Today I turned 29. I’m not about to get sappy on you so don’t worry. There are a few things I’ve picked up in the first half of this century that I thought I’d share, so listen up.

29.  My Biggest Regrets are Missed Opportunities

When I say this, I don’t mean go out there and become some yes man for every single thing you are offered or asked about because you don’t want to have any regrets. What I mean is, sometimes there are opportunities all around us and it takes work to take full advantage. Sometimes an opportunity that comes up just doesn’t fit into your budget. Sometimes you have to sit down and think about it to prove to yourself whether you can make it work. In the end if you can’t, you can’t, but for me, I never look back at the crazy opportunities I’ve had or been given and regret taking them.

28.  Forgive… Forget, For Life, For Love, Forever AMEN! -Tuesday’s with Morrie

Pillow fight in a Tuscan Castle, All Girls! 15We all have people we hate. Sometimes our enemies extend all the way back to our childhood, where, as we grew up, we were the most effected by the negative things that happened to us. That’s where I met the greatest bitch that ever lived. A real twat. Turns out that in my world today, I’ve forgiven her and in turn kept that unnecessary hatred out of my life. In fact, she even taught me a valuable lesson. Now I know what kind of people to stay away from. Thanks for that.

27.  Stay Out of Your Comfort Zone

Bungy Jumping New ZealandIt’s just a better way to live life. To feel exhilarated often, that should be the goal. Yes there’s always the time you should ask, “where is the nearest bridge for me to jump off of” but I don’t even mean in that sense. It could be as simple as dancing unabashedly as you walk down the road. Changing it up a bit when you go for your morning coffee, surprise the person at the counter who always remembers your order. Spice things up.

26.  When Your Corner’s Strong, You’re Strong.

DSC01679If you don’t have the kind of friends that extend soul deep, then you’ve got to go out searching for that. Seriously. The ones that are never jealous of you because they are your biggest supporters. A success for you is an even more exciting success for them. Because you are taking on the world together and there’s so much promise in that. Especially because you will always have those high’s and low’s and just as they are cheering you on when you have a great success, they will also be there to pick you up off the floor when you’ve hit rock bottom.

25.  The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss -Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

A couple of years ago I found the book The Long Walk, by Slavomir Rawicz and that changed everything. In the story a Polish Calvary office becomes a POW in Russia. The book tells the story from the time of his capture to the time of his escape and then afterwards his over 3,000 mile walk to freedom. It was so fascinating. From then on I was hooked to books like that which told stories of war, imprisonment, human suffering. To what depth can humans suffer before we can take no more? I’m realizing that threshold is extremely high. Traveling the world through Asia and Europe also let me see that beauty isn’t skin deep. There’s so much more to it, trust me on that.

24.  Windows Down, Music Up, That’s My Favorite Part About a Road Trip

I'm Driving. ROAD TRIPI like to drive with the windows down in my car. Sometimes even in the winter. I attribute this to being on the warship and standing out on the bridge wing while on watch for hours on end as the wind rushes over my face, especially at night right under the stars. Driving in a car with the windows down and the music turned up gives me a similar feeling, and I like it. You should try it some time, if you don’t already.

23.  Always Test the Water Temperature on Bidets Overseas

IMG_7988Yes this was a hard lesson to learn and one I will not forget.. ever. We were in Bahrain on liberty and decided to go to a restaurant before heading back to the ship. We sat down, gave our orders, and then I went to use the restroom.

Most times in the Middle East there is no toilet paper only the bidets or basically a hose that you spray yourself with. I went to the bathroom, grabbed the hose and sprayed myself with it. Yep, it was scalding hot water. Took everything in me not to just start screaming. It hurt so bad. I mean I don’t even think I walked straight for a couple of days afterwards. Just remember, always test the water temperature before you spray yourself with one of those hoses.

22.  To See the World, things dangerous to come, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life. -Secret Life of Walter Mitty

IMG_0154You got to love the Secret Life of Walter Mitty. This quote just brings you straight into the present. If there’s something I can’t advocate more it’s that when you are out there living, really embrace it. Feel the sun on your hair or where it warms your face in early spring. The cool breeze that comes up the river and brushes across your back. Notice the old man shop owner and stop by to have a chat. There are so many amazing people out there and so much knowledge, don’t squander it always absorbed in your own little world. The simple life is where it’s at, if only for a short while.

