March 24, 2016
I am up super early this morning because I want to write a new blog. Today is a very special day. It’s my last day in my 40s. Tomorrow I will turn five-oh. Please note: don’t say I am 50 because that sounds too old.
Friends keep asking me if I am having a hard time turning five-oh. I laugh and say “No. I’d be having a harder time if I wasn’t.”
I recently told someone “I have learned so much in the last few months!” Blank stare. They couldn’t believe someone ‘my age’ was still learning every day. Five-oh is the new 34 so I am officially becoming a millennial.
Thinking back on the last decade, it started with a bang. I had such a hard time with turning 39! Instead of fretting about my 40th, three of my girlfriends and I planned a weekend down in Savannah and lived it up! We shopped, we drank, we flirted, we danced, and we laughed, and laughed, and laughed. It was more fun than I could have ever asked for in a single weekend!
If I had to pick a single word to describe my 40s, I would say growth. Shortly after my 42nd birthday, I sold my best friend in five days and moved across the country. I had owned my best friend, my house on Sunset Drive in Columbia, S.C., for eight years. A wise friend told me “It’s your home now, but when you move out, it will just be a house, a shell of what it was.” Another wise friend told me “Your life will change. Everything will be different. You will begin a new chapter in your life.” Both of those friends, Lori Sheldon and Marybeth Jacoby, hit the nail on the head!
I mailed myself 40 boxes and bought a one-way ticket to the Bay Area. It was time to start my new life in California. The first year I lived into a studio that was 1/4 the size of my house and triple the rent. Such was life.
I worked hard to make new friends. I quickly learned there was a big difference in ‘being lonely’ and ‘being alone’. If I wanted to go to the beach, or to San Francisco, or out to dinner – I did it alone. Some weekends I would say goodbye to my coworkers at 5 pm on Friday and not speak to anyone, except a cashier at Nordstrom’s, Target or Safeway, until Monday morning at 8:30 am in my office. I didn’t feel sorry for myself! It forced me to grow to love myself inside and out.
I grew professionally as well. I embraced new media like no one else around me. I cried the day I decided Santa Clara would no longer produce media guides, but never looked back. I learned managing people wasn’t a perfect science. Some people were going to love you and some people weren’t. Saying no wasn’t as easy as it sounded.
At times I looked to leave California for greener pastures. Each time, it wasn’t the right fit. THANK GOD! Had I left California, I would never have emailed a guy Sept. 29, 2011 after reading his profile on Match.com. Turns out he didn’t have plans for dinner Saturday night either. I met Nick Young at Viva’s a couple of nights later. An hour and a half into our first date he said “I like you a lot more than I thought I was going to.” Good thing – because I dug him too!
My Man tells people he fell in love with me through his stomach and at sporting events. I pulled out all the stops in the kitchen, never cooking the same meal for weeks! Besides following the Cardinals’ World Series run on TV in my cottage in Los Gatos, I also got us tickets to 49ers, Raiders, Warriors, Sharks, and Giants games! I worked doing PR for a college basketball team so he saw plenty of the Broncos’ games too.
I fell in love with him through my heart. I grew so much personally. I discovered I could truly love someone and let them love me even more. I finally behaved like a grown woman in a relationship. Finally finding my soul mate was worth the wait. I can’t believe how much time I wasted in my 20s, 30s and 40s crying about boys. I finally found the one I was meant to love.
A couple of years ago, I started to feel the itch to leave my first love, college athletics. After a long series of many interviews, I took a job at the City of San Jose with the new Mayor. Ten weeks in I came to the realization it wasn’t the right fit. I was forced to grow even more. I left the job and was unemployed for the first time since I started my second-grade paper route.
Leaving that job was a blessing in disguise. I kept growing and discovered I could give more of myself than I thought. I was there for my parents when my mom broke her hip. I was there for friends and strangers in South Carolina for a week during the flooding. I was there for friends and family when they needed a favor, big or small.
I have grown even more in the last four months. My husband was diagnosed with Stage 4 Prostate Cancer in November. All of the sudden I had to be a rock for us. At first I didn’t think I could do it. I thought about running away because it was too much to face. But after all the tears and sleepless nights, I discovered I could give even more of myself than I ever thought. I finally learned I didn’t need to run 24/7 and be everywhere and everything to everyone. I finally discovered that living one day at a time was truly my calling.
So tomorrow I will turn five-oh proudly. I will enjoy a huge hug from my man and from a few close friends. I close with my own quote “I can’t be a part of the future if I am not a part of the present so I have to love today the most!”
Why Travel, Cooking and DIY? A creative type, I have always loved painting and decorating as a hobby. Upcycling is a real passion. My mom was a Home Ec teacher when we were growing up. I learned a lot from her and because I love hosting get-togethers, I had to step up my game in the kitchen as well. And lastly, my love of travel comes from my Grandma Schmitt.
An Illinois native, I worked in the White House Communications Agency early in my career (President Reagan), prior to returning to Illinois State University to finish my undergraduate and Master's. After a couple of post-graduate internships (minor league baseball and Big Ten Conference), I then worked in college athletics full-time for more than 22 years -- first at the University of South Carolina for 15 years and then at Santa Clara University for the last seven years. We moved to Tampa, Florida in Dec., 2016 after spending 8.5 years in Northern California.