I’ve written a birthday blog post for the last couple of years… they all tend to take on a different flavor, sometimes they’re about what I learned the previous years, last year was recapping + celebrating the 10th year I had a camera in hand. This year, I was kind of dreading writing the post. I had big dreams for 26, and though it wasn’t ALL bad, it definitely wasn’t the year I planned. I think that goes without saying for all of us…
This time last year, I was sitting on a crowded outdoor patio at a beer garden in DC, sharing hand sanitizer and air with the stranger sitting next to me. There were rumblings of how our world may be changing, but none of us were ready for what was really about to happen. My biggest fear at the time? Figuring out how to get an independent health insurance plan… little did I know that just a few days later, our world shut down + life would change forever… that I would need to figure out not one but two health insurance marketplaces over the course of the year. The last year has been filled with so much change and heartbreak and sadness, but there was also so much good… I needed something to remind myself of that.
For me, I felt that 26 definitely came with more lows than I would have liked, and for this year’s birthday celebration, I wanted to focus a little more on the positives, because to be honest, this birthday is one of the first times I’ve felt some type of way about the number. Though I know nothing will change + it does sound quite silly, 27 just feels a little different than 26! Maybe it’s because of the last year we had, the fact that I didn’t get to do much with 26, the rollercoaster of emotions that seemed to come with every day, the fact that the last year felt like 10 in one… or maybe it is something else, but whatever way, I wanted to make sure this blog post was setting me up to CELEBRATE the year ahead!
I decided a few weeks ago that I was actually going to have my IG followers help me plan something for my birthday. It sounds a bit silly, but hey, after spending a year in my apartment, I needed SOME kind of help deciding what I was going to include in the photos. As any millennial may do, I turned to IG stories and asked 4 questions:
- Should I use a white or pink backdrop?
- Should I celebrate with champagne, confetti, balloons, or cake?
- How should I wear my hair?
- What kind of pants should I wear?
For those of you that like the stats, here are the results of the polls!
Winners: Pink backdrop, confetti + champagne are an even tie, curled hair, and thank goodness: skinny jeans because this girl was NOT trying to go out and buy new jeans for this.
I grabbed all of the things from Amazon, rearranged my room to fit a backdrop in front of my window, and had my sister over to help shoot! I’m pretty decent with self-portraits (Some of these without props are actually self-portraits!), but I knew it would be way more fun to have her help + I was also a little worried about popping a bottle of champagne with my remote in hand.
We had a lot of fun shooting these (and got confetti all over the place in the process!). I really love this set of photos and am excited to share the results along with 26 personal peaks, valleys, and lessons learned in year 26! Maybe I have myself a new birthday tradition?
- I got to see my sister get engaged to the man of her dreams + we got to celebrate in the best way! (Cheers to wedding planning fun!)
2. Despite the challenges, I still got to celebrate wedding days with a number of my 2020 couples! I am counting down the DAYS until I get to celebrate with ALL of my COVID-impacted couples! Feeling grateful for a calendar of postponements, instead of cancellations. 3. I’m learning I love slower weekend paces + don’t hate staying in on a Friday or Saturday night. 4. I moved cities in the middle of a pandemic and survived! Now… if only we could put this behind us so I could go outside to explore + make friends! 5. I watched more Below Deck than I thought possible… why this was my quarantine show of choice, I’ll never know. (But I think it may have to do with some of the gorgeous views they see from the boats!) 6. Saying goodbye to my home of four+ years hurt, but saying hello to new adventures (and being just down the road from family) was so incredibly sweet.7. I never knew I would need to have favorite masks for different activities! Current favorites are: paper masks + OTF masks for workouts, Old Navy masks for walks and trips to the store, KN95 for weddings + events, and paper masks for sessions! 8. Living in a virtual world can be pretty lonely if you’re not making an effort to reach out to others. That said, It’s okay to be Zoom-burned out and to figure out how to connect with people in other ways. 9. I started a new job that introduced me to some of the best people + my favorite workout. 10. I learned not one but two state insurance marketplaces in the middle of a pandemic. 11. I got to run a (virtual) gym with some of my best friends for a few months! I’m not sure how many virtual fitness classes we taught collectively, but I sure am grateful for their support, positivity, and fun workouts when I needed them the most! 12. I was faced with a lot of very real, very scary business decisions but managed to come out on the other side. 13. I saw the power in really enjoying and celebrating the little things… like sunshine, an afternoon walk, pet snuggles, and safe hugs. 14. I had (and still have) SO many silly questions about the way I used to live life… I mean, crowded bars, the five-second rule, teaching a fitness class without a mask and goggles, and the fact that I used to eat lunch without scrubbing myself from head to toe with hand san first?! It’s all pretty much unfathomable now! 15. I looked deeper into my own business systems, looking for ways I could maximize my online presence while enjoying more of my life in the real world… 16. … and in the process, I totally burned myself out on social media and took my first break from the apps in years! Still working on learning to balance life and work. 17. I killed a few plants, propagated a few to keep them alive, and added a few new friends to the family… which reminds me, I REALLY need to plant my philodendron clippings! 18. I got to enjoy some AMAZING summer beach days with my favorite people, thanks to some quieter summer weekends. Learning to live a slower life over the summer felt bittersweet some days, but I’m so grateful for the time that I got to spend with my family. 19. This little lady made me realize I might actually be a cat lady after all… and yes, she was a little salty about being in front of the camera and hid from me for about 5 hours after. And yes, we’re friends again. 20. I got to enjoy the holidays with my family! It was all I wanted at the end of last year + I was so grateful my immediate family was able to be together! Typically, I go home for my birthday, but I’m not able to this year because of safety + scheduling. Feeling thankful for Zoom + being able to celebrate with my sister and family here in Baltimore but really missing home this week. 21. Shoutout to AAA… my unofficial sponsor of 2020. I had more car trouble in one year than I’ve had the entire time I’ve had my car… one accident, two traffic stops, a burned-out headlight, dead battery, flat tire… I think that’s everything? 22. I learned and grew in ways that made me uncomfortable but ultimately have made me a better person.23. Literally, what even is a Tik Tok… the new tech trends made me feel OLD.24. My hair grew the longest it’s ever been! I’m still trying to figure out the best way to wear it this wedding season! 25. I got to learn from someone that I’ve looked up to since before I even started my business, and it ROCKED MY WORLD in the best way. More on this in year 27! 26. The way my friends, family, and community rallied behind me on some of my hardest days and lowest moments made me want to be a better person and a more caring human. Their kindness, care, thought, and support truly carried me through this year. (You know who you are… love y’all!)
BONUS #27: I learned that I really tend to sweat the small stuff… that I overthink a lot of things, care about what others think, and can often paralyze myself when I get too stuck inside my head. Here’s to letting go of fear, doubt, and the things I can’t control.
If you enjoyed this post, you may also like: