The New 30 Before 30

On December 3rd, 2015, I will turn 30-years-old.

A long time ago, about when I was in the midst of my quarter-life crisis, I thought I was running out of time, butting up against a deadline to finish so many significant things before seeing the last digit of my age reset to “0.” (For further readings on this topic, please feel free to browse the archives from 2008 through about 2013.)

Oh, Past Ardith. You’re adorable.

Time changes things. In my case, I’ve loosened up those timelines. The anxiety of not living up to outsiders’ preconceived notions of what I needed to have done and when is greatly diminished. I feel less frantic and more calm. I’m still future-oriented, but in a different way.

When I was 23, though, I took some sort of advice I read somewhere and made a “bucket list” for my twenties, the “30 Before 30” list. It had some wishes, many involving travel, and my original list expected me to be married somewhere between the ages of 28 and 30.

Ohh, Past Ardith. Seriously so cute.

Life–as it tends to do–happened, though. I went back to school. I dated (“dated?”) boys who were perfectly wrong for me. I moved cities. I met new people. I read new things. I wrote more. I wrote less. I traveled places. I accumulated more debt. I failed repeatedly at budgeting. I finally found a budgeting tool that worked. I changed jobs. I changed industries. I changed lives. I found my mode of fitness. I met someone amazing. I grew new relationships and maintained old ones.

Somewhere along the line, the deadline for my 30 Before 30 was extended. Some of the projects lost their luster or immediateness. Somewhere along the line, I relaxed, and started to truly enjoy the ride.

I never gave up on my original 30 Before 30 list. I just came to terms with the fact that there’s not really anything on there that won’t be more beautiful if/when it happens in its own time.

Here’s the list as it stood as of its last revision.

Now, with 30 actually looming, I feel like removing the completed items and striking out items that don’t hold the same weight as they did when I crafted this list at the age of 23.

2. Visit the Italian town my Italian ancestors are from (Monastero di Lanzo)
3. Visit Australia and New Zealand
4. Visit Kauai, Hawai’i
5. Learn to swim
6. Learn to ride a bike
8. Learn more Spanish and Tagalog 
9. Meet my cousins and family in the Philippines
12. Travel to the Oregon Coast again
13. Get my CrossFit Level 1 Certificate
16. Visit Iceland*
30. Have the BEST 30th birthday celebration w/ my closest friends somewhere far away*

These are the hopes and wishes I would like to keep. Don’t laugh too hard at #5 and #6, please. But also keep in mind that they’ve been on the list for over seven years now, so some laughter is appropriate.

I had an extra item that, arguably, was the most important to me when I revised my list a few years ago:

“31. Meet someone amazing and give the relationship 100%.”

Happy to say that one is still in-progress, because giving a relationship 100% isn’t a one-time thing.

*And guess what? #16 and #30 are currently happening right now, with the subject of #31 also along for the ride.

And there you have it. I’ve culled the list a bit and kept the things I want to do someday. No deadline. It feels better that way.

Naturally, there’s more that could be added. Pay off debts. Read and write more. Travel to many more places (poor John knows this–every day elicits at least two new, “Ooh! We have to go there!” comments from me). Continue my fitness journey. Things like that, along with other hopes and dreams that I’d like to keep closer to the heart now, instead of pasting them across the blogosphere.

Living life as if it’s just one big “To Do” list doesn’t seem genuine for me, and I look forward to this next decade and beyond.

I share this all, too, because it feels so trivial to worry about “getting older” when the globe seems to be on the verge of another world war. The vitriol towards so many and the unthinkable acts of violence around the world are too much for me to process, and I am just one unremarkable human who doesn’t know where to start other than within. All I can do is live and love and get behind those who speak up for the beliefs which resonate with mine. 

I am on the verge of 30, and I have led a life of relative comfort and privilege. As such, I led a life plagued by feelings of inadequacy in the realms of romance, finance, looks, fitness, and adventure. I am more than okay with leaving those feelings behind, associated with the “20-something” version of myself.

I hope that as I continue to grow, that I find balance in my personal endeavors and that of doing good. I hope that these worldly adventures continue to widen my perspective. And I hope that I have learned to be resilient enough that my feelings don’t hamper my ability to actually take action in the areas where I think it matters. That goes for myself, my community, and the issues that know no borders.

Here’s to turning 30, to making meaning, to living love, to seeing the world, and to (hopefully) becoming wiser.


There Are Some Evenings

There are some evenings where I cannot find the words to capture my own thoughts and feelings. There are some evenings where my current state consists of confusion and calm, happiness and anxiety, love and the fear of being alone. There are some evenings where transitions catch up with me and keep me up, contemplating things for which I have no words.

There are some evenings when all I know is that what I want does not exist in my own words yet, but there are those who have already captured it in theirs.

So tonight, here is a Pablo Neruda poem. Linger with these words for just a bit, okay?

I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as one loves certain obscure things,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom but carries
the light of those flowers, hidden, within itself,
and thanks to your love the tight aroma that arose
from the earth lives dimly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you directly without problems or pride:
I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love,
except in this form in which I am not nor are you,

so close that your hand upon my chest is mine,
so close that your eyes close with my dreams.

Goodnight, friends.

This Grand Adventure

Hiking at Coldwater Lake near Mt. St. Helens

Sometimes, the journey is difficult, with uphill climbs that test your endurance and patience.

Sometimes, the weather doesn’t cooperate, and you have to be confident that blue skies are always overhead.

