35 feels a lot different than 34. I don’t mean physically, of course, but mentally this year when I shifted that number from 34 to 35, it felt momentous—like I immediately felt much older now that I’m halfway through my 30’s, rather than being at the start of them.
Every year for the past several years, I’ve done a little post on my birthday with my “intentions” for the year ahead. It’s been fascinating to see those change and morph over time, especially depending on the current circumstances I find myself in.
Last year on my 34th birthday, I wanted my intention for the year ahead to be about learning to take care of myself better — about prioritizing my health (both physical and mental) and about prioritizing my own needs more than I had been. I talked about how I wanted to get my back fixed so I could get back into exercise, and I talked about how although I wanted to get pregnant this year, I knew I needed to put it off until I was in better health overall so that we could maybe (hopefully?) avoid another super-hard pregnancy like my last one.
First off—no, I’m not pregnant right now. And I’m also not in a regular exercise habit, at least not like I’d wanted to be.
However, I HAVE been able to return to almost full activity this last year thanks to some extensive massage work on my back, which means that I no longer consider myself sedentary (like I was kind of forced to be before when I was dealing with such bad back pain all the time). The past seven months have seen me taking on the fairly difficult work of flower farming — which requires a LOT of crouching, squatting, and bending for long periods of time — and not usually being in pain from it. I’ve also generally been a lot better about labeling what I need and asking for it, although that became much easier once Matt’s work moved down here by our new house and he was no longer living away from us for most of the week.
So all in all, I’d say that although I had some low points with self-care (especially when I was a bit like a single parent there for several months), I am doing much better in that regard. I’m also happy to report that my anxiety — which initially flared up when I was postpartum from my second — is now more or less completely under control and I would even say is gone entirely, at least for now. I went off the low dose of anti-anxiety medication I was on earlier this year, and while I had several months of little (or sometimes bigger) flare-ups after that while I adjusted, I have not even had really any hints of it in the past several weeks. Not having to struggle so much with my mental health has been a big factor in how I’ve felt overall lately, and it has been one of the main reasons I was able to take on so many things this last year.
But what’s always the most fascinating about these birthday reflections is that my intentions rarely seem to match up with the growth that actually DID happen that year. I mean, it’s good for me to set intentions and goals about things I’d like to be better at, but what’s always really interesting is to be able to look back over the year and to see where the growth really occurred most. And — spoiler alert — it’s rarely in the areas I specified.
Last year on my birthday, I could have never foreseen the CAREER growth I would have this year. Having any kind of career or job wasn’t even on my radar at all (other than just keeping up with a few of the small side hustles I’d been doing, like my photography business), but between starting our flower farm and now taking on the part-time job as senior copy editor at our local paper, I’ve been astounded at how much those experiences have and still are changing me and shaping me and teaching me all the time. Having been out of the workforce for about 5 and a half years, I had totally reshaped my identity around things other than “work.” And while I still don’t think that what a person does totally defines him or her, it HAS made an impact on how I view myself, just because I’ve now had to deal with a bunch of new situations that all pushed me out of my comfort zone in various ways, each of which has caused me to grow.
I do want to do a separate post in this next little while about some of the things I’ve learned from this first year of being a small business owner, so I won’t go into more detail here. Let’s just say that it’s definitely been a huge factor in my growth this last year and leave it at that.
For the year ahead, I’m not sure that I have any specific intentions in mind. We have been struggling to make friends and meet new people in our new town, but I’m sure that over time, that will be resolved. I would like to pick up running again in this next year too, if my back will allow it.
But maybe most of all, I just want to allow myself to remain open to new experiences and new people. I feel like the pandemic has kind of sealed us off into our own world for a long time now, and it’s definitely made me seek out new experiences and friendships less than I did before.
So there you go, my unofficial/official intention for this next year:
Stay open to whatever the future may bring.
Yep, sounds good to me 🙂