Categories
self discovery

Some of the Best Things About Turning 35

On December 22nd I turn 35.

Unlike most people, I enjoy getting older.  Just look at Jane Fonda!  While some women obsess over looking 21 again, spending thousands of dollars on Botox and anti-aging products, I wouldn’t trade anything to be in my 20s.  Sure, it’s important to moisturize, but why does society glamorize being young?

I’d rather have a few wrinkles than that 20-something soul of mine.

No, I wouldn’t trade years of experience, wisdom, and lessons to go back in time.  That girl was so lost and confused.  She had yet to discover her worth, her values, or how important it was to be herself.  She didn’t realize it was okay to just stay in on the weekend, or that being in a relationship wouldn’t complete her.  She didn’t know it was okay to simply be her.

~

As years go by, I feel I better embody the person I was always meant to be: an old soul.

No longer infatuated with nights out, chaos, and what other people are doing with their lives, 35 is a nice age to settle into who you are- and what your life will be.

Since moving back to Michigan, my external life is finally reflecting how I have felt for so long on the inside.  It’s peaceful, quiet, and full of love.  It’s authentic, and it’s meaningful. Although society wraps up the “American Dream” in a mortgage with two kids and a pet dog, mine looks a whole lot like this:

At 35, you realize the joys of simplicity.

One of the best things about turning 35 is people stop consistently saying things like, “don’t worry, you’ll meet him someday,” or “you’ll change your mind and decide you want kids!”  Yes, these statements are completely stereotypical and old fashioned, but until I hit my early 30s, I still listened.

I thought, maybe I’ll change my mind. Maybe I’ll be happier if I had a boyfriend.  Society says so, right?  Wrong.

These are simply toxic messages that are illusions into thinking a milestone or another person will make you complete.

First, you have to feel complete on your own.

Another great thing about turning 35 is being confident about the choices I have made.  After 12 years of post-grad experiences, living in many big cities, and having endless dating stories, I’m certain about what I want- and what I don’t.

At 35, I live by myself with my cat, have an extra bedroom, spend my time writing, and take public transportation, Uber, or walk instead of driving.  By New York City standards, this would be considered luxury.  By Michigan standards, I am probably considered unfortunate.  Nevertheless, this is me living my best life- and it’s the life I chose.  

At 23 I may have had the house, the fiance, and the two car garage in the suburbs, but I knew that life wasn’t for me.  Each night I felt empty inside, drinking wine until I fell asleep to “According to Jim.”  Today I no longer have to explain to anyone why I left and moved to San Francisco, why I bounced from New York to Boston, or what made me decide to get sober.  It was my journey to live.  Although I’m happy to write about these experiences, it’s not up for discussion or debate with anyone else- and today, I finally know that.

At 35, I know my life is meant for me to live- and no one else.

Categories
mental health mindfulness self care

Enjoying a Quiet Life

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As I sipped my morning coffee and watched the rain fall, an article from Elephant Journal appeared in my news feed:

It’s Okay to Want to Live a Slow & Quiet Life.

How often do you question if the life you are currently living is the life that feels most authentic to you?

One of the biggest questions I’ve mulled over the last eight months is, “What kind of life do I really want?”

As I pick through the versions of the lives I’ve lived over the last 15 years, what I keep coming back to is a life founded on simplicity. The life that resonates the most with me was a time I lived on a 50-acre vineyard and farm. My days felt like molasses—a slow, steady, and sweet flow.

It was a life of less in many ways but full of so much more richness because I was away from the busyness of life that is easy to get caught up in. I had time to experience the slow beauty of what was around me, the warm, summer breeze weaving between the apple trees, the distance cries from my flock of sheep, and green grass as it tickled my feet when I walked in it.

Amanda Whitworth

As I read the author’s own experiences and journey to enjoying a life of simplicity, I resonated with each word.  Being present is a beautiful thing, and could never be beat by bright lights or fast-paced glamour.

The reaction I get when people hear I moved back to Michigan from big cities is usually “wow, what a change” or “you must be bored!”

That couldn’t be further from the truth.

To be honest, even in a big city I spent a lot of time to myself and in quiet reflection.  I spent days in the park writing and walked thousands of miles, just snapping photos and listening to music.  My life didn’t have any of the luxuries I was taught would make me feel “complete.”

