This is what 30 looks like to a woman named Karen Maeby.

I close my eyes to picture my life before two and a half months ago and it’s really difficult. I just remember everything turning to darkness–the color was fading like old photographs–and it felt as if I were preparing to walk into a large ditch, hoping it would be a sink hole, and I’d fall into the Bermuda Triangle for all eternity…… 

Then I became involved with the Gulfport Community Players and life has not been the same. Joining theatre was one of my last realistic dreams before I turned 30. It is like it’s opened a door to my heart and my creativity—a part that was nonexistent, a part that was hidden, a part that was so buried like deep treasure in the bottom of the ocean, and a part that had walls boarded up on every inch.

And….just like that all of the walls have come down and the chains to the anchor holding me down has been broken and there’s color and inspiration exploding everywhere. I let it down without hesitation or fear. For the first time in my life, fear is not in my vocabulary. I’m not even paying attention to the what ifs or the would-have-been anxiety feelings. It’s all gone. Poof. (Points to smoke in the air.) And, I know it’s all for the better and I know life will never, ever be the same again… and I am seriously okay with that.

I have been celebrating 30 before I turned 30 almost every single day the last two weeks.

– Our last weekend of performances was quite an event in itself– the cast party one night, getting together for late night dinners and the epic last day where I couldn’t hold my tears in. After all was said and done, there began my 24/7 creativity spiel (that has yet to end, thankfully, and hopefully won’t!) and everything else that followed.

– Thanks to a certain gentleman–that must be made out of nothing but pure magic–I have been able to enjoy myself and my life more than I ever have before. I had my introduction to The Hideaway Cafe where it was blues night followed by a great conversation in the moonlight by the water and boats, where my heart stands still and makes me calm. Then folk music the next time out where it felt as if I were a character in a movie being sung to by the karma Gods of the universe. There’s been weekends of where my house is finally getting clean and I finally have stuff up on my wall. I found a magical picture and it brings so much joy to wake up to that and its companion on my wall — because it is nothing but pure classic romance and just one photo can say so many things. Even though there’s a toldjaso lesson in this… it sure feels good this way. There was a night of returning to my favorite spot at John’s Pass and listening to my favorite guys play all of–what I would call–my favorite songs. There’s been some other nights of late night phone calls, texts, messages of any kind and lots of talking about a deep passion of mine — writing. Not to mention, taking to and regaining my appreciation of the funny moments of every day life…. something I had longed to do once again but have failed due to, well, life. As well as the true understanding of when time stands still, or fades away but to the future.

– Friday Birthday Celebration: My wonderful work family grilled steaks, picked up Carrabba’s side dishes and a chocolate cake for me to celebrate early last Friday during lunch. They joked around and teased me more than ever. One of them even said “What is this?! Another celebration for you? Didn’t you just have one???” Which later came around to my actual birthday where it was almost 90 degrees in my side of the office. Instead of putting on clothes like I normally do because it’s so cold, they were making fun of me because I was taking them off. A comment was made, “WOW. It’s so weird seeing you with just a t-shirt on.” Mmhm. Hot flashes at 30 caused nothing but teasing from there.

– I spent Christmas in July (24th&25th) blasting Christmas music and honoring a great friend, Joe Anthony, who passed away two years ago that weekend.

My “actual” 30th birthday celebration was abso-freaking-epic. There’s no other word. Although, I wish that more people had come, but I understand there’s 3000 events always going on at one time and you can’t attend them all. It was jazz night at The Hideaway Cafe. (If you’ve never been, it’s this magical little intimate place that already looks like it’s a sophisticated jazz club.) The jazz was running through my blood, my veins, my heart; and I so got lost in the music…especially after the bottom of my 2nd beer.

I can’t remember the last time where I was with a group celebrating my birthday. During intermission, they put candles on my cake, everyone sang to me, the band played the intro to one of my most favorite songs ever and people were still wishing me Happy Birthday as they were leaving. I really enjoyed having my company there with me too. (THANK YOU FOR COMING!) It was like my own Immersion Therapy– just without the clown! 

After these wonderful and amazing and I-just-can’t-get-enough-of-these days, I am really looking forward to being 30 and taking it by storm. Even-numbered birthdays are a superstition to me, because they’ve never been good, but you know what I’ve learned? The past is the past and it’s no reason to continue that to be unhappy in the future. (Whew, I bet you thought I was going to start singing that Frozen song, aye?) Life is pretty wonderful right about now!

AT 30 YEARS OLD (in no particular order)….

I have officially accomplished any reasonable goal or dream I had as a kid/teenager, which is pretty incredible when I look back at my list and see several checked off.

I am at my dream company in the industry that chose me. My co-workers are freaking amazing and my job is doing a multitude of things, so it keeps me happy.

I am on a radio show called World of Boating and I love the guys as much as the ones at work. They support my BoatShowGirl brand and habits. Always nice to have supporters!

I’ve made it as far as to working a boat show with my company, as well as being recognized as media for BSG by Show Management at the bigger international shows.

I’m a published author, although not in true print, just a few ebooks on Amazon (that will be later redone this year).

I have helped build a company, close one down, worked several positions across the board, owned my own business, and used almost all of my favorite hobbies/talents in jobs (graphic design, photography, writing, blogging, social media, etc).

I returned to theatre after 12 years and it was the best thing, ever, in this world.

I live in Florida, one of the warmest and best places with some of the best people and things to do. I am so very, very lucky.

It’s almost been a year since having adopted Eisenhower, my beautiful hermit crab. I am so lucky to have chosen him because his personality matches what you would expect to be mine. He’s also quite Piratey.

I’ve met an amazing person of whom my soul recognizes.

I have everything I’ve ever wanted and I am everything I’ve ever wanted to be at this new ripe age of 30. After going through what I’ve been through the past couple of years, it is amazing to be able to say that.

There’s so much I’m thankful for–including friends, family, my parents, the little gifts in life, offbeat humor, moments, life experiences (both bad and good)–because it’s my own journey {following my own dream’s path} that’s made me the way I am and I am just really thankful. I can’t say it enough!!

Words are coming back to me. I’m relaxed. I’m happy. I’m thankful. And, thankful for EVERYTHING and EVERYONE in my incredible life. I feel like 30 is a new, different chapter, one that will be better than the rest and a closure on the first 29 years of my life. I feel like I’m right where I am supposed to be. Everything that I had ever been worried about is gone. You know how relieved I feel? When one worries so much and it breaks you? But being picked back up again… it’s amazing, and I feel like this is totally a #winning moment.

I’ve had so much inspiration over the past couple of weeks that my brain is literally exploding with color. I’m having a hard time keeping things straight! I’m writing poetry like a photograph, a novel like poetry, and a play like a novel. Working on 4 play scripts, 7-10 of my own projects (poetry mostly) and trying to push my ‘ooooh I want to do thissssss’ back until I get done with the other projects. 

Turning 30 was absolutely epic, and I still have 2 more weeks left to celebrate… and possibly for the rest of my life. There’s no way I’d ever want to turn back now. 

~Karen Maeby