Saturday, October 15, 2016
Older + Wiser
And just like that, fall is upon us. The Pacific Northwest does a proper job of celebrating my favorite season, that's for sure.
This past Monday was my birthday, so Husband took the day off and we wandered rather aimlessly through Portland; a day date dedicated to celebrating another year of life and marriage. The weather was sunny but crisp: the perfect kind of day for ankle boots and hand-holding and a stack of fall-flavored griddlecakes from one of our favorite restaurants.
Speaking of birthdays, this was an in-between one, as it did not usher in a new decade or prefix; I am still solidly stationed in my mid-thirties. As Mario and I get older, birthdays tend to be less of an affair. Life has a way of marching on, and age becomes more of a number. Though the boys certainly make sure I feel loved, always.
Despite the lack of fanfare, I've been reflecting a fair bit this year. You see, I've always felt much older than my age. Not in terms of the crinkles around my eyes (though they are certainly making an appearance) or the long-since faded stretchmarks of pregnancy, but in regard to my emotional age. I became a mother in my very early twenties, and have spent my adult life thus far raising a young man. I have watched my husband nurture his career and come into his own. I was a late bloomer in the sense that I earned my bachelors degree a decade later than my peers, but I was well beyond my years in terms of emotional development. As such, I always felt older on the inside than my chronological age suggested I should be.
This year, a paradigm shift has taken place: I have started to feel younger. After years of self-exploration and regular quests for personal insight, I feel lighter, have more fun, and stopped sweating (most of) the small stuff. I've established my ideal eating plan (more on that soon), nailed down my personal style (with a newly pared-down but better-than-ever wardrobe to match), and come to terms with my life's trajectory. No more wishing things had been different or followed an ideal timeline. It is what it is and I'll get where I want to be when the time is right. (Who is this zen master?!) All this is not to say that I don't have my moments, but I've certainly come into my own over the last year, and in doing so my emotional clock has wound back.
The personal growth I have experienced over the past year isn't narrowed to one aspect of my life: My marriage is better. I'm a better parent, I think. After years spent pursuing academia and chasing my chosen career path, I've begun tapping into my creative side in a very real and meaningful way. Creative endeavors and self-expression have taken their rightful place in my daily life. And though I'm not destined to be great at every art form I attempt, the days of dabbling in 20 hobbies (while never advancing past mediocre in any one of them) are over. My life is more focused all around is what I'm saying, and boy is that nice.
A long-term goal that has carried over from year to year, birthday to birthday, is to live in the now. I have mastered the art of living for the future, and self talk has often started with In five years this can happen or In 10 years my life can look like this. I'll tell you this: it's a very unfulfilling way to live. These days I sign up for classes I want to take, pursue non-academic education, and build contingency plans for the in-between, lest I ever feel that oh so familiar stuck feeling that has plagued me much of my adult life. As much as I'm sure tomorrow will be lovely, today is too awesome to disregard. This, perhaps, has been my biggest epiphany in regard to living my happiest, most authentic life.
As if this week wasn't lovely enough, on Thursday I received the coveted The Admissions Committee has now completed their review and are pleased to offer you an invitation to interview email. I had all but let myself down easy: I barely met the patient care hour prerequisite; I submitted my application close to the deadline; maybe it would be better for my family if I waited. All the things we say when trying to to let ourselves down easy. I did it. Against all the odds, I did it. I'm over the moon! Further evidence that hard work, focus where it matters, and a healthy dose of letting go lead to all good things.
Here's to another year of happy todays.