21.  Passive Aggressive Behavior is Shit

I was really passive aggressive in college. It was my approach to everything. Get really angry but never confront anyone about it or fight my battles. I wish I would have stuck up for myself more, had a much bigger backbone when it came down to it. When I joined the Navy I was not the biggest fan of confrontation but I learned very quickly that people wouldn’t take you seriously unless you get up in their face sometimes.

So I had to change my approach to things. In turn it changed me for the better. Now, if I have a problem with you, you’ll know it. And guess what else, as soon as I speak up about a problem I’m having, it gets resolved that much quicker.

20.  Be An Organ Donor, You Have Nothing Else to Lose at that Point

I’m sure you’ve heard that rumor that if it says organ donor on your driver’s license and you are taken to a hospital they won’t try as hard to save your life so they can harvest your organs. What a load of shit. Why would you not want to help out someone in the world if it comes down to it? There’s an awesome book called Stiff by Mary Roach and it explains things really well. There are 1,000’s upon 1,000’s of people waiting on lists for that perfect organ match out in the world, why else do you think a kidney is worth so much? Be an organ donor.

19.  I do not Like Cats

My Pet Dove Nell

My Pet Dove Nell, Sleeping

I’m a lover of birds and you can’t like both in my opinion. A cat named KayKay also ruined it for me. When I was growing up he was the neighborhood devil cat. He would surprise attack when walking down the road. Then, my best friend Liz and I watched through the window as he climbed up some shrubs and knocked over a bird nest with baby birds in it and then jumped down and ate them. We hugged each other and cried. That was it, my heart has completely hardened towards cats forever.

As a small disclaimer I’ve never actually harmed a cat.. yet.

18.  A Little Solo Travel Never Hurt Nobody

Bali Indonesia 18When I was leaving my job in Japan I was feeling a bit burnt out. Nothing a week in Bali, Indonesia couldn’t cure. If you have the opportunity to go somewhere by yourself take it. Even if that means a weekend getaway a couple hours from school/your job/your spouse and the kids. We all deserve a little “me” time every once in awhile. Also, you are not allowed to feel guilty.

17.  Change is NOT an Easy Thing For Human Nature But Except it We Must

Saying goodbye to my mom and dad before heading to Italy for 2 years

Saying Goodbye to Mom & Dad before moving to Italy

Especially as part of the military. You’re always moving, switching jobs, switching co-workers. My time in Italy is winding down. I have only a month left before I leave. Aside from the fact that these past 2 years were some of the best of my young adult life, the growing anxiety is back. It always arrives right before I leave a place. Most of the time I can hide it, but I’ve definitely decided that for the most part humans are creatures of habit. There’s not a large majority of people that are always on the move. So what can we do about the anxiety? For me, a nice G&T always does the trick.

16.  “If You Want to Gather Honey, Don’t Kick Over the Beehive” -How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

You need something from someone and it turns out they’re the worst person in the world to talk to. Well you have to start by knowing who they are. If you walk in on a very tense situation between 2 people sometimes its better if you know how to defuse it instead of coming in swinging and agitating all the bees with a baseball bat. Know the people you interact with everyday.

15.  The Train Always Wins

I learned this lesson my first day on the job at the Coroner’s office during my internship there when I was in college. A woman was hit and killed by a train, she didn’t cross over the tracks far enough before paralleling them. Train came up behind her and clipped her in the back of the head killing her instantly. On our way to the scene as we pulled up we saw the blue tarp covering her body and the Deputy Corner turned and looked at me stone faced and he said, “this is your first lesson, the train always wins.” I take trains, buses, metros, trolley’s much more seriously now.

14.  Too Much of a Good Thing is Just Right” -Mae West

IMG_4357The good life is about living large, about expressing the joy in life. It’s about song, exuberance, and about taking chances and “going for it.”

13.  I Strive to Be Respected for Who I am, and Refuse to be Looked at as just some Vagina

BloodHound WinnersIn case you were wondering, the military is a man’s world. Don’t worry, I’m not about to get up on my feminist soap box, the numbers are slowly increasing, but its a hard life to come into as a female. What does having a vagina have to do with it again? Nothing. That’s what I thought.

From day one it was obvious that in order to get respect I would have to work twice as hard as a guy showing up in my same position. So I did. It worked. My division and I became a team and we got shit done. It’s an uphill battle but definitely worth it in the end.

12.  Sometimes Escaping to Your Imagination is the Best Idea

Girls Weekend in a Tuscan Castle, Italy 96

If I’m having a rough day sometimes all I need to do is escape reality for awhile. I do that by diving into books about far off places, sometimes science fiction, or just fiction. Turns out that otherworld books are pretty cool. I read just about everything and anything but there’s something exciting about an entirely different world that an author has dreamed up.

