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For My 34th Birthday

It's that time of year again.

Depending on the events of the day I feel equal parts of numbness, dread, and happiness.

I don’t know what it is about turning another year older that brings anxiety of any kind. It is not that I feel pressure because of the number but rather because of my station in life. I don’t think I should be further along in my goals but sometimes I wish I could fast-forward to the part where I am living, writing, and traveling as I dream. For me my birthday isn’t a deadline rather just an indicator of progress for that year.

When I reflect on any year a big part of that will always be my health. I have chronic migraine illness and it affects my life dramatically. I refuse to use the word “suffer” because it sounds intense not that the disease isn’t. I have long wished that people would understand that there are thirty-six billion of us dealing with this disabling disease. It is an invisible illness and one of the worst parts besides the physical ailments is that no one tends to believe how awful it really is. If you do not live with it daily or know someone that does, outsiders think that you look good enough especially because as a community you are always trying to hold it down. All the while on the inside you are circling the drain thinking this is it I am going to die. But you don’t so coworkers, family, friends; even strangers question your illness. It is equal parts degrading and frustrating.

Luckily for me I have a tell. As soon as my body senses stress or pain on the horizon it begins to warn me. That might sound like a helpful hint so that I can prepare for the pain to come but this is not so. That is because my tell is to turn red. Not red like I had a sip of alcohol, red like my face is one gigantic blister and is about to explode. It feels as bad as it sounds and that is what always surprises people. If I had a dollar for every time someone said to me, “hey your really red and sweaty” I would be rich. Like Martha Stewart rich. Or did I forget to mention the sweating? It is has calmed down some since I switched meds but it is still there. I still can go out in thirty-four degree weather in a t-shirt and manage to sweat. I use hand fans and wipes to manage and the looks I get are always kind, not. I cant even put a pain patch on my forehead without insensitive idiots commenting. If you are one of these people you need to check yourself before you wreck yourself. Or I do. My patience during pain is non-existent. I am always puzzled by this reaction. Now I know why cancer patients try to avoid going out when they are bald. People are awful and this is why I hate most of them. I suppose for now all I can do is continue plugging away trying to educate others.

Despite my health I aim to meet my goals at any level. I strive to move forward bringing my migraines with me. Every time I get to cross something off my to do list ( it is an accomplishment. I am appreciative of those moments now more than ever. I am easier on myself and have more realistic expectations while trying to defy them. For instance this year I went to visit Springwood in Hyde Park, home to President Franklin Roosevelt (blog to come soon) and I got through an exhausting day without a hitch in my giddy up. For me it felt like hitting the lotto.

It is with these small steps that I begin to create peace within myself. This year has been one of the best in a long time. I had to step back before I made that observation. This year has been successful but not in the traditional way I usually measure it. I did not travel anywhere new or exotic, I did not publish a book, I did not do anything different on the outside. It turns out this year has been all about successful progress on the inside of my person. I have been working on myself. I want to evolve how I think and act. I want to grow further into the woman I will become. It is that woman who will be able to handle my future while simultaneously creating it.

I have been reading and seeing some extraordinary women this year. Elizabeth Gilbert has to be mentioned first because she is my spirit animal. Her and her “Big Magic” ( have altered me to my core. There was also someone you might have heard of, Ms. Shonda Rhimes. Her “Year of Yes” ( has been a place of support and encouragement for me.

I am seeking out books that serve as self-help journeys for me to aspire to. I take parts from each that matches my life. It is surreal to see what will be in my future.

Perhaps the most influential book I’ve read this year has to be “Why We Write” by Meredith Maran. This book complies the backgrounds and inspirations of some of the most popular writers of our time. It validated my life’s work while feeding my soul. I am EXCITED for the sequel “Why We Write About Ourselves”. That should be a fascinating read. I have already pre-ordered it.

Turning the big 3 4 sounds odd to be. It sounds older than I feel. It sounds like someone I would see on that old show Thirtysomething, for anyone reading this who doesn’t have to use Google knows what I mean. I feel like in past generations being in your thirties was not like it is now. Age in this time of technology is somewhat irrelevant. You can start a new chapter of your life whenever you choose. It is easier to pursue your dreams if you are willing to work hard at it. It is easier because more people are aiming for this as the definition of true happiness rather than staying with a company doing something just to make a buck until retirement. The thought of that makes me blackout.

But perhaps the best thing that happened to my blog and me this year was when I received a tweet from Resette (
in New York City asking if I have ever been to their restaurant. It was the first time I have been invited to check out a new place and write about it. It was a great experience as you can read. I hope to get a lot more of these requests in the coming year.

In last couple of weeks I have noticed how much my life has changed since I was in my twenties.

As I age I am narrowing down the list of people who I know are my people, by blood or not. I know what I want and what I won’t be able to tolerate. I am set in my ways, and pretty much have been since I was six. I am no longer willing to stay out and party, no matter the reason. I consider a wild Friday night to be staying home up into the wee hours writing and then watching Bill Maher on my DVR.

I discovered that these remarkable changes are amusing but do not have to be life defining in a negative way.

Instead I am going to take a big step into the next stage in my life. As great as being thirty-three has been, I can’t wait to see what thirty-four has in store for me. For all I know by this time next year I will be posting my thirty-fifth blog from the other side of the world. Hey a girl can dream, and plan cant she? As Brittany says: “you better work bitch” so that’s just what I’ll do. Writing always has a way of making things better anyways.

Now tomorrow I will be off having margaritas to celebrate along with some delicious Mexican food with my family and you know this is a place I have been dying to check out and off my to do list. This weekend is going to be one long ongoing festivity and I am wise enough to know that I certainly deserve it. 

Scarlett O’Hara was right; “tomorrow is another day” and for me that means it’s my thirty-fourth birthday.

I am happy this one, as always, will include presents and outpourings of love. Tomorrow I will receive these greetings with open arms with the knowledge that I am one very lucky lady.

For Previous Birthday Blogs:


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