The weeks leading up to this birthday have left me run ragged with numerous obligations, pre-booked time, and little to no opportunities for myself. Which is why it’s so very important, today of all days, to take the time to myself to reflect on it all, just as I do every year.

Back in January, I chose a word for myself: Aspire. And for the most part, I think I kept up with it – in random spurts and phases. Last month marked my most successful month with this blog: once daily views of about 5 people per post leaped up to 50, 60, and nearly 100. Without even thinking of this word, I have pushed myself throughout this year to develop my brand, my message, and my devotion to A Necessary Rebrand. I have chosen to view myself as a true writer, to accept that my words have purpose, even when it might feel like a lie, or like I’m only feigning to be more than what I am.

But leading up to this birthday, the one thing that’s hit me hardest is the concept of balance: that is, the balance of time, obligation, emotional states, physical activity, new hobbies, and quiet undisturbed moments.

So that’s what I aspired to give myself this morning: I woke up slowly, I engaged in a short yoga flow, I drew some tarot cards, and I took my time. Because these are the things I am seeking for myself in my 29th year – movement, spirituality, positive self-perception, and the ability to do for myself what I actually plan to do.

What’s funny is that the hardest part of this day was the fact that I pretty much had no plan for it beyond the morning. We drove into Chattanooga last night for three days of nothingness – escape, stillness, and an interminable opportunity to go with whatever flow felt right in the moment. It’s hard to imagine a birthday where things aren’t all planned out, where you don’t have a big dinner planned with a group of your closest friends, where nothing especially special occurs. But this is what my body needs right now – this is what my soul needs right now – and hopefully it’s going to bring round a new phase of aspiration, and an even more important phase of balance.

It’s not hard to imagine how 5 straight weeks of work – interrupted only by a surprise proposal and all that goes with it – can leave a person feeling imbalanced. A 30 minute drive to yoga class ceases its purpose as an “escape” and starts to feel more like something that’s cutting into your free time. Intentions of going to the grocery and stalking up on good, healthy foods are much more easily replaced by a quick stop at Papa John’s. And sitting down to write is a taxing endeavor that requires more brain power than is readily available.

What’s damaging is how reminiscing on all of these missed opportunities makes one feel less than capable of being an adult. And more importantly, leaves us realizing that we’re only letting ourselves down in the process.

More than that, I’ve personally realized over the last several weeks just how often I sacrifice my own wants and needs for the sake of other people: I quiet my own voice to listen to the louder shouts of others. Which is “kind,” as some might say. But utterly depleting, as well.

So while I might consider speaking of resolutions and words of the year in January 2020, I think it’s more important to think about the promises I make myself today, on my 29th birthday, when I have the peace and quiet I need to truly evaluate where I stand in this life, what I have to offer, and how I’m going to prevent feeling this way again as I embark on my 30th year next October.

I believe it’s important to take notice of others, but not to the extent that I ignore my own deepest needs.

I believe it’s time to find balance, to find some structure and routine, to make inexcusable promises to myself that will ensure my future health and stability.

I believe that committing to myself in this moment is the only way that I can ever truly commit to another.

I believe in crystals, and tarot, and opening myself up to the forces of the universe, placing some faith in where they lead me.

I believe in connecting to my spiritual self.

I believe in taking the time for others as it relates to my own needs, and not sacrificing my own desires for self-improvement in exchange for feeling like I’m not a victim of FOMO.

I believe in telling my story, in taking risks for sharing that story, and in encouraging others to do the same.

I believe that this story has some value that I’m still figuring out. I’m still in the middle of figuring out the bigger picture, and that’s okay.

I believe in simplicity. I believe in seeking out opportunities for this simplicity and relishing in it – not looking for anything more.

I believe that self love and self care are completely different things. I need to work on both of them, but this – this time – is all about the care that’s too easy to forget.

I believe in the power of love.

I believe in never taking family or friends for granted.

I believe in my personal worth.

I believe in honoring that worth.

And I believe in my ability to change, grow, and find the balance I’m so desperately seeking.

I worry, sometimes, as I observe my Libra traits, that balance is not who I am, but something to which I will always aspire.

And maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe that’s something to look forward to. Or maybe it’s something which I must work towards every day, knowing that by making the right choices, I will be able to get there.

I say all of this in the hopes that one of you out there feels the same way, too. That most of you also view your birthday as not simply a celebration of your birth but as an opportunity for rebirth. And that all of us can recognize, together, how we so often deny ourselves the simplest of pleasures, the greatest opportunities for happiness, and the the most satisfying of moments.