Top 10 Reasons To Love Your 30’s

This past weekend, I turned 35.  Wow.  35.  How can that be?  How is it possible I’m almost halfway through my life?  How is it possible I am halfway through my thirties already?  Time flies is the answer; with every year seeming to go faster and faster!

To kick off my birthday weekend, I had lunch and pedicures with one of my best friends, Amanda on Friday.  At one point she said, “I love getting older and I never thought I would.”  I thought about this for a while.  Did I feel the same way?  There’s a few things I don’t care for as much…like some pesky wrinkles that have appeared all of the sudden.  And, I’m not a fan of the statistic that fertility drops off a cliff supposedly at 35, but I still want to have more babies.  But on a day to day basis, and with those two things set aside, I agree. Then at dinner on Saturday night with my family, both my mother and mother in law expressed sentiment at how much they had loved being in their thirties.  I haven’t been forty yet…but I’m hoping this appreciation will only compound and that I could eventually write a list of top 10 reasons to love your 40’s down the road!  In the meantime, here’s why being 30 is awesome (*note that these are generalities and represent a mix of my own thoughts as well as those of my friends.  So more or less may apply for you personally.)

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Turning 35….

  1. You know who your true friends are and you’re perfectly happy with that.  Gone are the days of high school, college, and your 20’s where you are trying to figure out just where you fit in.  By now, you know who your tribe is and you’re perfectly ok with those who are in it and those who aren’t.
  2. You’re done being a bridesmaid.  Don’t get me wrong, celebrating your friend’s weddings is important and special.  However, the tab that comes with the plane tickets, gifts, dresses, tanning, makeup and hair, bachelorette party and more can make you say “credit card debt” faster than you can say  “Of course I love your bridesmaid dresses!”
  3. You love being called mom.  For those of us with kiddos, the thirties is that stage where being a mom feels just right.  I had my first son at 24, a little ahead of most of my friends.  It took me a while to feel comfortable with my new role.  Now, when I hear a little one call out “mom” in the grocery store I always think it’s me…. I LOVE being called mom and feeling chubby arms around my neck and carrying my kids to bed.  It’s the biggest blessing I could ever ask for.

    vanessa-holding-thieren-up

    I LOVE being called Mom.  There’s a song my mom used to sing to me by Steve and Annie Chapman that goes; “I count it as a privilege, I count it cause for praise…to kiss my children goodnight at the close of every day”  I couldn’t agree more!

  4. Your Husband.  Dating in your 20’s can be tricky.  And being a newlywed is exciting, but there’s a lot to learn about one another and figure out.  But the 30’s seems to mark hitting your stride with your husband.  You know each other’s likes and dislikes for real now.  You’ve got each other’s backs.  You have mutual favorite tv shows, restaurants, couple friends, etc.   And being parents together is pretty darn amazing.
  5. You’ve finally made peace with your body.  It took me years of agony.  When I was skinny I thought I was too fat.  When I was pregnant at 24, I thought I was too fat.  When I gained weight from stress while owning my business I thought I was too fat.  Basically, I spent every year until recently beating myself up.  Somewhere in my thirties, I made peace with who I am and my focus shifted to being happy and healthy.  And gosh is that a mind game I don’t miss.
  6. Your mom is the wisest person you know and your best friend .  Sometimes when I open my mouth, my mother comes out.  And, I’m totally cool with that.  Why?  Because my mom is pretty darn amazing!  Gone are the days of sneaking behind her back or rolling your eyes at her advice (although Mom if you’re reading this I promise I did not do that very much anyway!).  Instead, you cherish her words of wisdom and see her for who she is.  You’re old enough to appreciate her and she’s still young enough to go do fun stuff together.  So take advantage: travel together, brunch together, laugh together.  Life is short.

    vanessa-with-her-mom

    My mom: my confidant, my cheerleader, my best friend!

  7. You’re in the money, honey!  As student loans get paid off, and your earning potential rises, a certain peace sets in.  Ok, you may or may not be truly banking it.  BUT, you do have freedom and capacity to start investing, buy a car, buy a house, go to the Salon and so on.  It feels good to start seeing the rewards of all your hard work.
  8. You know to value life.  By now perhaps all your grandparents have passed on.  Maybe a friend has even died or been killed.  Maybe you’ve experienced a miscarriage or stillbirth.  You see how fleeting life can be.  And yet you see how beautiful it can be. This balanced awareness starts to impact your decisions.  It guides who you stay friends with, how you spend your free time, where you travel to.  And it feels good to appreciate this gift we call life on earth.
  9. You think of taking care of yourself as a luxury.  Most of us are pretty rough on our bodies and health in our 20’s.  We stay up too late, drink too much, work too hard, etc.  Now, it feels like a luxury to take a run, linger in a hot shower, get a facial, drink a green smoothie, eat organic food, and go to bed early.

    vanessa-close-up

    I’ve learned to take care of myself and view it as a joy and luxury.

