This is 36

My birthday was on Friday and as I did a post last year on my birthday I thought I’d continue the tradition with another survey.

How would I sum up the past year?

Almost upgraded.

Okay so let me explain. Do you ever feel like there are big events that split your timeline in half? Like there’s a version of you before the event and then a version of you after the event? For a while it was me before I had Jackson, and then me after I had Jackson. Well, now it’s been reframed to me before I had cancer and me after I had cancer.

But for some reason I’ve now adopted some software terms to these phases. Like Jamie before cancer was “Jamie 1.0” – your standard model of Jamie. And Jamie after cancer is continually changing in small ways. Like over the last 2.5 years I’ve been on a spectrum from 1.0 to 2.0…much like a continuous upgrade on a software system. And at this point today, it feels like I’m close to 2.0…which is a significant upgrade from the 1.0. Because here’s how that system works in case you’re still confused:

  • If it’s a change to the number on the right side of the decimal, it’s not a big platform change. It’s more like an enhanced feature here or there.
  • But a change on the left side of the decimal is worthy of a press release – it’s either a big platform upgrade or just a lot more functionality than all the other little changes…worthy of making it to the next level.

Got it? Okay sorry to get technical on you, but we’re literally in the process of trying to write a press release for some system enhancements at work and now I’m like “Yeah that works for my life too.” So – that’s what I mean by “I’m close to 2.0.” It means I’m significantly different from Jamie 1.0. And for a while, I wasn’t okay with that. For a while I was fine tweaking things, trying small new things – basically going to 1.1, 1.25 or 1.32…small deviations away from Jamie 1.0. But then in the last six months I made some big changes in how I think about things, in how I feel physically, in how I deal with things and I feel like all of sudden I jumped to 1.7 and then 1.85 and right now it’s like 1.9.

Sometimes those changes were scary and sometimes they weren’t. But regardless of scary, most of them were positive. A lot of new firsts and a lot of letting go of things that didn’t “spark joy.” But even still, there were times where I still held on to Jamie 1.0 and struggled because of it.

It’s like when you first get a new phone and you’re like “This phone is great, there’s no need to get a new one ever! This is the most advanced piece of technology ever!”

And then the world turns and technology keeps getting better and better and soon you’re thinking “Okay it’s not the most advanced piece of technology, but I don’t need all the bells and whistles, this works fine still! I can still do all the things I like to do with it. It’s silly to spend so much money on a new phone.” <— That right there is where I was at around my birthday last year. I was like , “Jamie 1.0 can still make this work. I’ve tweaked a bit and I can still make it work with this model. Things are fine! I’m fine! We’re all fine!”

But then, as with new technology, things start to become not fine. After my half marathon in June of last year I was getting that itch for something new and different. The itch you start to feel when you want a new phone, “Ugh, this thing is so slow. Why can’t it do portrait pictures? Why do I keep having to delete things to free up enough space to run 5 apps? Why does the music just start randomly playing at the worst moments possible? I don’t need the world hearing Beyoncé at level 20 when I’m walking into the dentist office, thank you very much.” That was kind of the anxious, itchy feeling I was getting last fall. For the most part – things were looking up. My hair was getting longer and longer, I’d run a half marathon, I was at my lowest weight EVER, I was writing a bit more…by all accounts, Jamie 1.0 or even 1.32 was doing pretty well.

But like with the phone you’ve had for a couple of years –  I started to knit-pick things. “well that half marathon was great, but my feet are just never gonna feel rested because of lingering neuropathy and I feel like running is just too hard on them with long distances.” And then “Writing more is great but do I really feel like I’m the person to give this advice? Is my advice even worth giving? Who am I to tell others how to have a happier, more productive life?” And then, “okay I like the work I do but there is some other crazy stuff happening that is starting to bubble up and I don’t know if this is somewhere I see myself long-term and maybe it’s time to jump ship again.” And “okay I’m at my lowest weight ever but I’m not muscular.” It was me starting to see that Jamie 1.0 wasn’t exactly a perfect fit 2 years later.

I’m a firm believer that you are the master of your own ship. You don’t like where you’re going? Then change it. Even if it’s hard, you’ll be in a better spot than you are now. So I did.

I started exploring other things I could do besides running. I started speaking about not so great things at work. Writing? Well I just stopped for a while. I don’t like writing just to feel like I need to write, so I just stopped. And then I let go of some other things – doing things that made feel anxious or uneasy. I started embracing that little introvert inside of me and stopped multi tasking and focusing on everything in a big picture lens and started making my circle smaller and smaller – focusing on one thing at a time and things that were literally right in front of me – at work and at home. I started saying no a bit more and being selective about how I spent my time. And when I set my mind to building more muscle…I built more muscle (albeit at the expense of being at my lowest weight).

And now here I am. I’m 36 and feeling quite a bit more “evolved” than I felt last year. I’m embracing some new things…even the fact that I’m a good 8 lbs heavier than I was at this point last year. But that 8 lbs has allowed me to swing from monkey bars, climb ropes, climb rock walls, do more complicated yoga poses, and much more.

But this and other changes didn’t happen over night.

