Kinda like: Simpler, better, faster...
That's the way I feel at 35.
Yes people, Carmen has officially had yet another birthday and turned another year older... and she feels just fine, thank you very much!
Now that I'm hitting the gym pretty hard and feeling slimmer/fitter, I find that I'm sleeping better and feeling good. Those hard-to-hear old cliches about how good exercise is for you are all true, I'm afraid. There really are no short cuts to feeling good. One of the lessons I've learned in my grand old age is that you just have to get off your ass and DO IT ALREADY!
And... after the year I've had, I think I needed the extra surge of endorphins and adrenaline to lift my spirits and clear my head. It's been a year of fresh starts (moving into my own place), adventure (spending Christmas and New Year with good friends in Canada) and sad endings. For a while, I closed the door on a relationship that I thought would be forever, opening myself to a new level of sadness that I'd never experienced before. On the one hand I made wonderful new friends, and on the other extreme I watched a devastated family bury one of those new friends after he decided he couldn't go on any longer and ended it all. His passing opened my mind to thoughts I'd never had before. I wondered just how sad one would have to feel to take one's own life. I wondered how sad I would have to be, and I marveled at the inner strength and spirituality I managed to find, deep down inside, to pull myself through my own sadness. I thought about how, in our modern day quest for independence and privacy we've somehow opened ourselves up to a lonelier, more isolated existence. In my folks' day, by the time you were 35 you were having the 3rd kid, moving into your second (bigger) home and had at least 2 cars in the driveway. Those plurals seems to elude us at 35 today... I was reminded of the wonderful people and things I have in my life, and how I should thank God everyday for letting me know them and have them around. I realised how vain and arrogant we are to think that all the brilliant opportunities that God gives us will just keep coming forever; that we can turn our noses up at those opportunities, thinking they'll never dry up.
After a year of putting on a brave face, this has been a birthday FILLED will spoiling, love and attention and, I must be honest, I reveled in every second of it. I took a few days off, planned one little activity for each day and pretty much soaked up the peace and quiet of my place, my book and my state of mind. Oh! And I got my hair done... YAY.
Two of my favourite kids in the whole wide world treated me to a surprise party in the front yard, as I was leaving for work.
Declan and Astin, thank you so much for my precious card, pretty flowers, mini chocolate muffin birthday cake (with twirly candle), hugs and kisses. The best part was watching the two of you in a MAD scramble, trying to get the surprise ready without me finding out. *pfft*
My folks and brothers spoiled me rotten with gifts and calls from far, far away.
And my cell phone/facebook/email didn't stop with all the messages from friends and family, near and far.
After not having seen each other for ages, Best Boy treated me to a wonderful seafood lunch, showing me that the door hadn't closed, but opened onto a new level of grown up stuff. Thanks, Best Boy. Or should I call you "Mushashi" now? I can't wait to taste some of the Japanese food you're learning to make.
I've even started baking again. It's been the biggest dream of mine to bake up a storm for my loved ones every Sunday, but for some reason in this year of change, I'd never gotten around to breaking in my new oven with one of the thousands of recipes I've been collecting over the years. Somehow, this weekend, it all felt right and I baked a chocolate butterfly cake. Here it is straight out the oven.
And here it is after I'd smothered it in chocolate sauce and Flake.
My mom and I had a good chuckle that it looked more like a MOTH than a butterfly (seeing as it was all brown and stuff), but it was delicious anyway. Chocolate, brandy and coffee: a winning combination. I'll be making another one for book club next week so look out, girls!
Yeah... It's a new year for me. A new beginning. My Chinese sign is Tiger, and next year (2010) is the Year of the Tiger so I'm looking forward to adventure, prosperity, love, happiness, new beginnings... All that good stuff.
Thanks for joining me on this crazy rollercoaster we call Life.
I'm looking forward to the next 35 with an open heart and open mind.