21) Learn Sign Language

According to Wikipedia, with 955 million native speakers, comprising more than 14 percent of the world population, Mandarin is the most commonly used language in the world. The second and third most popular are Spanish and English, though each has considerably fewer speakers with 405 and 360 million respectively.

But American Sign Language (ASL)? It doesn’t even crack the top 100 most frequently used languages. And, depending on which site is the most believable, only anywhere from 100,000 to 500,000 people worldwide—or, as it is, just in the United States and Canada—use the language. It makes sense, as it is used predominately by deaf native signers, hearing children of deaf parents, and adult deaf signers who have learned ASL from other adult deaf individuals. And, apparently, some random person who thought it’d be interesting to learn. That person being, of course, me.

While it would have been more practical to learn Mandarin, Hindi or Arabic (the fourth and fifth most widely spoken languages after Spanish and English), or perfected my very minimal Spanish—despite having studied it for a year in middle school, and then two years in both high school and college—I thought learning sign language would be more fun.

I have known one deaf person, and it was a boy in my middle school homeroom class. I therefore have been around ASL users (my peer and his translator), but it was ages ago. Before embarking on accomplishing this goal, I had a very basic grasp of the language, as in I could sign the letters of the alphabet, and “poop.” Because what middle school kid doesn’t learn “poop” in at least one additional language to his or her native one?

I found a brilliant website, www.lifeprint.comwhich I used as my teacher. I broke the big goal of learning more than the alphabet into a smaller goal of learning at least five signs a day for one month. I had already realized that I could stick to monthly goals, like practicing spirituality for one month, and not saying anything negative about anyone for one month. Each day I planned to review the signs I had learned previously and add five new signs. What I quickly realized was that learning ASL was fun, and unique, and I often learned more than five signs a day. At the end of the month, I kept learning, and now have in my repertoire more than three hundred signs.

While I initially thought it was kind of a silly goal, because I was fairly certain I wouldn’t ever really use it all that much, I recently learned how handy it is for SCUBA diving. Diving has its own set of hand signals and signs, but some of them are similar to ASL signs, and having a decent grasp on ASL made learning the new signs easy. Also, even if other people don’t know ASL, I can use the signs with them because many can be intuitive, or somewhat easy to figure out based on the setting and context of the conversation or situation.

Though I feel I can get by with the little sign language I know, I hope to continue learning more signs. Perhaps one day, on the very rare and random occurrence that I come into contact with an actual deaf person, we might be able to communicate. 

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24) Surf a Wave

When I wrote the goal nearly a year ago to surf a wave and stand up for at least one second, I had in mind hanging ten on a massive wave a la Kelly Slater, arguably one of the best surfers of all time. Okay, so maybe I didn’t think I’d reach his level, but I still thought it would be that kind of surfing.

Well, nearly a year later, and still having not completed the goal, and having left the perfect surf waves of Southern California for the calmer seas of Thailand, I still wanted to try to accomplish it. I realized I had merely written “surf a wave,” but I had not specified exactly what kind of surfing, so, in my creativity—and, okay, way of finding loopholes—I went windsurfing!

I had planned to take lessons at a resort, as advertised online, but upon arrival I was informed that no lessons would be given, just the gear would be rented out. The man in charge of the equipment was kind enough to give a brief instruction on the basics.

The wind was calm, just enough to get going, which made learning easier, though I definitely want to go out again in stronger winds so I can go faster! The learning curve wasn’t as steep as I had anticipated, and after a few tries, I was able to stand up and ride all the way into shore. I did, however, fall a few times every time I started again, but that was part of the fun, and funniness, of the experience!

Getting my feet set on the board...

Getting my feet set on the board…

Getting into position and pulling up the sail...

Getting into position and pulling up the sail…

Woo hoo! Up and surfing!

Whoops! Going down, down, down…

14) Take on a Food Eating Challenge

If there were a contest for the world’s slowest eater, if not at number one, I would definitely be somewhere near the top of the list. In addition to being healthy for digestion, eating slowly has afforded me ample opportunity to talk during meals, which is one of my favorite things to do. Well, just talk in general, but I try to capitalize on it every chance I get.

I knew it would be tough to force myself to eat faster than I do, or have before, which intrigued me. I also thought it would be a good counter to my goal of fasting. Finally, my dad won a pancake-eating contest when he was a young chap, and I often strive to follow in his footsteps, even if the path may lead to feeling nauseous for cramming too much food into my stomach in a short amount of time.

