Happy Birthday to Me: Reflections on Turning 33
Practicing a mindset of gratitude is important. This helps us understand where we are, who helped us get there and all of life’s special treats. On the day before my birthday, I try to spend time reflecting on the previous year and ponder these three questions:
Specifically what am I thankful for THIS year?
What did this year teach me?
How can I use this year to approach the new one?
I’ll set the scene for you this year’s reflection landscape. I sit on Revere Beach in East Boston hearing the waves crash against the sand. The smell of seaweed and the salty brine of the ocean are powerful and almost overwhelming at first. My nose slowly adjusts. The ocean is far away from me, and between us is a beach covered in washed up seaweed and shells. It’s not the most beautiful day on Revere, but its representation of renewal still inspires me to write.
Let’s start with thankfulness. Since I turned 33 this year, I decided to write down 33 things I’m thankful for from my 32nd year, and here they are in no particular order:
- Friendships – I was blessed this year to meet some pretty incredible women who have quickly transformed into best friends. Before I met them, I’d almost given up on the possibility of developing close friends up here in Boston. They proved me wrong and are some of the most inspiring, supportive, brave, adventure-seeking women I’ve ever met. I’m also thankful for the many friends who have stood by my side and continued to grow with me as I’m far away. I’m just so full of thanksgiving for all the people in my life! Note: I won’t be writing long, sappy reasons for all of these, just a few….
- Book Club – Because of Book Club, I’ve met some amazing friends and read some incrediblebooks (An American Marriage, Americanah, Born a Crime) To top it off, I’ve managed to reach one of my 2018 goals to read at least one book every month.
- Travel out of the country twice – Australia and Italy
- Travel within the USA – I was able to check four more states off my bucket list – Washington, Maine, Rhode Island and New Hampshire
- The Point East Boston Barre & Yoga and its beautiful community of teachers and students – Because of this place, I was able to stave off the winter blues and have an excuse to get out of the house everyday
- Magnolia Barre & Yoga Studio’s Barre Teacher Training. Through this training, I developed my passion for teaching fitness, something I’d always wanted to pursue but never gave myself permission to do.
- Opportunity to pursue teaching barre / fitness as my next career path
- Flexibility to move closer to home
- Becoming an Aunt two times over (I’m looking at you Owen and little baby Davis)
- My therapist
- You are a Badass
- Positive Affirmations
- The Life Jar
- My health and ability to practice fitness on an almost daily basis
- Yoga and Yoga with Adriene’s 30-days of yoga in January 2018
- Revere Beach and its proximity to my home
- My family
- Columbian Empenadas from La Sultana down the street
- Homemade pasta nights
- All of the interesting / relaxing outdoor spaces at my apartment
- The free chai lattes in my apartment complex
- Free fitness classes at Post Office Square Park this summer and a chance to see my best friends in the morning
- The T – Boston’s public transportation and commuter rails
- All the patience Chris shows me while I’ve been trying to figure things out this year
- Working from home with my husband
- Beth Kirby, the Local Milk and her podcast Raw Milk
- The many opportunities for introspection and personal understanding
- Feeling more comfortable saying no and standing up for me
- My barre students
- Uniqlo and all the clothes I can buy there that don’t need to be hemmed – especially their flowing long pants
- The brunch and amazing staff at Vinoteca di Monica
- Reawakened passion for writing
These are the first 32 things that came to mind, but there are so many other things to be thankful for (a.k.a. my cats!!!).
Reflections & Learnings
This year has been a whirlwind. It feels like yesterday I had my birthday massage and special dinner, but, alas, an entire year has passed. Thirty two was marked by some really high moments like bucket-list worthy moments, ya’ll. But it was also marked by some really low ones. I’m currently working through one of the low ones now. I’m trying to stay positive, encouraging and confident that things will be OK, but I’m far from home and want to be with family. I want to help. Instead, I pray…all the time.
Hey, enough about that. This is a happy post! I have so many amazing memories from this year. I didn’t realize going into it, but this would be a year full of change, new passions discovered and even a couple of bucket list moments. I spent a lot of time in introspection: figuring out what makes me tick at this stage in life; what kind of woman I want to continue to evolve into; and what pieces of me should be shed. I let go of some things this year. I finally found a therapist. I’m finally believing I can create the life I desire, and even more importantly, I’m worthy to live it!
I had the opportunity to travel out of the country (for the first time) twice as a 32 year old – to Italy and Australia – two different continents! It was everything I’d hoped for and more. I saw the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, and the Pantheon with my own eyes in Rome. Iwalked all around the Duomo in Florence and ate lemon leaves in Assisi. I toured vineyards, made homemade pasta with a group from England, and stayed in a converted monastery. The air smelled like olive oil, and I’m still not convinced I won’t live there one day.
In Australia, I saw the Blue Mountains, the Three Sisters, I played with kangaroos, and rode an air tram through the Jamison Valley. I made the trek from The Spit to Manly all by myself, stopping by little picturesque beaches along the way. I hiked from Bondi to Bronte, made new friends and kayaked under the Sydney Harbor Bridge.
I found my new passion of teaching fitness (barre for now). I love it so much that I got certified, started teaching immediately and even quit my job to focus on fitness full time. When my 32nd year started, I didn’t know I’d actually find something I was passionate enough about to pursue it as a new career. But here I am, taking risks and trying to transform those dreams into a reality. I always thought life was for someone else, not me, but NOT ANYMORE!
And one of my very favorite things about 32 was making some amazing girlfriends. These are ladies who are beautiful on the inside and out, who don’t see each other as competition, but who are supportive, genuine and down to adventure. We already have multiple trips planned, and I can’t wait to continue sharing life with them.
I look back on it and feel like I’ve grown so much this year, like I have direction and know where I’m going with a plan and an incredible support system .
Resolutions for Thirty Three
For the past few years, I try have a focus or new goal for my new cycle around the sun. Last year’s was a total fail. I was going to take a portrait of myself every day, but I didn’t even last a week.
This year, I’m trying something new. In an effort to be more consistently happy and take care of myself mentally, I will work out every morning. No more excuses or blame game. This time of activity could be five minutes, 30 minutes or even an hour. The time doesn’t matter. I just need to get those endorphins pumping first thing, and I know I’ll feel better and improve my outlook throughout the day. The form of activity could be yoga, qi gong, barre or anything else that’s slow and steady to prepare my mind and body for the day.
In addition to this, I will practice three minutes of kundalini breath every morning for 40 days, starting tomorrow. I will consciously practice imbuing more gratitude into my day by writing down at least three things I’m thankful before I go to bed. Finally, I plan to focus on improving and strengthening my intuition / empathy for others.
At this point, I see 33 as a year where I deepen everything I started in my 32nd year – friendships, teaching fitness, my marriage, my relationship with family, taking ownership of my life, and writing more consistently.
I look forward to sharing this journey with you throughout the year. Do you have any birthday traditions? What are they?