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30 Things I've Learned (or wish I had) Before 30

Inspiration > Happiness

By: Candice Kumai

Hi friends! I bring back to you my most read piece from a few years back, with gratitude on this beloved birthday. Keep in mind this was written about four years ago! Enjoy. xx ck


A few days shy of my thirtieth birthday, healing from a slightly torn heart, wrapping up my new cookbook, and getting prepared to take on a new decade of greatness,I pass on a few of life’s greatest. From the pits of my soul and the genes of a Japanese Mother passed on to myself, these slightly philosophical notes should be kept in your pocket and  close to your heart. Use them daily, for life is far too precious to waste.

1- Acquire More Knowledge: The more knowledge you acquire, the better you will know your craft, the more greatness you will attract, and the stronger you will become in your field of work and at the game of life. Pick up a book, take a class at a local community college, enroll in a workshop in your neighborhood, try a new hobby, read a paper or just simply start to surround yourself with highly-intelligent individuals. Trust me, nobody likes an idiot.

“Everyone is a genius at least once a year. The real geniuses simply have their bright ideas closer together.” -Georg C. Linchtenberg

2- Stay Humble: Oh humility, the one thing I’ve learned all too well. If there’s anything that will tame that sick ego of yours, it’s humility. Learn to keep calm and know your role. Know who you are, and work solely on improving YOU and don’t worry about everyone else.  Keep your thoughts, dreams and desires close to your heart and know that it tis humble individuals who tend to see a lifetime of great achievements. (Not the moronic “talkers” or big-mouth “braggers”) as I like to call them (of course never to their face.)

3- Be Kind Anyway: As Mother Teresa Says, “If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; Be kind anyway.” I have repeated this to myself daily… “Be kind anyway”. Kindness, it goes so much further than we know.

4- Remind People in your Life you Love Them + You Appreciate Them: It’s important to make others feel as if they have purpose to their lives for them to feel “wanted” or “needed” by society. So make them feel special, let them know how much you appreciate them. How their life in yours enriches your soul. How their simple text, call or email lights up your day. Even if they don’t go out of their way to do much for you, let them know you appreciate them in your life! If they aren’t doing much for you? Then perhaps its time to reassess your idea of what a “friend” is. And get some new, supportive and pleasant-to-be-around friends. Reciprocation is key in all relationships. Selfishness is a bitch and a very lonely, poor way to live. Remind people you appreciate them.

5- Keep it Classy: Class will get you so much further than any other area in life. Carry it with you at all times, even after a sweaty gym session, even after a hard-day at work, even after getting run over by a bus, carry it with you. The value of class is beyond what I can write. But some of the classiest women I know are also the most successful. Class, it’s free.

6- The Bad Boy, is Probably Not Good for You: A friend of mine recently made me swear off the “hot/bad boy” this year. In my 30’s it will not be about dating the “hot guy” or the “bad boy” and my goodness I’ve been lucky enough to date plenty of them to know that they are not here to last! Sure lust is a beautiful, fun and naughty thing.. and my goodness, when its good its good… But once you leave the sheets, does his hotness really help you to feel good thru the day? Will that hotness even last for the next 20 years? Will I be able to put up with this moron in even two years? Does that hot body of his make your day? Is it something that you are proud of? More than likely, NOT…  And if it is something you’re proud of, you may need to get that narcissistic head of yours checked. Yes the “hot/bad” boy is fun, for a month or two.. but he may just be a waste, a time passer or another lesson learned.. Save yourself the agony the time and possible tears here… Just pass next time.. or know your limits sister.

7- Use Less/Minimize: STUFF. We have so so much of it. Instead of purchasing 50 kinds of mascara, eyeshadow, lip gloss or powder, perhaps just get one of each? I loved purchasing 10 kinds of lotion, soaps, shampoos etc.. until my fabulous eco-friendly big sis let me know that I looked like a wasteful idiot. Now I opt only for a few organic products and minimal makeup! When I first moved to NY from LA.. My dear friend Mer let me know that minimal is IN here in NYC. In LA it was all about hair, makeup, nails, car, clothes, heels, short skirts, boobies etc all done up! It wasn’t until I looked at all of my fake lashes, big push-up bras and heels that I decided I think I’m more comfortable in a white tee, no makeup, hair in a pony and flats from Madewell. I still love my makeup, but its saved for work and for Thursday nights out. Minimize! Use less, wear less, buy less, save more!

8- Be More Assertive: Here’s my biggest task in my 30’s to be MORE ASSERTIVE. A few of my smartie-pants friends had let me know my business model sucks. For I do not run my business for profit. I have been in debt from investments, loans and having a bad habit of paying EVERYONE around me but myself. It’s not until very recently have I had to be more assertive. To put a brand on what I want. A more lucrative business, (to only get myself out of debt and live comfortably) to say NO more. For people to not take advantage of my kindness anymore. I can firmly tell people what I want now. But say it like you mean it. Some of the best meetings that generated the most productive work, were from myself being VERY clear on what I want/need in my life. Manifest it, be more firm, be assertive.

