Five Years: An Ode to New York

Five years seems like a major milestone for us –

this raucous, seductive city and me.

As one who loves new adventures, endless options, and would prefer to always be on the move, half a decade is a big deal. In my younger days, imagining five years with someone seemed like an eternity. I assumed I would get bored, restless and need a new object for my affections. But it seems that New York and I have found ourselves officially in a long-term relationship.

Like most of my romances, I dove headlong into my love affair with New York. I was enticed by her flashing lights, rich cultural experiences, and most importantly, the promise of fulfilling career dreams. I came for the love of a good man, and for the dream of living in an incredible place that held endless opportunities.

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Embracing the Meantime: Making the Most of It

Enjoying a book and leisurely afternoon in the afternoon light of Central Park
Enjoying a book and leisurely afternoon in Central Park

For much of the last year and a half, I have lingered in a strange space of utter heartbreak and stubborn joy.

The job descriptions I have wanted more than any other in life have been to be a wife and a mother, but things have not gone according to my carefully laid plans. With that, I have had to reconsider everything I assumed for how I would live my life in my late twenties into my thirties. Piece by piece, I have been slowly letting go and burying the things I held onto so tightly.

Grief is a cycle – it comes in seasons and waves and is not always predictable. In order to not let my disappointment consume me, I have had to actively choose to sit down each day and list the blessings in my life. What is present in my life today that makes me smile? What do I get to do that I could not (or not as easily) if I woke up today as a mom?

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A Letter to my Former Self: 2014 Edition

photo by Kelly Dean Photography

Dear sweet girl,

Have I ever told you how much I admire your relentless hopefulness; your capacity to dream in a wild way? Every year you want to start fresh, set goals, and picture a better version of yourself. You crave the taste of milestones met. I want you to stop for a minute, observe, and let all that you learned this year sink in.

This was not a year of particularly exciting news to plaster on your Christmas card. It was a year of deep examination, terrifying leaps, and unmet hopes. It was a simpler year than you first imagined in many ways. In January, you opened yourself to the possibility of parenthood. You hoped and assumed that in a few months, you would experience the terrifying and wonderful news that you would become parents. Finally feeling ready, you were excited to see what lay ahead. That month you celebrated three years of marriage with this soul to whom you’ve said “til death do us part.”

On the night of your anniversary, you were working late in the city and then fighting to make your way home through a blizzard. You arrived home soaked, late, and frustrated and you were met with a gourmet home-cooked meal, candlelight, and an outpouring of love. You slow danced to that song during which you shared your first dance at the wedding. Overwhelmed at the blessing it is to have bonded your life to his, tears slid down your cheeks as all the reasons you married him three years ago resurfaced. That night was a gift you would hold onto through the harder nights ahead.

Most of the winter you spent your nights in tears, returning home from work feeling spent and empty, unable to find meaning or reason in what you were doing 9 to 5. You had what felt like endless difficult conversations with your husband, standing on opposite sides of the conversation about what to do. As spring approached, you parted ways with your job. It was scary but also an enormous relief. You knew undoubtedly that it was the right thing. Then you spent a blissful week of childlike fun vacationing at Disney World. After tax season rolled around, you found out that your comfortable nest egg was disappearing. One wise financial decision for the future meant the pain of sacrificing now, and all of a sudden, the financial fear of living on one salary began to creep in. You both wondered how you would make it work.

In the summer, you finally detoxed enough from the tumultuous winter and spring to finally start finding your voice again. You began showing up and sharing, writing more regularly, and strengthening your perspective. People were showing up and cheering you on, and you began to realize that this thing that you do – saying yes to sharing with the world – perhaps benefits more than just you.

In the fall, you celebrated the birth of a friend’s beautiful baby and the miscarriage of another, and found yourself walking through the darkest months you remember in a long time. Waking up morning after morning, you had trouble recalling why it mattered if you got out of bed. When the barrage of mental insults started before your feet hit the floor, you wondered if this was that familiar intruder depression creeping in again. You felt powerless some days but vowed to not sink under its weight. Finally, you began to make changes and move forward. You hit a breaking point with your beloved and decided to talk to a professional about why you both were unable to move forward in the midst of unrealized dreams. In the best of timing, you then started a new part-time job that in some way allows your mothering heart to bloom: caring for children. Hope gently began to rise again.

At Christmastime, you walked up the stairs of your parents’ house and recalled the wish that this year you would be hauling home a pack-n-play for a little Lenzi. You remembered how last year, for the first time, you thought about how Christmas might be just a bit more magical with a new little life added to the family. The memory smarted, but you soaked up all the conversations, competitions, and delicious meals possible, being genuinely thankful for the gift of a family that truly loves each other.

At the beginning of the year you made a goal to spend more intentional time with God, but what you found instead was that you could not get through this year without Him. He was as close to you as the desperate prayers you breathed daily. You ran to Him, embraced Him, beat your fists against His chest, spat angry words at Him, demanded answers, and finally… you thanked Him.

In 2014, you wrote more than you ever have before in your life. You exercised less, but still maintained an overall healthy lifestyle. You read more. You traveled less. You spent dedicated time with family. You built meaningful friendships. You prayed more. You slowed down, and realized that it is actually ok not to live your life at break-neck pace. You lost. You won. You are better for it all.

I am proud of you. You made it through a vastly different year than you once anticipated. Can you identify how many goals you have met and celebrate them unapologetically? Can you acknowledge the broken dreams of this year, kiss them, and let them go? Dream new dreams for next year? I pray and trust that you will, and that you see ever so clearly that for better or worse, you lived your year intentionally.

With a fierce love,
Erika approaching 2015