14 Life Lessons Learned during My 43rd Year
Monday February 28, 2022

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With each year’s conclusion as marked by my birthday, the understanding of what true contentment is deepens.

As many readers who have been readers of TSLL for some time noted last week, my birthday is sometime during the month of February, and it happens to be today (my 43rd). Over the course of this past year, as I have been completing The Road to Le Papillon (TSLL’s 3rd book) as well as sharpening the blog’s new design to reflect and communicate more clearly what living with true contentment means at its core in the most simple, but no simpler as to contain the full breadth and depth of what it is in our lives, I have been ever more consciously assessing my own life. Editing, letting go, adding – whatever was needed in order to find, experience and revel in a life of true contentment each day even if few people understood where I found my sense of calm, my steady internal compass and clarity of direction.

Without question, this past year has had turbulence, heartbreak, and quandaries unwanted, but so too has the past twelve months lifted unnecessary burdens, deepened my breath and given me much to celebrate.

As is evidenced by the events of the world, there is much we cannot control, but there is also oh so much that we can, and for me, what I have discovered is that the grounding, steadying skill to know and practice is welcoming true contentment into our lives.

Today I would like to share with you, as is tradition each year on my birthday, life lessons that came to the forefront of my life journey during the past year, and made me take notice. My hope, my goal, is to carry these lessons with me so there is no need to repeat the lesson.

1. A must-have skill to understand and exercise daily in order to experience true contentment: the ability to think critically

There will be days, moments and events that break our hearts. Many, we will have no control over, but what we do have control over is how we take in information about any given event. In the 9th chapter of my new book, the theme involves the necessity of thinking critically and what that looks like in our everyday lives. Including anecdotal examples of my own life journey, I share specific questions to ask and information to gather before coming to any conclusions and jumping to any side. Responding, rather than reacting, gives us time to fully consider the depth of the event. Not only does this give us some control, but it also gives us the information we can trust so that we don’t wind ourselves up in unnecessary worry, anger and fear. In other words, it gives us tangible information to further the conversation rather than fuel misinformation being spread further.

True contentment is the steady and ever-flowing stream of peace of mind. The peace of mind comes from knowing we can handle whatever occurs – wanted (savoring it deeply, so as never to take the goodness for granted) and unwanted (trusting we will not cause ourselves unnecessary pain and stress because we know how to acquire the information, the accurate information we need to move through the unwanted events/moments well and not cause ourselves or others additional strife).

2. In order to live differently, to live the life we want but are not currently, we will have to go through a period of struggle

3. In order to feel great joy, we must let ourselves grieve fully when there is loss.

4. You will never regret being love in your actions and words. Speak and act from a place of integrity and you will be at peace with how you travel. (this includes how you treat and speak to yourself)

5. Serendipity happens for a reason, we just may not always know immediately why it has happened.

6. Learn how to savor, and your life elevates as you never before imagined it could.

7. Play boardgames and card games more often – step away from the screen. More connection occurs and more opportunities to talk comfortably with those who may not be comfortable talking over a cuppa or cup of coffee and looking at each other directly.

8. Garden to enjoy the days and the seasons (and the conversations with neighbors it sparks!), rather than to perfect or ‘mold’ Mother Nature, or for a specific and narrow outcome. Enjoy the process and dance with what Mother Nature provides.

9. Sometimes, insecurities in others present themselves as hurtful statements about our life choices. Note their pain, even though unacknowledged, and don’t let what they share bear any weight on the deep fulfillment your life journey brings you.

10. Celeriac (aka celery root) rocks!

11. Don’t let anyone tell you that being ‘direct’ is a fault. You simply have the courage and the clarity to know what you want/need when others either didn’t expect you to have a voice or didn’t want you to have a voice.

Keep speaking, making sure to do so respectfully, yet clearly. Follow Marshall Rosenburg’s non-violent communication steps – (1) state what you observe specifically (2) share the feeling you have that was caused by their specific actions; (3) state what you need regarding feeling or what you value and (4) state your request, specifically with concrete language. View the detailed pdf here of the four steps.

12. Part of being loving involves allowing people you love to be who they are and do what they need to find their peace, but don’t forget to only be in relationships with people who allow you to be who you are and do what you need to find your peace.

