Dear Thirty Four

I’m freshly back from my last morning trot around the block as a 33-year old. This month has been awful for that part of my life. Blame it on the cold, the lack of morning sun, the fact that – somehow – most mornings have involved very early meetings, whatever.

I know now that, if I miss that morning time to myself, I invariably end up feeling incapable and grumpy by the end of the day. So, people who like to have early morning meetings with me, guys, if you want me at my best, get me from 9am onwards. That’s a plan.

Physically, as my dear friend Gords said to me yesterday, I’m probably in better physical shape than I was a year ago. Yes, I am. Definitely.

I’m not wallowing every time I look in the mirror. I have zero desire to be thin. I have every desire to be the fit person I was at 27, though.

That girl had Madonna arms from constantly picking up and carrying a small person around, every day for two years. She had calf muscles and a strong back. She lived alone, fought the wolves at the door on her own and apologised very little for who she was. It was the hardest, loneliest time of my life but, somewhere in there, I found myself. I found a strength my mom always said was within me, but I never really believed until I had to go find her and ask her to guide me.

I’m not saying I regret the changes I have been through since then. I love the fact that I am softer, take more consideration with the things I do and am less likely to pull my middle finger at people (except those that deserve it). But I do miss that balls-to-the-wall part of myself. She’s in there, and I’d like parts of her back. Not all of her, just some. Somehow, those morning trots and just being aware of how I treat my body, are helping me to coax her out again.

Physically, I see the ripples that are of my age. And I love them. The years of shooters and dancing all night with my besties are evidenced in my hands and my face; my legs and my eyes. I have no regrets over them. I have only incredible memories. I have only gratitude, for those were the nights I began to believe in a world that wasn’t quite open to me yet. Those nights formed tangible, lean-on bonds I can talk to every day. Those nights brought me almost everything good, and enabled me to push out the bad. Those friends I see in my face’s memory, and I see them in my life, every day.

I’ve enjoyed 33 for a lot of reasons, and absolutely loathed it for others. The loathed parts, I find, were the ones where I had to question myself, doubt myself and learn. So I must love them for that, but can only do that in hindsight. Those parts I loved and enjoyed, I am similarly grateful for. They were the parts where I could dance, and sing, unashamedly. They were the parts that meant something to me, and enabled me to move forward. Mostly, they were the moments I shared with other people.

The concept of confronting fears has been a big theme of 33.

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The fear of public speaking? Confronted, and moved beyond. So long as I realise, accept and know that I will have night sweats and not sleep the night before an event I’m speaking at, I know I can do this now. I am so incredibly grateful to the people who have given me the opportunity to confront this fear, over the past year.

The fear of making choices. I’ve always liked to believe I was capable of making decisions, easily. It turns out, I was just learning. The grand life choices always felt easier to make. The sweeping ones that change everything? They never scared me too much. The small ones, like “what should we have for dinner?” or “can I pick a shoe?” always frightened me. Learning to directly and – without fear – make those small choices, has made my big choices stronger. I can make choices now, and yes, we’ll be having that for dinner.

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The fear of saying yes and no. Learning to say no was something that happened at 32. It was a lesson that needed to happen. Learning to say yes, happened during 33. Learning the difference, and to say those things at the right time for me, meant so much to me.

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The fear of saying goodbye. I have said goodbye to too many people this year.

I miss T, terribly, but I know that my missing him is paying homage to the hilarious, yet perfect, perspective he used to be able to give me in 2.5 seconds on my life. My missing him is just a small percentage of how much his wife, his family and his dearest friends miss him. His life was a lesson to us all, to live every day.

I miss Bee. For her cackle down the phone, for her pithy views on life, and her underlying determination that she can overcome just about everything. I like to believe that, even near the end, she still felt she could overcome anything. In accordance with my knowledge of her, I think she did that. Bee never gave up, and I’m willing to bet she’s giving someone a heckle right now. I miss you, Bee. I won’t get a birthday SMS from you tomorrow, but I do know you’re probably going to clink a glass for me up there. I hope you are.

The fear of uncertainty. There was a three week period in this year, where I could not lean on a single thing. That is not to say I was without support – I absolutely had support. I just could not lean on a fact, that I needed to lean on. I had a relatively big health scare this year. Big to me, but probably minute to others, when they consider it. I was not very open about it, because I was scared out of my mind. That fright needed to happen though, and I now need to start making peace in my head with some ideas, and act on them. I’m acting on them. No matter how small the actions, they count. I’ve never been one for grand gestures, but rather the small movements towards a goal. I know the little things truly are the big things. And, truly, I love the little things.

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I have found more of my mother within me, and I love it. I am not fearful of it, I embrace it. I see her in my eyes, my hands and my motherhood. I have found more of my father within my own self, and I can only smile. I see him reflected in my work, and I see his well-considered answers to questions, becoming a part of me. I have found my parents within me, and I have found their essence in my family. I see my mom and dad’s spirit shine through my child. I see my genealogy, and it is good.

As for my family. it is bigger than I ever imagined. This year, I have had to lean upon the people who share my name and my house. But, more than that, I have had to lean on the people who don’t share my name, or my house, but share my heart and my life. My family is a non-nuclear, mishmash of names and bloodlines, but their humanity, their love and their support…is unparalleled. Heck, some of the people who share my heart and life do not even share the same province. But they are family, just the same. We’re not normal, this big group of people who share this life…but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

At 27, I may have felt strong, but I constantly worried that I was not providing my daughter with the family life she needed. It turns out, though, it was just being created, moulded and shaped. Out of everything 33 has brought me, it has been family that has shone.

As I look back at 33, I can only smile. I’ve felt loved. I have given love. I have lived, within love, every day. I am so thankful for you, 33.

Dear 34, more of that, please. 

11 thoughts on “Dear Thirty Four

  1. It’s always amazing how much we grow and change from one year to the next. I hope that 34 will bring you many more adventures! Happy, happy birthday! Love Sue XXX

  2. What a wonderful post, I love reading these reflections as it is wonderful to know that you are not alone, that everyone out there is going through stuff and is a work in progress 😉 thanks for sharing and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! I am 33 in March and am loving being in my thirties and all the new self-acceptance that seems to have come with it. Looking forward to meeting you on Saturday

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