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…

Tossing Out the Ticking Time Clock

Couple in Love by fajridet

They call me SingleInMy30s, and I am a serial monogamist.

It boggles my mind to think that I have spent 13 of the last 16 years of my life in a serious, committed relationship. Beyond that, for one year I mourned the loss of the four-year relationship. And the remaining two years of my adult romantic life (if we start at age 17 ½), I spent dating and searching for the partner who would stick.

I have been looking for that best friend and passionate lover and tender partner who would stick by my side through thick and thin, through the ups and downs of the rollercoaster of life. Stick with us through courtship and marriage, family shenanigans and creating a family of our own and supporting each other through the inevitable transitions we each would go through over the course of life.

At times, I have been so busy looking for that, I have sacrificed looking to find my own self. I believe I know who I am, what I stand for and what I believe. However, years of dating man-boys with domineering personalities sometimes threatened to extinguish the spark that was the unique spitfire of me. In a way, being sick and single while I am forced to make my recovery has been my salvation.

I read whatever I want to read—be it serious literary fiction or young adult graphic novels, critical commentary on the Western food diet or books on how to have a strong spiritual life—for as long as I want. I can explore all these interests without anyone batting an eye. I can stay up until 3 a.m. in the morning reading without anyone complaining. I can write my missives on whatever topic strikes my fancy at whatever hour it pops into my head.

I can watch political documentaries in the middle of the day and blog about them in the afternoon without someone saying, “Are you getting paid for that?” I can watch marathons of entire seasons of Brothers & Sisters, Parenthood, Game of Thrones and Small Ideas for a Big Planet. If I get hungry in the middle of the night, I grab food to snarf in bed.

If I were not on leave from work, I’d have all the time in the world to cover the bevy of cool events that occur over the weekend—events I always missed spending my entire weekend at a boyfriend’s house.

I can talk to my friends and see them when my body allows, without feeling like I am stealing any of my time away from my boyfriend—with limited energy for many years, I constantly had to make choices about who to squeeze into the few blocks of time when I was able to be out and about and social. Inevitably, someone was always being left out.

Now, I have plenty of time with my family, and I can appreciate them more as individuals instead of “characters” to complain about in a story to other people. I can find time to support my friend as she embarks as laughter yoga instructor. I can go over my musician friend’s house and jam with her and other female musicians—once I am feeling stronger.

There’s time. So much time. Maybe too much time. My mind is always thinking, plotting. What am I going to do with the next stage of my life? I’m not tied down anymore. As I begin to heal, I want to go back for my master’s. But there are steps to take before then, but how will I go about doing them? Where will I do it?  Which program is best for me?

I’m a 33-years-old single woman. Probably the most single I’ve been in a very long time. I know that I might not be 100 percent healthy in my lifetime. I recognize I will probably have challenges having children. I realize the clock is ticking for certain things.

Or maybe, if I am brave enough I will have the courage to just take the batteries out of the clock, and look at the journey in a completely different light. It’s a bit terrifying, but also incredibly exciting. I can’t help feeling a sense of exhilaration thinking, What’s next?

Transformation Takes My Place

Metamorphosis by Eaglecaste

My life has been full of transformation over the last couple weeks. My boss put in her notice that she was quitting her position as regional editor next month, leaving her position open as well as, potentially, the intermediary position between hers and mine. Despite the ridiculousness of it, I threw my hat in for both, thinking ahead for my career future, not of the present where I am still on medical leave for at least another 6 weeks.

I am pretty sure I won’t get the promotion, which is fine since I really do love the job I have and the close interaction I have with my readership. However, I am nervous about who will take over as my boss. There have been so many changes at work with the role of my position this year already.

Of course, there was also the blowout with the V-Man. That emotional day also led to a blowout with my father, which had me wondering how on earth I was going to be able to move out of the house when I am currently unable to drive, can only partially take care of myself and I really need my family to help me get through everything right now. After several emotional hours, filled with PMS tears, my dad and I made up. And I stopped thinking about the V-Man.

I also enrolled in a yearlong program in integrative nutrition. I’ve been looking at this school and their program for more than a year now, and I finally decided the time was now to make my transition into my future journey in integrative medicine. It is really exciting, but I am a bit nervous how I’ll balance everything, despite it being designed for people who work full-time. I’m sure they didn’t have my job’s idea of full-time in mind. The good thing is I am starting now, ahead of the official start date, so I can get ahead before I start back at work.

Pumped by all the positive changes I have been taking in my life recently, I wondered what it would be like if I put that focused kind of energy into finding my next relationship. Obviously, I have been going about dating the wrong way for many years, being incredibly loyal to relationships that aren’t worthy of all that time and energy I devote to them. If something’s not working, it’s time to change the game plan.

I’ve been reading How to Be The One by Roy Sheppard. He has some great points about the vast amount of choices in dating we single people have right now, driven largely by the online dating market. While the chances of getting a first date are great, with so many other people out there, we can afford to be pickier than ever and never get to a second date.

If we find something wrong with someone on the first date, we move on to the next person. Sheppard says the competition for a partner is higher than ever. Thus having the qualities you seek in your potential mate is more important than ever. It’s an interesting way to look at the world of dating; to ask first, would I want to date me?

Sheppard calls a date an “Audition for Intimacy.” People who just roll in, like my date Tuesday morning who threw on some gym clothes and a bandana for our first meeting, are not putting in the effort for successful dating. The winners, says Sheppard, are “focused, passionate, dedicated, committed, talented and they are always ready.”

After reading this, I couldn’t help but think about how I am approaching dating. Yes, I am diving into the pool looking for a long-term partner. Yet, are my actions following my intention? Am I presenting my best self? More importantly, whether I am on a date or not, am I being my best self?

Would I fail a test asking me if I possessed the same qualities I claimed I desired in my potential partner? Would you?

It reminds me of the Tegan and Sara song “You Wouldn’t Like Me” with the pointed lyrics:

I feel like I wouldn’t like me if I met me
I feel like you wouldn’t like me if you met me
And don’t you worry there’s still time

Being aware of how critical I am of myself, I do think I possess many of the qualities I seek in others. I believe I am compassionate, encouraging, open-minded, passionate about life, a good listener and thoughtful. Yet, his Relationship Fitness Assessment also reminded me of the things I did need to work on:

  • Being openly honest with myself and others
  • Being more reliable and trustworthy—following through on my commitments
  • Showing more respect for my self—not allowing myself to get in positions where I am giving too much with little return, not allowing myself to heal by reliving past’s mistakes, not always pointing at myself as the stem of the bad things that happen in life….
  • And the ever-so-sexy working on my organization (my living quarters, and thus my mind, is full of clutter)

While it’s not as much fun to think of finding my potential life mate as a project, I know that working on myself is a huge step toward finding happiness and peace in every facet of my life. But that hasn’t stopped me from continuing to date…read more this weekend, after my third date of the week, on how I’m also approaching dating in a refreshingly different way.