So what exactly have I learned? Here are the top ten lessons I took away from the past decade:
1. Savor the snuggly times with your child(ren).
The days that your kid(s) want you around are numbered. They pass by so quickly and yet ebb away a drip at a time. Daily cuddles turn into drive-by hugs and then to "don't-touch-me-in-public", but the pulling away process takes place a little bit everyday so it's easy not to notice until it's already happened. As my son rushes past me, barely bussing my cheek as he's off to some very important nine-year-old activity, I feel like David Byrne, "How did I get here?"
2. Love and lasting commitment to your partner have very little to do with each other.
While that oh-so delicious chemical reaction might initially bond us together, romantic love comes and goes like the tides. During a low point, you'd better have a boardwalk built of friendship, loyalty, sexual intimacy (see lesson #8) and true grit to stand upon until the flood of emotion returns.
3. Nothing tastes as good as being healthy feels.
Having struggled with my weight my entire life, I gave up the good fight somewhere around thirty-five. I spent four years lugging around an extra fifty pounds. Not only did it take its toll physically, but also mentally. I stopped seeing myself as a beautiful and therefore stopped loving myself and therefore continued to poison my body with sugar and grease. Now that I've reset my fitness habits and made friends with fruits, vegetables and exercise, I don't ever want to let go of how fantastic I feel.
4. When it comes to friendship, it's quality, not quantity.
It seemed like in my twenties, almost everyone I met was awarded the title of friend. Eventually the people who weren't worth my time fell away and I'm left with a small group of cherished friends. How to tell the difference? A friend will help you move...a good friend will help you move a dead body. And I know who my partners in crime really are.
5. Success is a marathon, not a sprint.
I may not be a bestselling author yet, but every year I achieve something more that gets me closer. Which brings me to my next point...
6. "Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard."
Not sure whether to attribute this quote to Kevin Durant or his trainer Taras Brown. Regardless of who said it, it's so very true. All my life, teachers, professors and bosses lauded my writing ability. It wasn't until I developed the self-discipline to work at it every day and the humility to take advice from others that my words really began to blossom on the page.
7. The root of all suffering really is desire.
I learned this in a world religion class in college and it's taken another twenty years for me to comprehend it fully. Wanting what I cannot have only leads to dissatisfaction. I've finally learned to be happy with myself and my life right now, right here, in this very moment.
It's super-important to a healthy relationship. Even if you and your partner aren't getting anything else right, you can weather months of relationship disconnects with just some down and dirty lovin'. Yes, intimacy is nice, too, but there's nothing to put a smile on one's face and a song in one's heart like a session of bumping uglies. Make time for it: quickies, longies, nooners, late night sleepy sex, sixty-eight and I'll owe you one...it's all good and it's one of the ties that binds.
9. Worrying is a complete and total waste of time.
To paraphrase Deepak Chopra, when one contemplates the vastness of the cosmos and the grandness of the universe, we humans really do worry about the most banal things so I've given up worrying...at least, I'm trying to. For me and my type A personality that's no small feat.
10. "The best laid schemes of mice and men/Go often awry," Robert Burns (or "The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men/Gang aft agley." for you purists out there).
Truer words were never penned. You can make all the plans you want, but life is a roller coaster ride and you never see the big dips coming. So throw your hands and the air and scream like you just don't care.
To quote my son when we visited LEGOLAND this summer: "Aaagggghhhh!"