28 Reflections for 28 Years Alive + August Reads & 5 Favorite Things

I’m a chronic excited about my birthday type. I don’t pretend not to care; I don’t play cheeky games. I believe birthdays are important no matter the age and should be celebrated. It’s another year past, another opportunity to decide what’s next.

29 feels like a mini-milestone. I’m going into the last year of my twenties – still young, but functioning in the world as a whole adult (even if I don’t always feel like it). This birthday feels a new sort of special and reflective, and in typical Ali fashion, I must share with you what these 28 years have brought up for me.

28 Reflections for 28 Years Alive

1. Go to the concert. Dip your feet in the ocean. Take the train. Pack the picnic. Stay in hostels and hotels and bed and breakfasts. Hike, walk, run, bike. Do it all. Learn what you like, then do it again.

2. Don’t kill the spider

3. Don’t let your fear defeat your want | That spiral of worst case scenario, the pulsing sweaty hands of the unknown, that anxiousness can be overpowering. It can stop you before you begin. Don’t let it. Life begins something new on the other side of that fear.

I want to go skydiving. I’m terrified of heights. I’m so afraid that I can think myself into shaking hands imagining the process, but I want to do it.

When I was getting ready to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, as the weeks grew closer, I lost sleep thinking about all there was to fear in the wild world, all the uncertainty. But I solo hiked and camped, and I was afraid, and I was amazed.

I was amazed by my own strength and at the devastating beauty of the world. I was amazed by the things I could only teach myself by doing. Now, it’s rare for a day to pass that I don’t think about my time out there. I plot, dream, and scheme for the next long-distance hike.

I was afraid; it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Both are true. I’m learning the balancing act of gut instinct warning me of true danger and unsettling anxiousness from the unknown – there is a difference, and when you experience it, you’ll know, but it takes living. It takes pushing through the uncomfortable spaces.

4. Growth comes from uncomfortable places | This isn’t a new concept; it’s not even an original thought. I’m sure I read it somewhere and, over time, solidified the meaning from experience. I’ve had those, Aha! Moments: I’ve had my beliefs challenged and been to unfamiliar places; I’ve learned something new and felt stupid for not knowing it in the first place.

As you become an adult, your responsibilities increase. In those first years of “adulting,” those uncomfortable places might be the DMV or filing taxes. It’s not always traveling to another country or participating in something astronomically different than life’s expectations. But, as we get older and comfortable, when we hold our life knowledge in the crevice of our pocket and no longer need to reach as far, when we can get by in our life that we carefully grooved in stone, the need to explore beyond that space becomes crucial. If we don’t want to be the type of humans who petrify, who are weary and uncertain, we must continue to adventure into these unknown spaces – in the physical world, in our mind, we must walk through to grow.

5. Take pictures of yourself or the flower or the snail. Don’t be embarrassed. Take your time.

6. Sometimes, a walk is all you need.

7. Take them to the park. Let them jump in the water even if the car smells like wet fur and the seats get muddy. When your arm is tired, throw the ball twice more. Get them a pup cup and that extra greenie. Their life is short, and you hold everything they love – in your time, in your heart, in their eyes. You have it all.

8. People will be upset with you. People will not like you. People will judge you. You will survive; The sooner you care less about what others think, the sooner you’ll be free.

9. I won’t be a friend who only thinks of herself, and I don’t want a friend like that. Examine your friendships; be the person they need and someone you’d like to spend your time with.

10. Life is too fucking short | That’s it. You’ve heard this, I’ve heard this. I’ve been in the thick of some exaggerated, complicated moments, and I’ve repeated this like a mantra, life is too fucking short

It’s freeing. It’s somber. It’s one of the most genuine things said. Say it when you need to make hard decisions; when your gut, and heart, and mind are in a thunderous battle, say it.

If the loss we experience in our lifetime can only teach us one thing: it’s that life is here, then it’s gone. Our time is the most precious thing we can give ourselves. Life moves too quickly to silence the echo, hike the mountain, and not jump in the lake. Walk away from toxic people, and don’t avoid pasta. Focus on what you want, and do it.

11. Adam Sandler makes the best feel good movies.

12. Sometimes, saying no is just as important as saying yes.

13. Walk away from books you don’t like. Don’t force yourself to read the entire book if you’re not feeling it halfway through. There are way too many excellent books in this world, more than you can read in your lifetime, to waste your time reading something you don’t enjoy.

14. The best burger combo is: Impossible burger, mayo, peanut butter, pickles, and toasted bun. Try it before you hate it.

15. Stretch before you exercise. Stretch after.

16. Have fun. The kind you feel in your bones. When you laugh and forget time exists.

17. You have to believe in yourself; You have to. You can find others who believe in you, too, but the most important thing is, through all the self-doubt, find the hushed voice in the background. It’s there, always; it’s just sometimes the uncertainty is deafening. Familiarize yourself with the voice that tells you it’s possible so you can hear it behind and above everything else.

18. Date your partner (or yourself) | Grocery shopping and running errands are not your “date” for the week. Sure, that can count as a date (Greg and I do), but it can’t be the only one. Make time for dates that don’t involve chores or must-do’s. They don’t have to cost money, but they do need to be fun. You need to laugh and grow and discuss. Bonus if you make your date days a new activity for the both of you. The same advice is valid for “date yourself.”

