Happy Birthday To Me

IT’S THE BIG DAY

img_4351

Well, here we are. Hello THIRTY! I must say, I have been dreading today for.. Well, if I’m being really honest, the last fifteen years. I remember very well that on my fifteenth birthday I had an emotional breakdown over the idea that I was halfway to thirty. My mid twenties were full of anxieties over “What if I’m not married by the time I’m thirty…. What if I’m not a mother by the time I’m thirty… What if I don’t have a career by the time I’m thirty…”. I was consumed by these ideas. In fact, I was under the impression that I would be considered a failure if I did not check all of these boxes by the time I was thirty. What nonsense! Who is society to tell me that I am, or I am not, enough.

Yet, the last few days I have to admit I have been mopey. I’d like to blame it on the lovely winter weather we’ve been having, my tired haze thanks to the 5:30am wake ups we’ve had for the past few weeks, or lack of caffeine due to the fact that we have been hibernating and I haven’t visited a coffee shop in at least a week. Yesterday I just couldn’t shake it. I was treating the last few days as if they were a funeral- An ode to the death of my days as a twenty-something. Last night, after baby was in bed, I ran myself a bubble bath, poured myself a glass of bubbly, and settled into the tub for a much needed dose of reflection. Did I check all the boxes? Did I fulfill the dreams the twenty year old me had hoped for by now? Well, you know what? The last ten years have held some of the most important and defining moments of my life. My life has been bigger and better than my dreams ever would have thought it could be, at twenty. In fact, regardless of what society may have expected from me by today, I can hold my head high and know that my twenties have been the very best years of my life and I am proud to be the woman I am today.

THE TOP TEN EXPERIENCES OF MY TWENTIES

I Am Canadian

My family moved to Canada when I was 14. Ten years later, in 2011, we were officially sworn in as Canadian Citizens. This was one of the most memorable and special days of my life! I am so proud to belong to this great nation.

img_2965

The Day I Was Debt Free

When I was twenty I bought a brand new condo. Yes, me. I worked for barely more than minimum wage and somehow qualified for a mortgage. In the beginning it was all rainbows and butterflies, but when the keys became mine I was in for a reality check. Unanticipated expenses quickly started coming in. I had no savings behind me. My monthly expenses suddenly exceeded my income. I started to fall behind on bills, I couldn’t afford groceries, and I missed out on all the fun my friends were having. I started to live on my credit card just to be able to buy food and gas for my car. I drowned in this financial nightmare for a couple of years thinking there was no way out. At rock bottom I decided to rent a room for some extra income to start digging myself out of the hole. One room rented then became two rooms rented and I finally was getting somewhere. Did I want to share my home with strangers? No. But, it was my only choice. A choice that I did not regret, either. I made some life long friends in the process! It took me an awful lot longer to get out of the debt pit than it did to get into it, but little by little I got there. It took a LOT of financial discipline in both paying down the debt and building up savings. The day that I made the last payments and owed nothing (other than my mortgage, of course) was freeing. What a relief. I once again had control over my income. No one was ready to take it before my paycheck had even been deposited.

Committed To Community

I started volunteering when I was twenty one. I had been interested in the Big Sister program and decided that I wanted to invest some time into this. I was matched with a Little Sister and we started spending time together. When we met she was only six and I have had the pleasure of watching her grow into the feisty fourteen year old she is today. We are truly sisters by heart.

Namaste, India!

A few years after I started volunteering I had the chance to apply for a once in a lifetime opportunity. My volunteer experience matched the “Committed To Community Award” criteria and I eagerly applied for the chance to travel to India to work with Free The Children building a school.  On a December morning in 2013 I got the surprise of my life.. I was chosen as the award winner! I was an overwhelming honor.

I spent ten days submersed in the rich Indian culture. It was the trip of a lifetime.I learned to lay brick at the school site and now the smell of wet cement fills me with nostalgia!