  • Changes at work were really slow and heart wrenching…but now I’m on the other side and feeling so good about my job.
  • As you can tell – I still don’t write a lot, but I’m okay with that too.
  • I still hold on to a sliver of my running past, but funny enough – I fell on the ice in February and haven’t run since (my sciatic nerve was really sore for weeks). Even now that I can run again – there’s not a big appeal to it because I’ve gotten into a groove with other things.
  • Sometimes I still have a twinge of regret saying no to things, but then I look back and think “that wasn’t something important I missed” and I move on.

So like I said…almost upgraded.

But this isn’t the final chapter. I will continue to evolve. But this is definitely the beginning of something fun and new…like that moment you finally get a new phone.


How do I want to sum up the next year?

Swimming with the current, not against it. 

I want to be able to listen to my inner voice more and continue on the path of doing what feels right instead of external voices telling me what I should or should not do. I imagine that feels like when you’re swimming downstream. It’s effortless because you’re going with the river. When you’re swimming upstream it’s really hard and it feels like you’re doing something wrong. I want to do less of that and more of swimming with the current.

And right now that feels like doing the following:

  • Working out almost every morning – alternating between boot camp, OTR training and hot yoga (and maybe running outside occasionally as the weather warms up)
  • Staying consistent with work and learning how to delegate a bit more to others on my team.
  • Getting home in time to make dinner most evenings (exceptions happen and that’s okay)
  • Accepting and even embracing this new body shape and not trying to kill myself in the process of building muscle AND losing weight. Just focus on building muscle and getting over the notion that a “goal weight” is a silly thing to have it means you have to cut down on the things that make you feel good.
  • Not staying out late and only sparingly going to events that require a lot of small talk with people I don’t know well.
  • Staying off social media as much as possible (and trying to not even scroll through feeds when I’m bored)
  • Only writing when it feels meaningful…or potentially getting back into fiction writing.
  • Still continuing on a long path to one day become an American Ninja Warrior.

Next up – a series of questions I’ll continue to ask myself every year.  You can look back at year 35 here.

1. What did you do this year that you’d never done before?

  • Joined a ninja obstacle gym and the various ninja things I can do now by working out there
  • Saw the Redwood forest
  • Volunteered at Jackson’s school
  • Indoor rock climbing with family and friends

2. What would you like to have next year that you lacked this year?

  • The ability to do a pull up (dang it, I wrote this last year and I’m still not there!)
  • To conquer the warped wall at the ninja obstacle gym
  • To do my first Obstacle Training Race

3. What date(s) from this year will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

  • June 2018 – getting some siblings and my cousin to do a half marathon with me and some friends up in Duluth (and ultimately surviving the most unclean airbnb imaginable)
  • Early August 2018 – a big family trip to California to see San Francisco and visit my brother and then Disney Land, Lego Land and the San Diego Zoo.
  • December 2018 – 2 years in remission and my last CT scan

4. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

  • Staying at one job for the whole year. Ha!
  • Taking that first step into my first class at the Ninja obstacle gym.

5. What was your biggest failure?

Honestly I don’t really think I had any failures in 2018, just things that didn’t go in the direction I thought they would. I had wanted to write the first draft of a non-fiction, motivational book. I made some good headway on it but ultimately didn’t finish that because of a change of heart. Still TBD if that will ever see the light of day or if I’ll just repurpose those as blog posts.

6. What other hardships did you face?

I really can’t think of much happening last year as a “hardship.” Some things were hard, but they ultimately led to good things.

7. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Just a random cold here or there. Nothing to write home about.

8. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

  • Our California trip and the chance to wear my Minnie Mouse ears again at Disney Land
  • How long my hair was at my 2 year check up and being able to defuse it once again.

9. Compared to this time last year, are you:

  • Happier or sadder? Happier (which is funny because I said happier last year and looking back, I was happier than the year before – yes, but not as happy as I am now. This might be peak happiness)
  • Thinner or fatter? Well technically neither but I am heavier than last year – but it’s not fat, it’s more muscle…or so I tell myself 😉
  • Richer or poorer? Somewhat richer I guess.

10. What do you wish you’d done more of?

  • More assisted pull-ups. Maybe I’d be able to do a real one by now if I had done more of those. 🙂
  • Read more books
  • More walks with Max

11. What do you wish you’d done less of?

  • Scrolling through instagram
  • Worrying about things outside of my control (I had that last year too – I feel like that’s just a year to year constant)

12. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?


13. What was your favorite show?

  • Game of Thrones  – same as last year
  • Superstore – same as last year
  • Schitt’s Creek – NEW!

14. What was the best book you read?

  • You are a Badass – how to stop doubting your greatness and start living an awesome life

15. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Nothing. It was a pretty good year.

16. What kept you sane?

Quiet time and not over-extending myself.

17. What valuable life lesson did you learn this year?

  • Patience leads to good things
  • It’s okay to say no.

18. What is a quote that sums up your year?

“If they can’t see your magic, take it back and be gone.” (from my last post)

So that’s it. That’s me at 36. Thanks for sticking with me this far!

2 thoughts on “This is 36

  1. Laurie says:

    I love the 18 questions you ask yourself every year. It’s a wonderful way to take stock of where you are and where you want to go. Your philosophy of making stuff happen in your own life is wonderful. Happy birthday!

  2. Deanna T Nguyen says:

    Happy Birthday Jamie!!!! You should be proud of all you accomplished this year. Glad things are going well for you! You look great! Enjoyed reading your blog and list of questions.

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