Marking milestones and wondering what’s next

Managing Editor
Mandy has been with ABC Newspapers since 2007, when she joined the staff as the editor of the Anoka County Union. She has been the managing editor of the UnionHerald and Blaine Spring Lake Park Life since 2014.

It has been a season of milestones and I have learned they have a way of creeping – and piling – up on you.

My husband and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary this spring. Then I marked that same decade at my job last month.

Even though more often than not I still feel like a transplant here in Minnesota, this is the longest I have lived and worked anywhere.

Not that I am a job hopper, but quite the opposite. When it comes to work I am a creature of habit. I was seven years at the paper I wrote for before relocating to Minnesota. And I worked at the same restaurant and bar, off and on, from the time I was 14 until I was 29.

I crossed another major threshold this week and entered my 40s.

This is not a lament about getting old. As my friend and Anoka County Historical Society Executive Director Rebecca Ebnet Mavencamp recently said on a milestone birthday of her own, there is only one alternative to aging. And it’s not very appealing.

I get that there comes a time when aging can be disappointing or frustrating when you are not able to do the things you once could, or enjoy. But I’m not there yet. So far I’ve only lost my ability to stay up really late.

I am fascinated by the amount of personal and circumstantial change we go through decade by decade.

My 20s are blurry, and not just from the early adulthood imbibing.

It was a time of nearly constant transition between school, work and moving from one rental place to the next. There was also a lot of angst about what to do with my life: where to live, where to work, what risks to take.

I can recall at the age of 25 feeling really out of sorts. Soon after I made some big changes that included prioritizing my health and settling down a little bit. Despite some significant family turmoil, the next few years included dating and getting engaged to my husband, packing up and moving to Minnesota and getting married.

Those moves didn’t feel risky or brave at the time, but looking back now I think that they were. I am proud of that girl.

My 30s were about making adjustments and digging in. I spent that entire decade in the same newsroom, but growing in my role.

Six years ago I became a mom, no doubt the biggest life-change to date. At the time, I questioned whether that really was the best choice for me, but I did it anyway. I’m proud of that girl too.

That little boy has been a far bigger source of education about myself, my life and the world than I ever could have imagined.

I’m excited for what is to come in this next decade.

I suspect the stakes will be higher and there will be more highs and heartaches. Some will be predictable, others blindsiding.

I have a lot of friends who started their families much earlier and are now sending kids off to college and facing empty nests. That is not my reality.

Instead, I anticipate this decade will be a messy mix of things.

We’re already facing the challenges of raising a young child while navigating a new landscape of aging parents with failing health.

I am looking forward to putting the strengths I have cultivated with age to work. I’m finding it easier to prioritize my time, energy and money. I’m saying “no” more often to things that don’t serve me, my family or my work in a way that is consistent with my values.

I’m making plans for more writing, more biking, more community involvement and more family adventures. I can’t wait to see what kind of young man my son grows into.

I started this next great decade surrounded by people I love. I hope I can say the same thing 10 years from now. You can’t ask for much more than that.

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