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30 things I’ve learnt in 30 years.

 In Recipes

Alida Ryder

Today, on my 30th birthday I did what I always do. Talk too much. And all those words, feeling and emotions tumbled onto my blog and became this post. Some may call this  self-indulgent and you know what? It is. Because on the day that I turn 30, I’m going to do whatever the hell I like. 🙂 And so, here are the 30 things I’ve learnt in 30 years.

  1. Kindness is a necessity. Whether it’s a kind smile to a stranger or a bigger gesture, kindness genuinely makes a difference in people’s lives. I have been on both the giving and receiving end and it has made a lasting impression on me when people have been kind towards me, my family or my friends. 
  2. Being “busy” has been glamourised. There’s nothing prestigious about weekends that are booked months ahead or never having time to do anything spontaneous. I don’t like it and I am going to do my best to start booking out days for no other reason than seeing where the day takes me. 
  3. Smiling definitely makes you more attractive. Although, Adele’s resting bitch face will make you feel different. 
  4. Genuine joy is the best feeling in the world and finding it in everyday situations is essential to a happy life. 
  5. Procrastinating just isn’t worth it. I still do it but every time I eventually HAVE to do the thing I’ve been putting off, it’s just so much worse. 
  6. Sometimes there’s nothing better than a good cry session. And if you struggle with that, may I suggest you start watching Grey’s Anatomy? (Damn you Shonda Rhimes!) 
  7. Bottling up emotions does so much damage. To your own state of mind, to relationships and eventually, to your life. If you have something bugging you, speak up. I am very guilty of this and I need to work at changing it. 
  8. My time is incredibly precious. I value it a hell of a lot. I simply don’t have time for bullshit, people who are fake or those who take themselves too seriously. And so, if I do spend time with you or make time for you, you should know that I regard you as someone of importance in my life.
    Ditto for going to events/ putting myself in situations that I just don’t want to be at/in. I am all for new experiences but I know myself well enough by now to know what I probably won’t enjoy. 
  9. Raising children is incredible hard. You think having a baby is hard then you get a toddler. Then once that’s over they start having opinions and challenging you on levels you never thought imaginable. And we’re only almost-8 years in. But it’s also the most rewarding, fun and wonderful thing in the world. 
  10. What other people think of you is none of your business. I’ve always loved that saying. And it’s really sunken in over the last few years. I have felt an enormous weight lifted since I stopped giving a shit about what other people think of me. Those who really know me will know when I’m being sarcastic or mean or pissed off, and to be honest, it’s really only those people’s opinions I care about. Having said that, I try really hard not to be an asshole but sometimes, it can’t be helped. 
  11. Life changes you, even when you don’t want it to. Being put into hard situations sucks. In so many ways. And from experience, I know those situations adjust who you are. The changes might be huge or they might just be small things that shift. I know the hardships I’ve had to face have changed the way I look at people. It’s made me less gullible, more wary. I’m not as trusting as I once was and my shell has grown a little harder. It’s not all great but it’s not all bad either. When people say “oh, you’ve changed”, I used to hate it. No I didn’t, I would think. I’m still the same carefree, spontaneous person I once was! But the truth is, I’m not. I’ve lived. Lived for 30 years and in those years I’ve had enormous amounts of joy but also times of immense sadness and disappointment. So yes, I’ve changed. But that’s not always a bad thing. 
  12. Parents matter. I realised this when my mom died. I lost my biggest fan, my biggest supporter, my best friend, when I lost my mom. She believed in me like no-one ever has and through my life, I’ve so wanted to phone her to tell her about the big things I’m doing. I’ve also wanted to tell her about arguments with my husband, how naughty my kids are being, what a douche my brother can be sometimes and even when I’ve burnt myself while cooking, again. I just want my mom. But unfortunately that’s not possible and I’ve learnt to live without her.

