I am 40 years old.
My goodness, I don't even know how that happened... but it did. And, all things considered, I'm glad that it did.
My life has been awesome. I've known the most incredible people, and I've had so many downright hilarious things happen to/around me. I am, truly, blessed.
I've loved my life. Maybe not every day of my life... but I have loved my life, nonetheless.
I'm not a woman who's ever struggled with getting older. I've always been able to own my age, and I've never wanted to turn back the clock and have a re-do. I am who I am because of where I have been, what I have done, and the people I have known. I wouldn't change any of it. I've never struggled with a milestone birthday, and I've never wanted to deny my true age. I figure, I've earned it.
I have loved every birthday. I have loved every year. I have loved every decade.
And I have loved my 30's most of all.
So, today, as I say goodbye to my 30's, I pay homage to them by listing...
40 Things I Have Loved About My 30's
I learned to stop wishing my life was different, and started to really appreciate all that I do have.
Moving to "the valley".
Speaking of which... I have loved living in this tiny apartment for the near entirety of my 30's. (I moved in, just a few months after turning 31. And now I am 40.) It was never my plan to park myself in a 600 sq foot apartment and stay there for a decade, but I'm glad that it's worked out this way. I love it here. It's big enough to meet my needs, and small enough that living here has never exceeded my means.
Living within miles of two (count them, TWO) theaters that play classic movies on the big screen.
I stopped thinking I couldn't wear that skirt because it was too short and my legs were too chubby.
Exploring San Francisco with Mich and G.
I stopped caring if my hair didn't do exactly what I wanted it to do, and decided to appreciate this glorious head of hair for what it is. (And it is, quite simply, a glorious head of hair.)
Sunday Dinner. (Yeah, I capitalized both words. Because it's that important to me.)
Girls' trips to Disneyland.
Bacon Night with Jo and Mon.
I've learned that it really is the way the pants fit - not the size listed on the tag - that matters.
Ball Girl Baking Retreats.
I stopped throwing fits. I'm not sure when or how or why, exactly, I stopped being super dramatic and emotional when life threw me a curve ball. But I did, and I'm really glad.
Living 3 miles from Jo again.
Panda Express has been "on the way home" for the last 9 years...
I've learned that everyone has their own path, that what is right for one person isn't necessarily right for another. And that's okay..
The DC trip with Judy.
Grown-Up Cousin Bonding. (Again, I capped every word. Because I love it that much.)
For real, I love my cousins so much that I'm totally going to talk more about that... right now. I love that I have most of my cousin's numbers in my phone. I love that we text can text each other at all hours of the day and night across state lines, that Beth facebooks me and/or calls from England. I love that we have a weekend together with just the girls at Aunt Deb's. I love that Julie comes and stays with me, that we sit by the pool and soak up both the sun and our time together. I love that John's girls make me care packages when I have surgery. I love that I can sit on the floor and laugh - and/or cry - with Debbie's girls. I love that Amy and Holli drove over 6 hours, just to spend 90 minutes in the same building as me, at my Jester'z fundraiser. I love that Greg, Doug, Julie and I were in open competition for over two decades over who was going to be the first to "get" cancer. I love the matching necklaces that Linz had made for us. I love that we share our lives - and our recipes (yes, my real, actual, recipes) - on the facebook. ... I love my cousins. More than I ever thought I could, back when I was a kid and saw some of them maybe once a year, or when I was a teenager and Beth and I were pen-pals and wrote letters back and forth, or even when I was in my 20's and lived with Julie and G&D were in our ward. Across my extended family, those relationships have deepened and broadened and blessed my life. I am so incredibly grateful for all my friends who are also my family. I wouldn't be who I am without having had them in my life.
Warm winters. (There's been ice on the sidewalk in front of my apartment once in the last nine years. One night, in nine years, it was cold enough to freeze water where I live. Isn't that glorious?!)
Weekends in Vegas. -- I cherish memories of being in Genevra's home. Sometimes, there were six of us under her two-bedroom roof, and sometimes it was just the two of us. There is a calm and peaceful feeling that I get when I'm with her, anywhere... but especially when we're on her home turf. I love it there, and I'm so grateful for all the times she's welcomed me into her home over the last 10 years.
Getting to watch Roomie, Rook, Cili, Maggie and Sally get big.
My relationship with Amazon.com. (For a nominal fee, those people will mail me anything I want!)
"Book Club" dinners with Jo's kids and my nephews.
Staying up all night - literally, all night - talking with Chris.
Seeing so many of my good friends get married and start families. It's been so great to see so many fabulous people in my life get what they wanted the most. (Christine & Melanie, I'm talking to you.)
Taking cake decorating class with Christian and Christine.
I've learned so much about my body; what it can withstand, what it can live through, what it can recover from. It's astonishing, really.
And while I'm thinking about my body, I have to say that I'm grateful for my doctors, for the surgical staff and nurses who've taken care of me... so many times. Being the blood-and-fluids-woosy-woo that I am, down to the core of my soul, I cannot understand what makes people choose the medical field. But I'm glad that they do, and I'm grateful for all that those people have done for me.
I have loved what being sick has done for my relationships. While I wouldn't wish this on anyone ("even on my worst day" - ha!), it has been such a great clarifier for all the important relationships in my life.
I have loved the time my surgeries have given me with my mother. It's not the best/most fun way for us to get to spend time together, but I have loved that she's been able to be here with me. For weeks at a time. Every time.
Kazoozles were invented. (Willy Wonka is THE MAN!)
It's been great to watch my church girls grow up. When I met them, they were between 8 and 10 years old, and I was their Primary leader. Now, I talk to those same girls and they are the most incredible young women. I'm so grateful that I've been able to see them grow up, that... for better or for worse... I've had a hand in how they all turned out. (They're all awesome, so I figure I didn't do any permanent damage.)
One of the single greatest life lessons I have learned: Roll with the punches instead of fighting them. They're going to come, no matter what I do. I now know that if I don't waste energy fighting change, I'm better able to adapt to my new reality.
I've learned that choices are cumulative. I am where I am and who I am, because of where I have been and the people I have known. Choices I made in my late teens and early 20's continue to impact my life; professionally and personally, I am who I am because of who I was. Being aware that the choices I made over twenty years ago have shaped who I am helps me to know that it's incredibly important to make solid choices in the here and now.
I've learned to live and let live. Other than grammar and punctuation, I don't really feel the need to stand in judgement of another person. It doesn't do me any good to judge someone, and it sure isn't going to help anyone else if I'm standing over here, feeling superior.
I've learned that I really do lead a charmed life. ... I mean, I always thought I did. But now I know it. I've been incredibly lucky to have known so many amazing people in my life. I have always known that my friends and family are generous, thoughtful, kind and loving. ... I never knew that I would stand in literal, physical/temporal, need of their thoughtfulness, kindness and generosity. But I have. And they have been there. ... I'm so grateful.
I've learned that love really is the most powerful force on earth.
Life has been good to me. My 30's, in particular. ... I'm grateful for where I have been, and I'm curious to see where I go from here.
Happy Birthday, to me!