In just a few weeks, I will celebrate my 30th birthday. This birthday, unlike others, has me reflecting hard on life. What has happened to me in thirty years that has created this person I am today? How many goals have I achieved and what is there left to accomplish? Am I where I thought I would be professionally? The list of reflecting points goes on. And I typically don’t have these moments of massive thoughts. But this year is different.

My thirtieth  year was rough for my family and my husband’s family. We lost my dad to a rare brain disease right after Thanksgiving, and less than six months later we lost my husband’s father to cancer. Both of us – and our families – experienced large doses of grief that we had never encountered before and it taught us a valuable lesson: life is short. We could have wallowed in our grief, yet my husband and I banded together and took another approach: seek the positive. Since our days are not infinite, it is important to share happiness and radiate love as much as we can. Even with a few occasional tears, my husband and I focus on the smiles of the past, making memories for the future, and most importantly, living in the present.

I’ll always remember “29” for those significant losses, I can’t help that. But I will also remember it as the year that I ran my first (and only) marathon at the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I had been researching marathon races for a year and finally decided on the Outer Banks Marathon in November, the Sunday before Veteran’s Day. I trained hard from June through October. My weekends were consumed by time on the treadmill. I never worked so hard in my life, physically-speaking. Completing that marathon is one of the greatest accomplishments of my life, and it always will be.  The actual run was grueling, tiring, unpleasant, difficult, and painful, and I literally couldn’t get off the couch the following day. But it was worth it, silly as that may sound.

The year before my 30th birthday was also the year that I stepped back into the classroom and began my career as a middle school teacher. I had previously taught grades at the elementary level, and took a year off to transform myself into the best middle grades math teacher possible.  That Math Lady was born and I focused all of my energy into learning middle grades math curriculum, flipped learning styles, and project-based learning strategies. Last year, I was able to exercise all that I learned in one of the most unique teaching experiences I think I will ever have: a K-8 STEAM educator. Actually, I was a middle school electives teacher who co-taught with four other teachers and continued to teach elementary at an After-School STEAM Camp. (I told you it was unique!) It was a different kind of teaching, but it allowed me to try out different PBL curriculum and teaching strategies. GREAT experience overall, but I’m looking forward to going back into my own classroom next year as a sixth grade Math and Social Studies teacher…what I originally set out to be.

And thanks to this STEAM position, I made new, everlasting friends. And started going to yoga class. Yoga has transformed me so that I will enter 30 graciously (well, as gracious as I can get!).

My thirtieth year was also marked by other professional highlights, such as being invited to an official White House Social, where I traveled to the White House and Eisenhower Executive Building to meet with U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, and Second Lady of the United States, Dr. Jill Biden. And, most recently, I was accepted into the North Carolina Governor’s Teacher Network to develop STEM curriculum for the state. Doesn’t get much better than those two things right there!

And, the cherry on top would be another year of love and baseball with my husband, Brian. We hit stadiums #23 (Yankee Stadium) and #24 (Citi Field) in April on a 24-hour whirlwind tour of NYC. We have #25 planned for the day after my 30th birthday…Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington. My husband of nearly 3 years is truly my better half and I wouldn’t be half the person I am today without him in my life.

Bottom Line: I am looking forward to 30 and all of the treasures this new year will hold!


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