Birthday Post: One Score and Eight Years

Nordic chieftain marrying A&B at the shore of a glacier lagoon. PC: Kendra Ednacot 

Another day, another summer, and oh! ...another birthday.

Last year, I spent my birthday mourning over youth lost; now, a year later, I'm blessed enough to count another birthday.

This year, I embark on a new stage in my life: "old enough to appreciate more, to know better, to try more, to do less". I'm more settled without being settled down.

In celebrating my 24th, 25th, and 26th birthdays, my fate felt like a blank slate. I was enthralled by the possibility of what lay in my life ahead of me, yet impatient because I felt like I hadn't done anything yet. I wandered, I dabbled, I observed, I experimented. Now, my wonder is curbed (though the ember still glows) and I have a bit more focus and direction--or at the very least, a few dream destinations. As a bonus, at 28, I'm met with a new feeling of contentment. I'm proud of the path I've carved in recent years. Counting back birthdays: one year ago, I trekked across the diverse landscapes of Peru; two years ago, I danced along the shore of the Sea of Japan, wore a jinbei and drank green tea in a ryokan in Niigata; three years ago, I traipsed bamboo forests and biked winding trails in Kyoto; four years ago, I tiptoed amongst towering golden palaces in Bangkok; five years ago, I danced the night (and early morning) away, mojito in hand, on the shores of Havana. What a ride my early/mid 20s has been.

My birthday reflections take place this year in Iceland, Spain, Morocco, Portugal, Finland, and Denmark. I'm blessed, privileged, lucky, and infinitely thankful to have lead a life of thrills, luxury, food, fulfillment, love, safety, and comfort. I approach my late 20s... with conviction! and determination! ...and most importantly, a sense of safety and stability due to this hand dandy life tool belt that I put together in the past 5-8 years. This year marks a clear transition in my life.

On June 27th, Brian and I made our promises (rather than our "I do's") to one another's parents. We vowed to take care of one another and to love and respect each others' families as we accept and are accepted into our new extended families. Many, many tears, "hails!", lobster tails, glasses of wine, and an impromptu fireworks show later, we breathed a satisfied sigh of relief that we pulled off our fantasy big-little wedding in Iceland.

As for my own vows and hopes for myself: to continue to grow professionally; to travel more; to spend more days and nights outdoors; to practice more languages more often; to nurture my relationships with my sisters, my parents, my closest friends, my new family, and my husband. I hope to continue to learn. I'll remember to simplify various corners of my life in order to not be overwhelmed and feeling like life is offering me more than I can handle. I'll shop less, prioritize tasks, and spend my time intentionally, I'll express my love and gratitude to the people in my life who continue to shape and nourish me.

= = =

For old time's sake, I offer:

A Humble List of Lessons Learned in My 28th Year. (Year 27) (Year 26)

1. Simplify your day to day routine; leave room for rest and leave room for spontaneity.

2. Simplify your wants.

3. On spending money: the more in tune you are with your values and the more in line your actions are with your values, the less money you waste. The clearer you are about 1) who and what you care about, 2) your goals, and 3) your passions, each dollar you spend toward one of these categories becomes an investment for your future, your personal development, and for causes and people you care about and the less you spend on, well, anything else.

4. Invest time and effort in your community; take part in celebrations, mentor, be seen, spend and eat locally, learn about your local history, support local artists and musicians, vote. It's the only and best way to have your own place in society and it's the only and best way to build and hope for a better future for society.

5. You're not the only one suffering from imposter syndrome and this isn't the last time it'll plague you. My parents rolled with the punches when they became new parents, all former and the sitting president figured and is figuring it out as they go along, and all teachers are fiddling the dials, trying their best to balance the right doses of 'what I learned to do in my teacher training', 'what my teachers did when I was in school', 'what my students seem to need', 'what feels right', and 'what I made up on the spot'. There's not always a right way to do something, but your preparation and judgement is good enough to make a decision right now and you'll continue to get better at what you do.

6. Don't read the news too much; be informed and take action, but don't let yourself become discouraged or afraid.

7. Care more about the well-being of others than of their perception of you.

8. Be the biggest bad ass you know... under your own definition of what it means to be a bad ass.

9. Find fulfillment and contentment in all of life's little tasks that you have to do any way (cooking, cleaning, running errands, commuting to and from work). It's healthier to find joy in the day to day than to trudge through the week and only live for vacations.

= = =

Happy birthday to me. Here's to 28 years of more ups than downs. Cheers to a new era of being an old-young-adult in soul and at heart; here's hoping that such an era lasts at least another 28 years.

P.S. Some or you may have seen my travel pictures on social media--you know, the polished, "life is grand!" photos of cathedrals, waterfalls, and desert landscapes. Just FYI, a little extra TMI for you--you aren't truly backpacking across a continent until you're on a slow country train's... toilet suffering from explosive diarrhea. EEYYYYY...