Right before I got married, my Father's Day present to my dad was a list: "25 Things I've Learned in 25 Years of Being a McAnnally." It was my last Father's Day as "MCM" rather than "MCMS," and I thought it would be neat to try and list that chapter of life in the form of lessons I'd learned from my dad.
Here at 27, fresh off an absolutely delightful birthday, I thought I might catalog some new lessons from a year living in a different house.
Also, here's a picture of a little rat trying to sneak some of my Veuve while I was attempting to get a pretty picture of all my birthday trappings:
So here are the lessons I've learned up to this point. The "you" here is directed at me, not...YOU...you know what I mean. So "Call your grandparents" is "call MY grandparents." I wouldn't dream of telling you what to do with your grandparents.
(But you should call them if you can.)
- Take the blame, share the credit. This is, admittedly, a "Sid" (my dad) lesson. The best leaders I know are those who fall on their sword when something goes wrong, and laud their team when something goes right.
- Make a list of clothing items you need, buy them, tailor them, and wear them for years. This also applies to pajamas. Get great, cute pajamas. They help you feel adorable when you accidentally sleep in your eyeliner and look like a troll from under the bridge when you wake up.
- When you're 75% sure about a decision, go ahead and pull the trigger. The other 35% will work itself out. Also, math is not as important as reading.
- Don't do that "typical girl thing" and deflect compliments. Be gracious and say how much you appreciate the compliment and how kind it was of that person to offer it. That's what adults do.
- Meal plan. It saves money, causes me to shop more intentionally, eat healthier foods, and incorporate variety.
- Eat ALL the things. On a totally different note from number 6, when it's time to go for it, GO FOR IT. Don't hold back on eating and loving food. Which is why I spent a considerable portion of my birthday (AKA "cheat day") eating exclusively truffles and drinking champagne.
- Call your friends. I have been dealt an incredibly rich hand of smart, kind, steadfast people. It's not hard to stay in touch, but it is so easy to lose touch.
- Close the computer and put down your phone.
- Don't stare at people who are doing something illegal. Jordan actually made me put this one in here, because I have a habit of staring people down who are
- In a fist fight
- Men yelling at women in a parking lot
- ...pretty much anything of which I disapprove. He jokingly calls me "Justice Mary," because I think I can solve the world's problems by shaming people into doing a better job. Doesn't work like that, apparently. But I can't help it. Sorry, Jord.
- Marry someone who is awesome, because marriage is forever, and marriage is work. Life is so, so good when you're married to your best friend. #cheesy #canthelpit
- Stop talking about your weight. It doesn't matter unless you feel truly unhealthy. Also, it encourages everyone else to think about their own weight, which no one wants to do. No one cares to hear about it. Harsh, but true.
- Continue to journal your dreams because they are weird and occasionally prophetic. And when they're not prophetic, they are SO. FREAKING. WEIRD. I once dreamed I was going to visit a friend on an island using a meat tenderizer as a jet pack.
- Read as much as you can. I used to be a voracious reader and have fallen off the wagon a bit here in Generation Netflix. I'm back on the wagon now, because all the smartest people I know always have their nose in a book.
- The quality TV you watch should outweigh the garbage TV 4:1. I'm guilty of indulging in the Real Housewives franchise and The Bachelor, but it has to be balanced with Mad Men and 30 Rock and Breaking Bad.
- Stop being surprised by people's habits or by circumstances that regularly occur. Being surprised by something that's regular means you're a dummy. Find a way to love those things instead.
- Wear hats, wear sunglasses, wear sunscreen, wear a damn handkerchief over your face if you have to. That skin won't be young forever and this body wasn't built for a tan, bless its heart.
- Empathy, always, forever. There is no limit to what an open, willing heart can understand, and how much of someone else's burden we can shoulder if we practice (because it is hard and it takes practice) the magical power of EMPATHY.
- Remember birthdays, send thank you notes, and return phone calls.
- Make sure you've gotten all the groceries out of the car before going inside. This would've helped me avoid the great Rotten Pizza Debacle of 2015.
- Play board games. It's a screen-free way to create memories with the people you love. Jordan and I play at least a game of cards almost every night.
- Be unrelentingly positive as often as you can. Embracing sadness is really important, but dwelling on a problem gets dangerous. I read a quote once - "If the words you spoke showed up on your skin, how pretty would you be?" This goes for complaining, antagonizing, or putting others down.
- Call your grandparents. Blessings upon blessings that ALL of my grandparents are living and healthy. Calling them is the best. I need to do it even more.
- You can't be rational with people who are being irrational. So either wait it out or move on.
- You either get to be a control freak about chores, or you can have help with chores. You do not get both. Otherwise known as the "Stop Being such a Pain in the Ass" rule.
- Carve out some time every day for prayer or meditation. Even if it's just a walk around the block. Do it.
- Don't break promises or flake. If you commit to something, do it. And it's probably best not to even talk about things that are on the horizon until you're positively sure about them.
- Be humble and open enough to learn something from everyone around you. Because these are only 27 lessons. And there are about a million more to learn.