Last weekend I celebrated my thirtieth birthday. Wow, can I actually say it out loud? I am thirty. I had a conversation last week with my friend Jackie (I have so many sentences that start with “I was just talking to Jackie…”). She asked me how I was feeling about turning thirty. Had I thought about it? I also received this question several times this week: Did I feel different? I told Jackie that I actually wanted to take some time on this birthday to reflect, to think about what this birthday actually means. I wanted to really think hard about where I have been and where I am going. So many times I have said I was going to take inventory, make some goals. Yet, milestones often fly by without even a notice.
I decided to truly reflect. And, I cried. I cried for the things that have passed that I will never experience again: going to summer camp, the safe and secure feeling of living in my parents’ house, the close family friends that surrounded us in childhood, summertime as a kid, staying up all night giggling and acting boy crazy with my friends, going to youth rallies (yes, I am that nerdy preacher’s kid), the freedom of turning sixteen and driving for the first time, spending time with friends 24/7, wearing a miniskirt (let’s be honest, that will never happen again and I wouldn’t want it to), the feeling of being on the edge of my whole life the summer before I went to college, the feel of Fall on a college campus, living independently for the first time with my best friends, having a spring break, learning who I was as a young adult, falling in love, getting married, still pretending like I’m right out of college (I guess that gig is officially up), figuring out I was pregnant for the first time, and meeting my babies for the first time. But, mostly I cried out of gratitude. I loved every phase (even the awkward ones), every friendship, every place, every blessing. I love how a smell, song, old friend, etc. can bring back my memories from the last 30 years. This is a cliche statement, but I have been blessed, and for that I am thankful.
So, that is where I have been. Where am I going? What do I want to do more of in my next thirty years?
- Accept Where I Am At
Let’s start with that. I don’t want to sulk in my twenties. Let’s own this thirty thing. I want to live in the moment more. Who doesn’t? I don’t want to say, “Now before I had kids…” or “If I could just get through this phase…”, you fill in the blank. I want to be completely filled by the current moment and state. I think this is a practice of gratitude and much harder than it sounds. I heard this quote the other day about how to find your life’s purpose and I had to write it down:
“Have no judgments, no expectations and give up the need to know what happens tomorrow.”
I have been trying to live that quote out lately. Sometimes when the laundry needs to be folded, it is ok to laugh a little longer with my five month old. If my two year old asks to read a book, I better put down whatever I am doing and soak in that moment. The other day I was taking my two year old to preschool. He is going through an attachment phase. He cries every time I drop him off anywhere (side note: he does end up fine five minutes later). I caught myself thinking as he cried “Mommy” the other day, “I can’t wait until he can just walk right in that classroom without crying and feel comfortable with me leaving.” I caught myself and remembered that there will be a day ten years from now when I will long for the day he cried my name out and cared that I left him. I will hit that time period when he can’t wait to see his friends and will be embarrassed if I linger too long dropping him off. Why not enjoy the time that he still wants to be with his mommy? He will outgrow it. Love the place you are in.
2. Be A Better Friend
There are few things in life I value more than relationships. I am just wired (like most of you) to have relationships. I thrive when I’m social and I have great conversations with my friends, whether that is over the phone, over a cup of coffee, during a play date or a road trip. I always felt like I did a good job of keeping in touch with friends, and I love having people into my home to get to know them better. But, I have to make a confession. Since having kids, I have become somewhat lazy at this. The house is always a mess and a bit more crowded these days. My alone time is rare, therefore I do not spend the time on the phone that I used to. And, let’s be honest, sometimes it is just hard to pick up the phone and call someone you haven’t talked to in a while. I still have friends I do a good job of keeping in touch with, but there are so many that I want to stay connected to.
Life is too short to loose touch. It’s too short to not take the time to get to know someone better. There was a time during high school and college where I had all the time in the world to hang out with friends and develop new friendships. Now, it takes more effort. What do I want to do about this? I want to make that phone call on someone’s birthday instead of just writing on their Facebook wall or sending a text (not that those are bad things!). I want to try and catch up with someone from the past once a week. I don’t want to keep tabs on who I should reach out to based on how much they have kept up with me. I want to freely give and catch up. I want to get back in the habit of having someone new over once a month. I want to really invest in all the friendships around me currently instead of thinking I don’t have time. I have one friend that I rarely get to talk to on the phone anymore, but she sends me (and some of our other old friends) a birthday card every year. That is just a small way to say hello that I love. At sixty, I won’t worry about what I made for dinner that night or how clean my house is as much as I will remember the relationships I built.
3. Travel More
I had an epiphany a few months ago. I was watching Oprah interview the lady who wrote the book “Wild” about hiking the Oregon trail. I had just been thinking about how neat it would be to have some kind of different cultural experience and not be tied down by the everyday things that hold us back. I told my husband that I felt like we needed to take that big trip next year we have been talking about forever. We didn’t take a trip for our five year anniversary this year because our daughter was born a month before. Once she is over one and we could leave her with grandparents for a week, I want us to make it happen. I had convinced myself that we could kiss traveling goodbye until our kids were older, but that interview made me realize that you have to make it happen or it never will. Literally, that afternoon an article popped up on my Facebook newsfeed: “People Who Spend Money on Experiences Rather Than Things Are Happier.” I told my husband it was a sign.
One reason Lindsey and I started this blog was to travel more together around our region. How will we do this? Maybe we will have to make travel more kid friendly. Maybe we will stay in our house a little longer instead of building a new one. Maybe I will drive a cheaper car and save more. I don’t know exactly how it will happen, but I do know we are going to focus more on spending our time on experiences instead of trying to keep up with everything materially around us. I want my kids to see us do this and also develop a love for learning about new places and traveling. Let’s hope for more travels and adventures in the next thirty years!
4. Be More Intentional
Intentional is a huge buzz word right now, so I am not trying to overuse it. However, I do love this word! Let’s just say, I want to be more intentional about the life that I live and how that impacts others. I want to be more intentional about what I teach my kids spiritually and academically. If I really claim to have a peace that passes understanding, do my kids actually see that? Am I taking that time during the day to teach my son something new? Having a successful marriage means intentionally going out of my way to be a better spouse. It means making the effort to be kind when you want to be snappy, to be encouraging when you want to be critical, to compromise when you want to prove a point. I know in marriage and in life I can work on all these things.
I know I will not get all of these right everyday. However, if I am intentional about growing, praying more and taking some time each morning to sit in God’s presence, I might just put more thought into my actions and what I can be intentional about each day. My life is more fulfilling, at peace and meaningful when I take time daily to pray and reflect – when I am not worried about the little things, but the big things that really matter. I don’t want to regret what I could have done to make a difference, who I could have helped or reached out to because I got caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday.
5. Drink More Coffee (or whatever it is that you enjoy)
I read an article recently that said people who lived the longest had one thing they did everyday that brought them pleasure: it could be a glass of wine, a piece of chocolate, etc. They had a daily thing (even if it was small) that they looked forward to. I love the moment I get my cup of coffee in the morning. I love a good conversation over coffee. I love drinking coffee with my husband on Saturday mornings. I love my news and coffee. I love watching my kids play while drinking coffee. I love a book and coffee. So, although I need to make many healthier choices in the next thirty years, I will keep my coffee, thank you very much!
I am sure I could make this list longer, but I think five things is a good start! What are your new resolutions for your milestones in life?