjoying life, and I agree, but when it starts to affect your health, and your quality of life is drastically altered, when is it time to give it up in-part or in-whole? For me, moderation doesn’t work. And processed foods are made to be addictive so consumers will continue spending their money. Which leads me to the next thing I’m leaving behind…
- Consumerism: Sure, I’m still going to buy stuff, but I can choose to increase my spending power when I make wise and informative decisions about everything I choose to purchase. Everywhere we turn, there is a large corporation trying to get us to spend our hard-earned dollars. We’re inundated with advertisements, walking salesmen, commercials, and “deals” at every turn. It’s gotten to the point where we feel like we need to buy certain things. We feel like we need to have cable, which we don’t, yet we spend hundreds of dollars on it every month. Even though, we’ll healthier and more productive without it. And as discussed earlier, most of what we are paying for are commercials convincing us to spend more money. Then there’s the monthly alarm bill, the house phone and the cell phone, the house full of furniture, a different outfit for every occasion, and the expensive car with the 5-year payment. And who doesn’t have a junk drawer full of “junk” that you bought and didn’t really need. Or, ladies, the bathroom closet full of hair products and body products that you bought because you saw it on an infomercial and they said it would make your skin glow, only it didn’t. And how about those sales. They say if you buy two somethings, you would get the second something for $2 off. But you know you just came to buy the one something because that’s really all you need. But you let the cute sales guy talk you into buying the second something, and then when you leave out the store, not feeling empowered, not feeling disciplined, not feeling good about your purchase. Or how about these $700 cell phones we purchase because they now break the payment down into 26 payments of $25, so now you feel like you can afford it. But why do we need $700 cell phones just to text our friends and post Instagram pics? Not to mention the countless amounts of processed food we have stored in our cabinets, that not only blow our budget, but our waistlines too. And why do we buy birthday cards and a gift, when we know, most people only really care about the gift. From now on, I am going to be smart when it comes to my money, really smart. If I can’t buy the car outright, then I will get one that I can actually afford. I will never again make payments on a phone, I will only buy products that I have researched thoroughly or that I know are good from personal experience. I refuse to be a common consumer anymore. Instead of making others’ rich, I will invest in my own wealth. Using my money wisely, and for things that will truly bring me joy, like traveling, and hobbies, and savings. I don’t need a house full of stuff, in fact, the less stuff the better, which brings me to the last thing that I’m leaving behind.
- Clutter: I hate clutter of any kind, physical or mental. I made the choice a long time ago to work on being a minimalist in most areas of my life. I don’t want every corner of my home filled with furniture. I don’t want my closet to be packed to the brim with clothes and shoes. I want my life to feel free and easy. Clutter symbolizes chaos and confusion. I want everything to have a place and be easy to find. My mind feels less anxious that way, and I feel free to concentrate on more important and more enjoyable activities. Not to mention, it’s much easier to keep the house clean when you have less things. It also saves money because you don’t accidentally spend money on items you already had in the house, but didn’t know where it was, due to lack of organization. Clutter rids me of happiness. When I look around my house, I don’t want to see a bunch of stuff that I don’t care about. I want to look at items that are special to me and that bring me joy. I only want things in my home, that represent me and my family collectively and individually. Sentimental items will not be packed away in the attic, but will instead be on display for all to behold. There will be an abundance of space because there will be nothing in my home that does not hold great value or enormous function.
So, there you have it, the 5 things I will not be taking with me in my forties and beyond. I know changing my habits might take some time, which is why I’m starting early. But I don’t think it will be difficult. I’m simply choosing to live according to my values. Isn’t that how we all want to live, anyway?
Until next time, stay prayed up!