Today’s guest post comes from somebody who I spent an entire blog-cation with in Cleveland last summer OMG THAT WAS ALMOST TWO YEARS AGO?! Anyways, I’m a huge fan of her blog: The Steel Trap, and naturally, I was excited to see that she was assigned to guest post for this April 1 annual blog swap. I’m over at PGH Happy Hour today, with my review of this week’s awesome fun from Arts & Drafts.

I’m thirty-five. I have two failed marriages, a career that doesn’t pay me nearly enough, and no human children. That’s right. I shot for the moon, and I missed in three major “grown-up” areas. To many people, I am a failure; and even sometimes to me, I am a failure.

I wanted this post to be something poignant and witty about how life in the thirties is so damn grand. But to tell you the truth, it is tough. My experience in the thirties is literally like being alone on the front seat of Disney’s Space Mountain, flying through “space” in the dark unknown territory and trying to stifle screams; it seems somewhat familiar because you know you are somewhere at Disney World, but every movement seems alarmingly uncharted as well.

When my first divorce occurred at twenty-eight, I bounced back relatively quickly because I felt as if I still had time. My second divorce is occurring now, and I feel as if I might never truly bounce back because I do not have the time. That’s where the notion of failure comes into play because I admittedly had a hand in not one, but two divorces; I work additional jobs because my career doesn’t pay my nearly enough money to afford my college loans that I accrued to get said career; and I have a small ache wondering what kind of mother I could have been, because no matter how much I love my dog, and no matter how much he contributes to my daily contentment, he is not my actual child. Who wants to go down like this?

And so I have to remind myself that just because I didn’t land on the metaphorical moon to which I so hopefully shot myself with the best of intentions, it’s going to be okay eventually. Y’all have heard that quote, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss you’ll land among the stars.”? Well, the little things in life have become my “stars.” Thus, here is a list of the top ten “stars” in my life, the things that make being thirty-five and in my situation more bearable:

1. Castro Mojito, my soon-to-be three-year-old dog and the best sidekick I could ever have. No one could ever love a dog as much as I love him. On the days when I feel like I cannot possibly continue with my routine and my stress overwhelms me, there he is… happy, overjoyed to see me, and ready to just let me hold him until the moment passes or until I fall asleep.

2. My family and friends. As cliché as it seems, my they are of paramount importance to my well-being. They are an interesting bunch of hilarious personalities, representative of Uniontown, Pittsburgh, and a dozen states; thus, some of our gatherings are not as frequent as I would prefer. Our memories are more treasured because we value them so much across the miles, and thank goodness for texting, social media, FaceTime and the U.S. Postal Service because we are able to stay connected. With my family, sometimes it’s a midday group text about something Disney; a package in the mail with something nostalgic; or a FaceTime about who is enjoying some of our most favorite treasured family recipes. With my friends, sometimes it’s a midday group text about one of our exes showing up on Tinder without a shirt on in his profile picture; a sleepover reminiscent of our younger days; or simply sharing in the weddings and births and doctorates and any other milestones that we reach.

3. [Some of] my coworkers. There are a dozen or so people from the span of my career that truly know me and know just how to pick me up when I am down. These people are invaluable as I spend close to sixty hours a week at work; they can catch my eye or watch my body language and know that I am totally “not myself.” Sometimes it’s a gift in my mailbox; spotting me in Jeans Day because I forget to get cash; or calming me down when I am feeling anxious about everything. Regardless of the gesture, they are quite invaluable.

4. Living close to my workplace. I spent eighteen months doing a twenty-five mile commute through two tunnels. When I say that it sucked the soul out of me like a Dementor, I am making an understatement; so being close to work has eased my daily stress immeasurably. It also is pretty convenient on days when I bend over and tear the crotch of my favorite jeans and have to run home to put on a new pair before anyone sees me. Sidenote: RIP to my favorite jeans… ten years old, perfectly worn in, reliable and trustworthy.

5. My health. Despite my aches and pains from being thirty-five, I value being able to go to the gym or go run stadium stairs with little to no difficulty (other than fatigue). I love that I am able to see everything clearly (with my contacts of course) and hear music every single day.

6. Sugar Free Red Bull. Little Debbie snacks. Ramen noodles. Slice and bake cookies. Red gummy candy. Rice Krispie Treats cereal. Late night McDonald’s. Yup. I know that these are all totally bad for me and might contain more sodium than the Dead Sea. But there are days when all it takes is a bite of junk and I have a smile on my face.

7. Surprises. I am rarely surprised but when they do happen, it’s as close to blissful as I can feel anymore.

8. Brunch. Who knew that this meal would become one of the most enjoyable parts of my week? Not the twentysomething version of me that’s for sure. Bloody Mary bars, bacon galore, and the company of good people? That’s contentment.

9. Television! Shows on the small screen weren’t nearly this great in my twenties. At the end of a particularly trying day, knowing that I can go to my DVR and find something wonderful (General Hospital, Grey’s, Scandal, Revenge, How to Get Away With Murder, Empire, Jimmy Fallon, reruns of Beverly Hills, 90210, etc.) to watch is certainly one of the best little things in life.

10. Lastly, my blog The Steel Trap. No, this isn’t a shameless plug of my online labor of love. It is one of my primary creative outlet, and it has afforded me countless opportunities to meet new friends, travel, and enjoy Pittsburgh from a different perspective.

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