Things I Have Learned Since Turning 38!

I turned 38 two Tuesdays ago, and as I get older and wiser, I can only reflect on all my hardships, failures and successes, tears of joy and sorrow, and everything else that may have shaped me into the woman I am becoming. I have learned so much in my lifetime and no longer take for granted the little moments of life that bring me joy, happiness, and peace. 

For the longest time, getting older was a terrifying concept for me. I didn't fully embrace being in my thirties until I turned thirty-five. I was in a constant state of denial. That was only three years ago, and it's so irrational and pathetic of me that I have denied something I had zero control over. There is nothing wrong with being in your 30s. There is nothing wrong with aging. Getting older is a beautiful blessing, even though, at times, it may seem daunting and overwhelming. 

I find it ironic whenever an old photo of me in my twenties pops up on my Facebook memories. I look younger now than I did then. I feel like Kevin from Home Alone when he sees a photo of Buzz's girlfriend. "Woof," I looked like a hot mess, and don't get me started on the early 2000s makeup and fashion trends. Yikes! I thank my good genetics, skincare routine, and the fact that I don't smoke and drink only on special occasions for my ability to age like fine wine. I feel the most beautiful at 38 than I have ever felt in my twenties. 

  • Love yourself, no matter what. There are days when I look in the mirror and hate everything, I see reflected back at me. It took years for me to learn to love myself, embrace the vessel my soul occupies, and cherish it with love, care, and tenderness. Daily affirmations spoken out loud to empower and uplift my soul are a must now. Through affirmations, I have learned to love every physical feature of myself and embrace the best qualities of my character.

  • Write down your feelings. Get them out. Writing, for me, has always been a way to process whatever is going on in my mind. As an overthinker, getting my thoughts out allows me to figure out my emotions and feelings in the moment and helps me not to ruminate on things I am not in control over. Keep a journal, whether a physical copy of one or via your phone notes. Write things down.

  • Sing, even if you don't sound like Ariana Grande. When I have a difficult day, I just put on my Spotify playlist and hit shuffle and sing. There is something about hitting them high notes (even if I sound like trash) and breathing in the air that lifts your mood and makes your soul happy. 

  • Buy yourself the fucking flowers. When I was someone's wife once, my husband never bought me flowers when we were married. So, when I was going through my divorce, I started buying myself flowers weekly. Seeing the pretty blooms lifted my spirits, and I realized you don't need a man to buy you pretty things. Buy them for yourself because you can. 

  • Get out of town and explore a new place in a different city or state. Since separating and getting divorced, I have traveled to more new places than when I was married. I have visited Montana, Houston, Louisiana, Philadelphia, and Chicago. Three of those trips were personal, and two were work-related, but all were eye-opening, new, and fulfilling for me. Now that I am in a relationship with an amazing man, I hope that we can continue to travel to new places and create magical memories together. 

  • Read at least ten pages from a book a day. I used to be an avid reader before becoming a mom. Now that I work full-time and have all my side hustles, finding the time to read is difficult. I started carving out time in my day to read a book. My goal is to read ten pages of a book a day. It sounds like a lot, but it's not. You can read while waiting in the parent pick-up line at your child's school, on your lunch break, and even before bed to limit screentime for yourself.

  • Ground yourself in your element. I have been learning a lot about astrology. My birth chart is dominated heavily by water and earth signs. When life gets too chaotic, I have found that grounding myself around water elements is crucial. I need to hit the coast or lake immediately or go into the woods and hug a tree. 

  • Take lots and lots of pictures. I love looking back at old photos of my children and seeing how much they have changed and grown over the years. I need to do a better job at being in the photos instead of the one taking all the photos. I want my children to be able to look back and have memories with their mom, especially when the time comes, and I am no longer physically on this earth. I started using ChatBooks to print all those photos, and I love that I can add descriptions to capture all the fun. 

  • Say "yes" and step outside of your comfort zone. I have a hard time saying yes to trying something new. I am learning to unlearn old habits and patterns as a trauma response. Say yes to things that make you uncomfortable but give you purpose. It may become a new spark for you. Take those dance class lessons or join an art class or book club. Say yes! 

  • Speak and think positive thoughts. You speak it into existence. I manifested my new career, money, and my romantic partner. Manifestation is real, and for the past 2.5 years, I have focused on speaking and thinking positive thoughts. Ask, and you shall receive. Write your wishes down. Speak well about yourself to boost your confidence. You can manifest your heart's desires. 

  • Home is where the heart is. Whether you live in a house, apartment, duplex, or mobile home, make it yours! Don't let anyone's negative perspective and classism make you feel less or inferior. Furnishing a home and making it warm and cozy to your decorating style is all that matters. If you love it and your family loves it, it's home. 

