03/09/2015 06:58 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

What I Wish I'd Known As A Young Woman


Women spend too many years struggling and stressing through all the crap of daily life before they finally realize the aching truth: Damn, I should have taken the path around the mud bog! That's the road that avoids the muck and takes you directly to the charming coffee shop in the quaint village, the delightful place with overstuffed chairs, stacks of good books, and pleasant clerks who bring free, fresh-baked cookies while a handsome musician plays your favorite songs. You relax there until your lover calls with a sultry invitation to a night of passion. Yup, that's where you want to be -- as soon as you crawl out of the mess that clings like dog poop on a new shoe.

Over several decades, I have fallen into and escaped from the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune, the manic moods of menopause, and the jobs from hell. I've birthed children who brought me dandelion bouquets as toddlers and then slammed the door as defiant teenagers only to return years later with roses. I've married and divorced and tried again. And, I've endured betrayal, belittlement, and bad bosses. So, with age 50 long past, it's with strong reflection and a bold Cabernet that I sit back in my comfortable khakis and sweater to give younger women some nuggets of knowledge that I wish I had known earlier.

  • You're where you are supposed to be. Instead of cursing lousy circumstances, your parents, the cosmos, or your crooked nose, accept your current situation and go forward.
  • If you don't like where you are, do something about it. The problem could be a lousy job, a stifling relationship, too much physical or mental garbage, or the fact that there is no way in hell you're going to fit into those jeans by the weekend. What will you do about it?
  • Money matters. Learn how to earn and manage it. Remember that no one owes you a living.
  • Sex is fun. Learn how to do and enjoy it. At the gym, I'm the oldest one with hickeys!
  • Friends are essential. Find and keep some and be one. Dump the bad ones.
  • Your children will grow up and be gone in two minutes. And, they will watch how you care for your elderly parents. Proceed with care.
  • Use or lose your talents. That creative novel, unique sculpture, or abundant garden won't appear without some effort. Let your light shine. Feed your brain by reading books, taking classes, traveling, and turning off the television.
  • Volunteer and donate to charity and you'll have riches beyond measure. You can't save this wounded world, but you can visit residents at a local retirement center, work with disadvantaged children, or participate in a local political campaign.
  • Keep physically fit and eat healthy or suffer debilitating consequences that money can't fix.
  • An attitude of gratitude trumps overconfidence. Experience regular bouts of uncontrolled laughter.
After years of external and internal exploration, I'm where I'm supposed to be -- an experienced, opinionated, happy traveler who has packed and unpacked a lifetime of suitcases, burdens, and treasures. After all this time, I know two things for certain: I still have much to learn but I love this journey.

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

What Do You Miss About Your Children Now That They're Adults?