By Hannah Brzozowski
I recently turned thirty so I thought I would share some tips I've learned throughout the years. Hope you enjoy it!
1. Learn to be vulnerable with multiple people.
When I was younger, I found it difficult to open up to others. I found it difficult to be completely honest about how I was doing. I thought being a "good Christian" meant putting a smile on your face and acting like everything was good. Now, I have been trying to be honest when friends ask how I’m doing. There’s no need to hide from people who really care about you. Depending on the friend, I'll share more or less but either way, I want to be honest. I want people to know that you can follow Jesus and still have bad days.
2. Figure out your hobbies.
I used to have one hobby: my dog. Then, I moved to Champaign and I had a lot more time on my hands with the whole Covid pandemic and all. Obviously, Albert’s still my number one, but now I have much more hobbies. Now, on a day off, I'm not just watching Netflix all day (ok, you'll still catch me doing this sometimes!). I hike, paint, travel, do a little interior design, and cooking, and recently, I’ve picked up woodworking. These hobbies give me life and help me to enjoy time more. I love accomplishing things and getting better. On top of all that, these allow me to do things that are outside of ministry. If you don’t know what your hobbies could be, just try some things out.
3. Value family.
Now, that I live three hours away from most of my family, I have come to value them so much more. I often wish that I could hang out with my niece and nephews all the time and love to see videos of them online from my sister. When my mom and dad come to visit, I just want them to stay longer. When we go back to Kenosha, I stay at my brother’s house and we stay up late talking. I love visiting my sister in Tennessee. I could go on and on.
4. Learn to do things by yourself.
There were times that I never wanted to go Target on my own. I would be upset and feel really lonely. Sometimes I still do but I’ve learned that those times by myself are valuable. I can take my time, listen to my music, and just relax, not having to worry about anyone else. Recently, I’ve even gone hiking by myself (which is huge considering all the Criminal Minds I've seen). When I’m by myself, I can pay attention to what God might be speaking to me more and I can just focus on Him.
5. Drink water.
Get a cute water bottle and try to get 9 cups a day in. It does wonders to your health. There have been multiple times that I’ve felt a cold coming on and I chugged water and it went away. It’s a miracle worker.
6. Figure out how to implement habits.
My husband, Nick, is the king of habits. It was his obsession for a while so naturally, I got into it too. Ever since I learned about habit stacking, it’s helped me realize that I can create new habits in my life. Check out this other blog for more info on how to do this. I’ve become much healthier since starting new habits like working out and flossing my teeth and my doctors are much happier with me because of it.
7. Prioritize your time with God.
As a follower of Jesus, I want to make sure that I’m spending time with him on a daily basis. But as we all know, life happens and when it does, it can be easy to forget. When I don’t spend time with him, I can tell that something is off. I’m more focused on what I want and less focused on what God would want. I’m more anxious and I don’t control my thoughts as well. So, I’ve learned to schedule my time with God into my calendar. It doesn’t happen at the same time every day but it happens and that’s the important part.
8. Realize that everyone needs therapy, not just you.
When I realized that I needed marriage counseling, I was very ashamed. I couldn’t believe that I was in that position. I thought that the only people who get marriage counseling are those headed for divorce. But instead, I found that it helped my marriage way more than anything else could have. We discovered how to communicate better and understand our pasts better. Now, I encourage anyone and everyone to get counseling at some point in their life. It helps you be a better friend, wife, mom, dad, husband, or just overall human.
9. Read your Bible with others.
I’ve recently started to do this on the Bible App and I love to see what others are learning and encouraging others on a daily basis. It’s a great way to stay connected that is focused on God.
10. Get the right rug size.
This is a funny one but for the longest time, I would always get the smaller rug because it was cheaper. But, it’s not really what’s right for the room. Every day, I see it and every day, I wish I would have gotten the bigger rug. If something is going to bug you every single day, it’s probably worth it (if you can afford it, of course).
11. Shop at the cheap grocery store.
I always thought of Aldi as the cheap store with no brand names. Then, a couple of years ago, I finally tried it. Let me tell you… I saved so much money. I couldn’t believe the price difference. Sure, they don’t have everything but the amount you’ll save is worth it. I promise they didn't pay me to say this - they're too cheap for that.
12. When you find a good show, make it last longer than the weekend.
You know that great show that you discover and then you watch all in a day? Yeah, don’t do that. Make it last at least a month or so.
13. Be okay with not knowing everything.
In ministry, people have asked me some BIG questions about God. In the past, I would try really hard to answer them, even when I didn’t really know. I thought I needed to do that to look smart. Now, I’ll say if I don’t know something or I’ll google it with them to try to figure it out. There’s no shame in not knowing.
