Yesterday was the last day of my 30’s. Today, I turn 40. Today, I leave behind another decade of my life and begin a new one. For some reason on the eve of some sort of “milestone birthday,” I feel like I should be doing something profound or do some reflecting. The eve of my 18th birthday was the first time I felt that way. As if I needed to get all of the “kid” in me out before I became an “adult.” I worked all day that day and came home late, so I ended up spending the evening in my comfy clothes dancing around my room and lip syncing to songs on the radio. As if I felt that I wouldn’t be able to do it anymore after that night. What’s funny is I still do that now in my living room with my kid. I’m honestly not sure how I spent the eve of my other milestone birthdays, but knowing me, I spent some time reflecting. Funny thing is I don’t have the slightest idea what I would have been reflecting on during any of those points, but I’m sure they were important to me in that moment in time.
Yesterday was odd to say the least and had a strange feel to it. Maybe, it felt odd due to the fact that my birthday falls during that stretch between Christmas and the New Year where unless you are working every day, you have absolutely no idea what day it is. I knew the date, however it did NOT feel like a Sunday to me. I kept trying to remind myself it was Sunday, but it felt more like my day off during the week. It wasn’t until I was standing on the other side of our busy road in my pajamas after walking out to the mailbox that I realized that it was indeed a Sunday. I kept telling myself that I needed to “enjoy” the day since it was the last day of my 30’s. As if my life would somehow be dramatically different the next day. I didn’t spend the eve of my 40th birthday the way I had planned. I spent it the way I was meant to.
I spent the eve of my 40th birthday spending quality time with the family I have built over the last decade. My 5 year old son and I cleaned out the cabinet that I was storing my craft supplies in so that we could store games in it. Now we have a place to store board games and can have family game nights. He is about as excited as I am. We took a ride up to the store where I used some of my Christmas money to buy a soft, fuzzy, new throw blanket to snuggle up under when the weather gets crappy. We live in Michigan. It is December. Winter is coming. Sorry, I couldn’t resist. My son and I played together. My husband brought home dinner and while our son was watching Scooby Doo in the bedroom, we were able to catch up on The Mandalorian. I had more things crammed on my to-do list, but as far as I’m concerned, I did the the important things and everything I didn’t get to was stuff that could wait. This was actually a lesson I learned over the past decade. Prioritizing the to-do list considering I always tend to cram way too much on to it.
Speaking of the past decade, this morning I remembered that 10 years ago, I posted a blog about the things I learned during my 20’s. I remembered writing “I’m sure I will read this 10 years from now and laugh at how stupid I sound.” I thought to myself, “What a great idea! I would love to read it again and laugh at how stupid I was 10 years ago.” I hopped on Facebook and did a search. Believe it or not, I actually found it. I did laugh out loud at some of it, but to my surprise, it wasn’t really all that “stupid” after all. It was interesting to revisit where my life was at and where my mindset was at 10 years ago. I had learned quite a bit. What I didn’t know was that I was on the verge of more life changing growth and lessons that were to come that year and throughout the next decade. At lot of these lessons were like the 2.0 version of what I had learned during the decade prior. I have to say, I loved my 30’s. It was a great decade. Not just for the growth and life lessons, but it was amazing. I built a life and started living it.
A lot of important things happened during my 30’s. I sought therapy to learn how to effectively deal with “stress” in my life. Through that, I discovered that a big part of what was causing this stress had to do with certain unhealthy friendships and family relationships and how I was dealing with them. I got to a point where I chose to “remove myself from the equation” with regards to some of those friendships and I don’t regret that decision. Others experienced some friction, because we both had some growing to do, but not only did we become better versions of ourselves, our friendships now have become much stronger for it. This was part of one of the most difficult and important lessons I learned over the past decade. One that it took me almost the whole decade to understand and I’m still in the process of learning. That lesson was about establishing boundaries. In my 20’s and even at 30, I basically had none. It was therapy that got me on the road to establishing boundaries in all areas in my life and it has been much better for it. Here’s an example taken from what I wrote 10 years ago about how I felt at the end of my 20’s.
