Ann's News

Turning Forty: Good at Life

I jumped out of plane today—crossing skydiving, the final item off my “someday I will” list. It was absolutely exhilarating! This wasn’t a bucket list I sat down and put together. No, this was a list that began as a youngster and expanded over the years—a list of things that interested me, of curiosities, passions, and cool stuff I wanted to do, try, or experience.

Become a Marine (age 17), get a tattoo (age 18), learn to drive manual/stick shift (age 19), become an Officer (age 22), ride a motorcycle (age 24 I owned a motorcycle on Okinawa), start a business(es) (age 27), compete in bodybuilding (age 34), get a college degree (age 35), publish a book (age 35), camp/be outdoors (age 38), travel (most of my adult life), fishing (38), do standup comedy (39), skydive (on my 40th bday).

I’ve traveled to 39 countries, drove across Canada, the U.S. (a few times), have lived overseas and many States, have pursued all of my dreams (mostly failed), have mountain biked and hiked the most incredible places in North America and parts of Europe, have been snorkeling, scuba diving, wind surfing, kayaking, paragliding, white water rafting, rappelling, zip lining, canyoneering, and sky diving.

If I could step in a time machine and go talk to my younger self, I would go tell her to put a helluva lot more on the list (learn a 3rd language, play an instrument, etc.) I’ve been trying to put together a new list that means as much to me as that list embedded on my heart and soul from my youth and growing up, but it’s not working, it’s not the same. I can’t seem to commit or get attached to it the same way.

The current list is something like this: Trek in Nepal, van life it around New Zealand, climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, learn to kite surf (have taken one lesson), go up in a hot air balloon, hike the Pacific Crest Trail, keep the number of countries I’ve visited the same as my age, so I have 50 countries by 50, and publish The Hijacked Holiday.

But I’m not sure I think a list matters anymore…or is needed.

Anyone who says “your 40s are the new 30s” is someone who hasn’t lived their 30s.

I turned 30 in Northern VA with my dad and business partners. I was in the middle of working on Why Go Solo. I was pursuing my entrepreneurial dreams—filled with passion, drive, and ambition. I lost it all and gained something entirely different—I both spectacularly failed and marvelously won in the last decade.

There isn’t much left of that 30 year old version of myself these days and that’s a good thing. She was entirely too stubborn, egotistical, and driven by proving herself. I’m not at all where I thought I would be and I couldn’t have planned being where I am…yet, I’ve crossed everything off my list. I credit it all to giving my life to the Lord.

Too many people wake up and realize there is so much they haven’t done or they feel their lives have been big lies because they were following what society, family, and friends wanted them to be and do, instead of what they needed, wanted, and desired.  

Well, I’ve been living the life I wanted. I’ve accepted and held myself accountable for every decisions and outcome. I grasp and leverage the control I have over my actions, words, thoughts, feelings, and decisions.

Sure, I haven’t achieved anything I consider noteworthy professionally or personally. However, I do think I’ve been kicking ass at simply living…and how many people have that claim on their resume?

I’ve never allowed fear to stop me. I’ve spent the last 39 years just going for it. It’s ironic the last thing I did on my list was literally jump out of plane, since I’ve been spending my life figuratively jumping out of plans…mostly without a parachute.  

Other irony is that while I keep seeking thrills, I’m in fact very mellow about life now…I fail to see the point in chasing anything. I’ve mastered the art of letting things come to me and taking actions when they do.

You don’t need to be in control of circumstances and outcomes, only of yourself.

That’s my wisdom and words of advice for you. That…and when you know God is ultimately in charge, it’s pointless to stress, worry, or plan too much.

As for the next decade and forty years of my life…I don’t doubt exciting opportunities will come my way based on my thoughts, needs, desires, and God’ plan—when they do, I’ll maximize everything they have to offer. That’s what someone good at life. Does.