19. When you find yourself wondering into the future, when you catch yourself walking the past, recenter. Remember, the present moment is the only one that exists. Breathe, be here – in this body, in this time.

20. Create a budget, and make it realistic. Set financial goals which often tie in with life goals: travel, home, experience, etc.

21. Don’t pigeonhole yourself into one music genre. Like what you like, but be open to new things.

22. French fries and milkshakes go hand-in-hand.

23. If you feel like you said something stupid. You probably did. But you’re also the only one still thinking about it. Like when I read “palates” as pilots, I’m still thinking about it, but no one else is… except for you, now.

24. Experiencing a lack of empathy from a person or situation is the best teacher of compassion. It shows us how to carry ourselves in life; it teaches us, on an emotional level, how we don’t want to make others feel (and how we do).

25. Touch the grass. Feel the bark and pine needles. Smell the air. Breathe in the sun and wind or rain and fog. Don’t just walk. Feel.

26. Alcohol sucks | I don’t judge people who drink. I understand the social nuances involved. But alcohol sucks. It’s toxic to our body; it’s poison to the mind; it can be hard to quit, but worth every effort.

October is four years alcohol-free for me. I was a big social drinker. I used to think I needed alcohol to be fun, to live more freely, and to remove my social anxiety. I needed it to dance and move and speak to strangers, and laugh and get out of my head.

Then, I started doing things without alcohol: concerts, barbecues, bachelorette parties, dinners, and everything else under the sun where alcohol was once my companion. In not drinking, I learned I could go to a club and dance for hours, then wake up the following day and jog the beach. I live consciously and don’t regret things my body did or said without my mind fully functioning and fully present. It’s no more wasted days of hangovers. It’s freedom from next-day (not truly me) regrets. I enjoyed myself more because I don’t drink. I don’t judge people who drink because I wouldn’t want them to judge me for not drinking, but I do believe everyone should try to live more consciously, separated from alcohol.

27. Pineapple belongs on Pizza. And so does honey (shout out Carolyn for that).

28. People make mistakes; they’re not complete idiots. You make mistakes, and you’re not a complete idiot. Be graceful and kind.

August Book List

  1. Little Monsters by Adrienne Brodeur ★★★☆☆
  2. A Court of Wings and Ruin (book #3) by Sarah J. Maas ★★★★★
  3. Court of Frost and Starlight (book #4) by Sarah J. Maas ★★★★☆
  4. Court of Silver Flames (book #5) by Sarah J. Maas ★★★★★

It’s obvious what my favorite book(s) of August are. The Court series has wrapped its talons around my bleeding book nerd heart. I find myself thinking about the characters and their world at random, excited for the next time I fall into a book like ACOTAR.

My favorite of the (current) five-novel series was A Court of Wings and Ruin, but only a millipede length behind is A Court of Silver Flames. The quotable, heart-throbbing moments of Wings and Ruin surpass Silver Flames, and the novel had me sobbing by the end. However, (possible spoiler) Cassian might be my favorite character, and Silver Flames focuses on his story the most. I’m ready to read the series all over again.

I recently partnered with Bookshop. A website alternative to Amazon, connecting readers with independent booksellers. When you make a purchase through my affiliation link I may earn a portion of the sales at no additional cost to you.

If you’re interested in purchasing any of the above-mentioned books, you can find them on my “Books of 2023” – here or by clicking the image below, which is a hyperlink to my bookshop page.

Also, in case you missed it – I host a monthly book club, “A Movie Lover’s Book Club.” Septembers book pick will be announced next week. August book pick was Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk, learn more | Here.

5 Favorite Things

1. Macklemore’s Album Ben | I am obsessed with this album, the entire album. That level of love is usually reserved (in my rolodex) for artists like Eminem, Nahko, and Halsey.

2. Sweet Sister Love Oil | I purchased this oil in July 2021 and have been obsessed ever since. When I was in Washington this month, I bought another batch. Sweet Sisters is a small business on Whidbey Island (you can order online and have products shipped to you). They create all their products, cruelty free and earth conscious.

3. Long Walks Outside | My August was spent in some pretty spectacular places (Washington, Oregon, Colorado), and most days, I found myself outdoors going for long walks (or runs).

Whether it started my day or ended it, that simple self-care practice gave me space to breathe, think, meditate, and return to a creative space that sometimes feels fogged out.

4. A Court Series | Sorry not sorry for being repetitive, but I would be a big liar if I left these novels from my list of favorite things in August. These books are among my favorite reads of all time. They completely opened my world to reading fantasy novels.

5. Gaz Oakley | YouTube cooking channel that is %100 Vegetarian and %100 amazing.

Post’s You May Have Missed

  1. A Movie Lovers Book Club: Tiny Beautiful Things Discussion
  2. A Movie Lovers Book Club: August Book Pick
  3. 7 Bookshops for your Washington State Bucket List

New Website

I started a new website!
I will still share posts around here, but I wanted to create another space dedicated to other forms of writing, including poetry, personal essays, and short stories. I hope you check it out.


One response to “28 Reflections for 28 Years Alive + August Reads & 5 Favorite Things”

  1. I love this! You are wise beyond your 29 years or perhaps you’re a faster learner than I was…. Both I think.

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