A Trip Around the Sun and a New Moon in Gemini
Today I turned 37. I’m now officially in my late thirties and I know I shouldn’t be happy to be nearer to 40, but I am. Aging has given me the gift of coming back home to myself. Each year brings me closer to embracing the true self which I, like so many other peculiar people, spent my teens through early 30s loathing and rejecting.
In a country that loves to put on a show of false perfection and incessant giddiness, that relishes in performative happiness, to be openly imperfect is practically sinful. So here I am, admitting to the world, that I am annoyingly inpatient, critical, difficult to please, sensitive, moody, easily distracted, restless, awkward, controlling and hot tempered. I accept these flaws while striving to be better because in spite of them, I love who I am and who I’m becoming.
This imperfect and frustrating being is also intelligent, driven, talented, resilient, strong, passionate, intuitive, compassionate, inquisitive, and adventurous. I am relentless in my pursuit of joy, beauty, and love. I make shit happen and take responsibility for my life. I am increasingly willing to risk failure and getting hurt because doing so means I am stepping outside of my comfort zone and reaching for greater things. Insofar as there is growth, there is hope and possibility.
Thirty-six in was a year of extraordinary change and transformation. In February, I wrote about the passing of my father and the dissolution of my relationship. That was before COVID-19, before the passing of my grandmother, and before the reckoning of racism and police brutality in this country. It has been a year like no other for most of us.
On top of all the pain and loss endured, on top of all the societal and political drama, 36 was fucking extraordinary. Since I tend to be self-critical and focus on the ways in which I fall short, I am taking this opportunity to acknowledge everything I learned and achieved this past year.
I bought a house in San Diego on my own, something I thought impossible up until December when I first asked myself, why is it impossible?, is that really true? and eventually, what would it take to make it possible? My new home has nearly everything I envisioned: plenty of light and space, two stories, wood floors, a fireplace, an open kitchen, and a backyard with fruit trees and a pergola to chill under sparkly stringed lights. I purchased the house with the help of two sisters who hustle to empower themselves and other women on a path toward personal and financial freedom. Working with these brilliant, kind, and ambitious women felt destined. Thank you, Hannah and Savanna!
I sold my condo, the first home I purchased and created for myself, a place that brought me healing, stability, growth, and a sense of security after my divorce. I had to sell the condo in order to buy the house, and parting with it was more emotional and difficult than I could have imagined. I miss that wonderful place that was my sanctuary for nearly five years and the neighbors that filled the courtyard with laughter and joy. But sometimes we need to let go of things (even people) we love in order to continue progressing and achieving our goals. We can’t stay behind just because it feels safe and familiar. We must move forward into the unknown.
I applied to a PhD program at the University of San Diego in Leadership Studies and was offered admission. I start graduate school this fall while working full time with a mix of excitement and dread. I know this new chapter will demand many sacrifices that others may not understand or appreciate. I’m not looking forward to the stress and the sleepless nights. But I am inspired by the thing I most want to study and cultivate: brave feminine leaders. I considered a PhD for many years and it didn’t feel right until now. I’m grateful to those mentors and colleagues who encouraged me.
Luna -- my smart, sassy and sweet Belgian Malinois -- came into my life unexpectedly at just the right time. She has shown me how joyful it can be to love unconditionally, even when I have to clean her poop, even after she’s destroyed a favorite shoe or plant. I adore this fur baby with the purest of heart. Just thinking of her makes me smile.
I published my first story, a short memoir piece about my stepfather, and participated in my first book reading, which only my younger sister attended, neither of which killed me or sent me into a downward spiral of shame or remorse. I didn’t expect that my story would be selected; I just wanted to write it and release it into the world so that I could move on. I’ve always dreamed of being a published author, and now technically, I am.
I completed the Courageous Living Coaching Certification Program, along with 60 hours of life coaching, registered my business, and launched my website. I still struggle with self-promotion and the critical voice in my head that says, You have nothing to offer people…. You’re still figuring out your own life…. Why would anyone want to hire you as a coach? The truth is that coaching has nothing to do with me or my experience; I don’t give people advice or tell them what to do. People innately know who they are, what they want, and what is getting in the way. Sometimes they just need a little support, encouragement, and accountability to realize and accept the action required. I ask questions that help people self-analyze and reflect back what they share in ways that shed light. These are two of my strengths. Whether or not it becomes a profitable business, coaching gives my life meaning.
I got my first tattoo, a beautiful cap sleeve with wild roses and peonies designed after vintage botanical prints. I always swore I would never get a tattoo (never say never) until I saw a woman at a coffee shop with a feminine full sleeve covered in colorful flowers and felt a ping of envy. Quick tip: anything that makes you feel envy is a sign of something you want that you currently don’t have. It’s not always literal so you have to dig deeper. The tattoo, intentionally placed on my most hated body part, makes me feel bold and beautiful. It also serves as a reminder that who we are and what we want is constantly changing.
I completed the Harvard Negotiation Institute, a short but transformative experience. I started the course feeling like an imposter in a room full of confident lawyers and corporate brokers. For the first two days I sat in the back and didn't engage in class discussions. I felt ashamed of my early negotiated deals, which often came back less than others in the class. I’d rush back to my Airbnb, skipping the social hours and feeling like a complete loser. The training culminated in a large, multi-party negotiation with competing interests and entrenched agendas. Noticing that one of the parties was secretly trying to sabotage and kill the deal, I approached the deal as a mediator. Using conflict resolution techniques, I helped the parties see the bigger picture and how they could all benefit, ultimately reaching an agreement just seconds before the deadline. I realized that although I'm not a hard bargainer, I'm a principled negotiator and a consensus builder. Most of the time, the art of negotiation is about having the audacity to ask for what you want, no fancy skills required.
I finally took a lesson in paddleboarding, something I talked about doing for YEARS, and taught myself Ukulele on the gorgeous little instrument I purchased in Hawaii. These achievements are relatively insignificant, but they matter to me because I didn’t let the fear of judgment or failure stop me (as they have in the past). These firsts remind me to stop waiting for “someday” to do the things I want to do, because someday may never come. Ultimately if we don’t pursue what we want, that’s on us. We are always in choice. The barriers and challenges will never go away and there’s no guarantee that we’ll be able to surpass them, but by trying we at least give ourselves the chance to succeed. The process is more important than the outcome anyway.
Although COVID-19 has curtailed my movement, I traveled and went on many adventures, including weekends in nature with friends, a cruise to the Bahamas last summer, and an epic adventure in Maui, where incidentally I first dreamed of Luna (which at the time I thought was a child, not a puppy). I’m currently writing this blog from a cabin in Lake Tahoe while remote working, something that wasn’t possible before the pandemic. Life gives us opportunities every single day, and we can either choose to seize them or let them pass. The key is having the self-awareness to notice them and the courage to say yes.
Perhaps the greatest lesson of all this past year was realizing that I have everything within myself to be happy. I’ve heard it said many times but I didn’t believe it until I actually felt the well of joy and creativity within me.
As I enter another sun cycle in a new home with a new pup, about to embark on new PhD journey, I feel uneasy and unsettled. But I trust that my family and friends will be my anchors and support me. I trust that the universe will be my guide and the Creator will protect me. And when all else fails, I trust that nature and music will fuel my soul and lift my spirits.
This is 37. You’ve done good, girl, you’ve done good. Let's start a new chapter.