Today is my 30th birthday.
I have been thinking of writing this post for a long time now. I've seen other people's posts and wondered what I would say about my own growth and life. What 30 things could I share with the world. What wisdom I could pass along. What bucket list items I've checked off and which I'm more determined to get to.
But as I sit here in my hammock swing on my porch, breathing in the smell of lilacs (the only thing I have been able to keep alive in my yard), listening to my chickens peck and scratch, all I feel is a deep sense of gratitude.
Gratitude for being an adult. Yes, yes, adulting is hard. And turning 30 should be hard. But ya'll, all I can think is: I made it.
Not to age 30, necessarily. But into who I am right now.
Because I'm sitting here on this swing, completely ignoring the stacks of dishes needing to be washed, letting go of the cluttered rooms where we just keep shutting the door so we don't have to look at the mess, and remembering when our yard didn't even have grass let alone a lonely lilac bush.
I'm recalling the shame I let grow inside me for over twenty years. I'm recalling the piles of fears I carried with me. I'm recalling the messy flawed parts of myself that I would just keep shutting the door on. And I'm recalling the emptiness when I didn't even have self-love let alone gratitude.
I've got this image in my mind, of me in a white dress. I've carried it with me for as long as I can remember and I've always thought that once I had "arrived" I would be wearing this white dress. The image was usually at the beach, me smiling while the wind whipped my hair and my toes sank into the sand. I would be holding a baby on my hip and children would be swirling me searching for treasure.
It's just how I imagined myself when I was "older." It's the image of who I wished to be.
Well, this year we had a fancy dinner to attend and I bought myself a white dress. The funny thing is, I'd never even thought of buying a white dress before. (Not since my wedding day.) It was something that was just going to happen- not something I would do.
It wasn't the flowing white cotton dress in my mind, but it didn't matter, I knew. It was the white dress.
I have arrived. I am older now. I am who I whished to be.
Not because I have a white dress, but because I went out and bought one.
I haven't been to the ocean in 10 years, but I'm smiling.
I don't have my dream home, but home is a dream.
I weigh more than I ever have, but I finally love myself.
I haven't traveled the world, but my words can.
I'm not the perfect mom, but I know how to look for treasures.
And most importantly, I know how to be grateful for lilac bushes when I always thought I'd have a garden.
So Happy 30th Birthday to me.
Happy birthday to the woman who loves herself and the woman who swings open doors and deals with messes (not the house ones-those can wait).
Happy birthday to the woman who crosses things off her bucket list well before they've been accomplished, to the woman who knows what really matters and doesn't let shame make the calls.
Happy birthday to the woman who bought her own white dress.
I see you.
I see your hurt. Your frustration. The overwhelming feeling of being stuck. The lack of progression. The fear that your life, as you know it, will always be the same entwined with the fear that it will change.
I've been there.
I know what it feels like to see all the unfairness. It flares blue and pink like a baby flame.
Then a burning. A smoldering. It doesn't take much for it to turn into a fiery blaze you can't control. Flames on top of flames. Spitting and licking and burning up all the blessings you know you should be grateful for.
I know what it feels like to be hurt, and to have those who hurt you never even consider apologizing. Listen to them lecture you about being offended, about letting go. To watch them do the same ignorant and hurtful things over and over and over again. For years.
I know what it feels like to be so alone in your grief. The grief of disappointed hopes. The grief of losing the people you thought they were. The grief of witnessing your children's confusion and tears. The grief in trying to explain the inexplicable. The grief in finally seeing the truth: That we are all just human.
It hurts. Deeply. And no, it isn't fair. Yes, it's scary.
But we are strong, sister.
I still fall into the flames. The hurt, the grief. The frustration. But now I try to float above the smoke. Let the air swallow it all before I inhale it. Before I let it smolder and burn.
I hope someday you can join me. Up here above the smoke. I hope you can join me in believing that you are enough. I hope you can understand that you are the change you're searching for. I hope you can free yourself from the need of their love, the need to explain, the need of equality, and watch as the unfairness and hurt and frustration turn to ash. And all that is left to see is the love.
I hope someday the fire dies out and we can settle our feet back down in the soil together. Watch as the tender green blades of love push their way up. And with relief, feel the solid earthy assurance that we are all just human.
Maybe we will be able to rejoice in that truth rather than grieve for how it could have been. And maybe, just maybe, we can let the love we see swallow up the rest, smother the hurt filled flames.
I see you and I know. So when your words burn and are unfair and lack understanding, I'll forgive you, sister.
I'll let your words die out in the black smoke beneath me. Right where hateful words belong. And I'll wait for you.
Today I was determined to write. I've been wanting to work on this short story I'm contributing to my writing group, Word Addicts. I am so excited about this short. If I do it well, it may be one of the most important things I will have written to date.
If I can get it written.
I sat down to write last night and then someone got out of bed.
I sat down to write this morning and then the kids started fighting.
I sat down to write this afternoon and the baby started crying.
I sat down to write this evening and was so anxious about being interrupted that I just couldn't focus.
So here I am, leaking thoughts instead.
This is pretty normal for us moms, I think we expect to be interrupted constantly but knowing that doesn't make it any less frustrating. Our work follows us around with tiny footsteps and endless needs which makes working on anything else, especially ourselves and our own goals, feel impossible.
I'm so tempted to give up sometimes. I'm so tempted to say: "this isn't going to happen right now in your life. Your kids need you and that's all you can give. You're maxed out."
I'm so so tempted to raise the white flag and surrender my dreams to "someday."
But I won't.
Several years ago I was called to be the Young Woman's President in our ward. I would be in charge of this youth program of almost 40 young women with the help of several other amazing women. I was the youngest, least experienced, and most definitely the least qualified.
I was expressing my anxiety about this new responsibility to my mom and she gave me some advice that I clung to and still do. She said: "Amy, just show up. Some people don't even do that. Just show up and do your best and it will be enough."
I wasn't perfect, I made many many mistakes. But I continued to show up. And because I did, I was so so blessed!
I'm reminded today of that same advice: Just show up.
Especially through the years dealing with anxiety I've found that these two words, show up, are pretty powerful. They give me something to focus on, to calm the onslaught of worries and what ifs. Those can be dealt with when they arise, for now just SHOW UP.
This has helped me get to meetings, workout classes, social events, and more. And 98% of the time, once I get there, once I "just show up" I'm so grateful I did!
Now I can't claim to be perfect at following my own advice all of the time. I've missed meetings and workouts and social events a plenty. I've had too many days to count when I didn't show up for my family.
But most often, I don't show up for myself. All too often I show up for everyone else but me.
But with some grace, I try again.
So even if I'm interrupted endlessly, Even if it feels impossible to focus or accomplish anything other than keeping children alive, I'm going to keep showing up.
I'm going to show up for my family.
And I'm going to show up for myself. My dreams. My goals.
And with some grace, patience, and a whole lot of showing up I will get this story written!
Hi! I'm Amy
I am a Christian wife and mother, a writer, and a recovering perfectionist who is tired of chasing happiness in all the wrong ways. I am now on a journey to find a deeper state of being. Join me on My Peace Project and we'll learn how to survive the chaos together!