Thursday, April 12, 2012

30-Before-30 Check-In: 33.3%

Oh, the difference 366 days can make. I wish I could blame it on the leap day, but the other 365 were just as wacky. When I wrote my list last year, I was anxious that I would completely fail at turning 30. I was worried that I would be completely ungraceful, unclassy and, to be blunt, a total blithering mess. I was sure I would have a grade-A identity crisis. (A note about anxiety: The best description I've ever heard of anxiety is that it is worry about worry. The second best description is that giving into worry makes you a master at creating problems that were not there in the first place.) I knew I had some serious work to do in the attitude department, but to be truthful, I had no idea where to start.

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.
3. Get microdermabrasion.
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.
Buy a great sofa.
7. Hang old family photos and create a space for new memories in my stairwell. Post forthcoming.
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.
11. Teach Henley a new trick.
// Shake, baby, shake.
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.
16. Join a rowing club.
// Done.
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.
21. Go vegan for 4 months. Bonus points for completely organic.
// I permanently cleaned up my diet.
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.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Light and Dark

Dearest blog,

I have been feeling kind of cruddy lately. A near miss on one of my biggest 30-Before-30 goals has my confidence down in the dumps. Things have flared up again with my back now that the final steroid injection has worn off and I am learning that when you are physically taxed and hurting, it is hard to be cheery and optimistic. I am trying very hard, remembering that our thoughts become our reality, but falling into bed at 6:30pm each night out of exhaustion and pain is not exactly inspiring or uplifting. I will soon have an appointment with a surgeon to explore more drastic options, and strangely this is a pilot light in a gloomy week. It's strange to think the words "It's time to move on to a surgical referral" would be the highlight of one's week, but here I am. I don't feel like myself anymore in the physical sense and that disconnected feeling starts to work its way into other areas of life. I'm over being in pain, over such limited physical activity, over being tired from simply showering and changing my clothes. I'm ready to be 28 next week and I'm hopeful to feel 28 soon.

These darker times in life are when I am reminded of a Leonard Cohen quote:

"There is a crack in everything; that's how the light gets in."

I came upon one of those cracks today. I like to think of those cracks as little reminders, things that bring you back to yourself in darker times, little glimmers of hope that remind you how it was or how it could and will be.

I was browsing Pinterest today while I sucked down some Kombucha (good god, $3.50 per bottle is going to interfere with my retirement... I am investing in bottling my own soon) and a bag of roasted pumpkin seeds for lunch, and I came across a board of, despite distance and time, one of my best friends. This is someone whose style I admire, whose fearlessness I envy, whose presence I miss on a daily basis. A friend who could walk in this room 20 minutes from now or 20 years from now and our friendship and conversation would pick up as if I talked to her this morning.

She had labeled a board "All Things Bobbi", a collection of quotes. I smiled, and was startled when my eyes filled up with tears at my desk. One of those moments where you kind of choke on life because there, right in front of you, is the thing you've been looking for but didn't know you needed.

At a time when I feel far away from myself in the physical sense (good god, I would give anything to walk my dog today), I needed a feel-good reminder of who I am in general.

This was one of the pins:

How fitting. I don't even remember pinning it, but how wonderful and timely.

I don't think I could have articulated it, but I think part of me has always strived for people to say "That's such a Bobbi thing" when they see something that reminds them of me. When I first realized that today after my Pinteresting lunch break, I thought "Bobbi, how vain", but then I realized that the reason I smiled when my friend Eric walked into my navy dining room and said, "This is such a Bobbi color" is that in a world where we are constantly communicating, we desire to be heard, and we hope to be understood, and it is a relief to be known. On a rare day, I am lucky enough to be able to do this with my writing, but on an average day, that is the very core desire of my soul, and something I struggle with very much.

I've been standing in the storm for months and months, and the wind has tossed me about. Thank you, Jax, for reminding me that I have a sail, and it is all shades of purple, covered with quotes about life, and I can adjust that sail in a way that is uniquely me. And I will reach my destination.