My birthday this year is a little different than it’s been in the previous years. As much as I’m trying to stay positive today and celebrate, it just doesn’t feel right to celebrate given the social injustices that our country is going through. Over the weekend, I was fairly quiet on social media because I wanted to take time to properly educate myself and sit down as a family — with Brexton — to discuss what we can do to make a change.

In my opinion, we can share all of the pretty graphics and Instagram stories, but real change starts at home. If we can educate our children to be open-minded, accepting, and genuinely kind to everyone, then I can’t see why we wouldn’t be moving towards change.

In my 34 years of life, I’ve learned a lot, but what sticks out to me the most is that love conquers all. Love of all races, love of all genders, love of all sexual preferences. Sure, this week it is a priority for me to help spread the word and the love, but in all reality, it should be every single day — even last week when we were taking these photos. This is something that I’m going to make more of a priority in my life, and I encourage you to do the same.

There are plenty of other things that I’ve learned through experiences, education, and research that have gotten me where I am today. See below for 34 that really stick out to me on my 34th birthday.

  1. Teach your children to love everyone — not to focus on race, gender, size, or preferences.
  2. It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept and celebrate those differences – Audre Lorde
  3. Surround yourself with love. Whether it’s self-love, love for your friends/family, the people that love YOU — they’re the ones that deserve your focus.
  4. Family first. Always.
  5. The best time is the time spent with family.
  6. There will always be another email, another social post to read, etc., but the time spent with your child you may not get back as they grow.
  7. Be kind to yourself. Focus on self-love instead of all the things you don’t like about your body.
  8. Give yourself the space to grieve, process, and heal from trauma on your own timeline.
  9. Shift your focus: Instead of focusing on what’s wrong in your life, focus on what’s going right.
  10. Treat yourself once and a while, eat the cake, buy the shoes.
  11. Infertility has changed me forever, and I choose to focus on how it has made me stronger.
  12. Read Jesus calling, a relationship with God is the most important one you’ll have.
  13. God is within her, she will not fall. Psalm 46:5
  14. Take time to reach out to others.
  15. Stop being “busy” just to say you are, and take time to enjoy life.
  16. Don’t just make a plan — actually execute. Yes, it will be hard, but you owe it to yourself to try.
  17. You have enough time. You are the one who chooses how you spend it.
  18. Winged out eyeliner looks the best. Period.
  19. To quickly figure out a 20% tip take the first two numbers and add them together. Tip on $48? 4.8 the 4.8 is $9.6
  20. You will love high waisted swimsuits. Your husband will forever hate them.
  21. To-do lists on actual paper are the key to maintaining organization.
  22. A successful business starts with a successful team.
  23. Take the risk. It’ll always pay off in the end, even if it’s just a learning experience.
  24. Traveling is the best way to discover and educate yourself.
  25. Locking yourself in a bathroom with a space heater may be the only way to write a damn book.
  26. Invest in your skin! You’ll thank me later, you twenty-somethings! And don’t forget your neck and chest when applying your products!
  27. Start taking care of your health now, not later.
  28. I can’t stay out drinking cocktails all night like I could in my 20s.
  29. Placing a wooden spoon over a boiling pot will help it to not overflow.
  30. Take time to exercise. Find what you like to do (which may not be the same as your friends), and make time in your schedule for it. When it becomes part of your routine, and you find what you enjoy, it’s not a chore. You will look forward to it.
  31. The 80/20 rule for eating is a great way to keep a balanced diet AND get in your snacking.
  32. I’ll never be a person to meditate and do relaxing yoga, and that’s ok.
  33. Cutting pool noodles and shoving them in your tall boots help them stay standing.
  34. If your hair is in desperate need of a wash, throw it up in a ponytail and toss on a bold lip. No one will notice your dirty hair now!