13. Be yourself. All of the goofy, yep, all of it.

14. Be brave, be open and let go. Let life surprise you.

In TSLL’s 3rd book I will share how while letting go can be frightening, temporarily painful and confusing, it can also reveal a life of wonderful surprises and more joy and reasons to celebrate than you may have ever imagined. In many ways sharing the book with readers is my act of being brave and open and, yep, letting go as well. The Road to Le Papillon: Daily Meditations on True Contentment will be ‘let go’ out into the public in a few short hours (paperback and hardback). Stop by tomorrow when I will share a video sharing glimpses inside the book, read an excerpt and walk readers through how the book is organized as well as share what exactly ‘Le Papillon’ really means (besides the literal translation of being the French word for butterfly). I do hope you will join me.

Past Birthday Posts

10 Birthday Revelations After 37 Years

Thesimplyluxuriouslife.com | The Simply Luxurious Life

54 thoughts on “14 Life Lessons Learned during My 43rd Year

  1. Wishing you a very happy birthday today, Shannon! May the coming year bring you continued health, happiness, and contentment.

  2. Happy birthday, Shannon! May this year be filled with much health, happiness, growth, exploration, and connection! May it also bring you what fills your heart and provides joy!

  3. Happy Birthday Shannon !
    May your year be filled with health and happiness, fun and friendship .
    With love and best wishes
    x Anne x

  4. Happy Birthday Shannon! I hope your day and your year ahead reveals many gifts to you. You have shared many thoughts and gifts on your blog and I am looking forward to reading your new book! Many Happy Birthday wishes and an ear rub to Norman!

  5. Shannon,

    Love this round-up of lessons learned each year. I may have to start doing the same thing because it seems like a helpful exercise and great resource to revisit. I particularly appreciate what you say about peace of mind in #1.

    May the coming year bring more enriching life lessons, adventure, and moments of joy. Have a wonderful birthday!


    1. Thank you Laurie. My understanding and experience with learning, then teaching and then practicing this skill has been crucial and fundamental in not letting myself be led with the emotions others express and instead, steady myself so that I can think through all that is happening, ask the necessary questions and give myself time. Prior to understanding this skill, so much more unnecessary stress was felt primarily because I dwelled in hopelessness and worry, now, while I cannot solve or help as I might hope, I can at least feel I am grounded and can let unnecessary fears and stress pass me by. Thank you for stopping by today and thank you for the birthday wishes. xo

  6. Happiest of birthdays Shannon!! Wishing you a spectacular day!! What a wonderful way to begin your 44th year; by launching a new book, which is truly a gift to us, your readers ?

  7. Happy Birthday, dear Shannon! 🙂
    I wish you all the very best to this new year of your life, all manner of things that are good, positive and beautiful, all that your heart desires and your mind dreams of.

    Thanks for sharing the ‘life lessons’ above. Very good points to reflect on. I can relate to most, but mostly 4,11, and 13. As for 1 and 6, I think they are paramount not just for a TSLL life, but for a life well and humanely lived.

    Now, about 7 and 10!, yes, indeed. 🙂
    We don’t watch TV. Reading is always on the menu: usually we read together for one hour or more, at the end of the day. Sometimes we will have music and games. And when we want to watch something interesting, we stream it or we will purchase the DVD, if it’s a film, and watch at our pace and convenience.

    Have a wonderful day! Pats to Norman. 🙂

  8. Best wishes on a beautiful and joyous birthday, Shannon! Your birthday ritual of reflecting on life lessons is admirable, and we could all learn from your list. You have discovered so many ways to live a life of contentment and purpose. Thank you for encouraging your community to savor life fully, and take risks. Xo Karen

  9. Happy Happy Happy birthday to YOU! I will say I am not very patient about the #3 item, I tend to be the one that is chosen to take care of everything and everyone despite how the event affects me. This ends up leaving me to deal with the grieving that is necessary, months or years later. It does play catch up I can attest. I embrace my goofy! I am so glad to be with someone who loves goofy and participates all the time! I know the difference, and having had 25 years of explaining jokes to a (former) spouse, just made me hide a big part of myself, not fun. I am working on the whole take a deep breath and go for the risk. I tend to be the ultimate planner and try to think of ANY possible outcomes a decision can render. Pre order will be done first thing tomorrow AM!!

  10. Happy Birthday Shannon. Truly hope you enjoy your day after this year will be a fsbo one for you as well as all us who enjoy your podcasts, a cuppa moments. And of course can’t wait for your new book.

