Hi. Today is my birthday. I am 30.
My goal this year is to start making things with my hands again and writing about it all. So here we are.
I haven’t written in 3 years. Most of that time was not very kind to me, mainly for health reasons. But the last year has been amazing. So I’m kicking off my 30th birthday by reflecting on my top 10 favorite things that happened from my 29th year (in chronological order).
It was a big year — I could write a standalone post about each of these things — so grab a cup of tea and let’s catch up.
1. We bought a house!
After 2 years of thinking about it, saving, and searching — we are homeowners.
As someone who grew up dirt poor, this is definitely something I didn’t know I could accomplish. Every morning I lie in bed and watch our room grow brighter, look out over our backyard, and reflect on how thankful I am to have a blossoming homestead.
We have an endless list of projects queued up to make our house feel like a home and reflect who we are, and after an incredibly intense couple of years, I’m excited to spend time getting settled in.
2. I was promoted!
This was a good year professionally. I received my company’s Above and Beyonce award, I was promoted to team lead, I hired two incredible people, and now I manage a growing team focused on content.
For the first time since I left the baking/candy industry, I feel like I have a career and not a job. It’s honestly a really nice feeling.
Also, Nick switched jobs! I’m telling you, it was a big year. (Read: We are ready to chill.)
3. We took engagement photos!
I’ve never really understood engagement photos. But then we started wedding planning and quickly discovered multiple things we wanted to use professional, current photos for. Also, a couple’s or engagement session is the perfect opportunity to work with your photographer before the wedding.
And who are we kidding, I’ll take any excuse to have my photo taken by Ryan Green!
For this shoot, we did what we do best: Headed to our favorite antique shops, aka: our natural habitat.
4. We watched the total solar eclipse on a boat!
We took the day off, headed to the lake, and watched the eclipse from the water. The path of totality touched 14 states, and the rest of the U.S. had a partial eclipse. Seeing this with my closest friends was a magical, humbling experience.
5. We got married!
Our wedding day was a whirlwind only made possible by our friends and family. Nayyirah Waheed said, “With the right people, a year is a lifetime. Find the people who want to live lives with you.”
I’m so excited to keep spending lifetimes with Nick. He makes me a better person, believes in all my wild ideas, and trusts me to help make our life’s dreams come true. I’m thankful everyday that I found my person.
6. We honeymooned in Italy!
We took our first international trip. We flew into Rome and city hopped to Florence, Cinque Terre, and Milan.
It was breathtaking, stressful, and delicious.
The language barrier was challenging at times and we didn’t spend nearly enough time in each city. But we had glorious views, prosecco almost daily, and took a pizza and gelato making class! I would go back in a heartbeat, we made some of my favorite memories on that trip.
7. We added a puppy to our family!
I’ll save the full story for another post. All you need to know right now is that we have little hound mix named Pickle.
He’s cute, he’s energetic, and I am completely obsessed with him. He’s taught me so much patience and grace these last few months.
And no, Olive the cat is not his friend (YET — but we are determined to change that).
8. We had our first Christmas tree adventure!
We chopped it down ourselves! We made ice cream cone ornaments! It was all very magical and sticky and festive. In all our time together, this is the first year we’ve put up a tree. Maybe it was the house, or the wedding, but for some reason, it felt right for this to be the year we got a tree. I can’t wait to get an even taller one next Christmas!
9. I lost 30 pounds!
This is something I am really proud of. Most of my weight loss was intentional (simple portion control and healthier meals) . . . but some of it can be attributed to wedding stress. Oops.
I’m just happy that I feel great. Now, if I could just replace my entire wardrobe with clothes that actually fit so I can look great, that’d be nice.
10. I stopped being in chronic pain!
It’s hard for me to cover this without writing a novel (which is exactly why I plan on writing a personal zine about it!).
Here’s the elevator version:
Basically, my jaw joint was misaligned and ruined my body and life for a long time. After a lot of searching, I found a knowledgeable doctor. I’ve been in treatment for 16 months and have about a year left until it’s complete, though I am feeling much better.
Here’s the detailed version:
I have a jaw joint disorder. For almost 2 years, I had daily headaches and weekly migraines, along with one or more of the following: jaw pain, jaw popping/cracking, jaw locking closed (two times, each for ~4 months back to back, so I was essentially locked closed for 8 months), neck/shoulder/back pain, ringing in ears, ear pain, nausea, difficulty swallowing/feeling of a foreign object in throat, numbness in fingers/hands, referred (phantom) toothaches, eye pain, light sensitivity, difficulty sleeping, fatigue/exhaustion, memory loss, short term memory impairment, difficulty concentrating, and brain fog.
Honestly, just typing that list puts a frog in my throat and tears in my eyes. It literally hurt me to be alive. I had to quit doing a lot of things I love, including hobbies and even just being a good friend.
I was in so much pain, that eventually I had to give myself permission to hibernate from the world and focus on survival, even if that meant not making books or doing creative things.
When I finally started feeling better, I didn’t pressure myself about anything. I just did whatever I wanted, took life slow, and ended up having one of the best years of my life. None of the above would be possible if I didn’t find a doctor that helped me feel better.
[Insert gratuitous photos of me on one of my first pain free days with a functioning mouth:]
I can’t wait to see what my 30th year brings! I know it won’t be a checklist of life milestones — and I am more than okay with that.
I just want to make things with my hands, keep training Pickle, settle in to our house, and be a better friend and all around person. I’ve felt really pressured in the past to only write about my art in order to grow my business, but from now on, I’m just gonna write about whatever I want and hope for the best. That seems to be what makes me happiest.
And if I’ve learned anything in the last year, it’s to do more of what makes you happy.
Until next time, J
Photos: #1-5 by Ryan Green of 30MilesWest, unless otherwise noted. All others by me or Nick.