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Six "Secrets" For Living Your Best Life At Any Age!

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My mother always told me that she was sending me to college so that I would always be able to take care of myself, not to find a husband. Given the fact that her salary was considerably more than her soon-to-be husband's, she walked her talk. This was all the more remarkable because she was dating the guy who would be my dad back in the 1930's when such a thing was not the norm.

She told me that her parents had raised five kids with two simple rules: 1) Call if you're going to be late and, 2) no matter how bad you think it is, don't ever lie.

It wasn't until years later, when I was married and working as a high school English teacher, that I found myself explaining to an entire class of seventeen year old students, the merits of those two rules.

"Here's the thing about calling your parents," I'd say when there was an extra five minutes of waiting until the bell rang, "Parents can envision a horrific accident that leaves everyone dead at the scene. They will hold your funeral and mourn your loss for the rest of their lives ... in less than one second. They will be your worst nightmare if you waltz into your house without calling no matter if you are 20-45 minutes late. Any longer? It won't matter. Save yourself and just call."

About this lying thing. Don't ever do it. Not even one time. Never ever.

For the longest time, these two rules and the "taking care of myself" part were enough to live by. They got me through many adult milestones: my first apartment, first job, dating, getting married, first house, and, eventually, being a mom. Looking back on almost thirty years, I picked up a few of my own rules that, like my mom's rules, didn't just make my life easier, but have brought me happiness. Here, then, are my top six "secrets" for living your best life at any age.

1. Follow the rule of ten percent. Whenever someone hands you money, and, we'll assume that this is money you have honestly earned, take ten percent of the total and put it into a savings account that you absolutely can not touch until you are well into your forties. This is what I told my ten year old son who had just earned his first five dollars. "Always, remember," I said as I sat next to him on the living room couch, "that money saved works for you if you take care of it. Let's go down to the bank and open up a savings account for you and get you started on building for your dreams."

We didn't talk about money when I was growing up. Well, we did, but not like this. I'd worked from the time I was thirteen and knew how to put money aside for the short-term. But, I don't remember anyone ever sitting me down to talk about saving money for the long haul, or suggesting how I could do that and what the rewards would be.

2. Find a sport and play it for your lifetime. Growing up, I was a girl-jock at a school where our girls' varsity field hockey and lacrosse teams out-scored the boys varsity football and basket ball teams. Would you believe that in my junior and senior years in high school our girls' teams were undefeated and unscored upon? Okay, so that's me showing off. Here's the important part: playing team sports or finding a sport that you can play individually (golf, swimming, cycling, yoga, ballet or modern dance; running, to name the obvious ones) for your entire life will keep you fit and happy for a long time.

You'll be your own Amazon woman if you keep at it, even if you switch things up from time to time so you don't get bored. I was lifting weights with my boyfriend years before most women even knew what a weight room was.

Today? I'm an eight minute drive away from a gorgeous, Olympic sized pool. The three times a week that I swim laps is my creative zen time when I come up with my best ideas.

3. Find a great hair stylist. It took me years to find one. Trust me when I tell you that she was worth the wait. She's a magician. Let's face it, we can all use help some of the time. For my money, there is no better therapy than a stylist who knows her (his) stuff.

4. If you marry, marry a man who can dance or cook. If you're really lucky, you might find a guy who does both. There is nothing sexier than a man on a dance floor who's light on his feet; who moves to music like it's a second skin. But, the man I married discovered that cooking was a passion and always an adventure so that we sit down to meals that are better than any four star restaurant. His talent and culinary bliss more than makes up for the fact that he's never going to be on Dancing With the Stars with me.

5. Be gracious when you give up stilettos. The day that you realize the health of your back beats looking like a hot, sexy mama is bittersweet. I know. I've been there. For most of us, this too shall pass. And, on the days when you think that you can wear them just one more time? Go to your secret chocolate stash and dig in. Then, go for a run with your best friend or hike a trail with your dog. Or go shopping and buy the foxiest pair of flats you can find.

6. Embrace wherever you are however old you are! Remember when you were twelve, you couldn't wait to be thirteen? Or, when you were fifteen, you ached to be just one year older? How did you feel when you turned eighteen or twenty-one? All too soon, you're staring thirty in the bathroom mirror or coming up on the early side of forty. Fifty. Fifty-five? Almost sixty? Maybe you're walking with your sixty-five year old self or you're just the other side of seventy. Maybe eighty's looking pretty good right now.

It was my unexpected pleasure to meet a woman who was just shy of one hundred. She wore her stilettos with grace and style as she made her entrance on the arm of a good friend of mine. Now, you know: each age has its own milestones. Grab hold of every one. Never look so far ahead that you forget to pay attention to exactly where you are right now.


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