My birthday was earlier this week. Number 34. Sort of like the turning of a calendar year, the beginning of a new year of life sets the stage for some serious self-reflection.
33 was not a great year for me. Certainly some wonderful things happened — I watched my baby grow into a full-blow toddler (who is happy, healthy, and amazing). I got back into a solid strength training routine for the first time in a few years. I passed my licensing exam, opening up new doors for my in my career. And I am immensely grateful for all of this.
But it has also been a year of tremendous sadness and loss. And I will probably primarily remember it as such.
I am trying to acknowledge the challenges of 33 while looking toward the changes that the next year will bring with some excitement and optimism…and a whole lot of terror. I’m hoping that my major BRCA surgeries – BSO and PDM will be done well before my 35th birthday, and have been taking steps to make this a reality. I had a consultation with a plastic surgeon about breast reconstruction last week and have appointments scheduled with my gyn-onc and a new breast surgeon (who the plastic surgeon recommended) next month…at which time I can hopefully get my surgeries booked. I’m eager to get these surgeries over with…but so super scared. Because, um, major surgery is terrifying! Anesthesia! Pain! Removing organs from my body! Recovery!
Maybe we can even be on an adoption waiting list before I round the corner into 35. This is still the vast unknown for me, but I will know more very soon! We have a webinar for one adoption agency tonight another an in-person info session for another agency next month.
It’s strange to feel so future-focused — like so much of my life right now is dedicated to doing this leg work and preparation for things that will be coming down the pike later this year. Scheduling surgeries, researching adoption, plotting future career moves. It’s easy to fall into a trap of selling out today to serve tomorrow…but I don’t want to do that. I want to enjoy my life today AND be planning for tomorrow.
As I’ve written about before, I struggle with self-care and continue to do so. I often have great intentions of using my time after the kiddo goes to bed for some meaningful project or soul-nourishing activity but it just doesn’t happen often. Camping out on the couch with the Great British Bake Off and a bowl of ice cream is just so much easier. Rather than judging myself for this, I am trying to approach myself with a bit more compassion. My work is stressful right now now AND I have a lot going on personally…if I don’t have anything left over at the end of the day that is ok.
One self-care item I do really want to work on in this next year of my life is sleep. I have not gotten a full 8 hours since August 13th and haven’t cracked 7 hours for my weekly average since mid August either (thanks, Fitbit for this depressing data). While I know this is better than a lot of people can say, I can still feel that it has begun to take a toll. The problem is (in addition to my random bouts of insomnia), 5:45AM is the only time I can make it to the gym during the week. Even though I only do my morning gym session twice a week, it adds up to some serious sleep debt.
It’s such a dilemma though. I know how essential quality sleep is to health…the experts I trust the most usually rank sleep higher than nutrition and exercise in terms of overall importance. But I know if I were to prioritize sleep and give up my morning workouts I’d get maybe 1 gym session and 1 yoga class on the weekend if I’m lucky and that’s it! I simply don’t have the energy or time to hit the gym at 8pm after my spouse gets home from work…and home workouts just don’t cut it.
Exercise and sleep are both so essential for stress management and overall wellness, I really can’t figure out what to prioritize. However, I think I’m going to do a little experimenting next week to see if prioritizing sleep helps me feel better over all. Maybe if I even just dropped one of my early AM workouts and stuck with 1 during the week and 1-2 on the weekend I’d feel better. I guess there’s only one way to find out.
Otherwise, I’ve been really good with near daily meditation, taking walks, nightly bullet journaling, and weekly therapy to help me manage stress and focus on self-care. I feel like it’s barely enough to get me through each week intact, but at least I’m keeping my head above water.