27.

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At the Mendenhall Glacier in Alaska in June 2016. One of the best trips I’ve ever taken!

27 just might be my new lucky number. In a strange twist, this wacky, ridiculous, interesting year, might have been my best year yet. I am incredibly thankful for all of the texts, birthday wishes, and kind words on my birthday. I tend to make a blog post/journal entry (lets be real), when something big happens so I figured I would do the same to commemorate the start of 28 and the end of 27. I’ll start with why this year was so great.

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The waterway at Ketchikan, Alaska. Beautiful.

I made a 100% commitment to my health, physical and mental, and it made everything I did so much more intentional and thought out. On May 9th, 2016 I made an appointment with a therapist and began the long over due process of unpacking and healing that I needed but was denying myself. A year to the day on May 9th, 2017 I had an appointment with my doctor and we reminisced about the last year and how much progress I made. It is really astounding. I was wandering around in a fog, a shell of who I was for the last 5 years. My life is not necessarily where I want it to be but the progress I have made personally has made me feel more alive than I have felt in a long time.

Why am I sharing this presumably TMI bit of information? Because people stigmatize those who seek treatment for their mental health and I believe that by openly discussing it I can do my part to help negate that stigma. The first time I thought about seeing one, I was immediately and strongly chided by an ex-girlfriend for wanting to and I retreated farther in. It took a lot for me to overcome that chiding and push past those insecurities, not to mention my pride. Now: I swear by seeing my therapist. It has become so much easier for me to find meaning and clarity in the things that happen and the choices I make. I will seriously encourage anyone who wants to try to try. The trick is you need to be willing to.

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My Mom-mom Rita and my Mama as we stopped on the way down to North Carolina.

I also prioritized my physical health. Seeing more doctors, seeing the inside of a gym more, and trying to overall take better care of myself. It has made a difference. The gym has become a happy place for me again and just the simple ritual of going to the gym has made me feel better and given me more energy. I might not be at my ideal weight, or my ideal nutritional frame of mind, but just the simple act of exercising has made a noticeable difference. Having your father and uncle go through heart surgery and then getting slapped with a prescription for Lipitor doesn’t exactly hurt either.

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Downtown Seattle from the Space Needle. You can tell that the horizon line is very off in this photo. That would be because yours truly was trying very hard to deal with being up that high.

I also want to acknowledge that I am blessed with a job that provides good benefits and access to health care for me to accomplish all of these health related goals. That is not guaranteed in today’s day and age and I am clearly privileged. We need to give every single person these opportunities for access to health care.

Here are some things that happened since my birthday in 2016:

  1. I attended the RELI Conference at Rowan (my home) and was reaffirmed about my ability in my field and was energized as all hell to go back to UMBC and crush it. With a new supervisor and a renewed sense of purpose I had a decent year professionally and I am excited for the next one.
  2. I inherited a bigger staff with more responsibility and was able to do new things with a new group of students.
  3. I saw Beyonce in Pittsburgh. It was freaking awesome.
  4. I saw Sir Paul McCartney. It was freaking awesome. (SIDENOTE: Get out and see our legends while you can, Prince and Chris Cornell’s recent deaths killed me because I never got to see themΒ live!)
  5. I FINALLY went to Seattle and I loved it. I partially conquered my fear of heights and went up to the top of the Space Needle. It was scary but worth it.
  6. I got my fist tattoo. Hopefully the first of many! Sorry Mom and Dad.
  7. I went on a cruise (which I swore I never would do) to Alaska and got to see how beautiful this damn world is right up close. If you have not been to Alaska, GO! Especially because, let me be real, I stood next to a glacier and it was 80 degrees outside. You might not have a lot of time.
  8. I hit the road with Patti B and Rita E and visited Aunt Joani in Wilmington, NC. I haven’t been there in ages and it was great to revisit such a big place from my childhood.
  9. The Olympics were awesome this year. For real. #TeamUSA #RIO2016
  10. I ran a 5K. I use “ran” loosely but I did that damn thing!
  11. I got to see my brothers band pay a trillion times as well as his senior show at Rowan U. It was amazing. He is an amazing musician.
  12. I got to relive the Harry Potter craze again because of Fantastic Beasts and the script release forΒ Cursed Child. It was a nostalgic little slice of pop culture!
  13. Tons of pop culture events converging on my birthday! Linkin Park’s new album, Alien: Covenant hitting theaters, and Kimmy Schmidt season 3?!?! Master of None season 2 the week before? We are in pop culture heaven!
  14. I got to coach again and will again this coming year. Keeps my diving life alive!
  15. Traveled to some other new places like West Virginia, Ohio, and Upstate NY.
  16. Finally, I went to see friends and family in their shows, their weddings, visited them, and spent quality time with tons of people I love!

I have a lot to be thankful for after 27 years. Here is hope that 28 is just as great. I remain optimistic as shit.

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