Thirty.

“I don’t want this year to transform me; I want it to bring the me that has always been there out into the open, and for me to embrace her with open arms instead of hide her inside. Instead of my thirties being something I dread, it will be like a new journey with an old friend. And *that’s* something I can look forward to.”

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That is a HUGE thing to do in a year.

If Year 29-30 has taught me anything, it’s that you can’t find a new person by piercing her nose and cutting off her hair. A tattoo doesn’t change someone, and losing 30 pounds, buying new clothes, and going to a UU church service won’t, either.

It’s the quiet that is transformative. The few moments of solitude each day where you quiet the voices you’ve been hearing all day, and listen for your *own*.

What does that voice say?

Sometimes, as a mom, at the end of the day, it’s screaming “HELP ME! I need some time to myself, or I’m going to cease being ‘me’ and start being dishes and nursing and yoga pants and stinky armpits!”. Sometimes its whispering fears, cooing gratitude, or leaking tears for a long-lost time. But in this past year, more than anything else, I learned that this voice NEEDS to be heard.

I’ve spent much of my life quieting my inner thoughts. For years, acknowledging those thoughts meant I’d acknowledge *feelings*, and sometimes, feelings HURT. Pushing them down seemed the easiest route, as I’d had my fair share of heartbreak and pain in my life, and dammit, I didn’t need more! “Shove it back down in the recesses where it belongs!”, I’d say.

It wasn’t working out well.

By denying my own thoughts and feelings, I let the opinions and words of others rule my world. If someone had something to say about my parenting, my life choices, my marriage, my daughter, I would let those thoughts ruminate. I’d turn them over and over until they became my reality. My reality for my last decade was oftentimes just a hodgepodge of the opinions of those around me.

No more.

What it took me a decade to learn: stop listening to the opinions of others, as if they must be some form of your own. Some people get really upset if they see you daring to be happy, accepting and loving yourself for who you are if they deem that to be in some way counter to who they think you should be.

Perfection isn’t a pre-requisite for self-love and acceptance.

(Find out who you are, and love her.)

So as I’m on the home stretch to thirty here, I am gladly acknowledging and accepting myself as I am, right here. There are definitely things I want to accomplish by the time I’m forty, but I don’t want those accomplishments to define me as a person.

My self worth will not be determined by my accomplishments, my appearance, or my bank account.

And for the record, I feel much more at home in my own skin with my completely natural, mousy-brown curls than I did with a bleached-white pixie cut.

Brown hair, don't care.

Brown hair, don’t care.

This is 30.

————————————————————————————————————————

There are some things I’ve done in the past year that I’m proud of that weren’t on my original list. Can I brag for a second?

Few Before Thirty List!

1. Attended studio yoga classes.

This was big for me. I let the fear of exposing my non-perfect body in public stop me from attending studio classes in the past, but having moved to Indiana, where my sisters both teach yoga, I felt I couldn’t fight it any longer. Boy was I thrilled! Yoga classes with others are so different from practicing at home. You feel the group breathing, sweating, and thinking with you. It is just perfection, and I’d do it every day if I could.

2. Confessed my most painful memory to the masses.

In April of last year, I wrote a seemingly innocuous blog post about the birth of my daughter. The intent behind it was to help those who struggled with making decisions about childbirth, and it blew the frick UP.

I never had any intention for this thing to go viral. I needed an outlet to share my feelings, my sorrow, my guilt over the pain my daughter went through, and apparently, that pain resonated with people. In its biggest day, my blog attracted 85,000 viewers.

Some people were angry with me. They called me stupid. They said I was selfish, untrusting of the medical community, and said I deserved what I got. Maybe these things are true. But ultimately, I received more support and love from the doula community than I’d ever dreamed of. I had requests to use my blog at conferences, as a teaching tool for future doulas, and got private messages from people all over the world thanking me for sharing my story.

As of today, this blog post regularly gets circulation. I am grateful that Joely’s story is still affecting people, and only hope that my own error will help others make better decisions when it comes to childbirth. This wound has been healed. And my girl still loves me.

