Today is my birthday. I am thirty-six years old. I still feel “more experienced” than my years suggest. This has always been true.

Within this year of being thirty-five, there have been things have gone well and things that have not. As Kurt Vonnegut plainly stated, “So it goes.” But it has been a remarkable year of personal growth, change of perspectives, and even some surprises.

It has been busy.
In recent months, I have been taking two classes at Michigan State University in an effort to renew my teaching certification before it expires this June. On one hand, this has been daunting due to the schedule demands of working full-time, serving on various committees, and raising a family. On the other, my soul has been fed in a way that parenting, wife-ying, dancing, writing, and teaching simply don’t nourish in spite of their own richly satisfying offerings.

It has been validating.
I always appreciate knowing that I know what I am doing because life is a serious of experiments and negotiations. So when I read the words of others that validate my own thoughts and experiences, I feel encouraged and inspired to delve deeper. This is happening in my teaching. And, well, in my living.

It has been re-engaging.
I have what I lovingly refer to as a “tribe of women” that have helped me through life. This is not to say that men haven’t had profound roles in shaping my course, but I have found the kinship of women to be important to how I navigate. Some have been actual teachers, others supporters, mentors, friends, colleagues and so on. Some would easily identify themselves and others would have no idea how influential they’ve been to me. Or how inspiring. But this year I have found great friendships again or anew that have made this year special.

It has been conscious.
I have lost a significant amount of weight. What everyone says is true,….I have more energy, I feel better about myself, blah blah. Being a dancer, I have a whole subset of issues with weight that have presented along the way but ultimately, it has been about me. I am re-identifying with myself and less so, it seems, to my roles. Now that my youngest is about to be 20 months, I am ready to shed the “baby fat”. And I am ready to do that. I won’t ever really be “a dancer” in the way I once defined it, or as my technique class and rehearsal/performance schedule demanded it, but I embrace that dancing is still at my root. I am letting go of some of the demands the profession of dance has imposed upon me, or that I imposed upon myself in response to the profession, and returning to why I started doing this in the first place. Simply, I can’t NOT do it. Ironically, I feel more interested in and eager to dance than I have in a very long time.

It has been fulfilling.
My husband and kids are truly remarkable. Period.

It has been unpredictable.
On Thanksgiving, I participated in my first 5K. This really surprised me. Even while I was driving to the race, pinning on my number, running, and eating a banana, I couldn’t believe it was real. I couldn’t believe that I, in fact, was doing any of these things. In fact, if you had asked me on Wednesday if I had plans to run one, I would have said no. Even though I have been casually running on and off for over a year, this was a little impulsive. It was also necessary. I learned a lot about myself on Thursday; the best being that I don’t know everything about myself yet.

Here’s to thirty-six.