I turned 35 last week and pretty much had the greatest birthday ever. I spent time with my family, shared drinks with good friends, and hit the road with Elle and Matt to Savannah, my birthday destination. Through a poorly timed blustery and rainy Nor’easter, my celebration lasted for five days, landed me in three cities, left me sleeping in two hotels, and taught me one very valuable lesson: LIFE IS GOOD.
Of course, every birthday ends with thoughts on how I can make the next year of my life even better. Then I realized it’s not about my life becoming better or even more enjoyable. My life is already enjoyable; I just need to enjoy it. And because I am such a huge fan of checklists (if anything, they keep me focused and help me to feel accomplished as I check things off as COMPLETE!), I decided to put together a list of things I would like to do before my next birthday.
Some of these are things I can do so easily but don’t make the time. Other things on this list are meant to stare me in the face, to get me motivated to push myself past my comfort zone and hopefully land me in another state of mind, hopefully one of mental bliss, because I did it. Sounds so simple, doesn’t it? It probably is.
36 Before 36 (updated 11/20/2012 – items in italics were accomplished!)
- Get a job that makes me happy (even if it takes a few tries)
- Focus on school work instead of the fact that I’m still in school: I will begin working on my B.A. in Liberal Arts at University of Oklahoma this fall.
- Organize my entire postcard collection
- Watch the sunrise at the beach: Good Friday, April 6th – and Matt proposed to me.
- Sell my entire Strawberry Shortcake collection of dolls and collectibles on Ebay
- Be debt-free (even if only for a short time)
- get married: We did it! Matt and I were married in Yulee, Florida on June 21st, 2012!!!!!
- Close the 1,100 mile gap between myself and this wonderful man I know: we’re working on that – read about it here
- Meet Sarah Vowell: This never happened as I wasn’t able to make it to her appearance at University of Florida in early April. I did, however, spend the following evening seeing King Corn at the University of North Florida and having a lively discussion about the future of food with one of the film’s co-creators, Curt Ellis (and he spoke directly to me after the show!).
- Learn to accept myself as everyone else already has (for better or for worse)
- Chaperone at least one field trip with my daughter’s class: I don’t know that this exact thing will take place, but I have been a frequent lunchtime mom by visiting Elle in school and having lunch with her and her friends. The kids love it! And it’s probably less intimidating than a field trip (of which her 4th grade class had NONE this year).
- Take her on a vacation, just the two of us: A one-day adventure in downtown Indianapolis!
- Take some lessons from my daughter in free spiritedness: I may be too high-strung to be a free spirit, but there is not doubt that I’ve had a few moments of free spiritedness because of my daughter. Thanks, kiddo, for keeping me young!
- Visit Oklahoma: Thanksgiving 2011. Best idea EVER!
- Visit Indianapolis: Gen Con 2012 for four days!
- Visit Wichita Mountain National Wildlife Refuge
- See a buffalo in the wild
- Learn how to change a flat tire: 11/08/2011, checked off as DONE!
- Stop being so afraid of my computer as it will not burst into flames. Or will it…?:
My new laptop, not even in my possession for an entire month at this point, decided to up and get a nasty Trojan virus (System Check, anyone? It’s total BALLS to get rid of) and because most things I know and love only exist in Internet-Land, I had to fix this. While I will admit that I was somewhat fearful of hitting the “Full Scan” button – or any button, for that matter – I did it. And I successfully wiped that bitch out…for now. Matt guided me along the way from a distance of 1,100 miles (thanks to a second home laptop and Internet-Land) but still, I DID IT. Feels good to not be so intimidated by a computer…
- Write something really, really good and submit it for publication. If I’m rejected, submit it somewhere else.
- Read one new book every month
November: Everything I Need to Know I Learned From Dungeons & Dragons by Shelly Mazzanoble, Loose Girl by Kerry Cohen
December: Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser
January: The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball
February: I overextended myself this month. On top of schoolwork, I started on three books that I never finished (one of which I’m furiously trying to complete – stay tuned!) – Small Wonder by Barbara Kingsolver, The Animal Manifesto by Marc Bekoff, and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle also by Barbara Kingsolver. AVM is the only one I’m really working on, hopefully to finish in the coming weeks.
March: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.
April: The American Way of Eating by Tracie McMillan
May: Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell and The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan
June: Devil in the Grove by Gilbert King
July: Lost on Planet China by J. Maarten Troost
August: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
September: Too much schoolwork but I read a lot of magazines and cookbooks
October: A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard
- make homemade ice cream
- Volunteer to read at Elle’s school: I will give myself credit for this one. While I haven’t volunteered to read at Elle’s school, I have volunteered for a class party and have lunch with my daughter and her friends about once a month. If you ever wanted to be considered the cool mom, go have lunch with your kids!
- Try one new food every month
November: Indian food
December: oysters (pathetic, I know!), mojitos, panna cotta (that I made!)
January: a cucumber sparkling water (delicious!), reintroduced to strawberries after 25 years, and an Equinox Fall Seasonal beer at Intuition Ale Works (that’s the biggest shocker of all)
February: Portabella mushrooms (even more pathetic than never having tried an oyster before December, right?), and a lemon drop martini
March: blueberry balsamic vinegar, mango margarita, black bean veggie burgers
April: beets, fried grits, cosmopolitan, fresh kiwi
May: Nasturtium flower, fried shrimp sushi
June: Longan, Reisling (I know, shameful!), butternut squash ravioli, ground cherries
July: grilled okra, Irish potato cakes
August: Bobo’s chicken (it’s its own food group, trust me)
September: Quail. I’m not a fan.
- Learn to cook a meal that doesn’t involve a single noodle: I successfully prepared tacos! It involved cooking meat so I gave myself bonus points.
- Get back on the road again. Eisenhower Interstate Highway System, I’ve missed you so!: Jacksonville, Florida to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma by way of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas – return trip by way of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Northwest Florida. Approximately 40 hours total driving and 2,400 miles crossed. I’d call that getting back on the road again…
- Instruct less, participate more
- Learn to walk in heels
- Go kayaking: I went canoeing on Easter weekend! I would consider this a close cousin of kayaking and therefore, it counts. CHECK.
- Go camping: May 11th – Huguenot Memorial Park. Awful wind, no sleep, crashing river waves, and a half-dozen cargo ships passing us by. That was actually really cool. S’mores, hamburgers, seagull attacks, cacti plucking. Thanks for the memorable trip – Matt, Nick, Elle, and Taylor.
- Be a better friend: A twenty-plus year friendship ended in February 2011 and because of that, I feel like I have become more honest with who I am. I didn’t know that “Be a better friend” could simply mean that I should be a better friend to myself.
- Spend more time outside: My garden should get most of the credit for this. Let it be known, however, that I will still drop most things to watch The Real Housewives of New Jersey on DVR.
- Get rid of the chip on my shoulder
- Go swimming in a lake: Arcadia Lake in Edmond, Oklahoma, three days after arriving in Oklahoma City – one of the most peaceful experiences I’ve ever had. Thank you, Mother Nature!
- Learn to breathe and just enjoy