I turned 42 on Sunday.
Sometimes, it hits me and I’m shocked because I don’t feel 42. I’m not sure what 42 is supposed to feel like.
I often still feel the same way I felt at 15 and 21 and 29 and 32. I have the same dreams and fears.
We live in such a casual time that it doesn’t matter what I wear, how I style my hair, or which fork I use.
During my mom’s generation, women over a certain age didn’t wear the color pink or their hair long. That was for younger women.
Sometimes, when I go out with my teen daughter, people mistake us for sisters and that’s delightful.
Other times, I feel very old and persnickety. My knees crackle when I stand up. My back hurts when I stand for a long time.
I’m past the desire to get tattoos or piercings. I’d rather spend my money on other things – experiences.
Sometimes, I feel panicky that I haven’t accomplished anything important. My time is too short and I have to hurry and do something, anything, quickly, write write write, create create create.
Then, I feel overwhelmed and it’s been all done before. I have nothing to offer. Do I?
I usually lie in bed at night and listen to the night sounds and make myself ill about what I should have done or could do better.
Then I think about all the things I have done and I’m able to breathe a little easier for another night.
I’m accepting that I’m an INTJ and a 1/5 combo on Enneagram. This is who I am and I constantly improve and grow.
I had some amazing experiences that shaped me into who I am today. When I look back on what means the most to me, my priorities are clear.
My top 40:
- I flew alone to Washington, D.C., when I was 9, to visit my grandma. It was a fun week.
- My parents took me to Puerto Rico when I was 14. It was a business trip for my dad. I missed a week of school, excused for “educational purposes.”
- My intro to art class in 10th grade. The teacher was quite a bitch, but I still remember the projects and techniques I learned. It ruined me but I’m rediscovering it.
- Entering college early. Dual enrollment was a new concept and my high school wasn’t too keen, so I just bypassed them. I got a double scholarship.
- “Wasting time” on college classes in Spanish, French, and German. The lessons I learned serve me well now in Europe and teaching my kids foreign languages!
- My college classes on art history and music theory still affect me today. Those professors were passionate and delightful.
- Overcoming depression. It’s a daily battle.
- Getting my Master’s in education. It was a joke of a program, but I jumped through those hoops and have the paper to prove it.
- Teaching in public school. I learned so much about kids, parents, learning, government school systems, bureaucracy, and more. I’ve taught at many levels, mostly middle school and high school, including ESL and gifted. I worked in elementary after school programs. I was also a substitute teacher in many different kinds of classrooms.
- The birth of my first daughter.
- Teaching college writing. Almost my dream job.
- Getting married. (The first two don’t count…) Surviving PCSes and a deployment. Deployment #2 coming up.
- Moving to Texas. This was a quite a catalyst for change. I couldn’t find work. We began homeschooling. It was the first time I ever lived away from my parents and home state. My husband’s parents both passed away. My husband changed job fields in order to remain in the Air Force. I birthed two babies. It was a stressful two years.
- Homeschooling. It’s been an amazing adventure!
- Starting a blog. It sure has evolved since 2005!
- The birth of my second daughter.
- The birth of my third daughter. A C-section is not a failure. I’m still telling myself this. Medical bullying and trauma is a thing though.
- Living in Hawaii for 3 years.
- My husband adopting my first daughter.
- Changing our lifestyle to be healthier and more natural.
- The birth of my son. VBAC, for the win!
- Stopped attending a legalistic fundamentalist church. Wish we’d left sooner!
- Introducing my husband and kids to camping.
- Family road trip to Yellowstone National Park.
- Living in Germany for 3 years. Being able to explore Europe!
- Traveling to Paris. Twice.
- Traveling to Prague.
- Traveling to Netherlands.
- Traveling to Greece.
- Traveling to London. Twice.
- Traveling to Porto.
- Traveling to Rome.
- Traveling to Ireland.
- Traveling to Normandy, France.
- Traveling to Florence.
- Traveling to Venice.
- Deciding to practice respectful parenting.
- Becoming credit card debt-free. We’re almost there!
- Doing Bible study at home instead of attending church.
- I have found my voice. I am still angry. I am not afraid.
Michele Morin says
What a fun post! You’ve got me wondering what I would choose for my top 40 — or 50?
Love this!!! Keep rocking’ this list…it’s amazing what a change in perspective can do to a life when you look back through the “top 40”. My biggie next year is 35. With three kids under 5, I’m going to start me list now and hope I finish.
Penny Struebig says
You travels are amazing! What an exciting 40 years you have had. I bet the next 40 will be just as exciting.
Happy Birthday!!! Don’t be SO hard on yourself!! You have done some AMAZING things and I’m certain you will do LOTS more :) …ps – visting from Creative Kids -Thoughtful Thursday Link Party
Brandi Raae says
Turned 41 a few weeks ago. :) I can relate to a lot of what you said. Feeling like I haven’t accomplished anything but then realizing I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. Raising kids is a huge accomplishment. I’m overwhelmed by all of your travels, though! Wow.
Thanks for sharing at Literacy Musing Mondays; it was fun to read.
Sue Moore Donaldson says
You’ve done a lot (and you are not old – now I am old and persnickety, often, but mostly just grateful.) why, angry? don’t want to waste any time. and i love the fact that you’ve traveled so far and well. great for a family, a marriage and for your soul. i just joined a travel club for all those reasons and more and I’m 65 in May! a good 20+ years left of knowing God by faith and passing Him on, here and abroad!
Angry that I had no voice for so long.
I will speak out now.
Mother of 3 says
So many travels! Such a wonderful 40 list.
Meghan E. Weyerbacher says
Wow what an adventure! All this at only 41, I’d say no worries there girl. Love your list. Very inspiring! Love the photos too. So glad to discover your blog and thanks for linking up!!
what a great list so many impressive things on it. Sounds like you have did quite a bit.
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Debbie Kitterman says
WOW Jennifer -1st off -Happy Birthday! 2nd – I love all the travel you have done and that it is in your top 40! I think all my travels and places I have been too, would for certain make my list as well… although you have been to way more places that I have and I love the pictures you posted as well. Thanks for sharing this with the community and for for linking up with #TuneInThursday this week. Sorry for my delay in stopping by, it has been a busy week :)
Jessi's Design says
This is so fun! Great post and I love learning more about the bloggers behind the blog! :) xoxo
Jeannee Taylor says
What fabulous life experiences you have had! I envy all the travel and admire your fantastic attitude towards life and change! Thanks for sharing! #HomeMattersParty
Tina at Mommynificent says
This was so fun and inspiring to read! Thanks so much for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday on Mommynificent.com!