Today I turn the big 3-0, which is equal parts exciting and terrifying. Though I don’t expect a Jessie Spano-style birthday meltdown, I still feel the impending doom of closing one door—in this case, a decade—and starting the next chapter. But the other half of me feels incredibly relieved to say peace out to my twenties.
I’ve never been the type of person with a timeline. I’m still not sure what the universe has in store for me re: marriage, kids, job security, or real estate, and I definitely didn’t feel that those milestones of adulthood needed to happen by the age of 30. Though I did expect to own a dining room table by now…
But while my twenties weren’t a panicked race against the clock, there were definitely plenty of moments (or, let’s be honest, months) when I couldn’t wait for them to be over. I didn’t need to feel that my life was settled in the traditional sense—by way of a husband or a mortgage—but I often wished that I could emerge from the dark tunnel of uncertainly. That the gnawing sense of unknowing would evaporate like the morning mist and I would wake up at 30 having my shit together.
If the bad metaphor I just wrote is any indication, today was not that morning. The clarity and the mastery I envisioned for myself still leave me wanting, as I’m sure my projections of the future always will. But I’ve had plenty of time to pause and reflect this year as I churn through the 300 pages of my memoir. And I will say that I’m definitely starting this next decade with a much better handle on what I want my life to feel like, even if I can’t completely let go of the anxiety of not knowing what that will look like on paper.
My astrologer (yes, don’t judge me) has been a huge helping hand through the fog. In the language of the stars, the turbulence of your mid-twenties is due to the energy of Saturn going over all the planets in your chart, until it reaches the spot in the sky where it was when you were born. As that foxy sage Susan Miller describes it: “Saturn, the Great Teacher planet, brings maturity and teaches us the value of patience and sacrifice.” It forces us to deal with reality, decide what’s truly important to us, and shed the dead weight. This period of “Saturn Return” is the emotional equivalent of puberty. It catalyzes and requires us to accept unsettling change, initiating us into a whole new world of grown up problems as a result.
Saturn Return is often a solitary time. You have the feeling of being alone in the desert with your thoughts. Which can be maddening. Like pigeon pose in yoga, it’s best to just breathe through the pain and try not to fixate on it. At least, that’s what I’ve been telling myself this year through all the bouts of writing-related self-doubt and flagellation. It’s my strong belief that Saturn hits you doubly hard when you go to work every day by yourself and analyze your crazy thoughts for a living. (Don’t mind this post, just another day at the office!).
So as part of my ascent from quarter-life, I am equally happy to bid Saturn farewell until the next return 29 years from now. Let’s just hope I learned my lessons this time around so I don’t become the proud owner of a midlife crisis convertible in later years.
In the meantime, I hope you know how grateful I am for the huge part you’ve played in my last decade. I might still be lacking the mastery I envisioned for myself, but all your comments, feedback and support have kept me going on this wacky food path when the way was even less clear and more scary than it is right now. I can’t thank you enough.
Oh, and this Moroccan chicken recipe! Consider it a small token of my gratitude, or just what I would love to have a candle put in tonight if my parents weren’t already sourcing me a slice of gluten-free cake. It’s an easy hands-off version of a tagine – this classic Moroccan stew. You literally just throw all the ingredients in a pan and let it bake for an hour. Just the kind of painless weeknight meal this creaky 30-something needs in her life right about now.
I developed the recipe for my Mind Body Green cooking e-course which launches TOMORROW. As a birthday gift, I hope you’ll all check it out. It’s definitely an accomplishment that makes me feel worthy of 30.
Wishing you lots of deliciousness on your next milestone, and many happy returns,
p.s. oh and my birthday gift this year from my parents was a new camera, which in turn will be a big gift to you all. I finally after 6 years of blogging have upgraded from my Canon Rebel SLR to a D5. Please be patient as I learn how to use it, but I can already see a difference in these chicken photos!!
Baked Moroccan Chicken Thighs with Carrots
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs
- One 15-ounce can chickpeas rinsed and drained (or 2 cups cooked)
- 6 medium carrots about ¾ pound, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 2 shallots roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- In a 9 x 13 baking dish or casserole pan, combine all the ingredients until the chicken and carrots are well-coated in the oil and spice mixture.
- Roast in the oven until the chicken is fork-tender and the carrots are caramelized, about 1 hour.
- Serve over quinoa and garnish with cilantro, parsley, or mint and lemon wedges.