I am Not Worthy. But I am Thankful.

Yesterday was my 30th birthday.  30.  New decade.  Am I where I thought I would be ten years ago?  Absolutely not.  And you know what?  That is a really great and wonderful thing to have gotten wrong.

See…I love my birthday.  I really do.  I always have.  I think it’s because growing up, none of my cousins or friends had birthdays around mine, so it was always special.  When you grow up with 20+ (I lost count) cousins, it’s hard to feel singled-out.  We almost always celebrated it over Labor Day weekend, so it was such a fun way to wrap up the end of summer and celebrate being back in school.  (Nerd.  I know.)  My mother never failed to have a custom-made cake ordered from her baker friend, and most parties were held at Dalton Parks and Recreation Center, up on the hill overlooking the playground.  I never stopped loving having one day that celebrated me and only me, and this year was certainly no exception.  Everyone in my life prepped Boyfriend on what to expect so that there was no way he was set up for failure.  (Sister:  No, really Jon, her birthday is a really big deal.  I don’t think you understand.  You better make it good.)  Thanks, Sister.  Anyway, he really did make it special:  Cirque du Soleil, shopping day carrying my bags, dinner at the most fun new restaurant in town, a big fun party on Sunday afternoon, cookie cake, roses, and a runner’s watch, complete with GPS and a heart-rate monitor.  He is amazing and I do not deserve him.

And then, there is everyone else…wow.  I am truly humbled by the affection, the attention, the generosity, the thoughtfulness that was bestowed upon me this weekend.  Who am I to deserve such gestures?  How did I collect such outrageously thoughtful friends?  The gifts, while so unexpected, were some of the most thoughtful surprises I have ever received.  And dozens of my friends who came out to celebrate with me at Ormsby’s, making me feel so loved.  And all the cards and notes and texts and Facebook Wall messages that completely humbled me, bringing me to tears.  My heart swells with gratitude.

I am not worthy.

But I am thankful.

Thank you.  All of you.

A Reflection on Summer’s End

I started this blog in July of 2009, the summer I traveled alone through Spain and Italy.  The blog’s original purpose was for my mother’s and friends’ peace of mind as I went abroad.  I posted updates as often as I could and the experience of documenting my trip on a widely-read blog enriched my trip more than I ever could have imagined.  (See Archives for those posts!)

When I got home from that trip, I missed writing about my days, so I decided to keep writing my travel blog, even if I wasn’t getting on airplanes all the time.  See, I want to live in a way that makes most days feel I am traveling through life, being adventurous, feeling in awe of my surroundings, and soaking up the culture of whomever I am surrounded by.

Last summer, I again traveled alone, but this time instead of going abroad, I went to California.  What a gorgeous part of our country!  Then in August I went to Colorado with girlfriends.  And again, I blogged about it and felt that my travels were richer because of the posts. (See Archives!)

And this summer…well, things have been different than the last two years.  First of all, I’m not embarrassed to say that I just didn’t have the money to go on a Grand Adventure.  Fulton County teachers had even more days of pay taken out of both summer checks this year.  In addition to that lost income, I moved apartments at the end of May.  Not cheap.  And did I mention that I live alone now instead of with a roommate?  Man, it sure was nice to split rent and bills for a couple of years.  (I miss you, Josh Armentrout.  And your monthly check.)  So where did that leave me?  In my new one-bedroom apartment, that’s where.  I did take a little jaunt around the Southeast to Charleston and Savannah and PCB with Boyfriend and family, and while that was a lovely time, I struggled with longing for a big trip, a solo adventure.

So, what did I do with myself all seven weeks of summer?  I cooked great meals.  (Ask my boyfriend!)  I lunched with friends.  (Remember teachers eat sack lunches on a 20-minute break during the school year.) I read books, magazines, NPR articles, and cookbooks.  I discovered new music artists.  (Favorite find:  Matthew and the Atlas) I watched The Bachelorette on DVR with Kimber every Tuesday afternoon.  (Team Ben) I adopted a kitten named Pepper.  (Cutest kitten ever.) I went to the lake every chance I got.  (Thank God for friends with family lakehouses.)  I did projects I never seem to get to on weekends.  It was lovely, and I was never ever bored.

But you know what my favorite summer activity was?  I started running again.  I fell out of love with running a couple of years ago, but I felt a craving for it this past spring, so as soon as I faced luxurious weeks off, I knew I had no more excuses.  I set a goal to be able to run five miles by the end of summer.  And I’m so excited to report that today, on my last day of summer break, I did it!  I ran five miles in 50 minutes!  Running is a cure-all for me.  If I can get a good run in three or four days per week, I sleep better, I eat healthier, I feel less stressed, and my self-confidence soars.  It will be a struggle to keep it up with school starting back, but as long as I can remind myself of all of those benefits of running, I am sure that I will maintain my endurance and love of running.

And here I am at summer’s end, goal accomplished, rested, rejuvenated, and looking to start a new position at a new school tomorrow.  I am still too emotional to write about how much I will miss Hopewell Middle School, so right now I just have to focus on the exciting career changes that are ahead of me this year.  I can’t wait to work in the lives of these high school kids!  It’s going to be an awesome year…