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  • 50 Things In 50 Years

    February 3, 2010

    I turned 50 a while back. Or maybe I’m going to be 50 soon. I forget which. I like to be coy. Nonetheless, I jotted down a random list of 50 things I’ve learned or observed in 50 years. These things may not be universally true, but they are true for me.

    * * * * *

    1. If you want to be really really good at something, you will probably have to forsake something else in your life. The pursuit of excellence in any given field is not conducive to moderation or balance.  Either balance is overrated or excellence is — I’m not sure which, but you can’t really have both.

    2. Being average is not a bad thing – there’s a lot of good company in the middle of the pack.

    3. In most matters, done is better than perfect. But done right is better than done fast, except for housework.  Then good enough is good enough.

    4. Never say “It can’t get worse.” It can get worse. It can definitely get worse.

    5. It’s better to be content than rich. Riches are easier to come by than contentment.

    6. You can disagree with someone and still like them.

    7. You can dislike someone and still be kind to them.

    8. Education is as much about enlightenment as employment. Education is never a waste.

    9. You’ll never know how much your parents love you until you have your own child.

    10. You’ll never know how much you hurt your parents until you have your own child.

    11. No one will remember what shoes or earrings you wore to the party.

    12. Getting drunk is extremely uncool.  Always has been.

    13. Honor your father and mother so that it might go well with you.

    14. There are three things you can do to make your life very very difficult – making babies too young and without commitment, using drugs, and getting involved in credit card debt. I only know of one first hand; the other two I managed to avoid by the grace of God.

    15. Teachers and nurses are two of the few vocations where you can really make a difference in the life of another human being. The rest of us are just pushing paper.

    16. Maintaining flexibility is the key to aging well. Stretch your mind and body a little each day.

    17. Life is a series of peaks and valleys. Like the weather, it’s always about to change.

    18. Nothing in the mall will make you happy. For very long.

    19. We can’t all be leaders.

    20. If you can’t be a good leader, be a good follower.

    21. Make sure the person you are following is taking you where you want to go.

    22. Nothing good comes of a secret.

    23. On the other hand, every thought does not need to be expressed.

    24. Anger poisons the soul. A grudge prisons the soul. Forgiveness purifies the soul. Forgive with haste.

    25. When you win an argument, you really lose.

    26. Concede whenever you can.

    27. Career is a fancy name for a job.

    28. No matter how bad you think you look right now, 10 years from now you will wish you looked as good.

    29. The only thing that makes me smarter than when I was 20 is that now I have an awareness of how little I really know.

    30. Whatever stylish thing you are wearing right now will look ridiculous in 10 years.

    31. Encourage more, criticize less.

    32. Use the guest towels.

    33. Television is anesthesia. Watch as little as possible.

    34. Life is short. But it could also be long – start saving when you are young.

    35. Quality Time is a big fat modern lie when it comes to your kid. Go for Quantity Time.

    36. Life is too short to spend time trying to get curly hair be straight or straight hair to be curly. Find a hairstyle that suits your hair.

    37. The only way to lose weight is to eat less and move more.

    38. Fashion magazines are designed to make you feel badly about yourself. Save your money.

    39. Speak less, listen more.

    40. Every day, no matter how cruddy, is a great day to be alive.

    41. Smoking is ugly, smelly, stupid and looks silly. Don’t smoke.

    42. Anyone who says they have no regrets is lying. We’ve all done and said regrettable things.

    43. If you haven’t done anything regrettable, you haven’t lived. Or at least not long enough.

    44. The perfect purse is worth every penny.

    45. Grocery store make up is just as good as department store make up, but if paying 3x as much makes you feel better, that probably makes it worth it.

    46. Say please and thank you to everyone, but especially to those who do the cruddy stuff no one else wants to do. Your kids are watching.

    47. Be quick to tell your kid you are sorry when (not if) you mess up. That in and of itself is a teaching moment.

    48. Don’t underestimate the power of silence to make a point.

    49. Let your children (and those you love) know every day that you delight in them, that they are a source of joy in your life; that you are glad they were born.

    50. The person who most needs your kindness is likely the last person to whom you want to be kind.

    80 Comments »

    1. Mary says:

      Well said, thank you.

      February 3rd, 2010 at 9:17 am

    2. pj says:

      enjoyed reading these! because I finally figured out number 37, I was able to defy number 28…or at least I like to think so.

      February 3rd, 2010 at 9:25 am

    3. Pat says:

      Wise observations. Thanks.

      February 3rd, 2010 at 9:29 am

    4. Allison says:

      very good list, I like the deep thought provoking ones.
      in reference to #20 I recently heard a quote The went something like “Bitterness is drinking poison and expecting someone else to die”
      Anger and bitterness primarily destroy only the person who sucumbs to it. But it has detrimental effects on those around you as well. It’s such a subtle sneaky thing….

      February 3rd, 2010 at 9:36 am

    5. Bitsy says:

      I just love your blog. Great wisdom!

      February 3rd, 2010 at 9:46 am

    6. Lucy says:

      I really like this post. Really!

      February 3rd, 2010 at 10:15 am

    7. heidig says:

      Amen!

      February 3rd, 2010 at 10:15 am

    8. The Cotton Wife says:

      Perfect!

      February 3rd, 2010 at 10:32 am

    9. michaelsownmom says:

      Wonderful and wise. I share a lot of the same observations.

      February 3rd, 2010 at 10:34 am

    10. cindykay says:

      Thanks for the list. There are a couple of items I’m going to copy and paste where I can see them often!

      I would add to #15: wife, mother, as two more vocations that directly impact other people. (if vocation is more than just a career, but a calling)

      February 3rd, 2010 at 10:40 am

    11. Amy says:

      I love this. Thanks for sharing.

      February 3rd, 2010 at 10:43 am

    12. Robinznest says:

      I think I shall cut this out. It is “magnet on the refrigerator” worthy.

      February 3rd, 2010 at 10:46 am

    13. Annie says:

      Oh, AM what a great list. Thanks for #8. With a Masters in Engineering and having decided to stay home with my baby full time, I have at times the briefest pangs if education was a waste.

      And I totally agree with #35. I have always thought that as well. What if I try telling that at my job? Kids need both.

      February 3rd, 2010 at 10:50 am

    14. Amy says:

      What an amazing list. Thanks so much!!

      February 3rd, 2010 at 11:44 am

    15. K says:

      Great bits of wisdom, thanks for sharing.

      February 3rd, 2010 at 11:57 am

    16. edj says:

      v nice! Except that I’m wearing a scoopneck black longsleeve tshirt that would have looked fine at any moment for the last 20 years…I’m betting it would still look okay in 2020. Maybe not though 😉

      February 3rd, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    17. Shelly W. says:

      What a wonderful list–you are a very wise woman. I especially like #1–I have found this to be true as a parent. If I want to be excellent, something else is going to have to give (usually friends or work). And the one about quality time vs. quantity time. YES!!!

      I am so glad to call you friend. And I am so glad you were born.

      February 3rd, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    18. Quinn cummings says:

      This is glorious. Well done.

      February 3rd, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    19. Quirky says:

      Fabulous list. You actually got an “amen!” out of me on a couple of them.

      Oh, and 18, 19, and 20? Extra extra true. I was just talking about this very point the other day. Our country puts such an emphasis on leadership, but what good is being a leader if no one is willing to follow? I say we need to teach better following skills.

      February 3rd, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    20. LL says:

      I love your list. It was very thought provoking. #50 was a great reminder…one that i needed to see today!

      February 3rd, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    21. Kelly @ Love Well says:

      The Proverbs of AM.

      I see a book deal….

      February 3rd, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    22. jean says:

      This is a great list. Number 4 has proven true once too many times for me.

