In about ten days, I’m turning 40.  I’m not sharing this so that you’ll send me birthday cards or ginormous bouquets of flowers.  I’m sharing this because it’s liberating.  Like, how did I get here?  I’ve always wondered what “Over the Hill” means or is – I surely never imagined I’d actually be here.  I get it now.  I’m here, in it. I can see the hill and the coaster is about to crest.  It’s the moments we wait for, the part where we put our hands up and scream, “Let go.”

The reality is, as the track has been clicking toward the top, I’ve been gripping the bar and bracing myself to prepare.  And probably missed some good moments along the way. I won’t make that mistake any longer.

I spent years polishing presentations with messages that didn’t truly matter to me.  Sharing about learning tools that I knew how to use and enjoyed, but not that WERE my joy.  I’ve always loved learning, but I also love sharing and sharing is more fun when you know the message is one others want to hear.

I poured time into jumping through hoops, collecting achievements like there was going to be some sort of gold star behavior chart on my headstone. *For the record, though morbid, I’m totally okay if my headstone glitters, but not for achievement stars. 

I adjusted myself, over and over, to fit. To fit the testing culture. To water down my teaching to fill some niche that was needed by someone somewhere.  So that I could feel needed and full. But it only makes you feel more empty in the long run.

I longed to be with people who got me, on a personal and professional level, and understood that my heart and my passion were about making the world better and in the process making myself better… not better than the competition, just better for the dream.  Those people? I have and I love them all.

I took some chances, some that didn’t work out. At all.  But then they did.  They always worked out in the end.

Every click of the track.  Polishing my message. Only sharing what I was pleased with.  Only creating things I was comfortable with. Throwing away the art I hated – when I should have been hanging those pieces up. Hiding 90 percent of the things I felt like only I would understand.   I was shining my ideas with varnish when I should have been scraping and sanding away the things that just don’t matter.

It doesn’t matter if anyone else understands, not everyone ever will.

There are people, around you, that care. Always.  Don’t just be ready to support them, but also be ready to let them support you.

I’d rather have 3 seconds of genuine conversation than 8 hours of pre-packaged promotional blah.

When I say a “makerspace in a box” that I see for sale, “kills a part of my soul,” people chuckle. But I’m not joking.  It literally makes a little part of my heart whimper with “ick.” An ick that takes me RIGHT back to elementary school when I felt the same way.  And I’m 95% sure that as I crest the top of the hill and put my hands up, I’ll continue to understand that listening to those little inside voices is what it’s all about.

The lightheartedness in which I write this seriousness?  It’s me.  I miss my grandparents, all of whom I just lost within the past 4 years.  I hate seeing the vice of incurable and devastating chronic illness squeeze on my parents, but at the same time, they continue to smile and live life, because in that respect, there is no choice.  These things are all daily, second by second reminders that the clock ticks regularly and that we don’t get second chances.  Sobering, but liberating to remember.

And I guess, that’s what happens at the top of the hill.  You throw your hands up and let go. Well, there are also wrinkles, old age pain conversations with my husband, and raising a teenager… but for this moment, today, I’m just going to enjoy this ride.

Learning. Creating. Connecting.

And the occasional scream.