this much i know: life lessons for a 41st birthday



So I had a birthday. I turned 41.

You know those lists of lessons some bloggers will do to commemorate such an occasion? I thought I’d take a crack at it. I give you tidbits I have gleaned from my time on this planet. I’m not saying they are particularly original, pithy or wise. But hey. They’re what I know.

turning 40
1. If you don’t have any sense of humor whatsoever, there’s probably no hope for you.

2. Self-esteem comes hand in hand with self-discovery.

3. You don’t know who you are until you know what you can do.
(Thank you Sir Ken Robinson.)

4. If you can’t change the situation, you should maybe change yourself.

5. Sometimes the only thing you can do with the house that Jack built is to burn it down and build your own. click to tweet

6. Inspiration requires the ability to shift perspective and see things from different vantage points.

7. We find what we look for. So be careful what you look for.

8. If it’s unusable, untimely, hypothetical or distracting, it is too much information and you should preserve that mental bandwidth for something else. (Thank you Shawn Anchor.)

9. Sunscreen is key.

10. Broccili tastes better with a little bit of lemon juice on it.

11. It’s possible to change other people, but only through creating a shared and positive reality that encourages them to flourish.

12. It’s not about the power of control. It’s about the power to inspire.

13. Information now belongs to the people. But the future belongs to those who provide insight, context and meaning. click to tweet

14. Rabbit fur sheds like a mofo.

15. You can remove a red wine stain by applying white wine to it, blotting it, then treating it with the carpet or fabric cleaner of your choice.

16. A successful relationship is one that gives both people room to flourish.

17. The decisions we make out of fear are usually the decisions we regret.

18. When you’re frustrated by a problem that involves complex thinking, you need to turn it over to your subconscious by thinking about something else.

19. A soulmate is a person who forces you to stretch and grow. This could be a romantic partner, a child, a close friend – or an adversary.

20. One of the first steps to taking back your power is to stop seeing yourself through the eyes of any person or group who treats you as less-than.

21. The same originality that caused kids to pick on you when you were a youngster, serves to your advantage when you’re an adult.

22. Being in crisis sucks, but it also gives you a valuable opportunity to reshape your life, in a way you never would have done when you were in your normal zone.

23. Whatever you want to grow in your life: identify it, put more of your attention on it, and find some way to log and measure whatever actions lead to more of it.

24. Less is more. But every once in a while, more is more.

25. If it hurts inside, if you are crying too much or too often? It isn’t love, no matter what your partner tells you.

26. Things that money can’t buy: Purpose. Empathy. Intimacy. Personal integrity.
Self-knowledge. Self-esteem. Gut instincts. Curiosity. Warmth. Taste. Mastery. Respect. Joie de vivre. Sexual, emotional and intellectual chemistry. Charisma. Compassion. Talent. Balls. Ladyballs. Vision. A great work ethic. Happiness. Love. Someone to do cardio for you.

27. Our bodies and minds, our bodyminds, were evolved to walk twenty miles a day across the savannahs. There’s a connection between heart health and brain health. Regular exercise lowers both the rate of cognitive decline and your chances of getting Alzheimer’s.

28. Two of the best things you can do to keep your brain sharp and fit as you get older: 1) Learn to read and play music. 2) Learn a new language.

29. When you think of the qualities you want in a life partner, make sure you put “supportive” very high on the list, especially if you’re a woman with creative or professional ambitions.

30. If you don’t want to get burdened with the lion’s share of housework and childcare, make sure your income is, and stays, equal to or higher than the income of your partner.

31. When someone calls you selfish, it’s often because you’re inconveniencing them in some way or refusing to fall along with their agenda. If maintaining healthy boundaries, honoring deep-seated needs and yearnings and looking out for your own interests makes you “selfish”, it might be time to rethink the word and the impact it has on you.

32. With certain kinds of people, it’s not a communication problem, it’s a personality problem (and they will only use “communication” to spin you deeper into their web). The best way to deal with them is to refuse to deal with them.

33. It is never too late to reinvent yourself, which is about becoming more of who you already are.

34. If you want to feel good about yourself and your life, setting an authentic and meaningful goal, and making steady progress toward it, beats a new pair of shoes any day of the week…

35. …although gorgeous footwear is still pretty awesome.

36. Pathfinders and visionaries are the explorers of culture: they go over the line, and down all the wrong roads, to bring back their hardwon wisdom for the rest of us. If you recognize yourself as one of them, wear your scars with pride, and don’t beat yourself up for your fuckups. They are the price of an interesting life.

life lessons

Sep 14, 2013

24 comments · Add Yours

Happy b-day to one of the most beautiful, intelligent women I “know”.


thank you Jeff! xo


Anything is possible with a good selection of exotic spices, a view of the open sky, and a dirty guitar riff. Happy birthday Justine! As always, your words are delicious.


My 31st birthday is coming up later this month. I think I’ll make my own 31st list, thank you for the inspiration Justine!


I wish I knew half as much as you do.
The one about sunscreen is awesome…it’s not really about sunscreen, is it? I’ll put it on nonetheless…


That’s a great list.


Your list is as amazing as you are. You are one of the sexy, smart and strong women I admire. Happy birthday and wishing you more life enhancing lessons in the coming years.


Thank you for your thoughts, Justine. They are truly inspiring.
Only it´s a pity that some of them are sometimes so difficult to apply….
( well, apart from the 10th :-)
That´s why I miss a 37th on the list, in which you suggest how to deal with the unexpected and unwanted….
Any idea ?

Have a wonderful day !


Happy Birthday Justine! And absolutely love this list. #31 is a big fav!! XO


Happy b-day, Justine. You’ve smacked truth hard here with a soft touch. What a bummer about the cardio thing — truth sweats. Great list, great lady, and keep those b-days coming.


No melted ice cream
Happy 41st


Happy Birthday! And many many more!


thank you everybody!

41 feels good so far. :)


Gotta lighten up coz it’s just another day that the calendar flicked her fanny


@Anon Thanks, dude, but I’m good. (Hell, I’m great.)


You’re not just good. You’re better than the trees


Happy belated Birthday! Wishing you the best personal new year and lost of great new books!


Happy Birthday, Justine! Thanks for sharing that list… where’s 37-41? :D Only because you’re one of the strong women I admire, want to get the most out of you. Hope you had a great one :)


Happy Birthday, Justine!!

You look like in wonderful physical shape!!


“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”

by Henry Ford

Hence, you’re very young!!

All the very best!



May the candles on your cake burn like cities in your wake!

Happy Birthday, Justine! May all your birthdays (and anniversaries and just plain days) bring you enlightenment and joy!


Happy belated birthday! You are a very intelligent woman! Love to read your blog!


As a young woman who is struggling with many of the things you put on this list, this was inspiring and resonant. My partner is an entrepreneur and although I admire and love him very much, I sometimes feel as though I’m an appendage in his life, and that the qualities that I have to offer are insufficient and not valuable. Thank you for the reminder to stay true to yourself and for the insightful, authentic writing you contribute to the world.


Hi Justine,

I love Reading your content btw. How do I stay Focused on building a business while being in a relationship with someone who I believe I love. The girl I am seeing attends Queens College with me and at times i feel distracted because i worry of the future or perhaps failure of the relationship. At times i think the failure of the relationship will skyrocket me to the top, but in most cases i feel like it will keep me depressed. I want a woman who will support my dreams as i am climbing up the start up ladder.

Thank you So much


Thank you so much for your words!
Were you born on Sep 14th 1972?
HAPPY birthDAY!!!
Also, I’m curious to know what are your favorite books!
All the best!


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