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10 Lessons it Took Me 37 Years to Learn

Since yesterday marked the first day of June, I thought I would go ahead and bring my birthday celebration to a close.

I turned 37 on May 22nd, and that also marked the anniversary of the day I got pregnant by someone I did not know. Although I love the result of that anniversary (my son) more than I even love myself, my birthdays are filled with mixed emotions. I usually spend any time that I am alone on my birthday crying. I don’t even really know why because I am long over what happened. However, on most birthdays I can’t control the feelings and always find myself moody, reclusive, and crying as my birthdays approach.

However, in the last few years, I have made deliberate efforts to celebrate myself. My life.

Some people may see it as excessive…excessive only in the number of events I go to or pictures I post (not in money spent because I’m still frugal Summer). But I give myself permission to love myself publicly and celebrate the amazing life I’ve been blessed to have and the amazing life that came from me.

Last year, I had a beautiful two-week journey to and from Gatlinburg where I got to enjoy the peace of my own company. People probably think I’m strange, but one of the best parts of that trip was the amount of work that I was able to get done. I’m looking to another retreat to focus, write, pray, and prepare for the amazing things I know are in store for me.

This year on my birthday, I was not able to take a trip.

However, I was reminded of the amazing group of friends that I have collected through different phases of my life so I enjoyed spending my week long (or a little longer) birthday celebration with them- my friends who are more like beautiful sisters to me.

Even with my girls by my side, I still do my inner reflection and experience an array of emotions. No tears were shed this birthday though. Only gratitude, immense gratitude, and these ten lessons that I hope to apply to my life forever. Not just my birthdays.


  1. Get out. Enjoy yourself.

    As the sad feelings started to creep up, I got a phone call from my cousin/sister/friend to go out and listen to live music. At first, I was just going to go home and work but was so glad I chose to get out! It cost nothing but my time, and it felt great to take a break and enjoy myself. Another day, I had a beautiful patio dinner with another great friend. Do something (even free) to take your mind off of the seriousness of life.

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2. Mix business and pleasure.

I decided to put work aside and get out again to go to a day party with my girl. I felt great in my flowing white dress but changed into my Tiger blue dress in the bathroom for the University of Memphis Distinguished Alumni awards. I always promote myself and my work wherever I go…mixing business with pleasure. But this time, I actually had to mix and switch. I hated to leave the party, but was honored to be attending the awards program. It was even a little exciting going from one event to the next instead of completely bailing out of one of them as I had contemplated.
10 Lessons Learned
10 Lessons Learned

10 Lessons Learned10 Lessons Learned

3. Do something different.

It was a last minute thought, and I was back and forth until I finally decided, “Just do it!” Then, chop! My hair had grown a lot and was coming down my back, but it was time to change things up.


I took out the cornrows I had been sporting and was ready for my new look. I was scared at first (you know how it is for most of us when it comes to our hair), but once she (my friend, hairdresser, and makeup artist) started with the cut, I got excited. And I am SO glad I cut it. Will probably cut more soon!  I’ll also be looking for other changes to make in my life!
10 Lessons Learned

10 Lessons Learned4. Treat yourself.

I spend most of my time working on my two businesses trying to find more ways to effectively help people improve their lives. With my transition from corporate, my budget is not nearly the same so I rarely treat myself. For my birthday, I did though and will continue to do so occasionally. I got an incredible massage as well as a mani/pedi…in addition to my new hair cut. These simple things made me feel great both inside and out, and I will continue to allow myself to experience these simple indulgences.

5. Don’t grow up too much.

Somehow those sad feelings still tried to get to me. That’s when my girls showed up, and we had movies and margaritas in my game room. Rather than painting nails, pillow fights, and talking about boys, we talked about future plans, laid on pillows, and talked about men and relationships. I’ll probably be in my 80’s and still inviting my girls over to spend the night. Sleepovers are even better as adults.

10 Lessons Learned

6. Embrace your singleness.

So yeah, we talked about relationships. Soooo much to say about those things. And we all want one, a good one. In the meantime, it feels great to be single! I’m not sad about it one bit. Being single means I have lots of time for myself, my friends, my work, and everyone else who is important to me. I don’t have to check with anyone about their plans or what they want from me or where they want me to be. When the time comes, I’ll gladly do those things. Until then, I can… (see #8).

7. KISS -Keep it simple silly :).

The day of my actual birthday, I went to church with my girl then went to brunch downtown with a few more of my friends. It was so nice, so simple, and so fun. We then walked over to listen to live music where we shared more laughs, more good times, and more memories. Nice, simple, stress free.
10 Lessons Learned
10 Lessons Learned

And of course, I had to make a stop to see my sweet Kailey before I headed home. She sang, “Happy birthday to Sunshine…” and topped off what had been a beautiful birthday.

 8. Just go.

When my cousin said she needed a getaway, I first responded that I needed to work and couldn’t afford a trip right now. She reassured me that we’d be okay and said, “Let’s just go!” When she asked if any of my friends wanted to go, their initial responses mirrored mine…busy, needed to save money. Then they too decided that they needed a getaway too and wanted to make the sacrifice.  We are all responsible…with huge responsibilities. We all have obligations, but we all made the decision that you just need to make sometimes. Work will be there, and so will bills. Sometimes you just need to go!

9. Accept your body.

We headed out on our road trip to the beach. Each of us beautiful ladies with our beautiful yet imperfect curves. We made a pact to do no body-shaming of ourselves and to just enjoy the sun, sand, surfs (well, water), and sisterhood! It’s amazing how freeing it is when you aren’t judging others or yourself but rather focused on enjoying yourself and others.

20160529_09235910. Love yourself. Love your friends.

Life is short. Too short to focus on your flaws. Too short to not enjoy your blessings both big and small. Not everyone will love you and support you but when people do, love them to life. Love yourself to life too!














I’m Summer Owens, and my passion is helping youth and young adults realize success no matter what obstacles they face. As an international resilience and leadership keynote speaker, author, S.O. What! Success Coach, and creator of the S.O. What! Literacy, Life Skills, and Character Education curriculum, I empower people to say, “So what!” to even their greatest challenges.  provide a framework to help people see past their challenges and focus on solutions using the S.O. What! Success System (Overcome Obstacles + Eliminate Excuses + Calculate Choices = S.O. What! Success). Through keynotes, workshops, books, online courses, and workbooks, I use life’s challenges and my own story of resilience as a rape survivor and teen mom success story to help others confidently pursue their dreams.

Looking for an inspiring college motivational speaker? A high school literacy curriculum? A middle school life skills workbook? A great example for teen mothers? A women’s empowerment or single mother’s conference speaker?  I’m your girl and will help any audience say, “S.O. What!”.



  1. Danyelle Bradley
    Danyelle Bradley says:

    I’ll take all ten lessons and use them as stated. I will be 40 October 2016 if it’s the Lord’s will.