Me and Lucia today on my 30th birthday. Yep, we're matching:) I thought it would be funny.
So as I look back on the way my years have stacked up on top of each other, one after the other, I find myself 30 years deep. Each birthday is made possible only by the fact that all those other years have come before this one. I am who I am today because of where I have been and what I have done.
But I don't think that this is the whole story. Because it is in each present moment, not the past nor the future, where we find consciousnesses, peace, happiness and who we really are. This moment is actually the only moment we ever really have. Lately, I have been much more conscious on being mindful in my every day life. In other words, I have been trying to actually pay attention to each moment of my day, soaking it all in and giving gratitude. Some days I do better than others but I am really aware today of all the things I am grateful for.
Regardless of when I was young and what I might have thought this day might look like, I am lucky and grateful for what the reality has come to be. I am the wife of a wonderful man, I get the pleasure of being mom to an adorable, sweet, full of life daughter, I am the daughter/daughter-in-law/sibling to an amazing family who continues to surround me with support no matter how old I get and I get to be friends with some awesome people with whom I have so much fun with but who I also get to live this meaningful and messy life alongside. I have had countless traveling adventures, a job I love, a great church community, a place to live and things to call my own. Not to mention, this place where I currently live, holds the best porch reading spot. And I am sitting there right now. One of my favorite places in this whole world to be.
But more importantly, aside from these titles and possessions, I feel content. And that is something I am truly grateful for, realizing that it has taken some cultivation, stillness and reflection to get me here. Not that it's a destination. But today, on my thirtieth birthday, I am thankful for this 24 hour destination point. I will do my best to soak it all in.
In honor of my 30th birthday, I thought I would share 30 things about myself. My dirty thirty. Some surprising, others not so much, some embarrassing, but all of them what makes me me:
1. Fruit roll ups are my ultimate guilty pleasure. Nobody knows this better than my husband Matt who randomly picks them up for me just to bring a smile to my face much like other woman may feel about receiving flowers.
2. My family knows that I have a very strong and definite opinion about soy sauce brands. I mean, why would anyone even think about buying La Choy when they could get Kikkoman, There is just no competition and my family gets afraid if I am in need of soy sauce and they realize they only have the former.
3. I have been to 49 out of 50 states. All I can say is that we did a lot of driving trips growing up. I will have to throw a big old party once I finally make it to North Dakota.
4. When I am not working or tending to my parental duties and such, I love listening to pod casts, reading and/or listening to music. I love a good thought provoking piece for my mind to wrestle with...this goes for listening to NPR, WBEZ and watching a good WTTW show or documentary too.
5. Speaking of meaningful shows, I love the Bachelor/Bachelorette and I am not ashamed. Yes, I realize I should be.
6. Ravinia on a warm summer night with good friends or family and good music is one of my all time favorite activities. For those who don't know what Ravinia is, it is an outdoor music venue where instead of watching the performer (which there are some very notable ones) you sit on the lawn in front of the stage on a blanket/chairs, eat good food and drink wine. Some of the elaborate set ups of table/chairs/food/drink that people bring are incredible (complete with candles, fancy plastic wine glasses, gourmet food, etc.). You have to see it to believe it. I tend to keep things simple (one time last year, I forgot a wine glass so I ended up sippin' out of my daughter's sippy cup she left behind in the car. Keeping it classy:)
7. I love traveling! I have lived in Chicago, Ecuador, Iceland and Bolivia and I have traveled to Mexico, Sweden, Spain, Italy, England, France, Peru and Chile. Sooooo many more countries to go...
8. Speaking of traveling, one of my favorite traveling moments was snorkeling on a remote bay in Hawaii. Seriously, breath taking beauty PLUS, because my face was underwater, I was forced to reflect on the beauty of it in my head (although I was trying very hard to point out to Matt all the amazing things I was seeing).
9. Speaking of making a clearly individual moment into a social one, I am definitely an extrovert. I gain energy, laughter, meaning and goofiness from others. It takes me a lot of people time to get sick of it. In related news, Matt is definitely an introvert but we make it work. Usually, this means lots of hanging and talk time with just the two of us because usually he is all the 'people' I need. In fact, we talk a lot. If we don't have around 3 seriously deep conversations and 5 silly ones a week then that feels weird.
10. Although Matt is an introvert, we love to hang out with our family and friends. We are with my whole family at least once a week and smaller combinations of family throughout the week. Plus we spend lots of time with friends, at least once a week and sometimes up to 3 times a week. We may be parents of a young child, which seems to make people think that means we would just stay home all the time, not so. We pack up Lucia and bring her and her pack n play along if necessary.
11. My family has been selected to be on Family Feud, we are just awaiting a taping date. We tried out for fun back in October 2013, made it through tryouts and have been notified that we made it! Until we are actually scheduled, I will probably think it's not actually gonna happen.
12. I have an obsession of playing with the tags on my shirt. You know, the ones inside on the side? All of mine are tightly twirled from rolling them between my fingers. This is partly due to my extremely fidgety nature.
13. I love organizing things but have a pretty high tolerance for a messy house. It's just not something that stresses me out.
