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31 Life Lessons in 31 Years

Photo by Simon Pais & Vero Monaco
Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment... ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Today, I turn 31.

When I was little, I used to think people in their 30s were really old. Now that I’m in my 30s, that perspective has quickly shifted.

Standing where I am today, I still feel like a little kid, except I’m doing my best in playing the part of an adult–trying to fit in with other grown-ups, and subsequently hiding the little kid within.

Having been obsessed with the topic of happiness and personal development over the past seven years (holy crap!), I feel like I’m becoming more and more in touch with the little kid inside–honest, candid, and established in love.

It is in the innocent wonder and the in-this-moment presence of the child where lies the secret to happiness.

Here are 31 life lessons I’ve learned, standing here today as a (slightly wiser) 31-year-old.

Video: The Power of Language + News

Hello. I’m trying something new. Sharing “big ideas” on video — ideas I’ve found helpful, inspiring or empowering. Check it out:


Click here to watch it on YouTube,

One of the many things I admire about my husband is that he is very prone to taking action. He doesn’t stay stranded for long talking in circles about what he wants. He will consider thoughtfully about what he wants, mention it once, and then he’ll go out to do something about it.

Over the last few months, Jeremy has been obsessed with filmmaking using digital SRL cameras. He is a still photographer by profession.

One day, he came home with a proposal to invest some of our money in photo gear, so that he can learn at home, and get better. Knowing how important it is to develop our passions, I agreed.

A week later, two large boxes showed up at our house. That same night, after Ryan went to bed, he excitedly unpacked everything, and set it all up in our kitchen. He dragged me out of my office, and said, “Honey, let’s do a video!”

Focus – How to Get It Done

Photo by Sandra Lara

When ever I find myself feeling frazzled by the distractions and never-ending list of to-dos, the answer to finding peace always come back to focus. “Focus, focus, focus!” my heart would say, while my mind is off racing in a hundred different directions.

Lately, when people ask me, “How are you?” my response has been “Busy”.

It’s true. I have been busy. Yet when I reflected deeper into why I’m busy, I discovered that I am mostly busy thinking about how busy I am.

I mean, yeah, I have a lot of tasks on my plate, but when I observed myself from a place of silent presence, I discovered that a huge amount of my time and energy was spent cycling through my list of growing to-do items in my head.

Problem Solving Secrets

Photo by aeschleah

I recently discovered a simple technique for problem solving that I thought you guys would love. But before diving in to this effective problem solving process, let me tell you the background story.

Lately, I’ve been struggling with this feeling of unproductive frustration. Maybe you can relate: feeling like you should be doing something, but you feel stuck, somehow unable to take productive action towards some end goal.

My problem is that I feel like I have a million things to do; yet I am finding it difficult to make any real progress with any of my projects. As a result, a whole day can go by without me making any progress forward.

Each day, when I look up to see that it’s already 3pm, I’ll start to feel frustrated at myself. I’ll feel annoyed that I had allowed another fruitless day to pass. I’d kick myself mentally for having “wasted” another precious day, which doesn’t help to inspire me to productivity or happiness.

Stop Chasing & Start Living

Photo by Kai Z Feng for Numéro magazine

The day I got the news that I had won the good mood blogger contest, felt like winning the lottery. Two months of built-up excitement, anxiety, and hard-earned daily marketing efforts had finally come to an end.

I remember the moment it happened, I felt a sense of relief and elation wash over my body, and I finally took a deep breath—for the first time in a few months, it seemed.

That same day, just a few hours later, I was running around doing last minute preparations for Ryan’s birthday party, and dealing with other personal drama. Suffice it to say that I was no longer in this bubble of joy and elation.

Even with over two months of built up anticipation and hard work, in a matter of hours, my mind was already racing for the next moment, seeking some other problem to hold on to.

Secret to a Healthy Relationship

Jeremy & Tina. Feb 12, 2009. Wedding day. Kauai, Hawaii.

When it comes to relationships, we all want love, security and support—all can be fulfilled by a healthy relationship. Aside from wanting the security that comes with a healthy relationship, we also want to appear to the world that our relationship is in fact a healthy one.

It’s funny that to the outside world, we try to display an image of perfection… with roses, smiles and rainbows.

But in reality, no matter how hard we try to appear perfect and got-our-stuff-together, on some level, we are also flawed humans trying to cover up that we’re not perfect.

I am one of these flawed humans. I think part of the reality of being human is that we make mistakes, we lose our patience, and that we aren’t perfect. This is the basis for all relationships— healthy or otherwise.

How to Focus + My Goals

Photo by Andrea D'Aquino. Follow him on facebook and flickr.

Do you feel overwhelmed by the number of things you want to focus on? Yet, you find it hard to make real progress forward? Perhaps, it’s time to slim down your list and focus on just one or two larger goals. I too didn’t know how to focus until an unexpected conversation with my husband exposed my problem. This is that story.

For New Year’s Eve last year, Jeremy and I were looking for something to do—a traditional party with an actual countdown, mingling with strangers, getting dressed up in swanky outfits, holding champagne, kissing at midnight, etc.

I felt so relieved when we were invited to such a party. “Finally, we’re not going to be orphans this year,” I thought. However, the Universe had other plans for us; something sweeter, something better.

Can you help me for 1 minute?

How often do you want to receive new articles from TSN? As you may have noticed, I started posting more frequently since the start of this year. I was toying with the idea of increasing the post frequency to daily, but I don’t want to annoy or overwhelm you. I want your input.

Please let me know your ideal preference. If the majority wants less than 5 times a week, then I will post less. Cool?

Please take a minute to fill out this quick survey. Thank you for your help!!

Love to you.
–Tina

Just for kicks, here are some articles from the past that you may like:

P.S. If you’re not already on our facebook page, you’re missing out in loads of fun. We’ve got weekly inspirational book giveaways, self reflective questions, and our daily inspirational quotes — hand picked just for you. Come on by and click the Like button. See you.

Why I Write

Photo by the talented Wynona Grey. See more of her work on flickr.

To me, writing is not work. Writing is like dancing with Existence, with Spirit, with God. It’s beautiful and precious. I get more satisfaction and energy from writing than I do from a few extra hours of sleep. Seriously.

Some days, when absorbed in the moment of writing down a stream of thoughts, I lose track of time, and I skip sleep altogether. And I function fine the next day–only with a bigger smile.

Sometimes a string of words will hit me so strongly that I will sit in front of the computer bawling. I cry, not because I am sad, but because I’ve experienced such intense joy that it moved me to tears.

Writing is just one form of creative outlet. I am no more qualified to write than you. And usually, as I relax and flow with my stream of consciousness, and write down whatever comes to mind, the result is surprising to me too. I am just a messenger after all.

Dreams Come True: Story of Audacity

Photo by Kai Z Feng. Follow him on flickr.

What are your dreams? What are you passionate about?

Around the time I graduated University I became fascinatedwith photography. It became my first passion. I dreamed of becoming a professional photographer.

I loved photography, and dove in head first determined to make my dreams come true. I read books, took countless images, invested in equipments, spent countless hours in Photoshop, attended gallery showings, and took classes on specialized subjects.

I loved photography so much that –at one point- I built a darkroom from scratch, rented a large loft space to have my ideal studio setup and eventually married a photographer – who I admired, because he was so confident with his craft and was among the few successful working photographers I’d met. Most other photographers I encountered all struggled to make ends meet.

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