Tuesday, November 21, 2017


This is the month that I turned 30 years-old.

Thirty sure feels a lot like 29, if you ask me. But I always feel that way about age. Like the numbers never quite mean what I think they will.

As the band Joseph says in their song "Hundred Ways":
"These are the times, when growing up is not a straight line."

I have blogged about my birthday every year since 2007 when I turned 20 years-old
(a third of my life ago!):
Twenty when I was a volunteer in Cambodia and struggling hard.
Twenty-One when I was back in college and super melancholy.
Twenty-Two when "content" felt impossible.
Twenty-Three and trying to find "happy."
Twenty-Four and being proud of those years I'd accumulated.
Twenty-Five on "growing up" as a privilege denied to many.
Twenty-Six written after two months living in South Korea.
Twenty-Seven and reflections on my existentialist self.
Twenty-Eight and landing back in America
Twenty-Nine on feeling exactly the age that I am, for the first time.

And now thirty.

I post these more for me than for you.
Just to take the time to remember.
That's 10 years of blogging.
And 10 years since Cambodia.
And 10 years that I'm proud of and still surprised by.

About a year ago, my sister's husband told her he wanted a divorce because he was in love with my best friend.
A few days later, I turned 29 years-old.
A few days later, Donald Trump was elected president.
All of this happened in about a week.
It's been a season of incredible loss and disorientation.

But on my 29th birthday, I started taking 1-second videos every day for the past year. Perhaps, out of an attempt at gratitude during a difficult time. Mostly, out of defiance. Like, "If this what I have to feel this year, at least, I'm going to make it beautiful."

And so, I did. I made this video of the last year of my 20s:

What I learned in the process of making this video:

-The practice of paying attention 
It's amazing what you notice about a day when you start looking for the one-second moment that feels important. And I don't mean, "important" like valuable to most people. I mean "important" like valuable to me. For example, the clip at 4:10 where there were geese slowly meandering their way across the street, oblivious to morning commuters and our agendas. That moment mattered to me. I stopped and took a breath and laughed out loud at the geese "disrupting" our world.

To pay attention has meant waking up most days and surveying the potential of my own happenings. Thinking about moments that might be worth capturing. Experiencing moments that took me by surprise. Getting to the end of a day, realizing I hadn't yet taken a video and then finding something, even a small something that is familiar and significant and worth noticing.

-The practice of letting things go
Some days I completely forgot. Some days I borrowed from other days. Some days I took 10 or more videos and then, I had to pick just one for that day. Some days I had this great idea for a video, and  then, perhaps, arrived at that moment and decided something else was going to make the cut instead (like geese!).

The perfectionist as identity in me died when I was 25. I stopped using "perfectionist" as a badge of honor when I realized how seriously it had negatively affected my mental health and well-being. She comes out to play sometimes, but I must say that this video-making process, in general, has been a healthy reminder to hold all of this lightly. To be gentle. To move on when I forgot a day or to be accepting of a simple, and not terribly exciting day. To not turn it into a practice of homework, but a practice of letting go.

-The practice of being grateful
Isn't it interesting how theatrical a life seems to become when set to music? Some of the most mundane moments during the past year feel SO IMPORTANT when they are all strung together to music. I feel differently about the year seeing it all put together than I did even while living it. There's something about watching your own life on repeat or fast-forward or even, rewind. There's something about noticing. About paying attention. And reflecting. Moments that I captured where I wanted to actually scream at the injustice of it all, are not visible in that second of that video. They breeze past. They are one in a drop of 365. Stringing these seconds together puts them in a healthy perspective as but one moment among many moments.

Looking for these 1-second moments in everyday made me notice and appreciate:
-people on the train
-lazy mornings in bed
-good food
-laughter with friends
-the outdoors
-random acts of kindness
-sunshiney days
-rainy days
-all the things

Essentially, this video-making process was a spiritual one. A daily practice of paying attention and letting go and being grateful. If there's a better way to spend my days, I haven't found it yet. And so on the day after my birthday, I kept shooting videos. I kept noticing. Who knows how long this form of this practice will last. I'm not terribly concerned. For now, it's keeping me alert and grateful.

My hopes for the coming year:
-to help Jeremy get more regular, day-time work hours
-to avoid going seven weeks again without having quality time together
-to graduate with my masters degree in social work
-to get a job that I enjoy
-to feel more stable financially
-to be okay


*to be fair, I just looked up the Joseph lyrics and it's actually "going up" instead of "growing up", but I'm pretending like I didn't know that, because I like my way better



Brittany Kogut said...

I have spent the past 2 hours reading your blog and I am so GRATEFUL!! I am so grateful to know you and to have healed with you. I am grateful for the opportunity to read your beautiful words and to still get meaning and insight from you each day I read one :). Never ever forget how amazing and unique you are. Through all of the “road blocks” life has offered, remember that you are compassionate, courageous, admirable, and are a gift! You’ve helped saved one soul no doubt!!