Tag Archives: accomplishment

Growing Pains


Dear 27-year-old Rachel,

This has been a year for me to learn and a year for me to grow.

This year I’ve started to really understand what it means to be a part of a partnership, which is something I thought I really understood before but when I’m honest with myself, I really had no idea. I’m amazed everyday at the strength of my relationship and the loving community me and my husband share. I am surrounded by people who really love me, despite all of my ugliness and my pitfalls, who want to lift me up and help me succeed, people who push me to be better when I’m too tired or sad or weak to continue pushing myself forward. I’ve learned what it means to really love someone and that it is rarely that fairytale I  so wanted to believe in for so long, but it’s beautiful and magical in it’s own way, when I let it flourish.  I need to remember more often all the people who are there for me and learn to trust in them more — they’re there to catch me when I fall and to beat their wings beside me when I fly.

Speaking of falling and flying, this year I’ve started to learn the hard lessons of letting myself both succeed and fail without so much fear, guilt and self-doubt. I finally opened my mouth to talk about the master’s degree I’ve been dreaming about for several years, clicking through university websites almost every day, daydreaming about programs I thought I could never apply to, terrified of the cost both in money and in time and what it would mean to have to ask for that, to allow myself to try.   I’m learning to speak up for myself and what I want, what makes me upset or angry, challenged, happy, both in my personal and professional relationships. I’ve surprised myself with my strength, but I’ve still got so much farther to go here — I make so many goals that I leave aside, which I excuse as not having enough time, but what is more accurately attributed to a fear of tackling things head on. I’m becoming more confident everyday, though, and I’ve come along way this year. I think running has taught me a lot in this arena. It helps to remind me to always put one foot in front of the other, to keep going even when it hurts and I’m tired, even when it feels too far or too tough.  This year I’ve learned about a strength that comes from somewhere deep inside.

This year I’ve learned about uncertainty and that it is okay sometimes not to know what I want or what direction to head next. It’s okay to slow down and be happy where I stand. Sometimes its true that I’m scared to move forward, but sometimes I start thinking I need to being doing so many things RIGHT NOW, forgetting I have a whole life ahead of me in which to accomplish these dreams. I want to qualify for the Boston Marathon. I want to complete an Ironman. I want to travel to so many places. But it doesn’t all have to happen this year, or even next. I’ve written down my goals, I’ve realized my passions, I’m learning to assert my strength. Every day is a step towards accomplishing many things, but not every day marks the achievement of a goal. And that is okay. Slow down. Relax. Take a day to paint your nails and watch bad tv without feeling guilty about not touching the “to-do” list.  Take a morning to snuggle in bed instead of braving the dark and the cold to get in a few more miles or finish that assignment.

This year I’ve learned a lot, and it hasn’t been an easy year. It’s been a year of hurt and mistrust and depression, but growing can cause a lot of aches. I haven’t figured everything out yet and I’m still trying to inch myself out of my cocoon, to truly come out from the shadows into a blinding light. I’m still learning how to navigate being a part of a marriage and what it means to merge and share your life with someone else. I’m still learning to go after what I want, to challenge and question myself.  I’m still learning what it takes to be a really good friend and a really strong family member, the lines between when you’re being supportive and when you’re not helping someone even if it might feel like you are. I’m still learning to advocate for myself, to speak up when I have something to say. I’m still learning, as we all are, but I can feel myself growing stronger and gaining momentum and that is both a terrifying and exhilarating thing. Keep going.

I love you and happy birthday.



Bucket Lists


A couple years ago, I decided to start writing down all of the things I wanted to do during my lifetime and then reviewing that list each October around my birthday to see what I’ve accomplished and what I want to update or change.  I try to keep the list to 50 items, or it seems to get unwieldy and a little fantastical.

It’s fun to see what you’ve done with yourself over the course of a year, what you’ve worked towards and haven’t yet achieved, and what you may have changed your mind about. Sometimes things make it on the list because of a phase you’re going through, or the particular group of people you’re hanging out with a lot at the time, and you look at it a year later and go “huh? Who wrote that down?”
In any case, here is the list, in all it’s glory. The crossed out items are things I’ve actually managed to do!

My Life List

  1. run a Boston Qualifying marathon (and then, run Boston)
  2. own my own wellness-related business
  3. learn to play the guitar
  4. visit all 50 states
  5. write a book
  6. be conversational in 2 or 3 languages (Spanish, Chinese, Italian, Greek…)
  7. live in a house with a fireplace
  8. go on an adventure abroad with my brother
  9. live in another country for 6 months or more
  10. have an inspiring and functional space devoted to creation and meditation
  11. take a photography class
  12. learn to bake with the same instinct with which I cook
  13. Travel to at least: Thailand, Hong Kong, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Scotland France, the Maldives, Spain, South Africa, Morocco, Egypt, Australia, India and Germany.
  14. plant and maintain a vegetable, herb and flower garden
  15. ski a double black diamond with confidence and know-how
  16. get in the habit of baking my own bread and making my own pasta
  17. Dinner at the French Laundry
  18. learn to really dance (swing, tap,belly, hip hop, ballroom)
  19. skydive
  20. have my picture in a magazine
  21. establish a yearly vacation tradition with my best friends — WORKING ON THIS!
  22. become a yoga teacher and/or personal trainer
  23. be the keynote speaker at a conference
  24. learn to sew and actually make things for people
  25. have a job that excites me and challenges me almost every single day
  26. see the Northern Lights
  27. have a yearly party that all of our friends and family get excited to attend
  28. learn to be more confident and work on my self-image
  29. officiate a wedding ceremony
  30. practice random acts of kindness whenever possible
  31. swim with dolphins, preferably in the wild
  32. memorize 3 or 4 really good dishes so I don’t have to use the recipes anymore
  33. do some sort of work with animals (for example, help baby sea turtles get to the ocean, wash ducks and otters with DAWN after an oil spill, raise seeing eye dogs)
  34. fly in a helicopter (not for medical reasons)
  35. taste 100 different kinds of cheese
  36. have a wine cellar
  37. send cards to all the people I love for every birthday, anniversary and special event in their lives
  38. take a hot air balloon ride
  39. learn how to do mosaic tiling and make a mosaic fireplace or outdoor oven
  40. host Thanksgiving
  41. learn to play Bridge
  42. Publish an article in a big magazine (Bon Appetit, Self, Vogue)
  43. Create a signature cocktail
  44. Teach myself to do 10 pull-ups
  45. make scrapbooks for each year and special ones for special events — ONGOING PROJECT, BUT SO FAR, SO GOOD
  46. learn to parallel park for real (yes, this is really on here) and learn to drive stick
  47. own a beach house
  48. learn to draw and/or paint
  49. take some graphic design/web design classes
  50. learn to ride the Vespa
  51. Run a sub-20 minute 5k
  52. Get better at saving money
  53. Get a Master’s degree or PhD (or both)
  54. Write something every day for a year (then, hopefully, it will be such a habit, you’ll continue)
  55. Learn how to do some basic “handy” stuff around the house and for my car
  56. Complete an Ironman (and all the associated training)
  57.  Hug a penguin

What’s on your “bucket list?” What wonderful things have you already accomplished?