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Reflections on Turning 40

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My life changed so much during my thirties. It’s easy to look back at each decade of my life and say that my life changed significantly in each one, but something tells me that my thirties will be the decade of the most significant changes. This is a look back at the most notable changes and developments that took place during my thirties.

I quit my 9-5 job to blog full-time.

The Kittchen turns 12 today! I quit my 9-5 job as a data privacy specialist in 2015. Blogging started off as a passion project and hobby, but as the industry grew and there became more opportunities to earn income, I poured all of my spare time into turning my blog into a business. I may not have the most social media followers or readers, but I earn just as much as I did when I worked full-time. The most important thing is that I have total flexibility with my schedule and a steady stream of passive income. At this point, I usually only work a few hours a week.

We moved twice.

When I turned 30, we were still living in Charles’s small one bedroom bachelor pad while we saved up money to buy a bigger home. Our first move was to a two bedroom in Old Town. We stayed there for six years, and moved to a townhouse in Wicker Park when Gwen was a few months old.

Our townhouse is my fourth Chicago home, and it truly feels like home. We have community here. My next door neighbor brought me a loaf of fresh sourdough that he had baked! The neighborhood kids play outside together! My other next door neighbor and I have wine nights all the time. It’s perfect.

Stash Tea 11

I paid off my credit cards and student loans.

It feels so empowering to type that! It was really important to me that I pay off my debts (other than mortgage debt) before I left my 9-5 job. Just in case this is helpful to anyone else, I was able to use the employee stock purchase plan at my 9-5 job to invest money each month and eventually I was able to sell the stock to pay off my student loans.

I very slowly chipped away at credit card debt for a few years. The debt was mostly a result of being losing my job in 2008 during the recession and then being very poorly paid for years after. While I still worked by 9-5 job, all my blog earning went to pay off several thousands of dollars of debt.

Now, I use credit cards very differently. I charge everything to them – but pay them off monthly. This way I accrue points and miles, without piling on debt. Using my debit card only at an ATM helps to protect the money that is in my bank account.

I forged stronger friendships.

Making and keeping friends is hard, and so much shifts in your thirties as people have children, move out of cities, settle into careers, and reprioritize. In my early thirties, I spent a lot of time seeking approval from people who didn’t want to support me. It was hard to move on, but today I have friends that make my feel included, loved, and supported.

I have been lucky to find mom friends, too. Let me tell you – making mom friends when you have a baby in the middle of a pandemic is HARD. All of the childbirth and parenting classes that people take when they are pregnant were cancelled. We never got to meet other expecting couples. Then when the world finally started to open up again several months after Gwen was born, I felt like I was always the only mom on the playground. The nannies were so kind to me and Gwen – but I longed for mom friends. Gwen was probably about 16 months old when I struck up a conversation with a mom at Wicker Park and we have been friends ever since! Together we have forged a little group of moms! It’s the best!

Peru 54

I took bucket list trips.

There were several years when I was traveling over 100 days a year. I knew that I had a window of time when I could travel as much as I wanted, and I took advantage of it.

We did IVF twice.

When I look back on my thirties, the part that I won’t want to remember but won’t be able to forget will be the years we spent doing fertility treatments. It took a toll physically and emotionally, and we are so lucky that our last embryo was our vivacious daughter, Gwen.

My advice to all women out there is to do some basic fertility testing. I never knew that we would have such a hard time conceiving, and I was just 32 when I diagnosed with a low egg count.

We had a baby.

Gwen! She’s the absolute best. She is always so happy. She greets me with the biggest hugs in the mornings.

We experienced a pandemic.

Ok, maybe this is the part of my thirties that I want to forget the most. I still get sad when I see people share photos of their babymoon or baby shower. Or the beautiful professional photos from Prentice Hospital. Even seeing people take photos with family members at the hospital brings back a sting of sadness when I remember all the things that pandemic parents didn’t get to experience. I feel greedy saying that. We had a happy healthy baby! But it felt like we had to miss out on so many parts of the experience that we had been looking forward to.

photo by dld photography

Our family grew, a lot.

We didn’t just welcome our own child this decade, we gained a sister in law, a brother in law, and four nieces!

I started painting again.

My favorite part of our new home – other than the amazing neighbors – is that I have my very own office (and Charles has his own, too). I love having a space to write, paint, and work on other projects. I have been painting mostly landscapes inspired by photos that I took in Maine.

I have lots of unfinished projects.

I feel obligated to mention that while I feel like I accomplished some things that I am very proud of during my thirties, a bunch of projects will be following me into my forties. I have some half finished paintings, a sweater that need to finish knitting, a book that I want to get published, and a pile of photos sitting beside a scrapbook. Since becoming a parent, it has been hard to balance my work, passion projects, and motherhood.

THANK YOU!!!

The most important thing that I can say is thank you. Thank you for being here, for visiting my little home on the internet. I feel so lucky that I get to have my dream job. I am so excited to see what the future brings.

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