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A Note on Process

Hiking the Welch-Dickey Loop, 2022

Well, I did it. I turned 30 last Sunday. How was it? Admittedly, I felt stalled out. So I wanted to take a moment to hold gratitude for this process, writing and the aging process itself, and think again about the intention to return, about the want for renewal and a new chapter.

When I started writing these gratitude posts at the beginning of August, I was scared but determined. I felt like I had to say goodbye to my twenties in a way that felt sanctimonious. Otherwise, I would turn 30 and continue to be 29. I was worried that if I didn’t commemorate myself, if I didn’t find a way to celebrate this milestone, I would forget myself, or else feel stuck in the past, lamenting the things that hurt without cherishing the revelry in between. I’m nothing, if not dramatic – a real sucker for gesture and feeling, so choosing to share these posts was also a way to honor the storyteller in me.

When I started writing “A Month of Gratitude,” I made a list of all the people, places, and things that I was thankful for. Perhaps overzealous, I thought I could write one post a day and, after sharing all my gratitude, start my new decade with a full heart and a clean slate. When I set that intention, I didn’t fully grasp how exhausting the process would be.

Some days, I could write a post quickly. Gratitude was literally on the tips of my fingers; I knew exactly what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it. Some days, though I felt gratitude in my heart, I was struck by hesitation when I sat down to write. I agonized over every detail, reading and re-reading and revising my words. I was dumbfounded by the sheer length of time that it took to share just one post. For several folx, it took me weeks to write something from beginning to end, and I still held my breath as I clicked “publish.” Some days I didn’t write anything. I didn’t feel like I could. I was just too tired.

Some days I would wake up feeling like this whole venture was a mistake, feeling insecure about what I shared, or otherwise vulnerable to the court of public opinion. Other days, I woke up feeling inspired, like sharing these stories was the most important thing that I’ve ever done. Most of the time, I was patient with myself and with the process. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Healing takes time. However, as my birthday loomed just days away, my stress and anxiety increased. My exhaustion caught up with me as I realized that I was not going to finish what I started by my birthday; that I was again going to fall short of the expectations that I had set for myself.

I had two reactions. First was a kind of paranoid disappointment. I had set a goal for myself and I wasn’t going to achieve it. Thankfully, the second was acceptance. Things don’t go according to plan. In fact, overwhelmingly, this has been a recurring theme in my writing: things change and expectations change with them. The more grace and space we can give ourselves to forgive and reframe our experience, to lean into the moment, the easier it is to accept the changes that disappoint us.

When my birthday came, I felt depleted. It wasn’t how I wanted to feel, but I was ready to feel it. I took the day to myself and the next day I felt more invigorated. In the days following, I felt more hopeful as my energy returned.

I wanted to say thank you to the folx who reached out over the past month. I’ve received a lot of heartfelt responses to my writing, and I value that affirmation. I needed it. Some days I really needed it, so thank you for checking in.

Writing this series has been a powerful encounter with myself, with my lineage, and with my heart. It’s been a challenge and I don’t want to stop meeting it, so I’m going to continue the gratitude blog until it’s done, until I’ve named the people, places, and things that have brought me to 30. Beginning this blog, I’ve realized, was more important than finishing it, yet I want to finish it, nonetheless. As an improviser, all I preach, live, and breathe is process. Concrete goals are important, but even more important is the flexibility needed to achieve them, the openness to change and reconsider the destination. I’m going to honor that wisdom and with this particular post I am holding gratitude for the process. I am thankful for privilege to share, to pause, and reflect. And I am thankful for the process of aging. Perhaps it is nothing more than a process of changing, changing our plans and perceptions; changing the end of I am.

I am 30. And in this moment, I am so thankful for the journey that brought me here, that continues to twist, turn, and surprise me, abundant with so much beauty and the kindness of strangers who have become family and friends. Thank you all, and here’s to another to another trip around the sun. Ready. Set. Already begun.

This post is part of a series called "A Month of Gratitude," about the people, places, and things that I am thankful for on the precipice of 30. You can read the first post here and all other posts here.

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