Upon Turning 35, a Final Look Back

IMG_1866When I first began my pity party path to recognizing and acknowledging the blessings of turning 35, I wasn’t sure how the experience would play out. I couldn’t predict what it would feel like having to come up with 35 truly positive things about my life as it is now, without only citing banal, yet genuine daily items of gratitude that might put you to sleep. To be honest, some days were harder than others—not because I didn’t feel truly grateful for things in my life, but rather I didn’t know exactly how to express feelings into words on a screen.

Yet here on this final day—the day of turning 35—I can honestly say I have earned every single virtual candle on that birthday cake. I cherish all the experiences I’ve had in my life—both amazing and not so great, the ordinary day-to-day and the life-changing moments, as well as the expected and the surprises. They have helped shape and mold me into the person I am today. While flawed, still constantly growing and learning, I happen to appreciate and like the person whom I’ve become.

Upon turning 35, today I am grateful for…

1.I am grateful for having made it through to the other side of some very dark days. I’ve lived through some pretty rough experiences, both physically and emotionally, and I’m proud to be able to say I truly am a stronger and better person for it. Instead of staying in a wallowing, poor-me state that would’ve been so easy to do, I kept pushing ahead, learning from my challenges, and grown to further understand the human spirit. My compassion and empathy for others, while always rather keen, has expanded so much more and is very much broader in scope.

2. I am so grateful to have found a career where I can use those difficult experiences I’ve been through to help counsel and educate others. I eventually discovered and built my own virtual support groups many years ago. Yet it would have helped me even more to have a personal mentor who was both knowledgeable about what I was going through and who could also help show me how I could improve my health without simply telling me which medications to take and to go get treatments that would just keep me stuck at a plateau. I envisioned this career for so many years without knowing exactly how I would get here, so when it did finally show up, I just about cried. This is what it was for.

3. I am grateful for all the people who have touched my life over the years. My brothers who were my second set of parents, making sure I never got into too much trouble, who kept me humble, kept me in giggles and made sure I felt loved. The teachers who recognized and encouraged my skills and talents, who made sure I had the support to blossom academically. Different friends I’ve made along the way—people to talk, laugh, cry, and share endless memories with. Acquaintances who have crossed my path—casual compliments that meant more to me than I could thank them for. Strangers who have gone out of their way to help me up a mountain or make sure I navigated through a foreign city. Old classmates or family friends who remember something I did or said to them, what feels like a lifetime ago, that made a huge impact on them. The romantic partners who’ve taught me so much about loving and relating, while learning about what makes them tick, shapes who they are and how they love, and revealing so much of the same in myself through my experiences with them. My fellow health coaches who inspire me every single day, and who have been so amazingly warm, uplifting and supportive—you are all beautiful, loving superstars! I could go on and on, but thank you, thank you, thank you.

4. I am thankful for the white hairs. I am thankful for snow fingers and shoulders. I am thankful for the stiff joints in the morning. I am thankful for the reminders of the joy of sports played hard, of a life well lived and a life lived to its fullest. And I know this sounds incredibly strange, but I am thankful for the health issues that have taught me so much about the mind-body connection, about listening to and honoring my body and the importance of self care, a lesson that had to be beaten into me. I am listening. I know. I am ready to move into my next phase of living.

5. I am thankful for yet another year to experience awe. To live life to the fullest. To laugh. To love. To cry. To sing from my heart. To embrace my inner child. To savor what I’ve got. To dream. To go after those dreams and make them my reality. To give thanks for another year, another month, another day, this breath…

Turning Over a New Leaf

Contrary to what some of you may have feared, I have not fallen off the face of the blogosphere. In the last few weeks, I have accepted a new job, weathered a break-up that still has its dramatic aftermath, gone on a week-long vacation, had two days of training in a whirlwind trip to NYC, and then started putting in ridiculous hours for my new job because I actually love it that much.

Putney, VT

It’s exhausting and stressful in the the way my spirit loves–as my rheumatologist said to me in my appointment today, “You look a thousand times better today than you did when I last saw you in August.” My father has been hinting that he’s seen a miraculous transformation in me over the last week. And the drive up to Vermont this past Saturday reminded me that this is the perfect season for me to be turning over a new leaf.

With trees beginning to change into fiery reds, burnt oranges and golden yellows and the air getting crisp, my favorite season has arrived. I can zip up my fleece hoodies, snuggle under the quilt at night, and my best buddy Alexei joins me far more frequently for cuddles.

Alexei, the bengal

Sometimes he cuddles up under the covers at bedtime, but what I enjoy even more is when I am at my desk working, and he provides some much needed tension-relief with some purrs, finger-kisses, and the warmth of his n-shaped body around mine as I type away at the keyboard. Ever since the day he came home with me four years ago, my cat has been a playmate, a caregiver, a stress-reliever, a buddy, and a source of great joy in my life. When the world seems to come crashing down around me, a nudge from this little guy has always encouraged me that things are going to get better…and they do.

Men may come and go, but Alexei doesn’t. He’s been there through the worst and the best of my health situations in the last four years. He’s known when to be rough and tumble to inspire me to be active, and he’s known when to be tender and gentle when I just need a body to center me and bring me comfort. He’s even been my litmus test for men. If I can tell he legitimately loves a man in my life and that the man legitimately loves Alexei, then the man is worth keeping around for a while.

My new leaf this autumn also includes being single again. I am not dating. I am too busy to meet and try out new people. I’ve completely kicked to the curb the “friends” who’ve only really wanted a booty call. I don’t need it, and I don’t want it. I want meaningful connections and relationships in my life right now, romantic and otherwise. I cherish those people who’ve been there for me through thick and thin, like the V-Man, even when I haven’t been the best friend to them at times.

the start of my office space

The V-Man was awesome to me last week as I was working to transform my front bedroom into an office. I had gradually allowed my main bedroom to become my sleeping space/recovery room/writing area/home office, and in turn, it had become a huge mess that left me completely disorganized and discombobulated in all areas of my life. I needed a fresh start in my work space big time. So I dragged V-Man around with me to get much needed organizers, some new things for my wardrobe (he has the patience of Job when it comes to clothes shopping with me and my impossible-to-find-anything-to-fit-me-right body), and later, my dad grabbed the new desk and built it for me.

Each day, I’m adding something new to make it feel more like a workable office space befitting an online editor (yoga mat and all)–who just happens to work out of her home.  Thanks to the V-Man and my own troubleshooting, I’m learning how to use my new tech toys. Mom is helping me get rid of the clutter in my own bedroom. Both parents and my brother have agreed to train as some of the members of my street team to help me do business listings that need to be done before my site can launch. Getting me back on my feet is a family project, and there’s no better team I can have.

Each day I’m starting to believe more and more in myself that I am fully capable of doing this job for which I was hired, and that my body can withstand and endure the temporary punishment I give it as we attempt to put out a launch date a full month earlier than expected. I am so excited to have this new focus in my life, to have this career that finally feels like a perfect fit for me and all the talents and skills I bring to the table. I’m actually looking forward to the challenges and to the learning curve–imagine that.

After launch, I can focus more on the other aspects of my life. I can focus even more on finding balance. Maybe I can even explore a relationship that feels like home. However, right now, for the first time in a long time, that isn’t my number one priority, and I think that is a healthy place for me to be. I am the number one priority, not a man or a romantic relationship. It feels really good.