By Guest Blogger Tracy Huneycutt

I turn 44 in September. I feel like I have reached the halfway mark in life. While that feels bittersweet, I have also started to embrace aging with a more confident mindset than I had in my younger years.

I consider myself to be very blessed. I have a loving husband, a wonderful son, great family and friends, and a career that I love. I have been reflecting on truths about life that I wish I had known when I was younger. Many of these truths I heard growing up but did not fully believe or understand until I lived through them myself.

In honor of my upcoming birthday, I would like to share 44 things I have learned throughout 44 years of life. (For the sake of space, I am using several of the initial numbers to introduce myself a bit.)

  1. With each year that passes, I am reminded of the irony that as we age, we become wiser and worry less about trivial things while simultaneously, our bodies begin changing in unexpected ways.
  2. In the wake of my birthday, I have come to terms with many areas of my life that I cannot fully change. I can make my very best effort, but often the outcome will be limited.
  3. I would rather have tranquility than perfect results.
  4. The older we get, the years sadly do seem to go by more quickly.
  5. I am not an expert on life by any means. But I am sincere in what I desire to share with others.
  6. I have worked in the medical field and in education. I currently work in marketing, writing blogs and creating social media content. Many of my clients are in the medical field, so that is the area I research and learn about the most.
  7. Remaining healthy truly becomes more daunting with each passing year. Society demands that men and women alike remain fit and youthful looking, as we get older. It is easy to become self-conscious about how others perceive us as we age. We must decide what is more important: being at peace regarding our looks or exhausting ourselves keeping up with impossible beauty standards.
  8. Some people can exercise regularly and eat healthy foods, but still have difficulty maintaining a goal weight. Our bodies are built differently. Various factors, such as chronic diseases or other medical conditions, can especially play a role as we age. We can only do the best we can. Again, we can choose peace, or we can choose impossible beauty standards.
  9. Proudly wear a bathing suit at the pool or at the beach. No one cares if you do not look the same in a bathing suit as you did twenty years ago. Have fun in the summer with your spouse, your children, and your friends. Make memories and take the photographs.
  10. Find a doctor who truly listens to you as an individual. What works well for one person may not work well for another. My own doctor thought outside the box several years ago when I initiated my personal health and wellness journey. I will be forever grateful to her for that.
  11. It sounds cliché but let go of the past. You are a different person now than you were years ago. No amount of regret will change what happened, but shame and guilt can paralyze your future.
  12. No matter the choices you make in life, other people will form opinions about you, often without knowing 100% of the truth of your story. Don’t stress about it. Those who truly matter to you know your character.
  13. Nothing is more draining than trying to make everyone happy. This is not an excuse to resort to selfishness. But our peace and the well-being of our family must always come first.
  14. We must choose the path in life that we feel is best suited for us. Sometimes well-meaning loved ones will try to deter us based on their own fears and failings. But we cannot make important life choices based on the opinions of others.
  15. In the same turn, having someone we trust in our network to seek wise counsel from is essential. Oftentimes this person may not be an immediate friend or family member, but someone who can offer an informed and non-biased point of view.
  16. And just because we pursue what makes us the most content in life does not mean there will not be some form of consequences. There will be things or relationships we relinquish in our pursuit of happiness.
  17. If you set healthy and realistic boundaries, some people will resent you for doing so. Set them anyways. Your peace is more important than their opinion.
  18. You are not always required to provide an explanation for the choices you make in life. When and how you choose to provide explanations will depend on the circumstance and the relationship in question.
  19. We are all blessed with unique gifts and talents. If people tell you that you excel in X-Y-Z, believe them. Very few compliments are given insincerely.
  20. It is far better to give than to receive. If you can help someone financially or with your time (without inflicting any adverse effects onto yourself or your family), consider doing so.
  21. At the same time, if you are at a vulnerable place, it is okay to politely and compassionately decline if you are unable to assist others. “Secure your oxygen mask first before you help the person beside you.”
  22. Never allow guilt to be a motivator. It will only lead to resentment. In all that you do, do because you feel called to do so.
  23. Anything we commit to doing deserves our best effort. “No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” — Martin Luther King Jr.
  24. You never know when small steppingstones will lead to much wider pastures. People are watching you take those first steps.
  25. There is an old saying that landing a job is really about who you know. Embrace that truth instead of viewing it with resentment. If you are qualified for a certain career, there is nothing wrong with someone personally advocating on your behalf. Your skills and your knowledge will then speak for themselves.
  26. Even if you are a diligent employee and have a strong relationship with your employer, at the end of the day, you are replaceable at your job. Your family and your health should come first, and you should never apologize for prioritizing them as such.
  27. No one ever looks back on their life and wishes they had spent more time at work. The most precious and fleeting moments in life occur outside of the workplace.
  28. “What will people say?” has probably killed more dreams than any other sentence.
  29. Poor planning on their part does not constitute an emergency on yours.
  30. If it doesn’t sit well with you, if it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.
  31. Never stop reading. Never stop learning.
  32. I am not a perfect wife, nor do I have a perfect marriage. However, I heard a quote recently that resonated with me. Someone speaking to single people said, “When you are looking for a spouse, you are not competing against other men and women; you are competing against the peace your future spouse feels when they are by themselves.” Subsequently, the one piece of marriage advice I will offer is to not settle for anything less than peace in your relationship.
  33. If you make a mistake that affects your spouse or your child, offer a sincere apology. It’s okay that we have imperfect moments; it’s not okay to ignore that we reacted in a way that hurt others.
  34. Raise the child you have, in all their uniqueness; not the child you thought you would have.
  35. There are no perfect parents. Parents are still working on themselves while simultaneously raising their children. Show yourself grace.
  36. In the same turn, as a parent, never stop working on amending the areas of your life that humbly need improvement. You deserve it, and your children will be blessed by it.
  37. No matter your life circumstances, you can meet the needs that matter most to your children. When I asked my son what he loves most about me as his mom, none of his answers centered around material items or opportunities that required money. Topping his list was that I spend quality time with him and that he feels safe coming to me with questions and concerns.
  38. Every mom operates differently. I often prioritized housework when my son was little (and I still do.) I clean and organize first, then devote time to my family. I am a better mom for it. Do not feel guilty if there are certain chores or tasks you want to accomplish before you can give 100% of your attention to your children.
  39. It’s okay to have hobbies or interests that occasionally pull you away from your children. Growing up, my mom played tennis and took SCUBA diving lessons (which I thought was really cool.) I never felt deprived of her attention because whenever I needed her, she always prioritized time with me.
  40. Teach your children good manners, how to be respectful, how to take turns, and how to apologize. The whole world will thank you for it.
  41. Support your child’s teacher. Keep open communication with them. Believe them when they tell you something about your child that you are not seeing at home. School can bring out different behaviors and personality traits in children. Work together as a team to give your child the best options possible.
  42. Be overly kind to people who work in the service industry. If they are seemingly having a bad day or are not at their top level of professionalism, it could be because they had a tough encounter with a customer before you. Show grace as much as possible; they will appreciate your patience.
  43. Follow traffic safety laws. One poor choice behind the wheel could change the course of your life or the course of another person’s life.
  44. If you see something beautiful in another person, let him or her know. The whole world is aching for kindness right now.

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