Lessons from my Golden Birthday
I turned 29 on the 29th. What a year 28 was, here's what I've learned and what I'm looking forward to!
Hello from my 2 weeks of PTO! I haven’t had a break like this all year and I’m so happy to have some unstructured, no plans time off to reconnect with myself, get some home things done, and enjoy the peak foliage season here in Vermont!
My birthday came in quietly with the Harvest Moon in Aries which I feel like is a perfect time for reflection and letting go of the previous year as I look forward to the last year of my 20s. September also always feels like the true start of the year. The ingrained muscle memory of back to school season, as well as the beginning of autumn being a period of release and reflection. The trees put forth their finest work and then shed it all in anticipation for rest and then rebirth. This time of year also always makes me happy with nostalgia and renewed thinking— it’s when David and I first met and fell in love and got married. It’s our time, and it’s a time of transition and new beginnings!
28 was challenging on multiple fronts. A year+ work project that (still) never ends and takes up all my brain energy. The grief of trying real hard and not getting what you want. Medical issues that took up so much time, energy, money, and were painful. I was laid out for a week with Covid for the first time. I spent 2 weeks on site for a work project and over a month accumulated travelling for work. We signed off on our new house inspection the day before the entire town had a devastating flood. We said goodbye to our loved ones and the city we still love.
On the other hand so many joyful things happened. I helped organize a retreat for over 30 of my internet friends in the Rockies. It was a beautiful, cozy, and delightful weekend together. David and I had a beautiful New England trip during peak foliage that helped us finalize our decision to move. I finally got to step away from 2 years of serving as a leader for an ERG at work, feeling proud of everything I built for it, and handed it off to someone new, and not worrying at all about them making changes or doing things differently. The joy of letting go and moving on!
We set a goal of moving by the end of summer and actually achieved it and all that went along with doing it (David finding a new job, staging and selling our home, finding and going under contract on a house from 1000 miles away, and doing all packing and moving within a month)! Finally, we’ve been so warmly welcomed by our neighbors and community, and every day here I feel so right in our decision to move and change our lives.
If ever I had a period to take away lessons from, it was this last year.
Some of my biggest lessons learned
You have to plan to take care. As soon as things get hard, make your life as easy as possible. Freeze the meals, eat off of paper plates, say no to doing more. Do what you have to do to get by and realize that giving 50% is sometimes more than enough if that’s all you have in you. Ask for help. Ask for help!! Ask for help!!! You’ll also be surprised at how many people do want to show up for you if you only let them know what’s going on.
Show up with the energy you want others to bring you. We knew moving out here we’d need to be “on” and intentional with putting ourselves out there to meet people and make friends. So far, our plan of showing up and being open to interactions has been working out well for us! I am not a super outgoing person. I don’t normally start conversations with strangers. I do great in established groups, but I fully bought into the fantasy of people just having random 1:1 interactions and becoming BFFs afterwards. I am learning how to make relationships happen and not just sit and try to will them into existence. I made an intro post in our local online forum asking for friends, and so many people are reaching out! It takes a ton of energy and intention to build friendships and trust from the ground up, but it will always be worth it!
On the flip side, stop giving energy to those who don’t reciprocate or bring that energy back. I feel like in my early 20s, it was quantity over quality, and I was always left disappointed or anxious thinking maybe I over assume friendships or acquaintances when it didn’t feel as prioritized or liked. If I walk away from interactions feeling off or unsure, I’m listening to my gut and deprioritizing and putting that energy back into those who effuse friendship and love. I don’t want guesswork, and it’s fine if the vibe isn’t there.
Similar to above, life is too short to feel like you have to read between the lines all the time. No more giving into passive aggression. Save energy and take things at face value. Always assume adults can speak for what they need and want, especially if you regularly give avenues for feedback or outline expectations. And for me, if I can’t be direct and speak up for myself, I either need to let it go or deal with it and not assume people can take the hint. This is really hard! I come from a family that never talked about anything. Everything was always a shame-based confrontation that would trigger fight or flight. It doesn’t have to be that way! Clear is kind!
I’m entering my multigenerational friendship era. Partly due to this community skewing slightly older than us to decades older than us, partly due to the groups we’re joining. There is so much to learn from these sorts of relationships and we have more in common than we think! I also think as a result, I’m backing away from some of my more ironic/self-deprecating humor that I think is more of a millennial/gen Z thing comparatively to older generations. Or maybe it was just a personal way for me to not be as vulnerable. It’s okay to be earnest and sincere even if it does feel a little cringey at first.