3. Perfected a recipe for French Beignets.

Mmmmm. After watching “Princess and the Frog” with my darling nieces, one of them requested them for her 4th birthday party. After making one batch, I was HOOKED! These things are light, fluffy pillows of sweet delight. And while I wanted to perfect croissants, these were an excellent substitute, and gave me a burst of creative juice in my cooking/baking ventures

4. Had my Tarot cards read.

This was one of the most mind boggling experiences in my life thus far. The lovely woman reading my tarot was caring, helpful, and knowledgeable. I couldn’t believe the sorts of things that came up, and I will never forget that day, or the cards. I’d love to go back again sometime soon.

5. Read a LOT of books.

I read a lot this year, and I loved it. Only one of the books I read was on the list of the 60 best books by librarians, and I’m completely okay with that. The library now has a service which allows patrons to rent books via Amazon, and a lot of those books happen to be very popular ones. My mind was swirling in new worlds this year, filled with complex heroes and heroines who captured my heart.

Books read:

“A Prayer for Owen Meany” by John Irving
“Sharp Objects” by Gillian Flynn
“Dark Places” by Gillian Flynn
“Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn
“A Breath of Snow and Ashes” by Diana Gabaldon
“The Fiery Cross” by Diana Gabaldon
“Drums of Autumn” by Diana Gabaldon
“Voyager” by Diana Gabaldon
“Dragonfly in Amber” by Diana Gabaldon
“Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon
“The Invention of Wings” by Sue Monk-Kidd
“If I Stay” by Gayle Forman
“Where She Went” by Gaye Forman
“Eleanor & Park” By Rainbow Rowell
“The Alchemist” by Paolo Coelho
“Hollow City” by Ransom Riggs
“Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs
“The Diving Bell and Butterfly” by Jean-Dominique Bauby
“Dead Reckoning” by Charlaine Harris
“Dead in the Family” by Charlaine Harris
“Dead and Gone” by Charlaine Harris
“From Dead to Worse” by Charlaine Harris
“All Together Dead” by Charlaine Harris
“Definitely Dead” by Charlaine Harris
“Dead as a Doornail” by Charlaine Harris
“Dead to the World” by Charlaine Harris
“Club Dead” by Charlaine Harris
“Living Dead in Dallas” by Charlaine Harris
“Dead Until Dark” by Charlaine Harris
“Junky” by William S. Burroughs

I hope I can read more next year, and continue to read. It makes my heart all crazy happy to enter into worlds unknown.

6. Agreed to be the musical director for a fundraising event.

One of my dear friends approached me in December, after we moved back to Indiana, and asked if I might be interested in assisting with a fundraiser for our local community theater. Of course, this required me to listen to my Voice… The one who has been telling me for eons that I need to do more musically. I agreed, and am about to start rehearsing folks for our Speakeasy fundraiser in April. I’m also performing, and while that gives me the jibblies (it’s been years since I’ve been on stage in any official capacity), I know it’s what I should be doing. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to get back into the world I love!

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I may not have accomplished everything on my list from last year, but I think I lived in the spirit in which my list was made; I am a new woman in many ways.

And I’m certainly not afraid of my thirties. Bring it on. ❤

(This is a poem attributed to Charlie Chaplin on his 70th birthday. It brought me to tears.)

As I Began to Love Myself – Self Love Poem by Charlie Chaplin

As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering
are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth.
Today, I know, this is “AUTHENTICITY”.

As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody
As I try to force my desires on this person, even though I knew the time
was not right and the person was not ready for it, and even though this
person was me. Today I call it “RESPECT”.

As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life,
and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow.
Today I call it “MATURITY”.

As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance,
I am in the right place at the right time, and everything happens
at the exactly right moment. So I could be calm.
Today I call it “SELF-CONFIDENCE”.

As I began to love myself I quit steeling my own time,
and I stopped designing huge projects for the future.
Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do
and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in
my own rhythm. Today I call it “SIMPLICITY”.

As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for
my health – food, people, things, situations, and everything that drew
me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude
a healthy egoism. Today I know it is “LOVE OF ONESELF”.

As I began to love myself I quit trying to always be right, and ever since
I was wrong less of the time. Today I discovered that is “MODESTY”.

As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worry
about the future. Now, I only live for the moment, where EVERYTHING
is happening. Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it “FULFILLMENT”.

As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me
and it can make me sick. But As I connected it to my heart, my
mind became a valuable ally. Today I call this
connection “WISDOM OF THE HEART”.

We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations or any kind of problems
with ourselves or others. Even stars collide, and out of their crashing
new worlds are born.Today I know THAT IS “LIFE”!

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