Wednesday, June 21

27 things about my 27th year

1.You know the feeling as you near the top of a rollercoaster? Forgetting to breathe, your jaw locked against the rattling of your nerves, you clutch the safety rail. Tipping over the edge your stomach high kicks you in the rib cage, gravity ceases to exist for a moment before you settle into freefall. Sound familiar? Welcome to your 27th year.

2. Apparently, Saturn returns to the relative position it inhabited in the sky at the time of your birth -- during your 27th year. Or... sometime between 27 and 30. When it happens, it brings change and new beginnings. Upheaval and opportunity. This is the age at which celebrities burn out in a bright flash of light and suddenly your friends all seem to go through a mid-mid-life crisis.

3. All this to say, in June of 2016 I both turned 27 and suddenly found myself unemployed. It didn't come as a surprise, but it did come as something of a shock to the system. Luckily, it was beautiful and sunny outside, and I had no shortage of things to devote my time and attention.

4. I built a loom and tried my hand at weaving. It's a truly relaxing and soothing hobby for keeping hands busy and mind engaged.

5. I started a garden for the first time, I grew flowers and vegetables and lettuce and basil.

6. I attended Edmonton's Pride Parade, another first. It was the most beautiful day!

7. I started a doing yoga daily. If you haven't heard of Yoga with Adriene, she's excellent. I used her Youtube channel religiously all summer, every day.

8. Just days after Pride, my heart was broken for the LGBTQ+ community on June 12. I lit candles. It wasn't enough.

9. I decided I was going to stay productive, better myself. I took online writing courses from UBC, I worked hard on my artwork, weaving, yoga, and reading.

10. I sent out over 85 resumes and applications and heard back exactly twice. I attended one interview. I got zero new jobs. I did, happily, make a bit of money. I started doing freelance photography!

11. I took a lot of walks, visited a lot of dog parks. I took up Pokemon Go and walked the shit out of that app. The best part was that I got to do these things with a friend. I was so lucky to have a magnificent walking friend who drove me and Lola to parks and explored Edmonton with me.

12. I got to spend a lot of time with friends. Friends who worked shifts and graciously let me tag along on their daytime adventures. Friends who worked days and spent time with my husband and me on our patio or at our table, playing board games.

13. I played a lot of board games, thanks Nick.

14. My husband and I put aside our desire to have kids, at least for a little while. It's a bittersweet feeling, we're still excited, but we're waiting.

15. I made a really hard decision and decided to go back to school. When I graduated from university in 2011, I was relieved to know I was now an official, responsible adult and would never be a student again. It was a daunting but rewarding time -- and I was glad that phase of my life was over. I never expected to be standing in that building again, getting a new ID photo taken and purchasing textbooks.

16. I grieved my old life. My office mates. My routine. It took me a while -- months -- before the reality of it all hit me. I think it was receiving the payout cheque for my pension. I was veritably broke and had just received a huge amount of money (to me at least) but it just made me sad. I still tear up every time I think of my time at NAIT because it was overwhelmingly positive and I miss it a lot.

17. I lost 30 pounds on Weight Watchers. I had gained 30 pounds over the previous two years, and I did not like how that felt. I feel like I'm a small letter 'ww' convert, I follow the principles but not always the plan. I'm maintaining now.

18. I fell in love with my husband a thousand times over. Having a person who is unwaveringly kind and caring, who supports you, encourages you -- it can be revolutionary. I'm incredibly grateful.

19. But money was tight. Don't mistake. Money can be really hard to talk about with your partner, your family, your friends. We still struggle with absolute honesty and transparency around our finances, but we're trying to get there. I know we are so privileged to have gone through this whole experience -- this doozy of a year -- without taking on debt. We had the right supports and the right circumstances. We are gonna be so good at saving money once I have a regular paycheque to squirrel away.

20. I learned to really -- I mean, really -- appreciate the little things. The close things. My favourite moments now are mornings and afternoon naps spent lazily in bed, a husband at my back, a cat curled up on my chest and a puppy draped across my legs. The best.

21. This has been a painful, painful year and I'm not talking about me right now. Nick was sick with laryngitis during the American election and he wasn't speaking. I was sleeping in our spare bedroom, trying not to get sick during term one finals. I remember laying on the mattress on the floor, watching the election results in the dark and crying. I wrote about it a little on my other website, here. I felt very isolated. I felt very alone. I felt overwhelmed and powerless.

22. This year, I switched up the organizations I was supporting. I supported the LGBT Pride Centre of Edmonton, Planned Parenthood, Rainbow Railroad, the Islamic Family and Social Services Association, The ACLU, and the NCLR. I've thrown a lot of money that I didn't have at the world this year hoping it would get it's shit together. I think donating is important, but it's also the smallest thing I could do. I tried to focus on educating myself, talking with others. I am still learning and trying to wrap my mind around the challenges others face. This year I want to be more active, do more than just donate.

22. I'm learning that tenderheartedness is not something to be ashamed of. Empathy can be a superpower. Even when it hurts. I know so many people who choose to be uninformed, who would rather not see the news. I get it, I do, but I encourage anyone who is feeling tenderhearted to act on those feelings. Lean into the pain. I used to operate on the assumption that the people around me, the people of my city, province, and country had similar values to my own. The election taught me about the silent majority. It taught me to be loud.

23. I gained a lot of confidence this year. Or maybe I regained it, it's hard to say. I know that I have never been a part of professional organizations before, or had industry professionals I trust and respect complimenting me on my writing. I have been lucky enough to meet some truly talented and amazing people both through my program, the organizations I've joined, and my practicum. I networked. I attended awards shows. I passed out business cards. I am fired up about joining the professional community, and I needed that. OH, I really needed it after those 80+ applications I wrote.

24. I got on the dean's list this last semester and I'm pretty proud. I have always been a good student, I have always done well, but I have never done this well. Something about coming back to education as an adult. I was serious about this program -- it represented this crazy hope for a second chance. It means a lot to have my work recognized in this small way.

25. I made new friends. I met people who shared my values and humour and interests. I've always found it hard to meet people as an adult so this is a weirdly major triumph.

26. I set new career goals. When I entered the Public Relations program in the fall, I didn't even know what Public Relations was. I'm not sure what my title will be six years on, but I have some ideas now about where I might be headed and it's exciting. What's more, I know I'm qualified to attain those goals so -- bonus! This is the first time in my life I feel like I have a 'career' and not just a job.

27. I now have a cluster of white hairs right above my left eyebrow and I'm threatening to dye a strip of my hair white to match. My husband thinks this is a great idea. I look kind of like a person whose just staggered off a very tall rollercoaster called "Tower of FEAR".

The truth is, I've never been one for roller coasters. I have a long-standing policy when it comes to carnival rides -- no upside down. But life has a way of picking you up by the feet and shaking you. If you're lucky, some negativity will fall out and, when you're righted, you'll be ready to find your footing.

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