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34 Lessons I've Learned Before 34

Updated: Sep 17, 2021



Tomorrow I complete my 33rd rotation around the sun and begin my 34th year in this body, on this planet, at this exact time. And naturally as someone who tends to overthink, I have been quite reflective today on some of the experiences I've had the past decade and what they have taught me. If you would have told my younger self what my life would be like now, I would have laughed you off as that out of touch adult who clearly doesn't know me. Isn't it funny how life works? I have so much more to learn in this life but so far the past 33 years have brought me loads of laughs, tears, challenges, epiphanies and hopefully a few things that can bring you a fresh perspective for your day. Without further ado, here are 34 lessons i've learned before 34.


1) Take Risks

We get one life so why live on the safe side? It's in your power to walk away from the soul sucking job and into your passion project. It's in your best interest to apply for the school, gig or promotion because the only way to be considered is to try! It's up to you to be vulnerable with those you love, or may love! Walking away from a stable career to pursue Knockin' Noggins was scary, and sometimes still is, but without taking the risk I will never know what this movement can become.


2) Keep your plans loose and don't be scared to pivot

Life truly doesn't happen in a straight line. There is no clean or clear way to get from point A to point B without a few twists and turns thrown in. No matter how you think your plans will play out, there's a great chance something unexpected will happen. Once I started looking at the unexpected as exciting adventures, life became more thrilling.


3) Paying for the avocado is always worth it

When you are dining and tempted to pay the extra $2 for the avocado, do it. No one has walked out of a restaurant less happy for opting in for the delicious cream green slice of heaven given to us by the gods.


4) Routines are great, until they aren't

As readers of the Knockin' Noggins Blog you may know I keep a consistent personal routine to stay on top of my mental health and to keep this start up founder's sanity. One thing that took me a while to learn is that my routine is always changing as I evolve and grow. Earlier this year I realized that the rituals that have worked for my self care and improvement for years sometimes stop filling me up the way they used to. This is not only okay, this is beautiful as those practices served their time and made me into who I am now and the switching up of daily rituals keeps me growing. To learn more about my personal daily routine read the blog post here.


5) Changing "some day" to "today"

After my near death experience the way I look at life changed completely. I became very aware the amount of experiences we will do some day. What if some day never happens? I know it sounds morbid but isn't that the reality of life? Stop putting off what sets your soul on fire until you find more time, have more vacation, find the money or whatever excuse you use to put your dreams on the back burner. Find a way to experience the life you were gifted now.

6) Adopt a dog

I grew up in a cat family and don't get me wrong Beauty was the best cat in the world but having my dog Silo as a life copilot the past three years has been the greatest gift I didn't know I needed.


7) Saying no is your superpower

D.A.R.E. had it right when they coined the phrase"Just Say No." For most of my life I have been a people pleaser to the extreme. I used to sacrifice my happiness to ensure others were happy and I somehow convinced myself my sacrifice made me happy. I took a step back to reflect and ask myself the same types of questions I would ask others and I realized it is perfectly okay to decline offers, invites or favors. When I started setting firmer boundaries and meeting others half way, instead of 95% of the way, my current relationships grew stronger and those that weren't strong to begin with faded away. It doesn't happen over night but once you learn that saying no is your superpower, your YESES will be exponentially greater.


8) Be barefoot

Walking around barefoot is one of the quickest ways to uplift my mood, energy and spirit. When I am feeling flighty or anxious I kick my shoes off and walk in the grass, sand or dirt and almost instantly I feel centered. Just makes sure to look for ants, burs or other nature surprises.


9) Laugh more

As Ryan Reynolds said in Van Wilder "Don't take life too seriously, you'll never get out alive." Find at least one thing a day that makes you laugh. If you are having a hard time here's a few things I do to ensure I can conjure up a giggle when needed.

