Last December, as I was celebrating my 36th birthday, my husband dubbed it my “Bettis Year Yet.” I probably had some thoughts about being on the down side of 35 but he was having none of it. He smiled at me. He said “Babe, this time last year you were using a cane to walk. We still lived in a one-bedroom rental. This is going to be your Bettis Year yet. I promise.”
He wasn’t wrong. It was a Bettis year. With incredible highs — Italy, Iceland, a return to Jackson Hole, my company growing exponentially, getting in much better shape and losing 15 lbs — but also devastating lows. With the expansion of my company came the inevitable growing pains — the changing of an institution. My favorite co-worker, the person I’d bled in the trenches with for years — left. The infrastructure changed. I felt lost, confused and unbelievably sad. I gave my notice four days before my Carnell Lake birthday this year.
But with all that came really beautiful clarity. And that is something I want to take with me into 2017, into my Carnell Lake year.
Here are some things I know about myself, deep down in the depths of my soul, in the marrow of my bones.
I see the world in black and white. It doesn’t make things easier for me. I think — often times — it makes it harder. The world itself isn’t black and white. It’s a myriad of gray. I don’t exist like that. It makes people resent me because I don’t fit in – it makes them uncomfortable. It makes me the outsider.
I’ve always been an outsider. Since birth, probably. I wasn’t totally American, I am not British. Because of that, I never fit in anywhere. I was always a little off, a little different. I used to fight it, trying so hard to squeeze my square peg into a round hole. I spent so much time searching for a place to call my own. I didn’t know that I had to make it myself.
I no longer care if people like me or hate me. I don’t care if they think I am weird, or a stiff, or un-fun. I am the only person whose opinion of me matters. Whether my jeans look good, my shoes are in fashion, my values and morals make sense. I have to look myself in the mirror and be okay with the decisions I’ve made, the words I’ve said, the direction I’ve chosen. I have to be able to sleep at night. I am okay being me. And I like the real me, the Steelers-loving, Hamilton-listening, Gilmore Girls-watching me. I like being manic about my skin care, and tracking my water in-take. I like coming home and snuggling with my husband and dog. I am a-okay with my bed time of 8.30pm. I like my life.
Life is a short journey. I know we all feel as though we are rich with time. But we aren’t. My heart aches with the thought of leaving my job, leaving the restaurants that feel like my children, the employees, the culture, the love. But at the end, I was sick with misery. I was drowning in the blackest depression. And even if I had no idea what my future held, I knew I had to go. Because I’m on the clock. My disease doesn’t care about anything or anyone. And I might have it corralled for now – meds, and diet and exercise and sleep. But M.S. can break anything, it has broken me before. I am not willing to sacrifice myself on any alter but my own.
I hope that this year is filled with laughter and memories. Sunshine and lazy mornings. Long walks with my pup and my husband. Family. Chai tea lattes from Starbucks.
I hope I am able to learn things I don’t know, expand my horizons, meet people who challenge my brain. Learn Spanish, or French, or how to play the damn piano. I hope I read books and learn to understand the stock market and economics. I hope I remember to always breath, and find myself on my bicycle.
I hope 2017 proves that maybe 36 was my Bettis year, but it wasn’t my Best. My best is always the future, the surprises waiting around the corner. The smell of freshly baked bread, or Stargazer lilies. The way my husband feels when he holds me close to him. The soft snuffle of Lucy sleeping on the couch.
Here’s to my Carnell Lake (#37) year and all that it holds. Happy New Year.