I recently turned 30 and began to reflect back on what I accomplished in my last year of my 20’s. Initially I was disappointed. I didn’t really accomplish anything. I have always been goal oriented, in both my professional and personal life. When Brian and I began dating, I handed him a typed 5 year plan for our relationship; 1: Date 2: Meet the Kids 3: Get Engaged 4: Get Married 5: Adopt. When I joined the Navy I had a 5 year plan for my career; 1: Get commissioned 2: Become a Training Officer 3: Become an Assistant Officer in Charge of a Detachment 4: Deploy 5: Become an Officer-in-charge of a Detachment. And for my nursing career; 1: Become an ER Nurse 2: Get my trauma nurse certification 3: Become a Board Certified Emergency Nurse 4: Start Nurse Practitioner school 5: Become a Charge Nurse. I have pretty much stayed on track with my plans (a few alterations here and there) and feel I have accomplished many things. But none of them were accomplished in year 29.
28 was a busy year for achievements. I graduated from Loyola University in Chicago with my Master’s as Family Emergency Nurse Practitioner. I passed my Family Nurse Practitioner Boards. I started my first Nurse Practitioner job in a community ER where I live. Brian and I got engaged. I met the kids for the first time. We did our first family vacation, including parents, siblings, nieces and nephews. I took over an Assistant Officer in Charge position of a detachment for my unit. I had the best Fit-rep review of my Navy career yet. I was on fire!
I had high hopes for 29. Brian was deployed and this was a year to really focus on myself and my achievements without feeling guilty like I was ignoring him at home. I was going to get back into running longer distances, perfect my elementary Italian, take on a bigger leadership role in my Navy unit, finally take a certification class for legal nurse consultant that I wanted to take.
I accomplished none of that. My long run still hasn’t gone above 2 miles. My Italian skills still stop at greetings and ordering food. I stepped down from my role as assistant officer in charge to focus on a leadership position I didn’t end up selected for. And I quit my part-time staff nurse job to focus on a legal nurse consulting course I still haven’t taken yet.
But what did happen:
I had more time to spend at home. I learned to appreciate my house and my surroundings. I decluttered and decided what I loved and what I didn’t so I can surround myself with joy. I read and put into practice the Konmari method on my surroundings (though I am still working on it). I also prepared for the massive remodel we are currently doing by deciding how I really wanted our home to look and function.
I became a better pet-mom. I was home to spend more time with my 4-legged kids. I got to actually ride my horses. I spent enough time working on my dog’s agility training that he finally got down how to run the weave poles. I was home to notice quickly when my cat stopped eating food and became ill because I was not constantly at work or traveling. My pets got more attention and love.
I was a better fiancé. I was able to send some awesome care packages to Brian while he was deployed (A post about this will come soon). I was able to have regular long Skype dates with Brian (Read more about this!). I was available to listen to him get homesick or tell me all the exciting things he was doing overseas. We got to spend time planning some amazing trips to Europe for his two 96 hour leaves. I was able to take a month off to spend with him before he deployed. I was able to meet him at the airport when he got home from deployment.
I got my budget under control. I ramped up my Dave Ramsey pod cast listening. I used the EveryDollar budget tool. I paid off $16,000 in debt while Brian worked just as hard paying off his debt (read our post about becoming debt-free on deployment). I spent more time at home trying not to spend money. I found creative ways to cut my budget, like cooking at home, growing some of my own vegetables, utilizing my library, participating in free events in the community.
I got in better health. I didn’t go out to eat as often so I was forced to learn to cook, which is significantly healthier. I improved my neck and back pain dramatically by swapping my weekly yoga class for doing Yoga with Adriene on YouTube (which is available every day, in my house, for free allowing me to work out more frequently). I had time to run with my dog, though we still haven’t gone more than 2 miles at a time. I improved my PFT scores from Good to Excellent. A far cry from how athletic I was in high school and college, I am in better shape than the past few years. I learned the healing properties of my herb garden and began making healing teas. I started taking vitamins and supplements regularly. I had time for a daily skin care routine and even flossing.
I spent more time with my friends and family. I had lost touch with some good friends over the years in grad school. I had no time to socialize, in person or virtually. I was able to make some phone calls, send some Facebook messages, go to dinner every once in a while. I was able to reconnect with those who were so supportive and understanding when I was up all day at class and working all night at the hospital and forgetting to respond to their texts. I was able to go to more events I was invited to, like a First Communion party and a high school football game and an Ice Festival a few towns away. I was able to take a newly-single friend out to celebrate the purchase of their first home. I was able to see friends who were in town visiting. And I was able to participate in spontaneous gatherings of friends who just wanted to have fun. I was able to make it for some family functions, like birthdays and holidays and random visits.
I was able to be there for people who needed me. I was available to help when my friend’s teenager was having a bad bought with depression. I was able to help my co-workers out when they desperately needed a day off. I was available to help my friend through her baby’s first time being sick. I was able to support a friend through a rough divorce. I donated blood 3 times during the year to help those in my community. I was able to start this blog for those of you who are in dual-military relationships.
I became a better Naval officer. I wasn’t in the leadership position I had wanted to be. Though I had the time to focus on being successful in the position I was currently in. I ended up receiving an award for some of the work I was able to help my sailors facilitate. I was able to guide junior sailors who wanted career advice and help mentor future leaders. I was able to advocate for my shipmates and listen to venting of others about life stress.
I became a more active Christian. I started attending church more regularly because I was not traveling or working every Sunday. I officially joined a local Catholic parish. I learned about tithing. I donated items I didn’t have use for anymore. I actually prayed for those who I sent “Keeping you in my prayers” messages on Facebook. I learned to appreciate how truly blessed I am.
As I look forward to into my first year in my 30’s and begin to think about the large goals ahead, I cannot lose sight of everything I learned last year. Though it appears on the surface that I didn’t achieve as much as I had in previous years, I believe 29 was one of my best years yet. I didn’t get a huge promotion or take a big life step. I simply became a better person to myself and those around me by being more present. Though I still have many things I strive to improve on, year 29 taught me that the most important things in life are my family, friends and health. I hope that year 30 is just as successful.