Happy Birthday to My Niece and Nephew!!!

One of the hardships that I face living in Africa is being away from my family.  March is especially hard because it’s the birthday month for both my niece and nephew.  Every year, my sister and brother-in-law throw a large party with family and friends to celebrate both kids’ birthdays.  (I know when they get older, though, the kids will probably want their own birthdays celebrated separately, but for now since they’re still young, everyone comes together for a big combined Happy Birthday extravaganza.)  This year, I put together a little Happy Birthday video with the help of my Peace Corps The Gambia friends and some Gambian children.  Enjoy!

Happy Birthday Megan and Cameron!  Uncle Ryan misses you!

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Let my 4th decade begin…

Today, I hit a milestone.  Today I turned 30.  The big THREE-ZERO!  Eeeeekkk!  To some people, thirty is just a number, and to me, for the most part, it’s just a number as well.  But there needs to be something said about hitting your fourth decade of life.

At 10, I hardly remember what I was doing.  Let me think a bit… I have to calculate this… at 10, I was finishing up 4th grade and moving on to 5th grade.  At 10, I was still walking to school on my own, but was still not allowed to go to the local park on my own.  At 10, my studiousness kicked in high gear (some might call this the beginning of my “nerdom”).  At 10, I was still hating salads and all foods green and healthy.

At 20, I had graduated high school 2 years prior, and now I was in the middle of my college years.  At 20, I was still trying to figure out what to do with my life, trying to figure out whether or not to switch majors, and trying to land a summer internship to put into my resume.  At 20, Sept 11 had already happened, and society had entered the “War on Terror” period.

My 20s in general, however, was a very busy busy time.   Thinking back, a lot more has happened in these last 10 years that I could ever have imagined.  Living in Australia for a year during college.  Graduating college with a great job lined up right after graduation (something many of today’s college grads struggle with).  My sister getting married and me becoming an uncle of 2 wonderful kids.  Several friends getting married and some now with kids.  Traveling to many MANY places, both in the United States and abroad, and now able to say that I’ve been to all 7 continents!  Completing 3 triathlons, 4 full marathons, and at least 2 dozen half marathons and other running races.  And finally… FINALLY… being able to enjoy my life and appreciate it for what it is, rather than what other people think it should be.  I really enjoyed my 20s, and even though it had lots of ups and downs (and I’ve intentionally highlighted only the ups and neglected to mention any of the downs, since, well, it’s my birthday and I can do that), I’m really surprised (in a good way) how it turned out.

And now, I’m 30.  I feel that there is still so much more to life.  There is still so much possibility, and I feel that my life still has so much potential!  I feel like 30 is going to be a whole new life for me, and it’s going to be very different from anything prior.  I need to backtrack and say that quitting my job last year was been one of the best things that I did.  It gave me time to relax, to de-stress, to really live and savor each moment.  It also helped me realize that I really wanted a career change.  (Aside: you might argue that I’m back at square one since I was trying to find a career back at 20, and it’s true that I was and am again doing the same thing, but at least right now, I know what I want and what I don’t want in my life.)   Moving to Africa is the start of that change.  I’ve begun a new decade of my life, but my new life starts in 26 days when I leave for The Gambia.  I can’t wait!  Let my 4th decade begin…