  10. Your faith is flourishing.  In college and in my 20’s, I went through a period of questioning.  Did I really believe everything I had learned from my parents, at church, and at the conservative high school I attended?   But somewhere along the line, I found my way back to my faith.  I decided that I believed in Christ because I wanted to and not because my parents wanted me to.  I fell in love with the Lord all over again.  And my faith grows every day.  It gives me purpose, comfort in hard times, and helps me have peace about eternal life.

May I have this DATE for the rest of my life?

All the former Flourish girls would tell you, along with any of Stephen’s clients, that every Wednesday night is Stephen and Vanessa’s date night. My husband and I have a standing weekly date night on Wednesday’s and have for about five years now.  We have only missed a handful and it is something we look forward to with joy.

About five years ago my husband went on a retreat for Christians in Commerce, an organization he belongs too.  While there, one of the pastors at the event told him that he needed to work on his marriage.  He was shocked to hear this because we both believe our marriage to be one of our biggest blessings in this life, and felt it was rock solid.  This was not a pastor who knew us well either…it was just something he felt moved to tell Stephen. With further reflection and conversation at the retreat, Stephen came away with a couple ideas and much advice from those older and wiser.  Here’s what he told me when he came home from the retreat.

  1. Let’s read The Five Love Languages.  This book by Gary Chapman was recommended to him by several people there at the event.  The same pastor who told Stephen to work on our marriage told him how this book helped him see little ways to love on his wife that spoke volumes to her.  Every morning he now makes her a cup of coffee and sets out a donut for her.  She feels loved when he does this simple act of service.  But they discovered that acts of service like this gesture were important to her or “one of her love languages” by reading this book together.
  2. Let’s have a weekly standing date night.  We did at the time, of course, have the odd date night out.  But several of the men at the event suggested upgrading to a standing date night in a habitual way.  They shared how the ritual of making time for their spouse and making sure they stayed in communication opened new doors of friendship and intimacy.

At first when Stephen shared all this with me, I felt a little defensive.  Our marriage was great I said.  But, then I decided to focus on how loving it was that my husband WANTED to invest even more in our relationship and I agreed to give these two goals a shot.

We read the book and filled out the surveys on our next vacation.  It was amazing to see how both us had the tendency to try and love the other person the way we wanted to be loved…  We were using our preferred love languages, rather than learning the way each of us needed to be loved in turn.  Stephen values acts of service, words of affirmation, and physical touch highly….but he places almost no value on gifts.  I, on the other hand, value words of affirmation, quality time, and gifts.  By growing in this knowledge of one another we grew in understanding on how to better love each other.  I could see that when I bought Stephen a new sweater and he seemed only mildly thankful, he just did not understand the time and love I put into the gift…it wasn’t his love language even though it was mine.  But conversely, I could see that when I rubbed his back or told him how proud I was of him, that those things really helped him feel loved and cherished.  The book ultimately really helped transform our marriage for the better and we reference it all the time to this day.

Date night, too, became a method for continual and purposeful deepening of our marriage. The very first date night Stephen went to great lengths to make it romantic, taking us back to the spot we first met and got married, at Trinity School, and then on to a delicious dinner.  Over time we found that our budget and schedules necessitated easier, less extravagant dates.  But nonetheless, for the better part of five years now, every Wednesday, we go on a date.  (Bless my mom for baby-sitting so religiously).

For several years we almost always went to dinner and a movie.  Now with a nursing baby, we more often only get to dinner.  But the time spent over dinner is the most important anyway.  We turn off our phones.  We connect.  We talk.  We dream together.  Sometimes we cry together.  And once in a while we even argue…the time alone allows us the chance to bring up conflict that may be residing just under the surface.  But it’s the time we need to resolve those issues so it’s just as important as the time spent laughing and loving.

I encourage you to consider a standing date night with your spouse.  Life is busy, and you may not feel you have the time.  But remember your priorities should rank: God, then your marriage, then your children, then your career, and friends.  If you look through your calendar and you are making time for all the other priorities but not your spouse…that’s not a recipe for a strong and fulfilling marriage.  Make the time for him/her.  You won’t regret it!

Here’s a little document of last week’s date night.

vanessa-with-thieren

Sorry sweet baby Thieren, Mom & Dad are headed out for date night!

baby-thieren-close-up

Ok, it is hard to leave this sweet little face!

vanessa-in-outfit-walking

I try and look cute for date night….WHITE JEANS…. if you are a fellow young mom you will know that this is a FEAT not to go unnoticed!  I wound’t dream of wearing these while feeding Thieren baby food, cooking dinner, etc.

the-road-in-front-of-us

Both kids are with Grandma (Jeje) and we have the beautiful open road in front of us.  We headed up into Michigan last week to Wheatberry in Buchanon.  The drive was just as beautiful as the food was delicious!

horse-grazing

We love getting out of the day to day monotony and cherishing quiet time together.  A beautiful and country drive on the way to dinner, gives you even more chance to unwind, listen to music, hold hands, and chat about life together.

birch-trees-along-the-road

More of nature’s beauty along the way.

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And, we arrived at our destination: Wheatberry.  Sorry no phones allowed on date night at dinner, so this is the last pic of the evening.  I love this man!