I embraced what was right in front of me.

Although I used to spend my time going out, dating, and finding chaos, I couldn’t imagine living my life that way anymore.  There’s nothing I enjoy more than going home to a quiet apartment, reading a good book, or finding solace in nature.

Simplicity has become a big part of my life, and taking on the “less is more” mentality has lifted a huge weight off my shoulders.

It doesn’t take much to be happy when you’re happy within.  That’s the best gift of all.

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Categories
mental health mindfulness self care

Being An Introvert Isn’t Isolating

Today I decided to debunk one of the biggest introvert misconceptions of all:

That introversion and isolation are the same thing.

I shared a status on Facebook from four years ago, when I lived in a doorman building on the Upper West Side.  Every time I walked in, and every time I went on the elevator to my 6th floor apartment, I had to make small talk.

Every.  Time.

Sure, it’s nice to be greeted or to have someone acknowledge you, but sometimes, believe it or not, you just want to walk in, go upstairs, and be left alone.  So, I would keep my sunglasses on, pretend I was talking on the phone, or keep walking straight to avoid the small talk.

After sharing my status from 2015, my best friend from my hometown commented:

“Thank you for this.  I cannot stand small talk, I would rather not say anything at all!”

She gets me.

Even though we live over 1,000 miles apart, those are the connections that mean so much to me- I would rather have quality friends who understand me than a large number of people who don’t.

Some people gain energy from other people, and others gain energy from being alone.  That’s the difference between an extrovert and an introvert.  In a city like New York or Boston you’re constantly surrounded by so many people, being stimulated left and right, that it’s easy for an introvert to get drained.

This is why I spend so much time in the park, outside, and journaling by myself.  Whether I’m reading by the river or hanging out at home with the cat, my recharge time is extremely sacred, and necessary, to maintain my sanity.

It’s completely different than isolating.

I’m positive that the world around me would rather have a recharged, calm Kristin than a snappy, reactive one- and that latter is what you’ll get if I don’t have ample alone time.

Dedicated to my fellow introverts and Rachel, who *always* gets me, no matter where in the world we are.

Categories
mindfulness

A Cat Girl in a Dog World

Sometimes it’s hard being a cat person in a world of dogs.

Oh, the energy and the constant need for attention!  I don’t know about you, but I get overwhelmed when anything runs up to me, kisses me without permission, or needs me to take it for walks.

Maybe that’s why I’ve been single for almost five years, too.

I grew up with cats and was an only child to a single parent- the perfect recipe for introversion.  I read books, I drew pictures, and I hung outside with the ducks.  Independent and mild mannered, I was a child who felt like an old lady compared to my peers.  Kids my age, puppies, and dogs in general overwhelmed me.  I wasn’t equipped to handle their energy.

As an adult, not much has changed.

This is what “dog people” don’t seem to understand.  I’m not lonely- I am just preserving my energy.

There’s a time and a place for social interaction, and it’s important to know the difference between being alone and being lonely.

I’m proud of my independence- and I’m grateful I am able to sit with self.  Not everyone understands the demeanor or the needs of a cat, and that’s okay- I’m on my own journey.

Categories
mindfulness

Someone to Quietly Sit With

Yesterday wasn’t anything out of the ordinary- yet it was a delightful Saturday afternoon.

It was one of those sunny, frigid December days; the type of day when you need sunglasses and gloves. With my notebook and planner in hand, I crept into a cafe for coffee and a warm place to write.

I spotted an empty seat by the window and hoped it would still be there by the time I ordered my drink. However, not only did I notice the empty seat- I noticed a familiar face at the spot next to what I hoped to be mine.

I remembered this person from the summer- we had sat next to each other at the window on the opposite side of the cafe. Just like me, he seemed to prefer the window seats- and just like the time before, I had my journal, planner, and black coffee.

We said a few words this time- chatting about the cold weather, our birthdays, and the dark winter days. He offered me his New Yorker magazine after writing in silence, looking out the window, and sipping warm drinks.

You always wonder what will come out of something like this; you wonder what the stranger sitting next to you will say, what they’ll do, or if you will ever see them again.

However, Saturday afternoon was perfect; because sometimes it’s just nice to have someone to quietly sit with.