36 Candles


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My 33rd birthday. It was my very first massage.  I had no idea what I was in for.  My concern had very little to do with the fact that a stranger would be feeling me up for 60 minutes straight.  My nerves were shot.  I was anxious beyond belief. Why? Did I even like massages?  The idea of relaxation, especially an experience that someone else paid for, was a great one. But for some reason I wasn’t completely sold on the idea. Truth is, at that point I didn’t know what my likes and dislikes were. I hadn’t given them any thought at all. I had been so consumed being a mother and trying to grapple with the idea that I was no longer a wife. I hadn’t a clue who I was.  That was 33 and it wasn’t until 35 that I became consistent in pursuing self-discovery. I was determined to get to know me, the real Minah. Not the mom, not the ex-wife, not the girl who works at that school, but Minah. I became bent on discovering things I liked; liked to see, do, read, watch and even eat. I set out to change my everyday routine and in the process, I discovered things I didn’t like as well.

Once I became brave enough to go deeper, I got myself a therapist (again) and OH MY GOODNESS. Talk about self-discovery. This past year, these past few months, I have learned so much about myself; good things and things that need improvement but I have embraced them just the same.  What I have learned about self-discovery: no matter what I discover positive or negative, I will benefit from the light of discovery. I already have.

I am a huge birthday person. I always have been and I probably always will be. And the excitement doesn’t begin and end on my birthday. I get excited about everyone’s birthday. I can remember just about every birthday celebration of mine growing up. Sometimes they weren’t huge parties. Most times it was just cake, ice cream and family. All that I needed. It felt good to be celebrated. Birthdays, for me, always lend the opportunity for self-reflection and goal setting. As one (birth) year closes I always take time to reflect on the lessons I learned throughout the year. Over time, I have learned some pretty formidable lessons. It took more than one year to learn some lessons. Others came quick.

 35 taught me so much. The following lessons have been tough but they resonate:

1. Selfishness and Self Responsibility are not the same (thank goodness).

2. Compromising my value to add value to someone else is the opposite of self-care.

3. Say it, even if your voice shakes. Speak up for yourself, your thoughts, your feelings and don’t back down.

4. “Doing Me” will piss some people off. Oh well.

 While I’ve learned some pretty valuable lessons, there are still things that need to be taught:

 Say “No” and Mean It

I am often times a people pleaser; one that gives, gives and gives. Mostly, it’s because I have a giving heart. The other times it’s simply to please the person on the other end of my giving. There are times I over extend myself, doing things beyond my capacity or strength, but I know it would make the other person happy. Truthfully, sometimes it’s in our best interest to say no. Not no because you want to be mean, but no because… I don’t have it, I’m tired, I don’t feel like it or even no, because this effort is not reciprocated. I can admit, there are times I want to say no so bad but because I don’t want to disappoint, I do it anyway.

Trust My Ability to Make Good Decisions

I will be the first to say I haven’t always made the best decisions. I have rushed when things should have slowed down. I have been hesitant when I should have been hasty. Over the course of time I started to trust my ability to make good, wise decisions less and less. It got so bad, I became the most indecisive I have ever been. No one wants to deal with that, not even myself. It took a while but as I started to record my small victories in this area and with the help of a couple of cheerleaders, I am learning I can actually make good decisions. And, most of what I would call “bad decisions” that I made were the best I could make with the information I had. I still get apprehensive a little when it’s time to make a major decision. Hopefully 36 will teach me I can be trusted again.

Do More for Minah

Since I have learned of my pregnancy with Alex, I can’t remember a time I went into a store did not purchase anything for him. I can’t remember a time I have gone into a store and purchased something just for myself. Each day our lives revolve around something or someone else. I am at work 9-10 hours a day, then I scoop up the kid. I either go straight home or venture out to visit a friend. I drive here, there and everywhere on any given day.  On the weekends I am doing laundry, cleaning the bedroom, grocery shopping for the upcoming week. I mentor. My phone is constantly notifying me of yet another text or email that requires an urgent response.  My focus is rarely on me. I rarely treat myself beyond a pack of Haribo Goldbears. It’s not often my day is just about me. In a perfect world, I would be able to set aside one week to focus on me, but the world isn’t perfect. So, that eliminates that idea. The goal for 36 is to give myself more space for me. I’d like to make a purchase just for me sometimes. I want to sit in a room and listen to all the Jazz I can, unbothered. I’d like to take a nap, the kind of nap where I wake up in a pool of drool. Gross I know but that’ got to be some good sleep. I want to learn to do more for me.

Getting older… what a journey? I have acquired a bunch of resilience; resilience and strength I didn’t know I was capable of possessing. There were times I’d thought I would go straight jacket crazy but I managed to keep on keeping on. 35 gave me the opportunity to ask a lot of questions and my hope is that 36 will be a year that answers.

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