In this case, however, it would not lead to a feeling of nausea, because I opted to take on a challenge of lesser proportions than pancakes. When I researched food eating challenges in Los Angeles, I found quite a few: scarfing a six-pound Godzilla (sushi) roll in an hour, slurping down a bowl of molten Spicy No. 2 ramen—reputedly the spiciest dish in the USA (though according to whom, I have no idea)—in thirty minutes, eating six scoops of ice cream and seven cookies in ten minutes, and myriad other surely vomit-inducing tasks.

If I had to choose one food to eat for the rest of my life—not taking into account staving off scurvy or being the most nutritious—sushi would be it. However, since I am such a lover of sushi, the thought of gorging myself on six pounds of it in one sitting sounded awful. I didn’t want to despise my favorite food because of what would most likely turn into a horrible memory of throwing up six pounds of it.

Though I enjoy spicy food, and think I can handle a decent level of spiciness, picturing eating the spiciest food in the country didn’t appeal to me in the least. I wanted a challenge, but I didn’t want to permanently singe the lining of my stomach and intestines in the name of one.

The most appealing challenge was eating the ice cream and cookies in ten minutes in part because I love ice cream so much, as evidenced in my top five dream jobs post. I grew up eating ice cream every night following a long, slowly-eaten dinner. And when I say every night, I mean every night. If we had no ice cream in the house, someone was sent to the store that night to fetch a tub of it. I figured that completing, or even just attempting, the challenge would give me a headache. I was okay with that. I was even okay with the notion that I would likely regurgitate it not long after consuming it. What I didn’t like, however, was thinking of the pain my (very sensitive to cold) teeth would feel for at least ten minutes, and likely long after the clock had stopped. I decided, somewhat reluctantly, to forego this challenge as well.

This little stack in a minute? Looks pretty easy…

What I settled on wouldn’t result in a toothache, the destruction of my digestive system, or an aversion to my favorite food. The goal: eat six saltine crackers in one minute.

Except, despite my attempts to thoroughly saturate my mouth with water before and after, my mouth and throat were drier than the Sahara. And I didn’t even come close to completing the challenge.

I tried to strategize the most logical way to eat the crackers, and thought breaking them in half would help me down them faster. No, that didn’t help at all. I then crumbled them up into countless tiny pieces, but that didn’t help either. It didn’t matter how big or small the chunks were when they entered my mouth, the masticated mounds in my mouth just refused to be swallowed. I didn’t realize until taking on this challenge how much saliva aids in swallowing, but I quickly learned.

I finished three and a half crackers in the allotted minute, and I felt like I had never eaten faster. I was frustrated, and thought trying a new tactic would help, but attempting to defeat the challenge a second time garnered the same outcome. At least the only repercussions were being annoyed at falling so short of accomplishing the task, and having a dry mouth for a while.

18) Get Properly Fitted for a Bra

According to a few articles on the internet, like this one at Nordstrom.com, which also has a measuring guide, roughly eighty percent of women in the United States wear the wrong size bra. Considering a bra is an article of clothing most women don for several hours or more every day, most days of the year, wearing one that doesn’t fit seems pretty silly. It’s also a bit unsettling to think that the majority of breasts are not being given proper care.

I had originally specified getting fit at Victoria’s Secret because, with my minimal knowledge about bras, I figured that was the best place to do it. However, after reading a few too many blog posts denouncing the quality of bra fittings at the well-known lingerie company, and after coming across a few articles highlighting the services rendered at department stores, I decided to go to Nordstrom to find out what size bra I actually should be wearing.

While I’ve happily jumped out of an airplane with a guy named Mutley strapped to my back and a parachute on his, and I’ve cheerfully watched great white sharks swimming to and fro, where the only thing separating us was a cage with metal bars, and even backpacking to a campsite and spending the night alone in the wilderness proved to be tremendously more fun than scary, I was not looking forward to having a woman take measurements of my chest and bring me various bras to try on. Though I don’t flit around locker rooms buck naked, my apprehension wasn’t because I would be taking my shirt and bra off in front of another woman. What I was terrified about was admitting that I was nearly thirty and had never been fit for a bra, and that I didn’t really know all that much about bras or how they should fit.

