Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Musings on being 34

This past weekend I turned 34 years old. While most people past the age of 30 hope they don't feel any different the day after turning a year older, this year I'm hoping I do.

33 wasn't the easiest year of my life. After the excitement of planning a wedding and getting married in '06 and then starting a new job, working from home, and buying a new house in '07, 2008 turned out to be a year to bring me back down to earth. Primarily, it was the year of losing control of my body.

In March, as you all know by now, I subjected myself to hip surgery and the long, frustrating recovery that, while beginning swiftly and promisingly, only really started to show real results 8 months later (of course, I seem to have set that all back recently but that's a different topic.)

Then, in August I got pregnant and for 3 months turned into an entirely different person - a zombified version of my former self who could barely drag my ass off the couch, let alone be productive at work or at home.

Getting pregnant then set-off a whole stream of thoughts, a sort of stock-taking of my life: The things I had achieved, the opportunities I had passed up, the dreams I hadn't fulfilled. All of which sent me into a sort of depressed state. I can't say I was what you would call formally or clinically 'depressed' exactly but more inwardly focused and a little melancholy. I seemed to have achieved so much and yet felt such little joy and satisfaction from it. I couldn't help but focus on the things that I hadn't done and that, of course, stripped the happiness out of what I already had right in front of me. Rationally, logically, unemotionally, I know that this is all stupid and that I have so much to be grateful for but emotionally, irrationally, and illogically, I have been unable to shake the melancholy. (Not being able to perk myself up with a Friday-night martini, incidentally, hasn't helped!)

Sometimes being so self-aware and such a logical thinker is great, other times its a frustrating inner tug-of-war between emotion and reason. Outwardly I know I seem to radiate logic and rationality, black-and-white decisions and thought-processes, but this struggle is often present behind-the-scenes. I deal with the emotional internally and then I express the rational results externally. Sometimes this process takes a matter of seconds, sometimes it takes months. I'm also guessing that there are some processes that began years ago and that I'm still not expressing externally as a result. The very fact that I don't think I have articulated this very process of mine in writing or verbally to anyone before is evidence of that! (Also, probably why people think I am such an open book and yet I frequently feel that most people don't know or understand me at all.)

That mini-epiphany slash insight into my inner psyche aside, I'm heading for a whole other set of "loss of control" moments in my life as a 34 year old this year. Already I am dealing with the resurgence of hip pain caused from my yoga incident and who knows what the aftermath of birth will bring for me in terms of physical recovery (and let's not forget the weight loss!) It's no secret that I am not good at dealing with physical limitations, pain, or discomfort - and yes, I realize this is going to make me a very ornery old person (sorry Hubby) - so 2009 is going to present it's own challenges for sure.

In that, I realize that I have two options: (1) Wallow in the pain, discomfort, and loss of control or (2) Do what I can to get through it/get healthy, take each day as it comes, and enjoy the other small pleasures that are still a part of my existence every day.

Small pleasures LIKE:

  • Having the flexibility to work from home and having latitude and decision-making capability at my job.
  • Getting paid fairly well and not worrying about being laid-off or losing my health insurance.
  • Looking out my back windows or sitting on my deck, taking in our beautiful back yard at any time of day, even on a work day, after years sitting in a cubical farm with no natural light.
  • Watching my dogs play and fight with one another. Appreciating the completely unconditional joy and love they express whenever they see me. (Even if they are a pain in the ass.)
  • Having and spending time with THE WORLD'S BEST husband who is caring, thoughtful, intelligent, hard-working, fun to be around, and my very best friend.
  • Planning for the arrival of my parents who, in their early 60s, are picking up their entire existence to move to the U.S. to be closer to me and my growing family.
  • Having a healthy pregnancy and (all signs suggest so far) a healthy baby, when so many I know have gone through so much for even the chance at the same thing.
  • Reading a good book and enjoying a cup of hot-chocolate in front of the fire place.
  • Being thankful that George Bush is no longer the President (on this of all days, I couldn't resist that one.)
I'm sure there are a lot more where those came from but those are the ones that come to mind easily.

I firmly believe (and have always believed) that everything in life is a choice (whether we like the options before us or not) and that we, for the most part, are responsible for our own happiness and outcomes. (I know, how right-wing of me!) So, I need to be more than just a philosophical subscriber to that belief, I need to somehow get myself back on track to being an active participant.

So, this is my mission in my 34th year: Don't just look forward, look around. Remember that life and happiness are not destinations they are journeys. We may not always get to decide exactly what path we take but we can decide whether we enjoy ourselves along the way.


Mala said...

Happy b'day my dear! Hope you got my FB message. I wish you every success in 2009 and know it will be very special for you with the baby and your parents moving closer. Hugs!

CGBCYouth said...

Friday night I thought to myself, I'll call/email Michelle comes Saturday, and here I am, Tuesday and all. (did you hear me say "CRAAAAAAAP!"?)

Anyway, happy belated. I doubt we'll find time this week, but after I get back from Taiwan, I'll take you out for sure!

Linh and Yogi said...

Awww...the candles linger once again...hope you had a fantastic bday weekend with hubby. Even though I didn't send my wishes earlier, I was honestly thinking of you over the weekend, maybe we can join you and Joy when Joy gets back from her trip. I'm with you on the mission!!

TravelVixen said...

Thanks ladies. Sounds like a post-birthday celebration is in order when Joy returns. Maybe you guys can come over, see the nursery, and we can head out for some sushi @ Mikuni?

CGBCYouth said...

I get back on the 7th so how about the 14th? I can also do 20th day time with that sweet furlough...haha...

Linh and Yogi said...

Valentines Day sounds good but might be crowded?! Maybe not so bad for lunch? And the 20th works for me too!

e said...

Good lord. I had your birthday on my calendar and in FB, and then forgot. What the --??


And I totally get all of the above, by the way. I think that I do something similar to you, I sort through all my crap, and then share when it's all resolved. So people think I'm confident and together and focused. Not always the case.

The drawback, I'm finding, is that a whole other side of my personality has been suppressed and completely hidden from people. I'll be blogging about that in the near future, but my point is that your post resonates with me.

CGBCYouth said...

How sad...I totally forgot about V-day...(honestly...sad)

Shelly, your call!

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