This is my belated birthday to me post. It's already nearly 7 months late. We shall see how many more days pass before I hit the "publish" button. But, I digress...
Roughly 6 months ago I began the last year of my 20's. That I was standing on such a steep precipice never dawned on me until I heard friends discussing the anxiety they experienced upon turning 29 and how much scarier 29 seemed than 30. Because we all know you're officially old when you hit 30, right? So 29 is your last chance to be young while at every moment feeling 30 breathing down your neck. Or something like that.
At any rate, it got me thinking about some dramatic changes that have taken place in my life over the past year. And really, it's been the past 19 months, but the ripple effect of these changes has been dramatic. These changes have also been intensely personal, so please read this post as an accounting of my own life and not a blueprint to be handed to others concerning their lives.
About 19 months ago I was very pregnant with Shields Lee and began to face the reality of once again laboring and delivering a baby. About this time, I began to think about labor and delivery a little differently than I had with Levi, and I could not get away from some questions.
What if I stopped viewing labor as a horror to be avoided and started viewing it as a rite of passage? What if labor could be the means to not just a beautiful baby, but a beautifully stronger me?
Ok, for those of you squirming at where this might be going, let me say this is not a birth story post. I will skip that part and just tell you Shields Lee was born, and I didn't have any pain medicine. And it was awesome. I spent the next five weeks in a stupor, partially because I had a newborn, and partially because I had brought that newborn into the world without any medicine to control the pain.
And then we packed up our lives and moved to PA. As I began to figure out what life looked like with two children while living in someone else's space, I realized I also had some baby weight that I wanted to lose. I wanted to lose it safely and healthfully, but also efficiently.
Also, I had looming in the not-too-distant future the prospect of donning a strapless gown and walking down the aisle as my sister's matron-of-honor. With these ideas in mind, I asked myself, "What if I could look good at Katherine's wedding? Not good for someone who has a baby, but just good, period?"
So I started counting calories and exercising regularly. I got a double stroller and walked as much as I could (which made me terribly miss my St. Louis urban neighborhood where I could walk and bike to so many great places). After I had gotten into the walking-with-stroller routine, I had the chance one day to go on a walk all by myself. After weeks of pushing 50 pounds in the stroller, it felt a little boring to walk with no resistance. So, I started jogging. And kept jogging. And somewhere in the jog I thought, "Why am I doing this? I am not a runner?! Running is HARD!" But then I remembered that I had a baby without medicine, so certainly I could jog another mile. And I did.
From then on, the past year has turned into one of asking myself to do difficult things. Not to do them perfectly, but to try them. Now I am far less inclined to say that I can't do something. I can do more than I think, and I am capable of more than I previously realized.
Earlier this month, I ran my first ever 5k.When I finished, I got a medal - not because I won something, but because I finished. You know what? I am proud of that medal and what it represents for this heretofore reluctant runner.
This photo is really blurry, but you get the point. Me - covered in foam and mud - wearing my medal. Proudly.
And now that I am less than six months away from 30, I am filled with more questions. What if my 30's could be even more exciting than my 20's? What if I conquer more fears in the next decade than I did in the last? What if this is just the beginning?
I don't know the answers to those questions, but I am excited for what I discover.