Turning 30: Five Things I Learned in my 20s

30th birthday party

I remember once upon a time when turning 30 seemed a distant memory, not even a concern in the least. In my teens I remember talking to peers who said we were “old” now because we were graduating high school. I would tell them you’re only as old as you feel because I felt like I was 15 on a bad day (on a good day I feel 12). Most of my friends have always been older than me so I never concerned myself much with age and that it meant anything other than wisdom.

So tomorrow I’m turning 30. Today my partner says he’s planning something for me and that I need to be ready to leave for dinner at 5:30pm.

Update: David threw me a surprise party and I thought maybe it would be us, his mom and maybe my mom… But it was my family, friends and at my favorite place to eat (Saigon) and it makes me cry just thinking of how much trouble he went to… For me! I’m just in shock and tears as I write this and SO grateful to have these people in my life.

I’m just wondering.. how significant is it to turn 30? How do others feel about turning 30? Am I supposed to be preparing some big, bold change? Am I supposed to feel or act different? I don’t. I will tell you what I’ve learned by 30, though, and maybe it will help you no matter what age you are.

“You’re 30: You know stuff now. Your 20s were for ‘ducking up,’ as my auto-correct would say, and learning from those mistakes. (For instance, never again will I convince myself that sleep is for sissies and go straight from a party to the airport. You will not ‘sleep on the plane'; you’ll vomit in the security line. Go to bed.)” — Olivia Wilde

1. Don’t settle.

You’ll learn by now that settling to keep things nice now will not pay off. If you feel like your settling in your job, your relationship, your friendships, for something less than you feel is healthy and encouraging for you then you’re only delaying the pain of giving yourself what you need. Do it now, don’t wait another 30 years. If you don’t know what you want then take a few years to honestly find out what your purpose in life is.

2. Take care of yourself.

You probably stopped eating cake, dessert and chocolate for breakfast (unless it’s your birthday, ha!) with a side of a fast food lunch and little to no exercise because you’ve seen how you age when you care for yourself that way. You’ve seen how your body changes and becomes more sensitive. I can hardly even eat cheeses or most dairy products now without my body breaking out in hives and my throat closing! Our bodies become more sensitive to what is good or not-so-good as we age; to keep looking our best incorporating healthy meals and daily exercise is important. Trust me, I’m pretty petite and enjoy junk food.. but all of a sudden the combination was very apparently affecting how I felt and looked much faster than in my 20s. What I eat today affects my body much faster than it did as a younger woman. I can even tell how it affects my mood and energy quicker than that.

3. Explore yourself.

Similar to #1, find your purpose in life, what means most to you and find a way to do it. For instance one of my purposes is to inspire others to live a happier, creative life and I carry this online, in my family, in my work. Even just at home I spend a lot of my time doing crafty things with the kids, connecting with them and doing art journal projects. My spouse is a contemporary realism painter and when I am able to encourage him and give him more availability to work I am doing this. My other purpose is to LOVE love love with no reservations and this is something you can do no matter what you do for a living or where you are. You can donate to the needy, save animals from dying in shelters, so many options of things that are unrelated to your location, family, job, etc but the goal is ultimately to find your purpose and live it in every way. Start small and allow it to affect your whole life. When you’re living for your purpose you will feel it.

4. Know that personal style is ageless.

I am one of those women that doesn’t believe you have to change your style as you age. If you see me out and about you’ll think I’m a teen (until I get wrinkles I suppose) and be shocked to know I am married with children and a professional career. Does that mean I dress inappropriately for work? No. I do dye my hair pink, wear bunnies, frilly skirts and rainbows galore. I cannot stand reading articles (I saw a lot when writing this) that explain how women need to “dress their age” because that is different for everyone. If you love it and it makes you feel beautiful, wear it. If people don’t like it they probably aren’t good for your spirit.

amber renee

5. Family growth.

You always hear that around 30 your biological clock ticks louder.. Some women who didn’t ever want babies suddenly are warming up to the idea. Is this because they feel a time crunch or because they want to experience mother hood? Have a baby is a huge amount of responsibility, it’s the hardest and most rewarding job there is. Let alone having more than one. However if that is your dream you’ll probably hold that as important to you prior to turning 30. If you’re having babies because you feel like you should, don’t. Having a child requires you to be 100% in and even then it will be very hard some days. If you don’t want kids, embrace it. Don’t ever feel like you need to do something because you’re “supposed” to want to. I always wanted a child and fawned over the Cosby family.. low and behold I have 4 kids and it works for me; I’m extremely happy. I even consider having another sometimes. Would it work for you? I don’t know. I’ve met equal amounts of women who are drowning in their decision for a big family.

I don’t care how cliche it is, I will always adore this movie and it is one of the very few chick flicks I actually own (the other one is Riding in Cars With Boys which is good too). Plus it has Mark Ruffalo in it.


