35 things I’ve learned in 35 years (+ a Fancy Birthday Cake)

3 Layer Coconut Almond Birthday Cake with Mango CurdMy birthday was a couple of weeks ago during the middle of exams, so a formal celebration was put on hold. It was a bit of a bummer the day of, but since I believe whole-heartedly that birthday celebrations should last a week, I took it as an obvious excuse to extend the festivities. True to this practice, I’ve been having little celebrations with friends and family over the week since exams have finished. One of these celebrations included a fancy cake that I made–a real cake with sugar and whipped cream, and three (GF) layers! I’m no baker, but this was a seriously fun project to take on and to, of course, eat afterward.

So guys, I’m 35! Can you believe it? It turns out I’ve spent this many years of my life making mistakes and getting into accidents, experiencing great joys and huge successes, acting a total fool, and seeing through some pretty big accomplishments. I still have a lot to learn. Trust me. But I humbly offer you a list of things that I have learned and am continuing to learn in my life thus far. 3 Layer Coconut Almond Birthday Cake with Mango Curd3 Layer Coconut Almond Birthday Cake with Mango Curd

  1. On your birthday thank your mom for being born. I learned this years ago from a guy named Mike. Your birthday is probably way more special to her than it is to you, so thank her. You’ll probably make her day.
  2. Find the clothes that look good on your body and then rock them. It doesn’t need to be what everybody else is wearing. It can’t be.
  3. Don’t be texting when you’re hanging out with other people. Unless there’s a legit reason to do so, it’s just rude.
  4. Eat vegetables. Lots of them. Every day.
  5. Sometimes a good cry, a hot bath, and a dirty gin martini is all you need.
  6. You can do anything that you want to. Just try it. And then practice. A lot. I am proof of this in so many ways.
  7. Love is important. But only when you love yourself first will the love of somebody else feel true.
  8. If you don’t have your health, everything else is hard. So prioritize the things that support your health: exercise, good food, sleep, water, laughter, etc. Refer to number 4.
  9. Get into your kitchen and learn how to make a few good dishes really well. Use real, whole foods. No packages allowed.
  10. Cultivate gratitude right now… not when you lose weight, buy the house, finish your degree, get married, etc. If you don’t stop to take it in now, your life will slip away while you’re waiting for that thing to happen.
  11. Dessert is part of living life. Live life. Eat dessert if you want to.
  12. Learn how to listen when people talk to you. I mean really listen.
  13. Invest in friendships. Make time, remember important details, and be there for the people you care about. The return on this type of investment is bigger than you can imagine.
  14. Making racist, sexist, homophobic, classist, ableist, etc. remarks, slurs, or jokes is not cool. Ever. That’s not the kind of person you want to be. Right?
  15. Looking like you took some time to pull it all together never hurt anyone. Take a little time to wash your face, comb your hair, and put on some lip-gloss (if that’s your thing)… and then work it. But don’t spend too much time doing these things. For one, you don’t have time for that. You’re busy and important and you need to be out changing the world.  But you also don’t want to look like (or be) the person who spent 2 hours putting on her make-up. Right?
  16. Move your body every day. Even if it’s only for a few minutes.
  17. Remember that “comparison is the thief of joy” – Theodore Roosevelt.
  18. Be a feminist and be proud of it. Being a feminist means that you live your life in a way that works toward ending inequality, you challenge systems and ideas that reproduce these inequalities, and are committed to individual choice and self-determination. Being a feminist means that you truly value diversity.
  19. Question the status quo. Without questioning and challenge there would never be progress.
  20. No matter how much you swore it wouldn’t happen, you still might end up having a purse like your mom. You know, the one that’s filled with everything but the kitchen sink. It’s ok. Just go with it.
  21. Lay the intentional groundwork for your future. Even if you don’t know what you want to do or be when you “grow up.” Start planting seeds in areas that you’re interested in. Those seeds all add up to become a garden eventually. And sure, some will wither away, but others will grow into full blooms.
  22. Eat vegetables. Lots of them. Every day. This one is totally worth repeating.
  23. It’s important to set boundaries.  Even with (especially with?) your own dang self!
  24. Read more often. Pick up a book, even it it’s just a little more often than you do now.
  25. Eat locally when possible and support sustainable agriculture. Our land will only be good to us as long as we’re good to it. And while you’re at it, remember that farmers feed people. So when you’re buying up all those veggies that you’re going to start eating, remember where they came from.
  26. Develop compassion for yourself. When you do that, compassion for others flows freely.
  27. Have fun more often than you do right now.
  28. But also, be serious and do meaningful things that will make the world, and your life, better. #80twenty
  29. While you’re at it, try not to take yourself too seriously. We are funny people and laughing at ourselves more often is necessary.
  30. When someone is making a toast, make sure you “cheers” everybody at the table. Don’t miss a glass! The story goes that if you miss someone, it leads to 7 years of bad sex. Now, you may not be superstitious, but all I have to say is, do you really want to risk it?!
  31. Laughter is truly the best medicine.
  32. Connect with nature on a regular basis. Nature heals. Leave your house, your stuffy workplace or school and feel the ground under your feet, the wind in your hair, the rain on your face, or whatever it is that makes you feel grounded.
  33. Your parents were right. Your body changes as you get older in ways that you you have no control over. Celebrate your body now for the gifts that it gives you and know that getting older brings a different, still beautiful body, along with more confidence and wisdom.
  34. Own your mistakes. When you eff-up, the only right thing to do is to be honest about it and sincerely apologize.
  35. Red wine and chocolate on a Friday night is always a good idea. Or if you’re feeling ambitious, this cake.3 Layer Coconut Almond Birthday Cake with Mango Curd3 Layer Coconut Almond Birthday Cake with Mango Curd