Anyone read Thidwick the Big Hearted Moose, by Dr. Seuss? Yeah, it was like that. Thanks to a shove out of my comfort zone and therapy, I learned how to establish healthy boundaries. Not everyone was happy with those boundaries of course, but it was beneficial and necessary.
Another thing that came from this journey was the discovery that I have Inattentive type ADHD. Turns out that was another big factor in a lot of my stress. So many pieces fit and it all made sense. Once I learned this and accepted it, I embraced it and learned how to manage it. Some days are easier than others and I am still learning new coping skills, but I am so thankful for this discovery and the peace and understanding it has brought me.
A lot happened during my 30’s while I was building my life. These changes included making a house a home, getting a dog, and marriage. I jumped out of a plane and learned how to ride a motorcycle. I got to be part of an art gallery and watch it grow. I am thankful to have had some of my work on display at that gallery and I made many new friends and expanded my horizons in art by spending some time with some of the most incredibly inspirational people along the way. I opened up an online shop which did pretty well until I got burned out and decided to stop. I have since re-opened, but haven’t put a ton of effort into it. It is more of a side gig for the Christmas fund anyway. I also discovered a love for off road exploring in the jeep. It is something fun that our whole family enjoys. I learned a new skill as well. I taught myself how to crochet and I push myself regularly to get better and better at it. I’ve found just how relaxing and therapeutic it can be and I love making things for other people and for fundraisers.
During my 30’s I experienced the devastation of pregnancy loss followed by the joy of the birth of our son. I learned the hard life lessons that come with parenthood. Not all of them obviously, but the ones you learn in the first 5 years and I’m still learning those ones daily. I’ve lost a parent and during all of that I learned just how strong my support system really is. I am truly blessed. I spent the last 10 years working at the same place and even after a decade, I still feel that I am exactly where I was meant to be doing exactly what I was meant to do. I still love what I do, the work environment, and the people I work with. These people are like family to me. I had to laugh when I read this little bit from what I wrote 10 years ago.
I started out part time. At some point, I became full time. I wrote this 10 years ago, because I remember people advising me to quit and find something full time. Anywhere. It didn’t matter if it was in the field I just finished schooling in or if I liked it. “You aren’t supposed to like your job. That’s why it is called work.” I remember people thinking I was stupid for wanting to stick around. Well, it was my life and not theirs. The choice was mine to make. If I had any little mouths to feed at the time, I likely would have made a different choice, but that was not the case. The best advice I got was on the day I almost left for something full time, but chose to stay, because leaving didn’t feel right. My husband said to me “You do what makes you happy.” I did just that and not once did I regret that choice. So, I guess to some people probably still must think that I don’t have a “real job,” because after 10 years there, I still love what I do. Well, I get a regular paycheck for the work I do and I have great benefits, so if that’s not a “real job,” I’m not sure what is. Then again, I do recall hearing a quote that “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” I tend to agree with that. When I’m at work, I never feel like it is actual “work.” So, maybe it isn’t a “real job.” Fine with me. I’m 10 years in with my “fake job” and loving it. They also made my birthday quite special today, because as I’ve said before, my co-workers are like family to me.
My 30’s were bittersweet. There was a lot of pain and loss. We have friends who are no longer with us. However, there was beauty in the pain. It was a bit hard to say good-bye to my 30’s, because I loved that decade. Life must go on though and the good Lord gave me another birthday, which means my work here is not done. Not everyone I know has had the luxury of seeing 40 or beyond, so I will embrace each year I get and do it for them. This past decade taught me that my life actually did turn out how I pictured it back when I was growing up. I never dreamed for fame or monetary wealth. I pictured myself with a house, a loving and supportive husband, kids, a big brown dog, cheesy family pictures on the wall, and to be part of a loving family. I’m there and I am grateful. Now to see what the next decade brings. This is 40.