Just Frances

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So long, 30s!

This entry was posted on Thursday, February 20th, 2014 by Frances Ryan.
Tags: widowhood, scotland, sad, phd, paul, olden days, moving, happy, friends, foster kid, fear, family, faith, edinburgh, crazy, celebrations, birthday

Today is my last day of my 30s, so it seems appropriate to reflect on the decade in preparation for the start of my 40s.

I think by now most Just Frances readers will know that I experienced a lot of heartache and grief in my 30s, but that doesn’t mean it was all bad. In fact, the first half of my 30s were the most amazingly wonderful years of my life!

I was living in Scotland and celebrated my 30th birthday with Paul, who proposed later that year. By 31 I was married. In between 32 and 34 I enjoyed a series of pay raises and promotions at work and by 34 I was a home owner. By 35 I was preparing my home in America for the two beautiful children that Paul and I were meant to adopt (and enjoying even further career advancements).

Then tragedy struck and two months into 35 I was a widow. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t what my life was meant to be. It wasn’t what I’d planned for; what I’d hoped for. It was the most horrible thing that has ever happened to me. My world was shattered and I didn’t know how I could possibly recover from it.

But no matter how bleak and miserable life was, it went on. (And it’s improved since then, even if I’ve yet to reach the dizzying heights of the first half of my 30s.)

By 36 I was a foster mommy to an amazing little girl for a year. And by 37 I was accepted for a master’s programme and found myself returning to Scotland—where Paul and I had always intended to return together. I also ran my first marathon in Paul’s honour that year.

At 38 I received my Master of Letters (with distinction!) and began working with a small government funded programme.

And at 39 I started applying for PhD programmes, and later began working towards my PhD at Edinburgh Napier University.

Of course, those last five years also saw me navigating several low points as I struggled with coming to terms with widowhood, selling up my lovely belongings, saying goodbye to the home I’d purchased with Paul, a few visa glitches, and several other little hiccups that threatened to break my spirit and shatter my dreams.

But I survived them. And I did so with the help of my amazing family and friends around the world who have cheered me on.

So, here I am saying so long to my 30s. There is a part of me that is so pleased to see them gone because of all of the heartache that the decade brought. But part of me will miss my 30s because the first half of the decade was filled with more love, joy, and happiness than I ever knew was possible—and I miss that; and I want that back.

But time marches on and so must I.

Tomorrow I will be 40 years old and whilst there won’t be a birthday party, there will be friends and laughter and that’s what counts.

Oh! And it will also be my first review meeting for my PhD. So that’s something to look forward to!

[Photo note: This is the last photo of me as a 39-year-old woman. You can see the first photo here!]


I met you when I was 30 and I it really was the start of goodness in my life. I am sorry that you experienced so much pain in the second half of your 30s, especially since you were the reason for so much joy throughout mine. May your 40s be as amazing as you are. You are loved my so many people around the world who admire you for your strength and kindness. You saved me on so many occasions and I love you for that.

by Jenn at 1:47pm (GMT) on February 25th, 2014

Thank you, Jenn! I am blessed to have you in my life and I am humbled to know that I mean so much to you. You are a star! x

by Just Frances at 3:08pm (GMT) on February 25th, 2014

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