Recipes
Gluten-Free Coconut Layer Cake (recipe here)
Coconut Chantilly Frosting (recipe here). *I used half the recipe, but kept the full 4 tsp of coconut extract.

Mango “Curd”
// Ingredients //
2 ripe magoes, roughly chopped
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp chia seeds
Juice of ¼ of a lemon
Pinch of salt

Blend all ingredients in a high-powered blender until smooth. Put all ingredients in the fridge to chill. There will be extra curd left over. I recommend topping yogurt or toast with it, or eating it straight-up.

Make the cake, as directed. Once cooled, spread a generous layer of both mango curd and coconut chantilly frosting on each layer. Sandwich the layers together and finish with a final coating of frosting. The cake is best eaten one day later when the flavours have had a chance to meld.

 

 

 

14 Comments

  • Reply May 13, 2013

    Lorena

    Beautiful sentiments – and all things that ring true to me. Funny how the best teacher is experience. Happy Belated Birthday!

    • Reply May 14, 2013

      Kris

      Experience is the best teacher! That should be on my list, Lorena. :)

  • Reply May 13, 2013

    Gabrielle Donnelly

    I loved this list, Kris. Captures your wisdom, playfulness and ability to indulge in good things. Cheers to you on your 35th!

    • Reply May 14, 2013

      Kris

      Thanks, Gabrielle. Sending you lots of goodness too.

  • Reply May 13, 2013

    Isabelle @ Crumb

    A very happy belated birthday to you. I can’t begin to say how much I love this list… I hope I can turn 35 with the same grace and wisdom next month (and perhaps with an awesome cake, too, assuming I can fit in the time to bake one). :)

    • Reply May 14, 2013

      Kris

      Oh, thanks Isabelle! I’m so happy to hear that you loved it. Made my day!

  • Reply May 14, 2013

    Mallory

    A very happy birthday to you! I absolutely loved reading your list – each point is oh so true and spot on! Cheers to you and may this year be the best yet!

    • Reply May 14, 2013

      Kris

      Thanks, Mallory! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. It makes me so happy to hear that. :)

  • Reply May 14, 2013

    Talia Marcheggiani

    I love this post! Beautiful words of wisdom! Happy Birthday!

  • Reply May 14, 2013

    Winnie

    You are brilliant and this cake looks awesome. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

  • [...] of your worth will matter in the least if you don’t believe it yourself. (A lot like #7.)Good friends believe in you so profoundly, that it becomes easier to believe in [...]

  • Reply May 30, 2013

    Sara @ sarasmiles

    Loved reading this. I turn 28 in a few days, and while I feel I’ve come far from my early 20s, I know I still have a ways to go and grow. I need all the words of wisdom I can get!

    • Reply June 6, 2013

      Kris

      Sara, thanks so much for the comment and happy birthday to you (now belated, I’m sure!). Trust your heart. Your wisdom is right in there.

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