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Updated: May 19, 2020

Well, well, well, we meet again! But this time on my brand new blog! This is a truly exciting time for me. Or it was exciting, until I realized not everyone from Tal Travels had signed up to my new mailing list just yet, and my innate tendency to diminish myself had me believing that they were probably relieved when I announced my blog move, since it gave them a way out that wouldn't hurt my feelings as much as a straight-up unfollow. Either way, consider my feelings hurt. But the show must go on, with or without all nineteen of my not-so-loyal Tal Travels readers. I really thought we were a family. I mean, 90% of my subscribers are my family, like real blood-related family, so that stings even more. Being the gracious person that I am, I'm giving all these laggers the benefit of the doubt and am assuming they have just been busy, uh, quarantining, and haven't seen the latest update. This is what I'm telling myself, anyway. In the end, it's their loss.

Seeing as I just turned 24, it's time for my yearly post-birthday ramble! I'm sure you've all been looking forward to it. As I mentioned in my farewell post on Tal Travels, this blog was my present from Jared, and it’s one of the most thoughtful and creative gifts I’ve ever received. A while ago I told him that I wanted to get better at keeping up my blog and writing more often, and he ever so sweetly came up with the idea to give my little corner of the internet a much-needed upgrade. It really meant the world to me and even made those happy tears prickle my eyes (more on that later). And that was just the cherry on top of a great birthday! Or maybe that was the cake, and all the rest was the cherry on top. No matter how you look at it, I am very fortunate.

Although I am now 24, which seems pretty dang old and mature, I still have a few more years of brain development ahead of me. According to comedian Taylor Tomlinson, and also science, the human brain isn’t fully developed until age 27. I am both relieved and disappointed by this fact. Relieved that I cannot be held accountable for my actions because, hello, my brain just isn’t there yet! Disappointed, because if the world is going to treat me like an adult, I want to be equipped with a brain that functions like one! Is that really too much to ask?!

That said, I am looking forward to my brain being fully developed. This is now three years away for me, and it is the only thing about approaching 30 that I am even remotely excited about. I do have some questions about how this whole completion of development thing is going to play out. Will I wake up on my 27th birthday and suddenly everything will just make sense? My life purpose will come and slap me in the face? Will I receive an email from God him/herself congratulating me for getting through the first 27 years of my life with an underdeveloped brain and no sense of direction, followed by a specific and detailed report of what I’m supposed to do with my life and how to do it? Most people I know over the age of 27 haven’t had this experience. And if they have, they have been rudely keeping it to themselves. I’d just like to believe that three years from now I’m going to have an epiphany of sorts that will lead me exactly where I’m meant to be. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. I’ve suffered enough years of uncertainty. Give me all the answers, already!

On a positive note, I have figured out one thing that I want to do with my life, and that thing is to write a book by the time I’m 30. This may seem like a lofty goal, and there's no denying that it is, but for what I'm envisioning, it really has to be written in this time frame. I have lots of ideas swirling around my head and the Notes app in my phone, most of which inconveniently come to me while I’m driving and can't safely jot them down. If nothing tangible comes of this dream, I will at least have a very well-practiced and impressively sharp memory. Inspiration really does strike at the most inopportune of times! According to my rigid self-imposed timeline, I’ve got six years to make this hotchpotch of ideas come together in the form of a well-organized, inspiring, and hopefully hilarious book. In other words, I've got a lot of work ahead of me. But it's fun work, and so far this is the only goal of mine that I feel truly excited about. Remember when my mother told me some of my blog posts were too long? Well, look at me now, mom! I’m writing a whole damn book! (Note: I don’t take criticism very well. Also, I know my writing can be repetitive and long-winded--it is something I'm working on. If I’m going to write a book, I have a lot to work on. And to that I say, bring it on!!!)

Ever since I accepted that I want to be a writer, I have felt a bit more at ease. Don't get me wrong, I still worry about my life trajectory every single hour of the day and even in my sleep, but I feel like I'm finally giving in to my passion. As any of my longtime followers would know, I have spent basically my whole life trying to figure out what this mystical life passion could be for me, the one that everyone says you simply need to find and pursue to live a happy and meaningful life. As if you can just find it; as if it's just laying around waiting to be stumbled upon so you can then pursue it without an ounce of doubt or fear. I had many passions growing up that I thought I wanted to make a career out of, but most kids who love dancing and singing think they're going to be a famous performer when they grow up. This typically only lasts until adulthood uninvitedly appears on the horizon, at which point all the times you'd been told "nothing is impossible" and "chase your dreams" discouragingly dissolve into "let's be realistic" and "you need a Plan B, which actually should be your Plan A, and maybe scratch Plan B altogether because you're probably never going to achieve your wildest dreams."

