Sunday, November 23, 2014

30 New Things

17 days ago I turned 30. Wow. Even I can't believe it. I definitely don't feel 30. Though I'm not sure what that's supposed to feel like. All I know is, that I'm incredibly glad and grateful to be out of my 20s.

I learned a lot during that gut wrenching ("soul-sucking"), life altering, tumultuous decade and I am truly grateful for all that it taught me. However, it is about damn time that my "real" age caught up to my "soul's" age. Anyone who's known me for longer than 5 minutes knows I'm an old soul. And I wear that label proudly. Most people in their 20s give me a headache. I was fortunate enough to not suffer with the delusion that I was awesome, infallible, and invincible for too long. Chronic illness and pain will slap those delusions right out of you in an instant.

While my 20s were anything but predictable and "normal" I was able to experience a wealth of situations and opportunities that I know will guide and inform me as I move into this next phase of life. Do I think that things will be dramatically different in my 30s? Probably not. Will I still have really bad days with lots of pain and fatigue? Probably so. Will everything in my world become "magically delicious" just because I'm 30 and not 29? Absolutely not. But I do have a deeper wisdom, understanding and appreciate for things and people I know I took for granted in the past. And I also have a greater awareness and acceptance of the things I can control and the things I can't. And with this wisdom, I hope to inspire, motivate and encourage others to embrace their life with illness and make the most of it, feeling proud and happy that their lives matter just as much (if not more) than everyone else's.

That is the major difference between the journey of my illness in my 20s and the journey I am on in my 30s. At 22 I was unexpectedly thrust onto the road less travelled by and had no choice but to cope with and manage chronic pain and invisible illness. It was all about me. Sure, I reached out to others and tried to find support, but only in an effort to understand myself better. At 30, I intend to choose the road I walk down (I'm sure there will be potholes, speedbumps, cracks and more) and share my experiences with others so that they can understand themselves better. So that they can live life with a little less fear, a little less hesitation and a little more control.
To celebrate my 30th birthday, I embarked on a 30 day challenge. Try 30 new things for 30 days. I'm pretty sure I did more than 30 and I had a blast doing it and even though those 30 days were also fraught with anxiety (as I awaited the diagnoses of possibly another life-altering condition), I embraced what life had to offer and the uncertainty of the next 30 years. (You're never too old to try something/learn something new)

Here's a look at the 30 things I tried:

Photo Gallery by
1. Modeling
2. Doing model's make-up
3. Mercer Arboretum w/Lupe
4. New brunch place: District 7 (yum)
5. New lunch place: Low Brow (yuck)
6. Italian Soda
7. World Market Shopping
8. New candle scents (mmm)
9. Hot lemon water (mmmm hmmm)
10. New shrimp recipe (delish)
11. New coffee drink at Boomtown (yes)
12. New job title: Director of Learning Strategies and Design (pay raise!)
13. New book: Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett
14. New dessert Recipe: Apple upside down cake (not bad, not the best)
15. New outfit from Target (of course!)
16. New dinner place Black Co op in Austin (yum)
17. Meeting new friends (Amy and Rob Crowl- LOVE YOU!)
18. New tapioca drink flavor- passion fruit (tart but tasty)
19. New lesson w/ESL students (so much fun)
20. New reading and writing habit (...not as successful as I'd hoped, but still working on it!)
21. New coffee shop- Blacksmith, good drinks, bad food.
22. Finger looks like "new"- scabs came off, healed completely! (win for me!)
23. New look on my website and blog
24. Saw the lunar eclipse for the first time
25. New music- Ed Sheeran (best. choice. ever.)
26. Learned something new: creating your brand (still working on it!)
27. New dessert place: Ooo la la Bakery (mmhmmm)
28. Art Opening - read poetry, found out about Spring St. Studios (awesome space!)
29. New brunch place 2: Cook & Collins w/bestie and her beaux
30. New doctor- pulmonologist (not. fun.)

A few other "new things"- bought a pumpkin for the first time, that we still haven't carved. read some new poetry for high schoolers at UH, got a new driver's license, went to South Padre Island for the first time, attended my first ever Jewish wedding ceremony, visited a new bookstore and gelato place, ate a new flavor of cheescake, went to a RAW artist show in Houston, and made homemade Halloween decorations for the first time.

It was a fun, eventful, interesting and rewarding experience. I value learning and trying new things and I want to be sure I do it more often. Some new experiences (like new tests and procedures) are scary and nerve wrecking while others are fun and exciting. Regardless of what life throws at me or what I choose to do, like I tell my husband when we get lost on the road: "It's an adventure!" (He always rolls his eyes) So let's see where this road will take us.

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