Harriet: Age 35

89A Vermillion Cliffs AZ_feistyharriet_35 bday

Today I turn 35 years old, last year I swore I would throw myself a big party, which is kind of ridiculous because in general I really hate being the center of attention. Maybe this is the year I grow up just enough to realize that, fabulous party be damned, I’d probably be happier overall with something small, quiet, and personal. (I don’t think I’ll get that either this year, but hey, there’s always next year.)

How will you spend your birthday?
Just like any other Tuesday, but hopefully my phone will be blowing up with Happy Birthday messages that would not be typical of the average Tuesday.

Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?
About the same for all three.

What did you do last year that you’ve never done before?
Went SCUBA diving in the ocean! With turtles! And sharks!

What was your favorite discovery last year?
I am stronger than I ever thought I would need to be. Not necessarily a “favorite” but certainly an “essential.”

What do you hope to learn this coming year?
More patience, more hope, more faith. And maybe a little Spanish.

What would you like to have this year that you didn’t have last year?
Last year I said I wanted peace in my life. I mean, I’d settle for world peace (do not even get me started on politics), but I am craving serenity in a major way.

What was your biggest achievement of this year?
Getting my budget under control; I opened a Roth IRA and a 529 savings account for my own future Master’s degree, I set aside a significant chunk of money every month in savings and when the inevitable emergency came up (I’m looking at you, new clutch in my car), I was able to pay for the repair without freaking out about how that would impact my grocery budget. It has been such a good feeling!

What was your biggest failure?
Failure to communicate in a way that ensured the other party truly understood the what AND the why of my feelings, and the difficulty involved in me trying to get specific about it.

Where did you travel this year?
For years and years I have secretly wanted to be the kind of person who regularly used her passport. This year was that year for me. Blue Eyes and I went to Belize and Guatemala in the spring, I spent a lovely long weekend hiking in the Canadian Rockies in August, and at the end of the summer Blue Eyes and I went to Mexico to go SCUBA diving but were thwarted by a tropical storm wreaking havoc with the waves. Four countries, ya’ll. I’m feeling so very luxe over here with all those passport stamps. Throw in a handful of road trips around the West to round out a solid travel year (half of which has not been blogged, but probably will be, because photos from the glorious mountains and lakes of Banff, Alberta MUST BE SHARED!)

Do you have a destination in mind for next year?
I would love to head somewhere cold this summer; like I’m thinking Alaska or Maine. If I could manage to spend a month chillin’ in Antarctica I absolutely would. Arizona summers are brutally hot and are about 9 months too long. Without a cool-weather break I just won’t make it past July.

What did you get really excited about?
Books, friends, Wonder Woman, and finding genuine joy in my little adventures.

What do you wish you’d done more of?
Taking the time to step away and breathe when Life Things started to weigh me down. I’m not talking about “stepping away to a 3 week vacation at a fancy yoga retreat” (although that sounds truly lovely), I’m talking about taking a few minutes every day to remind myself that I am strong enough and smart enough to handle this, if I just remember to breathe.

What do you wish you’d done less of?
You know how you almost always win the arguments you have with yourself while you are in the shower, or making dinner, or sitting in heavy traffic? Just me? Ok. Well, when I’m particularly angry I will have a VERY lucid and VERY specific conversation with myself, going over all my points of hurt, and slamming down any attempt (by my, uh, other (?) self) to make excuses. This kind of argument often takes me days or weeks to win, I just keep coming back to it, circling around all the moving parts and making sure to drive my point home, to the death. You know what does 100% NOT WORK in solving your communication problems? Having an argument ONLY WITH YOURSELF. I need a better solution that actually produces some kind of positive net result.

What was the best book you read?
I read a TON this last year, over 150 books with a number of five-star ratings. The non-fiction ones I loved the best are: graphic novels about the civil rights movement, March #1-#3, by John Lewis; stories from the Russian front, The Unwomanly Face of War: An Oral History of Women in WWII, by Svetlana Alexievich; a history and detailed research about cancer, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, by Siddharta Mukherjee; a series of murders of wealthy Native Americans in the 1920s and 30s, Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, by David Grann. The two books that I kept referring back to over and over again as I tried to make sense of my life and figure out what to do next were: Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown; and Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, by Greg McKeown. The fiction books I loved the best this year were: The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas; The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, by Mackenzi Lee; and Now I Rise (#2 in The Conqueror’s Saga) by Kiersten White. I read literally dozens of other excellent books this year, you can follow me on Goodreads for updates in real time instead of this once-a-year recap.

What did you want and get?
1) A relaxing week in Belize to celebrate five years married to Blue Eyes.
2) Negotiated working from home 2 days a week. I think I actually respond to email faster in my fuzzy slippers.

What did you want and not get?
Peace of mind, peace of heart.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Last year’s answer still holds true: Several months of temperatures in the low thirties and high twenties; I am not cut out for the nine months of temps over 90 degrees. It makes my brain melt.
Adding for this year: A health care plan that covered my mental health needs.

What kept you sane?
Who said I was sane!? I lost my shiz a LOT this year, inevitably it was My People who helped me back from the edge.

What political issue stirred you the most?
I haven’t the time or the energy to go over it all again, but I will say that the women-led resistance has given me new life and new hope. From the Women’s March to the #MeToo movement, and every small and large victory in-between, I am so proud to be part of a nation-wide force of accountability and ethics that is led by, championed by, and moved forward by women. This is where I belong.

Did you fall in love?
Not exactly, but I did realize the opportunity for a new love and while I’m not yet to the giddy, indestructible phase of that relationship, I hope to get there soon. This year I realized that before I spend another 12 months taking care of everyone else, I need to learn to take care of myself; I need to be patient with myself, forgiving of myself, and learn to truly love this person I continue to become.

Who did you miss?
Same answer for the 3rd year: My people in Salt Lake, my nieces and nephews, siblings, and my glorious rocky mountains.

Did you learn a valuable life lesson this year?
Yes, I can probably do it all, but I really really shouldn’t. I want to, but I need to stop. I need to cut back until I can truly determine my essential needs, and then thoughtfully and sparingly add in other stuff. I feel like I’ve been overextended for the vast majority of my life, and this year I cracked in scary ways under the strain. I’m working on it, but I am grateful for the “A ha!” moment(s) that led to this realization.

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Previous birthday posts here: Age 34, Age 33Age 32.

2 thoughts on “Harriet: Age 35

  1. AmySo

    Your birthday is my anniversary! I blogged today already, but I think tomorrow I’m going to answer these same questions except for in reference to my marriage. Anyway, happy birthday, I hope you at least go somewhere lovely for dinner!

    Reply

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