9- Dump Him if He’s Not Giving you 150%: At 60 years old, my Father still buys my Mother flowers every Sunday. He loves and adores her so so much, the glue that binds them has never been so close. A Buddhist and  a Christian so happily married for over 35 years? Yes, love wins. Dump him if he’s not loving you the way you want to be loved. For it’s better to be alone and happy, than in a crap relationship and be miserable.

10- Attract More Good in Your Life: Like attracts like. If you want more good, be good. Be good to you, be good to others. As my big sister says… the sweet honey attracts all the bees. Buzzzzzz.

11- Know Your Worth: Learn to just give away enough. But definitely don’t give it all away. I was once told that women (now-a-days), give it all away as if they were worth a cheap $5 cocktail. You know you are worth about a million bucks. So marinate on that. Don’t give it all away on the first few dates. Don’t give it all away just because he’s pressuring you for some. Some boys just never grow up.. I’ve sadly learned this the hard way. Some of the most incredible men I’ve met, they love and adore the woman they choose so much, they would wait months just to be able to spend time with her. Your company alone is worth waiting. Know that you are sitting on top of a million bucks, not five. Respect.

12- Don’t Waste Time on Worthless People: It’s a sad lesson to learn, that some people quite frankly just don’t give a shit about you. Sure, we’ve all had phone calls, emails or texts wisp off into ghost-town.. or perhaps had a friend that fades into the sunset with the rest of our past. Regardless of how things fall apart at the seams, such is life. If these “friends” have no worth, nothing to offer or add no good moral value to your life? Dump them.

13- Don’t Let your Dreams Pass you by: Too many times I have heard friends and colleagues say “I wish I could do what you do!” Well, was their a gun to your head that said you couldn’t? You forget how to dream after you become an adult. You begin to live someone else’s life… You are stuck at a desk-job for some other idiot’s company and you are miserable. Quit. Too many of us live “comfortable, easy, good enough” lives.. and that’s not life. That’s settling. Quit your job, leave. One door closes, 500 open. Life is what you are going to make of it. If you work hard enough, focus, believe and work hard? You will indeed be able to see all of your BIG dreams come to fruition. I promise you this more than ANYTHING else. Sure, you will need a whole lot of luck, prayers, faith, mentors, supporters, believers, followers etc.. but you cannot expect much if you are not trying. Do not let this lifetime pass you by. You’ve only got one life. Live it wisely.

My big sister shared  a quote with me approximately  five years ago…. This quote changed my life. I decided to move to NYC, break away from comfortable Cali, break-up with the boyfriend and start my life to fulfill my dreams as a cookbook author and healthy-lifestyle expert! Still working on improving myself every day.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
– Mark Twain

14- Work Harder: If you think you’re working hard now? Work harder. If you aren’t quite where you’d like to be in your professional or personal life? Manifest it. Make changes to work harder at the task. Be the best you, you can be NOW. Don’t make excuses, just put your head down and work HARDER. Hard work never goes left unseen.

15- Forgive: & Live with the Notion That People Malfunction: My friend Richard once told me, “much like machines, people too can malfunction.” Even at your worst of times, take a deep breath, give it some time, clear your mind and learn to accept what is happening. See where they are coming from.. give it a few to heal, then learn to forgive and move along. Part of the healing process is learning to accept people as they are. The good, bad and ugly. Working in television,fashion and publishing, both in NYC and LA, (starting as a model when I was 15); I’ve seen and heard it all! And my goodness, I’m grateful for all the bad people in my life, they remind me of exactly who I do not want to be. Learn to forgive, let go and mend. Sometimes being the bigger person is the more graceful path to choose as well. Heck of a lot harder, but totally worth the prestige.

16- Travel Often: See the world, experience culture, open your heart and your mind to new things, people, places, foods, religions  and know that there is a BIG WIDE WORLD for you to travel, experience and taste! Eat well, travel often.

17- Shut-Up and Stop Whining: Just stay quiet.. nobody likes a whiner. And when you say less, people want to hear more.

18- Don’t try to Change People: For people are who they are. Love them just that way or learn to let them go. Relationships should never ever be hard. they should be simple and full love love, not pain.

19- Learn to exude Grace: Grace is a trait that cannot be acquired overnight. It’s something that can be learned overtime. Learn from some of the best, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Nancy Reagan, Jackie Onassis Kennedy, Grace Kelly, Princess Diana, Meryl Streep, Julia Child, Lisa Ling, Oprah Winfrey just to name a few on my short list. Admire their patience, their class and their grace. Exude grace.

20- Love Will Always Win: With a Japanese-Buddhist Mother and a Christian-American Father, I have so luckily been raised to believe that love conquers all. There are no boundaries in love, no rules to follow, no lines to work around. Quite simply love always wins. Love is easy, kind and worth the risk. Even if you end up with a broken heart it truly is better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all. Love is as simple or as complex as you make it. Make love a good, healthy and vibrant part of your life and make love shine! You get what you give. Give love, receive love!

21- When you Eat, Appreciate your Food: Enough said. Appreciate what you do have. A plethora of good food here in the States. Quit wasting your food. Only consume and use what you need. Eat well, be well, live well and appreciate your food more.

