Today I am twenty-seven. I use every birthday similar to the way most people use New Years; with reflection and resolutions. It can be easy to fall into the trap of looking back too much and listing all the things you did not accomplish that you thought you would have done by now. It is never too late. Twenty-six was a big year. I have always appreciated simple living, but I took this a step further and became a minimalist (or a semi-minimalist as I prefer to say). I said no to the rat-race, quit a toxic job, took up a part-time position as I work on my photography and blogging full-time, moved to a smaller studio loft apartment, and finally made “live lovely” a part of my everyday routine.
I’m not rich and I have not “made it,” but I am happier and healthier than I have ever been. I now spend most of my time building up my own business and doing what I love most. I have been fortunate enough that my love, my fiancé Matthew, has been on board and so supportive of every life change. He said yes to minimalism for me, he said yes to moving, and he has been my biggest supporter for every hop and leap I take. And best of all, he just changed jobs (started yesterday) to work first shift so we can be together in the evenings during the week. For the past four years he has been on the night shift so seeing one another during the week has been very rare. He just took me on an amazing road trip for my birthday, but this is by far the best gift. We are on this track together to live a healthier and simpler life. A lovely life.
This past weekend we took a spontaneous 4-day trip to Tennessee. My future brother-in-law has the same birthday as myself, but this year was the big forty. We drove down (all 15 hours straight) to surprise him Friday morning and spent the day with the family. That evening we were supposed to drive five and a half hours further to Memphis to see Graceland for my birthday (I love Elvis!), but thunderstorms and flood warnings cancelled those plans. Matthew’s sister-in-law Kirsten suggested the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC just two hours south of where we were. We drove there that night and woke up the next morning to a perfect sunny day.
The Biltmore was beyond incredible. It is not just the largest house in America, the Biltmore (built by George Vanderbilt in 1895) has an incredible 8,000 acres (previously over 200,000) overlooking mountains, a lovely pond and boat house, gorgeous gardens and greenhouses, numerous restaurants, a winery with free wine tastings, and a fabulous tour. I will be sharing more of that adventure on the blog soon. Life doesn’t always go according to plan, sometimes it rains. But then it turns out just the way it is supposed to.
As we went on our tour it started pouring outside. We made it to the sunflowers when the rain was just a drizzle. A little shower wasn’t going to keep me away from sunflowers! We took these photos in the rain. These flowers are my absolute favorite and I travel to see sunflowers on my birthday every year. It was a perfect coincidence that they happened to be at the Biltmore.
As far as birthdays go, I feel that it is important to have traditions. Look back, appreciate where you are and where you have been, then look forward to the future. Have a simple ritual to celebrate. My rituals are my morning birthday breakfast (my favorite: smoked salmon on a wheat bagel with cream cheese) and a visit to a sunflower field.
As far as birthday resolutions go, my goal this year is to build up my blog, travel more often (both local and far), and not worry so much about “making it” to some imaginary horizon. I’m going to be enjoying life right here where I am. If happiness were a destination, all I have to do is look right here.
And always appreciate the people in your life who support you always. When you have a new idea or a dream you want to pursue, you will know these people because they will ask you how they can help you achieve your goal, instead of telling you all the reasons why you can’t.
And to all my friends and readers celebrating a summer birthday, live it up. You haven’t lost a year, you have gained a new one. Happy Birthday.
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