Freaking Out About Turning 30? @ The Guardian
What to Own Before You Turn 30 @ Harper’s Bazaar
Why No Woman Should Ever Be Scared of Turning 30 @ She Does the City
Quotes from Celebrities on Age @ POPSUGAR
22 Books Every Woman Needs to Read @ The Frisky

Time Heals Nothing, Waiting Makes it Worse


I read recently in a book that time does not heal anything, it’s what you do with that time. That is so accurately true and yet so opposite of what most others say (who are trying to be helpful) it scares me. So many people like to tell you that if you just get through it, time will heal your wounds. Time does nothing but prolong the issue if you’re not actively working on it. In fact time can even make the issue worse if you’re not working towards repair.

So.. write, read, talk, experience, explore, adventure, find people and things that are awesome and worthy of your precious time. Do that. I’m making it a point to knit more. I never really WANT anything I knit but I do want the meditative experience that comes with that. I think I may even go back to crocheting amigurumi for awhile and see what bears live inside my brain.

Another good idea? Make your home your castle.. so you can do all these things in your pretty kingdom and invite the special people over to feel and appreciate the magical energy you radiated into your walls. You may even share some tea and laughs that will permeate your home with even more of a sugar aura.

Inspired to knit away your time?

Amigurumi & Yarn

Pop-Out Cake Rings by EnnaDesign

Bamboo Wool Pastel Rainbow by LaFiabaRussa

I’ve been knitting with a magic yarn ball a penpal made me years ago that I never got to use… It has made the whole act of knitting that more exciting as I unwrap little gifts that fall out every 5 or so rows. Want to make one for a dear friend? Tiny Purrs has a feature on magic yarn balls here!

Cats Are Good for your Health


For those who don’t know, my life mascot and furry soul mate, Hobbes, passed away in early June. He was 17. It was completely heart shattering. I felt closer to him than anyone, having him near me for 17 years, a constant in my life and losing him was very tough.

I allowed myself time to mourn and fall apart for several days and then began to pick myself up the following. In the midst of this was my daughter’s birthday and other activities so to be a good mother I took maybe one to two days to completely grieve (alone) and nothing else.. the next few days I maintained a positive outlook for our children before they arrived back home.

The days following that we began to speak about whether we would want another pet and if it would be a dog or a cat.. David was eventually open that he would want another cat because his bond with Hobbes turned him into a full blown cat person. We waited until we could have a family meeting about the passing of Hobbes and if we would want another pet. We looked online the next whole night for babies to adopt and found a little Manx which looked like a relative of Hobbes. We adopted the next weekend and David named him Calvin in honor of his big brother. It took him maybe one eve before he was completely obsessed with David and I. He is crazy, kittenish and hyper half the time while snuggly, cuddly and a nap lover the other half. He is officially our new baby boy.

So what is it about cats that steal our hearts and soothe our souls? We all know petting our cats helps us relax and feel comforted like no one else, unconditional love and admiration for every pat, but did you know they can also detect your feelings and even medical emergencies such as seizures? That they lower blood pressure and instill a feeling of safety and security?

I’ve read about quite a few cats detecting seizures on the web these days and I know my own cat always knew when I was upset or sad as he would meow to me and lay on me for hours if needed. I read up about this and scientists don’t really understand much about it other than the cats are able to detect biochemical scents. Many cats even alert family if an owner is beginning to have a seizure. Did you know cat purrs encourage the mending of broken bones? Cats have also been known to wake and alert families of house fires while they sleep. Yes, cats can save lives AND improve your health and happiness. In fact, read 8 Benefits of Being a Cat Owner by Mental Floss.


Healthy Life Stylist: Caffeine Addiction



I drink tea and coffee all day, even at night. Are tea and coffee really healthy or unhealthy? What is the truth about how caffeine can help or hinder me from having a healthy life?Jamie, TN


This is an excellent question & certainly something that many people seem to struggle with these days. As a culture we’re overworked, under-rested and, as a result, highly caffeinated. Plus, because caffeine is an addictive substance that often causes withdrawal when you try to quit, it can be quite hard to shake the feeling of tired to wired and back again.

There are two sides to the argument about caffeine, on the one hand, moderate amounts of caffeine have been found to improve concentration, increase memory function, reduce muscle soreness and even possibly prevent Alzheimer’s disease. On the other hand, it also interferes with your absorption of vitamins & minerals, stimulates stress hormones, spikes your blood sugar and dehydrates your cells, causing premature aging.

From the sound of things, your personal caffeine consumption is certainly above average. Over time, consuming at your current rate could fatigue your adrenal glands, putting your body in a perpetual state of stress and exhaustion. Cutting back on your caffeine, especially from coffee, can bring things back into balance, help you sleep better, and allow your body to absorb important nutrients it could be missing out on.

If you were one of my clients, I would encourage you to choose tea over coffee for awhile. Yes, you’ll still be consuming caffeine, but the caffeine in tea is more bio-available to your body than the caffeine in coffee. Plus, since tea is super high in antioxidants, the healthy benefits far out way any damage done by the caffeine that accompanies it.

