44 Stupid Things I’ve Learned Since My Stupid Birthday Last Year

Humor writer Jen Mann is my spirit animal. In the words of Bananarama, she’s a goddess on the mountain top, burning like a silver flame. And in honor of her BDay, she recently wrote an article entitled 51 Things I’ve Learned in 51 Years. It was filled with pithy, jen-tastic Jen-isms. Words to live by, really.

As we are co-Aries, her musings inspired me to write my own stupid list of 44 stupid things I’ve learned since my birthday last year. Jen, thanks for the motivation—and for being the considerably older sister I never wanted.

Enjoy and abide by this list. Or don’t. Who cares? It’s my birthday. I’m eating my weight in frosting today.

44) Be good to yourself. i mean it.
Ain’t nobody else gonna do it. That being said, finish reading this list, then book that damn massage.

43) At a minimum, text ten people per day.
This has been a gamechanger. Tell people they are loved. Tell ‘em they owe you dinner. Tell ‘em they’re on your mind. Hell, ask ‘em how you can be a better friend.

42) Flirt.
Subtlety and shamelessly. Eventually someone somewhere will reciprocate in kind.

41) If you have an inkling someone is going down in flames, reach out.
You know why people pop into your head? It’s because they’re circling the drain and need a shoulder to lean on for a hot minute.

40) Stop lending your peripheral friends money.
97 percent of the time it ends badly. And the friendship is forever compromised—or worse, jeopardized. (Besties are the exception to this rule. You know where they live.)

39) Always have a lawyer handy.
And make sure he or she is a pit viper. (PS. I know a guy.)

38) When you hug someone, hug like you mean it.
And if they pull away first, it’s okay to say, “I’m not done yet.”

37) Stop paying full price for clothes.
If it ain’t on sale, it’s not going in my closet.

36) Buy a plant.
The key here? You gotta keep it alive. Like, you purposefully gotta tend to it—and sh*t.

35) Raise your rates.
And then raise ‘em again. For God’s sake, know your worth.

34) Stop doing your taxes.
Spending money on a tax pro will inevitably 1) save you money and 2) increase your refund. Full stop. (Again, I know a gal.)

33) Grab two trash bags and fill ‘em to the brim …
… with all the incidental crap and clutter you’ve accumulated over the last year. Then, breathe easier.

32) Find all your important documents.
Saying “I think I know where my birth certificate is” doesn’t cut it. Same goes for your passport, your living will, your regular will, your car title, and other sundry items.

31) Speaking of, find your parents’ important documents.
If something happens, the last thing you’ll want is to grieve while on a hellacious scavenger hunt.

30) Try a new soap.
I solely used Dial for four decades. Lame. Yesterday I used an avocado-mango-mint-huckleberry bar of soap. Today, I used lavender-oatmeal-orange blossom. I smell dreamy.

29) Stop buying floral-scented candles.
No one likes smelling them. No one. Remind people often of this fact.

28) Lie about your age.
And keep lying. And then gaslight people if they don’t believe you. I wish I learned that sooner—like when I was in my 30s, which was last year.

27) Realize your dentist misses you.
You know that appointment you’ve been avoiding for six years? That’s why you have death breath. (Also, when was the last time you replaced your tooth brush?)

26) There’s always an online coupon, sale, or deal to be had.
Always. God forbid you have to look for it. 40% off is 40% off.

25) Always be an asset.
It doesn’t matter what you bring to the table, just bring something. Preferably dessert.

24) Your opinion matters.
I’m going to embroider that on a pillow for some of y’all. #youropinionmatters

23) Go. Nap.
The world won’t stop spinning because you took a much-needed, well-deserved 30-minute siesta. My motto? It’s Xanax-o’clock somewhere in the world.

22) Whoever said don’t go to bed mad lied to you.
Be furious when you go to bed. Livid, even. Just don’t pick a fight before bed. Leave that until the morning when you’re refreshed and holding a scalding cup of coffee.

21) Stop eating at chain restaurants.
Unless you’re craving McDonald’s fries, there’s no excuse for not supporting your local culinary peeps. (Hint: Jasper’s. Lula Southern Cookhouse. Little Brother. All at the top of my list.)

