It’s my golden birthday in eleven minutes 31 seconds…30…29…28…27…26…
31 on the 31st of March.
I’m turning thirty-one. They have a bag company called Thirty-One. I’ve never really figured out why. Then again, I’m not really interested in thirty-one varieties of a bag.
Thirty-one varieties of chocolate on the other hand…or thirty-one cupcakes. If I didn’t have to worry about gaining thirty-one pounds just looking at that pile of delicious.
I had a list of all the things I wanted to do before I turned thirty-one. I’ve since expanded the list to include all the years I have left AFTER thirty-one. The original list had thirty-one items on it. That too has expanded. As has my waist.
I think my waist is 31 inches actually…or it used to be before I had kids.
So let’s see. Some of the items on my original list which will turn thirty-one on my 47th birthday:
- Marry a European prince
- Live in Australia
- Have fifteen children (just to say I had more than my grandmother)
- Get married before I turned 23 (it was originally 19, but I couldn’t find any decent guys at that age)
- Own my own wall to wall, ceiling to floor Beauty and the Beast style library (never mind the sheer impossibility of that animated room, but come on people…the FIREPLACE)
- Marry a man who was around fifteen years older than me (give or take, because I was completely into Mr. Knightly at that point in my life) Even 31 years older didn’t seem too bad.
- Go into acting and live in Hollywood
- Live in Europe for a while so I could train under operatic masters like Pavarotti or Bocelli
- Own a dude ranch out west (in my case, a dudette ranch) and tame the mighty Mustang
- Own a Lipizzaner or an Andalusian…or both
- Marry an Irishman
- Publish a book before I turn 19 (which is now changed to 40)
Those are the ones I can remember off the top of my head. I think there was something in there about being a missionary to Africa and being a multimillionaire so I would never have to worry about money again. There might have been something about being a model, but that one came off pretty quick once I realized that I didn’t want to be a plus-sized model and they’d never take me on as a stereotypical one either…31 inch waist…remember?
Most of that list was highly romanticized and extremely ridiculous in nature. Silly, now that I look back on my sixteen year old self. I was just trying to find myself without any clue as to how to start. I had a compass…sort of…
If you call, hanging on my parent’s coattails of faith and hoping that would pass muster, a compass. I talked a good talk and I viewed the world with rose-colored glasses, all the while wondering why my glasses always seemed a little more on the grey side. My depth perception on life was as bad as the multiple astigmatisms in my physical eyes. I spouted romantic ideology and scripture verses like they would somehow solve all of my doubts and questions. Proverbs 31 was my model of a REAL woman, as I knew what that even meant.
Then I wondered why my doubts and questions just seemed a whole lot bigger. For every one answer, I’d get thirty-one new questions.
I’ve made lots of “bucket” lists since then. Not thirty-one, but a few more than that original. Each time, they’d get a little more practical. I gave up the notion of fifteen kids at the first bout of morning sickness. Now I wonder why my biological clock is still ticking after three. I gave up voice lessons when I realized my parents were all about the piano and I had to pay for my own vocal training if I wanted to pursue it. I still hold out hope for a hobby farm, but the prince of my dreams is French and Scandinavian…and not really a prince. More like a knight in slightly dented armor (from too many falls off the steed I placed him on when we first met).
I wouldn’t trade my wonderful, beautiful, crazy, amazing life for all of the European princes or Australian outbacks or mature Austen men or Hollywood awards in the world. I don’t think I’ve lost my romantic sensibilities. However, I believe my own growth and development as a person has led to a broader, richer, more vibrant definition of life.
I found my own faith and no longer rely on my parent’s coattails to be my compass. It’s hard to point True North when all you can see is the back of someone. And my parents, I have to say, were rather relieved when they didn’t have to live up to expectations they could never hope to meet. It definitely made our relationship a whole lot better.
I did get married at twenty-two, but he’s only two years older and that hopefully means I get to keep him around a whole lot longer and he still turned thirty-one before I did.
My library WILL be wall to wall someday…already working on it. I have more than thirty-one books, but less than Belle had.
I’ve actually gotten involved in a ministry called Proverbs31 and finally got an idea about what the thirty-first chapter of the book of Wisdom actually meant. I still hold it up as my model. It’s just a bit more realistic a goal to strive for.
My newest list isn’t 31 items long…yet. I’m sure I will add to it and it will change and grow and shrink according to the journey my life takes. I’m excited to see how many of these new goals I can reach before another 31 years goes by. Maybe I’ll have thirty-one grand-kids by then and one of them will be just like me.
And one day, she’ll bring her list of thirty-one goals she wants to complete before she turns thirty-one. I’ll smile and give her a big hug and my waist will no longer be 31 inches or less, so she won’t be able to reach all the way around, but she’ll hug me back. And I’ll count to thirty-one.
I’ll take a deep breath…
I tell her in my grandma voice that cracks with age and no longer reaches notes Pavarotti would envy,
“You keep dreaming, beautiful girl. Every year of your life will be a new chance to strive for new goals and grow into the person God wants you to be, the person God already sees in you. While you search for meaning and try to find out who you are, don’t forget this original list. Someday, you’ll look back on it as a fond memory and you’ll take off those rose-colored glasses that are more on the grey side. You’ll open your eyes. And you’ll wonder how you missed all the color and wonder and craziness and beauty. And you’ll be glad you kept that list. Because it will show you just how far you have come and just how amazing life can be if you keep dreaming.”
Look at that…
Happy Birthday to me. I’m thirty-one.