Since my 27th birthday, I gave up with New Year’s resolutions that set me up for disappointment. Year after year, the ball dropped, and I had a long list of hefty resolutions – drop 80 pounds, workout daily, be the best scrapbook-and-crustless-sandwich-making mom, and save $10,000. So, you can imagine, those fell off my radar by about February, if not January 3. I started something new. I decided to set out on a lifelong journey, with measurable stops along the way.
I began my journey and set my annual checkpoint on my birthday: August 10. I made sure it was about progress, and not about leaping toward my vision of “perfection”. I vowed to look back each year and make sure that I grew – in happiness, in intelligence, in empathy, in physical health, and in wealth. I feel most of those are fairly universal, except wealth. Wealth is defined and measured differently, depending on who you ask. Wealth for me, is being able to afford all I need, the “wants” that make me happy, and have enough money to support my girls – today and in their future.
As 28, 29, 30, 31, and 32 came and went, I could look back and see the progress. Others could see it in my smile. Over the course of six years, I lost almost 90 pounds. I continued to research anything I came across and lacked any knowledge in. I continued to learn from my financial mistakes. I got better with my relationships in my life. I could see where I was, the progress I made, and the direction I was going.
Last year, the clock struck 33, and I wasn’t honest with myself when I said I achieved what I set out to in the last year. I focused on short moments that weren’t the majority of my last year’s moments, and lied to myself. I will forever remember my birthday, last year. I knew it, deep down. I wasn’t happy. I was coping by drinking too much. I put most of my needs to the backburner in order to try to achieve a future that didn’t exist for me. A future I didn’t deserve – I deserved better.
Shortly after that, I finished the year single. I slowed on my drinking. And things started to seem much clearer to me. I began 2018 ready for what was ahead.
Now, I must admit, as the clock continues to tick without failure, I noticed several new trends in my life that I consider to be rites of passage as I spend more time with adulthood. I never understood why grownups woke earlier than necessary, talked about being tired, but drank coffee to wake up. Why not sleep in and skip the coffee? Well, I now know the answer. We require it. And, for me, that quiet time in the morning before the kids and world wake, is precious to me. I saw yard work as a waste of time. But, this year, I really tried – I watered grass seed, I talked to grass seed, and I audibly cheered grass sprouts on! (I am still not going for Monroe Lawn of 2018 – or any year!). I remember being annoyed as a kid, when adults said, “When I was your age…”, and “I remember when you were a baby and fit in my arm!” I now say things like that daily, to my girls and many others.
As I look back over the last year, I feel the milestone marker of 34 is closer to the path of my journey than the previous was.
While I haven’t succeeded every day, I focused on improving the relationships I care about – my parents, my daughters, my siblings, my smallish circle of friends, etc. I wanted to find ways to show them how I truly felt about them, which I’ve failed at for a lot of my life. I know many know I love them, but did they see how much I look up to them? Did they believe in what I saw as envious qualities they possessed? Did they realize I think of them, care for them unconditionally, and value how much they impact my life? So – I really put forth the effort to match my desires. This came with a balance. Everything does. Self-care is critical. If you put yourself in the background, it’s hard to be what you need for others. Balance.
I talked about learning to ride. I knew I wanted to. I found reasons to put it off and let my fears win. But, it happened. I will remember May 17 for the rest of my life, like a commonly-celebrated anniversary. I earned my motorcycle endorsement!
I feel even closer to my girls. I am more transparent with them. There is an unconditional level of trust you get, just for becoming a mother to a child. But, you can build upon that foundation – adding genuine trust in you, as a person. And, I think that’s grown substantially in the last year, with both girls. I am so incredibly proud of them. I now have moments when I think about whom they have grown to become, so far, and my heart aches with love.
I have the best support behind me. While “my corner” is always sold out to my parents – I have such an amazing support system – including you guys. It’s been inspirational to have so many of you cheering me on in the world of Facebook, Instagram, and on my blog. It makes me awkwardly giddy (picture me turning away with a large smile and running smack dab into a sliding-glass door) when people stop me to tell me I inspired them (Me? Inspire you awesome people? Get outta here!), they live vicariously through me, and they love how happy I am. I am. I am happy. More than I thought possible.
I learn some lessons through others, but not many. Most, I have to learn on my own (just try and get me not to touch a button after you tell me not to). As for all those things that I was ashamed of as I sat in my garage on August 10, 2017? Well, I turned them into lessons. I tried to get the most out of it, in a positive way. It took a lot of reflection, self-conducted therapy, and researching to get here – but I truly feel happy with where I stand today.
So, cheers. Cheers to 34. Cheers to you. Cheers to those who are focused on progress, not perfection.
If you’re reading this, and you don’t feel like you’re progressing in life? Maybe you feel like you’re standing still as time marches on? Maybe you feel like you’ve regressed? I hope you find inspiration. Even if a glimpse of it, enough to realize that Rome wasn’t built in a day – it is a slow process, one day at a time. Don’t expect perfection from yourself. Expect progress. Demand progress. But in small, measurable doses – set yourself up for success.
So, here is to 34, as it approaches in a couple hours.
May your ride be smooth, and your drinks stiff! Cheers!