      February 3rd, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    23. Iota says:

      How does #44 tie up with #18?

      I’m only joking…

      February 3rd, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    24. meghan @ spicy magnolia says:

      AM, this is great. I read the post this morning and have been pondering #1 all day, along with #35. You should keep adding to the list…I like your perspective on things a lot.

      February 3rd, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    25. Julie at Elisharose says:

      Amen and amen.

      February 3rd, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    26. Nelson's Mama says:

      A great list…

      February 3rd, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    27. Gillian says:

      Thank you for sharing such a great list. Most I nodded at. Some stung a little, but then I’m not perfect. Things to work on perhaps 🙂

      February 3rd, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    28. mythoughtsonthat says:

      I really loved this.

      And thanks for #15- I am a teacher.

      Peace.

      February 3rd, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    29. Leslie Maddox says:

      I’m finding number 9 to be so true. Since having Michael, I go out of my way more to spend time with my mother. I hope that Michael does the same for me one day.

      February 3rd, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    30. Susan says:

      Excellent. You are a wise woman my friend.

      February 3rd, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    31. Sharon says:

      So true…all so true. Thanks for sharing.

      February 3rd, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    32. The G-Ma says:

      Ms. Mommy, you are an old soul, wise and tempered. Congratulations on attaining your half-century mark. It is to be celebrated as a grand and noble accomplishment.

      Motherhood is the school from which you never graduate. It’s hard and dirty and when you cheat, they lose. It’s also glorious and incomprehensibly satisfying. Grandmothers, like me, are Mommies Emeritus. That’s good too, and easier.

      Your list is lovely and intuitively true and insightful. I wish I had written it.

      Birthday blessings.

      February 3rd, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    33. Roxanne says:

      Loved it. . .and thanks for the nod to teachers. I didn’t feel like I made much of a difference today. . .or at least a very GOOD difference, but I showed up and did my job. Which, coincidentally, ticked off a lot of kids who’d rather NOT be learning. 🙂

      February 3rd, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    34. Christy Cate says:

      …and then there was #50. Ouch! My toes are hurting! 🙂

      February 3rd, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    35. Tonggu Momma says:

      I sense a book of proverbs in the making… although, as to #30: stylish? I’m supposed to be stylish? Do a ratty teal sweatshirt and black yoga pants count?

      February 3rd, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    36. Jill says:

      What wonderful words of wisdom. I think I need this list posted on my bathroom mirror!

      February 3rd, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    37. Diane Jennings says:

      There is much wisdom here, Tina. This is the best post I’ve read in ages.

      February 3rd, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    38. Kat says:

      Brilliant!

      Hugs!
      Kat

      February 4th, 2010 at 5:27 am

    39. Brigitte says:

      Too many are so, so true. Though I don’t believe I’ve worn anything that would qualify as “stylish” for at least 15 years. 😉

      I especially like the QUANTITY time, you don’t get to go back and spend that time with your child later, it’s just gone. Enjoy them now (while they still enjoy you, hee).

      February 4th, 2010 at 6:37 am

    40. Michelle says:

      Wise words as always. Congratulations on
      turning 50, I hope it’s a terrific year
      for you.

      February 4th, 2010 at 7:29 am

    41. zoom says:

      I, too, will turn 50 next month. Your list was spot on.

      February 4th, 2010 at 9:11 am

    42. renee says:

      50 beautiful bits of wisdom in one post…I’m blessed to have read it 🙂

      February 4th, 2010 at 9:37 am

    43. Gina says:

      Great list! Thankfully, I’m turning 40 soon and I think I have a handle on most of it. Or some. Or…well..

      February 4th, 2010 at 9:41 am

    44. Jackie says:

      I love to read your blog. You are smart,witty and observant. I hope you had a happy birthday. You do not look 50 in the least. Thank you for the list it is good advise.

      February 4th, 2010 at 10:22 am

    45. Astaryth says:

      Nice List…. I turn 50 this year. Le Sigh!