22- Volunteer More: Over the past few years I’ve volunteered my free-time across the nation from NJ to HI, FL to CA, DC to SF with UNICEF USA, LTSC in LA, Food Banks galore, Feeding America, soup kitchens, with the ACGA, the White House Initiative for AAPI, the JACCC, church organizations, running marathons for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society, to Farm to Table initiatives, small community organizations etc..I have received more heart, humility and respect from the wonderful individuals who have chosen to donate their time and efforts to a good cause. It’s not about dollar bills, how much money is in your bank account or what lights up that wrist. In the end its the hearts that you have touched, the minds you have mended, the individuals you have inspired, or the ones that have inspired you.. that will fill your life with more joy and love. You can’t buy that. Volunteer more. Start here, or here, or here

No excuses. If you’re almost 30 and never volunteered a day of your time. I suggest making that change. It will shape and humble that character of yours like clay. And you may just enjoy and LOVE what you are doing.

23- Expect Nothing: If you constantly expect things from others? You WILL set yourself up for disappointment. DONE and DONE. I’ve expected others to give the same as myself, and I’m ALWAYS disappointed. And dammit Candice, you aren’t doing this to yourself anymore. Give and inspire and live with the expectation of nothing in return.

24- Have Good Manners: Hold the door for others, say please and thank you! Walk a friend to their door, give up your seat on the train, smile more! I once had a guy lazily stay in his bed after a date night + not walk me to the door or to my car… I was so disappointed, I said to his lazy-face..” You know, manners are free, I suggest that you acquire some.” Needless to say that didn’t last. But manners are free and they do go a LONG way. Thank someone for their time and efforts. Ask the cashier how their day is going, smile more! Yes, smiling is polite stuff. It’s the one thing Dale Carnegie, author of “How to Win Friends and Influence People” suggests we all do more of. Good manners go a LONG way.

25- Filter the Rotten People out of Your Life: Just like a cleansing with detoxifying foods, it’s just as important if not more-so, to get all of the shitty people out of your life. You know who they are. If they are doing you a disservice, get them out. Let go. It will bring more goodness into your life.

26- Just Let go: There is so much value and virtue in just simply letting go. This year I’m vowing to let go of some “friends”… I have too many good ones to waste on “pretend friends.” I’m letting go of all past relationships. Sure they were good when they were good, however they did not last, therefore they are not worth holding on to. Jealousy is a bitch and sure, I’m the first person that will tell you .. I used to think: “Why did she get the show? How did she get that man? How did he get that gig??” And you know what, what good did it do for me? Not a damn thing. Letting go of jealousy this year.. I find that jealousy is like a sick poison.. and the more you associate yourself with it, the more it will taint you. Letting go of past work, letting go of some mistakes, letting go of my worst days, and my worst self. Let go and you will see and feel so much more good come to fruition.

27- Life is Simple, Do not Complicate it: You have it all in your control. If you want something to be complicated, you choose to make it that way. If you want life to be simple. Simplify. It is what it is. Life, is what you make of it. Make it fabulous.

28- You Get what you Give: Give love, receive love. Give crap and guess what? You may just receive that. If you give 150% you may just receive that. If you put it out there, it will come back in return. Give more, receive more. Simple.

29- Remind yourself, “Be Patient”: Patience is truly an open door to success. Nothing will ever come to pass overnight. And as a bull-headed, stubborn, selfish, close-minded Taurus at times (I am by no means even close to perfect!!!) I found that nothing came to me. Doors would not open, opportunity would not reveal itself. It is not until I sat back, worked hard, mastered my crafts, knew my role .. that maybe, just maybe opportunity came knocking.. It’s in our best interest to stay calm and patient.

“He that can have patience can have what he will.” – Benjamin Franklin

30- Be a Better You! There’s no point in being a shitty version of you. You know who you are at your VERY BEST! Well rested, well rounded, eating well, exercising, working hard, staying cool, calm and collected. That’s you at your best! Be the person you want to be around. Choose to be the best you daily!

31- Try a Different POV: That’s “point of view” see it from their angle, perhaps they are having a bad day? Maybe they are going thru a very tough time personally at home or at the office? Remind yourself not to be selfish and see it from their perspective. Change the way you view things and be more accepting.

32- Surround Yourself with People You Admire: Do simply just that. Don’t hang with losers, idiots or people that do no good for you. Birds of a feather flock together. Surround yourself with people whom you admire. 🙂 And they may just surround themselves with you too.

33- Cook More: Learn to cook, the way your Grandmother did. Bet you $50 bucks she’s not obese and she can kill it at any soup, stew, sauce baked cake etc… Grandma’s do it best. Invest in a cooking class, read a good cookbook! Go out and learn from your Grammie or Mom who cooks. Perhaps this means you may need to invest in some new cook wear.. reward thyself and cook more! Cook better!

“Character is what you can offer someone when they can give you nothing” —

Here’s to a new decade full of good. It’s time for change, dedication and a good  lif cleansing. Priorities. Get some.

With so much love and good food, xx Candice

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