In my defense, I’ve been a late bloomer—in a lot of regards. I didn’t emerge into the world until three weeks after my scheduled date of birth, I didn’t talk until I was two, and let’s just say I joked well into my college years that I (still) had the physique of a twelve-year-old boy. Though my friends often teased me for having a small chest, I had never had any issues with my lack of lady lumps. In fact, I reveled in spending less on running clothes because the built-in bras in some tank tops were sufficient enough, and I didn’t need to purchase expensive sports bras. I was also able to wear many a dress without worrying about visible bra straps, as I just went without.

Even still, I felt uncomfortable walking up to the counter, asking to be fitted for a bra, and then, once we were in the relative safety of the dressing room, admitting I had never before been fitted. It was even worse when I told her I wasn’t really sure what size I wore, and when I removed my shirt and bra, and felt sweat cascade down my back as if I had just completed thirty minutes on an elliptical trainer, I wanted to sprint to the car faster than Usain Bolt blazed his way to victory in the 2014 Olympic 100 meter dash. Luckily, the bra fitter, whose name I will change to Lucy, was wonderful, kind, patient and, best of all, apparently not deterred by my surely off-putting perspiration. She assured me that I shouldn’t feel bad because most women don’t know their real size, nor do they bother to get properly fitted. Furthermore, she seemed confident she would be able to help me get the perfect bra.

Using a white measuring tape, Lucy took a few measurements around my chest, and under and across my breasts. To my surprise, the band size she told me was one size smaller than I had ever worn. I was pretty sure my breasts had grown in recent months, so if anything I would need to increase in band size, not decrease. To my even greater surprise, the cup size she told me was appropriate for my girls was three sizes larger than I had ever worn, or had remotely considered wearing in my weirdest dreams. Lucy explained that most women do not wear a band tight enough to give proper support, and then they try to adjust the straps to make it work. I thought about the numerous bras I had worn where it seemed like every day I had to readjust the straps to make them fit. She then enlightened me about cup size, and that a decrease in band size meant an increase in cup size. Going down one band size would explain going up one cup size, but I had gone up three. I guess I just didn’t know how bras were supposed to fit.

After trying on a number of bras in various styles and by different designers, I selected two. I thought they seemed too tight at the time, but she said they would stretch and that I just hadn’t been used to wearing that size. When I got home, I wore each for about twenty minutes, and realized that they were indeed too tight—uncomfortably so, and to the point that I would not be able to wear them all day like I knew I would need to. Though the two I bought would not be my new greatest bras, or even in my drawer among the ill-fitting collection I had amassed over the years, I did learn more about my body, bras and bra sizes in general, and that I would just have to keep trying if I wanted to move into the small percentage of women who wear the correct bra size.

29) Do a Random Act of Kindness

When I created the goal of spending a night alone in the wilderness, I knew I would be able to plan for it, and I knew it would be obvious when I had accomplished it. I only had to work up the courage to execute it, and maybe learn how to build a fire beforehand. (I did not do the latter, but fortunately I figured out the technique when I was out there—or at least lucked into getting a blaze going).

Likewise, going one month without Facebook, serving at a food kitchen, and driving to Mexico were all easily-definable goals, and I could specifically ascertain when each had been achieved.

How, though, could I make it a goal to do something random? By making it a goal—at least the way I make goals, which is to devise a plan to properly execute and achieve them—doesn’t that remove the element of randomness? Furthermore, I (now) believe doing a random act of kindness shouldn’t even be a goal on a list as much as it should simply be a common thing people do in their daily lives.

And yet, I had made it a goal. I obviously felt I had been lacking in doing kind things on a whim, which, in my opinion, does not include tasks I believe should be automatic like holding doors open for others. I had to clearly make it a goal to do something I should have been doing for years. I have learned a great deal since I started this project nearly a year ago, evidenced in part in the letter I wrote to my future self, and doing nice things just to be nice was one of them. Though I may be somewhat dismayed that it took me nearly thirty years to figure it out, to use a trite saying: better late than never.

My random act of kindness itself is hardly worth mentioning, as my intentions for creating the goal were not so I could then relate what generosity and kindness I bestowed on an unsuspecting person, but I will say that I accomplished it. And I was surprised when it occurred, which I suppose is exactly what I was going for. I hope to perform many more random acts of kindness in the coming years, and months, and days, and continue to be pleasantly surprised by achieving things for which I did not plan.