    I’m thankful everyday that I still have my dad. Because I simply can’t imagine a life without him in it. My dad’s a tough guy. Not like action hero tough, like “life is hard” tough. He doesn’t like bullshit, he’s had to deal with a hell of a lot in his life but yet he is incredibly generous and so funny. He’s shown me what working hard really is and by providing for his family like he has, has shown us unconditional love, even when he has a tough time telling us. 
  13. Family as a whole matters. I am incredibly fortunate to have a big, very tight-knit family. My brothers are two of my very best friends, my cousins are like siblings and my aunts and uncles are like extra parents. We laugh and we cry and we are loud and we support the hell out of each other and I couldn’t love them more. They are my everything. 
  14. Friends matter. I used to have loads of friends. I never had a shortage of people to go out with and to have fun with. But then I fell pregnant and got married and things changed. I was in a different space than a lot of them so we lost touch. And now I have a small, incredibly loyal group of people I call friends who will have my back no matter what. Who I can phone about anything. Who understand my humour and laugh at my stupid jokes. Who know that I can be a bitch but love me anyway. 
  15. Choose who you spend your life with carefully. And for the love of all that is pure, please make sure they can make you laugh. Because when you have to eat popcorn for dinner because your clients haven’t paid you or your child vomits on you at a wedding or the car’s battery is dead, it’s that ability to make you laugh that matters. It also helps if they are kind, can rock your world in the bedroom, are generous with their time and love and get on with your family. 
  16. If you can, try to do something you love. But don’t fool yourself, work is still work. I love my job. Like, LOVE love it. I have very little to complain about because I make my own hours, work with brands that I love and get to be creative all the time. But there are still days I dread cooking and shooting. There are still times I can’t think of new ideas . But if that was happening doing something I didn’t have any passion for? That would suck. 
  17. Having a sense of humour makes life so much more bearable, and fun. Laughing is probably my favourite thing, ever, and I am so thankful that I was given the ability to laugh in difficult situations and more importantly, at myself. 
  18. As a plus-size girl who turned into a, shall we rather say “fun-sized” woman, I had always been made to feel shameful of my body. Even though I always had confidence in myself, many people, from girls I thought were my friends to boys in school and even parents of friends, made me feel self conscious and judged because of my weight. It took a then-19 year old guy who loved every bit of me for me to see that I am enough. That guy later became my husband and to this day he loves every piece of me and so do I. I am on a journey of becoming healthier but I no longer strive to be “thin”, like I always did. I just want to be healthy and continue to be happy. 
  19. I have always had high expectations. Of everything, and everyone. Not high as in unrealistic, but I want people (i.e. My friends) to show me the same loyalty, commitment and love as I show them. And I am often left disappointed. Disappointed that I had invested more emotionally in a friendship than the other person did, or that I expected an outcome that didn’t happen. I have learnt over time to lower my expectations but I don’t think I will ever stop being disappointed because I am, for all intensive purposes, an optimist and I will always hope and dream for the best. Disappointments aren’t necessarily that bad, they just teach you to adjust your expectations with certain people and certain situations. 
  20. I really, really love my own company. I am more than happy to spend time with myself and actually, crave it. I love going to the movies, or for a meal by myself. Shopping alone is absolutely joyous and I could spend hours lying on my bed, listening to music, reading and staring out the window. It’s so cliche that “the most important relationship is the one you have with yourself” but honestly, it’s the cliche things that are the most true. Because if you don’t love yourself and know your worth, you can’t project that into the world. And let’s be honest, everyone deserves to know how fabulous you are. 
  21. Music, dancing and singing have been a huge part of my life since I was very small. As a 2 year old I could sing 20+ songs (or so said my mom and we all know parents always think their kids are geniuses), by age 8 I was taking piano and singing lessons and doing Spanish dancing. At 19 I started doing belly dancing and loved every minute. Then I became a mom and it all stopped. I didn’t have the time (or money) to carry on these hobbies I loved so much. I might not start any of them again but I know I will devote more time to doing the things that make me happy. Even if it just singing along (loudly) in the car (even if it annoys my husband) or dancing with my kids in the lounge. It’s so important to dedicate time to the things that bring you joy. 
  22. I am so happy when I am eating. Like, ludicrously happy. And I am happiest when I am eating with people who enjoy it as much as me. There are people who eat simply because they must but those are not my people. My people are people who eat with their hands, laugh loudly and know that sharing a meal with someone is pretty damn special. 
  23. Patience is something I’ve worked on for a very long time and I’m afraid to say, something I will have to work on for the rest of my life. As much as I know what my good traits are, I’m also very self-aware about my downfalls and patience (and my *ahem* slight temper) are two of them. I have to, HAVE TO, be more patient with my kids. I don’t want them to say “my mom was great but holy crap, she had no chill.” 
  24. Don’t sweat the small stuff, or at least try. I am such a worrier. I wish I could say I am a wArrior, but I’m not so sure. I worry about everything. Are my kids ok at school? Do they have friends? Are their friends good people? Are their parents? Is my husband ok? Is he happy? Does he still love me? Are my family doing ok? What can I do to help them? How can I do more for our planet and its people? Are we all going to go down in a ball of flames? Seriously you guys, it’s so much fun in my head.