My Wedding Day

My Husband and I met in High School. We’ve certainly had our fair share of ups and downs over the years. In fact, at times we barely made it through the growing pains. People often have this idea that if you’re High School Sweethearts then life will be magical for you. That is far from true. Just like all relationships, it takes hard work to stay together. After a ten year journey together he finally proposed and we were married in 2014. As it should be, our wedding day was one of the most memorable of our lives. In every way it was perfect. We exchanged vows in the park that was our special place back in the early days. I wore my Grandmother’s lace wedding dress (circa 1954). We had our very closest friends beside us. I even surprised my groom with a Lego themed wedding cake. I never thought I would be so lucky to have such a perfect day.

_dsc1165

My Retail Career

I do not have a formal post high school education.I am the classic example of not being able to decide what I wanted to be when I grew up and then got too comfortable in real life to do anything about it.  I have passionately worked in customer service since before I graduated high school. I’ve had the pleasure of working for a wonderful company that has allowed me to build a career in the retail world. I have been given many opportunities to develop my leadership skills. I have been lucky to travel to new store openings and assist in the development of management teams in other locations. At home in my own store I’ve not only sold clothes but confidence and self-love to women. I’ve had the great pleasure of knowing some lovely young ladies along their life journey.

So many times I have encountered the opinion of “Oh, so you just work at a store?”. No, I do not just work at a store.

The Test Was Positive

I always wanted to be a Mother. Always. There has never been a doubt about that. We had made the choice to leave it in God’s hands and trust that he would know when the time was right. The morning I took the test I entirely expected it to be negative. I was really taking it to assure myself that I was imagining things. I held the stick as it did its magic… first line appeared- ok it’s working… a SECOND line appeared.. WAIT, WHAT?! The world, including my heart and lungs, stopped. “No, no. I must have read the instructions wrong” I thought and read through them again. All the little pictures showed that two lines was positive. The test was positive. THE TEST WAS POSITIVE! I couldn’t believe it. I had never felt such overwhelming joy. I took a second test just to be sure. Then I went and purchased a third test from a different brand just to make sure that the first two weren’t just a fluke. We were going to have a baby!

I was blessed with a great pregnancy and enjoyed every minute of carrying my baby boy.

img_1506
35 Weeks Pregnant. My last day of work before maternity leave. 

 

I Can’t Wait To Meet You, Grandma!

Telling my Mama that she was going to be a Grandma was absolutely priceless. At the time she was six months into cancer treatment and I knew this news was just what she needed to hear. I had just returned from a long weekend in New York so I whipped up a pretend souvenir mug that said “I had a great time in New York with Mommy… And now I can’t wait to meet you Grandma! See you in March 2016”. She kept reading out the first side of the mug and saying “But, I wasn’t with you in New York”. When she finally turned the mug around and read the rest there was hysterical joy filled tears. I have it on video. A moment I will always treasure.

 

Becoming A Mother

The day my son was born. I can’t put this experience into words.

img_4325
Family of three

Seeing The World

I have been so lucky to have had opportunities to travel. I have also been very lucky to have wonderful people to travel with. My BFF, April, has been my travel partner in crime and we have been all over the place together.

A few highlights of my travels include…

Dipping my toes in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Caribbean sea. Snorkeling (not well) for the very first time in The Bahamas. White water rafting in Glacier National Park, Montana. Standing on top of The Space Needle in Seattle, The Eiffel Tower in Paris, St Paul’s Cathedral in London, and The Rockefeller Center in New York. Witnessing my husband seeing a real sandy beach and seashells for the very first time. Shopping at a market in Udaipur, India. Enjoyed a Chai Tea Latte from the original Starbucks in Seattle. Snow tubing at Mount Norquay in Banff. Seeing the Statue of Liberty in both New York and Paris. Hiking to Cameron Falls, North West Territories. Watching Chicago and Phantom Of The Opera in New York and Once in London. I ate a toxic hotdog in a baguette in Paris and got terrible food poisoning. Experiencing Old Delhi, India. Dancing my heart out to Taylor Swift on the 1989 Tour in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Discovering airport spa’s in Amsterdam. Enjoying a $38 glass of sangria 38 floors above Times Square, New York. Riding a sea-doo in Antigua. Laid bricks at a school being built by Free The Children in Rajasthan, India. Walking across The Brooklyn Bridge (desperately needing to pee!) in New York.

… I could go on and on! I have had some amazing experiences in the world. I value each and every one of them.

 

I can’t wait to see what the thirties will bring for me.

Lots of love,

Kochie Mama x