Some of you may be aware that – in order to mark my 30th birthday (which will take place in December) – I set up monthly challenges for myself. In truth, I’ve been better at following through on some of these celebratory challenges than others. In December, I challenged myself to do yoga every day for 30 days. I made it to about day 17, and then participated sporadically for the rest of the month. In January, I successfully completed the Whole 30 food cleanse. In February, I had challenged myself to 30 days of morning prayer and meditation, but quickly switched to evening prayers, when I realized that waking up extra early for quiet time was a surefire way to end up sleep meditating. In May, I planned a tea or skype date with a friend for each day of the month (one of my personal favorite months so far!). Anyway, you get the picture. (If you’re interested in any of my other challenges, or on what still lies ahead, you can check out the full list online.)
In a lot of ways, 30 feels like a big turning point. And, in the grand scheme of things, I’m sure it’s just one more transition in a life marked with transitions. But come December, I’ll be saying goodbye to the decade that started in college, saw me through two graduations (Bachelors and Masters, baby!), included a marriage (7 years and counting…), and the birth of my first child. And, frankly, depending on the timing of his arrival, my twenties could also hold the birth of my second child, if only by a few days. It’s been a decade of experimentation. Of job searches. Of coming into my own as a “career woman.” Of self-doubt. Of great triumphs. Of loss. Of shifting communities and learning to make new friends.
Although I know every decade will be filled with these things, it’s hard not to feel like the 20′s was special. It was life at a breakneck pace, filled with one change after another and more self-revelation than I could have ever imagined. But I would also be lying if I said I didn’t feel ready to make a transition into something new. It feels like the time is right to begin moving into a new era. I wanted this year to be one of celebrating who I’ve become throughout this past decade and also to mark where I’m headed and all the possibilities that lie ahead in the next ten years.
So today, for my July challenge, I threw a feast! A feast for 30+ people. Admittedly, I threw this feast with lots of help from others, perhaps most notably the hubs and my mother, who also spent many hours in a kitchen to make “feasting” possible, as well as all the friends who took time out of their morning to come celebrate and who brought food and drinks to share.
And in many ways, today, to me, it felt perfect. That sounds really trite, I know, but I really think it’s true. Today was a celebration of friends. It was a celebration of the connections that we’ve forged in a new community over the past year since our move. It was a celebration of good food. It was a celebration of the outdoors, and the magnificently cool so-unlike-Kansas-July weather that we’ve been having. It was a little mini love-fest.
Now that the dishes are all (or mostly) returned to their shelves and people have returned home, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude. The truth is, I’ve spent a lot of time the past few months just feeling overwhelmed. I tend to consider myself a generally happy person, but over the course of the last few months, the times when I’ve felt overwhelmed and tired and unsure and frustrated have seemed to crop up more often. So this feast couldn’t have come at a better time. It was a reminder that, in each season of life, there will be hard things. But there will also always be things and people and places worth celebrating.
I’ll leave you with a few snapshots from the day. As well as some of the “sage” advice on aging that I received from feast-goers in a “journal for my 30′s.”
“30 is so young. Enjoy!”
“It’s hell getting older, but it’s better than the alternative. Happy to see you embracing 30. That’s when my life
“Don’t buy into the lies of the culture, and be sure to eat lots of cookies (they’re good for the soul)!”
“Embrace your inner child! It helps keep things in perspective, your heart joyful, your dreams alive. Each day you grin a childlike grin you’ll live longer!”
“Party on and enjoy both excess and austerity. Enjoy yourself!”
“Wear shoes less.”
And just in case you’re like me and want to know what people ate, here’s what we cooked (and guests brought more food to add). If you’re interested in recipes, you can check out my “Feast for 30″ Pinterest board:
- Monkey Bread Muffins
- Lemon Blueberry Bread
- Eggs Florentine Casserole
- Vegetable and Egg Casserole with Feta
- Breakfast potatoes (with hot sauce on the side!)
- Strawberry and Rhubarb Salad with Hazlenuts and Fresh Mint
- Peach and Blueberry Tart with Moscarpone Whipped Cream (if you make only one recipe, make this!)