    I’m trying to be a calmer person and remind myself that worrying brings nothing good. I don’t always get it right but I’m getting better.
  25. Dreaming big is bloody great. Yeah sure, maybe those dreams are unrealistic, but everything I’ve achieved is because I’ve always been a dreamer. I dream and plan and then I dream some more. I’ve never regretted dreaming big and I don’t think I ever will. In times of darkness, the spark of a dream is what has pulled me through. 
  26. For the love of all that is good and pure, save! I am so, so, SO angry at myself that I pissed my money away in my 20s. If I think about the amount of money I could’ve saved, I want to punch myself. Those shoes or fancy dinners aren’t always necessary. Believe me.
    Having said that, sometimes you just need to treat yo self. Fresh flowers and magazines make me happy. I also LOVE buying my children clothes and toys but they don’t need every pair of cute shoes I see. I don’t need every single decor magazine I lay my eyes on. I treat myself to small luxuries but moderation is key. 
  27. I like being surrounded by people who are more successful, creative and/or intelligent than I am. It allows me to pick their brains and learn from them but it also gives me something to strive towards. However, I can often be hard on myself for not being like them or not achieving what they have and that’s something I need to work on. I have not walked the same path as them so I can’t compare myself or my situation to theirs. 
  28. Be considerate of others’ time. I have a serious problem with people who are always late. I know it’s hard to get everything done that you need to get done but when you are always late, you are just showing me that you have no respect for me and my time. I’m not waiting around for you to one day show up so if you could get your act together, that would be grand. Harsh, I know, but seriously. 
  29. Try to enjoy every stage of your life, while you are in it. This is one I’m still struggling with but I’m working very hard to change that. I am always hoping for “when”. When I have more money… When I have a bigger kitchen… When I can afford to travel more… When when when. And meanwhile, Now is pretty amazing and I’m missing it. Even if you are struggling or feel miserable right now, try to find the magic in the small things and realize that you are in fact already very blessed. 
  30. Be grateful. I thank God everyday for every single blessing I have. For my incredible husband, my wonderful children, our health, the fact that we have a warm bed to sleep in at night, for the food we get to eat daily. I am so very grateful for the life I get to live.
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Alida Ryder
Being a general food freak has proven to be quite helpful in this career I've found myself in. Author of two cookbooks, photographer, food stylist. Mom to twins. Ex make-up and hair artist obsessed with beautiful clothes and spaces. I love a good G&T and I've been known to spend too much money on shoes.
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Showing 25 comments
  • Beverley Press

    belated happy Birthday wishes to you and you have a very mature head on your 30 year old shoulders. I enjoyed reading this and wish you many more happy and healthy birthdays xoxo


    Today I read through your 30 things with a little more attention. You mention raising children – eeeeish this is tough.

    To me personally it scared the life out of me to have another child and now for almost nine years, I have my two biological grandchildren in foster care. I am 56, my son is 37 and my two new additions are 13 (with mood swings) and 11.

    So I join you and many others who think on their feet – eat, sleep as often as you can, shout, cry, be creative, take care of nature and yourself and live life as God would wish you to do.

    Kindest regards

  • Reply

    Happy Belated 30th Birthday Alida! Here’s to many more! Love your list of things learned!

  • Veronica

    Wonderful read – thank you for being so enlightening!

  • Simone Cameron

    I so agree with number 2! I’ve been so over being busy for a long time…but the again I’m well into my 30s already. Lol

    I feel so guilty that my daughter only has 2 brothers, but I read about your relationship with your brothers and I hope A can have the same and hopefully won’t miss not having a sister.

    Happy 30th!

    • Alida Ryder

      She’s lucky to have two brothers, she might wonder how it would be with a sister (I always did) but having two brothers is still amazing! Thanks Simone! 🙂

  • Joan

    Many happy returns for this day and may your creative juices grow with you for the next 30 to come! Well said girl, and a toast for you at this “young” age to be able to pin it so accurately and straight- like you say – no time for
    pussy-footing around to please other and tough if they do not like your attitude – just look back to what you have achieved and wishing to still do and you again say thank goodness those wanna-be’s have left my side.
    Love your blog and your fresh approach.

  • Jessica Henning

    What an inspiration. I also just turned 30. These are magic words.

    • Alida Ryder

      Thanks so much Jessica. I really appreciate it. 😉

  • Leah

    Happy Birthday Alida…you’re very wise for being so young!

    Love your site, your recipes…and your self-reveal above. What a great way to celebrate YOUR day! All the best in the coming year, and always.

  • Glenda

    Many happy returns of the day – hope you have a wonderful birthday….. And love your thoughts on what you’ve learnt …. here’s to many more years of learning and experiencing !

  • Patricia Loquet

    Happy Birthday. Its been a long,long time since I was 30 and I still have issues with procrastination but didn’t want to put off saying Thanks for the wonderful recipes.

    P.S. I also learned that pink nail polish takes longer to dry than red (although now I just use clear).

    • Alida Ryder

      Thanks Patricia! I really appreciate your comment. And thanks for that tip! 🙂

  • Tricia

    Have a very Happy Birthday, Love your blog and everything you have written today, well just brilliant.

  • Wikus

    Beautiful message xx

  • Jacolene

    Dis baie mooi Lida! Mens moet mens se lewe en die mense in jou lewe waardeer en geniet soveel mens kan!! happy happy!

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