As I sit here tonight, sipping my wine and reflecting on the past decade of my life, I have come to realize that this is, in fact, the very last day of my 20's. Wow....I started looking back at the last 10 years of my life and I've realized how far I've come. Then I started to think back to where I was the last day of my teenage years, and can you believe it - I actually remember that day! I was in California with my friend Charren and our boyfriends at the time. It was a trip to celebrate my 20th birthday! We arrived the day before my birthday and over the next few days we visited Disneyland, Universal Studios, and I went to the ocean for my very first time! My 20's were exciting years. Years of many accomplishments and firsts. They were also years a much struggle. But I have grown so much over the past decade. So I would like to take a minute to look back at some of the highs and lows of the past 10 years of my life:
20 years old: I celebrated my 20th birthday in LA. It was my first trip to California, my first trip to the ocean, and such a glorious and happy time for me. I was in college and about to embark on many journeys. That year, I did a lot of traveling. I went on my first (and only!) cruise, I visited the desert for the very first time (Arizona), and I later moved away from home for the very first time - to Tucson, Arizona. The only friend from home to visit me in the short year that I lived there was my life-long friend Melissa, and boy did we have fun! While living away from everything familiar to me, I finally started to discover who I was. I grew so much that year.
21 years old: I celebrated my 21st birthday in Vegas. I was living in Arizona at the time and again, my boyfriend at the time and I met up with my good friend Charren and her boyfriend at the time in Vegas. I moved back home around the 1 year anniversary of being away. My trusted friend Melissa - best friend since 2nd grade - flew out to help me move home and welcomed me into her house as a roomie once we got back. Wow - the time we lived together was AWESOME! We partied our @$$es off!!! We were finally legal to drink and it was the first time I had really ever been single and boy did we take advantage of both! What a wild year that was!
22 years old: I celebrated my 22nd birthday in New Orleans at Mardi Gras. My birthday in '01 just happened to be on Mardi Gras and I had a friend whose mother lived in New Orleans. We road tripped down there - 13 college fraternity guys and me & my girlfriend Dee. Wow....talk about insanity! 22 was a crazy year for me, to say the least. It started out carefree and fun...but ended with some challenges. I was laid off from my job and turned to partying to fill the void. It got a little out of hand, to say the least, and there was a lot of drama that followed. I was diagnosed with depression and have battled it off and on ever since...but finally being diagnosed after YEARS of struggling was actually a good thing so that I could finally be treated. I moved out of Melissa's house and our friendship suffered for awhile. I did, however, return to college after 2 years off and I took it VERY seriously, even making the dean's list. 2 months before my 23rd birthday I found out I was pregnant. It was pretty much the shock of a lifetime.
23 years old: I celebrated my 23rd birthday by going to dinner with my mom, dad, and sister. I had just broken the news to my family that I was pregnant. They could not have been more supportive and to this very day I realize how truly blessed I am to have such a loving and supportive family. At the end of spring semester I moved back in with my mom and dad and the day before classes started that fall I gave birth to my beautiful daughter Rylie. I missed just 2 days of classes and then returned to my senior year in full force. I took a full load of 18 hours plus interned. My life really turned around after having Rylie.
24 years old: To this very day I still laugh at this, but I suffered a "mid-life crisis" the week of my 24th birthday. I think it has to do with the fact that other than when I was pregnant on my 23rd birthday, all my birthdays prior to that had been HUGE - I mean, I took trips and partied my little tail off. When I turned 24, I realized that I was a mother (a single mother at that) and that those days were behind me. I hibernated for about a week and didn't answer my phone at all. I later came out of it, but finally went back on meds for my depression. I later graduated (with honors!!) from college that year and just a few weeks after graduation, I met a guy at a party in Manhattan. We were introduced by a mutual friend and instantly hit it off. He accepted the fact that I had a baby and somehow I just knew we were meant to be together. My relationship with Randy grew so quickly. It was so magical and as if we fell in love overnight. Even though he lived 2 hours away from me in Kansas City, we saw each other EVERY SINGLE weekend from the day we met until the day we moved in together just 9 months later...
