Thank you for the lessons – there were many. Thank you for the grace – it was hard won. Thank you for the sea change in my heart – it was painful, but it was worth it.
February 6, 2021. Twenty-eight, today I say goodbye to you and I welcome my twenty-ninth year on this Earth. It’s supposed to be cold and snowy. My birthdays seem to always be very cold and either snowy or clear skies. Fitting, for I love the stillness of winter.
I have been reflecting on this twenty-eighth year of my life, and it makes me emotional. You were the most beautiful, challenging, heart-breaking, bang-your-head-against-the-wall frustrating, surprising, transformative year – perhaps of my whole life. At twenty-eight my health improved in a way that will change the trajectory of my life. At twenty-eight I got a handle on a lifelong struggle with anxiety and depression. At twenty-eight I became a mother. At twenty-eight I became me.
I discovered that motherhood actually does suit me, I learned that I could trust my gut and my intentions, I left a job that left me empty for one that fills me up an reinforces my purpose, and I unearthed and polished a great love for plants and herbalism – something that feels as though it has always been there waiting for me to find it.
I made friends who connect with my soul and know my heart. I made friends easily. I made friends confidently. I learned that I am worth knowing, and I learned that letting people in cracks open my heart in the very best way.
I didn’t become a new person; I became my truest self. Twenty-eight, you’ve been a few years in the making. But the funny thing is, you feel so much like eight. Allowing me to dream, laughing freely, crying without shame, foregoing the makeup, going days without brushing my hair and not giving a damn, wearing clothes that are comfortable rather than clothes that project a persona, marveling at a butterfly, playing in the dirt and planting seeds, sitting in the prairie and letting it soothe my heart, doing things that make me feel like me.
My twenty-eighth year held two Friday-the-13ths, a Blue Moon on Halloween, the birth of my children under the Harvest Moon, and the conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter to reveal the ‘North Star’ the week of the Christmas holiday; The worst global pandemic in 100 years, unrelenting wildfires all across the Western United States, and historic lows for a sitting POTUS; and, I had a dream, I shit you not, that Taylor Swift was going to release a second chapter album after Folklore (I did not foresee the third and fourth though, damn you, Taylor) and be named an Artist of the Year. Both happened the very next day. Riddle me that. So, twenty-eight, you were weird and awful in many ways, but you were wonderful.
Twenty-eight, you rattled me awake to some of the most cruel and undeniable instances of racism, white supremacy, and police brutality; but also, to the daily, under-the-radar kind of racism, that causes death by a thousand cuts. I became acutely aware of and informed about the most fucked up systems of oppression that have existed in this country for four-hundred years, and of which I am an unwitting beneficiary. I accepted these truths and vowed to help right the tipped ship of my unearned privilege – afforded to me simply because of the lack of melanin in my skin.
I grappled with constant crashing waves of guilt, self-directed anger, confusion, loss, sadness, and hopelessness. And when the storm inside me calmed and the waves finally retreated to the sea, I found gratitude, patience, and resolve in the battered sand.
It’s funny, you were a year that brought so much pain and confusion, yet I have never felt more myself or more comfortable in my own skin. I learned, at age twenty-eight, that it’s not only possible for anguish and elation to exist inside one body at the same time, but that it’s a gift to allow both to thrive simultaneously. It’s honoring oneself in one’s truest and most authentic form. Many of my summertime mornings and evenings, before and after the heat of the day, with my little twin fetuses kicking around in my swollen belly, were spent lovingly pulling weeds, tending my herb and vegetable garden; this is where I allowed my heart to feel all its emotions at once without judgement or resistance. My hands worked the dirt while my mind determinedly tried to untangle the knot of questions – new ones surfacing each day.
Twenty-eight, you brought my husband and me closer than the year before or the year before that. We became parents; we laughed daily; we danced in the kitchen; we fought; we learned how to communicate under intense stress and exhaustion. We marveled at each other; we noticed the small moments that brought each of us joy; we listened to each other; we learned to let go.
A year holds so much that I cannot possibly write it all down. But I tried to capture as many of the big and small moments in my journal, and I am trying to get them here on this page. Undoubtedly, I have failed at that, just as I have failed at so many things over the last 365 days. Above all, I think you, my twenty-eighth year on this Earth, were defined by failure. The kind that births growth and understanding. Thank you.
Photo credit to the fabulous Brittyn Elizabeth Studios | .brittynelizabethstudios.com