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cupcakes-4 I’ve been wanting to write this post, no, more like I’ve started to write this post and then stopped many times over in the last week and a half since my birthday. Sometimes my finger flicks a few keys and shortly after I have a mumbling mess on my screen. Or the way it’s most often happened, I sit to write, look at the blank screen and then feel sad. So I stop. I take a deep breath, stand up and walk away, because well, that’s the easier thing to do. It’s the happier thing. And I like happy. I go and hug my kids, or clean the kitchen counter again, or fold the laundry, or help Aliyah brush her doll’s hair… Because that’s what we do, right? We do what makes us feel better for the moment. We fill our time with things that take our mind off of the raw, away from the sad face we’re trying to turn around. But I still had this urge to write, a craving really.

I’m an eternal optimist, and I’m learning how to slow down when the painful moments come, because they do, and find a way to see the beauty, to see the importance that even their more muted colors have on my canvas. When things like anxiety or frustration or sadness come, I want to hurl them far from me like an Olympian competing for the gold. But just as all artists find, ignoring the colors we don’t like and leaving only the few favorites will eventually lead to an incomplete work of art. There is importance in what some would perceive as even the ugliest of colors, and beauty in the most uncomfortable moments. Hiding feelings under busyness and trying to stash them away under piles of toys and activities… just means that they’re still there waiting for a quiet moment so they can resurface. And so I’ll first let a few drops of their ink splash between my own my vibrant colors before I pitch them.

Hitting milestones always paves the way to self-reflection and evaluation for me, and taking time to write it is like a really great jam session for a musician. I’m getting this out there, I’m writing it out… No stopping this time, no backspace button, no delete key. It’s therapy.

So friends, thank you in advance for being my therapist tonight. I’ll just picture you with a calm face and smug body position while I lay back and get comfortable on the chaise behind a veil of tears. Ready? Okay good, ’cause here goes.

I’m twenty nine. That in itself isn’t a big deal, after all, it’s just a number. Birthdays are the happy stars on the calendar that we wait all year for, with dreams of cupcakes and sprinkles, friends and glitter, music and games. This year, it feels different. Oh, we’ve celebrated all right, because to me, there’s no greater reason to celebrate than to dance and laugh and love around the very beginning of life. But the sprinkles and glitter thing? I’m not feeling it as much.

Though I’m still an entire year, a full 365 days away from my third decade of life on the big beautiful planet and under the vast blue sky that covers us all, that is the number I keep thinking of. But this is still less about the birthday and more about the past year.

Looking back… If I could sum up this past year in a word, it would be hard.

Please hear me, I know I’m blessed. I’m so grateful for a healthy, whole, loving family. So thankful for a life that is free from true hurt and hunger. And I write not for sympathy or to belittle real hardships, but only to weave my feelings into a tapestry of words and through it, all the small things… like hugging my kids and brushing doll hair, will be even more beautiful.

With a move out of state just after my last birthday, a move I was very excited about, began a whole different life for us. A year of marvelously high ups and a few equally un-lovely downs. From the elation of I’m pregnant, through the first trimester and back home to celebrate with friends and family, to the low of my water broke and with me in the mess of pajamas on my parents bathroom floor is our sweet, tiny one-and-a-half inch baby to say goodbye to. From the excitement of the first day of kindergarten, and new traditions like first day of school breakfasts and the teacher gift we made together to the realization after drop off of I really wish I had a friend here that’s been through this, that would call and say, “We’re meeting for coffee because as great as this is, it also kinda sucks.  From the enthusiasm that comes with knowing we’re here to do something good, that we’re here to help people, to the stress of oh God, this is hard… People are relying on me and I’m not all that. 

I sit up and now lean forward in the chaise lounge, wiping tears as I catch a breath from talking passionately in this session, and I know that I don’t have to be all that. I don’t have to compare. I don’t need someone to tell me it’s going to be okay (even though it’s nice to hear). I know my future will always be brighter than a momentary dull color, even if it’s only because of the decision I’m making that it will be. It doesn’t matter what the middle looks like while getting there, sometimes an unfinished masterpiece is just that… unfinished. And I have a long way to go. And the best part? Most of it will be my absolute favorite, exquisite colors. Sometime life is hard. Sometimes it’s unlovely. But mostly, it’s amazing.

Therapy session over.

“You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one.”

I think it’s time to start this next chapter with stroke of beautiful color, a couple of birthday happies and my two sweet little loves.