Another year over. A new one just begun.
Sorry, I couldn't say that first line without the second. Thanks, Beatles!
I turn 28 today and it feels kind of meh. I'm inching closer to 30 and further away from being able to remember how old I am. I think 27 never really registered and I've been stuck on 26 for the last year. Not for vanity reasons, but maybe just because there's nothing memorable about being 27. [Insert shrugging emoji here.]
As I think back on the last year, it's kind of bananas where I started and where I ended. Perhaps getting married (then wedded) was the only big thing that happened this year, but on this side of 27, I'm someone's w i f e and that still blows my mind. We're in the same house we were in a year ago, but we're not exactly in the same place. In addition to being married, we've travelled a bit in the last year. We visited Wales (it counts), Ireland, France, Scotland, and have been back to the States. We have two incomes this year instead of one. And of course I have the right to stay in the country for another two years as opposed to last year when I only had three months left on my visa on my birthday. But we're also different people. Our relationship is stronger. Our connection and understanding of one another is deeper. I feel like we've never been in a better place.
Individually, I think I've grown a lot this year. It hasn't exactly been easy adjusting to life in a new country and I think sometimes people (myself included) downplay it because it's only England. We speak the same language. Our pop culture overlaps quite a bit. They have a handful of Chipotles (and despite my pleading on Twitter, no plans to open one in Birmingham). Even the NFL--and now the NBA--play here a few times a year. But it's not the same and sometimes it's genuinely culturally shocking. As someone who knows a lot about pop culture, I've never felt more useless than in a trivia round about sitcoms because they're all British shows my peers grew up watching. Besides that, I've focused more on myself this year than perhaps ever before. I've embraced self care and self love. I've been working on changing my inner dialogue. I've explored my creative side in multiple ways. And I'm trying not to put so much emphasis on what people think of me. It's an everyday battle, but those are things I wasn't doing so much of at 26.
Last year, I declared 27 to be the age I would get married, find my next dream job, and buy my first house. One outta three ain't bad. I'm still working on the dream job and buying a house in the last year would have been wildly optimistic considering our financial situation the second half of 2016. But this year is a chance to fix those last two. (And if I don't, it'll be okay.)
I also set some goals and intentions for my year ahead and I'd like to do that again this year.
PRACTICE PHOTOGRAPHY EVERY WEEK
For the last year or so, I've really been interested in photography, and even more so since we got our Panasonic Lumix in December. Lately, I've fallen into only getting my camera out when we're travelling or doing something special. This year, I want to focus on documenting everyday life and sharpen my skills by photographing both ordinary things and special things.
REACH FOR A BOOK INSTEAD OF NETFLIX
I've had a bad habit for years where I just always have TV (usually Netflix) on in the background. It's caused me to watch the same ten sitcoms in their entirety dozens of times. Lately, I've been watching less TV thanks to my love of podcasts, but I'm still neglecting books. Last year, my goal was to read 27 books, and I completed approximately four. That's unacceptable! I need to change my mindset to where discovering a new story via book is more appealing that diving back into a world I've already visited a number of times on TV.
FOCUS ON PRESENCE
Again, instead of constantly reaching for my phone to mindlessly scroll through social media or play another round of Two Dots, I want to be present where I'm at. Especially if that's with friends or family. And especially if that's in my marriage. This year, I want to say goodbye to evenings on the couch with Luke with the TV on and our phones in our hands. That's not quality time together and it's not sustainable for our relationship. I want to be present in my own life.
To me, mindfulness is more than just meditating regularly. (Though I do want to get back on track with that.) I want to be more mindful of what I say. I want to be more mindful of what I eat. I want to be more mindful of how I spend my time and with whom I spend my time.
This year I've gotten l a z y, I'm sad to say. It makes me believe that the only thing that (sometimes) kept me moving over the last few years was working at a fitness studio. I haven't found a gym or anything remotely similar here in England, but I also haven't looked much. Luke and I did one hot yoga class in the spring, but we haven't been back. I've talked about doing yoga for 30 days in a row, but I've even fallen out of my morning yoga habit recently. Even though walking is one of my main modes of transportation now, I don't really move beyond that. We'll always start working out again "tomorrow", but tomorrow never comes. So this year, I want to move more. I want to find some way to move my body that I can hold on to and keep doing week after week.
I told Luke around my one year anniversary of being an expat that I wanted to explore more of the UK and I'm still clinging to that goal. So far, the dream life of jetting off to a new European country every month has mostly proven to be just that--a dream. But there's really no excuse for me to have seen so little of my new country 14 months in. So this year I want to tackle more places on my list for the UK, explore more of my own city, and yes, of course, see more of Europe.
SEEK OPEN MINDEDNESS
In this toxic political climate, with all its divisiveness, I've found it easier and easier to shut myself off to outside opinions. In recent months, I've built up an echo chamber for myself on social media, particularly on Twitter. A few weeks ago, I decided I would start following Colorado Representatives from the other party, not just mine. After all, they represent my voice too. I'm starting to trickle it in a bit, but mainly I want to stop judging people for differing opinions and start listening instead. I would love to be one of those people who can calmly ask questions and have a thoughtful discussion rather than trying to "win" an argument. That's not productive and that won't result in any change, especially in this day and age.
REACT WITH KINDNESS INSTEAD OF ANGER
This doesn't feel like an easy undertaking, but I'll be the first to admit that a lot of times when something hasn't gone my way, when I'm inconvenienced, when I'm asked to do something I don't want to do, I get short and snarky with people. I let them know I'm annoyed in my voice, my words, and my body language. I'm rude in the moment and then I turn around and carry that anger forward with me for a while. It's not hurting them anymore, only me. I don't exactly know where to start with this one and it seems like it will take a lot of practice, but I'm willing to commit to trying today.
I'm excited for 28! And I'm excited that it starts with what's sure to be a delicious sushi dinner with my husband tonight.