Reflections of a (soon to be) 30-year-old

I’m not really one to care about birthdays. I hate surprises and don’t love being the center of attention. I’m saying this so you all know talking about my birthday in this post isn’t my way of getting you all to say, “OMG Happy Birthday!” I’m saying this because my 30th birthday is hitting me harder (or at least making me think more) than any birthday before. Every year around my birthday I reference this 90s classic and the line, “Nobody likes you when you’re 23.” I remember being in high school and hearing this line and thinking, “I will NEVER be 23 and if I ever am that OLD I will have my shit together.” Anyone who knew me when I was 23 knows this was absolutely not the case. Anyway, flash forward 17 years from where I first heard that Blink-182 classic and here I am approaching 30. Let me say that again – THIRTY. One thing I can proudly say is that I am more together than I was at 23. And than I was at 25. And 28. This seems to be a positive trend and one that I hope continues for the rest of my life. It’s also important to note that I recognize I need to work at in order for it to continue to be the trend. Usually the changes I am most proud of are also the hardest. This week I have been using the quote, “If we don’t change direction we are likely to arrive where we are headed” with many of my students. I’ve also been turning it on myself a lot and the quote has never felt more pertinent than at this birthday junction.

A few quick thoughts/reflections as I approach this milestone (reader beware: sappyiness/seriousness ahead) and then I’ll post the delicious pictures/recap you are all waiting for.

Reflection #1 – Change is hard but so, so important

I’ve made a lot of changes over the past year. Some having to do with where I/we live. Some having to do with my priorities. Some having to do with habits. It’s hard to realize you need to make a change. It’s hard to face that you’ve taken so long to make a change. It’s hard to realize you need to make a change and then make it. It’s hard to make changes about things that you feel define you. But I feel like what I believe and what I do line up more now than they ever have. Not every singe day but most days. And this isn’t something I could always say before. It took way too many years to make some of these changes, or to recognize that changes needed to be made. That journey has been really hard. But I’m on my way. And 30 seems to be the best year to make sure I keep walking in that direction. This is the time to really walk the walk. So here I go – bring it on 30.

Reflection #2 – The meaning of life is hitting me more and more

I’ve always been a worrier. I’m pretty sure it’s in my genes (I am a Van de Krol after all!). But as the years have gone on (and ask Em – I wasn’t always like this!) I worry more and more. I catastrophize things constantly and it can be exhausting. And recently – and maybe it’s because of the impending birthday, maybe it’s because I’ve always been this way but been in denial, or maybe it’s because it’s a really scary feeling – I’ve woken up in the middle of the night or been struck walking down the hallway at school how one day it will be over. Everything I accomplish, everything Em and I accomplish, will end. None of us live forever. And sometimes that is so overwhelming that it’s paralyzing. And when I feel this sense of helplessness the only thing that really can stop the cycle of worry is to realize that the reason we’re doing all of this is because there really isn’t another option. That the feelings we get from a memory of something that happened years ago or from someone we haven’t seen in forever can rock us to the core and make us feel alive in a way that is terrifyingly incredible. That we want to keep trying and keep accomplishing things and keep chugging along so that we can give the people we love the same opportunity to feel moved in that indescribable way. Clearly I still don’t have the words to talk about this but the fact that I’m actually stopping and thinking about this and writing something serious means that it’s something I think is important. If anyone has figured out the meaning of life – holla at me.

Reflection #3 – I am so lucky.

Even having the time to sit down and write this shows the incredible privilege I have. I am surrounded by family and friends who have supported me at every turn, even if they shouldn’t have, and I’m a better person for it. Here I am in a new country, exploring it daily, hearing words of encouragement from those far and near, knowing that if I need anything my support network will lift me up. Life is truly defined by those who are in it, by those who have been in it, and by those who will be in it. And when I stop and thinking about the unique blend of people in my life I can’t help but feel fortunate and I don’t think I could have a better group. Thank you all.

Ok that’s it. Sorry for the rambling. Third of life crisis apparently hitting me full swing. Now on to the good stuff!

The move has started to kick in more and more as I watch the weather in New England get colder and colder. I’m not saying that to rub it in (I promise). I have just noticed that I find myself thinking of home when I’m at the beach because I am hit with the fact that it’s October and I’m in a bathing suit. These are the moments where time and space feel really overwhelming. How can the people I love be experiencing something entirely different than me at the exact same moment. Not a new concept but one that has been hitting me more since we’ve moved here.