*For those curious readers, I will divulge that the act involved pro bono freelance work.

22) One Month without Saying a Negative Thing About Anyone

If I learned one thing from watching Bambi, it’s that Walt Disney and company were quite content with teaching little kids the awful truth that sometimes you can lose your mother unexpectedly and at a very young age. If there are two things I learned from that much-beloved childhood film, the second is, “If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nuthin’ at all.” For those who may have forgotten, this is said by the little rabbit Thumper, who, after announcing that Bambi doesn’t walk very well, is reminded by his mother of his father’s advice to be nice.

Though I’m not sure I need to be reminded too often of the first lesson, I definitely could and should heed Thumper’s father’s advice much more frequently than I do. I don’t consider myself negative, whiny or gossipy, but throughout my nearly thirty years I have spewed more negativity than I’d like to admit.

I am not a religious person, as evidenced in my post about practicing spirituality for one month, so the main ideology I try to live by is that of the Golden Rule: treat others as you would like to be treated. While I hardly live a life void of speaking ill of others, I do try to be conscious of it and keep such comments to a minimum. Selfishly, perhaps, I just wouldn’t want people saying mean things about me.

That philosophy, however, has not kept the negative self-talk to a minimum. I have always been my biggest critic, and seemingly have no issue saying negative things about myself. I am fine standing in front of the mirror and stating every perceived flaw and thing here or there that could be improved. If I’m watching Jeopardy!, and I miss a question to which I know the answer, I readily put the heel of my palm to my forehead and make a sound akin to Homer Simpson’s “Doh!” Come to think of it, I often have no trouble unleashing a litany of similar gestures and sounds on the innocent game show contestants themselves—primarily during Wheel of Fortune—if the answer is so painfully obvious to me, but so completely lost on them. (I understand that, in addition to my goal of playing Bingo at a Bingo Hall, this offers more evidence of my fondness for “grandma”-like activities).

I wanted to see if I could make it one month without uttering such off-putting talk—to and about others (even if my voice doesn’t penetrate through TVs), and to and about myself. I knew it would be a challenge I would need to focus on intently and intensely, considering I had formed the unpleasant habit decades ago.

To achieve success, I decided to avoid using gimmicks, or multi-step plans, or rubber bands I’d snap on my wrist every time I reverted to my old ways–not that those ways of quitting bad habits don’t work for a lot of people. For me, though, I knew that focus and willpower would be the only way to go. I would just quit it.

And, essentially, I did just that, which makes it sound considerably easier than it was. In part, I simply talked less—which is difficult in its own right because I am a talker. But I focused, with every ounce of my mind, on not saying anything mean or nasty or whiny, and instead sought the positive in everyone, and everything, and talked only of that. When this proved difficult, I resorted to Thumper’s dad’s advice and just kept my mouth shut. I let my thoughts go to battle on my mouth’s behalf, and that seemed to work out for the most part.

I’ll admit that I sometimes came up with ways to make a certain negative thought or feeling known, without actually saying it, which I chalked up to being crafty rather than a broken streak of no negative talk.

For example, if someone swerved right in front of me on the highway without using his turn signal, I might have said something like, “Gosh, I’m so appreciative of all the drivers in the world who use their turn signal when they rapidly switch lanes and are nearly touching bumpers with the car behind them,” and then of course think, Even if I’m not experiencing any of those drivers here!

Or, perhaps, if a Wheel of Fortune puzzle was missing only one letter, say, the “x” in the word “experience,” I might say to the contestant, “Oh, my gosh! You are a mor….ally decent person, no doubt, because surely they don’t let immoral people on the show.”

Like I said, I found ways around saying negative things. But, for the most part, I practiced using the filter in my brain that sometimes—and sometimes rarely—keeps thoughts from finding their way to and out of my mouth. I also realized that the less I said negative things, the less I thought them. It was somewhat of a self-fulfilling cycle that was beneficial to others and to myself.

Disney and the gang may have had a few, I’ll say interesting, ideas about what people should be made aware of at a young age, but teaching them, albeit via a talking rabbit, to withhold negative thoughts rather than unleashing them on people, or animals, was certainly not a bad one.