The other great thing about the caffeine in tea is that it varies from type to type. This is helpful when trying to reduce your stimulant consumption slowly to avoid withdrawal. You can start off by trading your cup of joe for a nice black tea, the most caffeinated variety of teas. Then switch to oolong, green & white teas, the next step down. Until finally you can switch things up entirely with some tasty herbal teas. With the exception of yerba mate, herbal teas contain no caffeine at all, but they do help to replace the ritual of waking up to a warm beverage. If you find that you miss the earthy taste of coffee after cutting back, you may want to check out Teeccino, an herbal tea brand that’s roasted to mimic that java taste without the harmful caffeine.

Happy Drinking,
Michelle Shea Walker, H.C.

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Finding Inspiration to Climb Higher


I sometimes hear I should find something to do when I’m sitting around puzzling over what’s inspiring me in that moment and which way I should move with it (which appears from the outside to be some sort of boredom or stagnation) but is actually me almost in a living/meditating state. I’m taking everything in around me, iI’m imagining and I’m stalling. I don’t usually move fast with new ideas; In fact I usually move so slow that I tire of them before I even get them finished. I also currently favor the idea that in your worst times (most depressed, most angry, most passionate) you make your greatest discoveries about yourself which in turn shells out some pretty brutally honest and amazing work. (ahem, Eminem)

Why is inspiration such a process? And how do you get inspiration? Sometimes.. I’ll admit.. I actually pull the inspiration and motivation to move ahead with ideas from dreams. I dreamt I finally went to Japan to study which let me to finally decide I would study in Japan while in college. I had to do all of the work to get there; my college didn’t really have any programs in Japan in place at the time. It happened! I couldn’t believe everything went as smoothly as it did (this seems to happen sometimes when you follow your heart — things go smooth and easy). They told me to pick several programs and apply because I might not get the one I want, I chose the one I wanted and didn’t even apply anywhere else. I got accepted.

My host family was the most rad family in the whole program because they also just started so they weren’t sure what to expect either and they had a daughter that was just a bit older than me. So that means lots of shopping, events, festivals, sake and karaoke with friends. They are so wonderful and amazing, I’m glad we’re still in touch. Eri, the daughter, and I practically became real sisters (and our bond is exactly the same after all of these years). That little push I needed to live in Japan as the Japanese do was not just a dream anymore, it was a reality.

Some well-known self-esteem experts, such as Jack Canfield, claim that a way of proving you’re on the right path in life: everything, no matter how hard it at first seems (change is often scary), seems to almost come easily and moves along smoothly. Now I’m not saying you’re likely to avoid obstacles if you follow your dreams. Because, in my experience, often times the harder something is to get, the more worth or value it carries. So whether obstacles get in the way or not, always be prepared for them. I’m only saying it feels right.. you just know it’s the way you’re supposed to go. There will likely be obstacles but not impossible ones, rather they are empowering ones.

I also dreamt (No, I do not live in a Dream Castle.) I started a store downtown (dream come true) and a magazine with friends and found happiness and fulfillment in that. I’m an artist and designer first and foremost. When I finally dropped News/Editorial from my major I felt a little remorse, but sadly not enough. Somehow writing was not something I was after anymore, it didn’t feel right anymore. So what did I do anyway? I took heed from my dream and started this mega blogazine that you’re staring at right now. I opened a connected shop and sold pendants, original artwork, prints and the most random handmade gifts. I (sort of) started working towards making that dream a reality.

If fact sometimes dreams you once had come floating back as if reminding you to keep on your journey but to perhaps try another route. Sometimes to become who you want to be you have to re-harness some of your past, favorable qualities that you let fall to the wayside. For instance recently I was obsessing over these more recent prints and images I was creating (never released) and now I’m considering listing them at the store here. They were pre-falling-down-the-rabbit-hole-again stage but became a pretty big series in my life for awhile and I actually enjoyed creating them a lot. I found again that I work well with dolls as models and I decided to mix typography in more like my web-based designs thus furthering my interest in print making once more. Finally.


Some other ways I get inspiration are as follows:
Japanese fashion and interior magazines, vintage woman’s magazines, 20s records, having a cup of black coffee or almond tea to get re-energized, taking a bubble bath with or without a book or candles and champagne, looking through my photo albums, looking through my record collection, hanging out with family & friends, taking a walk, swinging, carrying my camera, listening to electro, writing in my journal or any nearby notebook, getting out a pencil and a blank canvas and, most importantly, love and kisses from my husband and daughter. Every time I have genuine bonding time with my daughter I get an instant dose of inspiration.. I guess that’s why I tend to stay up quite late after her bedtime to work.

So want to pump up the process of getting inspiration by reading a few tips about gaining inspiration from other artists? That’s exactly what I had in mind. Also remember I always ask our featured artists to explain where they get inspiration from.

Need Inspiration?

Four Steps To Finding Inspiration, From An Idea DJ – I especially like the idea of video art, collaging video clips with music and/or audio.
50 Ways to Find Inspiration – I’ve done a lot of these and found some of them that I’d actually like to try. There are tons of great ideas here. I really liked: 31. Ask someone you love what they consider to be the most important thing they’ve ever learned., 34. Ask your parents to tell you what you were like as a child, and remember what mattered to you then. and 40. Spend time with children and see the world through their eyes.. Very positive and inspirational.
16 Ways to Get Motivated When You’re In a Slump