30 Years on Planet Earth

30 years.

30 years is how long I’ve been blessed to be alive and healthy on planet earth.

30 years, I’ve been blessed to be apart of a growing family, who have done nothing but support, love, cherish, and guide me through this crazy thing called life.

30 years, I’ve spent my time growing, learning, becoming, and loving.

30 years, I’ve enjoyed exploring, searching, and trying new things.

30 years.

When I really take time to think back on 30 years, I realized the amount of information I’ve acquired, the amount of time I’ve spent with family and friends laughing and enjoying every second, the number of adventures I’ve been on and the amount of time dreaming about my future adventures (cough, cough…St Thomas), the countless hours I’ve spent shooting hoops or digging balls on the court, the days and nights spent studying throughout 20 years of school and the lessons learned along the way.

Have you every really made a list of all the things you’ve done/accomplished? I’m going to try because, today, I am 30 years old. Today it’s my birthday and I want to share with you things I’ve done in my life that have shaped me into ME!! Here goes…

I’ve learned to crawl, walk, fall, run, skip, and jump.

I’ve learned to ski (both water and snow), swim, shoot a basketball, hit/dig/set a volleyball, swing at a softball, attempt to kick a soccer ball, throw and catch a football, wakeboard, roller-skate, ride a bike, and scuba dive.

I’ve learned to love, laugh, hate, disappoint, push, shove, hug, kiss, high five, fist bump, cry, fear, share and cherish. I’ve learned to fail and to succeed. I’ve learned the meaning of handwork and I’ve learned what it means to be lazy. I’ve learned how to be loyal and how to be generous.

I’ve learned to make friends and how to lose friends. I’ve learned the meaning of togetherness and the meaning of separation.

I’ve learned to talk more than I need to and I’ve learned how to be the butt of a joke (after all my family calls me Tooty, I’ll let you deduct how that came to be). I’ve learned to be catty and how to be sensitive. I’ve learned how to be mean and how to be kind.

I’ve become a daughter, a sister, a cousin, an aunt, a friend, a high school graduate, a  college graduate, a Speech Language Pathologist, a world traveler, a writer, a photographer, a colleague, an employee, a MVP,  and a champion and of course a Mapless Adventurer.

I’ve lived in three states and two, soon-to-be three countries, totaling 7 cities. I’ve lived with my parents. I’ve lived with my sister and her family. I’ve lived alone and I’ve lived with roommates. I’ve moved more times than I can count and still on the move. I’ve traveled by car, bus, airplane, train and motorcycle through 10 countries and 13 states.

I’m a Christian and have learned the love of Christ. I’ve lost my way to God after high school and found my way back to Him in my 20s.

I’ve visited Mesa Puebla, the city build in the side of a cliff, the petrified forest and jumped off cliffs at Slide Rock in Arizona. I’ve seen the view off the cliff edge at the Grand Canyon and the rock formations at Lake Tahoe. I’ve floated down the Salt River and basked in the sun along the red rocks of Sedona.  I’ve gambled and  ventured into the drinking era with friends and family in Las Vegas. I have walked along the beaches of California, Oregon, Florida and Washington.  I’ve been to 4 states at once when standing at the Four Corners and explored 6 National Parks. I’ve been to Disneyland, Disney World, Sea World, and Universal Studios. I’ve seen the Great Lakes and ate Texan BBQ in Dallas. I’ve even watched a pig give birth (no, I’m not kidding and no, this isn’t odd for my family of pig farmers).

I’ve road-tripped from Arizona to Iowa, twice with family and twice for college.  I am a University of Northern Iowa graduate just like my dad and spent 4-years surrounded by extended family. I’ve seen happiness and sadness as we’ve said goodbye to my maternal grandmother too soon. I’ve driven from Flagstaff to Denver and back again, just because, road on the back of my dad’s Harley Davidson from Arizona to Idaho for 2 weeks and moved from Arizona to Washington on a solo road-trip. I’ve hiked many mountains and viewed down on many valleys. I’ve explored many regions of the Olympic Peninsula, Washington Coastline, and the Cascade mountain range and crossed the northern border to Canada for the first time alone. I’ve been camping in the Arizona mountains and the Washington mountains. I’ve climbed trees, went fishing for crawdads, and rowed a canoes and kayaks across lakes, rivers and canals.

