At 34 years old, I am grateful for my grey hairs.

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As I sit here listening to the thunder outside of my window, I can't help but think back to this day last year, and every year before from as far back as I can remember.  I don't recall the last time it rained on my birthday.  In the past this weather may have felt like it was getting in the way of my celebration.  But this year, it is encouraging me to do exactly what I want to be doing.  Finding a little solitude as I connect to my creativity & my emotional side, matching my feelings with words to be able to share them with you.

After spending all of Saturday walking around in my cute yellow sandals, only to feel their visual appeal quickly wear off as my knee and hips begin to ache, I knew it was time.  It was time to remove my ego from the equation and buy myself what I've been secretly longing for.  This fantasy has been a mix of distant envy along with lingering denial.  I can't tell you how many times I've tried them on, only to rationalize my way out of the purchase.  But with my 34th birthday only a few days away, and my experience spending long periods of time walking feeling different than it did when I was a young lass, I knew my time had come.  

Conveniently, my sister and I were spending a quiet weekend in Ann Arbor, a gold mine for supportive shoes.  Not to mention end of summer sales.  What started out as just seeing what our options were at one shoe store, became an afternoon scavenger hunt until not just I, but my sister as well, were proud owners of brand new Teva's.  What better way to celebrate another year around the sun.  I can't believe it's taken me this long to apply some Teva self care to my life.  With my feet more comfortable and my walking ability back to normal, I am now better able to reminisce upon the last year.  

Anniversaries bring with them a lot of reflection.  Birthday's, wedding's, engagements, sobriety's, deaths, etc.  These significant dates are always accompanied by the memories and emotions we felt when we first experienced them.  So often, we want to avoid the memories and deny any signs that time may be changing us.  But for me, the amount of work I have had to do to reverse the damaging effects of my old avoiding behavior, is not worth sacrificing.  I didn't come this far to only come this far.  

There is no part of my life that is the way I thought it would be had you asked me years ago what my life would look like at 34 years old.  I've never been married, I have no children of my own, I've never owned a home, and it feels as if I have made no dent in my student loans.  These are the accomplishments of life that society deems the proper way to validate ourselves.  This is what our world believes is success.  This is what those who are still asleep believe dreams are made of.  Homes, babies, marriages- don't get me wrong, these are wonderful experiences to have, but I don't believe they are the only ones.

What I do have at 34 years old are new grey hairs above my ears on both sides and they are coming in fast.  I am grateful for my changing hair, many people do not live long enough for this experience. 

At 34 years old I have wrinkles around the corners of my eyes which are especially obvious when I smile and laugh.  I am grateful for these lines as they remind me that I have been surrounded by moments that have brought me insurmountable joy.  

At 34 years old I have 3.59 years, or 1,314 days, or 31,528 hours since the last time I took a sip of alcohol or a drag of anything that triggers my addictions.  Without my sobriety, I would have missed out on knowing who I truly am.  I would have missed out on learning that I am far stronger than I ever give myself credit for.  And I would have missed out on the opportunity to be an example for all of the people who are too unaware or too scared to speak up about this themselves.  It is an honor to be able to share my experiences with you.  My sobriety is the best thing that has ever happened to me.

At 34 years old I have learned where my anxiety comes from and what triggers it.  I have done the work to know what I need in place of taking prescription pills to numb myself to this restlessness.  I am grateful for my journey with anxiety.  Without it, I would not know when the decisions I am making are aligned with my soul's purpose or not.  My anxiety is like a compass, and one I rarely need to consult with anymore.

At 34 years old I am a new yoga teacher.  It is never too late to start doing what you are meant to do.  Teaching yoga is vulnerable, it is filled with responsibility and it is the best way I have found for me to be of service to others.  I am grateful for the never ending opportunities to show up for my students, to learn more about the ancient wisdom of yoga and to have a platform to be a light for others.

At 34 years old I am a yoga student.  I am strong, I am flexible, and I know that age and its effects are relative to each of our mindsets.  I am grateful for the discipline, the consciousness and the never ending self awareness that yoga always brings to my life.

At 34 years old I am conscious & honest with myself that my current means of income does not light me up or feed my soul.  But age has also brought wisdom, and with it awareness of my past behavior.  I will not stay at this job indefinitely, but I will also not run from it.  My ability to quiet my mind provides me with the answers I seek and when it is time for me to end an experience, I always know.  And until it is time, I stay, and I do whatever I can to be present and learn the lessons that are meant for me.  I am grateful for wisdom, for remembering to pause, and for not having to learn my lessons the hard way anymore.

At 34 years old I have a whole lot of respect for myself and others.  Most of this was learned the hard way.  I no longer rationalize other people's behavior if it triggers negative feelings in me.  I also don't take it personally.  Most of what others do has nothing to do with anyone besides themselves.  I do not force myself to stay in jobs, friendships or relationships longer than I need to.  I have recognized and put an end to my people pleasing.  I now know that almost every time I've felt I was treated poorly by someone else was because I did not know how to stand up for myself properly.  I am grateful for the pain, heartache and embarrassment that brought me to this understanding.  Without it, I would have missed out on all of the love.

At 34 years old I am an observer to my life, recognizing that every experience has a lesson in it for me and an opportunity to connect deeper to myself.  Everyday I am becoming better at choosing love over fear and shrinking my ego a little more than the day before.  I am committed to evolving every single day.  I trust that what is meant for me will not pass me by.  I know that more will always be revealed.  I am working daily to practice more patience, especially when I cannot see the next step.  I know that by surrendering to the unfolding of my life, trusting that the Universe has a plan for me, and getting out of my own way I will continue to become more of who I am at my core and doing exactly what I came here to do.

At 34 years old, I am exactly where I am meant to be.