My favorite time and place to write these days is in the morning on a weekend in the backyard. It’s Monday, but it’s also Labor Day, so it still feels like the weekend and here I am, listening to the birds chirp while Neville rests in the shady grass. The wind is slightly blowing and it’s cool – perhaps a little too cool for the girl in me who wants summer to last forever.
I would prefer that this weekend didn’t end. I had Thursday and Friday off for a much-anticipated girls trip in Denver, so it’s been a long, fabulous five days where I mostly forgot about work. Except, I did see on my work phone that I have 97 emails waiting for me, so the longer this day lasts, the better.
This also happens to be the last day of my 31st year. Tomorrow I will wake up a new age and have another new start. I always love the idea of beginnings. New Year’s Day, the first of every month, and sometimes even Mondays seem exciting, because what better day to start a new goal than a Monday?
I love birthdays. I always have, and I always plan to. To be honest, it breaks my heart a little every time someone says they dread a birthday because they are getting older. I always have to wonder why they dread a day that means cake and celebration. Why dread another year of life? Growing older is such a gift that I hope to never take for granted. Plus, I’m convinced we are not truly old until we’re 90, and even that is debatable. I realize this is easy for me to say because I’m still young and my bones and muscles don’t ache, but for as long as I’m alive, I hope to remain thankful that I’m here.
Tomorrow. 32. It seems like a very ordinary number, doesn’t it? I’ve been thinking a lot about it though, this new age, and new year. I’ve never made a motto for a year, but this year I want to. And you know what that motto is?
On Saturday, my lifelong best friend and I made a somewhat spontaneous stop in Santa Fe on our way back from Denver. Jenn had heard of the spa Ten Thousand Waves in an article or television segment and had mentioned a few times that she’d love to go there someday. So, why not? We had a Saturday with zero plans other than driving, and we’d reach Santa Fe around 5 p.m. … plenty of time. When we made it to Pecos in the late afternoon and were amazed by how green it is, we set our Google Maps for Ten Thousand Waves and took a detour to the spa in the mountains.
I would love to describe to you how lovely this place is, with its Japanese influence and the pinons and conifer trees surrounding it so perfectly, but I feel like I’ve never been the best at descriptions. I’m not very good at metaphors or similes, but I can tell you the atmosphere was peaceful and relaxing, yet fun, for two best friends who just spent the weekend doing all the loud things – dancing at a Dixie Chicks concert, screaming when we (or I?) appeared on the Rockies jumbo screen, and laughing until the wee hours of the morning in our hotel room. The spa was sort of an escape from the loudness.
And one thing that neither of us have ever been able to do happened that night. We let go of some of the fears and heartache of body image as we entered a women-only hot tub where swimsuits were optional. This is kind of a big deal for women who grew up in a conservative culture where our bodies were often shamed and hidden. It’s a societal problem women all over this country face – clothed or naked – to feel we are not allowed to just “be” without strings attached to our appearance. And for just one part of one evening, none of this mattered for us and other women of all shapes, sizes, and ages. We were there beneath the trees as the sky turned pink and everything felt OK.
There are so many ways to let go, and we all hold fears and carry baggage of different things. Sometimes all of this feels like rocks in a backpack that we carry wherever we go. What I know is that I don’t want to live my life – my very short life – carrying around a bunch of rocks. I don’t want to be scared of getting older, or of strangers, or of failure. I want to come to a place where I’ve shed all the things that keep me grounded and heavy. I want my heart to be so open to people and possibility that I can’t help but feel connected to everything and everyone.
Bring on 32.