It was my birthday on Monday! It was a lovely day: I had dinner with loved ones, was gifted a funny little cake with a tiara and a magic wand on it to make wishes come true (the whipped frosting was also delicious), and then we lit sparklers and fireworks at night. (This is the best thing about having a birthday near the 4th of July: rampant sparkler lighting.)
At the end of the day — smelling of a hot bath with lavender, sleepy-eyed and reflective — I thought about everything I have learned in life, everything I have come to love and everything I need to learn. These are some of the thoughts. Not one for each year, but a lifetime can be found in one pearl. This is my Tiny Guide to Life, I suppose.
YOU CAN HAVE IT ALL — BUT MAYBE NOT ALL AT ONCE. When I’m faced with planning a day in which I can do a million different things, I choose the one I will savor the most and not worry so hard about the rest of it. And why would you want to cram it all in? It’s like a delicious meal: why shovel it all in your mouth and miss out on the exquisiteness of each flavor? Everything has its own season. Choose your lovers, words, To-Do list items, friends, moments, projects, sensations wisely, and savor them well. Time — its limits, its generosity — is the best teacher.
“CONSTANT VIGILANCE!” It seems so true, considering the direction I’m going in my work, that something from Harry Potter would become part of my Tiny Guide to Life. The best things in life need cultivating, and things like love, friendship, true work and home benefit best from steady attention and affection — you can’t take anything for granted. Just a little bit everyday. The garden approach versus the heroic gesture. This is also the best writing advice I have ever gotten as well: a little bit each day can grow into something beautiful.
SEE WITH YOUR HEART, NOT JUST WITH YOUR EYES. “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” — from The Little Prince.
COMMIT TO QUALITY AND IT WILL COMMIT TO YOU. What is true of closets is also true of romance, of friendship, of life. If you do not insist for the best for yourself, then how can anyone else insist upon it for you? You must be your own champion.
IT IS WORTH IT TO FILL OCEANS WITH GRATITUDE, LAUGHTER, GLAMOUR AND THANKS. The practice of enumerating your blessings and making them beautiful will change your life. This isn’t just “positivity,” but always being aware of what gifts have been bestowed upon you or earned by you, even in the middle of self-pity, self-loathing, true sadness and minor yet persistent angst. What will you fill the sea with? It is yours to fill.
And the one piece of consumer advice that has stuck with me (because I am practical on some level after all):
YOU CAN HAVE THINGS FAST, CHEAP OR HIGH QUALITY, BUT YOU CAN ONLY TRULY HAVE TWO OUT OF THREE. Three, of course, is the dream, but that never works out, really. You can something fast or cheap, but it won’t be high quality; cheap and high-quality, but it won’t be fast; high-quality and fast, but it won’t be cheap. Anyone selling you something that is all three is most likely a charlatan, or there is some serious exploitation going on. I actually learned this in a film production class during grad school about buying and renting goods and services, and I’ve found it to be incredibly true and helpful going forward in life in terms of “stuff” in general. And now I pass it onto you.
More musings on loved things and learning things to come (it takes such a long time to muse!), but until then, have a sparkling weekend!
Like what you just read? Maybe you'll like my book as well
All Things Glorious and True: Love Letters to Pop Culture, New York, Fashion and Other Objects of Affection is a collection of essays exploring how my crushes on music, dive bars, books, outfits and so much else gave me a braver soul, more open heart and even love. All Things is like a great, stylish mixtape: surprising, kind of punky, fun and often heartfelt.
I want to carry this (#1 and #2 especially) in my pocket every day. Thanks, Kat!
you’re welcome, steph! xo k.
[...] are the things I’ve learned in the past year. One for each year I was. I did a teeny version of this last year; this year felt like such a huge growing and learning and loving kind of year, I felt the urge to [...]