Wednesday, December 18, 2013

One Good Man

"This is precious love, precious love
No I can't let it go
It's this precious love
And it's teaching me everything I need to know
This is precious love, it's precious love
No I can't get enough
Oh I'm down on my knees
Begging you please
Gimme some more of that stuff."

(The following is not for the "love Grinches" out there—you've been forewarned.)

I had a carefully crafted vision of what my new life as a single woman would look like. I figured I would live in a tiny, one-bedroom apartment that I could barely afford; join and go out on a bunch of terrible first dates with a variety of questionable guys (at least I'd get some free dinners and great stories!); and consume vast amounts of wine by myself while watching soul-killing trash TV such as Real Housewives of Something Or Other and The Bachelor.

But something (someone) happened, and I decided to course correct—to give this unexpected turn of events a real shot and allow myself to live in and savor the moment.

I met a boy, and he turned my whole world upside down.

Even as I write this blog post, I feel like I am outside of myself, watching someone else embrace days full of sweet affection, light-hearted romance, and Xes and Os (yes, sometimes even written in text messages). The former me would have made fun of the PDA, the shared love ballads, the sitting on the same side of the restaurant booth (it was a big table). She was a disenchanted cynic, so I don't blame her much. But I'm glad she made room for the new me—who feels more like the "real" Ann, the girl I yearned to be.

Now the  walls that I built in my heart—gradually constructed throughout the years for protection and survival—have been knocked down, and new light and life is coursing through my veins.

Now love songs actually make sense to me, as if I have finally been let in on a big secret that I never understood. James Morrison, Michael Buble', Ray LaMontagne? I can't get enough.

Now each month, holiday, and season feels fresh and raw, like I am discovering it for the first time.

Now the sky is bluer, the grass greener, and the air crisper. Just kidding! (Kind of.)

Perhaps what I'm experiencing is quite normal for much of humanity. It must be, since many poems and stories are written about it, songs sung to express it, and movies made to depict it. But it's new to me, and I'm relishing every moment.

And the simplest, daily moments are the ones that make me feel most full and rich and lucky: receiving thoughtful text messages from him throughout the day, running for miles beside him (or slightly behind him at times), meeting him for a cold beer after work, spending hours on a lazy Saturday watching a Newsroom marathon with him, holding his hand while walking through Target, seeing his handsome face and killer smile after a long day (and getting those butterflies each time).

I feel like God has blessed me with these experiences, and is showcasing the beauty and goodness of love and healthy relationship through them—and at a time when I am ready and able to appreciate and suck the life out of them.

At the same time, I'm not so far gone that I fail to see the whole picture: that the honeymoon period in any relationship—romantic or otherwise—brings exciting emotions that are not fully sustainable. But even looking beyond fleeting feelings, I realize what I have standing in front of me.

He is kind, generous, thoughtful, patient, sincere, honest, helpful, and gracious. He is ambitious, hard-working, disciplined, innovative, clever, trustworthy, and creative. He is handsome, smart, funny, witty, silly, supportive, affectionate, loyal, and loving.

He is one good man. And I am so lucky, so happy, to be his girl.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Thirty and Thriving

When I was a kid, age 30 sounded old. I figured I'd be married with at least 2 kids by the time I hit my third decade.

Well, I'm not married, and I have no kids. But I'm not old. In fact, I feel young, healthy, and happier than I've been in years. Turning 29 was more difficult than this historically depressing birthday—probably because a year ago discontentment and inner turmoil were constants in my life.

So much has changed in just 12 months. I feel like a different woman—more grounded, strong, and courageous; less anxious, indecisive, and uncertain. I have found my voice, I know who I am, and I am learning how to be present in every moment—those full of pain, and those full of pleasure.

If this is what "growing up" is all about (at least for me), I'm ecstatic to say good-bye to my 20s. There were many good moments, and those years paved the way for who I am today, but truthfully, it can only get better from here.

Last weekend my closest family members and friends from my past and present—spanning each decade of my life—joined me to celebrate this rite of passage. Their ongoing loyalty, support, encouragement, "interventions," and love have kept me sane and centered. I feel completely undeserving, yet incredibly grateful for the people who have been and are in my corner. As I have been reflecting on where I am at age 30, I realize that not everyone is as lucky as I to have such rich relationships, and I thank God for the goodness I have known through the depth of my community.
I have also realized that life is about the moments. And how one chooses to react to circumstances both within and outside of her control in each of these moments is what makes her who she is. We ALL have choices, big and small.

You can choose to get up at 6 a.m. and run in sub-30-degree weather to train for an upcoming race, rather than stay under your toasty comforter and snooze for an hour. (Honestly, I'm not always sure which is the better choice.) :)

You can choose to go after the challenging job opening at your workplace rather than remain bored and stagnant in your current position.

You can choose to let go of a destructive, one-sided relationship that you clung to for far too long because of foolish loyalty and fear.

While in the past year I have made a couple of momentous and life-changing choices, I know that I have only just begun. I want my 30s to be a decade of continued growth, during which I gain greater confidence in me, and live with more intentional generosity, thoughtfulness, and love for others.  

Because regardless of your age, you can learn new things, achieve new heights, and evolve into  a different (better) version of yourself. For me—my God, my "people," and my own realized power have gotten me here. And there's so much more to come.

I can't wait.