Don’t be afraid to drop down to the easier or more comfortable option. I am someone who doesn’t back away from a challenge, but I am starting to understand the joy of giving up or not trying as hard. Whether it’s saying no to more projects or just wanting to coast a bit at work, buying comfier clothes, or most recently starting off on a Soprano 2 part and deciding that Alto 1 will be better because those high Es are wearing me out (lol), things don’t have to be hard to be worthwhile!
Finally, something I’ve been really working on because it has been a bit of a hinderance in my life the last few years: finding reasons to leave the house and committing to them. With working from home, and then the trauma of the pandemic, I became borderline agoraphobic. I started getting really anxious at the thought of going out by myself to the point where I’d talk myself out of it often. I’m building in structure to help me commit to getting my independence back. I did a weekly tarot class 40 minutes away at the beginning of the year. I’m going to choir rehearsals, I’m meeting people for coffee, I’m getting little treats in between meetings, I scheduled Pilates classes. Slowly, I’m starting to not feel as much holding me back and less anxiety as I go out. Exposure therapy works at least in this case for me!
I’m someone who doesn’t linger long in my accomplishments, I’m usually on to the next thing and don’t sit with the emotions that come with finishing a project, going through a challenge, or doing something I’ve always wanted to do. But today, I am reflecting and feeling so, so proud of who I’ve become, the things I’ve been able to endure, the power I have to make things happen in my life. I feel so grateful for where I’m at, and for people who have supported me along the way. I’m grateful to be 29! Here’s to the last year of my 20s!
What I’ve Been Up To
I just finished Demon Copperhead for a delightful local book club I was invited to out here called the Bookies! It was an epic indictment of the foster care system, opioid epidemic and how neglected Appalachia has become. I definitely think it could’ve been 100-200 pages shorter and paced differently, and some of the lessons were a little heavy-handed and too spelled out for me. But it had a strong voice, loveable characters, and it was hard to put down!
I also recently finished In the Company of Witches. A sweet but emotional read and perfect for cozy autumn vibes. The town definitely gives off Stars Hollow essence and the aunts reminded me of Sabrina the Teenage Witch!
Long afternoon walks in our neighborhood. We’re on a gravel road just outside of town, and we’re the only house on our side of the road. The rest of the land is part of a farm and it’s just a ton of open field we get to see horses, deer, heron and lots of other creatures in. Our usual route takes us up a steep hill a view that looks out over town and the Green Mountains, and it is truly wonderful.
Community Choir! We joined the Onion River Chorus which is a non-audition choir that does a lot of great, challenging music. We’re singing pieces from composers like Brahms, Bach, Mendelssohn, and Mozart when they were in their 20s. It gets us out of the house on Monday nights, and I’m so happy to be singing in a group again! Everyone in it has been so kind and welcoming, they’re so excited for newcomers!
We bought a hammock recently, and we love hanging out in it in the afternoons after work. We keep Bjorn on a lead, and he loves rolling down the hill we have it sitting on top of and enjoying the horse pasture views with us.
I made my annual autumn bucket list! Besides a couple lapses over this year, I’ve made a bucket list for every season since high school! I’m excited to get through all these cozy to-dos.
I love my coffee routine in the morning. It’s a meditative moment to grind the beans and wait patiently for it all to be ready. I made a big batch of Rosemary Simple Syrup (just equal parts brown sugar, water and a sprig of rosemary simmered until the sugar is dissolved). It’s perfect in lattes and makes morning lattes almost savory. I like that it’s a little different from the maple, caramel and pumpkin spice flavors you typically see this time of year.
Had an hour between meetings earlier this week so I whipped up a batch of Rice Krispie treats! I mixed in some cinnamon and some fall sprinkles and loved the outcome :)
I’m having fun making lots of playlists for all the different vibes this season. My favorite one so far is Wood Paneled Autumn. The brief I gave myself while making it was wondering what KJP is probably listening to in his wood-paneled wagon this this time of year.
As for the rest of my weekend/PTO. David and I our celebrating our 6th wedding anniversary by visiting all of the local autumn fests/Oktoberfests nearby, having some cozy meals, and finding small hikes nearby to enjoy the foliage! My grandparents and great aunt are coming to stay with us a couple days next week as part of a larger New England trip. I’m so excited to see them and it has been a great motivator to peel off the ancient, disgusting wallpaper in our guest room and get some other house things done. Other than that, I plan on soaking all of this downtime in, getting through my TBR list, and exploring some of Montpelier as many of the stores start to reopen. I hope you have a cozy Sunday, and thank you for slowing down with me! :)