Today I turn 35 years old. And, to celebrate one helluva trip around the sun over the past year (think 180 degrees of reinventing myself & taking back control of my own happiness), I’m dusting off the virtual pen-pad… yep, it’s time to start writing again.
Before jumping straight into life as it is right now (looking down the barrel of a beautiful milestone) I thought it’d be good to look back at the past year. Because, man alive, it’s been one crazy, beautiful, BIG year.
This time last year, I was celebrating turning 34 in Istanbul, Turkey – exploring the sites & sounds of a culture where historic meets modern, & east meets west. Looking for depth of connection in a land that was very foreign to me. Travel is an innate part of my being, so giving into the moment & experiencing a beautiful people, under a harsh sun was an amazing and, at times, otherworldly start to a new year on the planet.
Wandering the streets of Istanbul, shopping in the Grand Bazaar, & wading underground in ancient cisterns blew my mind apart in a beautifully explosive way. I was blessed to head to Gallipoli to pay tribute to ANZAC soldiers (alongside their Turkish peers) 100 years after the Great War. And, spent a week on the Lycian Coast – swimming in the Med, eating amazing food, & making memories to last a lifetime. What a mind-bender that trip was! Each moment served as a reminder of how short, & how full a life could be when truly lived.
Fast forward one year. Everything – & I mean everything, has changed. My outlook. My friendship circle. My family. My wardrobe. My home. My passions. My balance. Everything. And, since we all know change is hard for even those with the most positive outlook amongst us – the past 365 days have been, at times, beyond hard. The good news? It’s all good news… but it takes time to get to that point.
Which brings me to now: After an amazing night in West Hollywood with new friends (not to mention a most serendipitous meeting with an old friend)… the world couldn’t seem more right. Cocktails, laughter, & starlit kisses are the ideal way to ring in a birthday!
Now cruising the I-15 to Las Vegas, a giant Diet Dr Pepper is well in hand & ice cold. My soulmate is riding shotgun. We’re both singing loudly (& gorgeously off key) to our holiday playlist. And, the road ahead is clear. My only goal for the next 72 hours is to enjoy friends, pools, shopping, & my beloved. Zero stress. All relax.
See? 180 degrees.
So… with 180 degree turns in mind, I’ve been asking myself one question lately: “What have I learned in the past year?” My head and my heart have the same answer: A lot. I’ve learned a lot. Distilling down “a lot” into some actionable & shareable points has been a practice in frustration, in focusing on what’s important, & in filtering what’s not.
Here are a few of the most important lessons the last year has taught (or, re-taught) me…
ACTIVELY PURSUE YOUR HAPPINESS
Seriously – this is one all of us need to work on. There will always be work, taxes, mortgages… adulting is hard. Very, hard! And, being happy in today’s ever connected world takes work & the ability to embrace fun moments when they come. I for one can attest to the fact that making changes – even if they’re for the better – can be the most difficult thing you’ll ever do. We all get comfortable with the same ‘ol, same ‘ol. Even the thought of change can be terrifying. But, actively making decisions that lead to happiness means you get to take back control of you.
And, at times baby steps are the better than sprinting. Because, if you’re missing your “Happy”, then you’re not truly living. Let’s be realistic, with high-highs come low-lows… hang on tight & enjoy the bumpy ride.
The harder you push, & the higher you prioritize happiness, the bigger the positive impact. The more the laughter. And the lighter the soul. Go on, chase your joy!
GET COMFORTABLE WITH FAILURE
This is one I’ve really fought against & wrestled with this year. Failure has always walked beside me, sometimes we even run hand in hand together – but usually failure has lead me to success after readjustments & hard work to reach a goal. Not so these past 365 days.
Failure & I have been in each other’s faces, beds, minds, & hearts. You could say, we’re new-age-besties. And, although I fought my bestie & actively ran from failure… we’re cool with each other now.
Because, when it comes down to it, accepting failure – sometimes over & over & over again – means you’re able to realistically set expectations. And, in turn, find joy & sunlight in even the darkest moments.
Also, this isn’t to say there weren’t any moments to celebrate in the last year in my life. In fact, along with the low-lows, I’ve experienced the highest-of-highs. I’ve embraced moments of pure love, gentle comfort, & overwhelming success.
So, while I’m much more comfortable with failure now… I try to never lose sight of the fact that sweating the small (or big) stuff helps only to fan the flames of failure. Looking out for moments of thankfulness & celebrating all successes make for a life well lived.
IT’S TOTALLY OKAY TO CRY
This goes without saying – because believe me, spending an entire week listening to Adele on repeat isn’t just good for healing the soul, but also for drying out ye olde tear ducts. There were times when I thought my entire body might run dry from crying.
And, it wasn’t until I embraced the fact that it was okay to mourn change – that I allowed myself to heal. The old saying about salt water curing anything is true – tears & the ocean can act as salve for a troubled soul.
Having a strong group of friends & loved ones around to cry with also helps. There’s more strength in crying & showing emotion than there is weakness. And sharing your broken pieces with those who love you best only helps to strengthen the seams where they’ve split.
For me, I was lucky to find someone who loves me wholly, unapologetically, & without bounds – all at a time when I wasn’t sure I was even a little bit lovable. Crying has never been seen as weak with my One, merely a moment to “feel” & then move forward.
So, if those tears start falling, let them.
BE YOU, All OF YOU
Seriously, this is a big one. For me, it’s the biggest piece of advice I could ever hope to impart on anyone. Being anything other than who you are is shithouse. People are going to talk. They’re going to judge. They’re going to be small-minded & hardhearted. But, you know what? Who honestly gives a flying f*%k? Not me. Not anymore.
Heading back to that 180 turn for me, this year taught me who & what really matter in my universe. I’ve learned that love is simple if you’re honest about it. I’ve also learned that the haters can be pushed aside as dead weight in your emotional works. Because, the people who love you tend to love you more when you’re completely open & honest about who you are & what you believe in.
So what does this next year have in store? If it continues as it’s started, there will be adventures, laughter, music, sunshine, rainbows, friends, family, music & love. Talk about a year to look forward to!