14. I was convinced Lucia would be a boy so the first thing I said after Matt announced she was a girl was "really?!?"...with tears in my eyes because I was so happy to have a girl. My first thought when seeing her was, "whoa, those are some enormous eyes". Beautiful, but enormous none the less. Still one of her most prominent features.
15. I definitely do not shower every day. Every other day at best.
16. When I was little, I was pretty shy and especially afraid of the large real life Disney characters at Disney World. I am reminded of this fact, oh, every time my family gets the chance. Some other things my family won't let me live down: crying after getting hit while playing whirly ball...on my 21st birthday (I guess I was a little old for that) and my refusal to sing with the whole family at church because I thought it was 'sick and twisted'.
17. When I was young, my parents once forgot me twice in one day. Forgot, like forgot to bring me home or pick me up somewhere. First they forgot to bring me home from church (picture a scared, trembling girl huddling in the coat rack by herself when the pastor found me to let me know my parents were on their way back to pick me up) then they forgot to pick me up from a birthday party later that same day. Such is the life of a third born.
18. Speaking of bring a third born, I have two older sisters and one younger brother. All four of us are wonderfully different and we each have unique relationships with the others. I love having multiple siblings.
19. I was in a musical in Chicago when I was in junior high, starring me and Donny Osmond. Okay, maybe not starring me but I was one of the kids in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Chicago Theater. I loved being in it and being onstage. I also loved missing school for the matinee shows:)
20. Matt and I have lived in 8 different places in 8 years. This trend is getting a little old. I dream of the day when I can pick things out, a mere paint color perhaps. Is that asking too much?
21. The noise from metal on metal, metal on teeth, knives scraping plates, etc. is my 'nails on a chalkboard' noise. Ugh, I hate those sounds. I suppose I also hate the sound of nails on a chalkboard.
22. I love cooking. Oh, and eating. I get inspiration from cooking shows and books but I don't love to follow recipes exactly. I tend to get the concept then put my own stamp on it, adapt it the next time til it's perfect. This is why I write recipes out on my blog, so I can remember how I changed the originals.
23. I love to get up a bit before Lucia is awake and read. Mornings with coffee and a good book are the best. The quiet and stillness helps sets up the rest of my day right. My brain absolutely absorbs information at this time of day. Sometimes I even keep reading after she is up but hasn't started yelling for me yet.
24. I have dreams of creating a 'Hot Dogs Around the World' book. Loaded up hot dogs of all varieties are the best. And as it turns out, most places I have been to have their own specialty hot dog. And I like them all.
25. I have a weird hip injury from over ten years ago that makes it too painful for me to bike, kayak, run for more than 5 minutes or walk for more than 45 minutes. I need to go ahead and get the surgery to fix it already. I miss biking.
26. I love my job. It doesn't even feel like a job to me. I guess that means I love it. I get the pleasure of working with teen parents. The particular families I work with are lovely and I it brings me great joy to walk alongside them for this season of their life. Not that it's always easy, I just like doing it. Did I mention I will only be the director of Parenting Progress for another few weeks? More on that in another post...
27. I believe that the bible is actually true. Turns out there is a lot of good stuff in there. Read it and surely it will resonate truth with you too. I'll break it down: God loved/s us, all of us, He has shown this to be true through Jesus, we are in Him, He is in us, so we are called to go on and love others as Jesus loved/s us even to the point of death. So simple yet so hard that it takes one's whole life to live it out. But when you know that peace that passes understanding, when you know you are fully known and fully loved, the call to love and take care of others, especially the most vulnerable in our world, becomes incredibly clear (and joyful).
28. I am extremely grateful to my parents and surrounding family that helped give me a great sense of self from a young age. When I think back, my younger years felt swirling and chaotic but I can see now that I have a sense of security and feeling loved that stems all the way back to those early years. One could not receive a better gift to set them up to thrive, not just survive, in life. I pray that my own children feel this some day.
29. Matt was my first and only boyfriend and I pretty much knew I would marry him when I was 18 years old. You may think this is naive but I'm glad I made that choice, no matter how old I was. We started dating our first year of college in Ecuador. Our first real bonding moment happened while hiking a volcano. I famously wrote home to my mom after that hike, knowing that this guy might become something special to me saying something like "me and this guy Matt hiked together on the edge of the mountain, making our own path". "And they've been making they're own path ever since" my mom declared at our wedding rehearsal dinner. Indeed, and I have no doubt this will continue.
30. I may be 30 but I still love to swing at the park. Having a young daughter gives me a great excuse to do so.
Disclaimer: I realize that some of this list seems annoying. If you're annoyed, then just disregard. If I were reading this, I might be thinking "Ugh, would she get off her high horse already and stop beaming about her life?!?" I get it. Like I said, I'm feeling particularly grateful today on this milestone of my life. I think it's healthy to cultivate gratitude in one's life. Go ahead and try it in your own. You might be surprised to find out how much you have worth appreciating each and every day.
"The world is more magical, less predictable, more autonomous, less controllable, more varied, less simple, more infinite, less knowable, more wonderfully troubling than we could have imagined being able to tolerate when we were young." James Hollis