Sunday, June 22, 2014

::{ Turning 30 }::

Guess who's thirty?!

It feels a little weird, but completely normal all at the same time.  Actually, it doesn't feel different at all - it's more mental at this point because I haven't started feeling the physical effects of aging aside from the malfunctioning pancreas I've dealt with for 28.5 years (and counting).

Seeing how the big 3-0 is a decent milestone to mark time, I've spent some time reflecting on both the past and the future with equal amounts of pleasure.  I loved my twenties.  They were jam-packed with opportunity and adventure, and I look back at the decade with no regrets.  That's not to say that I didn't make really stupid decisions or act in a way on any number of occasions that makes me cringe, but I've grown from those experiences and choose to dwell on the positive rather than the negative, though I've certainly had to confront and overcome the latter.  All in all, I'd say it was a pretty formative decade.  Here are some of the events that stand out in my mind as shaping me over the last ten years.  I:

-Graduated from BYU and made some remarkable friends and memories in the 6-year process.  I danced my way through the first two years, traveled my way through another year, and somehow selected Art History as my field of choice in the middle of all that.  To be completely honest, I never considered going to BYU until a few weeks before I submitted my application.  I don't think it is the world's best university in terms of academics, and it drives me crazy when people whip out the "but it's the Lord's university" card.  However, it turned out to be a great experience for many, many reasons and I will always treasure my time there - the good and the bad.

[One of my dear friends from BYU, Else Endecott.  Sure love this girl.]

-Served a mission in the Texas San Antonio Mission, aka, the mighty TSAM.  It was life-changing in both spiritual and practical ways.  God bless Texas.  Before 2006, you'd never hear me say that.

[With Pres. & Sister Larkin at a TSAM reunion.]

-Got my first job as a sales associate at GAP.  My dad teased me that a good chunk of my paycheck went right back to GAP with my expanded wardrobe (that is only partially-true).  In the end, I learned important lessons about time, hard work, money, self-discipline, and education.  I knew it wouldn't become a career (are you kidding me?  Retail management? Gap card quotas?), but it was a great first job.

[Working in retail killed my love of shopping, and I can't shop at Gap or Banana Republic anymore because after three years of getting the employee discount, I can't justify paying full price.]

-Experienced a broken heart.  This doesn't apply exclusively to relationships - there are many variations of a "broken heart," and I definitely experienced a few of them over the course of a decade.  I was on the giving and receiving end, and neither position is easy or enjoyable to be in.  These experiences were hard in the moment, but I'm grateful for all of them.  They've changed me in significant ways and I'm grateful for the feelings and lessons tied up in each one - I hope they'll be of use someday for my kids (or others) to lean upon.

[BYU Spring Performing Arts Company - it was the best of times, it was the worst of times...]

-Traveled a bit.  Whether it's a short road trip or a grand continental tour, my love of exploring new places, cultures, foods, etc. reached new levels.

[Venice circa 2010.]

-Found Steve.  This was definitely the best part of my twenties - hands down.  Our meeting, courtship, engagement, and now marriage has been preeeeeetty awesome.  Through ups and downs, sickness and health, silly mistakes and serious decisions, Steve has helped me discover my very best self.  He brings it out, and still motivates me to be even better.  I've never met anyone like him, and he's helped me discover my own potential and abilities and dreams in a way that no other person has ever done.

[The day I married I best friend.]

-Got married and immediately moved to Scotland to get a Master's degree.  Family parties?  Sunday dinners with the parentals?  Holidays without airplanes?  Built-in babysitters?  WHAT ARE THOSE THINGS?!?!  We have no idea!  Ha!  I actually consider this one of the greatest blessings I've ever received even though it may seem like we are lacking something in some way to some people.  I'm glad it's been "just us" since our wedding day.  We've certainly appreciated the help we've received  and the visits we've enjoyed at various points, but it's been remarkably special thriving as "Team Adams."  It's made us draw closer together, and at the same time we have had to step outside our comfort zone and build a network of friends, neighbors, colleagues, and co-workers that is independent of our families.  That network wouldn't be as strong if we had relatives nearby.

