I like using my birthday as a chance to reflect on my life. My 26th and 27th years must have been particularly good, if the Amazingly Awesome lists I put together are any indication. For my 30th I’m thinking less about how AMAZING everything is and more about the remarkable experiences and states-of-being that pushed me to where I am today.
This post started out as a fun little trip down memory lane, but after I finished the list I noticed some patterns that reveal what’s most important to me, and where I should be focusing the majority of my time and effort. I was surprised to see that work came to my mind. I hold no fondness for the uniforms, or the long days on my feet, or the hot-hot heat as I drove tractor through the cherries. It’s the relationships formed with my coworkers and the satisfaction found in being assigned tasks and accomplishing them that I enjoyed so much. This is one of the primary reasons why I want to get a job working for someone else within the next year.
Many of the things I wrote down only made the list because of the people I was with. I need to make it more of a priority in my life to put time and effort into those connections. And travel too, travel needs to always be a priority in our budget and lives.
Quite a few of the experiences reveal nostalgia for the way I grew up. We had the opportunity to provide that same life for our children, but we turned it down in favor of a life that will keep us away from my hometown in the thick of the hustle and bustle. There will always be a part of me that romances the pastoral, and I’m glad my parents still live there so the kids can continue to have those experiences in the summer. The suburbs are very bland (San Francisco city proper has my heart though!).
Thinking about my own childhood of course means I’m going to think about the childhood I’m giving to my kids and what I want them to remember. I have zero memories of my mom sitting on the floor playing with me. What I do remember is the stuff that I now realize would have taken hours and days to prep for. Going boating at Mardon, spending a week at the county fair, the trips we took, the pool we had in our backyard which my parents rarely swam in but probably spent a lot of time maintaining. I’m going to be guilt-free about saying “I’m busy right now, go play” in our daily life, but take more time to go to the beach or San Francisco or Lake Tahoe or a road trip along the coast.
You know I didn’t make the list at all? Stuff. No mention of any of the toys I got as a kid, or the items I saved up for when I was independent, or talk about how well appointed the furnishings are in our home. Less stuff more experiences has been something we’ve been working toward over the last year, but assembling this list has made me want to double down and make it our new religion. We are moving to Redwood City this summer, and I’m going to use it as a test to see how much we can simplify and downgrade. Our home won’t be Pinterest-worthy, but we will get to know our neighbors.
When I’m 40 I’d like to make another list detailing the highlights from now until then. I want it to be filled with experiences over stuff, food, adventures we squeezed into our daily life, trips to places far and near, and stories about the ways I strengthened my connections with the people who matter most to me. I think I have enough information now to see what’s going to bring me the most joy.
30 Things I Loved About the Last 30 Years
(in no particular order)
1. Growing up on a farm
Here I am, somewhere around five years old, sitting on a horse in my front yard. Behind me is a ditch where we would swim. I’m smiling in the direction of the single-wide trailer where we lived until I was eight years old. It was a life full of simple things, and I never knew how poor we were. I’m very lucky to have parents who worked so hard to give me a great childhood. My kids will never know a Christmas where we spend Christmas Eve with dad’s side of the family watching rodeo clips, wake up the next morning and open presents before eating waffles, and then head over to the dairy to spend Christmas with my mom’s side of the family. They’ll have other things, new traditions and experiences but I’ll always miss what we had.
2. Pretending to be a model in Rome
I’m far better behind the camera than I am in front of it, but my mom worked it and we came away with some once-in-a-lifetime shots. Marching in front of the crowd at Trevi Fountain and getting up the courage to act like there weren’t hundreds of eyes on me was exhilarating. Maybe I’ll make my sister do the same thing in Greece this June.
3. First sunset in Hawaii
The entire trip was extraordinary, but the portion that makes me happiest to look back on is from our first night, right after we got checked into our hotel. My sister and I decided we were going to race the sunset to the beach, and we ran around frantically trying to get everyone into suits before the sun disappeared completely. We speed walked the block to the beach and were treated to the best sunset of the trip. As good as the sunset was, the part that makes my chest feel a bit constricted with happiness was holding T1 in my arms in the ocean as he said over and over “This is the best ever!” and threw his head back in some of the purest joy I’ve ever seen on his face. I want more moments like that with him, 1000x over.