      February 4th, 2010 at 10:46 am

    46. Denise says:

      I will have to come back to read more. I can’t get my brain past #1. “Either balance is overrated or excellence is — I’m not sure which, but you can’t really have both.” I’ll be thinking about that one all day.

      February 4th, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    47. tom says:

      Wonderful words to live by. I can relate to most of them. The purse thing, not so much.

      February 4th, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    48. Laura says:

      Great post. I’m going to print it out and share it here at the office.
      Thanks

      February 4th, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    49. Jeanne says:

      I share most of your observations, but I would never have been able to express them as well. I just love your blog!

      February 4th, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    50. Faerylandmom says:

      I am right smack in the middle of learning all these lessons, AM. Thank you!

      February 4th, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    51. Elicia says:

      50 comments is the perfect number for this post, so i hesitate to add to the count…

      but thank you for sharing this! i am only 15. i am still learning. but maybe i can learn some things by the wisdom of others instead of going my own way and then learning the hard lessons.

      * * *
      Just the fact that that thought occured to you tells me that you are mature young lady and ahead of most your age. Remember #14 and you won’t get too far off track. = )

      February 4th, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    52. Kathy Vaughan says:

      I’m with you almost all the way. #44 doesn’t ring any bells with me, but then maybe I haven’t found the perfect purse yet! As far as #29, I think one way in which I am smarter than I was at age 20 is that I am far less judgmental than I was then, when I had most of the answers. There is a world of truth in #1, and I believe that excellence is worth pursuing at the risk of balance.

      What an insightful, inspiring list! Once again, your gift of words is just that – a gift, to the rest of us! Thanks for sharing with US, in honor of YOUR birthday!

      February 4th, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    53. Roxanne says:

      Had to read it again. 🙂

      February 4th, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    54. momof8 says:

      Impressive list. I like it. I thought maybe you would get exactly 50 comments!

      February 4th, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    55. Marie says:

      You. Are a very smart woman.

      Hugs,
      Marie

      February 4th, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    56. Meg...CT says:

      Words to live by..

      February 5th, 2010 at 6:59 am

    57. rrmama says:

      Oh AM I have to agree with you on all of these things. Right now I needed to read this more than you!! Thank you thank you thank you! Sorry I have been absent from here too. I miss it so much!

      February 5th, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    58. Minnesotamom says:

      #1 and #2 could have been written for me specifically, as far as I’m concerned. It’s good to hear from someone who’s had more life experience (isn’t that a tactful, nice way of saying “older”?), since I recently wrote a post about how I’m just mediocre at everything and it depresses me.

      February 5th, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    59. Sunday Sunshine 02.07.10 « Minnesota Mom says:

      […] am a huge Antique Mommy fan, and this list of hers is chock-full of […]

      February 7th, 2010 at 8:05 am

    60. Shawna says:

      I am so happy that I dropped in today to read these. Every single one rings true. What wisdom. Thank you for sharing this list with us.

      February 7th, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    61. Ann G says:

      50 great things to live by! Thanks for sharing them….and happy birthday!!

      February 7th, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    62. DeniseC says:

      Wonderful post if we could use these then we have given grace to ourselves for finding the wisdom of another as a beautiful gift.

      February 7th, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    63. Confused Foreigner says:

      Thanks for the list! Many good truths.
      Hope you had or will have or are having a worthy birthday celebration! 🙂

      February 8th, 2010 at 10:12 am

    64. SheilaG says:

      Great list!

      I once made a list of “50 things to do before I die”, and it’s amazing how many I’ve actually gotten through in the last decade. I hope that doesn’t mean something ominous!

      I love your #2, especially when it comes to kids. I’m always curious as to why we’re so eager to discover that our kids are exceptional. I’d rather have a kid that was perfectly ordinary but loved God and treated others well than one who was brilliant in math or amazing at football but wasn’t fun to be with. Perfectly ordinary can actually be pretty fulfilling!