14. Make friends in different spaces.
When all of your friends are from the same place, you start to have an echo chamber. If everyone believes the same things about everything, how are you supposed to grow? How are you supposed to help others grow? I’ve found it really helpful to have friends that don’t live in the same city as me or don’t believe everything the same way I do or have different political beliefs. This helps keep me listening to others.
15. Respond to every text.
It’s a nice thing to do and it helps others feel heard.
16. Make more thankful lists.
Being grateful for what you have is an important trait. I like to start with the basic necessities like my house, water, and food. Then, I just go on from there. Try to fill a whole page up. This is a great way to start the day.
17. Make a meal plan and grocery list.
When I first became an adult, I would just go to the grocery store and grab whatever looked good. Do you know what I did? I grabbed a lot of snacks and ice cream - not the best diet in the world. Ever since I started to meal plan, it has taken the stress out of figuring out what we’re going to eat that night. It’s helped save money too. Not sure what to cook? Check out my Pinterest board of different recipes I like.
18. Get a massage once a year.
I can’t afford to get a massage very often, but when I do, I feel like I’m really taking care of myself. It’s something I look forward to all year and it helps me be a lot less stressed out.
19. Clean up the dog poop, regularly.
I mean this figuratively and literally. Do you know what happens to your yard if you just leave it out there? It’s a big mess and your neighbors hate you. Similarly, if you never clean up your own life now and then, you’ll be stuck with a mess too. Evaluate your life to see if there’s anything that you need to repent for or get rid of.
20. Don’t be scared of new ideas.
I’ve learned to listen to others’ opinions, even if they think differently than me. You’ll be surprised at what stories you’ll hear once you actually take the time to listen, instead of just saying your opinion right away.
21. Allow God to speak to you through everyday experiences, even TV shows.
I once had a mentor who told me she had God speak to her through movies all the time. This fascinated me. She didn’t mean an old guy came down from the sky and started to speak to her through the screen. She meant the themes from the show would show her truth. I had never thought of God speaking to me through Michael Scott or Lorelai Gilmore but it can happen. Mostly, it happens through dramas for me. But God is working constantly, you just have to be aware of him.
22. Be brave enough to do the risky thing
In the last few years, I’ve taken quite a few risks. It’s always scary but it’s always worth it. If you feel like God might be leading you to do something, get some advice, read the Bible, and then do it!
23. Don’t be scared of power tools.
If you can learn to learn things like using power tools and drywalling, you can do a lot more with less money.
24. Figure out how to communicate your feelings well.
When I was younger I wouldn’t communicate my feelings very well so I would just bottle them up until they exploded. I thought this was the “Christian way” of dealing with my emotions. This created a lot of issues for Nick and me because I didn’t know how to articulate what was going on in my head with him at the right time. Instead, I would just freak out at the most minute mistake that Nick would make. So now I try to communicate what I’m feeling right away.
25. Learn how your upbringing has affected you.
If you can figure out your family dynamics, you can figure out why you react the way you do or why your partner does what he does.
26. Don’t be afraid to reconnect with friends you’ve lost touch with.
Recently, I reconnected with some old friends. I thought it might be a bit awkward but, honestly, it was refreshing to talk to someone who knew me well in the past. And if it’s a good friend, you’ll pick right back up from where you left off.
27. You can only control yourself.
At the end of the day, you can only force yourself to do something. Do you want to get healthier? You need to get up earlier to work out. Do you want to cook better food? You need to be willing to put in the hours to learn. No one else can make you do that.
28. Take notes of what your friends and family like.
If I’m going shopping with someone, often they'll say "I’ve always wanted this" or they say things that they like. I'll then take note of it on my phone so that when Christmas or their birthday comes around, I know exactly what to get them. For me, gifts communicate love and if I can be extra thoughtful, then hopefully, they feel extra loved.
29. Bring your dog on vacation.
One of my favorite memories is bringing my dog, Albert, on vacation with us. Even though it can create some inconveniences, it’s worth it, in the long run, to have him with us. After all, he won't be around for my entire life, but I'll be around for all of his. Why not let him sniff the mountains in Maine and the ocean in South Carolina?
30. Don’t expect your friends to be perfect.
In my early twenties, I held my friends to high standards. If they didn’t respond to my problems just right, then I wouldn’t go to them anymore. If they didn’t respond, I wouldn’t even ask them to hang out again. Ok, I’m being a bit dramatic but it’s how I felt. Now, I try to understand that people have other things going on in their lives, other than me and so if they don’t respond, it’s ok. They most likely aren’t ignoring you. They are just busy. Try again. If they don’t say exactly the right thing, ask yourself: Do you always say the exact right thing? No? I didn’t think so.