25 years old: 25 was a monumentally HUGE year for me! So many life altering events happened that year! Rylie and I had just moved to Kansas City to be with Randy and a month later we were engaged!! And not long after that my little 18 month old Rylie randomly started calling Randy "Daddy." Neither of us had ever encouraged it or even taught her that word....but he just came home from work one day and her eyes lit up and she yelled out "DADDY!" He has been Daddy ever since... That summer I began working for the company that I work for to this very day. I've really made a career for myself there and hope to finish that career out with this very company. Randy and I were also married that year on the beach of Key Largo after a short 7 month engagement and just 16 months of knowing each other. 40 of our friends and family joined us, including Melissa (my best friend since 2nd grade) and Charren (my life-long traveling buddy).
26 years old: My 26th birthday was a weekend long event of celebrating. Randy and I had a party at our duplex that Friday night and then a group of us went out that Saturday night. It was insane. Rylie started taking dance that year, shortly after turning 3. That year was a year of ups and downs. The highlight was purchasing our first home. The low point was losing my best friend Nick. He was an electrical lineman and he went down to Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina to help restore power. He was electricuted and died on September 12, 2005. I miss him every day of my life and still struggle with his death all the time.
27 years old: Randy and I were supposed to go to Austin, Texas for my 27th birthday but everything fell apart that week. Rylie got horribly sick...then Randy got the flu...and my friend Christine, who we were supposed to meet in Austin, got sick as well. It just wasn't meant to be. So I went out that Friday with my good friend Brandon and again that Saturday with my girl Jennie. We had fun anyway and some great times happened that year. Unfortunately, Randy lost his job in the spring of that year. He tried to take advantage of the situation by getting into the mortgate business....but the market just wasn't that good. With me being the only one making a regular paycheck for the next 18 months, we came very close to losing our house and we truly struggled for a very long time. Money was tight, times were tough, and it's a wonder that we made it through all of that still together. But I was blessed to receive a promotion that year and many opportunities came my way at work. We were also able to enroll Rylie in a Montissori school, despite our financial struggles. We always made sure to put Rylie first.
28 years old: My 28th birthday came after 2 consecutive months of not leaving the house other than to go to work. My weekends were spent in bed and I was thoroughly depressed. I was still suffering from the loss of Nick and I was just in pieces. Randy finally forced me to see a psychiatrist and get back on medications. My birthday was my first time out in a LONG time and I actually had a great time. I also quit smoking that weekend (2 years and counting of being smoke-free!!!). Randy and I finally got our finances back together that year and were finally starting to live a life of being caught up on our bills and not struggling for the first time in quite awhile. Near the end of the year we found out we were going to have a baby - after over 2 years of trying! AND, we found out EXACTLY 6 years to the day that I found out I was having Rylie...AND it was also Randy's birthday when we found out!
29 years old: My 29th birthday was spent pregnant, of course. Later that year, our beautiful Harper joined us and made us a happy family of 4 just 1 week exactly before Rylie turned 6. Rylie started kindergarten after 2 years of Montissori and was at the top of the class, being one of the only children that already knew how to read. She also started gymnastics that year and advanced quickly. I really learned a lot after having my second child. My true friends are still by my side and many others lost interest once I was no longer able to party with them like had in the past. Randy and I grew sooo much closer. He did EVERYTHING during my pregnancy - cleaned, shopped, waited on me, he even got up in the night with Harper when she was born - and not once has he ever complained. This past year has taught me more than most of my other years combined. I have learned that I have the best husband I could have ever even dreamed of having. And I have learned that my true friends are some of the best people in the world.
Tomorrow I turn 30 and I just know that the next decade of my life is going to be AMAZING!!!! I already have so much to look forward to! Harper will celebrate her first birthday this year! Rylie will turn 7! Randy and I are planning a trip to Mexico for our 5 year anniversary (with my good friend Charren and her husband - who I introduced her to)! AND I am going to do my very first triathlon in June!!! Life is good, and I really have to wonder if there is any way it could ever possibly get any better than this!!!!!!!!!!!
And now I have to wonder if the night before my 40th birthday if I will be sitting somewhere remembering this very night. And if that happens, I hope I remember how wonderful and happy and truly blessed I feel at this exact moment. Through all the struggles, joys, challenges, blessings, I finally feel like I know who I am and I am finally realizing how wonderful life is.
So at this very moment, I admit to all of you, that I am not in the least bit reluctant to turn 30 years old tomorrow. I am actually looking forward to it and am ready to embrace what my 30's have in store for me!