[Photo of my mom and I parasailing in the USVI-November 2011]
Here I am, sitting in my living room, on the last night I will spend in the decade of my twenties. I have a little girl who will be entering her double digits in 2 months, a husband that I can’t get enough of, a dog I adore and a life that although isn’t always easy is being built and is everything I ever hoped for and so much more. I don’t know what lies ahead for me but I know that I will be a better person because of every step of the journey. I will do my best to enjoy all the small moments that will make up the “riches” of my life when I later reflect back and I will always try to live in the present instead of dwelling in the past or pining over the future.
My twenties taught me so much about life in the best and worst of ways. I was given an unexpected life and became “mama” to an incredible little girl who continues to amaze and inspire me every day. I lost a best friend tragically and miss him every day. I was married and went through an excruciating divorce that caused me to hit rock bottom and soar to new heights. I learned how strong I truly am and how to depend on myself and find happiness and confidence in myself instead of someone else. I learned how to be ok, even GREAT, all on my own. This is a valuable lesson that I am thankful for every single day of my life. I was diagnosed with cancer again, and then again. I found myself in the midst of struggling to “do it all”. Work too much, play too much, be a friend, be a mom, be a daughter…and I found it to be impossible and that it was ok to say no and admit that I needed help. I learned to open myself again to life and love.
I have learned that for some people a family’s love is completely unconditional, no questions asked, forgiveness and love will be waiting for them open-armed but that is not necessarily true for mine. I have felt unwelcome in a place I was born and raised and finally know what it means to live the words “home is the place I don’t belong”. I have put a lot of effort into relationships that aren’t right for my life. Just because someone has always been a friend, doesn’t mean they are the right friend or a good friend. Time isn’t the true measure of friendship. I have realized (again) that the phone works both ways and it’s not my sole responsibility to carry a friendship into the future and that people will work for what matters most to them. I have some incredible, beautiful and strong relationships that I am proud of. I have been hurt, I have caused hurt and I am no where near perfect. I have regrets of some things I have done and decisions I have made and also of those chances I didn't take. I promised myself a fear years back that I wanted to change and wouldn't have more regrets of things I didn't try. It's better to have a life of "oh wells" than "what ifs?". I have made new friendships and said goodbye to old ones. I have learned and I am sure that I have taught.
I took a chance on life and moved 3000 miles away and built myself a new life, a better life and found the man of my dreams. When most people I have met ask me, “where’s Nevada?” or “oh, you’re from Vegas?”, I met a man who has family an HOUR from where I was born. Amazing. I met a man who didn’t think he wanted marriage or children but who fell in love, asked me to marry him and is a better father to my daughter than I ever could have hoped or asked for or that I even thought he could ever be. He supports all my ideas and goals and our visions of our future are complementary and I’ve never been happier or laughed more than I do with him. I have followed my heart, began living for myself and creating the life I love instead of waiting for it to just happen. I started my photography business and have been welcomed warmly. I am finishing my school dreams and can’t wait for my career in healthcare along-side my photography business.
Here, on the eve of my THIRTIETH Birthday, I am ecstatic. I am celebrating. I am excited. I am damn proud of where I am. I am antsy in my pantsy about starting my third decade and what may lie ahead. I am mournful of the losses and pain I felt in my twenties but I am happy that they are in my past and will be put to rest. That chapter is coming to a close and I will continue to write my story every day and make the best of what I am given. I intend to THRIVE in my THIRTIES!