Truth be told, I'm eating a Kit-Kat.

Nothing special about that title except for the fact that it's the god-honest truth. And I couldn't come up with anything better, really. That's where I'm at right now. I'm incredibly tired, but I cannot complain at all -- I am not tired because I'm dealing with a sickness, or because I have insomnia, or because I am working two jobs to support my family. I am tired because I have been enjoying my life. :) Yes, you heard me right. I've been filling it with lots of love, and happiness, and adventures, and yummy food. I made it a silent (not so silent anymore, blabbermouthfingers) New Year's awareness, of sorts, to be a little bit more exciting. I was feeling myself settling into the same routines, doing the same things, being a super homebody, and frankly - being a little boring. Don't get me wrong, I love my home, and being there, and relaxing - but I found myself saying no to fun things in favor of doing, well, things that were not as much fun. So I am trying hard to say yes to experiences, and carve out time for adventure (even if it's a small adventure!) Last Friday, I had the opportunity to jump into a huge one of these experiences. And like I said to a kid at school a few weeks ago, sometimes the things that I'm both nervous AND excited for at the same time are the things that I end up having the best time doing. Kristin asked me I would want to go to a spa with her and Constance -- one they had been to before, one that they really liked, and one that scared the crap out of me -- they refer to it as the "Naked Lady Spa". And that's what it is. No swimsuits, no jewelry, nothing to protect you from the eyes and elements of the room. I was nervous, scared, intrigued, and excited. They spoke volumes about their experience there, and about how freeing and wonderful it is. And you know what? They were right! I was nervous all day, but then just decided to not let myself be nervous. I embraced the atmosphere, and literally jumped in with both feet (ok, I didn't jump. I gingerly stepped into the pools.)... It was such a relaxing time. And after awhile, I felt myself just not even thinking about it (which Kristin had told me would happen!). It was an amazing evening, and I'm so happy that I got to share it with two wonderful girls, who made me feel so wonderful!

The next day, David and I ventured to Canada for the weekend. And we had a blast! We did lots of things - went to the aquarium, saw sea otters, did a lot of walking, saw a movie, ate a yummy pizza in our hotel room, braved sashimi --- it was jam packed! I had such a great time, and felt so happy to be on that adventure with my adorable boy-toy, who ALSO makes me feel so wonderful. :)

The last few evenings have been filled with dinner with my besties in Seattle, just chatting about everything that we could, drinking yummy drinks and sharing tasty fries, car dancing to Justin TImberlake (it was INTENSE), trivia with my mom, winning a prize on the radio for the first time in my life, and just enjoying my job.

On the flipside of all of this sunshine came a rain cloud, though. A wonderful man in the life of my best friend was lost this last week, one who I have known for a long time as well. He was an institution in Poulsbo, and in her family, and he will be greatly, greatly missed. He leaves behind an amazing family, however -- one that is stronger than most I have ever come across. I've known that since the day I become an adopted part of it! For my dear bestie Jewel, and her family, my heart is saddened. But it is also encouraged by the knowledge that your strong family is getting even stronger! The Stroud/Evenson clan is a force to be reckoned with. And knowing your grandpa for all of these years, I can see where you all get it!

And so, with the awareness that our lives are simply on loan, and we need to soak up our time we have, I embraced this past week fully. And I vow to do that for more weeks this year. In fact, I'm aiming for about 52 of them.

Sometimes it's a bit of a blur...

I have a confession to make... Sometimes I get myself worked up. Big shocker here if you know me, I'm sure. But sometimes I just get so wound up about something that I cannot just let go like a normal person. I know that lots of people struggle with this, but sometimes it just gets in the way of my life and it's so frustrating. Some of you know that I have struggled with anxiety and depression the last few years. I have taken medication, I've done counseling, and it hasn't been incredibly bad in the grand scheme of things. I have learned a lot about myself through this process. But still, little and strange things get me worked up.

This weekend was a classic example. I had planned a small get together with some friends at my house to celebrate my birthday. Other than my family and my best friends, I hadn't really had anyone over to my house. And I have found that as the years go by, my hosting anxiety gets worse and worse! I don't know how much to buy, I don't know what people will want to drink, what if this happens? What if I run out of this? It's ridiculous the scenarios I come up with. And numerous people will tell me not to panic - that it's my friends, that they love me, and they will love whatever we have and do.

