As small children, I don’t think most of us spend a lot of time thinking about what life will be like when we’re 28. Of course we consider and long for the day we turn 16 and can drive, or turn 18 and no longer “have to” go to school. And a lot of us think about turning 21 and how far off it seems. Maybe you even consider 25 or have a thought that someday you might turn 30.

But 28 kind of gets left out. It’s certainly never an age I thought I’d be. Which sounds weird of course. Not like I thought I wouldn’t make it to 28, it always just seemed so far off! And before I know it BAM, I’m 28. Just like that.

When I hit 25 I got a little nervous, started feeling older. And over the past year I’ve had the, “Boy I’m sure not where I thought I’d be at this age,” conversation with just about everyone I know. That then begs the question, “Where DID we think we’d be then, if not where we are?” For many I think perhaps when we were younger we thought that we’d be married and maybe have kids at this point in life. Or that we’d have built up our own business by now. But those are very vague thoughts. I don’t think anyone in any of those conversations has ever said, “I thought for sure I’d have made a larger contribution to a major US corporation involving space aerodynamics and nuclear fusion by now,” or anything close to being that specific. We feel guilty for ‘failing’ in some aspect, but never had an absolute goal to begin with. Come on, that doesn’t make any sense when you say it out loud, now does it?

And in realizing this: that my life is far from over and I still have the freedom to pursue so many interests and avenues I have to say that at this moment, I feel more comfortable with my age, with who I am and in my own skin than I ever have. And it’s a good feeling.

A few months ago I was feeling frustrated with my life. One of those, “I’m going nowhere and feel like crap,” moments that happen about twice a year. Several prospects in different areas of my life hadn’t panned out and I was contemplating going back to work at a desk job for a year or two to help stabilize my finances. I felt like a failure. I had left my former production job two years earlier to pursue acting. And although that had brought me a lot of personal freedom and growth, financially it wasn’t really working out as a career. The writer’s strike hit less than 6 months after I left DreamWorks Animation the first time and then SAG dilly-dallied around its contract for about a year. So basically I picked the worst time EVER in like the last 20 years to try and pursue acting seriously. Because there wasn’t much acting to be done (among other reasons that had more to do with me). Of course I’m older and wiser now, but I felt discouraged. Thinking that if I went back to another job before I “made it” or at least booked a noticeable role on a TV show or film that I would be admitting defeat. Admitting that I couldn’t do it.

Around that time Italy also popped back up in my mind. As some of you know I’ve had this thing about Italy basically since I first learned about it in geography class in elementary school. Something inside me has always said, “Go there! Go there!” I did have the opportunity to visit Florence and Venice (St. Marco’s Square is my laptop wallpaper at home) for quick weekend trips when I was studying in London during college and when I stepped onto the streets in those cities something in my heart just ignited…or leapt…or something. It just clicked. And a certain little whisper says “that is my home.” I’ve thought about Italy off and on throughout my life thinking I would eventually end up there for an extended period of time. Not forever, but between a year and 5 years probably. I just never could figure when or under what circumstances I would go.

While I was sitting up on my couch, talking things out with Renee, about frustrations with work and acting and money and boys and all she says, “Why don’t you just go? What is stopping you?” My brain and my heart both stopped when I looked over at her. It never occurred to me that I could just go there. Just pick up and go, and believe that if God truly has a purpose for me there He will provide a long term visa or some way for me to stay there for an extended period of time.

So I’m going. Not tomorrow, but hopefully between January and June of 2011. It seems like a long time to wait. But considering that I’ve waited for 28 years, and that if I work for another year, I’ll be able to be debt free when I go and completely start over—-in a lot of ways—it doesn’t seem so bad. It gives me time to plan, to research, to save, to read National Geographic Traveler and plot out the places I want to visit. Like that place in Turkey where houses are carved out of natural stone towers. Yeah, places like that. And places with amazing food, definitely those places!

Not that I need to ‘start over’ because my life is going badly. In fact it’s really not. It’s actually going pretty well. As I said, I am finally happy with myself as a person. I recognize my faults, but am learning to also have grace for myself as I work towards wholeness and other life goals. I’m finally ok with being tall. And I can go to work without my makeup. Those sound like such small things, but in my life, for those who know me—you know that those things are HUGE.

I realized that regardless of what I did, I was always going to be the same height, and always going to have the face that God gave me—whether my skin is dry that day or not. So instead of trying to hide—I started wearing heels more frequently to make myself even taller, and wearing just eye makeup. And it truly astounds me how quickly my own self-criticisms and ‘dislikes’ melted away. I mean they’re still there lurking—but they’re much quieter and they speak with wimpy unconvincing voices. Whereas before they spoke with utter hatred and condemnation. A dark guttural disdain for things about me that don’t have any affect on the person that I am; the person who I am becoming. Go away ugly voice. I’m not listening to you any more.

The other day when I was discussing meeting a friend at In-N-Out for dinner the voice tried to convince me that I was getting fat. And I literally stopped and laughed. Is that the best you can do now voice? Wow, I must really be getting somewhere because even I know that’s not true.

I have reached a milestone. And I think that 28 is gonna be a really awesome year.

On a less serious note, a quick review of the awesomeness and food involved in my birthday this year:

Monday night 11/30
I met up for dinner with my friend Christine. We ate amazing enchilada style burritos at Baja Fresh and then went to meet up with another friend at Coffee Bean where we had Winter Dream Tea Lattes (also amazing!)—and she got me a cute little Marc Jacobs casual canvas tote! Not that I’m saying that a gift was necessary—not at all–but it was a fun and thoughtful surprise!

Tuesday 12/1
Went to the weekly “So You Think You Can Dance” potluck at Renee and Jason’s (yeah Mighty Mytars!) and ate some yummy chicken (made by Renee) and talked about bad/good choreography. And then I got not one, but TWO surprise birthday cakes. Well not a surprise that we were eating cake, since Nae and Rey were working on them while we watched, but a surprise that they were for my birthday! They baked chocolate cake with a yummy pudding center and vanilla ice cream and a white funfetti cake with funfetti icing and sprinkles! And the best part—they sang for each cake. And the first cake got sang for twice because the singing was interrupted when the show came back from commercial. So when it went to commercial again, they re-sang. SO funny and awesome! Then sat around the table while everyone (but me) played Settlers of Catan. I think I’m Catanned out. And Renee got me a cute little blue cameo necklace and a panda that poops out jelly beans. AHAHAHAHAAHA! So thank you Renee, Jason, Rey, Aaron and Kayla for the cake, the singing and the general fun. That was wonderful and so special!

Wednesday 12/2
Didn’t really have much to do at work so I worked on a blog and then did some filing. Got some of the yummy homemade chocolate chip cookies that they make in the kitchen at work and they also had my favorite broccoli cheddar soup at lunch! Then I went and had a nice dinner at Maria’s Italian Kitchen with my friend from college, Juliet. We got to just sit and talk over my pasta carbonara, her marinara with calamari and some Pinot Noir. MMMMmmmmmmm! I also got several facebook messages, emails, texts and phone calls from the wonderful friends throughout the day that made me realize, again just how blessed I am by the very different people I have in my life.

And now on to Saturday 12/7 at Aroma. It’s gonna be awesome. More food and more people. Can’t wait! You better be there! Not because it’s my birthday, but because I wanna see your face!