-I have a folder in iPhoto that's just for my favorite funny memes

-I have numerous dad joke sources bookmarked on this computer

-I have a Youtube channel with my favorite clips that never fail to get me laughing

-I call my grandma -- she always gets me


10) Cry more

When is the last time you cried, like really cried? Just as ensuring I laugh enough, I make sure I give myself the opportunity to cry when needed. Here's a few of my go to crying ideas;

-Watching a sad movie

-I listen to my playlist on Spotify called "Sometimes Sad but Pretty"

-I look at photos of Silo when he was a puppy


11) Create everyday

I do something with my hands each and every day. You may be thinking, Duh Leah, you literally have a job where you are required to create. What about people like me? I would like to challenge you to set aside just a few minutes a day with a pen and blank paper and see what happens. Some of my most popular designs started as a sketch on a napkin and one of my logos was drawn in an airport terminal with a BIC pen on the back of a note book. Just give yourself zero judgment and see what happens.


12) Uncomfortable shoes are never worth it

I'm aware this is coming from the lady who is barefoot 92% of the time but seriously invest in quality shoes. Shoving your feet in tiny little prisons that sit on skinny stilts is not worth the photo opportunity to be cursing the next few weeks of blisters, bruises and rolled ankles.

13) Travel

Get out of your bubble and into something different! Travel looks different for everyone and whether that's across the ocean, country, pond or street venture somewhere new and see what it does to your creative energy!

My favorite places I've traveled recently in each category;

Across the Ocean- Sayulita Mexico

Across the Country- Lake Tahoe, CA

Across the Pond- White Sands National Park, New Mexico

Across the Street- The Monkey Tree behind Barton Springs Pool


14) Talk to a stranger

It may be scary at first but you can learn a lot from strangers! Talk to someone in the coffee shop line, at the bookstore, on the running trail or at your office. It doesn't take more than asking an open ended question. One of my favorite activities to do I call taking myself on a date. I go have dinner or a drink alone and sit at the bar and chat with the bartender and guests around me. I've had incredible conversions, made friends and at the very least had stories to share with others after.


15) Meditate

Newsflash, NO ONE is good at meditating at first. Begin by just taking a few minutes each day to be with your breath, body and in silence. Meditation is one of the most important parts of my day and whether you meditate with an app, while walking or in silence, finding what works for you is key. See my blog post all about my personal self care and mindfulness routine with tips, tricks and links to creating your own.


16) Never stop learning

I don't know about you but as I have gotten older I have been fascinated by learning new ideas, concepts, traditions and ways of living. If I hear about a topic or concept that peaks my interest I will find a book on that topic and add it to my Amazon list "Books" and when I am ready for a new book I will find it on Audible, Libby (the free Library app) or at a bookstore because to me some books just have to be read in the flesh.


17) Write letters

These days we are all busy and overstimulated by the media so I make a conscious effort to hand write letters every so often. I feel like the act of physically writing down my feelings helps me really feel connected to the person receiving the letter and in turn fills me with love. Think about the last time you received a hand written note and how it made you feel. I guarantee you the recipient of your next letter will feel your love and appreciate your thoughtfulness.

18) Say yes to NEW

I took my first surfing lesson at age 29 and I can't seem to remember what my life was like before it. To be clear, I am not an expert or do I strive to be but surfing was something I put off learning because I was afraid of my own insecurities. What will I look like? What if I fall? What will people think? I am beyond grateful I pushed past those thoughts and took a surf lesson with Didier, not only did I discover something I absolutely love, I made a life long friend with my instructor. If I didn't try something new I would have never learned that surfing sets my soul on fire! When is the last time you tried something new?


19) Leave your phone at home

I take every opportunity I get to leave my phone at home because I feel so much more present, connected and in the present moment when I do. If I am with others it helps me fully be in the moment with them and if I am alone is forces with me to not distract myself from the thoughts I may need to work through. As a woman with a love language of Quality of Time, it means the world to me when I am truly in the present moment with others or alone.


20) Talk to someone young or old

Have a conversation with someone at least 2 decades before of after you! For me this would be 14 or younger and over 54. This year, I have been blessed to live with a family a few weeks and this includes a 14 year old teenager. She has taught me a lot about how I see life just by listening to how she sees her life! I also seem to leave conversations with elders much wiser & humble then I walked into the conversation. I make an effort to ask questions, talk less and just listen. Wisdom is all around us and seeing life from different perspectives is a beautiful way to learn about the world and yourself.


