On Turning 35

It’s official. I’ve reached 35.

This is the age I imagined as a teenager that people had life all figured out and had already peaked. Well let me tell you, the view from 35 feels quite different than what I anticipated (isn’t that almost always the case with life?). I have a few things figured out, and a whole lot of gray space in the category of Things I Don’t Know. Healthy wisdom makes you realize the vastness of what you don’t understand.

Things I know at 35. I know that my body is in pretty good shape now, but who knows what tomorrow will bring. My lower back is constantly wary of me attempting radical feats like bending over to pick up a Lego. I know that our physical health is never, ever a given. My spirit and mind may feel youthful and zippy, but my body may say nope, not today. Body aches and illnesses remind us that our worth is inherent, and doesn’t rest on our ability to be functional and high-performing. But on the days my body is working well, I’m going to dance with my kids and do yoga stretches.

I know that good life partners are as necessary as water. I have a few good people who, by my lucky stars, are committed to crying and laughing through life with me. Like me, they have their blind spots and stupid moments. That’s a given. Make a pact together that you’ll tell each other the truth, always be on the same team (even if you disagree), extend large doses of grace, and be out for each other’s good.

I know that my soul needs tending. Some days I feel a surge of joy and vitality flowing through me, other days I wake up in a dismal state and all of life feels like it’s the pits. That’s the indicator that my soul needs me to listen to it. Souls are like gardens, needing regular watering and fertilizing and pruning. Souls that get ignored become grouchy. I’ve learned to be a better listener to my soul, paying attention to its usually quiet, unassuming voice. When I am anxious or hurried, that’s usually a sign that my soul needs some air time. When an inner voice says, “Maybe it would do me some good to go for a walk or go be alone or make a change today,” I know to follow that lead. Usually that inner voice leads me back to the true Voice, the creator and author. This Voice is the source of life, though I often forget that. I tend to get distracted by other things that compel me. I fill up on food and TV and social events, which end up feeling like snacks rather than a full meal. But then I somehow make my way back to the Voice that speaks my name and knows my thoughts, and there is a settling back home. It is the place of rest and contentment and security.

In my 20’s I was very much consumed with “What should I do in this life?” Now I’m a bit more of the mindset, “Who should I be in this life?” I’m working on being kind. And being courageous. And loving people better. I figure that what I do will flow out of who I am. If I’m a good person, I’ll do good things. There are about a thousand ways to measure the worth of my day – how many to-do’s I crossed off the list, how many likes I got on the internet, the number of “must read” articles I skimmed. Today I’m choosing to measure my day by how much love and kindness I extend to others.

I’m enjoying my 30’s. The day-to-day isn’t glamorous, but I’m doing what I need to be doing. Raising three kids, partnering with my husband, tending to our community, and trying to be a faithful steward of all I have. On the best days, I operate with a keen awareness of the resources at my disposal – my time, attention, words, money – and work hard to use them to serve and care for the world around me. The other day I made a big batch of chili for our family dinner, and poured in all the love I had in that moment. Did you know you can pour all your love into whatever or whoever is in front of you, even a big batch of chili?

For the record, I don’t think my life has peaked yet. It is getting richer and deeper by the year. I imagine that in this 35th year of my life I’ll venture into uncharted territory, stumble and fail, and reach heights unimagined.

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