What I've learned about myself and life in the first 40 years.
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Turning 40: What I’ve Learned About Myself and Life So Far

March 14, 2024

Curls that tightened with the heat of Midwest summer, too-big adult teeth making crooked the smaller ones in my mouth, and an independence like wildfire in my bones. These are just a few of the things that define me but they’re only a fraction of who I am. Turning 40 has brought an unexpected grief that’s pushing me to reflect on what I’ve learned about myself and life so far. It’s surreal to reach a milestone birthday as this. Like, when did all my friends start talking about getting their hormones checked? Why do I prefer a night with a glass of Cabernet and a book? Are we doing the Botox?
That being said, there’s also a settling happening in my spirit. As if I’m coming home. I hope my journey connects you in some way to your own.

A Quick Background

Raised in middle Missouri, I was born March of 1984 to a good girl and a rebel. But I wasn’t enough to keep them together and so they divorced just before I turned 4 years old. Each of them and my stepmom were all part of my growing up years and loved me fiercely. I never was given siblings but my cousins filled the gaps on long, muggy days at the farm where they lived. Like all good Midwest girls I learned to hunt, eat dirt-ridden strawberries from the garden, and how to hit a softball. As a teenager I lived for camp. Church camp, music camp, camp in Colorado with my youth group. And I never ever went without a camera.
When I was 16 I took a few college classes where my mom worked, and studied the rest on my own. By second semester I had a full course load. That’s when I met my husband, who turned out to be the grandson of the founder of said Colorado camp. We married 3 months before I turned 18 {how?!} and have been together for 23 years. We now each own businesses and love on our 4 children, 7 chickens, 1 Labrador, and two barn cats. We’re a family that loves to connect over sarcastic humor and cards games. We travel, hike, go to concerts and rodeos, and tells stories over a good meal. I pray that never changes.

40 Things Out Loud

  • My parents did the best they knew how, and I love them for it.
  • I need the outdoors like I need oxygen.
  • I am an old soul and value the simple.
  • I am a high empath which means I feel everything.
  • Expectations can be deceiving.
  • The process is just as important as the result and often provides more growth.
  • Almost anything can be turned into an opportunity.
  • I never want to stop learning, taking risks, exercising, loving people well, or engaging life.
  • Quality > Quantity
  • I’m obsessed with people’s stories, but especially those of someone over the age of 80.
  • Grief and loss will always be familiar friends.
  • I am extremely loyal. I’ve been with my hair stylist over two decades!
  • Intimate, authentic conversations give me life.
  • The only person I can count on 100% of the time is God, who has held me in the darkest moments and brightest seasons.
  • The past is good information, don’t avoid it.
  • Rodeos, the farm, and country music are in my DNA.
  • I began therapy in my 20’s and have never looked back.
  • Laughing is my favorite and is extremely healing.
  • I know how a marriage falls apart, and I’ve seen how it can come back to life. Thank God.
  • Reading and traveling are the greatest escapes.
  • Death is actually just going Home.
  • My husband’s addiction taught me that every beating heart holds a wound, but not everyone knows what to do with the pain. Have compassion.
  • Boundaries are an act of love for yourself and others. Every healthy relationship requires them.
  • Pain is inevitable and a great teacher.
  • Humankind is not encountering any new issues, just new to us.
  • I. Matter. Took me 35 years to believe that.
  • Failure is allowed, and useful.
  • I will never completely end my illicit love affair with carbs.
  • My dad is my person, in the way there aren’t words.
  • I hate the feeling of falling, which means roller coasters and flying are stupid things.
  • I have developmental trauma, but it does not have the final say.
  • Parenting is the most self-sacrificing, beautiful journey I’ve ever walked.
  • I can cook as well as bake pretty damn well, and will always prefer to do so from scratch. {my kids care not and would still rather have Sam’s Homestyle nuggets in the air fryer}
  • Though I have dealt with a fair amount of fear, I have often been fearless in not letting it hold me hostage for long. There’s always a way through.
  • Relationships > everything else.
  • Self-care can be learned and is important.
  • I LOVE mowing. What I mean is redneck riding mower, ball cap, country music in the AirPods, and an ice cold beer when it’s done.
  • Anger is necessary. Living angry will eat you alive.
  • I’ll be on anti-anxiety medication the rest of my days, and I’m good with that. I choose to show up with a better quality of life for the people I love.
  • It’s not my job to rescue and fix everyone’s problems. I’m learning this.
  • The only things I care to take with me into the next 40 years are my faith, my people, and my memories. And herein lies my passion for photography: it tells the story of all three.


Four full decades of living this life leaves a person inexplicably thankful. I GET to love and be loved, learn and teach, fail and grow. What a truly wild adventure. Thank you for reading these pieces of my heart.


Want to meet my family? You can do that here.

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