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30 + 1

Today marks 31 beautiful tours around the sun and represents the start of a new year for me. A year ago, on my 30th birthday, my mom said that life only starts in the 30s. While life just happens in the 20s, then in the 30s everything gets more depth - our thoughts, our decisions, and the way we experience the world around us. I did not expect life to start delivering all of that already in the first year.

As our birthdays are only 3 weeks apart and we’re the same age, we celebrated getting 30 together with my husband Mathieu. As I miss a lot of birthdays of my family and friends due to being away, I wanted to go to Estonia to celebrate this birthday together with them. We celebrated life several times, in different settings, with different people. We also celebrated our big milestone with just the two of us. As I have lived my whole life outside of Tallinn, I had long dreamed about staying at a hotel in the city center. So we got an executive suite on the 28th floor and enjoyed the magical view over snowy and stormy Tallinn.

1: We got two cakes because there can never be enough cake.

2: Admiring the view over Tallinn was the first thing on the agenda in the morning.

And then, on my husband’s birthday, the world changed. Never before has a war been so close to home. In addition to a lot of unimaginable, it also brought along conversations with loved ones and friends I never wished for or imagined having. Since then it has been a waterfall of challenges impacting various layers of life, sometimes impacting me, mostly my family or closest friends. Luckily, by now many of the challenges have found an ending or solution. And the wounds that were left healed or are in the process. Strange how life always goes on, leaving you no option but to get accustomed to the new reality.

1: Exploring Woerden with occasional breaks to tip the toes in the water to escape the heat.

2: Enjoying the quietness at Sääre Tirp, Hiiumaa.

On a more positive note, the year took me to many amazing places. We had a lot of fun with my family in Latvia. In the Netherlands, I found the most perfect fairytale-like small town called Woerden. In Chicago, I got carried away by the amazing architecture. Exploring Wroclaw felt like discovering the Polish version of Ghent. In Hiiumaa, we enjoyed endless quietness, freedom, and space together with Mathieu. And in the South of France, we recharged our batteries. It was the first time we really rested during a holiday. We planned only one bigger activity per day which left plenty of time to sleep long, enjoy breakfasts, read books, play board games, and have wine in the jacuzzi. The places we stayed were cozy, a little bit magical, and surrounded by nature.

1: Mathieu doing all the hard work for the Heinaru ladies

2: With the impressive Chicago skyline

3: Kayaking in the Ardeche

There were a lot of cute moments with our furry friends. As one example, every evening in Estonia, we took my family’s corgi Valter and the kitties for a walk. The cats always wait by the door or gate for Valter to go on his evening walk. They always join for that small evening tour. All walking together. It is heartwarming. Unfortunately, we lost our youngest furry family member, Poku. A few days after the accident we went on a long weekend with friends. Still shocked by what happened (and not having had the chance to hug Sniffles as he was in his “summer residence”), I was shedding tears in the passenger seat and longed for some animal love. On that night a neighborhood cat came to visit us. The most snuggly cat I have ever met, asking for attention and rubs in the same way as Poku did. Mathieu said so nicely that there is still Poku energy in the world. This thought made me smile.

1: On an evening walk with furry friends.

2: A poem by Mathieu about Poku.

When the year before I felt I needed to make peace with entering another decade, this year taught me to appreciate life. I am so grateful for my loving husband, time with family, special shared moments with friends, and adventures with colleagues. I am happy to have them in my life. I am grateful that I can live my life and make my own decisions. And I am super excited to get older and to work towards the dreams and visions I have set for this year and later. Happy new year to me!

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