11.  I Think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the People we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. – Joan Didon #GIRLBOSS

DSCN0511Remember that passive aggressive girl I used to be in college. Every now and again my mind wanders back to her and how different she was from the person I am now.

10.  If you rise in the morning and see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. -Act of Valor

cuma bearAin’t this the truth. It could be as simple as being thankful that the sun is shining the morning after a week of fog and cloud coverage. Make sure you remember why you are here and what your plan is. Maybe you’re not famous and you don’t have 1 million followers on social media, but what are you doing to influence the people in your immediate vicinity, the ones you see every day?

9.  You can spend minutes, hours, days, weeks or even months over-analyzing a situation; trying to put the pieces together, justifying what could’ve, would’ve, happened. Or you can just leave the pieces on the floor and move the fuck on. -Tupac Shakur

If there’s one thing that I can say about myself and my best friend Megan T. it’s that we over analyze every situation. Which probably means we feed each other and continue over analyzing things until the over analyzing is a bit obsessive. I’m trying to stop that. Sometimes I imagine it, as if I’m dropping a mirror and this thing that effects my life shatters all over the floor as I walk away. I don’t go back anymore. Once it’s done, it’s done.

8.  There are 2 Kinds of People, Those Who do the Work, and Those Who Take the Credit. Try to be in the First Group; There is Less Competition There. -Indira Ghadhi

You have to be humble if you’re going to work in a Thankless job. If you can be humble then you can work really hard and just keep going. Don’t worry, people will notice. They will know who to go to if they have an issue. In fact I was told something recently that is perfect for this. If a meeting had to be called to discuss an important topic at your work, you want to be so important, that if you were unable to make the meeting they would have to reschedule so you could be there. That’s the guy you want to be.

7.  The Hardest Words Should Come From Your Best Friends

IMG_0258I look to my friends for advice all the time. If you are in my corner then you better be the one to tell me that I’m fucked up, not some ninny-muggin off the street. Sometimes they are hard words to hear but my friends also will help build me back up. That’s what makes our relationship so awesome. Even if it’s hard for them to tell me and we both cry a little, I’m all the more grateful afterwards.

6.  I no Longer have Patience for People that hurt me

Why would I surround myself with someone who treats me like shit or upset me? Oh wait, I don’t. You get one shot. If you lose my trust or do something to offend or hurt me, see you later. I learned this lesson quite some time ago. I don’t feel the need to surround myself by people who are false or that bring me down. I surround myself with people that build me up and make me stronger. You should too.

5.  “Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Taken” -Oscar Wilde

Fort Lovrijenac 5Most people would probably say I’m quirky. I’m okay with that because it’s who I am.

4.  Nobody Can Treat Your Body the Right Way but You

Working Out onboard USS Mount Whitney 2Just because you have a really nice body on the outside doesn’t mean you look the same on the inside. If there’s one thing your body has working against you, it’s time. If you don’t stay healthy, eat the right foods now, it will only hurt you in the long run. You don’t think you can do it? Really? Well then turn to my friend Derek Weida for inspiration to get your ass up off the ground and get moving. Eat right when you can, and feel healthy, it’s necessary.

3.  You Make Time For The Things You Make Time For

I hear all the time, “Cassey you’re so lucky you get to travel.” I wouldn’t say it’s luck at all, I mean circumstance put me in Italy but there are people here in Italy right now that barely travel. You make time for what you make time for. You have 4 kids and live in a big house, chances are you’re going to make a whole lot of time for them and not as much time for travel and that’s okay. If you haven’t talked to your friends and it’s been a year, again you make time for what you make time for. I talk to my friends regularly and we have major time differences to deal with. You make time for the things you make time for.

2.  You know what’s really powerfully sex? A sense of humor. A taste for adventure. A healthy glow. Hips to grab onto. Openess. Confidence. Humility. Appetite. Intuition… Smart ass comebacks. Presence. A quick wit. Dirty jokes told by an innocent looking lady… A woman who realizes how beautiful she is. -Courtney E. Martin

Door inside of Kotor

1.  There’s No Day Like Today

Humans are creatures of habit and it takes great effort to change things up a bit. If you don’t like something then do something about it. You want to get healthy, take the small steps to get up and go to the gym and get healthy. You want to start a travel fund to see the world, well then start putting money away today and then consult my blog for trip ideas :). We all have things we can work on and do better every day and there’s nothing like the present to get at them.

This article appeared first on The Cassey Excursion.