Today is my 30th birthday! I've always been a birthday-person. I have had no fear of getting older. The way I've always seen it, is that every year I'm a little bit wiser. A little bit more experienced. And hopefully, a little bit better.
This year, was the first time ever that I felt overwhelmed approaching today. Not because I was scared of the number: 30. I feel good about the number. It was more about my own personal expectations.
If you would have asked "Teenager-Amanda" where'd she'd be at 30, she would have said "Married with two kids and teaching." That was the plan. "University-Amanda" was a bit more realistic. She might have said "Married with at least one kid, and teaching." Both were pretty good guesses, but I couldn't help but feel a little bit of emptiness at the fact that the one child I do have, wouldn't get to spend the day in my arms.
So I felt the need to do some re-evaluating. Make a plan. Create something to look forward to instead of spending the year mourning the family that didn't quite turn out the exact way I had planned. I started to create a 30th Bucket List. Lacking some creativity of my own, I turned to others' for inspiration. And I was further overwhelmed by what I found.
Skydiving. Visiting all 7 continents. Running a marathon. Saving for retirement. Buying a bigger house.
These are all lovely plans, goals, ideas. And some are actually quite important (I see you, retirement plans). But for where I'm at in my life, they just seem quite daunting. I'm still working at putting myself back together. Figuring out what makes me happy. And I'm pretty sure I don't need to jump out of a plane or travel the globe to do that.
So I started thinking about what would be truly important to me. And here's what I came up with. How I plan to spend this year, and probably the 9 after that:
I have found in this journey I'm on, that caring for my emotional well-being just isn't enough to help me feel good. I've had to start caring about my physical well-being too. I'm no gym-enthusiast, and I doubt I'll ever be. But I have come to really enjoy the few hours a week I spend doing yoga and Pilates. I have found great enjoyment in making delicious healthy meals for Rich and I. And I physically feel much better for it. It's easier to get out of bed in the morning. I have more energy. Some of my old aches and pains are fading. And I feel physically strong. I think having more strength and energy as I enter my 30s will be good for me. And for the family I'm hoping to grow in this next decade.
Be Surrounded by Feel-Good Friends
I need to spend more time with the people who make me feel good. And less time with the people who don't. At 30 (or 28. 29), I feel I am so far beyond giving time to people who bring me down, can't be sympathetic, or just don't have time for me. I have always been a people-pleaser and want everyone to feel loved and supported by me. But I'm definitely at a place where I would rather surround myself with a few great people, than a hundred who don't make me feel loved and supported back. The people I choose to have in my life, should be people who add value. Not people who don't know my value.
Be Good to Those Around Me
Friendship is a two-way street. And I can't expect goodness from the people around me if I'm not showing them goodness in return. It's been a tough couple of months, and a lot of the time I'm pretty consumed in my own journey. I have to figure out a way to still be gentle with myself, and to keep myself protected, while still loving and supporting those good friends in my life. Even when sometimes, what they have going on in their lives, might be hard for me.
Be Open to Growth and Development
Okay. So I have been doing nothing but growing for the past 5 months. And this has been hard. But it has been good. I need to keep growing. Learning about myself. But I also need to bring some focus to other areas outside of my grief. I need to take some time for my hobbies. I'm loving photography, so maybe I'll take a class. Maybe I'll start practicing yoga more seriously. Maybe I'll join a choir and start singing again. I don't know. But I know I want to get out there and do things for me. Things to keep me balanced and growing.
Be More Invested in Family
If I have learned anything from losing Ryan, it's about life's fragility. If I'm not guaranteed time with my baby, I'm certainly not guaranteed time with anyone. I need to make the most out of the time I'm given with the family I've got. I may live far from home, but home is only ever a phone call away...
Be Kind to Myself
This has been the hardest part of all in the past 5 months. But it is the most important. It is impossible to move forward with my life if I am constantly berating myself. For what happened to Ryan. For not being "okay" all the time. For not always being invested in the day-to-day. But I have come so far from the zombie-eyed woman who couldn't get off the couch for a week or two. From the woman who cried herself to sleep each night. Who couldn't even look at a baby (or her own reflection) without wanting to throw up. I have made progress. It has come slowly, over time. And some days I take steps backward. But I have learned that there is no end to grief like this. It is a journey from this day until the end of my days. And I'm still learning the way. But I have done my best. And I do my best every day. So I need to be forgiving. I need to be kind to myself. Even when I'm not doing great, feeling good is just around the corner. It's okay to take a breather and get back at it when I feel well again. That's what self-love is all about.
My 30s are full of so much possibility. They're full of hope even if sometimes the hope may be hard to come by. I have so much goodness in my life. And I have the sweetest angel watching over me. I'm going to spend my 30s taking care of myself and the relationships that are important to me. My 20s brought me some of the biggest challenges and losses I've ever had to endure. But it also brought me some of the biggest blessings. Richard, Ryan, my niece and nephew, Chase. I know that life can bring good with the bad. I'm sure my 30s will be no different. I just have to take it one day at a time.