So today is my 34th birthday and there were many things I thought about posting in honor of today. After much debating (and several failed attempts) I finally decided to just list a few things for which I am grateful, that have helped make me into the powerful, strong, intelligent woman I am today (in no particular order):
1. My mother. Lord knows we have not always seen eye to eye (particularly during the teenage years, and then there was that period of time when I was going through some of the darkest moments of my life, during my addiction), but in the end she has ALWAYS come through for me. She's the one who taught me the importance of speaking and writing well, who instilled my love of reading, who took me to the doctor at the smallest sign of injury or illness, who told me to never wear white shoes before Memorial Day or after Labor Day, and who made me realize that being different is special. She helped me find my first gynocologist, get into my first apartment, write my college essay, get over my first boyfriend (albeit not in the most gentle way), and learn the hard way that life isn't always fair - but what doesn't kill you really DOES make you stronger.
2. My fiancé. I talk about him a lot, for good reason. We met at the Bridge Tender (in Wilmington) way back in 2005, when I was 22, fresh out of college, and he was 23. I was a waitress and he was a chef. We were both dating other people (so you can imagine we have an interesting story, but more on that later) but eventually we started dating, and have been ever since (so, for those of you who are bad with math, we are going on our 12th year). Talk about a rocky road! We've been through more in the past decade than most people go through in their entire lives, and then some! He has definitely seen me at my best and worst (particularly during my aforementioned addiction, as he went through it right beside me) and he loves me regardless. He is my best friend, the only person I want to see after a rough day at work, the one person who can cheer me up when I feel like the world is out to get me, the best chef/shopping buddy/jewelry buyer/cuddler that I know, and my soul mate. I would not have made it through everything that I have had he not been by my side.
3. My friend Emily, who has stuck by me all these years. I used to have a lot of friends, back in middle/high school and college, but after all of that is over, then you find out who your REAL friends are. I only have one person in my life that I would call a "true" girlfriend - I've known her since 7th grade and she's seen me through everything - that awkward middle school/puberty phase, my alcoholic-promiscuous phase, my addiction - and she doesn't judge, she just wants the best for me (I know, because I asked her recently if she had any bad feelings about some of the things that I've done, and when she said no, I felt so relieved). Additionally she is a psychotherapist, so she gives great advice and insight when I need it the most!
4. My "fur-children", Grayson (the Russian Blue cat) and Penelope (the pit bull). They definitely drive me crazy at times, but they definitely bring more joy to my life than not. Grayson typically lays on his daddy (which is one of the cutest things I've ever seen, by the way) but every now and then, he'll creep into my lap and curl up, and I can feel the warmth of his body and his purring, and at that moment, life is always good. As for Penelope, she is definitely an odd bird (she puffs up and acts all "alpha" at times, yet she's terrified of our smoke alarm when it goes off) but, overall, she's a sweet girl who loves us with all of her little doggy heart, and I know she would defend us with her life. They are always happy to see me when I get home (granted, it's usually because they want their evening feeding, but still), and they amuse me to no end when they play and chase each other.
5. 4. My experiences, both good and bad. They have both helped shape me in various ways: I've learned not to touch hot stoves; that karma really is the biggest bitch; that you can't hide from your mistakes (they will always come back to bite you in the ass, usually when you're least expecting it); that I really AM worth it; that I have a VERY addictive personality; that, while I do enjoy socializing, I am an introvert at heart (I think a lot of that stems from growing up as an only child); that, for the most part, other people suck, and the only person you can truly count on is yourself; that I really CAN do anything if I put my mind to it (which can be hard, given my ADHD/biolar/anxiety issues); that the law doesn't always uphold the "innocent until proven guilty" standard; that sometimes you meet the best people when you least expect it; that you have to learn to let go... I could go on and on, but those are the ones that come to mind right now.
6. All my new Bloggesstribe friends (and, of course, TheBloggess herself, Jenny Lawson). I read her books recently and they could not have come into my life at a better time. She writes about her own mental health struggles while maintaining a light, humorous tone, and it really made me feel like I'm not alone in this crazy world. (I know I sound like I'm writing a freaking book review here but it's the truth! If you'v never heard of her, I definitely recommend looking her up and buying all of her books, like, right freaking now.) She has this amazing group of followers on Instagram & Twitter called "TheBloggessTribe" - I am a newbie to this group but have never "met" other people who are as funny, warm, honest, welcoming and all-around unique (in a good way, of course!) as they are. Whenever I log on and scroll through my feed, it always makes me smile to see not only what everyone has posted, but their responses to things I've posted as well. I know I've said it on Twitter but I'm damned lucky to be part of a group this awesome.
7. The little things: sunsets, Thai food, leggings, swimming, holding hands, new shoes, the smell of cookies (or anything) baking, springtime, hiking, doing yoga, thrift stores, espresso, coloring, clean laundry, coloring, taking walks, getting my nails done, binge-watching Netflix (or Hulu), reading to Chris in the car, cooking... the list goes on and on...
Of course, I have much more to be grateful for than that, but those are the first few things that come to mind. All in all, it's been a wonderful year and I realize just how blessed I am to be where and who I am, after everything I've been through. (Again, more on that later.) About to spend a nice, quiet evening with my man - here's to another 34 wonderful years!