1. Let others be –  How someone else decides to live their life is none of your business. Even when they hurt you. GASP. Yes, I just said that. One day I realized that the opinions I had of everyone else’s life existed because I was too scared to face the realities of my own life and would rather project my fears, disappointment, and anger onto others instead of dealing with my own shit.  Like the never-ending story, this will be a never-ending lesson…it will present itself in all of it’s fucked up glory until you, dearest, learn that the ONLY person you can control is yourself.

2. Others will never let you be so you must have BOUNDARIES – Blow yourself an imaginary bubble. Get inside of it. Take out a sharpie and write down your needs in inter-personal relationships onto its transparent walls. Memorize what you just wrote down. Love your bubble. Be protective of your bubble. Know that it is YOUR job and your job alone to assure that bubble stays in tact, because a person can only pop your bubble if you let them. And bubble body guards don’t exist, so you’re gonna have to be your own Whitney and Kevin Costner all in one.

3. Dance – The stresses of life attach themselves to us and sometimes, even when we’ve broken off whatever creepy little things have grown because of that stress, there’s stuff left over. Dancing was created to shake off that residue…in my scientifical and highly profound opinion. Whether you’re the next Magic Mike rolling your junk in the faces of dollar-bill ridden hotties, or a white girl like myself that gets kicked off the dance floor by African Queens for hip thrusting to “My goodies”…for the love of all that is worthy DANCE! It will release tension, it will burn a few calories, it will make you happy. It also may freak other people out, and get you the nickname “Crazy Legs”, but it’s not really about them now is it?

4. Make really stupid decisions all in the name of Love – And embrace them. Because the sooner you can accept that the heart wants what it wants and will take really fucked up paths to get there; paths that rational and logical you would never dream of seeking out, the closer you will have gotten to know more about the person who needs your love the most…you. And you’ll be better equipped to do the most important job in life…to give love. But, love is not rational. Love is the furthest thing from logical. Love is also the reason one day I will launch my own greeting card line that says things like, “Sorry I fucked up and threw that bottle of vitamins at your head”. Fall in passionate and toxic love with the “too good to be truer”. Settle for the “there’s no spark but they make sense on paper-er”. Go against your gut feelings and date all those “I’m too afraid to be alone so you’re just my time filler”. Also spend some time sitting on your apartment floor, drinking red wine out of the bottle, arguing with the Universe on the crossed signals it’s apparently been receiving and yelling, “if I wasn’t the fucking messenger, I would shoot the fucking messenger!”

I read a quote this morning that said, “You can’t win if you don’t play.” Love is pain. You’re gonna get hurt, you’re gonna hurt others and there will be endings that you beg for someone to take your life because you’re too chicken shit to do it yourself. BUT DO IT ANYWAYS. Cubs fans still support their team and spend lots o’ monies on tickets/booze/whatever becaaaaaaause…just because something sucks doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. Besides, you never know if THIS will be the year that the curse ends.

5. Find your pink tutu – I have a pink tutu that I put on when I’m so happy that I might burst. I can’t help it. I fill up with this insane energy and can’t not do something about it. So, I wait until I’m alone, I pull the folds of tulle over my legs and bootie and let the fun begin. I’ve written some incredible blog posts under the influence of that tutu, made the best damn flamingo costume for Halloween with it one year and it has made me realize that you gotta do whatever it is in life that makes you happy. It never fails me. No matter what’s going on, it elevates me to a place of oneness with everything. When I was in Guam, the best piece of advice I got was from the person I least expected and the person I least liked. When I asked him what his advice was on making this whole “Clubmate” thing work he said, “Find the one thing that’s yours. The one place you can go to that makes you forget about everything else. It’s what’s gonna keep you sane.” So, find your pink tutu. Put that motherfucker on and prance around this life like the lead in the nutcracker. And go ahead, crack some nuts while you’re at it.

6. Peace the fuck out – Whether you take a two-week trip to Belize, go to Guam for two months or try your luck at being an erotic masseuse in Amsterdam, leave the comfort of home and everything you’ve known before. Do the things that you’ve always wanted to do and when you do, you’ll discover a shit ton more things that you never dreamed you’d want to do. You’ll meet people who will change your life with just one sentence, you’ll smell things that will awaken every cell in your body and you’ll go to sleep at night with something indescribable imprinted on your soul. You’ll have a new appreciation for your loved ones and the water pressure in your own shower. And if you go somewhere far enough away from the rat race of home and a place so very different from where you hang your hat, you will never be the same again and what you thought you knew about happiness and a “life well lived” and what you “should” want out of life is bullshit.

Life is the culmination of your experiences and when you’re young, it’s easy to look at the American Dream or the White Picket Fence Ideal and say, “yeah, that’s all that I want”. How do you know if you’ve never even attempted to try anything else? When you’re so afraid to take a risk and experience the unknown it’s an easy trap to fall into to never want anything other than what you’ve been conditioned to want. A job with a nice salary, a mortgage that’s worth it because of the three car-garage and an annual christmas card sent out to the same people with the same smiles with the only difference being that you used sepia tone on the family picture instead of black and white. Or it’s easier to put your desires in a box and shove them under the bed because it’s “not realistic”. I call bullshit again.

I had all those things and I was absolutely miserable. I want money just like everyone else, it buys me the little comforts of life-like pumpkin spice lattes, Margherita pizzas and books to read on rainy days. It pays my bills, It makes things easier, it allows me to do things for other people and shower them with tokens of my affection…but not at the expense of my happiness. However, as I’ve always said, you have to experience what you don’t want in order to discover what you do want. And wanting the American Dream is in no way shape or form “bad”, just make sure you want those things for the right reasons.

Please give yourself the gift of unfamiliar surroundings to break open your ideas, it was the best thing I ever did for myself. Be pliable, be open and go to that faraway place, you’ll be surprised at what you’ll find.

28 lessons? You get 6 for now….stay tuned for the next 22.