35 is special.
In previous years, I've prepared for my birthday by counting down the days, fasting, traveling, hosting a party or some combination of these.
I don't want to do that this year.
I gingerly started the countdown, but then I stopped it when I realized that I could really do whatever I wanted and that I didn't need a countdown to make it happen. (I suspect that countdowns in childhood were my way of reminding everyone in the family that my birthday as around the corner and that I expected gifts because I'm a goat.)
I'm going to be 35 by the end of this week! I can't believe it.
There's so much that I thought I would have accomplished by the time I turned 35, and I'm so glad that I let myself down--just hear me out.
In particular, I'm so glad to have waited on motherhood. I don't think I've ever been ready to be a mother, and even now I'm fine with still not being ready.
I have had so much time to mother my own spirit and build myself as a person. I am so grateful for the opportunity to grow within myself and heal.
I'm grateful for my body.
I've struggled to love her at times and filled her with shame and despair because I did not appreciate her resilience and softness. She is fierce yet kind. She is fast and strong. As I've gotten older, carpal tunnel, slipped disks and other aging pains have started to show on this body -- but this is normal. I've had a full time job since I was 15! I've had multiple jobs and I was in college full-time. My body has done so well in these past 35 years!! Let me let her breathe.
Speaking of true love for this body -- I signed up for spin class. I'm going to show myself that love is an action!
I'm grateful for my mind.
Without her presence, I wouldn't have been able to attain the academic and professional success that allows me to have the comfortable life that I now get to enjoy. I live in a very nice and very Black neighborhood. I get to be safe, and I finally get to unpack the psychological burdens that I unconsciously picked up while growing up poor and dark in a society that values rich and light.
I am grateful that my mind and body are in sync (unless you're asking me to catch a ball or do something athletic -- haha).
I'm grateful for my faith.
I've often assumed good works get you to Heaven, but I've stopped thinking about the end-game. I want to allow others and myself to live a good life here and now. I always ask: how can my activism, my existence, improve my life and the life of others? We are *all* loved by the Divine -- that is why we have been given the opportunity to be here. In the face of those who would use the Bible or any other religious text to shame, I'm here to be a source of love and empathy. I've often assumed passive pleasantness is the way to show my connection to the Divine, but I recognize that the God I worship is a radical -- turning over the tables of money changers in the church would be most similar today to kicking tithe baskets during service. I'm not called to be passive or relentlessly pleasant. I'm called to live by example. God gave me feet and hands for doing, and I'm ready to work.
I'm grateful for my heart.
There was a time when I assumed the time for love had passed. There was a time when I hostile to the very idea of marriage. I'm glad that my heart has softened and that I have learned to love myself and another again. It is very overwhelming when I consider just how blessed I am with my fiance and my future parents-in-law. I feel loved and welcomed by them in every interaction. I never thought this would be my reality.
I'm tempted to imagine what the next 35 years have in store, but I can wait.
I am not in a rush for what my God has planned for me.
I know it's going to be great and well-worth the wait.