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Before 35

My annual 40-by-40 update is officially six days overdue; I haven’t even started it. It is forthcoming, but considering I have only published one post since my last birthday post, I felt like a preface was needed:

It has been a weird year.

Looking back I can pinpoint specific moments or events that may have officially plunged me into this weird year, but that is of little help to me now. We don’t get to live our lives looking back do we?

Like anyone else, my years on this planet can easily be divided into a certain number of phases (or, if you are a Swifty, an “era”). I’ve had the typical childhood, preteen, teen, and college phases, along with others based around education (i.e., my law school era) and relationships (i.e., my marriage era). And like any other human, I survived difficult phases that were constructed around trauma (childbirth), pain (depression), and loss (divorce).

But before 35, I did the work. I really, really did the work.
I did the therapy. I did the grieving. I did the processing. I did the journaling. I did the meditation. I did the affirmations. I did the healing. And so before 35, I was under the impression that my painstaking work had entitled me to handpick the next phase in my life. And I chose growth.

Before 35, I knew without a doubt that all the love, light, and joy I had found would usher in this new phase in my life; An era of groundedness where I would settle into my new roots and well….grow!

But as it turns out, growth can be a little weird.


Contrary to my declaration against gardens in my last update post, I did flex my green thumb this year but I have found it mostly irksome thus far. Turns out plants are wildly more complicated than I imagined. In theory sun + water = happy plants, but in my personal experience, sun + water = dying or dead plants.

I’ve learned that some plants like light, others don’t, and some demanding divas want their light filtered thankyouverymuch. You can overwater, underwater, and even water the wrong way. Soil composition, air quality, and the size/shape of the pot apparently factor into the healthy plant equation. And while I am still learning, I admit that I have killed the vast majority of plants that crossed my threshold this year (including the supposedly unkillable snake plant, aka mother in law tongue, aka dracaena trifasciata).

In my defense, I did my best to save each of them. I tested soil, bought UV lights, and slipped watering reminders into my Google Home routine. Occasionally, my efforts would succeed; a few of my montessori variety plants even added new leaves. And while that is nice, it is difficult to see how these isolated successes will ever really manifest my houseplant daydreams.

As it turns out, I have quite a bit in common with my houseplants; growth hasn’t come as easy to me as I once imagined it would.


That’s why its been a weird year.
That’s why I haven’t written here.
I was prepared for a year of dazzling blooms and yet, my sprouts have barely broken through the soil, much less blossomed into anything beautiful.

In theory, healing + passion = growth, but in my personal experience, healing + passion = here we go again goddamnit.

As with my houseplant endeavors, I’ve had some isolated successes this year that have proven transformational in their own way. But I admit that it is hard to focus on the potential of these transformations when trauma, pain, and loss continue to echo throughout my daily life.

It is difficult for me to see how I’ve grown when I’ve parted ways with dear, dear friends.

It is difficult for me to see how I’ve grown when I’ve had my heart broken… again.

It is difficult for me to see how I’ve grown when depression nips at my heels and the world descends into chaos.

And in my defense, I tried really, really hard to save myself from each of those things. But they happened. They continue to happen. And it is difficult for me to see my own growth when in truth, I am no longer sure of which direction I want to grow in.

So while in theory this was supposed to be a year of growth, my personal experience was a near bloomless one.

But it is October (at least for a few more days) and having a birthday in October is a blessing. For as the trees lose their leaves, I am reminded that I too can let go of the things that no longer serve me.

I am giving up the expectations for “growth” I had before 35.
I haven’t bloomed yet but that’s okay.
I still believe I will.
One day.

I don’t know what my blooms will look like or how long they will last.
But I do know that the most beautiful blossoms take time and patience.
And maybe filtered sunlight.

And I definitely have two of the three.

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