I wanted my 30th birthday to be a day without regrets, but one of the things I have long realized about being an adult is that it’s the little things that make the real difference. I still remember the day in my 18th year when I bought a trash can for my bedroom. It REVOLUTIONIZED life! No longer did I have to walk around the corner to the bathroom to throw away every gum wrapper and term paper draft. What’s more, I realized with stark clarity that I had my own car and my own money, thus it was totally within my power to make these small changes whenever I wanted. I was an adult.
I tend to agonize over small decisions, especially when money is involved, so I frequently ask myself if what I’m debating is the equivalent of the trashcan – is it a little thing that will make life a little better every single day? Is it a small investment for satisfaction?
With that in mind, these are the things I set out to do on my 30th birthday, and the fact that I followed through on every one of them was the perfect gift to myself:
- Get up a little early. Really do it, don’t just say you will and then lie there for half an hour.
- Take Ellie to Prospect Park during off-lead dog hours and watch her make that happy, bouncy face when you unclip her in the Long Meadow.
- Buy a carrot muffin from the farmers’ market and eat it for breakfast.
- Straighten up the house.
This is actually something I do almost every day before I sit down to work. I like my space to be tidy so I don’t have to think about it.
- Work. Consentrate. Get things done, lots of things. Don’t leave things on the table that will follow you at dinner.
- Order sushi for lunch.
- Tip the sushi delivery guy well so you don’t have to worry later about hurting his feelings and being a jerk.
- Bask in the well wishes.
- Go out to dinner. Do whatever sounds best – it doesn’t have to be new or fancy.
I failed this one a little because Jeff and I both worked until after 7, Jeff wasn’t feeling well, and it rained buckets most of the afternoon, so I had a hard time deciding what was going to be easy. Nothing sounded easy. In the end we went to Back 40 West in Manhattan, which I didn’t realize we had actually been to before until I walked up to the door. But it was perfect.
- Order whatever you damn well please, keeping in mind that entrees are seldom your favorite things on a menu.
I almost failed this one, too, because right after I placed my order for chilled sweet corn soup and warm kale salad, Jeff said, “Why didn’t you get the trout?! I thought you said the trout sounded good?” I had a decision crisis! But I did the right thing. The soup and salad were killer.
- Have just the right amount of wine.
- Two desserts would be a good idea. Chocolate pudding with a s’more-like topping and lemon chess pie with macerated strawberries.
- Don’t make it a late night.
So that’s my best advice on growing up: Happiness is almost never in the excess, it is in the predictable, the intentional. It’s in the trash can.
Here are a few pictures from my day.