This past weekend I turned 47! I realize in my middle age, I might have some wisdom to share, and I drop some of it in today’s video — about choosing your life’s path. There are two more videos in this birthday series, so stay tuned through the rest of October… and keep scrolling down.

First, though, I want to acknowledge that every year my birthday falls on two other important days, one a celebration and the other a day of grief.

October 11 is National Coming Out Day! A day when we celebrate the courage and authenticity it takes for queer-identifying folks to choose to be their full selves out loud in the world. Big hugs to all LGBTTQQIAAP folks who are out, and even bigger hugs to those of you for whom it’s not yet safe to come out in your communities.

October 11 also usually falls nears Indigenous People’s Day, a “holiday,” also known as Columbus Day. Although I’m grateful to have a 3-day weekend for my birthday every year, I understand that this privilege comes courtesy of our country’s egregious genocide against the Native folks who were the original caretakers of this land.

For this reason, every year on my birthday, my business is going to make a donation to the Shuumi Land Tax. If you do not know about this organization, please click, read, and consider donating. It’s a small way to give back to people from whom so much has been taken.

Take a moment, if you need to (this is heavy stuff if you truly sit with it), and then read on…

I needed to spend my birthday alone this year, and I did so in my mini camper van in the Sierra Mountains. Brrrrrrr!

The morning after my first chilly night (it got into the 30s! I forgot that the mountains are COLD in October!!), I took a hike around the nearby lake. My thoughts drifted to y’all. Specifically, students who have an impulse to venture off the beaten path, but don’t know whether you’re allowed to!

Listen in to hear my reflections about how to know which academic path to follow:

So what do you think? Do you have the urge to leave the well-trodden path of academia to forge your own way? I’d love to hear more about what you’re thinking. Leave a comment below!