Today, my sweet and beloved friends, is my 34th birthday. Yes, I am not ashamed to admit my age…not in the slightest.
And I for one can hardly believe that another year has ticked by, and here I am celebrating another journey on this grand planet as it travels around the sun. And let me tell you, this past journey around the sun was a good one. It saw new professional challenges, a trip to NYC (and a visit to the bar where I met Neal) and buying our first home together. Those were the big moments, but the past 365 days was also filled with wonderful everyday moments of laughter and fresh air.. of strong coffee and adventures in Wales… of love and wonderful magic.
I’ll admit it, ever since moving to Wales in 2012, my birthday has been an evolution of bitter-sweetness. My first birthday I found myself horribly homesick the entire day, with the not-so pretty tears constant throughout the day. Neal (bless him) had no idea what to do, so he baked me a cake and we explored castles along the North Wales coast. I remember that birthday with expat fondness, because that day of homesickness was one of few my first year of living in Wales and during that day I saw how much Neal was determined to have me love life in Wales.
My second birthday here in Wales still had me feeling homesick, but I was a (bit) better with a day outing to a country estate followed by red velvet cupcakes, Downton Abbey and champagne. (Sounds lovely, right?) I remember needing some lovely treats to off-set the small waves of homesickness I felt through the day.
Last year, I found myself celebrating my birthday quietly at work, with my lovely British co-workers afraid of giving me a crashing wave of homesickness. I was given my card and birthday treats at the very end of the day, without fan fare (at my nervous request) as I was afraid of bursting into tears at any moment.
This year, my 34th birthday is the first year that feels much more sweet than bitter, and I am finally (after three years) feeling connected and deeply rooted to my life here. All of my life. The good and bliss filled moments, along with the stress or anxiety filled moment. For me, this birthday is a major milestone that I have been waiting for sicne I moved to Wales. And I for one am excited to embrace it for all its worth.
This year, I feel like celebrating. I feel like dancing, like wearing high heels and eating cake with a glass of whisky in my other hand. I feel like laughing out loud, loving with wide open arms and popping champagne to celebrate this thing called life. Oh yes, life. Is it perfect? Hell no. Could I be better? Of course. But I want to celebrate everyday of this 365 day journey and I am ready to keep on growing.
But for this year, I want to celebrate and tackle my next journey around the sun with less guilt and hesitation. Guilt is a factor myself and many expats, struggle with. Guilt that there is not enough time off or money to make it home for long stretches at at time. Guilt that you are missing life events like holidays or weddings or welcoming babes into the world. The guilt is always there. But my heart is always with my friends and family back in America, always…without question.
This year, I also need to stop hesitating, and just go. Go for the challenge, the new passion project or the big goals. Many times I will get a crazy idea in my head, and then I pause, I rationalise…I hestiate and many times I begin to second guess myself and my capabilities. No more. This year I am leaping.
Let me tell you a little story from many years back that my Mom loves telling at family events. When I was just two or three years old, my Mom took my sister and I to the YMCA for gymanstics, the toddler program for me and a little bit more advanced for my sister (who is 18 months older than me). Somehow, I found myself standing in front of the big foam pit. As as my Mom recounts the story, she watched me measure up the pit of foam and without question (or fear) I jumped. Of course, my Mom was horrified and ran to the foam pit. But to her surprise, I was laughing my heart out.
This is the year of celebrating and leaping without hesitation.
And you know what? I hope you will join me. Yes my dear reader… you. I will be here, writing and recounting as I go, and I hope that you visit now and again to recount the victories and lessons from failures, and that we can celebrate life together. I am ready to make magic this year, and I hope you are too.