08/13/2013 11:11 am ET Updated Oct 13, 2013

45 Lessons in 45 Years

I reached a new milestone to which I've never really given much thought. As if aging was never a part of my plan. However, whether I like it or not, it's the plan life has for me.

Having been born on a Monday morning 45 years ago, I take this day as a new wondrous beginning.

It feels like I turned 40 yesterday. I have no idea where the next five years have gone.

I never fussed over my age and never hid it, either. I can't say whether I made entirely wiser decisions as I grew older. I do panic, though, at the sight of a new line around my eyes, or a new white hair. One thing's for sure -- there's no way out of the aging process. And that hasn't really made anyone happy. Least of all me.

As I reflect on that, I remember kicking myself when I stumbled upon this Bette Davis quote a while back: "Getting old is not for pussies." It was like a wakeup call.

But rather than being hooked on Botox, plastic surgery or crying my eyes out now that I'm growing older, I thought of putting together, in some sort of an introspective journey, the lessons life taught me thus far, especially in the past five years. Sometimes the hard way, through trials and tribulations; sometimes the easy way, as the right people came along at the right time.

Without further ado, here they are:

1. You're so not done if you're a woman over 40.

2. Learn to value yourself. You're worth it.

3. Have dignity.

4. Be brave.

5. Be kind with the people around you, yet cautious with who you surround yourself.

6. Cut ties with the whiners in your life.

7. Stick to those who were there for you without waiting for anything in exchange.

8. Take pride in who you've become.

9. Your life experiences make you unique.

10. Keep learning new things.

11. Cultivate inspiring friendships.

12. Say no to things and people that hold you back.

13. Don't feel guilty for saying no to them.

14. Appreciate life the way it is.

15. Be grateful for your existence.

16. Grow a pair.

17. Have a backbone.

18. Develop a thick skin.

19. Celebrate your victories.

20. Talk about your failures.

21. Step past your insecurities.

22. Take time for soul-searching.

23. Don't rely on anybody else but yourself.

24. When life spirals out of control, suck it up and move on.

25. It's never too late to reinvent yourself.

26. Exercise regularly.

27. Practice what you preach.

28. Do the work you love.

29. You're the one responsible for your own happiness.

30. Stay grounded.

31. Laugh until your cheeks hurt.

32. A good cry can be therapeutic.

33. Let go of toxic friendships and relationships.

34. You don't have to do what everyone else wants you to do.

35. Give yourself permission to be lazy sometimes.

36. Don't live up to any expectations other than your own.

37. Be compassionate.

38. Love yourself.

39. Don't let anybody take advantage of your kindness.

40. Stay in the now.

41. As you're more mindful, cherish the little things.

42. Trust your intuition.

43. Do the things you fear the most.

44. Be clear about what you want.

45. Chase your dreams.

Bonus lesson: No matter what, remember that life is good.

For more by Anca Dumitru, click here.