Do you write “to-do” lists?

Either mentally or on paper?

Post-it (sticky) notes?

Google docs?

Scraps of paper?

Does this sound familiar?

Here’s my challenge to you:

Rather than write a big long TO-DO list, try writing the 5, 10, 25, or maybe 37 things you’ve learned since you graduated from high school. Include things you know are important and have been life affirming and changing.

It seems – at least for me – my real education started after high school.

How about you?

Here is my list:

  1. Omega fats and a good ratio of omega 3:6 is very important. (This was my first scientific LOVE. Still love it.)

  2. Vigorous exercise, especially strength training, trumps all other forms of physical activity. Do it! This lady was seminal in this. (This was my second scientific LOVE. Trust me, I wrote an entire literature review on this topic for my masters in science.)

  3. Do what makes sense for YOU.

  4. Know your habits; study them with curiosity and without compulsiveness. Change them when you need to change them. Don’t drink green protein smoothies because it works for someone else or go raw, or paleo, or get up at 5am to be “productive”. You are You. Figure out your own unique rhythm.

  5. Be selfish, because if you don’t, you might get cancer or some other autoimmune disease.

  6. Be selfless.

  7. You can learn a lot about a person and their entire history by how they make (or don’t make) eye contact.

  8. Play safe. But please, PLAY!

  9. Push and scare yourself from time to time (safely, of course). This is what makes positive neuroplasticity work.

  10. Leave your hometown for at least 6 months before you commit to anything that is lifelong.

  11. Stay home and live as an adult before you decide you have to leave for good.

  12. Learn to speak the language of humanity by travelling to places where they don’t speak your native tongue, have hot running water, toilets that flush, or organic and non-GMO foods.

  13. Love and commit quickly. All my great loves, even the ones that are no more, happened fast. No hesitation. I regret none of them.

  14. If the love dies and you no longer want commitment – leave cleanly. Thanks to my friend Lisa C. for teaching me this. I love you.

  15. No regrets. Only experiments. Just be sure to keep going back to the drawing board.

  16. Don’t assume anything. EVER.

  17. Rest is only rest when your nervous system fully comes down to baseline. Many of us have never actually experienced what true baseline REST is. This is why so many suffer from insomnia, chronic fatigue and adrenal exhaustion.

  18. Risk your friendships and tell the truth. If you don’t, you might get cancer or some other autoimmune disease.

  19. Risk your marriage and tell the truth. If you don’t, you might get cancer or some other autoimmune disease (notice a trend here?).

  20. Little white lies can be very useful. They can give you a night off. (Shhh…don’t tell my friends!)

  21. Chronic illness – physical, mental, emotional, relational – is epidemic. It’s a spectrum and nothing to be ashamed of – we are all in this together.

  22. Science has its place.

  23. (Some) science screws us up and leaves us with less answers (and more sick) than when we started!

  24. Walking is incredibly important. When did you last walk for 60+ minutes continuously taking deep, deep breaths?

  25. Walking isn’t enough. (Refer to point #2)

  26. Drink green juice, but without compulsion or the need to post it on social media all the time to get validation that you’re doing all the right things.

  27. Eat sugar and butter and flour. Without guilt. Consider posting it all over social media. Take a stand and be happy about it. (You only live once and the French can’t be totally wrong. Ummm…cheese and croissants…yes please!)

  28. Use Facebook wisely and fully. Many of my best connections and collaborations happened while “wasting” time on Facebook.

  29. Power off when you want to. Free will comes in many shapes and sizes.

  30. Addictions are there for a reason. Learn about yours because we all have them.

  31. Healing is individual. It is also communal.

  32. Kids need empathy and love.

  33. Adults need empathy and love just as much.

  34. Kids and adults need to experience empathy and love together.

  35. Healthy aggression is a must. (Not teaching our young this important primal emotion has screwed us up royally.)

  36. All shame is not created equal. Healthy shame is very different than toxic shame. (Blessings to these teachers that taught me this.)

  37. Never ever settle for less. Strive for more. And then some

* * *

Now go make your own list.


P.S. I wrote this from gut impulse while quickly scanning the years that have passed since 1993. What originally inspired this list was reading one of Seth Godin’s “lists” in 2006 and finally I got to it.