While cleaning out inserts from last year’s planner, my page of future goals resurfaced. I’d tucked them away behind my weekly calendar spreads, avoiding discouragement from the lack of items crossed off an ambitious to-do list. Things I wanted to accomplish before turning 35 on Thursday (which seemed like plenty of time before the pandemic, divorce, two moves, new job, and general world turning upside down-ness).
It’s easy to focus on what didn’t happen in 2020. Op-ed Published in New York Times or Washington Post? I barely posted on my own blog. Finish my memoir and find a literary agent? Nope. Present at a conference? Does Zoom count? Contribute to scholarly journal or academic book?
Through the deafening noise of my self-reproach, I’d completely forgotten about the interview I’d done with an investigative journalist writing a non-fiction book about postwar adoption in America. Until a preview copy of American Baby arrived on my doorstep a week ago, signed by the author Gabrielle Glaser, with a personal inscription that read: To Stephanie, who helps heal.
In the span of less than two pages, she captured perfectly the complex feelings I have about adoption, many of which make things like my birthday difficult to celebrate. But I deserve to celebrate.
For my last week as a 34-year-old, I’m wearing special gifts from Rellery, a jewelry company who designs “meaningful pieces that let you feel good about who you are.” Rellery pieces are ethically-sourced and crafted with precious metals only, preventing irritation and protected by a tarnish-free guarantee.
It seemed only fitting, given the season, to choose an Aquarius Zodiac Ring and Necklace. I also found a Daisy Birth Flower Necklace (in honor of my sweet puppy, named for the flower) and layered chains for added depth.
But my favorite item is a personalized Bar Bracelet, which I chose to get engraved with the phrase “write your own story” – a mantra I’ve embraced ever since discovering it on a thrift store coffee mug.
Because I’m not going to let what I didn’t accomplish this year stop me from honoring what I did. If anything, it just reminds me how much work is left. Another birthday is a blessing. A chance to do more. And that is something worth celebrating.