Alison is a registered dietitian, board-certified in oncology nutrition, and a cancer thriver. Her expertise in oncology nutrition and personal experience with her own cancer diagnosis and its treatment provide her with the unique perspective of being able to relate to her clients on an entirely different level. Her content is consistently focused on evidence-based guidelines and seeks to increase the awareness of the power of nutrition to complement traditional cancer therapies.
It’s official. Today we turned 30.
Thirty. Years. Old.
It was inevitable. And to be honest, we’re trying not to make a big deal of it. We are both knee deep, or maybe even neck deep, in many avenues of life and haven’t paused to take a breath [not something we recommend to aspiring to].
However, it is something to acknowledge since so many people define it as a milestone birthday.
So, we forced ourselves to take some time to reflect. During that reflection, one of our favorite songs popped into our heads: Tim McGraw – My Next Thirty Years (Written By: Phil Vassar)
I think I’ll take a moment celebrate my age
End of an era and the turning of a page
Now it’s time to focus in on where I go from here
Lord have mercy on my next thirty years…
With that tune in our head, we started reminiscing about the most important lessons we learned in our first 30 years. AND how we hope to carry those lessons into our next thirty years.
We’ve all been there, probably multiple times. We may have not battled the same things, but we all know the feeling.
And it sucks…
The one that knocked the wind out of me was being diagnosed with lupus at the age of 25. It changed my story, my personal narrative. It changed what I do and how I do it. It even changed my relationships.
I’ll admit I have asked myself “What did I do wrong?” more times than I can count. I don’t have the answer, I never will.
And you know what, I am sure life will hit me with more. But what I know now is that the way in which I choose to define myself is not by what knocks me down but by the ways in which I choose to stand back up.
I have an amazing support system. And while that’s extremely important [not to mention a blessing], I want to remember I was the one who had to make drastic changes to conquer lupus. I was the one that had to get out of bed in the morning and make the decision to take on the day.
And maybe it doesn’t sound like a whole lot to you, but I know there were days when giving up and wallowing in despair would have been much easier than showing up for myself.
Life constantly throws us curve balls; it’s just part of being human.
So, during these next thirty years, it is my goal to remember that it is ME who needs to stand up and make an action plan. It is me, who everyday, no matter how I feel emotionally, physically or spiritually needs to show up for myself.
You can have all the support in world, but if we can’t pick ourselves up, we’ll never completely get back up either.
Naturally, as a twin, growing up people constantly compared me to Alison and vice-versa. But before we go further, let’s set this straight. Alison and I [and our parents] always recognized we were [and are] two very different people.
But that being said, the comparison really took a toll on me. Alison was (and still is) an amazing athlete. I would say I was average. Alison was the ‘skinny twin’, I was the ‘cubby twin’… I could keep going on and on, but there’s no point.
I had all of the standard teenage and young adult self esteem issues. And in this world of social media, these issues continue to follow me [and millions of others], every single day.
During the first 30 years, I found myself comparing and hating my body, and even occasionally my personality. Because I focused so much on comparing myself to others, I missed out on a lot of joy. And I am sure I missed out on a lot of fun too.
In my next thirty years, I hope to take all of those feelings of self-hate and self-doubt and turn them into self-love and confidence. I know it won’t be easy, but I need to remember God, my creator, did not set out to make me or anyone else perfect. He made us to be real.
Most importantly, I want to constantly remind my nieces to love who they are [body, mind and soul]. I never want to compare them to each other or anyone else. I don’t want them to miss out on things because they are comparing themselves to others. This holds true to my nephews as well.
I am sure you have been there. You are constantly trying to balance everything and everyone. Your responsibilities at home. Your career. Your relationships. And even though you are doing everything you can to keep it all together, it all falls apart.
Since my love language is ‘acts of service’ and I have a type A personality, I am constantly trying to please people and make things perfect. And you know what? It’s completely exhausting.
Over the last thirty years, I have realized it doesn’t need to be this way. If you take the time to focus on yourself, even for a few a minutes during the day, things seem clearer and actually possible to accomplish.
I know in the near future life is going to get more difficult to juggle. It’s going to be loaded with more responsibilities, more to-do’s, and (hopefully) more success. And that’s why right now, I am really trying to learn how to take care of myself. I want it to become a habit, something I know I can’t live without. Something that grounds me.
Therefore, for my next thirty years I want to: To take more hikes. Take more deep breaths. Read more. And most importantly, spend precious moments with the ones that I hold dear .
If there is anything my job as an oncology dietitian has taught me, it’s that life is not fair. I will always wonder…
Why do bad things happen to good people?
Why do the sweetest and kindest people leave this earth far too early?
Why does it seem some people can eat whatever they want and stay healthy?
How can some people smoke their entire life and never develop cancer, yet my grandmother lost her life to lung cancer at the age of 53?
Life isn’t fair. Nor will it ever be.
I’ll be honest…. Sometimes I sulk when I don’t think something is fair. But, I can only sulk for so long because it accomplishes nothing.
Sulking won’t suddenly make things right. It won’t lower my genetically high cholesterol, take back my PCOS diagnosis, or my difficulties with infertility.
In my next thirty years, I will accept it is okay to cry and sulk. But only for a few minutes. Then, I will put my big girl pants on and move forward.
“You can become bitter or better. I choose better.”
I would dare to say most individuals 30 or younger have yet to learn this lesson. But more and more people are learning this lesson at a younger age. Again, as an oncology dietitian, I see far too many young people face cancer diagnoses.
Cancer and chronic disease doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter your age, sex, ethnicity, or race. Taking care of your body and mind can never start too early. Fact: the decisions we make today will either positively or negatively impact our future.
I often tell people, “I want to be the 80 year-old woman still playing ice hockey with her grandchildren.”
Investing in healthy routines and food right now is extremely important to me. Although it is never too late to start, the sooner we establish healthy routines, the sooner (and greater) our return–just like with financial investments.
I recently started listening to audiobooks whenever possible. And one of the best ones I have read/listened to recently is “Year of Yes” by Shonda Rhimes.
Rhimes, the writer of Grey’s Anatomy, How to Get Away with Murder, and Scandal, shares her memoir of the year she dedicated to saying “yes” to all the things that scared her. The book resonated with me on many levels, but the concept that stuck with me the most was Rhimes’ goal to start saying “yes” to saying “no”.
Yep, you read that correctly. [Go ahead, re-read that ☝]
I am a “yes” person. Always have been. I say yes to hosting the party. I say yes to volunteering for something I have no passion for. And I often find myself saying yes to things I really don’t want to do.
Don’t get me wrong, I know there are many things we all have to do in life–pay the bills, change dirty diapers, laundry, etc.
But, how many times have you thought to yourself, “I really don’t want to do xyz, but I really should.” Or, “Why did I sign up to do xyz?”
In my first 30 years, I can think back to saying “yes” to an array of activities simply because it would look good on a college application or resume OR because it would please someone else.
It doesn’t need to be that way. I encourage you to do something new to push yourself. But if you hate it, or you’re doing it for another rather reason other than yourself…allow yourself to say “no”, without judgement and without resentment. And I’ll do the same.
“Create a life you love. You only have one life to live.”
Our next thirty years will be the best years of our life…
❤️l a u r e n & a l i s o n