This past Sunday I celebrated my 32nd birthday! Since graduating from college, I’ve used the time around my birthday to reflect on the past and to create goals for the future. Y’all know I am a goal-setter, and although I create goals for the new year, and this year I created goals for the academic year (specific professional wellness goals), the goals created around my birthday tend to be a bit more emotional and personal.
Age is an interesting thing. This year, I feel great about my age. I feel confident in my age and I feel proud of my age… but I will say, the years ahead scare me a little. I really feel like I’m getting older and I’m not scared of that, but I can’t help but feel the need to focus and to live with more purpose. I think of when my parents were my age and honestly, I just can’t believe I’m at that point in life. I think of it both ways. On one hand, I can’t believe all my parents had accomplished by age 32 and on the other hand, I can’t believe I’m as old as my parents were when I was 8. It’s just crazy to me.
Last year was a great year, a transitional year, as I moved into a director position in my professional career and we bought a house in Maryland. Both changes were great changes, but they were big changes. Buying a house has been so great for our family and we’re really enjoying making this house our home. My commute is the toughest aspect of living further away from DC, but we just love where we live, our amazing neighbors, and our house. Looking back, last year was about establishing roots. I’ve moved a lot in my life and buying a house was the first time I felt like I could fully unpack (I still haven’t). To put nails in the walls and to really become a part of my own community.
This past year I also grew more confident in my role as a working mom. After having Magnolia, I went back and forth between my desire to be home with my daughter and my drive to help collegiate student-athletes in my professional career. There are still many days where it’s hard to be apart from my daughter, but I am so thankful for the work I am able to do each day. This year I gained a confidence I haven’t felt before and I’m really proud of my role as working mom.
Last year my goals were very specific and task oriented. They didn’t follow a specific theme or have a clear direction about them, but I created a list of 8 things I wanted to accomplish by age 32 I can honestly say I worked towards each of them and am proud of what I accomplished for each goal. I may not have de-cluttered the entire house, but I definitely cleaned out a number of rooms and sold/donated a lot of stuff. I didn’t tackle goal number 3, but I’m still happy with the goals I worked towards and accomplished this past year.
Looking towards this next year, I’ve spent quite a bit a time these past few weeks thinking about my life, where I’ve been, what I’ve accomplished/haven’t accomplished, and what I’m striving for. I’ve asked myself some tough questions and I’ve really taken the time to be honest with myself. What I’ve found the most clarity on is that I need to let go of my past. I need to close the door on my 20’s and fully embrace my life as a 32 year old. Turning 30 wasn’t scary to me, but I’ve realized that I still cling to a lot of my past from my 20’s, in good and in bad ways.
For example, I’m proud of the fact that I lost a lot of weight back in 2006, but that was 10 years ago. TEN YEARS. And for a variety of reasons (mindless eating, difference in lifestyle, and pregnancy), I’ve gained back most of that weight. I’m proud of the half marathon I ran back in 2010, but that was 6 years ago and I don’t run as regularly as I once did. From a different perspective, I went through some pretty traumatic experiences back in 2009 and it is time to close the door on that time and to move on with my life. I have never had the courage/freedom/permission to write about my past, at least not that part of my past, but for a number of reasons, I am finding my voice and I am eager to share my story. I feel like finally being able to talk about the elephant that has been in the room for almost 8 years is the freedom I need to be able to move on. I know this is all extremely vague and that there’s a lot to read into. I’ve had some pretty personal things going on these past few weeks, and no, I’m not pregnant, and although I don’t have much of a voice right now, I know I will soon!
Ultimately, I’ve reached a point where I am just so tired of my past defining my future. I want to close the door on what I’ve accomplished in the past and to create new accomplishments. I want to close the door on the pain of my past and focus on the joy and love that exists in my daily life now. My goal for this next year is to let go and to redefine. I want to stop looking backwards and start looking forward, as if I’ve never set goals before and they’ve never had outcomes. I want to let go and to move on.
I talk a lot about wanting to get back to a happier and healthier weight, and although that has a numerical goal associated with it (206 pounds), I’ve realized these past few weeks that I haven’t been thinking enough about what got me to 206 pounds. Yes, I was actively dieting back in 2006, and I don’t want to discount the impact of my diet change, but I also changed my lifestyle entirely! Without those lifestyle changes, there is no way I would have lost weight just through dieting, there’s just no way. When I lost those 55 pounds, I was surrounded by the most accepting community I’ve ever been a part of, worked out almost every day, played squash just for fun a couple times a week on top of my workouts, took dance lessons, traveled a lot, spent a lot of time out in nature (hiking, walking, just sitting outside), wrote in a journal (pre-blog), read a lot, and had a great social life!
I’ve been so focused on the food consumption side of weight loss these past 5.5 years of blogging, even in the phases of not dieting or going scaleless. What I haven’t recognized or focused on these past 5.5 years is the power and impact habits and lifestyle choices make on one’s quest to be happier and healthier. Yes, I’ve talked about self care a lot and I do invest in my own self care, but in many ways, I’ve always looked at self care through a stress management lens. I haven’t looked at the impact lifestyle changes and self care make of one’s weight loss. The truth is, I’m just not happy with certain aspects of my lifestyle at this place in my life and it has a negative impact on my diet and weight loss. I have so many great things going on, but I often feel like a broken record: read any of my day in the life posts from the past 2 years. I don’t workout as much as I would like to, I don’t make time to hang out with friends as often as I need to, I don’t make as much of an effort to make new friends and to build a community, I don’t have much of a social life outside of Neal and Magnolia, I’m not as active in my spiritual life as I want to be, yadda yadda yadda. My diet/dieting is still an important piece towards reaching a healthier and happier weight, but it’s just that, a piece. This isn’t a “I’m throwing in the towel and not dieting” blog post, but a “it’s time to also focus on the lifestyle side of wellness and to reinvest in myself” post.
Long story short, I’ve got to let go of how amazing my life was in 2007, how horrible my life was in 2009, and all the ups and downs since then. My goal for this next year is to let go and redefine!
I see this playing out in my workouts. I see this playing out in my relationships. I see this playing out in my spiritual life. I see this playing out in my hobbies. I see this playing out in my career. I see this playing out in a number of different ways, but it’s time to let go, to move on, and to become exactly who I am at this point in my life. To redefine Ashley.
Here’s to 32! It’s going to be a great year!