*8 Things for Your Thirties


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With just a few months left in my 30’s I’m nearly out of the last decade of what can reasonable considered my youth.  I’m too close to those years to be a good historian, so I can’t offer advice what not to miss during the years that start with “3.” But I can give *8 Things that Marked my Third Decade.

1. Childrearing. This was the decade of heavy-duty kid ranching. Eden and Cate made it through their first decade or so while I conquered my third. I have to say, I timed it pretty well. Late 20’s is not a bad time to have a baby, and I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to wait too far into my 30’s. I needed the energy of my relative youth to get me through the toddler years.

2. Learning to Love Teens. If you had asked me to mentor teenagers when I was 20 I would have thrown a book at your head. I was just too close to my own youth to want to submerge myself into that turbulence. But once I got part of my 30’s under my belt, the extra distance gave me a fierce love for young people in the “coming of age” process. I was surprised to find myself living with a teenager-adopted-by-affection, and gathering more bright young souls into my heart. Now a conversation with one of my young friends is one of the most sustaining things that can happen to me. Who would have thunk?

3. Professional Suicide. In my 30’s I worked hard to get ordained, and then promptly left organized religion. I shot an up-and-coming career in the foot in order to write honestly about faith, doubt, and intuitive spirituality. Know what? I don’t regret it.

4. The Disintegrating Body. For some reason I thought that if I made it through my teens without any major health issues – no allergies, no asthma, etc – that I would be healthy for the rest of my life. I don’t know why I didn’t realize that our bodies slowly unravel in the second half of life. After childrearing, the main task of my thirties has been learning to manage chronic pain. Bummer.

5. Embracing My Shadow Self. In these waning years of 30-something I’ve found myself saying goodbye to being good. Being good is severely overrated. Two years ago my friend Amelia inspired me to take on bad habits for my New Year’s Resolution. Changed. My. Life. I’ll tell you about it sometime.

6. Do Less. This has been major theme for me in my 30’s. America is too fast. Patriarchy teaches you shitty things about achievement. More is not more. The more I cut back, the more I realize I can cut. It feels SO good to be more obligation-free.

7. Artist-Writer. A few years ago, even though it made no financial sense, I rented a studio. About the same time I read Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art. The combination of the two helped me adopt a new identity as a professional writer and newbie artist. Bliss!

8. Reimagining & Becoming. When I was in my early 30’s, I was complaining to Barbara Henderson about my confusion over what to do with my life. She said, “Rachelle, the thing is, you have a good engine. You just need to figure out what kind of car you want to put it in.” I remember replying, “Barb! I thought I’d have that shit figured out by now!” (It’s always good to swear in front of a former nun.) She just laughed. The thing is, you keep reinventing yourself with every age and stage. It’s called becoming. Who knew?

What *8 Things do you think should happen in your 30’s? What *8 Things are defining your third decade now? Grab a button and blog along, or put your *8 in the comments below. Cheers!

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tinkerbell the bipolar faery April 3, 2009 at 8:22 am

I just left my 30s. Spend that decade doing many of those things … ‘cept I’d finished pushing out my babies by age 21. [*whew!*] Not really sure where my 30s went to … I guess the kids got that decade … and my nursing career. The only thing I would have to add is that most people spend their 30s feverishly working away … work, work, work. And they miss their kids growing up. They only grow up once … so, like, don’t miss it!

Interesting list.

maggie April 3, 2009 at 8:40 pm

I’m in the evening years of my thirties and really coming to grip with it. This is going to be my weekend therapy, (that and a glass of red wine). Can’t wait to narrow it down to eight.

Bethany April 3, 2009 at 9:01 pm

Do tell more about the bad habits resolution — I’m intrigued!

Nerdy Renegade April 5, 2009 at 1:03 am

Oh, this is a great list!

I can ‘ditto’ most of these :-)

Now, at 41, I’m embracing a whole new decade of changes and liberation. The current trajectory started when I was about 35 and it’s been *really* interesting to watch it all play out in my life :-0

For me, I would add:
~speaking my truths (after I find them, that is!)

~ditching the ‘shoulds’

~owning my ‘stuff’ and letting other people own theirs

~awakening to the ancient, gaping feminine wound that we’ve been subjected to over the past thousands of years and starting my attempts at doing something about it

Thanks for this post :-)

And your brave, creative, unique, soul-filled presence.

amy April 5, 2009 at 7:44 pm

Yeah, I want to hear about the bad habits resolution, too. I’ll have to check out The War of Art

Funky Grampa April 5, 2009 at 9:46 pm

I think you got it about right. I’m coming to the end of my seventies. The becoming never stops and ain’t that grand.

Kel April 6, 2009 at 11:45 am

oh, I can relate to #3
establish a career in organised religion
then turn your back on it
because to stay means living a lie

perhaps the late 30’s are when we become willing to live authentically?

Pamela April 7, 2009 at 4:46 pm

I would love to express my thanks to you for inspiring me by giving you the Lemonade Award. You can collect it at my blog.

P.S. I’m finally catching up on your Soultribe posts!

Bethany April 8, 2009 at 6:02 pm


I’ve been reading your blog for a long time and so many of your reflections and things you’ve shared have been meaningful to me. Thank you for pushing me in directions of new growth and living out of my authentic self.

I too want to hear more about embracing your shadow self. I am starting to leave behind being a “good girl” but it sounds better in theory (or in someone else’s stories) than in my own life. I guess you’re never too old to learn about consequences. Is that what I need? To deal head on with consequences?

Rachelle April 10, 2009 at 8:42 pm

I do want to write about embracing my shadow self, but I’m still trying to suss out which stories are for public aring. The topic won’t let me go though, so I’m sure it will show up eventually. Hang with me….

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