I used to dread turning forty. It sounded so “old” to me and I couldn’t imagine being in that decade of my life, in what is presumably the middle of my life story.
However, I now see it differently because the middle of the story is generally where the action is, where the characters are learning valuable lessons and becoming wiser as they apply those lessons. The foundation of the story has already been laid and continues to build. The middle of the story is often the best part.
As I have reflected on everything my thirties contained (which is a little too much), I have realized that I am so much happier and more at peace now than I was when I turned thirty. I know myself better, I have learned what really matters, and I am looking forward to this decade and what it may bring. I still don’t like seeing the number 40, but I’m learning that it’s okay.
In my thirties…
- We became relief houseparents at Milton Hershey School (January 2012)
- We bought our first house and began flipping it (December 2012)
- We had our first child (July 2014)
- We experienced the trauma of Tori’s terminal diagnosis of Krabbe Disease (February 2015)
- We buried our first child (March 2016)
- We sold our first house (December 2016)
- We bought our second house and finally moved to Hershey (April 2017)
- I wrote and published my book (April 2018)
- We had twins (April 2018)
- I advocated for expanded Newborn Screening in PA (2015-2020)
- We experienced our first global pandemic (March 2020)
- I started LDNBS with Maria Kefalas (April 2020)
- I had two pieces of legislation signed into law that improved Newborn Screening in PA (November 2020 and June 2022)
- I started grad school (May 2022)
- I worked at six different jobs: Hershey Entertainment & Resorts (Construction Services and The Spa at The Hotel Hershey), Dearden House Museum, The Hershey Story, MHS, and High Point tour guide)
- I completed more than 500 mystery shops and focus groups
I’m sure there’s more but this is a decent list. It was a busy decade.
On a personal level, there were great joys and deepest grief during this decade. I lost two grandparents and a cousin. I had friends that meant so much to me walk away and learned the hard lesson that sometimes the reason people leave has nothing to do with you, but rather with them and what they are going through. I gained friends who challenge and believe in me, but still long for more local friendships.
One of the most significant changes is that I started this decade extremely partisan and am now contentedly nonpartisan and do not foresee associating with a party again.
- I became more confident in who I am and where my strengths lie (as well as my weaknesses), which has helped give me clarity about what I want (and don’t want) in the future.
- I learned to listen to understand what the “other side” believes and that it’s okay to change my mind when new information is learned.
- I am so much more aware of what I don’t know and am okay with being wrong if that means I am now seeing things accurately.
I think this decade could be the best one yet, and I am looking forward to what it may bring.
My story isn’t over yet.