  • Go on family vacations or go camping! It doesn't cost a lot to go camping once a year. Even though I am not a fan of camping, sometimes you have to set aside your ego to do what the kids want. Last summer, my family went on a camping trip together for the first time. My kids had never been camping, and it was a new experience for all of them. They had so much fun staying up late with their cousins, eating smores around the campfire, and being kids in nature. My goal for next summer is to go camping once or twice before the kids return to school at the end of August. I want to create fun and magical memories for them to look back on. And who knows camping could become a favorite family tradition for us. 

  • Always say thank you. When people compliment me, I say thank you. When going out to eat or to get a coffee, I say thank you to my server or barista. Always show gratitude to everyone. Saying thank you is easy to do, and it is the polite thing to do. 

  • It's okay to set boundaries with people. It took me a while to learn how to set boundaries with others. I have learned to get comfortable telling people no to things that do not serve me. I used to be a people-pleaser and would take on way too much to the point it physically and emotionally drained me both personally and professionally. I have learned that ensuring my cup is full is the most important. You can only fill someone else's cup if yours is full. If you don't like what someone else is doing, tell them. If you don't like how someone is treating you, speak up. If you're overwhelmed at work, and a task is assigned to you that is outside your role, say no, especially if you are not being compensated for the extra work.

  • It's okay not to be okay. Sometimes, we are not okay, and that's an okay space to be in. Focus on self-care and loving yourself when you're in this space mentally and emotionally. Run yourself a warm bath, put bubbles or bath salts in it, and make yourself a cup of hot tea. Take care of yourself first. 

  • No is a full sentence. I learned this from the marvelous Olsen Twins. It doesn't need an explanation. It's quite clear. 

  • Invest in skincare products and start a routine. I regret not taking the best care of my skin in my twenties. I would fall asleep with makeup on and would break out with acne all the time. During the pandemic, I started doing more self-care. Skincare was the primary focus for me and made me feel less stressed during a time when the entire world was in lockdown. I invested in a good cleanser, toner, serums, moisturizer, and eye cream. I did facemasks every other day and noticed a change in my skin. 

  • Be open to transformation. I am a Scorpio Sun with four other Scorpio placements in my birth chart. Since I popped out of the womb, transformation has been a part of my calling card. For those not into astrology, Scorpio is the sign of transformation. Us Scorpios are always transforming, evolving, and changing. We are the most misunderstood sign of the Zodiac. If transformation and change are scary, don't give in to fear. Let it happen. It's supposed to. 

  • Going through a divorce is hard; don't be spiteful to the father of your childrenThey are watching. While going through my divorce, I stayed classy during the entire process. I didn't bash my ex on social media even though I could have. I kept things on the down low, only informing family and a couple of my close friends. I was careful about how I spoke about the kid's father when it was my time with them. I didn't bash him. I was honest with them without damaging their relationship with their father. I know for some that divorces can get ugly, and I didn't want that to happen because it would have been more harmful to our children in the end. Will I get married again? I don't know. I definitely would do things differently the next time around if I did.  

  • Age is just a number. I feel younger and healthier now at a ripening age of 38 than I did in my twenties. Because I eat healthier, take my vitamins, drink water, and workout 3-5 times per week. Don't let society and men tell you are no longer in your prime. You are aging beautifully, and we millennials may struggle more with our mental health, but at least we still look younger than GenZ. 

  • Starting a new relationship is weird. When I was ready to start dating, it was difficult for me. After years of being single for so long, having to meet someone on a dating app was strange and foreign to me. I would download an app, connect with someone, grow bored of them, or see through their bullshit and delete the app without ever exchanging numbers. I matched with my current boyfriend three times over a year (not realizing I was manifesting him). We would match, talk for a few days, and fall off due to our busy lives. Plus, I would only give a man three days to respond to my last text or message. If he didn't, I would delete his number, unmatch him, or delete the app. It was the fourth time we matched that we finally agreed to exchange phone numbers. We hit it off on our first date, obviously, and have been together since. It doesn't mean being in a new romantic relationship is easy. It takes a lot of work and learning to unlearn old habits and heal from previous traumas while getting to know someone else. Communication is important.

  • Dress the way that makes you feel good. Stop worrying about influencers and trends. Dress for you. I feel the most confident in a baggy T-shirt, sweats, and sneaks. I hate getting dressed up, even though I look damn good when I do. I feel trapped when I wear fancy pants or professional attire. Wear whatever the hell you want. Buy clothing you like and not because a celebrity or influencer told you to do it. 

  • Paint your nails or get them done. For the longest time, I stopped getting my nails done or painting my nails. For 2.5 years, I have invested in myself by buying press-on's weekly or painting my nails. I always feel so much more put together, and I love picking out nail colors at the store. One hack I learned for press-on is to buy a really good nail glue. It will last an entire week combined with the nails to have glue on the sticker side of the fake nails. I usually buy them at Walgreens, Target, CVS, and Shein.

  • Do the shadow work. Heal your inner child. I just started doing shadow work within the last month or so. It's not easy at all, but it is worth it. Heal yourself from the traumas you endured growing up. You owe it to yourself. 