I’ve gotten lost while traveling and living in a city where English was the minority and learned how to communicate in a foreign language. I’ve rode a boat into a cave on the island of Capri, ate pizza in it birthplace of Napoli, Italy, and explored the ancient city of Pompeii, destroyed by a Volcano. I struck a pose with the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa, took a gondola ride through the canals of Venice and walked along the Italian Riviera, Via dell’Amore. I had wine poured into my mouth while lying on the ground, called porron, and climbed to the top of three campaniles around Italy. I’ve been to the home of Romeo and Juliet, stood in the plaza of Palio di Siena, and journeyed back in time to the 1930s while wandering the streets of Arezzo, set of La Vita e Bella.  I’ve traveled underground at the Vatican City and became a gladiator at the Colosseum. I ate meat freshly removed from an aged pig leg, countless caprese salads, pounds of pasta and don’t forget the never ending amounts of wine I drank exploring Italy (lots and lots of red, white, rose, blush, and sweet wine)

I’ve visited the oldest, still in constriction, building of my generation, Sagrada Familia, and ate the best tasting seville surrounded by good company. I’ve drank and loved Kalimotxo, a wine-coca cola beverage in Spain and became stunned by the countless Gaudi designs surrounding Barcelona.

I’ve roamed the grounds of Versailles and stood on the outskirts of Mary Antionette’s home in France. I’ve eaten snails and veal and duck because I did as the French did. I’ve drank French wine, and French beer, and more French wine. I’ve wandered the Avenue des Champs-Élysées and had a skyline view of Paris while on top of the Arc de Triomphe. I’ve gazed in amazement at the breath-taking Notre Dame then walked along the Seine. I’ve stood on the top of the Eiffel Tower and taken the underground Amtrak from Paris to London.

I’ve stood at the gates of Big Ben and Bellingham Palace and witnessed the changing of the guards in at Windsor Castle, home to the queen. I prayed when visiting Westminster Abbey. I rode the famous red double decker bus and captured a picture in the famous British red phone booths. I became a learner of Oxford, but mostly “ooh’d” and “ahh’d” at the Harry Potter history. I became a Beatles fan while visiting their homes, Penny Lane, and having a drink in their honor at The Cavern Club. I crossed from England to Scotland and stood alongside of Hadrian’s wall. I’ve became a princess while exploring castles throughout the UK. I’ve gotten lost in the beauty of Scottish countryside and had my first taste of whiskey at the Glenlivet Distillery. I’ve searched but didn’t find the sneaky Lochness Monster and drank with friends in a old church turned pub. I’ve crossed St. George’s Channel from Holyhead, Wales to Dublin, Ireland and drank a beer at St. James Gate in Dublin.  I’ve stood overlooking the Cliff’s of Mohr and kissed the Blarney Stone.  I’ve never been more confused then trying to ask for directions from a Cork native. I’ve gotten lost in the memory of the Titanic, while visiting Cobh and I’ve danced on stage at an Irish Concert because I SUCK at dancing.

I’ve zip-lined on a volcano in Nicaragua and feed a monkey in Granada. I’ve spent time loving on children with disabilities at an orphanage in Managua and aided the employees on a communication system. I’ve witnessed the aftermath of a Nicaraguan baseball game and celebrated with the locals with locally made Flor de Cana rum.

I’ve climbed to the top of Teotihuacan, swam through cenotes in Mexico and snorkeled off Catalina Island. I’ve scuba dove with Celine Cousteau and a team of divers off the shores of Cancun. I’ve repelled and zip-lined into a cenote on Maya grounds and feasted traditional Maya food, which I learned about back in the 5th grade (thanks Mr. Bonomo). I’ve learned about silver in the town of Taxco and about agave outside the ancient Mesoamerican city in the Valley of Mexico. I’ve even held a baby turtle (my favorite animal) and released two into the wild. And, well…I’ve had my fair share of tequila and street tacos during spring breaks along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.

I’ve met 100s if not 1000s of friends along my journey and my journey is really just beginning. I’m 30 years into this thing called life and I couldn’t be more excited, eager, overwhelmed with happiness and joy, and ready to start my next phase of life.  I’ve made some great choice and some not-so-great choices, but without any of those choices, life would be what it is today, and I wouldn’t be the person I am, and even with all my faults, I love who I am!



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