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What We Should Have, What We Should Know

It turns out I’m one of those chicks who hangs onto things, like paperwork, for too long for no reason. Statements and receipts and printouts of interest. Stuff you keep because you just might need it, but then you never ever do.

During my family’s recent move this error of mine became all too clear, since I’d had several boxes filled with the stuff that we had to tote along. And so I spent a few evenings having a sorting-slash-shredding party. No better time than now to get rid of what isn’t absolutely necessary for record keeping, I say. (I’ve decided to change my ways from here forward, too.)


Image courtesy of fotographic1980 at

Among the papers I found something I’d run across some years back, made a copy of, and kept, I suppose, for inspiration or guidance. It was neat to reread the list, now that I’m on the downhill side of my third decade.

I give you:

30 Things Every Woman Should Have

and Should Know by the Time She’s 30

By 30, you should have:

  1. One old boyfriend you can imagine going back to and one who reminds you of how far you’ve come.
  2. A decent piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in your family.
  3. Something perfect to wear if the employer or man of your dreams wants to see you in an hour.
  4. A purse, a suitcase, and an umbrella you’re not ashamed to be seen carrying.
  5. A youth you’re content to move beyond.
  6. A past juicy enough that you’re looking forward to retelling it in your old age.
  7. The realization that you are actually going to have an old age—and some money set aside to help fund it.
  8. An e-mail address, a voice mailbox, and a bank account—all of which nobody has access to but you.
  9. A résumé that is not even the slightest bit padded.
  10. One friend who always makes you laugh and one who lets you cry.
  11. A set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black lace bra.
  12. Something ridiculously expensive that you bought for yourself, just because you deserve it.
  13. The belief that you deserve it.
  14. A skin-care regimen, an exercise routine, and a plan for dealing with those few other facets of life that don’t get better after 30.
  15. A solid start on a satisfying career, a satisfying relationship, and all those other facets of life that do get better.

By 30, you should know:

  1. How to fall in love without losing yourself.
  2. How you feel about having kids.
  3. How to quit a job, break up with a man, and confront a friend without ruining the friendship.
  4. When to try harder and when to walk away.
  5. How to kiss in a way that communicates perfectly what you would and wouldn’t like to happen next.
  6. The names of: the secretary of state, your great-grandmother, and the best tailor in town.
  7. How to live alone, even if you don’t like to.
  8. How to take control of your own birthday.
  9. That you can’t change the length of your calves, the width of your hips, or the nature of your parents.
  10. That your childhood may not have been perfect, but it’s over.
  11. What you would and wouldn’t do for money or love.
  12. That nobody gets away with smoking, drinking, doing drugs, or not flossing for very long.
  13. Who you can trust, who you can’t, and why you shouldn’t take it personally.
  14. Not to apologize for something that isn’t your fault.
  15. Why they say life begins at 30.


So, how do your accomplishments (as per this list) stack up? There are a few things I still need to do…

Do you think this is a fair list? There are some suggestions that don’t register on the scale of significance for me.

How else should we measure ourselves and our successes?


See the original content HERE, courtesy Glamour.

Lessons From High School

One of my very best friends moved to Texas last week (lucky, lucky Texas) and it got me to thinking about when I was a kid and we moved every few years. My dad worked for IBM, affectionately known as I’ve Been Moved.  When my dad announced we were moving again—right before I started high school—I made the brilliant decision not to make friends as a form of protest and self-protection. Why make friends when I was just going to have to leave them in a few years? Guess what. My parents still live in the same house where I went to high school, so my ingenious plan wasn’t quite so ingenious after all.

What my plan did, however, was instill a sense of invisibility into me that’s never left. Let me explain. You know how people always say that the high school years are the best years of your life? Well, I think that sentiment comes from the fact that the high school years are capable of making a huge impression on your life, the kind of impression that sticks and that you carry with you forever.

Just last night my husband and I attended his high school reunion and I know those years hold a very special place in his heart. He was a happy, confident, popular guy in high school and those words describe his life today. If someone from high school had to describe me back then, they probably wouldn’t know what to say other than shy and quiet. I don’t think my friends today would describe me using those terms.

My decision to make myself invisible during high school had huge consequences in my life and still shapes the things I do today. I didn’t sleep through high school; I just didn’t participate. While I wasn’t participating, I learned a whole lot about human behavior because I was observing. To this day, I’ll often choose to sit back and let life go on around me while I observe and take note.

Do these observations on everyday life make it into my books? Absolutely. Does this mean if I could go back and change my high school behavior, I would choose not to because my observation skills greatly enhance my writing? What a silly question! I can’t go back and change anything!

What about you? What behaviors from high school do you carry around with you today? I’d love to know.

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