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Originally Published in Good Enough Mother

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Here’s a question: How old do you have to be to teach life lessons?

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Me and my mom – she was a pretty good teacher!

As long as it takes to learn from yourself.

So here’s a start:

These are 12 questions I answered for Good Enough Mother (don’t be alarmed – I’m not a mom!) about what I’ve learned at this point in my life.  I hope to learn another 12 by next year…or tomorrow!

How many lessons have you learned so far?

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My mother taught me quite a few of these. Who has taught you the most in your life?

You can download my 12 life lessons to fill out for yourself – or just comment here with any of you own answers!

Here ya go12 Lesson Lessons AmyOes

1. Are you happy at the moment?

I’m happy because I’m present – I’ve been so numb for years after 27 surgeries and a decade of medical trauma, that for me, when I can feel, I feel at peace and happy – I would rather feel everything than nothing at all.

Here’s one of my favorite videos on happiness:

2. If you could go back and say anything to your 16-year-old self now – what would it be?

Frst of all, I’d sing “16 Going On 17” – which you can listen to here (below)  – a favorite song of mine!!!

But really:  Things might not always go as you plan them, but that’s okay. *Make* things happen for a reason. Learn to find the beauty in the detours, and above all, remember how amazing it is to be alive – find the miracles in every day. Try not to stress out about the little things. Always remember what is important to you – the values that ring true in your soul. Use those values as arrows to navigate your course when life feels uncertain – your values will always lead you back home to your heart.


3. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned this year?


Don’t be afraid of failing – be afraid of not trying at all. Listen to your instincts, trust them, and experience the liberation and excitement that comes to saying “yes”. But also don’t be afraid of “not trying everything” – the boat will always come around, and will be there for you when you are ready. Push yourself to take that risk, but don’t push yourself so far over the edge that you forget what YOU really need.

Balance is everything!

4. What do you most want to achieve in the next 12 months?


Get through college!  And I want to get my story out there and keep inspiring other people to find beauty in their own obstacles and detours. I want to take the one-woman show I wrote about my life not only to theatres, but to hospitals, women’s shelters, support groups – anywhere I can make a difference and help others.

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I also hope to start putting together a book of my writings and my mixed media art.

5.) What’s your secret to happiness?

Gratitude and presence – that’s it. Just being thankful to be here, feeling whatever I am feeling, in this very moment It’s a beautiful thing to be alive.

6.) What one ritual or practice keeps you grounded?

Going down to my art studio, blasting the radio and painting for hours.

7. What’s your biggest regret?


My 27th surgery was an elective one to reverse a colostomy bag I had. Because my anatomy is so complicated, it ended up going horribly wrong and left me in worse shape than I was starting out. Of course I wish I had never attempted this surgery, but for the first time in my life, my life feels bigger than my medical circumstances.

8. What’s the most important lesson you’ve taught your kid(s)?

Love who you are. Follow whatever your heart is singing to you.  Oh but really, check out the funniest overheard things that kids say too!


9.) What bad habit would you most like to change about yourself?


Working too much – I don’t feel fully comfortable putting work aside and just relaxing, mostly because I love what I do so much.

10.) Aside from motherhood/fatherhood and marriage what are you most proud of in your life?


This is MY mother!

I didn’t let this decade of medical trauma make me a victim. It’s made me stronger – a resilient warrior with a deeper purpose and more to give.

11.) When were you happiest?


When I was a carefree innocent teen. The happiness I feel now is a deeper one though, a wiser happiness. Hardship makes you stronger.

12.) What ten words best describe you?

Joyful, silly, creative, contemplative, passionate, quirky, stubborn, resilient, sensitive, determined


So what are YOUR life lessons?  Come on, share and teach all of us what you’ve learned!  Send me a note or think about them just for yourself…12 Lesson Lessons 

WORLD OSTOMY DAY is October 3rd, 2015!

P.S. Have a great weekend and don’t forget about World Ostomy Day tomorrow!  Learn all about it and get your body-love package here!

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