      Visit To Love, Honor and Vacuum today!

      February 8th, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    65. Cordelia says:

      A great list! Your wisdom inspires me. Thanks for sharing.

      February 9th, 2010 at 9:19 am

    66. Jenny-Jenny says:

      Touched by your words. Thank you for this.

      February 9th, 2010 at 10:54 am

    67. Beverlydru says:

      This should join the now famous “Everything I need to know I learned in Kindergarten” list. Wisdom is part of agreat exchange and I rejoice when I realize it’s a good deal.

      February 10th, 2010 at 8:15 am

    68. Elaine says:

      This is a fantastic list! Thanks for sharing your wisdom and with such grace….

      February 12th, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    69. gardenia says:

      I just found your blog from Conversion Diary’s sidebar. What an excellent post. you are a beautiful writer, and I’m looking forward to reading you more. Nice to meet you.

      February 12th, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    70. Erica says:

      I miss you and I hope you are well. I just wanted to say that.

      February 12th, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    71. Suzanne says:

      wonderful words of wisdom!

      February 12th, 2010 at 10:51 pm

    72. Dee/reddirtramblings says:

      You are a very wise 50ish girl. I would add that nuns, with vocations well-lived, really help people. I loved watching them on Oprah the other day. Yes, the rest of us are pushing paper, but I love the tangle of beautiful words we write.~~Dee

      February 13th, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    73. judy says:

      I pray all is well. You haven’t written in so long .That isn’t like you.Please let us know if everything is ok.

      * * *

      I’m fine, thank you for asking. I love and appreciate my readers so much. It’s nice to be missed!

      I’m feeling called to be still for a time as it relates to this blog, and to focus on other areas of my creative life. I plan to continue writing here, at some point, but probably not four and five times a week anymore.

      ~Antique Mommy

      February 15th, 2010 at 5:22 am

    74. Missy says:

      This is great!!!! Awesome job…and SO true! Thanks!

      February 15th, 2010 at 8:54 am

    75. heidig says:

      Loved this post. Miss you and your writing. Happy Belated Birthday!

      February 15th, 2010 at 10:06 am

    76. WarsawMommy says:

      Wonderful wise words! I especially love #44 (though maybe I’m just looking for a reason to buy a new handbag… like I need either a reason OR a new handbag).

      February 16th, 2010 at 2:10 am

    77. Sandra says:

      From alllllll the comments, I’d say this was a success. It’s amazing how time allows us to be wise. 😉

      February 16th, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    78. Hillary @ The Other Mama says:

      Love them ALL!
      I think you could add, “You never know how much God loves you until you have a child”… or, in my case “You never know how much God wants to strangle you until you have a child”. But I’m sure that’s irreverant, so I might just leave it out. 🙂

      February 16th, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    79. Holly says:

      Love this list! Every single one – you are one wise woman. Thank you for sharing your insights. Good to chew on.

      February 17th, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    80. Becci says:

      Hi…I would love to ask if I may publish your list of 50 things in 50 years, so that I can put it on my blog, of course with credit by you! I’ll be turning 60 this September…and This could be used as a list of great thoughts to end the last 5 decades. Please email me at (deleted) if this would be acceptable. I love reading about you and your “boyfriend”…It makes me wish I had treasured my three grown sons “growing up” more than I had (oops, that is NOT a regret, I promise!) Thanks sweetie, and hope to hear from you soon. I’ve been reading your blog for over a year now.

      * * *

      Thank you so much for your kind words Becci. I’m flattered that you enjoyed my 50 Things post. Thank you in advance for asking about publishing it on your site beforehand.

      The work on this site is legally copyrighted and therefore unavailable for republication in print or on-line, although I would love it if you would link to it. But even better than that, you should write your own list with your own wisdom that is uniquely yours!

      ~ Antique Mommy

      February 18th, 2010 at 11:44 pm

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