We are so fortunate to live within 1.5 hours of beautiful beaches. If we stay in Escazú for the weekend we usually make sure to do a day trip one of the days. Now that we have some new suits (thanks to Em’s trip home in October) I love going to the beach even more. Mostly because I have a bathing suit, and board shorts, that allow me to run around the beach in the way that I want. It’s especially fun when you get to go with friends and they bring their cute dogs.

New suit Look at that cute face Idyllic Beach buddy

We have also been fortunate to take some great day hikes over the last few weekends. The first hike we did is called 3 crosses. It’s steep and isolated and looks out over the entire central valley. We did it with our friend Jason a few weekends ago. It was a beautiful Sunday morning and the perfect level of challenge for the day.

Cross #1 Happy Dog Cross #3 Cross #2  3 Crosses Crew

The following weekend we did another Sunday hike in the hills above Escazú. I’m pretty sure we broke some important pieces of our car getting there but it was worth it. The hike went along a ridge, then into the cloud forest, and then back again. It was a cloudy morning so the views were a bit blocked but in my opinion that made it even more spectacular and otherworldly.

Cloudy hike Cerros de Escazú hike Foggy Sunday hike Cerros hiking crew

Look at that cutie

PS – Isn’t my wife the cutest?

This past weekend we ventured to Guanacaste with 15 other people from CDS for a Halloween weekend away. We all jumped in our cars right after work on Friday and made the 5.5 hour trek to Playa del Coco. I say this every time but I truly think I have now found the most humid place in Costa Rica. It was definitely the most buggy as I currently have 40+ bug bites covering my back and legs for sitting and reading outside for ~30 seconds. Whatever – totally worth it.

Saturday we headed to Playa Hermosa for some swimming, some delicious fish tacos, some ultimate frisbee on the beach – it was just perfect.

Playa Hermosa Playa Hermosa Beach yoga Snorkeling crew (we failed)

Sunset at Playa del Coco

The theme of the Saturday night Halloween party was “Celebrities.” Em and I went as the Paparrazi and snapped some priceless pictures of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, Zeus, Superman, and Donald Trump to name a few (you’re all welcome for me NOT posting those pictures).

Paparazzi #2Paparrazi

Sunday morning I was up bright and early and did some reading in the pool and then heading to breakfast and a beach walk with friends. It doesn’t get much better than that. Throwing myself under the bus here (please refer to Reflection #1) – I went to bed at 10:30 Saturday night – a solid hour before anyone else even thought about sleep. I was so tired and pooped from a day in the sun. Props to the crew that rallied and went to the bars til 4 am.

Sunday morning walk

The rest of Sunday was spent lounging in the pool with friends, drinking BOOlinis (champagne and fruit juice with a Halloween twist), and torturing Milo by putting him on a float. We stopped at a sports bar on the way out of town where we snapped this pic of the crew.

Prince Milo  Football on the way out of town

Great last few weeks. Looking forward to Thanksgiving break and seeing my parents and Jeff. I’ve realized that this is the longest I’ve ever gone in my life without seeing them and it’s starting to feel weird. Even though I’m “grown up” there will always be a piece of me that feels best when I can (regularly) come home to my Mom and Dad (and you, Jeff!). Now I just get to bring two other gems (one human, one canine) with me.

So here’s to 30 – to walking the walk, to continuing to change when change needs to happen, to staying strong when I/we need it, to soaking up every moment and every lesson – no matter how big or how small it may be – and to looking back at my 30s and saying that I did it right.

Pura vida.



5 thoughts on “Reflections of a (soon to be) 30-year-old

  1. Just beautiful – reflections, photos, stories. So happy for you, Kathleen. And grateful for your sharing. Lots of love from the land where it’s fall. I’ll be thinking of you on the 7th!


  2. Kathleen, I loved reading this. Definitely some good quotes and advice in here. Change is difficult but worth it. I hate it and I’m not good at it. 😉 This was a good reminder for me. Thanks for sharing! And am I only six years older than you?!!! My friends from work are mostly under 30!! Crazy.
    P.s. I might be doing a yoga retreat in Costa Rica next March. I’ll keep you posted!


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