If I would have attempted to write a letter to you at 35, I could have never touched upon half of the adventures, heartbreak, growth, and gratitude that you had in store for me. As I reflect upon the last year, I am in awe of you and how you strengthened and humbled me beyond many of the years prior. I entered into you with a new life growing inside my tummy that sparked the early embers of the year’s changes to come. I remember waking to the newness of 36 with a sweet two-year-old snuggled close, a kiss from my husband, and then getting ready for a speaking engagement at the 2016 Young Nonprofit Professional Network National Summit to share tips on how to navigate a career search. I was greeted with a cupcake at the event and spoke to an engaged audience in the beautiful ballroom. As I spoke to the audience, I felt alive, I felt excited, and I knew that I wanted to do more with my love of coaching, supporting, and sharing out the years of knowledge and guidance swirling in my head.
My 36th year was one of change and growth both physically and emotionally. It was the year of embracing abundance versus living in a place of fear and scarcity. I was walking the walk that I coached daily to my clients. It was a brutally honest moment in stepping out of the shadows into the light of owning my truth. Oh, but let’s not be too cavalier here and pretend that life is as easy as saying no to fear and scarcity and all lived happily ever after. There were many moments where fear and scarcity fought hard to take the lead in my dance of life; however, this year I knew their all too familiar dance steps and instead of fighting them, I changed our relationship by acknowledging both as parts of me and helping them take a rest to allow for other parts of me to step forth.
In this year, I cried tears of joy, pain, sadness, and happiness. I watched my stomach grow each day and felt the vulnerability that comes with growing a life. I experienced the unexpected news of needing to shift my birth plan, seeing specialists twice a week, stabbing myself daily, fearing a number on a machine, and having to advocate for myself and baby as pressure mounted for me to doubt my body. But with all this, I grew stronger and trusted my body more than ever to welcome a sweet soul into the world. I cried out in pain and joy when our son joined us in the world and I knew our family was complete. I said goodbye to a treasured pet that was with me throughout my thirties, whose body became weakened by a terrible neurological illness. I held her and thanked her for her countless moments of love as she crossed over in life. In this year, I started a new chapter in my career. I traveled to a new country where I made new friends and completed my coaching program that forever changed me as both a person and coach. I had to face some tough truths to make way for new. I quit my job. I packed up an office, said goodbye to my team, and transitioned from a job that I once loved and prioritized to pursue my own path with Radical Spark Coaching. I felt the rush of emotions that vacillated from excitement to fear, as I walked away from the golden handcuffs of stable income and embraced my new path.
In this year, I let love in. I embraced and nurtured relationships in a more authentic way that called upon me to be my full self, for better or worse. I asked for help. I let others help me. I owned my tendency of keeping people at a distance. I prioritized what mattered to me without catering to what I thought others thought or wanted. I put away my gypsy ways and committed to buying a home for our kids to grow and thrive. I reconnected with the beauty of seeing my husband as my partner in love, life, and parenthood and committed to prioritizing us with a healthy me. I also grieved love lost and relationships left unfinished. I faced the reality of aging relatives, spoke at the memorial of my uncle, and cried uncontrollable tears as my father was lowered into the earth. I put my years of therapy and coaching to the test this year as I confronted painful memories and experiences that made me the woman I am today. I owned my pain and I gave myself space to feel it. I said I was sorry and meant it. I stopped trying to always be right and instead focused on how to embrace being me. Unapologetically me.
So with that, I give you, my dear 36th year, a heartfelt thank you and my full appreciation. You helped me be a better me. And as I write this letter, I am struck by the beauty and craziness of the last year. I pray that my 37th year is one of continued learning and perhaps a little less eventful than last year.