[Edinburgh castle during the annual Tattoo.]

-Discovered the Midwest so that Steve could get his MPA at OSU.  I remember ward members back in Bountiful being obsessed with Ohio (they're native Buckeyes) and I couldn't understand why.  Now that I live here, I totally get it.  We love Ohio.  I have no idea how long we'll be here when all is said and done, but it will be a bittersweet parting if/when we move away.

[Scioto River near downtown Columbus at dusk.]

-Managed a pregnancy.  I'm not sure when most people (please keep in mind...I grew up in Bountiful, Utah, a very conservative place) get asked by their doctor if there is a chance they are pregnant.  I was fourteen.  FOURTEEN, people!  After the initial shock of the question wore off, the deep and forever unsettling realization of why he asked that question began to sink into my psyche.  It has never gone away.  Type I Diabetes and pregnancy is serious business, and while my doc was not concerned in any way with my religion or standards in asking that question, he made certain that I knew exactly what I was getting into should that (then or ever) be the case - pregnancy, that is.  Every expectant mother is fearful of birth defects or unforeseen and often inexplicable complications happening to their child during pregnancy that they don't have any control over.  Diabetics (and others - I don't single out diabetics as the only people with issues that bring a greater chance of risks and complications) do, however, have a bit more to deal with than the usual anxieties that come with pregnancy.  A cold, elevated stress, exercise, too few or too many carbs at a meal, a bad insertion site, anything really (I'm not even joking), can throw off good control on a good day.  Once you introduce a developing human into the diabetic equation, it gets incredibly complicated and sometimes, downright scary.  People might judge me for not wanting a brood of children, but until those people have lived nine months in Type-I diabetic pregnancy mode, I simply smile and nod.  Back to my original point, I'm really grateful I managed a successful diabetic pregnancy.  Go me...and Steve...and the best OB/GYN on the planet...and the best NP on the planet from my endo practice.  They weren't kidding when they said, "It takes a village..."  I offer a hearty amen.

[The munchkin and I before she arrived.]

-Had a baby.  After my lovely rant above, I'm so grateful AJ arrived happy and healthy.  There are many people who are not able to have biological children, but desperately wish they could.  Despite the  diabetes-induced stress and paranoia, I am certainly aware of the blessing it is to be able to have a baby.  Everybody could benefit from a little more compassion and empathy from everyone else (and should return the very same) no matter their circumstance - lots of kids, a few kids, no kids, adopted kids, biological kids, foster kids, whatever.  Aside from Steve, AJ is the next best thing that happened to me in my twenties.

[I can tell this is from the sleep-deprivation stage based on my appearance, but I love AJ's face in this picture.]

-Jumped headfirst into a Ph.D. program with a 4.5 month old.  That was crazy.  It still is crazy.  But I know for a fact that if I wasn't doing it now, it would never happen and I would regret it for the rest of my life.  I know myself well enough to say that I am not one of those people who would be able to go back to school when my kids are grown up and out of the home.  No way.  It's way too demanding, and I wouldn't have the drive or the energy to get it done.  Life has never slowed down or gotten less busy as I've gotten older, so I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that it's now or never.  I'm eternally grateful to Steve for helping me accomplish my goals.  I better figure out a way to get his name included on my diploma when I graduate because this degree will be his as much as it will be mine.

[This is one of my favorite comics courtesy of Ph.D comics. =)]

With those events in my past, it's now time to move forward, and I have to admit, I'm really looking forward to my thirties.  One of my favorite people on the planet, Lana Larkin, always used to say, "Make it the best day so far."  That thought runs through my head almost every day.  And now I'm applying it to a new decade.  My twenties were great.  My thirties will be even greater.  And on and on and on...

I was intending to talk about the awesome surprise that Steve planned for my debut into a new decade, but this post is reaching novel lengths (for a blog, that is).  More on that in the next installment.