6) Write a Personal Letter to be Read at Age Fifty

As I’ve learned this past year, more than in any other of my past nearly-thirty, life sure can change, even if you thought you had a course plotted out, or at least a very good idea of a course. Things you thought you knew for certain can change dramatically, and you can find yourself in places, with people, doing jobs you may never have envisioned. I guess what they say about the only certainties in life being death and taxes is true–though I suppose you can avoid the latter if you take yourself off the grid and live in a cave. But if you’ve seen The Croods, that idea didn’t work out too well for Grug and his family, as they still couldn’t escape the inevitably of change. I guess what I’m saying is that life throws curve balls, and even living in a cave won’t keep you from them.

Earlier this year I wrote a letter to my ten-year-old self, partly as preparation for this goal, but also because it seemed like a cathartic self-reflective activity. The intention wasn’t to write a list of regrets, but to accept and understand what I’ve learned about myself based on choices I’ve made. Although I enjoyed writing to my younger self, I don’t know that I would truly want that version of me to have known what I know now. Sure, what they say about hindsight is true, but who learns or grows out of perfection?

I didn’t foresee many of the changes that have occurred in the past ten months alone, and if I had written a letter to my thirty-year-old self at the beginning of this 30×30 experiment, I would surely read it in eight weeks and laugh. There is no way to predict, or at this point even take a wild stab at, what will happen in the next twenty years, but I know what I’ve learned so far, and I know what I hope those years will entail. I look forward to reading the following letter (only bits of which are included) to see how much more I will have grown, and to see how many curve balls came my way and what I was able to do with them.

Dear fifty-year-old me,

Happy birthday! Can you believe you are fifty! I can’t! Surely you remember those cards you used to send your family members when you were a kid espousing your incredulity at the fact that each relative was, indeed, that old?. And now you are that old. Or, rather, that young. Despite the trepidation you felt about turning the big three-zero, you have always known that age is just a number; how you feel is what’s most important.

So, here you are, celebrating fifty years of life. And not just life; living. Some of that time was tough, and frustrating, and full of anxiety and apprehension. Some of that time you felt unsure about everything, and that your life had been completely turned upside down and you were rapidly barrel-rolling towards the edge of a cliff.

But you had felt consternation before, like in middle school when you had to select the right color of bands for your braces so it wouldn’t look like you had food stuck in your teeth, or when you had to choose the perfect Halloween outfit that would be fun and unique, yet also keep you warm in that chilly Alaskan weather. As you came to find out, you’d get food stuck in your braces no matter what color the bands were, and the homemade bear costume–accompanied with a mask that looked like a rat’s face–was certainly unique, though maybe not quite in the way you had hoped.

With each difficult time, you were able to find a solution and move on. Sure, maybe what you settled on at the time wasn’t always the best choice, and maybe sometimes it was a downright bad decision, but everything worked out okay and led you to where you are now.

There is no such thing as perfection. It is human to be fallible. No matter how hard you try to make your life perfect, there will always be flaws. Be true to yourself, be kind to others, and be as good of a steward to your environment as you can be. Be grateful for the rough patches, for that’s when you were able to learn and grow more than you thought was possible, and be grateful for your experiences.

You have experienced love, of the deepest, most unconditional, and most forgiving kind, which has shown you that there are people who know you inside and out, and know of your imperfections, and still think the world of you. I hope by now you love yourself as much.

You have experienced heart-rending loss, which has helped you appreciate those you love much more than if you had never felt the pain and anguish of losing people you care about. Loss has also further impressed in your mind how precious and short life is, and that it’s important to express your love and gratitude for people as often as possible.

You have experienced the creation of life-long friendships. The kind where you can go a decade without seeing each other, but the second you meet again, everything is exactly as it always had been. Sure, you have a few more wrinkles, and you desire just a glass or two of wine with dinner—rather than gulping down “duck farts” and other now-horrible-sounding mixes of alcohol out of shot glasses glued to a ski just to get drunk—but you still laugh at the same jokes, talk endlessly about everything under the African night sky, and belt out songs from The Lion King while driving through the savanna on search for wildlife. And yes, just like you did at twenty-seven, at fifty years of age you know that singing is probably the worst way to attract animals, but you’ll continue to do it because it’s fun.

Although your list of must-sees and must-dos will likely—hopefully—be never-ending, you have seen and done more things than many people dream of.

You have traveled across the the world.

