My last week as a thirtysomething took place in Yellowstone National Park.  I’d never been before, and spent each day staring out the car window in awe, squealing “this is so beautiful!” over–andoverandover–again.  (My poor family.  They were trapped in the car with no exit strategy.)  But really, it was breathtaking:  the mountains, the waterfalls, the open fields, the endless trees, the wildlife.  Oh, the wildlife.  This little guy was my favorite.


I think he turned his back on me because he knew I was turning forty.  Men.

And then there were the geysers and hot springs, which showed an entirely different side of nature.  Just look at that; it’s like three isolated terrains crashed into each other to make the most beautiful and interesting scene imaginable.  I couldn’t get enough of it.  Such beauty, such diversity, such peace–all at once.  Taking in that view, I felt contentment wash over me with the warmth of the Wyoming sun.  I was just so happy to be here, on this day and in this place and with those I love most.  It didn’t matter if I was forty or fourteen; the point was, I got to come!  By some stroke of luck I’d arrived at this place in particular and this life in general and I just couldn’t believe my good fortune.  And somehow, just then, getting older started to make sense to me.  Because I was finally able to put into words what I’ve been feeling for some time:  my life is becoming less about Me and more about What’s Around Me.  And it is awesome.



They say the sky’s bigger in Montana, and my faithfuls, it is.  (No really–it is.  Don’t ask me how this works.)  See, I’ve spent my life thinking that the sky hung at the same height everywhere, but last week I learned that I’ve had the sky all wrong.  Seen from a new perspective, I witnessed an expanse of horizon that made yesterday’s sky look like a postcard.  This new sky of mine is mammoth and magnificent; a ceiling for the ages.



And so it is with getting older.  For years now and while I wasn’t looking, that narrow sky of my youth–blue and pretty as it was–has quietly spread into a vastness of purples and pinks and golds.  It has evolved from pretty to spectacular.  I am old enough to have experienced things and young enough to experience many more, and so satisfaction and anticipation greet me at this age, hand-in-hand.  I can feel my motivations shifting from what I can accomplish to what I can contribute, and I find myself worrying less about what others think and more about how others feel.  And despite what you’ve heard, I can say with authority that that delicious sense of possibility–remember it from your teens?–still exists in adulthood.  It just turns inside out.  I don’t wonder so much about what possibilities lay in wait for me; I wonder about what possibilities lie within me.  That mantra of the young adult–“What can I do?”–becomes, for a (real) adult, “What can I be?”  And I’m realizing–a little late, probably–that nobody, not a single person on the planet, is responsible for what I can become except me.  It’s comforting.  It’s terrifying.  It’s fascinating.  It’s forty.

I’m forty.

And I’m just so happy to be here.

For Sale By Owner

This little beauty goes to the highest bidder.


For I will no longer be requiring its services.

The sun rises, the sun sets, and all things come full circle.  Like sands through the hourglass, so are the Days of My Scouting Career.  My friends and fellow faithfuls:  it is over.  Just like that.  No fawning or fanfare, no tearful goodbyes.  Three years of selfless service, and without so much as a Watermelon Applause (you know the one where you spit at the end?) they’ve stripped me of my rank and kicked me out the Den Meeting Door.  (We’ll see.  You think I’m above crashing the next Pack Meeting?  I’ll be the hoodied stranger in the back with a whoopie cushion and silly string.  Nobody puts Jenny in the corner.)

But in the meantime, I need to sell this shirt.

And if you’re not impressed already, consider the detailed patchwork upon each sleeve.  Peeled and stuck on by hand, no less.  (True to the scout motto, I always Do My Best.)


I don’t mean to brag, but do you see what that circular patch says?  Pack Committee Chair.  As in, Chairwoman.  As in, The Boss.  Yeah baby.


And if 173 isn’t exactly your troop number, don’t worry; a fat green sharpie will work miracles.  As will squirt guns and ho-hos anytime you haven’t planned an activity.  Not that I would know.

Consider one final feature before you make your decision:  the vented tails.


Look a little closer.


Do you know what these little vents are for?  To wear the shirt untucked.  I am not kidding.  I thought I was gloriously rebelling against tucking in the shirt until another leader mentioned that the shirt was designed with the vents to provide more comfort when moving around, since a woman’s scout shirt isn’t meant to be tucked in.

Are you listening, husband? The shirt isn’t meant to be tucked in!  That little slice of info has rocked our marriage, but Derrick stands firm in his dogmatic Tuck-In Policy.  As with all matters of import in our marriage, I have flatly ignored him.  But now that I have the BSA’s tailors on my side, I’d say that untucking the shirt is practically written in the law of the pack.

And as such, I solemnly relinquish this shirt, with all its accompanying responsibilities and privileges, to the next Cub Scout Committee Chairperson of Blue Mountain Council Troop 173.  May you wear it wisely; may you wear it well.  And, oh yeah, I’m charging forty bucks for it.  (I got it for thirty, but need to adjust for the cost of patches and labor.  Not to mention the character that was built while wearing it.)  Enjoy the status, enjoy the vents. Cash only, please.