In exactly one week, I will be turning the big 3-5. I know, it’s hard for even me to believe it, but it’s true. While I know it’s not exactly over the hill, as a never-been married woman with no kids, it makes me feel pretty damn old if I think about it too much. So to silence the ridiculous screams of “spinster” and “cat lady” in my subconscious, I’ve decided to count the days until my birthday with 35 reasons why I am filled with gratitude that I am a perfect age.
Each day I will be listing off five reasons why I’m thankful to be me at this particular point and time in my life. They will be in no particular order. For the last week, I’ve been thinking of 10 things I feel grateful for each day, so I am hoping this will be no sweat. If you feel so inclined, let me know what you think.
1. I am grateful that I am no longer living my 20s.
You young whippersnappers—don’t laugh. I’m completely serious when I say that I am SO glad that I am well past my 20s. My 20s were full of incredible romantic drama, emotional immaturity in relationships (causing the romantic drama), and at the same time, being forced to grow up far too quickly. While the decade seemed to start off extremely promisingly, my health sank downhill rapidly, where it stayed in a hole for many, frustrating and heartbreaking years.
I was forced to leave sometimes sunny northern California, my super sweet boyfriend and a pretty interesting and challenging job for bitter winters, disability and living with my parents again. I literally had to re-learn how to walk strong on my own two feet again.
To say I got lost a few times during the decade would be playing it off cool. To say I got into some dysfunctional relationships would be an understatement. However, I also learned a tremendous amount about myself and I truly discovered the incredible depth of my own emotional and mental strength and tenacity. I refused to give up—on love or on myself, eventually making it to my 30s, where I really was able to declare with confidence who I was and what I was looking for in life.
2. I am so grateful for my health.
The last three years have been the strangest of all the years I’ve lived with my gloriously unpredictable health problems. After two of some of the most perplexing and frustrating years, I suddenly found my body fighting back as hard as it’s ever done. I was going on 12-mile bike rides. I was swimming again. And then I found myself being able to do some acrobatic and strength moves with my body to a degree I haven’t seen since I was 20, maybe even longer. While paradoxically, I was still struggling with getting my health stable, my body became my own again. I found a mind-body practice that has transformed me inside and out, and I’ve rediscovered the joy of making my body strong, flexible and as fit as I can be again.
3. Vanity break: I’ve got my body back, baby!
The year 2011 was a nightmare for my body image. A medication known for causing people to balloon finally did just that to me after more than six months on it. I didn’t recognize myself in my own skin. I hated looking at myself in the mirror. I didn’t want anyone taking my picture. I couldn’t fit in any of my clothes. For many months, I really didn’t care much for my body.
Yet somewhere, I had that aha moment when you realize that loving yourself, wherever you happen to be in your journey with size or weight, is the key to getting to where you want to be – or at least, that’s what happened with me. I started treating my body well again. I didn’t resign myself to the medicine and my bloated size; I started working out again, as had always been a part of my routine when I was able. I didn’t diet, but I was conscious of eating things I knew would be good for my bad, not bring harm to it.
And then one day in early 2012, I realized I could fit into my old clothes again. Seriously, one day I just started trying things on and realized pants and skirts could ease over my thighs again. From February, there’s a picture of my in a bikini, with my abs popping, and there’s pride in my face – not ‘cause I thought I was hot stuff again, but because I knew I had made it back to the other side. I was recovering. I was gaining me back again.
4. I have so much gratitude for my current relationship!
I really can’t say enough about how different my relationship now is from any other I’ve had before. Yes, I’ve had loving boyfriends. Yes, I’ve had giving boyfriends. Yet I’ve never felt free to give so much of myself so honestly, openly and completely before, without being judged, and in fact, being loved even more for being authentically, exactly who I am. I am characteristically the giver, giver, giver in a relationship. It feels amazing to give and receive, to receive and give. I am encouraged to communicate everything on my mind. I am encouraged to show love. I have someone truly proud to be with me, to have me by his side, and to be by my side. It gives me great joy to know with absolute certainty that there is someone who always has my best interests at heart and is rooting for me to succeed and be my best self.
5. I am grateful really do feel young at heart.
Though today I found out I had reached my goal of returning to my ideal body fat percentage, something I probably hadn’t been since I was 12, that’s not what I mean about feeling young. I feel young at heart when I stay up almost all night, interlaced with my sweetie, talking about anything and everything. I feel young at heart when I’m down on the living room floor, playing Lincoln Logs with my now 5-year-old nephew. I feel young at heart when someone challenges me to sprint down the streets of Boston—and I do it, bringing back that amazing feeling of flying again. I feel young when I sing in the shower or dance like no one’s watching, or grab someone’s hand in public and start skipping. I feel young again when I’m creating a web of dreams. I feel young when I’m weaving melody and harmony into song, while knitting together patches of words that all together that tell a story. I feel young when I remember I still have so much life left to life, memories to make and lessons to learn.