Now that I'm a whole year wiser, I understand that I was probably not destined to be a movie star or a singer, nor do I have any desire to be those things anymore. But I still think it's important to lean in to what you love and what you are (sort of) good at. I have always shied away from the idea of being a writer because it is something I enjoy doing, and I didn't want to ruin that by making it into a job. I also didn't want to declare myself a writer because that opens all the doors to scrutiny and criticism and rejection. I didn't want to accept that writing could be my passion, because there are so many writers out there that are far more talented than I am, so what could I possibly have to offer? I had thought of every reason why I should not and could not be a writer, but then I asked myself the most important question of all: Why should the fear of failure stop me from pursuing what I love? Why should fear control any aspect of our lives? I've learned that stepping out of your comfort zone is essential, but it is far more rewarding and meaningful when you do so within your gifts and passions. Why do something anxiety-inducing if it won't even help you grow in the direction you want to grow in? For a comfort zone-lover like myself, that makes no sense at all. So screw it! Maybe writing will never become my career, and maybe it will forever be a hobby I pursue on the side, but either way, I'm done leaning away from it. I can't believe I've expressed this online for the world to see. Talk about stepping out of my comfort zone! But also, please don't hold me accountable for my dreams. I'm only 24; my brain doesn't know what it wants yet!

Now for the fun portion of the blog: my official birthday recap! This year was very special, and it was my first time celebrating with Jared. His birthday is just two days before mine, so it became a full weekend of festivities. I’m an old lady at heart, so naturally what I wanted to do most for my raging 24th was go for high tea. I’d never been before and it’s always been a total dream of mine. How lame is that? But also, are you surprised? Well, I'll have you know it was the happiest two hours of my life. The tastefully mismatched china teacups and teapots, the tiered trays stacked with finger sandwiches and scones and tarts, the impressive spread of butters and jams... it was a little grandma’s dream, and I had the most wonderful time. I seriously couldn’t stop smiling. It was to the point where smiling just wasn’t enough and I had to giggle to fully release my excitement. It was everything I ever hoped it would be, and seeing as Jared and I were the only couple there (it was mostly empty as a result of the COVID-19 social distance practicers, but the only other tables were groups of women out for a gossip teatime sesh), we couldn’t stop laughing. About everything. I was also laughing from pure joy. I can't adequately express how delightful the whole experience was.

Before the sugar and caffeine overload of high tea, we went for a coffee and croissant date, naturally. One can never consume too many pastries or too much caffeine, especially on one’s birthday. And coffee dates are my favourite. I love everything about cozying up in a quaint cafe with a warm drink and a special treat, particularly if it is of the flaky and French variety. In other words, I am a pastry fiend and an aspiring croissant connoisseur--so it was only fitting to have a coffee date before high tea. We stopped by the aesthetically pleasing Alforno Cafe for creamy oat milk lattes and a divine slice of carrot cake (they were all out of croissants—a tragedy—but carrot is my favourite of the cake varieties, so this story has a happy ending). Man, it’s a good thing I eat so healthily throughout the week!

That night, we went for dinner with my family and had some authentic Italian-style pizza. Staying true to my clumsy nature, I knocked over an entire pan of pizza within seconds of it being set down at our table. Some things never change, I guess. Once I’m 27 and my brain is fully developed, I’ll probably have better coordination and will be able to avoid these embarrassing spills. I’m just not 27 yet, so I can't help it! Also, thanks to the current situation and the resulting call for social distancing, there was literally no one around to witness the incident, so I was spared what would have been an unbearably embarrassing moment had we been in a crowded restaurant. Thank you, worldwide pandemic! If there is anything good to come if this, it is the salvation of my ever-so-fragile confidence. Doesn’t that just make it all worth it?

Another thrilling update about my life is that I have become a happy crier! It happened out of nowhere, maybe even overnight. I never used to be one to cry for any reason other than sadness, anxiety, and most commonly, extreme life confusion, which means I sure have cried a lot! Crying is not unfamiliar to me by any means, but to cry out of sheer joy and awe—that is all new. I guess I cry even more now that my crying is not limited to negative situations and feelings of hopelessness. Although, happy crying isn’t quite the same; it’s not a full-blown wailing breakdown, but rather a subtle welling up of tears in my eyes. It mostly comes on very unexpectedly. Like when I’m driving to work on the most astonishingly clear day and the sight of the mountains looking so perfectly chiseled in the distance quite literally takes my breath away. Or when a song resonates with me on a level it never had before and I’m struck with the unparalleled feeling of being truly understood. Or something as simple as a small act of kindness that warms my heart. Cue the droplets brimming my eyes. They never quite make it down my cheek though—I’m not there yet, but I’m sure that’s still to come. Maybe when I’m 27? Who knows what’ll happen then. The point is, I’m a happy crier now. If you thought I cried a lot already, you ain’t seen nothing yet!

All in all, my birthday was fantastic because I got to do what I love most: eat delicious food in the company of some of my favourite humans. That’s truly all I need in life to be happy. Heck, give me a pastry and a good conversation and I might just cry! Tears of joy... what a concept. The most amazing part of it all is that I even have tears left in me to cry. All those years of crying whenever I felt stress or uncertainty or was chastised even the slightest bit, and yet I still somehow have more to give. It’s a beautiful thing, really.

In the midst of all this chaos and uncertainty, we should remember we always have more to give, just like my never-ending supply of tears! Is that metaphor a bit of a stretch? Let's just go with it. Elbow-bump a loved one, quarantine it up with your favourite person, FaceTime a friend, or help someone in need who may not be as healthy and prepared as you are. What a time to reinvent the ways we show affection! In all seriousness, I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy out there. So far, my invisible orb has been holding up nicely. I hope all of yours have been too.




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