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22 lessons, facts, and memories on the night before my birthday - and one thing I look forward to in 23 :)

The lessons

1. The thing you love might turn out to be the thing you hate. I loved retail... until I worked at Barnes & Noble.

2. Make friends with people who are what you are not. It's enlightening, and they will always give you the perspective you can't provide for yourself.

3. Forgive yourself. I mess up. So do you. Don't harbor pain you can relieve.

4. Show, don't simply tell, that you care. It may be a writer's line to "show, don't tell," but this will serve you better in real life.

5. Be careful of old traps. Some people will beckon for you to return to them. If it wasn't working back when, take soft steps forward if you step at all.

6. In the areas you usually say no, make the effort to say yes - and vice versa. You might pick up on some things you knew nothing about.

The facts

7. Learn about the healthcare system. It is not what it seems from the outside.

8. Take the time to know your rights - and your agency. How blind was I, my readers. Not only could I have improved the way I was treated, I could have improved my outcomes.

9. Life is cyclical. Don't fight it; embrace it. The highs come after the lows and the lows come after highs. Prepare for what's to come and hold on with the strength of grip that seems appropriate to you - and believe in yourself that you will make it through the next thing.

10. Courage is not always a virtue. It is wisdom to know when to be courageous and when to withdraw.

11. Don't underestimate what you know. I don't label myself as smart. But I am not unintelligent.

12. Take stock of what you are thankful for outside of the holiday season - because truthfully, it matters most outside of the times that most people say it matters. Feel thankful before you lose what you have to be thankful about.

13. The pumpkin is sweet. If something is a positive influence, don't sabotage it or you'll lose it.

14. Take the holiday. It's impossible to know what's on the horizon. Recharge while you can.

The memories

15. Sitting in the counselor's office, engaging in chatter about small things that I blew out of proportion. I look back and shrug and carry her messages forward.

16. Killing a massive spider at work to look up at smiling faces.

17. The last kiss. No explanation needed.

18. The many occasions I stood in the kitchen, ecstatic or devastated or confused or eager or anxious. It is still my kitchen to stand in many more times.

19. When I blew off commitments and had fun instead. I don't regret any of it.

20. The music and movies that colored my interpretation of life. I will not include them, because I am not finished savoring them just yet.

21. The pain of embracing loss and the pain of recovering. There is beauty in pain... and there is beauty in support.

22. The faces of all the people who I am still friends with after this trying year. Many hugs to you all for sticking by me - plenty did not, and each and every one of you have made this year so worth living. You make me smile.

In 23 I wish for stability, for lasting friendships, for memories good and bad, and may fortune favor us all.


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