But still, I found myself getting more and more panicked and nervous about it. David was amazing and did so much to make sure the party went well, and I found myself snapping at him about completely dumb things in the hours leading up to the party. I worked myself into a sweat about the smallest things. And then when my friends started to arrive, I was so happy to see them! But still I found myself asking every few seconds if everyone was okay, or if they needed anything. I wasn't sure about when to put things out for our next course, and hemmed and hawed so much about that. I felt like I looked like a trainwreck. I sure felt like one.

Lily (who is almost 3) commandeered my phone at some point and took some pictures, which I feel like totally captured what I felt like for most of the evening. See below for the first half of the party through Lily's eyes, and subsequently, Mandy's brain:

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About an hour or so before everyone left, I felt my worries slip away. I was surrounded by amazing friends, people I care about so deeply, and who I cherish with all of my heart. They were all in my living room, eating ice cream happily, and laughing hysterically at the game we were playing. And I just soaked it all up and felt great.

After everyone left, and things were cleaned up, and I stopped and slowed down, my emotions hit me like an anvil in an old-timey cartoon. Out of nowhere, I got so teary-eyed and sad. And as David was reassuring me about the party and about how loved I am, I tried to explain that I realized all of that. But I was just so anxious and weird that I didn't really start to settle until right before people left. I just didn't feel fully present for most of the time.

And this is my take-away from that whole experience. I want to be present for all of the moments in my life. I want to be here, fully and whole-heartedly.  And that means making some changes in my life physically and emotionally. I think I am on the right track, and it feels good to know that the path ahead may not be easy, but it will be so, so worth it. I'm in a great place now, but with a little elbow grease and perseverance, I can be in a magnificent place. Even with all of those crazy emotions that I pack around with me. :) (I've always been a bit of an over-packer.)

My, my, my... Look how much we've grown!

It happened. I passed 30 with flying colors, so they promoted me to being 31! How exciting! They figured that since I rented a great house, got a new job, starting commuting like a champ, and kept my boyfriend, I'd get to make the leap to the big 3-1. And this is going to sound really, really strange -- but in the last few days, I feel way more grown up.

30 was fun. In the immortal words of Jennifer Garner, I felt "30, flirty, and thriving." I got to tell people that I was 30, make a few semi-grown up decisions, watch my hair turn a little greyer, and all in all just feel like a more worthwhile human being. But for some reason, in the last week or so, my new age has felt like a gift. I am sitting up a little straighter, eating soup for dinner sometimes, and finding myself a little wittier and fresher than I was a week ago. I know, I'm crazy, right? Wrong. I was told by SO many people before I turned 30 that their 30's were their favorite. They loved everything about them - the freedom, the life changes, the responsibility. And even though I'm already one whole year in, I am just now starting to feel it. 

I joke a lot. We know that about me. But last night, as I was driving back to my house from Bed, Bath, and Beyond, with my passenger (my new orthopedic/memory foam/heavenly pillow), I thought to myself "I'm totally transitioning."

Transitioning, changing, metamorphasizing, molting -- whatever word you want to use for it -- it's happening to me. I am feeling like a new version of myself every day lately. And it feels so refreshing. I really have felt different the last few days. Maybe it was because this birthday was different... there was less fanfare (which I actually loved!), there were more sweet wishes from kids that could totally have parents my age, and there was a lot more introspection on what this coming year and even decade may bring for me. But don't worry, there was still ice cream cake, and my brother discussing inappropriate topics at a public food establishment. I said I was changing, not that I was a different person entirely. 

I am content. I have an amazing family, spectacular friends (WAY cooler than your friends. unless you ARE my friends, then that doesn't make sense.), and a sweet and loving boyfriend who treats me so wonderfully. I love coming home every day, and I love going to work every day. This is such a rare feeling for me... I just feel like at this very moment in time, at a little over exactly 31 years of life -- I am right where I need to be. 

And so, as I grow, so will this blog. I have done other blogs before, that are super deep and philosophical.  I have done blogs that are meant purely to make people (and myself, let's be honest), laugh. But this one will be different. You'll still get a little of column A and a little of column B, but it will be a good healthy mix (which reminds me, I really need to start taking vitamins). This one is ME. Growing, changing, creating, deepening, laughing, adventuring... 

Let the journey begin! (I'm bringing my memory foam pillow with me, of course.)

<3

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