Enter, universe. Enter, life.
Enter, 6 doctors, 3 physical therapists, 2 falls, 1 ER visit, 1 MRI, 2 EMGs, 5 prescriptions, 3 x-rays, 15 traction-therapy appointments, 3 steroid epidural injections, over $22k in insurance claims, over $3k in out-of-pocket expenses, 11 extra pounds, 2 allergy panels, umpteen temper tantrums, 1 top-of-the-line office chair, 1 pair of orthopaedic inserts, and the fanciest inversion table on the market.
Here's the thing. As devasting as this last year has been health-wise, I am just extremely thankful. Don't get me wrong: there have been many tears in the car in the medical center parking lot and many nights I went to bed as soon as I got home from work. But, now, even now as I stand in the middle of the storm, I see meaning in this whole debacle. Yes, it might just be sheer bad luck, genetics or part of being human, but it might also have been the universe slapping me upside the head. You have worry? I'll show you worry!
So this year delivered a lot of worry, true worry, yes, but the lesson is that it also delivered a lot of other blessings. The blessing of learning to stand up for myself. The blessing of learning my body inside and outside, memorizing my body, listening to my body, and not letting anyone else make decisions on my body's behalf. The blessing of learning what nutrition my body needs. The blessing of pinpointing gluten intolerance and learning self-discipline in the name of true health. The blessing of learning to care for myself gently, be patient with myself and set priorities to put my truest needs first. The absolute blessing of learning when to respect my own boundaries and when to push them.
And above all, the lesson of learning to give in. While the temper tantrums and tears may have been my unclassy, unhinged nightmare come true, in the end I am proud to say that I let go. You guys, I let go. I found other things besides my beloved hikes and gym time to bust stress, I learned to be happy in the eye of the storm, I found new bliss and felt extreme gratitude for the blessings in my life. I focused on those blessings, those small miracles, and I changed my attitude about rest. I changed my attitude about what a 27-year-old should be able to do. I (almost, nearly, kind of, sort of) changed my attitude about asking for and accepting help. So, not bad. I feel like I've got a leg up on this acceptance thing. Through these struggles, I have learned to celebrate even the smallest victories. Happy Birthday, indeed.
Here is my list as it stands today.
1. Work for someone with vision. (If this turns out to be myself, then so be it.)
2. Re-learn French. // I've got to dig out those CDs.
4. Take guitar lessons // I got a free guitar from a co-worker, so this year I will be tacking this one.
5. Learn to sew.
8. Teach at the college level.
9. Pay off my debt to my parents (and therefore become debt-free, other than mortgage and student loans). // This should be interesting, given the medical bills, but never say never.
10. Get a tattoo.
12. Watch the sun rise and set consecutively with someone special.
13. Plant something in my yard. // This will be the year!
14. "Study" photography, get a half-decent camera and learn Photoshop.
15. Go on a backpacking trip.
17. Donate my hair to Locks of Love // This has become even more important to me now that my aunt has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
18. Sell a piece of refinished furniture // My recent (FAILED) attempt to refinish a dresser has me thinking this might be a pipe dream, but time will tell.
19. Create a "studio" in my basement.
20. Take a graphic design class.
22. Run a 5k and not die. // I still have hope for this one.
23. Plan an awesome 30th birthday celebration trip. // Start saving now, ladies.
24. Visit my 6th country outside the U.S.
25. Have 50 lunch dates. That's one every 21 or so days // I am so rocking this one OUT.
26. Shoot a gun. // Jakey and I have a date.
27. Do something creative with the huge piece of drywall in my living room.
28. Put off dying my hair. Embrace the grey before I start to cover it. // The more to love? :/
29. Buy a kayak.
30. Be completely at peace with turning 30, well before it actually happens // At this point I'm just grateful to have all my limbs and be able to climb stairs.