On 30

I turned 30 this year. Well, not this year exactly, but within the last year. I know this level of detail is unimportant. It’s as if I’m a five year old, vehemently insisting that “I am five and a half, thank you very much!” Perhaps I’m marking the smaller increments of time because it’s suddenly going by quickly, and I want to measure it, to control it. 

Any age ending in zero seems to invite some level of crisis, celebration, or renaissance. These ages are the ones that prompt special greeting cards and bigger birthday parties. They are the ones that elicit teasing, the ages for which “over the hill” was created. 

The first of the zeros, passed me by without much pomp and circumstance. At 1-0, every birthday was fun, and I greeted every chance for endless attention and copious amounts of sugar with open arms. Well, this may also be true twenty years later. Truth be told, I can’t even remember what I did for my 10th birthday. Were there cards harolding my entrance into double digits? Did I get a new Barbie or (less-desirable) new clothes? Were there clowns, monkeys, and a bouncy house? I don’t know. (But no, I’m sure I would’ve remembered a bouncy house.) What I do know of myself at 10, however, is that I felt joy. I sang. I lit up in the presence of love and merriment. For me, I’d like to remember the big 1-0 as a celebration of the purest kind.

Next, came 2-0. A college sophomore with freshly cut hair and grayish lowlights, I started differentiating myself, albeit ever so slightly, from my family and friends. My two roommates and I would cruise down Snelling Avenue, occasionally rolling down our windows to yell something intended to be completely embarrassing, yet was mildly amusing at best. We’d celebrate birthdays by drinking bubble tea and going to cheap concerts. I traveled to Guatemala that year. I changed my major three times that year. I gave up theater that year. Many mini changes and minor crises that crescendoed into becoming a Resident Assistant on campus, taking on the trials, both physical and emotional of everyone I could…somehow, transitioning from a time of finding myself to losing myself in the problems of others. 

So if 1-0 was celebration and 2-0 was crisis, it would seem, at the dawn of 3-0, I found myself expecting renaissance. 

And on September 25th, a.k.a. my birthday, I began spouting off reflections and mantras accordingly. I had aspirations of seizing the day, embracing my inner warrior, blah, blah, blah. 

At eight months in, although I feel slightly more confident and a bit more self-aware, more than anything, I feel limited. In my 20s, time was on my side. Even if reality and perception didn’t always see eye to eye, I thought that, as I opened up my hands to ideas and experiences, so life would open up to me. At 3-0, however, I’m swapping lofty possibilities with strict time tables; spending little with saving much; waiting for the future with clinging to the present. For the first time, I don’t want to get older. Well, in someways I do. I want the perspective of age, but I don’t want the limits. 

In the next five years, I will have more scans, less eggs, more pains, and a few more wrinkles. My body feels like a hotel lobby, checking new visitors in and long-time guests out with increasing frequency.

For all of us, choice and options are limited as our context changes. Speaking from a privileged place, I know there are many others who have much less say in the trajectory of their days than I. Perhaps, I’m just waking up to this reality in a more tangible way.

And perhaps this realization, however small, is renaissance enough for now. Because it’s okay if doors close. Others may still crack open—just as I knew they would at 2-0, and I can face each with joy I had at 1-0. 

Change is seen as something evil only by those who have lost their youth or sense of humor. – Cookie Mueller

So hello 30s. We will be in each other’s company for a while. I will try not to fight you, and I will try not to blame you. I want to make the most of you, and I don’t want to run from you. Limited I may be, I’m still me at any age. And for now and for every age, that’s enough.

Graham Crackers Galore

Happy Graham Cracker Day!

Whether camping in the woods or crashing at home, I always enjoy a good, old-fashioned graham cracker, primarily, in s’more form.

To make the day a little sweeter, here are a few recommendations for some tasty combinations with crunchy grahams:

[PB&A S’mores] Take one part graham cracker, a spread of peanut butter, and a slice of apple, then top it off with a toasted mallow. Another fun idea? Switch traditional honey grahams for the cinnamon variety.

[Strawberry Nutella S’mores] Break a graham in half and spread Nutella, topped with a few strawberry slices on top of one half. Finish off with your toasted marshmallow and place the other graham half on top.

[White Chocolate Raspberry S’mores] Replace the typical milk chocolate bar with a white chocolate bar and spread either raspberry jam or chopped raspberries on one side of a graham cracker. Add your toasted marshmallow, along with the other graham cracker half, and crunch away!

[Dark Chocolate Almond Coco-mores] Make your s’more in the typical fashion, but enhance the traditional flavors with a piece of dark chocolate, a sprinkle of coconut, and some slivered almonds.

Have a merry–and extra sweet–Graham Cracker Day!


*Photo Credit: kevinandamanda.com

Celebrate: International Handstand Day

Guest post by Vanessa Newton // Instagram: @vlnewt // Twitter: @vlnewt

It’s June 24th, and do you know what that means??

It’s International Handstand Day! Like most holidays, why this holiday was created who knows? But I am active participant in anything that means I get to stand on my hands. I started out tumbling as a little kid and have kept it up as a “grown up” by taking adult gymnastics classes. The feeling of flying through the air and finding the perfect balance in a handstand is like none other. (If you are struggling, might I recommend doing handstands against a wall and then finding a nice open space. When you go up, squeeze your abs to help keep you stable…really squeeze all of your muscles!)

To participate in International Handstand Day, post photos or videos of you doing a handstand and tag #handstandday in your post! Here are a few of my favorite places I’ve done handstands…

My Kentucky friends and I went and hiked the Pinnacles in Berea, KY and we got this amazing shot!

​​When I lived in #LFK (Lawrence, Kansas where Kelsey and I worked together), I was an active member of the Lawrence Trailhawks and on this night, I was named Tumble Hawk!
​If you are going to be at the #data17 Tableau Conference, look for me there! I’ll probably be doing this…
And finally, on the rooftop of my old apartment here in Rochester, NY…

Go out and celebrate International #handstandday today and continue celebrating everyday! Spending time upside down and, remember, doing tumbling isn’t just for little kids! If you are interested in taking up adult gymnastics classes, I highly encourage you to try. Both of the gyms I’ve found simply by googling “adult gymnastics classes” and adding the city I’m living in. Adult classes are loads of fun because you have some people in the class that are advanced and others who have never done a flip before in their lives. But, hey, we all come together to learn and have fun (and hopefully keep injuries at a minimum)!

You can follow my tumbling and handstanding on my Twitter and/or Instagram! I’m @vlnewt on both #selfpromo.

An Impromptu Song

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In the middle of a massive, potentially foreboding city, my mom and I discovered a slice of unadulterated joy…at the Times Square Starbucks, no less. After artfully navigating through a sea of people, we finally reached the front of the line for coffee, pastries, and trinkets. As I gently passed over my souvenir mug to the cashier, a slow bass melody started to fill the establishment. The cashier looked at the others and, within moments, a store full of Starbucks baristas started singing “My Girl.” Without hesitation, my mom and I joined in. (Yes, I used to voluntarily take part in a rousing cover of The Temptations’ classic at family gatherings of old.) And, in a moment, joy replaced fear; calm overtook stress; peace beat agitation.

As I continue to traverse the bustling streets of the city that never sleeps, I’m keeping the Times Square Starbucks in mind–the setting for an unexpected, Everyday Holiday moment.