  11. Ah, how like you Shannon, to be giving US a gift on your birthday. Thank you for sharing those wonderful discoveries and insights into how all of us might live ‘the life well-lived’. (Thinking Eleanor Roosevelt here: “Happiness is not a goal, it’s a by-product of a life well-lived.”)
    May your next journey around the sun reveal treasures large and small and your path be filled with soft rain & sunshine, bird-song & puppy snores, and wonderful adventures galore!
    Happiest of birthdays, Shannon! XO

  12. Happiest of birthdays, to you, Shannon! You truly inspire me to slow down, savor and make my life look and feel exactly how I was designed to! Hope you’re being properly celebrated! I will be celebrating my own tomorrow by officially ordering your book!

  13. Happy birthday, Shannon. I hope you feel a cloud of magical fairy dust enveloping you and following you throughout the whole day! Best, Meg

  14. Wishing you a joyeux anniversaire, Shannon!
    It is only when we stop to reflect on the year that has passed that we can truly recognize the lessons learned and appreciate the wisdom we’ve gained. Thank you for sharing with us today a snippet of the wisdom you’ve gained through real-life experience, so that we may apply those lessons to our own lives.
    You’ve inspired me to do a similar ritual and reflection on my next birthday 🙂
    May this year be threaded with moments filled with presence, so that you may truly savor and take delight in each and every one of them. ✨

  15. Happy Birthday Shannon-Thank you for sharing your special gifts with us for all these years. A book I have found quite inspirational is Meditations from The Mat by Rolf Gates. Wishing you many happy returns!

  16. Happy Birthday, Shannon! And welcome to 43 – it has treated me pretty well for the past few months : ) Sending all the best wishes, love, and gratitude to you and for you today! Fondly, Marina

  17. Birthdays are such special days, often for reasons of reflection. Your list is an accomplishment, and those lessons of life will serve you well. Finding that level of uncommon integrity in your life and sharing it with readers is surely another special reason for celebrating this Birthday. May this day be filled with internal sunshine because you deserve it. Your hard work is much appreciated.

  18. Happy Birthday, Shannon! I’ll be joining you in Club 43 in about eight months. I resonate so much with all you’ve shared on what you’ve learned, particularly the one about Mother Nature. Gardening started as a pandemic hobby of mine that I feel will stay with me for the rest of my life.

  19. Happiest of birthdays to you, Shannon. Cheers to fuller joys and truer contentment this year. PS. I am cherishing the fact that we are both Pisces ♓️. All the best to you.

  20. May today be the first day of an absolutely glorious new year, Shannon — happy birthday! And thank you for turning it on its head and being the one to give US the gift instead of how it’s usually done. Your insights are wise indeed. I laughed right out loud at #13 — it took me far too many years to fully embrace all my goofy instead of trying to subdue it!

  21. Happy Birthday from one Pisces to another! No wonder I admire you so much.?
    May this be the best year yet!

  22. Happy Birthday and thank you for sharing your observations. I find birthdays are a great time for reflection and will be doing the same later this week. I love having my birthday on the cusp of spring as it’s a lovely time of year.

  23. I hope you had a wonderful day yesterday, Shannon, and I look forward to again sharing the year ahead with you. Thanks for this annual list of “learnings”. There is some good stuff there!

  24. Belated but joyeux anniversaire Shannon. Hope you had a fabulous day with Norman and wishing you a joyful rest of the year.

  25. Bon anniversaire, ma chérie! What a lovely present you give to your readers on your special day! On my own birthday (in November), I also reflect on what I learned and how I changed (hopefully for the better) during the past year. I am sure you were able to celebrate your birthday by savoring the pleasures of life, including a delicious slice of cake and a heavenly chocolate truffle. Happy belated birthday! xoxo

  26. Happy belated birthday Shannon! I hope this next year around the sun brings even more insight and joy to your life.

  27. Belated birthday wishes sent to you, Shannon!
    What a way to begin your 44th year, with the release of a new book!
    I love reading your insights and I imagine if I made my own list – (maybe I will when my birthday arrives next month!) it would have a fair few lessons that I’ve learnt from TSLL and put it into practice in my own life.
    I hope this year is filled with more opportunities for you to learn, grow and be content!
    Sarah x

  28. Happy Birthday, Shannon!! Thank you for the many gifts of wisdom and fun with your musings, British Week, French Week and your must read T&T! XOXO

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