Tomorrow I turn 30. Now, I have many friends that have blazed this trail before me, and to be quite honest, I am not so affected by this new chapter in my life as some. Many times in the past week I've even forgotten that this day was creeping closer, even though this time last year I was much more aware of my age.
I remember my 10th birthday party, planning a sleepover with my mama. It was my first birthday after moving to Florida in 1991, and I was so excited to have so many friends to invite- and to my first BIG sleepover! 10 friends since I was turning 10. I can still hear my mama's voice telling me that 10 was special, and asking me how I wanted to celebrate. It was the first time I had friends of a different race (mainly because with my hometown being so white there were few options!) and my friend Jeannie dared my sister, then 17 and oh-so willing to be cool in front of my adoring gal-pals, to eat a raw egg, and she did it.
I'm pretty sure she still regrets it, too.
Neal gave me a giant roll of chocolate chip cookie dough, tied with a pink bow and left for me in the freezer- a nod even then to the lengths he'd go to care for me in the name of loving my sister, and later me. (and Neal, if you ever read this.... I've had to pee since Georgia. And I don't NOT love you, even now.)
I don't remember much about my gifts that year, only how many friends I had and how relieved I was, since I'd been so certain the move to Florida would be the end of my budding 4th-grade social life.
The next 10 years brought: boys, family drama, boys, losing weight, boys..... Boys got me into so much trouble! I spent my teens misbehaving, testing limits, as many teens will do in search of themselves (and boy do I wish I could go back and tell my 15 year old self that, darling girl, you'll not have even found yourself by the time you double your age, but you will, at least be closer. So slow down... and have faith.) and when I turned 20, I was so very NOT self aware, so very interested in trying hard to play yet another role I'd cast myself in that I took no time for reflection and instead forged ahead blindly into a relationship I knew was bad for me. I let school slide, I got comfortable earning meager wages as a receptionist, seduced by my name on the office door, and imagined myself to be a big girl.
In my 20's I: got my own apartment, which I dearly loved, I attended UF and graduated, I worked at Barr, at GHFC, at the Baughman Center, at Re/Max, at the Athletic Association. I chose event planning and tourism for a career. I moved away for work.... I moved back for love. (which has worked out, by the way!) I got married, I traveled, I made friends, I threw parties. I started writing, and realized how much I dearly love it and that it is the thing that I do that makes me happiest; it's the answer to any career or aptitude test I may take. I. Must. Write. I changed my mind about having children. (that's right, there was a time when I didn't want babies.) but I realized I made that decision based on my observations of others with their children, and that mamahood could be what I made of it, so I embraced the unknown like I've never done before and there are no words for the amount of gratitude I feel for my precious darlin' Millie.
I enter my 30's with a new job at the UF Foundation that I'm still trying to figure out. I am one step closer to realizing my dream of becoming a full time writer, as I am now blogging twice a week for Visit South and hope to find more opportunities like it. I'm going back to school to get a masters' degree next summer when I will qualify for employee tuition waivers.
As I enter my 30's, I do not have my best haircut. I have not taken care of my skin the way I wanted to. I eat terribly, and while during my GHFC days I worked out 6 days a week, 2 with a trainer, I have not maintained that level of activity. I am at my unhealthiest. This is my biggest regret, and I am having harsh words with myself over the years that have passed where I've told myself, one day I will simply outgrow my inability to make healthy choices. One day I will just wake up and the resolve will be there. That day has not come and I am faced with the cruel reality that all the careful steps I have taken to ensure my life is full of friends and family and future successes to enjoy, I have ceased to preserve my own health- I give of myself to so many endeavors, but it is a lesser self for this reason- I have not sought out wellness.
This is the change I promise to myself in my 30's. I promise myself the birthday gift of better health.
Fingers crossed I have outgrown my habit of being an Indian giver. :)