21) Dance

Find a way to indulge the cheesy Hobby Lobby sign dance like no one is watching and actually DO IT. I attended a yoga training session last month where we were asked to blindfold ourselves, preform a short centering meditation and then with music we were instructed to just move for 10 minutes. The blindfold provided us the opportunity to go within and shake out any stale or stagnate energy and to lower our self consciousness. After 1-2 minutes of awkward feelings I was able to fully let go and release and after the dance was complete I felt incredible. If this is a bit too extreme for you, turn on some jams when you are cooking, cleaning or walking and just allow yourself to move the way your body is craving.

22) Soak up the wisdom of the trees

When is the last time you went into the forest and felt how small we actually are? It may seem like a bit of a wild concept to you but I'd recommend you try it before you knock it. One of my favorite places on earth is the Redwoods National Park spanning through Northern California and Southern Oregon. The majestic trees leave me speechless and incredibly fulfilled. If you can't make it to the forest go climb, hug or surround yourself with some trees and see what it does to your mood and way of thinking.


23) There is no such thing as normal

I have learned that being your authentic self is the truest way to show up each and every day. When I was younger I felt the need to try and fit myself in these boxes I was never intended to live it just so I could be normal and like everyone else. This did not lead to happiness because those boxes were not made for me. When I decided to fly my freak flag proudly and live as authentically as Leah Chyma could, life became much more fulfilling and fun.


24) Own less

One of the life enhancing practices I've cultivated the past decade is owning less. I accomplish this in a few ways but my top three are listed below.

-Never buy more hangars. When a new item comes in, one item must go.

-If I can borrow it from a friend without hassle, don't buy it.

-The 30 Day Minimalism Challenge: Get rid of one item on the first day of the month, 2 items on the second day, 3 on the third day and so on until the end of the month. This was an incredible way to downsize things that were just taking up space.


25) Drink more water

I have learned, through trial and error, I am the most happy when I drink about a gallon of water a day. I make sure to drink at least 24oz of water each morning before coffee and to spread out my hydration throughout the day as not to play catch up in the evening.


26) You are never TOO busy

Being too busy is a copout. If you prioritize something it will happen, if you do not it won't. Since my days rarely look the same, I have learned that making daily task reminders the night before helps me prioritize my day and ensures I make time for what I deem as important that day. My self care is always on this list because I see it just as important as that meeting, appointment or phone call.


27) Drive less

I love to ride my bike, run and walk places I need to be. What is your favorite kind of transportation that doesn't involve you behind a wheel? I tend to enjoy my experience more when I can look around and focus on the scenery vs focusing on the flow of traffic around me. So whenever I can, I opt into a sweaty form of transportation.


28) There is no RIGHT path

I grew up believing a fulfilling life involved going to college, finding a stable 8-5, getting married, having kids and buying a house. Having only check 1/5 of these boxes in my 20's and early 30's, I found myself feeling like a failure. As the years pass I've learned that this is a beautiful path for many but it's not the only right path because THE right path doesn't exist but YOUR right path does.


29) Scars, gray hairs and wrinkles are sexy

I don't have crows feet, I have happy lines.

I don't have scars, I have memories.

I don't have grays, I have experiences.


30) Forgiveness is not overrated

I have learned that holding on to resentment does not serve me and that people are people. We all are flawed, make mistakes and wish we could undo some things in the past but the truth is we only have the present moment and that's what counts. I have walked the fine line of forgiveness vs being a doormat which can be a hard line to walk but even in those cases, forgiveness has served me much better than holding on to resentment.


31) Simple acts of kindness can be life changing

You never know what that dollar, smile or kind gesture will do for the recipient. I believe that we should offer a hand for those who need a lift up and who is to know what kind of net your kindness casts throughout the world.


33) Challenge yourself often

I have learned I feel the best when I challenge myself. This can be physical like

signing up for the Spartan Beast Race, mental like memorizing a speech or emotional like having that tough conversation that needs to be had but will get uncomfortable. The level of

accomplishment I feel after challenging myself is a unique high in it's own right.


34) Wear a helmet

Life is too short to risk making it shorter by not wearing a helmet. Knockin' Noggins makes it easy to be stylish and safe at the same time. Good thing you are on the right website to make that happen.


I cannot wait to share the next year with you all! Thank you for the support of our mission to change how the world sees helmets through education, awareness and badass custom design.




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