Sometimes, you don’t know what to expect, and you can either fear that or embrace it.

Sometimes, when you reach the peak, you are greeted with laughter and relief and an understanding that you made it through all the challenges just to reach something amazing, even if it was unknown or seemingly impossible.

Even when the going gets tough, I just need to keep on pushing onward.



Life is by far not perfect, but incredible things have happened over the past few months.

I’ll be bold and say, at the very least, the uncertainty and the chases in my journey are more exciting than “happily ever after.”

The Path I’ve Forged

I started to count the boxes today, the boxes that hold all my belongings and a good portion of my life. Most of the boxes are filled with books and kitchen supplies. I can’t wait to unpack my books; there is a set I put aside for the specific purpose of decorating my new office.

I also started to think about how this has all happened so quickly. One minute, I was making an off-hand comment to the Universe, wondering, “When will the winds change?” By that following morning, I had two interviews lined up. And several weeks later, I had an offer to cross back over the bridge into the professional world.

Every now and then, I feel a little start of envy. I see photo albums from faraway lands I still haven’t reached. I hear about the interviews others are getting in faraway corners of the country–and the world. I see their diamond rings and their pretty houses.

But unlike before, the tiny voice that nags me, wondering when I’ll get there, remains silent. Instead, a new voice speaks up:

“I am right where I am supposed to be.”

Portland, here I come. Clark College, here I come.

World, brace yourself. I have arrived.

I’ve Been Captured!

I mustache you a question...
but I'm shaving it for later.

Tonight marks the end of my last official spring break (at least in the foreseeable future.) Even with the daunting task of polishing and tweaking this site and my portfolio, as well as crafting my sequence and set-up for my defense in less than two weeks, I found time to take care of myself.

I rested–which was especially necessary since I managed to get sick yet again.
I read some books, just for fun.
I read my textbook for my Academic Advising (AHE 599) elective.
I spent quality time with my mom.
I refined several sections on the portfolio.
I began designing the most important presentation slideshow I’ve ever needed to design (complete with soundtrack).
I slept in.
I took a road trip with my best friend.
I saw people I hadn’t seen in way too long.
I danced.
I laughed.
I wrote.
I even found time for contemplation.

This was a time to renew and to look forward. It was a time to work hard and then tend to my recreation and socialization to keep my extroverted self happy. Spring Break 2012 was the kind of break I needed right before I make the switch from full-time student to full-time professional.

Even though, by all means, I should be stressed-out because of the transition, the move, and my defense, I find myself settled and happy. I have listened to myself much better than before, signifying that I have learned, in the past two or so years, more about who I am and what I need to succeed.

On that note, it’s time to get ready for bed and ponder how to translate this into a teachable story for future students. 🙂

*”I’ve been captured!” is a tip of the hat to an Eddie Izzard’s stand-up bit about Doctor Who and the Daleks. It might have been quoted more often than socially necessary over break.

Adjusting My Sails

A smooth sea never made a skilled mariner. – English proverb

I asked, in a rhetorical Tweet the other week, “Are the winds changing yet?”

By the end of the day the next day, coincidentally, I had scheduled two job interviews. Both were for jobs that I, for lack of better words, really would like to land. Two very different institutions, one very wonderful metro area, and so far, two workplaces staffed with great people.

Now that I have broken through my first set of student affairs job interviews, I am even more anxious to see what lies ahead. I have talked at length with some of my students about both the positions I’ve interviewed for, and they are excited for me–although in some cases, they are still trying to convince me to stay at OSU so I can help them through their entire college career!

If I paid no attention to what I have learned over the past couple of years, I would be fighting the wind, trying to–by any means possible–land my boat on a preconceived point, a place where I’ve told myself is paradise, absolutely perfect, and exactly what I need and want. But I know now that this journey isn’t that simple. A change in the breeze can lift the fog in the distance, and if I let the wind suggest a new destination, maybe I will find something beyond my wildest dreams.

At the Speed of Light

A blog post in bullet points…

  • Internship approval forms have both come in for my UWI and WVC internships.
  • Putting the final touches on the big end-of-the-year BBQ for next Friday.
  • I was nominated for the Black Belt of Caring award; I didn’t win, but what an honor and a surprise.
  • One of my favorite people is coming to visit me this weekend, and we’re going to see one of my favorite bands on Friday.
  • Then it’s up to PDX to putter around and hopefully see a few more great people. One in particular.
  • The summer is also shaping up to be fun. Besides Trinidad, Chicago and Ocean Shores are on my plate, as well as a great chance of visiting a whole bunch of people in California.

This year is not really winding down–it’s blowing open a whole bunch of new doors.

End of the Year Banquet... just as things pick up


I’m interning for a short period of time at the University of the West Indies at St. Augustine! I bought my plane tickets the other night, and since this is an internship that came about through a lunchtime chat with a friend, I’m still kind of not fully comprehending that I’m going.

Also, on my way back to the States, I will be making a very short trip into Chicago, IL. Yes, I am going to the Britney Spears and Nicki Minaj tour stop on July 8th. And yes, I have confirmation that The Pirate King will be rejoining me for another installation of “Travel and Stuff.” If you’re not familiar with TPK, he was my travel buddy for a good portion of my Euro-trip last year.

Also also, I will be in desperate need of work between late-July/early August and mid-September. Ack.

But I’m not going to worry about that piece right now.