Hello 37

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Why am I standing in a bathroom with luggage? Doesn't everyone? Yesterday was my 37th birthday. It was a disaster, as I caught a 24-hour bug and wasn't able to move, but to go to the doctor and finally, gloriously drink Gatorade. So I'm requesting a do-over. We shall call it the birthday month.

Back to the luggage. Mom and Dad surprised me with my gift last weekend because I was supposed to be out of town on the actual day. And since a) a new set of luggage is difficult to wrap b)they like a surprise, they told me to go check out some new work they'd had done to their bathroom and, voila, a much needed trio of Samsonites. A much better and appropriate way to start the year.

Last year during my annual birthday post, I wrote that during 36 I would get to the bottom of great bowls of sticky rice and perhaps learn to apply sequins to my face. Sadly, I did neither.

But during 36, I've been to some remarkable places, most recently, a life-changing week at the Yale Publishing Course in July.

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Yale was just one memorable trip. In June, it was to the beach with my family. (I've written about our official portrait session and why it was so meaningful to us. Here's one of the unofficial photos.) 

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And to Orlando in May:

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To Graceland that same month:

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And Nashville. 

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And Jekyll Island, where I did one of my favorite things in the world: speak to a room full of people fired up about creativity and the South. 

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I went to Yogurt Mountain. That was fun. 

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New York was great too. With Kai, who I have known now for nearly 20 of my 37 years, and who surprisingly, still puts up with me.  

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But I've stayed home and thrown a few parties with family and friends. And tried to behave a normal person, without orchestrating a party like it's a photo shoot. Yeah, I'm not so good at that. But getting better. 

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I've eaten more than a few meals alone, reading books and Tweets. (When they consist of a Cuban sandwich and coffee, that helps.)

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The towns go on and on. The best and most wonderful places were those that I saw in these moments on the road, giddy with the delight of coming home and sharing with everyone else. All of the weary airport moments, the delayed flights and missed connections are worth it. I love being a travel editor in its entirety. I love not only telling my own stories, but shepherding other people's stories. 

At 37 I know who I am and where I'm going: Each trip and experience is a blessing, as are the seat mates who need a listening ear. I love listening.

The best and most wonderful moments were the ones spent with my friends, old and new, and my family. The moments in between telling stories and making new ones.

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So, shall we get back to that number? At 37, I'm rooted in where I'm from. (Not the Dali Museum, but just down the road.)

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 I'm Hugh and Rosemary's daughter, along with them every step of the way.

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I'm Megan and Ryan's sister. And yes, I am usually laughing and making them wear leotards. 

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I'm a wife to a the professor and mom to the little professor who is growing up too fast. Being the lead singer of The Street Family band is a distinct pleasure.

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Though I spend more time editing and problem solving these days, I'm still a writer. This week I finished 20,000 words in my Creative Non-Fiction boot camp. It was difficult to do, and I petered out toward the end as I worked 15 hour days, shuttled to summer camp, got run down, and then got sick. I couldn't keep up as much. But I have the words down. 

And am going to keep at it. 

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A note on that: I'm always sensitive to the fact that people think I eat pork belly and jump on planes and have wacky adventures. That's just a part of it. 

This year -- especially the past few months (personally) -- has been devastating at times.  I've wrestled with anxiety, back at an all-time high level. On more than one occassion I have cried in hotel rooms and in my car.  I've felt the weight of the world on my shoulders, and been reminded I need to stand up, literally and figuratively, and face the challenges head on. That, too, is what I was made for. This is life, and of time moving on. 

At 37, I'm held up by the support of this dear family and these friends.

And my faith, which tells me if I shouldn't try to go it alone. So I won't.

It was a bummer to spend my birthday sick as a dog, unable to do celebrate the way I wanted. But there's a whole month -- a whole year -- to start over again and celebrate. So hi, 37. I'm ready for you. I'll be the one in the hat, with the suitcases. Let's do this. 

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