27 lessons I learned over 27 years that I put into practice.
1. Saying No: it took a lot of concentrated practice and active engagement to learn to say no, without explanation and often with a sense of humour. Now, when I say no – friends and family know I mean it although it wasn’t always like this.
2. Sobriety: Sobriety is my go to option and I work back from that. I don’t drink alcohol in situations unless I am 100% calm, and situations can stretch to a bottle of wine or it can barely cover a sip of something.
3. Stretching: I stretch every damn day. I stretch my back. My shoulders. Those muscles that run down either side of the inside of your thighs. It’s euphoric to me and grounds me.
4. Sleeping: well, yeh. This is a big one for me though – no sleep, no Emma.
5. Water: every morning, I have my big old 1 litre bottle of water with a Berocca in it. It makes me feel good, and to be honest I cannot be arsed making warm lemon water. That happened for one week straight, once, a couple of years ago.
6. Swearing: I swear a lot – it’s has the equivalent effect of a massive public fart. Feels so good and I love watching the reaction of people as they curl their lips and give me an unpleasant look. My current go-to phrase is ‘f***ing nonsense’.
7. Social Media: if friends are the family you choose, then the online community I surround myself with is the village we built. The interaction, sharing of knowledge, differing opinions, and debates in public, social spaces are vital – especially for introverted types.
8. EBT and CBT: Emotional Behaviour Therapy and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy changed my life during 2016. It was the best money I ever spent and the most personal decision I have ever taken.
9. Breakfast: current favourite is a slice of German bread, spread with chipotle sauce, avocado on top of that. Steamed spinach and two fried eggs on top of that. Black pepper on the toppest.
10. Reading: daily I read, whether it’s a news article or a book chapter or the comments section of a friends Instagram post.
11. Sex: of some form.
12. Check Myself: I grew up a certain type of way and certain things were taught to me, legacies of colonial forefathers, classist British living, a white-centric heteronormative fully-abled nuclear family existence, and a whole host of considerations that need to be unpacked, checked, brought to light, and critically considered.
13. Coffee: yes. Yes. Yes. Every day – one strong americano in the morning because there is no espresso bar selling reasonably priced, delicious double shots.
14. Croissant: pretty much a daily occurrence. Don’t deny joy. Buttery pastry is joy.
15. Stopping: I stop quite a lot, sometimes I need a nap and most of the time I just need a walk around the block and to loosen up my legs and back. Get the air flowing and some fresh air in my lungs. It feels good to stop, because if you don’t ever stop – how do you start?
16. Quiet: it took me a long time to realise how much I need time away from people – I don’t get lonely being by myself. When it’s just me, I can zone in on what’s going on around me and choose to follow up thoughts and stimulating things.
17. Dogs: Pretty self-explanatory, I love dogs – petting them, playing with them, walking them, cuddling them.
18. Sarcasm and Cynicism: like Bae 1 and Bae 2, these are my true loves.
19. Writing: it helps me release more effectively because, having been at boarding school where people talk, interrupt, and project their own issues onto you, writing means that I can outline and identify the core issues more effectively. Now, a decade after school the friends that I do have and that I do turn to don’t talk, interrupt, or project. Writing won’t solve everything and there’s a nice balance to be had because the experience of your friends and family is invaluable in solving issues.
20. Crying: it’s much better out that in – I cry in public, I cry in private, I cry with friends, I cry in the bath. I’m too tired and too old to be retaining this water, so let it be free.
21. Aesthetics: clothes, make-up, and waxing are some of the gendered identifiers I got slammed with at a young age and I can’t even begin to recognise them as problematic because they are so normalised. So, I do them, and I enjoy them.
22. Music: I have my workout playlist and it gets me moving every time. I mostly just listen to the same song on repeat until I can’t stand it anymore and then choose another one, and so the cycle goes on – forwards only, and never back.
23. Vegetables: vegetables changed my life, just learn to like them and be creative – listen to your vegan and vegetarian friends when they talk about cooking and steal their ideas because they are brilliant. Also, learn about seasoning and flavours because with less salt and fat, vegetables won’t taste good with ketchup, so you better get comfortable with cayenne.
24. Women: pay attention to the moves that women make because they are the soul of the earth – they literally create life. Watch them in meetings, listen to their podcasts, buy their clothes, support the artists, and read the history books. Some of the simplest and most profound lessons I’ve ever learned have come from women.
25. Sun Cream: come on, just do it. My daily moisturiser has SPF in it and I’ve been using it for years; obviously it’s impossible to tell what I would look like if I hadn’t used it. Nonetheless I am reassured and proud.
26. Night Cream: a recent revelation, and a very important one. Facemasks are good too. Someone recently pointed out to me that they don’t put stuff on their skin that they couldn’t eat; worth thinking about.
27. Quit: if you want to quit, do it and don’t look back.