I’m officially 30. How did that happen? I swear it was only a couple months ago that I wrote about my final lap as a twenty-something. I want to truly thank everyone for their generosity with my dog bed fundraiser. We’re so close to that $5,000 mark. There is still time to donate if you haven’t yet, click here and write “CACC Donation” in the notes. This has been one of the best birthdays ever so to end the celebrations, I’m sharing the 30 things I learned in my 30 years. Get excited.
1. Make goals – I made plenty of goals last year. I wanted to grow my following, create an inclusive community, and I wanted to help people adopt their own dog. Having goals motivated me and gave me something to strive for. I’m now working on new goals for my next trip around the sun.
2. It’s okay to fail – Besides foster failing (and proud of it) I failed plenty this year. I wrote articles that fell flat, I wore outfits that weren’t me, and I posted terrible photos. They say if you’re not failing, you’re not learning… one might say I’ve learned a lot.
3. Learn from it – As I mentioned, each time I failed, I had a learning moment. When events or posts didn’t go as planned, I took it as a time to understand why so I could do better next time. Knowledge is power.
4. Pivot – Instead of an all-or-nothing mindset when it comes to failure, I take the pivot approach. If something isn’t working, go in a new direction.
5. Don’t waste energy – Ugh. I’ve wasted so much energy on decisions that weren’t mine. Time I could have spent being productive and focusing on things I could change.
6. It’s not about me – Similarly, I took things personally that really didn’t concern me at all. When I’m putting my heart and soul into this, it’s hard to separate myself out from my work, but it’s so necessary.
7. Check your ego – I know a lot about rescue work and social media, but I don’t know it all. Probably not even half of it. When someone has a better idea, run with it.
8. Own it – I mean all of it. The good, the bad, and the wtf. As Lisa Rinna would say, “own your sh*t.” I am a true believer in this saying.
9. Go with the flow – Things happen, like a photographer canceling on you 45 minutes before a shoot in a foreign city. Take it as a challenge and find a new opportunity.
10. Celebrate your achievements – I was told bragging is bad so I tend to downplay my accolades. In truth, I am pretty damn proud of myself for things I’ve accomplished this year. Damn proud.
11. Fake it till you make it – In the beginning (and now) it was extremely awkward posing for pictures trying to be some sort of Instagram model. Confidence has been my best accessory.
12. Get out of your comfort zone – Growth wasn’t happening in my safe space so I forced myself into new situations. Guess what? I got inspired and felt creative.
13. Everyone has an opinion – The only one that matters is your own. If I listened to everyone’s opinion about what I’m doing, I wouldn’t be doing it.
14. Listen to constructive criticism – Sure, it’s hard, but I’m always looking for ways to improve. If they’re coming from a good place, listen. It’s up to you to decide whether or not to act on their advice.
15. Screw the haters – There’s a fine line between criticism and just negativity. I’ve had some tough conversations that in the end, said more about the other person than my work.
16. Trust your gut – I love logic, sometimes too much. I’ll try to convince myself out of something only to realize I should have listened to that little voice in my head all along.
17. Say thank you – You really cannot say it enough. From my husband to my photographer, to collaborators, friends, and shelters, I think the world of them. I try to let them know it as much as I can.
18. Practice self-care – Compassion Fatigue is real and it’s scary. In order to decompress, I watch reality tv (hey Bravo) and hit up dance classes. It’s my “me time” and it’s oh-so-important.
19. Go for it – I’m a constant over-analyzer. I weigh the pros and cons for days before deciding on something. I’ve been trying to work on that and simply go for things, because what’s the worst that can happen?
20. Don’t put it off – In truth, I hate responding to emails and working through tough projects. But then my guilt piles up and what I’ve put off becomes even more of a burden. Tackling the things I don’t want to do first thing in the morning sets the tone for my day.
21. Ask for help – I simply cannot do it all, nor do I want to. I know what I’m good at and where I struggle and when I need to ask for help.
22. Laugh, a lot – If I got upset about every single thing that went wrong, I’d be in a very dark world. The days that nothing goes right, I tend to laugh the most.
23. Say yes – You never know where an opportunity can take you. I’ve said yes to things that I’d normally shy away from and it’s led to some amazing experiences.
24. Say no – I only have so much time and if I said yes to everything, I’d burn out quickly. Saying no to some events has kept me sane.
25. Put in the work – From what I’ve seen, read, and experienced, there are no shortcuts to success. Some people may get lucky but there’s no substitute for hard work.
26. Do what you love – I can’t believe there was a time I wasn’t doing Rescue in Style. I’m not sure how I filled my days or what I did with my free time. Life is so much more enjoyable now, go out and do what you love.
27. Apologize often – If you mess up, let them know. Some people think apologizing is weakness but I think it’s a sign of power.
28. If you like it, say it – There are times when I write a really good post and then press publish only to hear crickets. As a writer, there’s nothing better than hearing how much someone enjoyed your work.
29. Be kind – I don’t really understand why people are rude and mean. Kindness is free and it makes the world a better place. If we were all as loving as dogs, the world would be a better place.
30. Be yourself – Sure my last tidbit of knowledge might be cliche, but it’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned in 30 years. I finally feel like myself and that’s because I’m okay with being the perpetually awkward, quirky, animal-obsessed person that I am. Let your freak flag fly.
There you have it. All the things I’ve learned in 30 years on Earth. It’s been quite the journey and I can’t wait to see where this next decade takes me. Thanks for being on this wild ride with me.
These photos originally appeared in the April issue of Chicago Splash. Both Cookie and Bella have since been adopted.
If you’re looking for your own pup, check out handsome Leon!
This skirt is so old but yet I find myself wearing it all the time. It’s one of my favorites. I snagged this sweater while in Florida and have been wearing it on repeat. Shop similar look below!