Lessons Learned the Hard Way

I was inspired to write this list a few months ago after my luggage was misplaced coming home from Disney World. And we’ve all been told and reminded by airline employees not to check anything irreplaceable…but I got complacent because I’ve never lost luggage. I had run a race and received a super cool medal and I put it in my checked bag. And then the airline lost my bag. And I was heartbroken. My luggage was later found but it got me thinking about lessons it seems us humans just have to learn the hard way – after you’ve experienced it.

1. Don’t check anything in your luggage that’s irreplaceable.

It seems like such a “duh”… right up until you do it and you’re like “I CAN’T BELIEVE I DID THAT.” I was lucky and escaped this tough lesson with just a warning, but you better believe I have heard you Universe, and will pay more attention next time!


2. You lose friends, sometimes inexplicably.

Until you’ve lost a friend for what seems like no reason, and sometimes without closure, you don’t really understand what it’s like. But the older I’ve gotten and the more people I’ve talked to, the more I know this is a common occurrence. They either outgrow you, or are upset with you and never address it, or you just lose touch. It happens. And the hard way is experiencing it and learning how to get past it and let it go. I have had a few friendships end this way and I learned a lot from mourning the loss of those friends and dealing with letting it go.


3. Don’t cut your own hair.

I have mentioned this before (read about that here), but just don’t do it. Unless you’re a professional. Otherwise, you’re going to learn the hard way that cutting your own hair is a mistake you probably won’t make twice. And you’ll be growing out those bangs forever.

4. Life isn’t fair.

I know, I know – people say this all the time. You were probably first told this at five years old, and repeated it in your room while staring at your poster-covered walls and listening to angry music all through high school. But until life hands you a poop sandwich and tells you to eat it – and you HAVE to eat it – you don’t really know. And even when you’ve learned this lesson the hard way — it stays hard. <stamps foot> It’s just so… UNFAIR.


5. Loss and Gratitude.

Speaking of life being unfair – the loss of an immediate family member is a devastation that you’ll never understand until it happens. It’s not a fun topic, so I won’t dwell on it, but I will say this – The strongest I’ve ever seen some of my friends and family was during a loss. They felt broken, but as a bystander who has watched several people lose parents/siblings/husbands/wives? They’ve never looked stronger to me and never seemed more grateful for life and the loved ones still in it. It’s a lesson we will all learn – and the only way is the hard way.

6. It’s okay for dreams to change.

You have a plan, you have a goal, you’re on your way – and then you realize it’s not what you wanted or not going to happen. I experienced this and can tell you that no self-help book would have prepared me for the confusion and depression. It went a little something like this:

“But… this is what I wanted! I worked so hard to get here! And now I’m here and I hate it. Oh dear. I’m a ship without a course! I’m a board game without directions! I’m a architect without a plan! What am I ever going to do?”

Make a new plan. Dreams change. Okay Universe, duly noted.


Dream big, buddy!

7. Debt.

Ugh. No one wants it, plenty of people have it, and people that have it and get out of it usually learn from that hard-earned lesson. And it’s another thing you are warned about  – but you don’t really understand it until you’ve been under a mountain of it and need to dig your way out. Then the lesson (hopefully) has sunk in.

8. Tackle the nagging task before it’s a huge task.

Oomph, we’ve all done this right? Kept forgetting to update your insurance and then you get in an accident the next day? Put “Backup computer” on your To Do list for 6 months and then your hard drive crashes? Or something smaller – promised yourself you would take the trash out before it got overstuffed and put it off just long enough to spill said trash all over the kitchen floor?  Or let your precious cats’ rabies vaccinations go up by a few weeks and then a bat gets into your house and Animal Control has to take your beautiful fur babies to the POUND for FOUR days and SEPARATED them while they get the bat tested for rabies, resulting in FOUR days of tears, depression and guilt. No? That one is just me? Fine. Well consider that lesson learned.


Nomar & Pesky are besties and did not appreciate being in a scary place all alone.Their mom was equally unappreciative.

Have you learned any of these lessons? What other lessons do you think we have to learn the hard way? 


I’ll Try Anything Twice

I always say “I’ll try anything twice.” This started by learning early on that you can’t really judge most things by the first try. I tried asparagus and sweet potatoes and hated them both – but after trying them a second time, prepared by excellent cooks (my friends Tami & Eli), I discovered I liked them. So giving everything at least two chances is one of my Life Rules. Here’s a list of things I have tried twice and never need to try again:

1. Skiing

I’ve gone skiing twice in my life, both times in my mid-twenties. I left the mountain a reasonably good skier, getting past the bunny runs and onto the intermediate slopes without any injuries. But while I didn’t fall down the mountain, I found that I was constantly afraid of hurting myself. It just seems like a really silly way to A. Blow out your ACL or B. Die. Not to mention I was never happy while doing it – Cold and, inevitably wet, under the threat of injury, is not my idea of a good time.

2. Mission Space (Orange Team)

If you’re not familiar, Mission Space is a ride at EPCOT meant to simulate what an astronaut would feel during liftoff on a mission to Mars. I don’t normally have a problem with any motion sickness or thrill ride, but I felt yucky and had a headache for at least an hour after both times I rode Mission Space. And I wasn’t alone – after a few years, they started offering a “Green Team” mission, which does NOT simulate the centrifugal force (spinning) that makes most people nauseous. Honestly, I don’t know why I even gave it a second shot – the ride features a barf bag in front of your seat. Yeah, I’ll pass.

3. Cut my own hair

Bahahahaha just kidding! I have never cut my own hair. Plus…I feel like that’s a “try once and learn the hard way that it’s not for you” kind of thing.


4. Coffee

It’s just not my favorite flavor – or smell. Twice I have tried it from someone’s coffee pot and both times I was reminded I did not enjoy that flavor. I can handle a Java Chip from Starbucks, which is basically chocolate, sugar and whipped cream… with a hint of coffee. When I was younger I never wanted to try it because my Mum told me that it stunted your growth, and “Don’t you want to be tall like Papa?” So perhaps it’s a holdover from that because I sure do still want to be like my Papa.

5. See a game at Braves Stadium in Atlanta

Twice I have seen the Red Sox play the Braves and twice it has been unbelievably hot, crowded and dirty. And the traffic is a nightmare. Not to even mention the Red Sox lost both times. The Braves are getting a new stadium and maybe I’ll give that one a shot (okay, fine, TWO shots).

6. The Opera

Call me uncultured, call me lacking in good taste or education – but I really disliked the experience both times I have been to an opera. I mean, I love the spaghetti/Olive Garden/pasta commercial music as much as the next girl, but I just really did not enjoy either opera I saw. To quote Josh, I’d have to say they were too “singy”.

7. Wine

I tried wine on my 21st birthday (I was at a winery, in Tuscany. I know, best 21st birthday ever) and once while trying to Drink Around the World at EPCOT and the glass of wine in ‘Italy’ was on special… And that went a little like this: “A drink special, at Disney World? I’ll take it! …” (Sip, sip) …”Ew. I still hate wine!” (throws back rest of glass like it’s a shot). So, I’ve tried wine in actual Italy, and EPCOT Italy…if I can’t like it at either of those places, it’s not for me.

If I remember, I’ll come back and add to this particular list when more examples come up. It was fun to brainstorm and remember a few things that I had forgotten that after doing them, I was all set with never doing them again. Obviously I may go skiing again. I’m just saying I’m pretty sure I don’t ever NEED to.


Do you try everything twice like I do? Anything you’ve done a couple times and aren’t willing to try again?