You have watched a leopard stalk two impala in the wilds of Kruger National Park, you have watched hyenas pace hungrily while your stew cooked over the campfire and all that separated you from them was a fence, you have watched two behemoth rhinos stroll across the road right in front of your car, you have watched a baby elephant walk so closely behind its mom that surely its trunk was glued to her bum, and you have looked into the black eyes of a great white shark as it rammed the cage you were in that dangled over the side of a boat in the frigid Atlantic Ocean.

You have SCUBA dived the Great Barrier Reef, bungee jumped in Thailand, sky dived in Australia, crawled through a cave in Colombia, wire base-jumped in New Zealand, rappelled off Table Mountain in South Africa, and zip-lined through the jungles of Costa Rica—shortly before a sloth inched its way along the line before alighting in the trees.

You have also set many goals in your life. Some you have far surpassed, and others you have not achieved, which is okay. If you easily accomplish every goal you set, you are not reaching high enough, nor are you giving yourself the opportunity to grow. The moment you stop striving to acquire new knowledge and new skills, or create music and stories–two things you love–your life will become dull. You know a little about what that’s like, and you know it’s not how you want to live. Always aspire to learn more, do more, and be more than you think is possible. Continue to learn from your failings and be grateful for your accomplishments.

Remember when you went one month without saying anything negative about anyone, including yourself? It worked wonders for your outlook on humanity, and self-esteem. You’ve always been great at finding the silver lining in things and putting a positive spin on things that can seem bleak, and you should continue to do it as often as necessary.

Remember when you meditated for thirty minutes a day for a month? You weren’t always able to completely quiet your mind and focus solely on your breathing, but it helped you find an inner calm and peace. Give it another shot in times of stress, which will surely arise again.

Remember when you were a kid how often you laughed so much and so hard that you peed your pants? Of course you do because it comprised a decent amount of your childhood! Always remember those carefree days of your youth, and that it’s okay to be completely and unabashedly out of control sometimes to get the most out of life. You can always buy new britches, but you can never exactly replicate an experience to get more out of it the second time because you held back the first time.

Remember at the age of three when you slipped your feet into your very first pair of ski boots, clicked into your bindings, and schussed down the double black diamond run smoothly and flawlessly? Of course you don’t; it didn’t happen. Do you remember going down your driveway, throwing your skis into a wedge to keep yourself from picking up too much speed, and then somehow doing the splits and a somersault at the same time, resulting in having a yard sale of your ski equipment and clothing? No? You don’t remember that either? You don’t remember it because you got back up, tried again, and fell again. And then you got back up, tried again, and fell again, and again, and again. Until you didn’t fall anymore, and you started to have fun, and you cast aside the number of times you had fallen, the times you had failed. Sure, you fell other times later on, but no one learns how to excel at something and then is perfect at it forever. At one time skiing was such a large part of your life that you were on the mountain from open to close every Saturday and Sunday, Thursday nights, and Monday and Friday afternoons. If there was snow on the mountain but not enough to open the lifts, you were hiking. Before there was any snow at all, you were training on land. You spent so much time loving something you had once failed at repeatedly that you likely still often dream about it.

Don’t let the fear of failing cripple you and leave you in a state of stagnancy. Idleness is not the devil’s playground as much as it is simply boring. You despise boring, so take risks like you did when you were a kid. Who cares if you fall, or screw up, or things don’t work out exactly as you intended or hoped they would? You learn from your mistakes, and anyone who knows an iota about you knows that learning is one of your favorite things to do.

When you get down on yourself for being selfish, think about your capacity to give.

You have walked dogs at a rescue shelter, you have tutored middle school students who weren’t fortunate like you to have parents who helped them with their homework, you have served food to homeless people, and you have routinely donated to organizations that help war veterans, the environment, and orphaned elephants.

No one is perfect, and what a boring world that would be if perfection existed, so continue to think about and exploit your positive traits that others find endearing and valuable, and that you should too. Work on improving those traits you find less than admirable.

Today you are fifty, which means that there is a very good chance you have lived half of your life. It also means, however, that you still have half left. You still have fifty years of exploration, discovery, growth and achievement. Seize every decade, every month, every day and every minute of this time. When you are done reading this, go look in the mirror and tell yourself you’re beautiful—no matter how many wrinkles you see—and then look inside yourself and know that you are beautiful.

Cheers to your first fifty!