20) Buy a coffee frother.
No, seriously. It will revolutionize your world.

19) Swear more.
For f*ck’s sake, just do it. Be your own f*cking Nike slogan.

18) Never, ever, ever, EVER accept a co-worker’s friend request.
If you did, unfriend them immediately, if not sooner. You’ll thank me later.

17) About to say something blunt? Start with “Permission to speak freely?”
Sometimes your friends don’t want to hear your sh*t. Sometimes they do. Get their blessing first.

16) Appreciate gift-givers.
They are few and far between. Yes, those people who send you stuff for no reason. Keep them in your inner circle. And thank them profusely.

15) Sign up for a restorative yoga class.
You lay there like a lump for 50 minutes. There are pillows, blankets, and soothing, esoteric music. The most strenuous thing you do is roll over on your side at the 40-minute mark.

14) Find a foot spa.
And have someone aggressively rub on your tootsies for 30 minutes. This December, I did it every day after work for an entire week. Slept like a rock. Reflexology is positively dreamy.

13) Hire a professional organizer once a year.
If your 3-car garage doesn’t fit any cars, it’s a “Hoarder: Buried Alive” situation. Time to call in the pros. (I may know someone.)

12) (See above photo)

11) Buy new pillows.
It’s time.

10) Have all those old tapes or home movies digitized …
… before they disintegrate. Come on!

9) Fire someone.
Not happy with your hairstylist? Your cleaning person? Your plumber? Fire ’em. Life is too short. Find someone you like and that you gel with.

8) Keep eye cream in the ‘fridge. 
I don’t care what the label says. Slather it on ice cold every morning when your coffee is percolating/tea is steeping.

7) IPOV it. 
Can’t think of a snarky comeback or witty retort? Simply say, “That’s an interesting point of view” with absolutely zero inflection. (And the tiniest hint of disdain.) Try it. It’s foolproof.

6) Find yourself a bonus mom or dad.
Older people are often miserably lonely. Find an elderly person and attach yourself to them like a therapy barnacle. It will be good for both of you—sort of like a copacetic surrogacy.

5) Write a really vicious, really mean-spirited, particularly hate-filled e-mail to someone you despise.
Keep it in drafts and add to it on a monthly basis. Never send it. It’s cathartic.

4) Find a loyalty program or credit card that benefits you on a fundamental number of levels. 
For me, that’s Starbucks. And Southwest Airlines. (PS. I haven’t paid for a flight on SWA since 2011.)

3) Buy a Dolly Parton record.
Wear it out. Because … Dolly.

2) Sage your entire home.
Then sage it again for posterity. Then sage it a third time. It needs it. You need it. 

1) Yes, your birthday is a big deal.
Yes, your friends should fuss over you. Yes, make them feel guilty if they don’t. Yes, you’re f*cking worth it.

6 thoughts on “44 Stupid Things I’ve Learned Since My Stupid Birthday Last Year

  1. Love this idea and may copy it. My fav is the love yourself comment. We rarely do that. And happiest of birthdays. You bring a smile to my face whenever I read your column or hear you on the radio. Peace

  2. Raise your rates. Think about how many times a client complained that your rate was too high. Exactly never.

  3. 31- My mom passed away in November and I spent the first week after her death going through piles of papers trying to figure out what was what. Not fun. It made me finally get my act together and sit with a lawyer to get everything set up for my family. If you are not ready for that, I would highly recommend the workbook “I’m Dead, Now What” – Important Shit You Need to Know and Do When I Die. It is like $10 and it makes you answer the questions to all the little things you probably aren’t thinking about, but somebody else will have to if you pass away. It also has a healthy bit of snark to it.

  4. Just what I needed today. I would not add a thing.
    Except maybe…”don’t let your organizer near your stuffed animals and baby doll arm collection.”
    Oh and maybe…”eat Taco Bell ONLY after you have your feet rubbed.”
    Possibly…”text Dolly Parton and Michael Mackie 10 times a day.”

    (Thanks for the inspiration.)

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