36. years. old. typing it, repeating it over and over, nothing quite has the talons to make it sink in. I don't feel 36. my heart feels 19. my brain feels 100, after everything I've seen and been through in my 36 years. the wisdom I've gained through the years I've spent on this earth is priceless, invaluable, and there's no shortcut to acquiring that wisdom other than getting older. my thirties have been the best decade of my life so far, and that's saying a lot considering how much we've lost in those years. but we've gained so much more. I've gained so much more. finally, I've realized that celebrating my why's doesn't make your why's any less worthy of celebration. we can celebrate different why's and still be the closest of friends. my why's? those are the things that have given me purpose, given me hope, given me myself after all those years of searching. my husband, my children, babywearing/breastfeeding/cosleeping advocacy, family first, love. women far too often think that their why's have to be like the next woman's in order to be worthy, valuable, celebrated. that's a lie, and it's a divisive tactic used by the media and our society to detach women from other women and themselves. in 36 years, I've learned that my little family, my crew, it's all I need. that friends come and go but sometimes you find friends that will never leave your side, no matter what. that true adult female friendship doesn't have to be fraught with conflict or insecurity; that it can be easy and light and loving and fierce. that aging might slow your body down but it only enriches your soul and deepens the places where love rushes in. that loss is a part of this life and when it happens, it's okay to hate it and scream at it and cry at it and it's also okay to eventually be at peace with it, too. so many lessons, so much happiness, a lot of pain and hurt. but without the pain, the happiness wouldn't be so saccharine sweet. without loss, the act of giving wouldn't be so tremendous. without aging, we couldn't grow and stretch into our skin so we finally feel comfortable as we are. 36 years of life, and I can't wait for what the next year brings.