Well I am finally at that ripe old age of thirty-five. I can no longer say I am in my early thirties. I am only five years away from forty, a number that doesn’t really scare me as much as wows me. I can’t believe I could ever be that old simply because that’s a “grown-ups” age. But since our only choice is either to be this age or not exist I shall explore what this new year of life brings to me.
Since I am writing this blog a month, almost to the day, after my birthday I have had some time to adjust to my new age. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t thinking about what I wanted to write for the prior few months. My brain doesn’t work like that. Thoughts and feelings pop into my head no matter what I am doing in the moment. I hardly ever jot them down instead I try to understand them clearly and keep them dormant until I type them down. This analytical way of thinking can be exhausting but it’s how I process life. I am what I am.
The first birthday post I ever wrote was for my thirtieth. That was back in 2011 during the first year of my blog. It now seems like a lifetime ago. It certainly was about someone else. I don’t know where the time goes but it feels like life is speeding by.
At first I didn’t know how I wanted to approach the task of reviewing my life so far. I initially thought I would make a list of thirty-five things I was grateful for or had achieved thus far. Sort of like a written version of the candle ceremony I had at my sweet sixteen. But the pressure of that task started to drive me crazy. I decided such self-imposed stress was nuts. Instead I would just write how I normally do- speaking whatever my truths are at the moment and at that moment there were two prevailing themes. One that I was ecstatic to have had the best year of my life in recent history. Second that I was having a hard time accepting that I am a one-man band. Both thoughts need some elaboration.
On the one side 2016 provided me with the realization that I am stronger than even I thought and not to waste a moment of the good fortune I was having. My chronic migraines are the most under control they have been in the last six or seven years and that means I can leave my house. Apparently it also means I can leave the country, solo.
I am on the least amount of medication I have been on since 2011, which at one point consisted of taking over thirty daily pills at three different times of day. My weight is shrinking (a gain as a fun side effect of said pills) and an enormous part of my heat sensitivity is gone. I actually feel cold in the winter now however strange but thrilling it is. Despite this positive turn it does not mean I no longer have a chronic invisible illness. It also doesn’t mean that when an attack hits it is easier or less painful.
I took this positive change in my health status as a sign I was ready to stop doubting myself and make good on some pretty big dreams that proved to be better than I had hoped. It was certainly my time and created much to write about, something else I could now do more of.
Once your health is secure you can begin to entertain more existential ideas. A purely post-modern concern.
I am a very strong completely self-reliant woman and sometimes it is more than I can handle. This is not a way of life for the faint of heart. Sometimes even though you don’t really need to be cared for, you want to be. You don’t want to be the one who everyone else turns to, to make things better, make the plans, and have the answer. For once you want to be the one living a blissful ignorant life even its not who you truly are. You just can’t handle another ounce of strength for anyone including yourself. I usually get this way when I am at my lowest point in my life a.k.a. after days dealing with a particularly bad migraine attack and insomnia.
For my birthday I had the crazy idea that I didn’t want to be the one planning anything even though I am the self appointed event/holiday planner out of my family and friends. I thought I wanted a night off. Yet I also thought I didn’t want another crappy birthday. Sure during the last few years there were some decent times like when I spent my thirty-first birthday in Rhode Island or last year when I had dinner at Javelina. But I wanted more than that. I felt like this was a special birthday, a milestone age, that warranted special attention and that’s where I went wrong.
It took some thinking but I had to realize a few things about myself before this became a non-issue. For me writing begets life within my soul. It resuscitates me when nothing else feels right, even when I don’t think I am in the proper emotional space to do such a thing. Writing is an emotional and a creative activity for me, but it also teaches me how to recognize and then process my feelings.
In this instance it taught me that I need to be more self-centric. That giving to others is wonderful once you fulfill your own needs first otherwise you are no good to anyone. For someone that writes a blog about her life ironically I think of myself last always. For instance on Giving Tuesday I donated money to God’s Love We Deliver which is a great organization that delivers meals to those who are sick or in need. But for someone with a chronic illness that isn’t properly funded it NEVER occurred to me to donate to a migraine cause. When I realized that it stopped me in my tracks.
I had to realize that I can’t expect others to do what I would do in a situation, that no one is in my head no matter how subtle I think I a being.
I had to learn to manage my expectations and appreciate how the people in my life do show the ways they cherish me. And that no one, including me, can be up to any task twenty-four hours a day, three hundred sixty-five days a year. Perhaps that is why I wanted my birthday off so to speak. I need days off thinking too. That is just as important.
Further, that doesn’t mean you are alone. You can be a strong complete individual AND need people. That was a hard lesson for me. I have to learn to be more vulnerable and that it is okay. For as hard as I am on others I am that much harder on myself. When I least expect it the words I am thinking turn against me. I had to give myself permission to be kinder to myself and then it was easier to stop judging others.
In a twist fate it was Donnie from Le Boudoir who assisted me when he asked if I made my own reservation. When I told him yes, he wasn’t surprised. He said Sagittarius’s like us always do because we are best suited for the job. And just like that the final piece of the puzzle was complete. Somehow hearing it from someone who like myself planned his own birthday outing the following day, helped clarify the issue for me. I liked relating to someone in this way.
“Sagittarius have a knack for conversing with others, inspiring morale, working hard as team player, adapting to change, and encouraging others to enjoy the jobs that they do.”
Now that I am fully aware of who I am, that I like who I am, it is time to move my focus forward. As a reflective person I have a tenancy to pay close attention to my personal history. Nevertheless the thing about looking back is that it can prevent you from moving forward.
On the day of my college graduation I was walking out onto the soccer field where the ceremony was being held and turned back to look at the building I had called home for the last four years, the most significant ones up until that point. My favorite professor turned to see me and said “Donna do not look back it’s bad luck”.
I know we have to look back to find strength, inspiration, and learn life lessons. But now I am done. I have all of the introspection I can get from those experiences and now my focus has to be on the present instead of the past. I need to hunker down in order to get to the future. There is no more time for the past that’s why it is past. It is where it was meant to be left.
While forty is an age that mildly terrifies me I think it is good I have this “deadline”. I feel like these next five years are going to be the busiest, hardest, greatest times of my life. I feel they will transport the person I am now into the woman I have always wanted to be. I will have the full time career I dream of, the love I hope to share my life with, and become the mother I know I was meant to be. They are the years I have spent most of my life wishing I was living right now. But unfortunately we do not suddenly wake up one morning living the life we imagine. We have to do the work both externally and internally to get there. No one can do it for you. That’s why some don’t get to that place. There is a part of me that always doubts I am strong enough to get myself to the next level but the thought of the alternatives prevent me from not trying. I know I need to do everything in my power to get there and knowing I did it on my own and my way will make my future all the more sweet.
Forty will become the bookend to my thirties and one major part of my journey. I can’t wait nor comprehend the things to come that I have never dreamed up. I know the blessings are bound to outweigh the stresses. I have always followed my bliss and I do not plan on stopping. I will not end up the would of, could have, should have, girl. I will be the one regaling the struggles and successes of my life for all.
I suppose the only thing to left to say is that I am thirty-five and happy to still be alive……and well, mostly.
For Previous Birthday Blogs: