20 Bits of Love for My Sister as She Turns 30
I come from a very large family. I'm the oldest of seven and have four brothers and two sisters, but for 20 years before our sister Sarah was born, it was just me and my sister Beth. Beth was born eight years after me and I'll never forget the first time I saw her little self. I remember sitting on the floor of my grandparent's living room and tenderly holding her. I'd wished for a sister for eight years and she was finally in my arms.
Because of the age difference between Beth and me, our childhood had a bunch of ups and downs. When I was learning to drive, Beth was just entering the third grade and more than anything, she wanted to spend all of her time with my friends and I. It didn't matter that she was small, Beth wanted to be a big kid like me and would always find a way to wiggle into whatever it was that I was doing. Beth and I shared a bedroom and she had no choice but to listen to my music and my stories (I had so many stories) and she was the one I'd send into the pit (a two-foot tall closet that ran the length of my bedroom) to wade through the clothes that I'd stuffed in there just to find that one shirt I had to have.
Beth had just turned 10 when I moved away from home and began my adult life. If I could go back and change things, I would have spent more time with her. After all, Beth was my biggest champion. When people told me pursuing a career in radio wouldn't work out, Beth was in my corner, my own little cheerleader. She was so proud and would tell me that she just knew I could do this. Well, Beth, you were right. This year marks my 20th year in radio.
My little sister is turning 30 and I thought I'd take this opportunity to do what big sisters do, to turn the tables and be Beth's cheerleader. Beth, since I've walked a few more years on this earth than you have, and because I am and always will be your big sister and will always have your back no matter what's happening in our lives, I give you these sisterly bits of love as you step into your 30th year.
I wish I'd started doing this earlier in my life. I wish I'd listened to mom when she said to use moisturizer every day. A funny thing happens to a woman's body after she turns 30. Don't find out what that funny thing is. Start moisturizing now!
It's so much easier to wallow in negativity, but that will only bring you, and everyone around you down. Make an effort to seek out the positive in things and be grateful for them. You'll find that problems don't seem as big when you're able to find something to be grateful for in the midst of your troubles.
Remember how many hours we used to spend singing? So - many - hours. Do you remember our song? I do. When you're having a day, sing our song and remember that every word of it is still true. "Sittin' in the rain, water on your brain got a hole in your boat, trying to stay afloat has got you down. I've got a wind in my sail, rubber boots, and a pail- I'll throw you a line. Rest assured that I won't ever let you drown."
If you don't know about Dr. Maya Angelou, look her up. Trust me on this. Dr. Angelou was a brilliant and inspirational woman and try as I may, I'll never be able to put into words as eloquently as she, the importance of learning from the things in life that defeat us, so I'll let her words do the talking,"You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” ― Maya Angelou
Okay, so there are a whole bunch of new studies that say it's bad for the engine of your car to let it warm up before you drive, but I say do it anyway. You're a mom who's super busy. How many times have you gotten the girls into the car and slipped into it yourself only to realize that you forgot to put a coat on, but don't run back in the house because you need to get going and so you shiver the whole ride? Let your car warm up and you won't have that problem.
If you want people to recognize that you have value and if you want them to treat you with respect, you have to believe it yourself first. Once you fully embrace your worth, you will be able to stand up for yourself in any situation in a mature and level headed way and you'll be able to sleep well at night.
Remember how much we looked forward to making gingerbread houses on Thanksgiving when we were kids and how much mom hated it? But- she put out the supplies and dealt with our crying over who touched who's house and who ate all the candy instead of decorating with it each and every year because she knew, in the end, we'd remember the fun parts, not the other parts. Make traditions and carry them out each year with your girls, even if you don't want to. Those are the things that they'll look back on when they're our ages and they'll have the same type of stories that you and I have.
Our mortality has smacked me hard in the face in recent years following the deaths of several friends. These friends were moms and dads and their kids will never have them for the big moments in their lives. I don’t think you need me to tell you that life is precious. There’s a big difference between working to make a living and working to make a life. Find your passion. You are never too old to find your passion. Find what taps into your creativity. Find what brings you pure joy. If you’re not doing something that makes you happy, stop doing it. Your life shouldn’t be living to work, but working to live. This doesn't mean you stop cleaning the toilet. Always clean the toilet.
Material things won't last forever, but memories will. Purge the things that are cluttering up your space and instead of buying a new toy or clothes, go on an impromptu road trip, visit a museum, go camping in tents and roast marshmallows while dodging big droplets of rain. The memories you make doing those things are memories that will sustain you when you hit rough patches in life.
I see you. Stop rolling your eyes. When it's all said and done, friends will come and go. Jobs will come and go. Love interests will come and go. Think of your siblings as dust mites. You might not see us, but we're there. We'll always be there. Try as you may, you won't be able to shake us off...welcome to our stubborn family. There will come a day that we won't all be here. Enjoy what time you have with us while you do.
You're beautiful, Beth. You've always been beautiful even though sometimes you don't see it. I always wished that I had inherited your features. You don't need makeup to look pretty because you are. If you feel self-conscious, maybe put on a little foundation and some mascara, but really- let your true beauty shine!
You've got two little girls who are watching you more than you probably realize. They see the way you react to everything. Show them what a strong woman is. Teach them to respect their bodies by respecting yours. Teach them that they are worthy of respect and that if anyone is ever causing them physical, mental, emotional, or sexual harm, that they need to put an immediate stop to it, no matter how scared they might be to do so. Teach them to be tender, caring for those who are little, elderly, and sick. Teach them to give without expecting anything in return. Teach them to love each other because one day each other is all they will have.
Just do it. Eat the cake first. Either way you're going to eat the cake so you might as well enjoy it when you're hungry instead of filling up on food first and then cramming the cake into your mouth even though you're full and not allowing yourself to enjoy how delicious it really is.
Allow yourself to go out and have fun. Step out of your comfort zone and do something you wouldn't usually do. Just don't live it up so high by doing something so stupid that you won't ever be able to live it down. You're not in your 20's anymore. Everything you do from this point forward will follow you and impact you for the rest of your life.
I know you pretty much already follow this bit of advice, but I can't stress enough how important comfortable shoes are. Your body is about to go through changes you never anticipated. Some days, comfortable shoes will be your only saving grace.
The only person you should ever try to be is the very best version of yourself. Period.
If there's a health issue that's been nagging at you, take care of it now instead of waiting for it to get worse. Yes, going to the doctor can cost a lot, but a funeral cost more and no amount of money in the world can heal the heart of a grieving family. Take care of the vessel that you're living in, it's the only one you've got.
Don't hate me for saying this, but be patient with mom and dad. They've been patient with you their whole lives. This doesn't mean you always have to see eye to eye or be best friends with them, but you should respect them. Just as you're watching your girls grow up and it feels like it's all happening in the blink of an eye, mom and dad went through the same with you. When you get frustrated with them, remember how much they love you, just as you love your girls.
You know how mom always told us we should wear clean underwear in case we were ever in an accident? Well, she was wrong. We should wear clean underwear because it's nasty not to. But, if you're in an accident, you're probably going to have an accident and then your clean underwear will no longer be clean. Just put on a fresh pair each day, okay?
Your brother in law had never had Indian, Thai, or Mexican food until he met me. Jay literally lived in a sad little food bubble. Don't be a Jay. Try new and ethnic cuisines, even if you're scared to. You might surprise yourself. Open your palate to new flavors and you'll be amazed at how it also opens you up to want to learn more about other cultures.