Turning 35: A Collection of Other People’s Stories

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Today is my 35th birthday.

When we are little we all have an age that we think is an official adult age.  And the age that we think we’ll be married.  And the age that we think we’ll have kids.  And the age where we think we’ll be the boss at our jobs.  And the age that we think is the dream age.

And then life happens and none of it plays out like we had calculated.

I was driving to work last month and started thinking about what I always thought 35 would be like…did I even have an image of what I thought 35 would be?  What did I have in mind for this age?  What is 35 supposed to be?  What big life thing is supposed to happen this year for me other than being a year closer to having my metabolism slow down?

Instead of making up what I thought this season of my life would look like, I decided to ask people what turning 35 was for them…and below you’ll find those precious stories I’ve been collecting.

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“I turned 35 a few months ago and refer to it as the year my life began.  I am pregnant with our first baby and she has already changed my life in more ways than I ever knew were possible.  I love harder, dream bigger, and have an even deeper appreciation of family.  She is a miracle and a complete dream come true.  So, cheers to 35, new beginnings and eternal gratitude.”  -Katie, 35

“At 35, I was living as a victim of my past, my faults and my insecurities.”  -Natalie, 50

“I was in the process of becoming an adoptive parent.  It was a slow process but all consuming for a single guy.  That next year my son, Richie (age 13), moved in with me.  Like any prospective parent I had big dreams and hopes.  It was a good time of my life.”  -Doug, 52

“I was a stay-at-home-mom of 2 girls ages 5 and 9 when I was 35.  My youngest had a tragic accident that year.  I became a very different parent because of it.  Now 51, I am grateful I learned the importance of setting the example as a woman for the young women I was raising!”  -Ronda, 51

“It’s my birthday today!!  I LOVE birthdays, including mine (obviously!)  I’m 35 now and am super grateful for another year.  If you read my blog post last year about my 34th birthday, you’ll remember that I was not a happy camper with the lack of attention that Henry gave to my birthday.  Sure, we had went out to dinner and a movie the weekend before my birthday, but then on my actual birthday there was…..nothing.  Nothing at all.  No card.  No gift.  No cake.  No time even spent together because he.went.out.of.town.on.my.birthday.    BUT today is another year.  another day.  AND Henry NO longer has a traveling job!!  (More about that later).  I have no idea what is planned for today, but Sage has been dropping hints to me.  (heeheehee)  Yesterday while sitting on the couch, he said, “Mommy, you don’t know that we ordered you a cake, do you?”  This morning, he said, “I think you’ll have a gift delivered today around 5:00.”  Who knows.  He could totally be setting me up for a big let-down.  I hope this doesn’t sound all snotty.  I could care less about a gift.  BUT I do care about a CAKE”  -Alisha, 39 (written on her 35th birthday)

“My 35th year was a year of many challenges but through it all God was with me.  I took steps to get more involved with my church including becoming a mentor.”  -Lauren, 36

“When I was 35, I had been married for 13 years and had two wonderful daughters at the ages of 10 and 9.  I also had been 3 years into my Nationwide career.  While I do not recall any big event that happened during that year, I can say at that stage of my life, my world revolved around nothing but having a happy marriage, and raising two daughters to be the most successful women they can be.  I enjoyed every day and every experience.  Being 35 is just another number!  Embrace it and enjoy every minute!!”  -Virginia, 46

“I am 39.  I know that is only 4 1/2 years past 35, but 35 is the last summit I have climbed.  I can still see it behind me.  As I approach the next milestone in September, I can tell you that 35 made me more of a few things.  It made me more forgiving of myself.  As a recovering perfectionist I found that allowing grace to pick me up was much more freeing than struggling to climb higher and harder.  It made me more patient with my children.  Reading scripture shows that our PERFECT Heavenly Father had children He had to repeat himself over and over with.  I found renewal in being a person who loved over and over in grace and in discipline.  It made me more joyful.  2012 was 4 years from burying my mother.  The pain of losing her was an empty hole that only the practice of years helped me learn to walk more freely around.  Joy came again as promised.  It made me more obedient.  It was the beginning of God revealing calling and gifts I had ignored or questions.  It was (and still is) a struggle to lay down everything or anything God asked to take.  So thankful that God uses time to make us more like him.  Praying that with each passing year God will continue to redeem everything in me that can bring glory to Him.  Praying the same for you.”  -Christina, 39

“I’ve got another year on this globe, so what will I do with it?  I’m facing 36, an age that others didn’t get. How can I do it justice?  For me, it’s not skydiving or rocky mountain climbing, but rather the way in which I sow love into my life. It’s more hugs, more forgiveness, more gratitude. It’s acknowledging another work of art in the sunset from my front porch.  It’s also mandating a friend eat unnecessary amounts of nachos with me. It’s acting surprised when my kids hand me a haphazardly wrapped gift. It’s requesting your parents spend too much money renting a cabin in Hocking Hills for the weekend. It’s drinking one more because “it’s my birthday!”” – Michele, 36 (written on her 35th birthday)

