30 After 30 at 35

I’m trying to make my motto for this hard time Flannery O’Connor’s, as she struggled with lupus:

“I can, with one eye squinted, take it all as a blessing.”

So, that being said, I’m trying to look at my thirty-fourth year as a time of growth and blessing, even with the losses it brought. (To see my original list, click here.)

Not a fashion blogger, but: the Rowena Wool Dress from Wool&, belt: vintage; glasses: my unfortunate $10 backup pair

Work on refining my signature style. I used ThredUp during the spring to buy a half dozen cotton, knee-length, washable dresses to get me through the summer, embracing the size I am and not holding off in the hope that I’d be immediately pregnant. (ThredUp sharing code here — $20 for each of us) For my birthday, I’ve ordered a merino wool dress and I’m thinking of trying the 100 Day Challenge.

Learn how to cook at least five cuts of red meat well. We got another 1/8 of a cow, in addition to about 40 pounds of chicken breasts through a farmer friend.

Making an Advent wreath with the help of Baby Yoda

Celebrate one liturgical event a month. I haven’t kept track, but we have done weekly readings of saint biographies and some baked goods to celebrate — and we said a prayer for the dead every time we ate a piece of Halloween candy in November LIKE WEIRDOS. (I loved it.)

Find a church ministry I can be a part of. I led a book club for our parish chapter of Blessed Is She, reading In This House of Brede, The Color of Compromise, and The Awakening of Miss Prim.

Fit in long walks at every opportunity. Hey, thanks, pandemic!!

Discover new shared interests with J. We’ve done a lot of hiking this year, and for awhile we were baking a lot of Great British Baking Show-inspired desserts.

Grow my own herbs each year. Thyme, sage, basil, peppermint and rosemary, but also tomatillos, tomatoes, potatoes and pumpkin this year.

Start treating myself to fresh flowers each week, even if it’s the bargain bouquet. I still am not great about buying them for myself (especially when I’m not in the store), but between nursing along sympathy bouquets through February, my own blooms from March through November, and now birthday arrangements, I’ve done pretty well.

Hey, that mask really brings out the silver in your hair!!

Keep going gray. Me and everybody in 2020, am I right? My sister trimmed my hair in October, but otherwise it’s just been doing its own (aggravating) thing since the day in January I last had a real haircut, when I was pregnant but not sick and starting to get worried.

Try to get back up to the book a week reading average that’s been my adult standard. Voracious reading post-miscarriage, the inability to concentrate on anything for several weeks as the pandemic unspooled, and then back to my weekly average or so.

Make time to write well. So many letters and emails and journal entries this year, even when I was feeling less sure about what I wanted published for all the world — though I did get published in Dappled Things and Pray Tell.

Give myself and the people around me a little more grace. Mixed progress. I’ve definitely been more tense during parts of this year, but I think I’ve done a good job keeping in touch with friends without taking their lack of communication personally. We all have so much to deal with, we get a free pass to be a little erratic.

30 After 30 at 33

Still not composing selfies properly

So, if you’re a longtime reader, you know I’ve been working through a list of goals for the last three years, in haphazard fashion, with lots of backsliding and serendipitous leaps. Here are my reflections on how my thirty-second year has played out:Read More »

What I Don’t Do

Three years and two children ago, I wrote about a Shauna Niequist essay that has stayed with me for years now. In it, she writes,

“And this is what Denise told me: she said it’s not hard to decide what you want your life to be about. What’s hard, she said, is figuring out what you’re willing to give up in order to do the things you really care about.”

The idea, from an essay excerpted here, and found in her book Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace and Learning the Hard Waycontinues to challenge me. Read More »

30 After 30 (At 31)

Last November, I wrote out some of my goals for life after 30. Now, as I approach 31, I thought I’d revisit some of them.

Going well:

  • Always admit my age — look! It’s right there in the title! Go, me!
  • Keep going gray. Because, you know, I just have to not dye it. Easy. Done. Laziness will get you far.
  • Refine my signature style. ThredUp has helped a lot in this regard. I’m getting better at resisting things just because they’re cheap, and focusing more on fit and what I’d wear with a given item. And I definitely feel less self-conscious when I’m wearing something I’ve thought about than something that makes me feel lumpy and haphazard.
  • Buy a house. Done.
  • Work through the old tumblr drafts. I rescued what I wanted from the sinking ship, switched over to WordPress, and the words started spilling out.
  • Read more. I won’t be at book-a-week status in 2016 but I’m set to finish stronger than 2015. I know the number is arbitrary (especially because it contains behemoths like Brothers Karamazov and shrinky-dinks like My Father’s Dragon), but it’s a helpful measure of how I’m making time for myself and the old mind grapes, too.

Going meh:

  • Finish MiddlemarchI got further than I have in previous attempts, but then I decided not to give up on Brothers K after all, and that ended up occupying all my willpower reading for the summer.
  • Explore Charlottesville and Staunton thoroughly. Still haven’t been to either, much less the Everglades, which was also on my original list.
  • Start treating myself to fresh flowers each week. Here is where I really wish we had a Trader Joe’s, or that I was better at making it to the farmer’s market. My sister bought me a bouquet of lisianthus when she visited that lasted almost three weeks and made me happy every time I spotted them on our be-crumbed, cluttered dining room table. It’s worth doing. And I’m keeping a list of long-lived flowers to assuage my stingy spirit: carnations, daisies.
  • Finish my will. I mean, I finished it, but I haven’t gotten it notarized. Still. (Please don’t murder me.)

I’m trying not to be rigid about these, because (unfortunately) there’s nothing I love so much as a to do list, and the first and most important item on this list is to learn to be more gentle with myself and the people around me. I’m trying to learn not to push, trying to learn to unwind, trying to unclench my creepy claws from the dream of perfection. It’s going…well, it’s going. Let’s just hope I get many more years to work on my 30 after 30 list.