Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
Thursday ushered in my 33rd year. I put a lot of pressure on 32, so in some ways I am glad it is over. I think I expected more. But the fact is, some serious life changes did occur; some simply appeared more significant than others.
This is THE year! I exclaimed just 365 days ago. I'm not sure I have ever placed such expectation on a particular period of my life. But I've realized something: the disappointments and necessary perspective adjustments were exactly what I needed. It was my year after all.
I wanted to close the door on my undergrad years. I walked across that stage and my family was present as I crossed Number 1 off my bucket list. Sure, I'm back for a grad school prereq and I resumed my summer research. But I'm getting paid to be a biologist and this one class is a stepping stone toward my end goal. As of mid-December, I'm done. What's an extra semester? I get to pick my own hours and be there outside the school every afternoon to pick Kiddo up from school. After years of juggling a dozen balls, and living in fear of letting one drop, I have some personal freedom. This is a huge accomplishment! Jared is getting older, and my needs and wants have been placed on the back burner, so the ability to live life on my terms is nothing to sniff at. Next semester will likely bring about full time work, so I have an obligation to enjoy every second.
I wanted to have a grad school acceptance letter in hand. I chose happiness and stability over immediate grad school entry. I've talked about my quandary here. I realized that I didn't want to be living across the country from my family, even for a couple months. I didn't want to go into a 2+ year grad school program stressed and feeling stretched too thin. My family comes first. And, truth be told, I need a break from my academic career. A chance to find personal fulfillment before trying to find it in a career. This realization was so freeing and grad school went from being a scary, overwhelming prospect to a happy goal for the coming years.
I wanted to lose twenty pounds. That was the number. But I found something much more important in my quest for a "better" body: strength. I started Crossfit in June and actually found myself looking forward to a workout for perhaps the first time in my life. It's hard. So. Hard. Some days I grudgingly step through that door. But, for the first time in my life, I do it anyway. I haven't quit and when I'm in that studio I give it my all. Despite a 2 month absence, I went back. It's the hardest thing I've ever done physically, but I feel strong and proud. I did nearly 100 burpees in ten minutes on Friday. I couldn't have done that a month ago. Last week I squatted 65 pounds. This week I pushed myself and realized I could easily squat over 100. Reducing my body to nothing more than a number, whether it be size or weight, is bullshit. I honestly don't know what I weigh anymore as the scale has been put away for months. Because who really cares? I've been amazed by what my body can do, making how it looks far less significant. That, that right there, is better than a 20 pounds weight loss any day.
We also took huge strides toward changing our lives as a family this year. We purged a lot of our material possessions and moved toward living more simply. Mario and I were on a whole different wavelength when it came to this issue, and still don't see eye to eye on occasion. But we persevered. We hauled dozens of bags to the thrift store. We sold antiques, CDs and movies. We donated car loads of unused goods to the yard sale fundraiser at Kiddo's school. I currently have clothing at three local resale shops and made $75 during my first consignment experience this summer. We have talked a lot about our future and how we want to live from here on out. Everything that surrounds us these days is meaningful. It's not about living with less, it's about living with intention.
We also drastically altered the way we spend, how we view money, and have worked to change to our financial behavior. Our debt snowball is well underway and in only two months we have paid off one credit card and moved on to the second. We have started saving for a cash Christmas. We will save for things we want. We plan our meals and eating out is a special occasion. Mario and I made some realizations that will forever change the way we handle our finances. We've had to dig deep when it comes to the issue of money and "thing" ownership. A lifetime of bad habits have had to be unlearned in less than a year. (The last several months, in particular, have brought about the greatest evolution.) Most surprising? We genuinely love this new way of living and Mario and I are on the same page. Our son is learning how to have a healthy relationship with money and seeing it in practice. I don't know about you, but I consider that to be a huge success. In fact, if that was all I accomplished in my 32nd year, I'd be satisfied. Life changing stuff.
That, my friends, is me reflecting on a year well lived. It was one of my most difficult and required a lot of soul searching. This rather stoic girl cried more than I ever have. I bickered and argued with my husband. I struggled to come to terms with a Kiddo that is growing older and more mature than I could prepare myself for. What do I have to show for it? A stronger, more evolved marriage than I could have ever foreseen. Our relationship is solid. A son I still can't get enough of even though he is changing. Our bond is as strong as ever. And to ensure it stays that way, even throughout his teenage years, we have twice weekly dates to stay connected. For the first time I feel in control of our finances. I see a debt-free future and financial security. We will no longer wonder where my husband's salary goes, as we are no longer passive consumers.
Goodbye, 32. You've been good to me. I placed a lot of weight on your shoulders. You will go down in history as a life changing year. I'm entering 33 a wiser, sturdier woman (emotionally and physically). There are no resolutions this year. Because honestly, I didn't need them. It was an evolution that took place organically in spite of my expectations.