“Age 35 found me moving from Orange County, California, to a small town outside of Birmingham, Alabama. Looking back, as I now sit my little 43-year-old self on my cozy section of the couch this Sunday morning, a couch that sits in a small rental house in Mission Viejo, California, I see my life broken-up into two sections: pre-35 and post-35. Come to think of it, it seems I was just “playing grown-up” before I moved to the south. Because even though Alabama only lasted two years, it goes down as the most adventurous, scariest, saddest, tear-filled, and challenging… growing, deep-friend-making, four-season-experiencing, and spiritually significant times in my life, for it is where God revealed his love for me in the most beautiful, unique, non-cliché ways.”  -Molly, 43

“My daughter was graduating high school, had been accepted to college and I thought ‘how the hell am I going to pay for this?’  I worked 3 jobs.  I worked my ass off.”  -Lisa, 51

“I’m 52 now and first of all, how 17 years could’ve passed already I have no idea BUT… I remember 35 very well because it’s when I had my third and final child. Her name is Masanne (pronounced like Mason). One of the stories I always tell about that pregnancy is that the doctors treated me like a geriatric patient and I was always like, “I’m only 35!” They were really trying to push the prenatal testing and I didn’t want anything other than sonograms. I wasn’t going to end the pregnancy no matter what, and anything I needed to be prepared for ahead of time was detectable on sonograms. My other two kids were 5 and 3 when Masie was born. This third pregnancy was so different and so was the rest of my 35th year because I was SO much calmer. I felt so much more confident in being a Mom and I just basically enjoyed it instead of stressing over everything like I had with the first two. I have never really worried about aging because I had so many wonderful role models in the women of my extended family – staying fun and active and smart and interesting until the end of their lives. I like the feeling of being more competent the older I get; and that’s definitely how I felt at 35. Blessings to you and I hope you enjoy it too.”  -Debbie, 52

“When I was 35, my daughter was turning 16 and I just bought her a car for her 16th birthday.  I was excited and scared at the same time.  Not because of her driving, — because she has always been responsible.  More on all the other drivers that are bad drivers and could hurt her.”  -Doug, 54

“I thought turning 35 would be a bit more emotional for me than it was.  I mean, I was officially on the downhill slide of being closer to 40.  But, for some reason it didn’t bother me as much as I thought.  The only thing I can think of, is I was in a really good spot and happy with where ‘life’ was at that moment.  We had just moved to Texas July of 2014, so most of 2015 was a year of adventure.  We traveled around Texas, traveled for Kevin’s races and even had a trip back home; we adopted our first puppy and rescued a cat; made new friends and started new holiday traditions since we weren’t able to be back home with our families.  It was a fun and exciting time for Kevin and I to really become a lot closer than what we already were.  In my mind, I knew I would want to start a family soon, so I wanted to enjoy that year with Kevin as much as I could.  Now that I’m about to turn 37 (eek!) and that much closer to turning 40, I’m in a new chapter of my life as a mom and its a whole new adventure.  One of learning and uncertainty, a lot of leaning on each other to get us through, especially since we are so far away from our families and support systems.  Just like with all past experiences or situations, they all help guide you in where you are today.  Those moments and adventures from a couple years ago are integral with who I am and where I am today.”  -Carrie, 37

“Ah 35…..really this was the year of the party of one and became a party of two. I received the greatest gift from God and was blessed to receive the gift of my son.  35 is when for me life was just a daily shuffle living with no meaning.  35 was me knowing that I wanted more, I needed more and God blessed me with the title of Mom.”  -Kelly, 45

“Thirty-five…………….  Sounds so young now as 23-years have passed since I was at that seemingly tender age. However, the passage of time has not dulled my memory and with the closing of my eyes, I can be returned to 1993 again as if it were yesterday. A huge part of my life then (and still now) were my wife and children. I had been divorced in 1989 so I was a single father for a couple of years before I met and then married my wife. We became a combined family as my wife had a teenage daughter and fortunately we worked together to turn our group into a happy family unit. We lived in a nice house in a good suburb and we were living the American Dream. My daughter was 10 and my son was 8 and we spent countless days and hours together staging our own version of the “Super Bowl” and “World Series” in the backyard and even our own version of “March Madness” at the hoop in the driveway. Vacations weren’t elaborate back then, but our times at the cottage on Lake Erie and our camping excursions to Lake Hope were packed with joyful memories that bring smiles to all of our faces yet today.  My career was still evolving when I was 35, as I was completing the work on my Journalism degree from Ohio State, while also supervising the staff of the Data Center at Columbia Gas. I worked from 7:00AM – 7:00PM Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday and then Wednesday & Thursday the following week. The following Monday, my hours switched to 7:00PM – 7:00AM following that same pattern of days. I had to schedule my college courses on my off days and evenings. As hectic and packed as my schedule was, I’m happy to say that I never missed any event for my children. I coached football, baseball and basketball and was always in the first row for every play and concert in which they participated. It wasn’t easy and it was exhausting, but nothing worthwhile is ever easy.  Had I made different decisions earlier in my late teens and early 20s, my life at 35 might have been much different and much easier, but that wasn’t the case. However, I have no regrets as all of the hurdles I had to clear at 35 served to lay the groundwork for all of the successes I’ve been so fortunate to earn and experience over the past 23 years.  In closing, I’ll quote the song, “It Was a Very Good Year” recorded by many, but made famous by Frank Sinatra.  “When I was 35, it was a very good year.””  -Rich, 58

Thank you to everyone who shared your stories with me.  This has been one my favorite blog projects to date.

I am sitting here in the early morning and first hours of being 35..and can’t wait to see what this year will be for my life.