  • Craft and get creative! There is just something about crafting and making something special. I have always loved scrapbooking, and even though I use an app to make mine, I love looking back on memories with my children; it still allows me to be creative without making a mess. I also love making handmade ornaments to give as gifts during the holidays. My favorite ones are BIPOC Santa's made out of yarn. I plan on making some for my coworkers this year, and it will be a blog post soon. 

  • Set all your goals—even the small ones and celebrate them. I like to write down all my goals in the notes on my phone and make them into S.M.A.R.T. goals. A goal for me, for example, is to drink at least 4 cups of water daily. If it isn't in front of me, I'm not drinking it. I have to force myself to drink water. All goals, big or small, should be celebrated by you. 

  • Find joy in the little things. As someone who has struggled with anxiety and depression for the last few years, finding joy in anything can be a challenge. Find whatever it is that makes you happy. Some of my favorite sparks of joy are seeing a pretty leaf during autumn that fell from the sky and landed on my shoe—receiving a drawing from one of my children that they did at school. It could be getting your favorite coffee at a cute cafe or taking a photo with your boyfriend. If it makes you joyful, embrace it, even a little. Find joy in all that you do. 

  • Go outside. Be in nature. A change of scenery always helps. Sometimes, a walk will help lift your mood, boost your spirit, and help you forget all the worries in the world. 

  • Allow yourself to be open to love and to be loved. Love is a terrifying thing for me. Allowing myself to let go of all my failures from my failed marriage and be available to a romantic partner was difficult for me. I was afraid of being hurt, and it has been hard not to compare the bad qualities I saw in my ex to my new romantic partner. Letting my guard down was a battle within myself, and coming to terms with it was a challenge. Take things slowly. Set boundaries. And be open with your new partner, especially when it comes to the fears you are having. It might be a difficult conversation, but if they are a good one, they will meet you where you are and be understanding of your feelings. 

  • Don't run from your problems. Face them head-on. Whatever the issue is, figure it out. Solve the problem. Running doesn't do a damn thing in the end. 

  • Think for yourself. Don't let others think for you. You are your person. Do the work. Think for yourself. Do the research, and rely on something other than the media for your daily news. Pick up a book, read various articles from trustworthy sources, and apply that critical theory you learned in college. 

  • Forgive those who have wronged you. Be quick to forgive those who have done something to hurt you, whether intentionally or unintentionally. It will be hard to forgive someone for their wrongdoing, but it's necessary to protect your energy and dismantle any negative energy. 

  • Operate with a mindset that you're always broke. Growing up in generational poverty, I have learned to live within my means even though I am upper middle class now. I set a budget every month and stick to it. It allows me to save for personal vacations, family vacations, birthdays, etc. Money isn't everything. It doesn't bring happiness. 

  • Ride and cries are good for the soul. I learned this from my friend. Just hop in your car and drive somewhere, anywhere, and allow yourself to cry. I learned that holding in the tears solves nothing. Your soul needs emotional release, especially when going through trying times.  

  • Sleep. Your body needs it. You need it. Sleep whenever you have the chance. 

  • Cherish the sibling or friend who always reaches out to you when you are going through it. I tend to isolate and withdraw when I am going through things. I blame this on my childhood trauma wounds. My little sister Sheila always blows up my phone when I vanish into the void. I cherish our 30–45-minute phone calls on Thursdays when we drive home from work. She's also the sister who sends me hilarious reels on Instagram about sisters. My friend from high school has reached out often as well, and I need to do a better job setting a date for us to get coffee ASAP. It's not every day that you have people wanting and trying to connect. 

  • Spoil yourself for once. I am a selfless person when it comes to spoiling myself. As a mom, I always focus on the kids. Last year, the day before Thanksgiving, I highlighted my hair on a whim. Best decision I ever made. I put aside enough money in my self-care envelope to retouch my highlights and get a trim every six months. Figure out how you want to spoil yourself and do it! If it's a spa day, get that massage and facial girl. If it's getting your nails done monthly, do you boo. Do something for yourself. You deserve it.   

  • Motherhood was the best decision I ever made. There are times when my three children drive me insane as a single mom, but I wouldn't change it for the world. Raising tiny humans isn't all warm and fuzzy. It's hard work. There are the easy days and the hard ones. There are moments of joy and utter chaos depending upon the day and the season. As someone who grew up not being raised by my mother, it has been a learning moment. Most days, I feel like I'm failing as a mom, but at least I'm present. I'm here. And I love my children unconditionally. I wouldn't change a thing about deciding to become a mom. They are my pride and joy, even if they drive me crazy sometimes. 

In 38 years, some of the most valuable lessons I've learned are the importance of perseverance, the power of empathy, and the beauty of embracing change. I've also known that material possessions or societal expectations do not always measure success but our impact on the world around us. Life is a journey full of ups and downs, but each experience teaches us something new and helps us grow into our purpose. Here's to another year of getting wiser! 

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I Am Natasha