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Happy Birthday’s Eve

Dear Self,


At the time of writing this letter at 1:54am, you are technically still 33 years old. 🥰 For the next few hours of your life (until 1:10pm on 1/10), you’ll be 33.


To me, the day before your birthday should be more celebrated. By this time next year, you’ll be seeing my card ideas for Birthday’s Eve at Trader Joe's. 😉 But truly, it’s no different than the excitement of New Year’s Eve. The time to truly reflect, remember, and be grateful for all this trip around the sun has been. How every sunrise brought a fresh start and a new chance to be the best me I could be. How every sunset brought a moment to ask Everett his favorite part of the day, let go of the negatives, say silent prayers of thanks to the heavens above, and set tiny intentions for an even better day the next day. 


My 33rd time around the sun was filled with 365 days of those sunrises and sunsets, and appreciating the colors that filled the sky every single time. This past year is one I’ll never forget. What started as a lunch date followed by ice skating with my husband continued into a year of adventures and discoveries. Of some lows that only made the highs more magical. The start of my 33rd year brought a new job opportunity as a contract writer for an educational marketing firm. Thanks to a love of writing, a strong knowledge of education, and a serendipitous moment when a friend saw a Facebook post, I was given the chance to gain just enough experience to end my 33rd year in a pretty momentous way… 


But first, a quick recap for the record book. This year brought snow to play in during January. A postponed first birthday party for Ephraim with friends and family in February. A stomach bug on Everett’s fourth birthday in March (that passed to everyone…). An amazing spring break in April with weather in the 80’s in Richmond and then one last play in the snow on April 18 in the mountains. Covid finally hit the household in May 2022 but this cleared us for summer travels as we headed to Europe in June. (The boys touching every public piece of infrastructure was a little less worrisome). That trip was a once in a lifetime tour of England where we loved our time with friends (both planned and spontaneous), of France, Belgium, Spain, Andorra, and even a pop into Portugal. It truly was amazing. The boys learned and grew and embraced new cultures and languages. We had 8 days at home and then headed to Hawaii. Those moments spent with wonderful friends and family in the most beautiful place on earth are something I will cherish forever. (And taught me that I will live in Hawaii someday… maybe not forever because it is hell-a-far-away, but I will live there). Then the moment I saw lava glowing bright under a sky full of stars sunk in deep to my connection with the natural world. We ended the summer at an amazing resort in Kona where Everett learned to hold his breath for a long time underwater while holding onto my neck and swimming with me across the bottom of the pool. Ephraim continued to push his fearless boundaries by jumping off rocks along the edge. 



We sat on a bench in the outside terminal of the Kona airport and Everett said, “I don’t want to leave Hawaii…” 😢🥰 


But we had to return to reality and Jarrett went to work for us and I stayed home with our boys. Everett started a part time nature preschool and we all made some amazing new friends through there. We did lots of ventures around the house and out and about, with parks, playgrounds, and museums. We spent time with family in Cape May, hiked mountains with friends, and enjoyed Halloween and Jarrett’s birthday at the beach. We kicked off the holiday season with a visit to Richmond and Christmas lights at our favorite garden. We spent Thanksgiving at my sister’s, and then lots of holiday events with friends and family that sped by way too fast! December brought us a new baby cousin in Hawaii, our little warrior and fighter who I think about every single second… 💕 We had Christmas at home with a visit from Santa (who brought a sled and yet no sign of snow in the near future… too late to make another Christmas request for SNOW to go along with the 66” sled??). We took a last minute adventure trip for Ephraim’s 2nd birthday to Strasburg, PA for trains and then Lewes to see the ocean. On New Year’s Eve, we finally had a “The Holiday” esque mini-party with friends.


2023 granted me 10 more days of being 33, and just as that year of my life began with a new career opportunity, it now ends with another…


It has been nearly three full years away from the classroom, a job I thought I’d have forever. But as the system became more and more broken, the sparks began to fizzle. Bureaucracy, tests, standards, mandates, protocols, and “lock down drills” replaced experiments, art projects, exploring outside, laughter, and learning.


Teaching changed, so I changed. 


I “took a leave of absence” (e.g. quit), devoted my life to homeschooling my own little ones, and in a serendipitous moment in December 2022 as my contract work dwindled and the itch to have something for myself crept in, I typed into a google search the correct strand of words at the same time a company was running a paid google ad. This serendipitous moment of the internet like the one last January brought me to Write of Passage.


With an intention of finding whatever might be next for my personal journey of growth, I discovered a company with a concept and message that resonated with me -- "Flipping the tables” of education, specifically writing. I headed to the careers page and saw an open position that I may be just qualified enough for. 


I took a leap of faith, touched up my resume, and wrote a killer you-need-to-hire-me cover letter. There was a week of interviews and somehow I managed to radiate my love, passion, and energy for writing, for bettering education by breaking the system, and for connecting people across time and place with words. This bottom-of-my-heart, lay-it-all-out-there, reference-Bluey-in-an-interview mentality got me the job of Email Marketing Manager for what could be a cooler company than Google. 


So as I say goodbye to 33 and all the love and memories it brought my family, and the work experience I needed for this next career venture, I welcome this 34th trip around the sun with a walking on an airplane mentality. The fear, excitement, anticipation, and in my case of my best friend and husband, of the “you never know who you will sit next to” attitude. 


Take this life as the one chance to make something happen. Keep growing, keep learning, keep spreading joy, and keep making connections with others who are just as crazy and passionate as you!


And after an hour of my middle of the night writing thought dump, that’s officially my Birthday’s Eve wish to you, self. 😘😘 


All my love!


Maria

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