…my father drove my mother from Athens, Tennessee to a hospital in Knoxville, Tennessee, and though I was almost a month early, I’m a native Knoxvillian because of that drive.  That’s right. Today is my 37th birthday, and it’s hard for me to believe I’ve been on this earth that long.

I was born in the 70’s – tube socks and butterfly collars.  I did middle school and high-school in the 80’s – chock full of Reaganites, hostage ribbons, Izod-wearing yuppies, and yes, breakdancing.  I was in college in the 90’s – grunge, Birkenstocks, earrings, facial hair, and jobs from bussing tables to ringing people up at Kmart. I got married in ’96, and my daughter was born on the very last day of ’97.

I’ve seen panics over Y2K, terrorist attacks, stock market drops, first steps, first words, potty training and vomit-cleaning. I’ve been a cartoonist, a substitute teacher, a corporate trainer, a call-center manager, an HR director, a web designer, a special product designer, and a photographer (while always being an ‘artist’ at heart).

It’s been a fun ride so far, and I thought I’d take some time today to share 40  things I’ve learned over the last 37 years on this planet.

  1. That orange-glowy thing inside the oven is hot (really hot).
  2. Gardening is overrated as a rewarding past-time.
  3. Car engines need oil.
  4. When it comes to art like poetry and painting, sometimes the analysis of the viewer is better than the original intent of the artist.
  5. Shaving is only fun for the first year or two.
  6. Think about your commitments before you make them, and if you make a commitment, then make every effort to uphold that commitment, regardless of how important or unimportant you think it is.
  7. Shania Twain is a goddess. I don’t care what anyone says. She is.
  8. Children are born completely ignorant. It’s up to us as parents to reverse that ignorance.
  9. After drinking beer, climbing anything is a bad idea.
  10. You are not required to constantly entertain your children. In fact, you rob your child of his/her ability to imagine and invent his/her own entertainment if you constantly do it for them.
  11. There is nothing in this world that your are “too cool” for.
  12. It’s incredibly important to learn to laugh at yourself.
  13. There is no other liquid that can be substituted for milk in cereal.
  14. Never get rid of your “fat jeans.” Odds are that you’re going to need them again one day.
  15. Saying I love you is easy. Really loving someone – giving yourself over to that – is hard, hard work.
  16. McDonald’s burgers shouldn’t be compared to any other burger from another burger joint. It’s not a burger. It’s McDonald’s.
  17. Life is too short to be that serious.
  18. Everyone should play hooky once in a while.
  19. There actually are stupid questions, but that should never stop you from asking them.
  20. At certain points in life, stop and review who you are and what you want to be.
  21. Cats are better than dogs. I know this because my cat told me so.
  22. A triple scoop cone seems like a  good idea, but it’s not.
  23. Your good friends won’t care if you have other friends.
  24. Question what you’ve been told and taught. The truth in life is always somewhere in the discovery process.
  25. Dog movies will inevitably make you cry, but you should watch them anyway.
  26. Regardless of what people might say, it takes a lot to “scar” your child. Making them be quiet in a restaurant or a theater isn’t a “scarring” event.
  27. Sometimes there’s nothing better than a really cheesy pop song.
  28. Smile more than you frown. Your mother was right. Your face WILL stay that way.
  29. Plumbing is not a skill you pick up over a weekend.
  30. The most important thing you’ll ever do in a conversation is listen.
  31. Some things are actually impossible, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying.
  32. Jealousy is a useless emotion.
  33. Revenge never quite feels as good as you think it will.
  34. Kindness and a warm smile are the tools of a true leader.
  35. Wake up early sometimes. You’ll be surprised how different the world is at that hour.
  36. Sometimes you should just throw up and get it over with. Fighting it will make you feel worse, but at least fight it until you can get to the bathroom or a trash can, especially if you’re on the top bunk.
  37. When you move in with your partner, choose your side of the bed wisely that first night. It will be yours for the rest of the time you live together.
  38. You can’t get an email or a text back. Think before you press send.
  39. If you can’t really dance, it’s okay. Very few of us actually can, but it’s more fun than not dancing.
  40. We all have a finite amount of time on this earth. There are no exceptions. If you’re waiting for that perfect time to say or do something that is important to you, please realize that that time is now.