36 before 36

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 (which is on October 9th, 2012).

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

  1. Get a job that makes me happy (even if it takes a few tries)
  2. Focus on school work instead of the fact that I’m still in school
  3. Organize my entire postcard collection
  4. Watch the sunrise at the beach: Good Friday, April 6th – and Matt proposed to me.
  5. Sell my entire Strawberry Shortcake collection of dolls and collectibles on Ebay
  6. Be debt-free (even if only for a short time)
  7. get married: We did it! Matt and I were married in Yulee, Florida on June 21st, 2012!!!!!
  8. Close the 1,100 mile gap between myself and this wonderful man I know
  9. 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!).
  10. Learn to accept myself as everyone else already has (for better or for worse)
  11. 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).
  12. Take her on a vacation, just the two of us
  13. Take some lessons from my daughter in free spiritedness
  14. Zipline!
  15. Visit Oklahoma: Thanksgiving 2011. Best idea EVER!
  16. Visit Indianapolis
  17. Visit Wichita Mountain National Wildlife Refuge
  18. See a buffalo in the wild
  19. Learn how to change a flat tire: 11/08/2011, checked off as DONE!
  20. 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…
  21. Write something really, really good and submit it for publication. If I’m rejected, submit it somewhere else.
  22. 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:
    August:
    September:
    October:
  23. make homemade ice cream
  24. 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!
  25. 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:
    August:
    September:
    October:
  26. 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. 
  27. 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…
  28. Instruct less, participate more
  29. Learn to walk in heels
  30. Go kayaking: I went canoeing on Easter weekend! I would consider this a close cousin of kayaking and therefore, it counts. CHECK.
  31. 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.
  32. 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.
  33. 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.
  34. Get rid of the chip on my shoulder
  35. 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!
  36. Learn to breathe and just enjoy

24 Responses to 36 before 36

  1. Corey Frye says:

    I think the quote everyone needs to take away from this post is “My life is already enjoyable; I just need to enjoy it.” Well said, well said.

    P.S. 35 years old and never had Indian food? You poor thing…

  2. goodlucktina says:

    Just love #32. It is a wonderful lesson.

  3. lengthorn says:

    That is a fantastic list! Go for it!

  4. Liking your version of the list concept quite a lot. Will have to ponder something along those lines. “51 before 51”??! That would be a lot to do.

    • Dena says:

      Make them very attainable…try a new recipe, go to the movies alone, sit outside for an hour and do nothing but listen. Simple things. I hope you try something…even if it’s just one thing 😉

  5. Quite an ambitious list – good luck!

  6. I like the update comments you have made on your list! It is good to see that your goals are flexible and you avoid the perfection trap. Often we do and pursue things not to be the best – rather just because we want to reach a point were it feels adequate.

  7. Dena says:

    Thanks, and I agree! Run for 5 miles – what was I thinking!!??!?!

  8. Hi there, your blog is great! I look forward to reading more and more.

  9. preichel says:

    Oh man, I feel you on the running five miles straight ambition. I’ve gotten to the age where all of my friends are suddenly marathon runners and triathletes and at my most fit I could run a sum total of about three miles before my legs turned to jello. Now, I’d probably be beaten by the mile, so I’m hoping the pleasant spring weather will inspire me to reincorporate running into my day…or I might just sit on the porch and enjoy a beer.

  10. endsmalltalk says:

    You say that you have something in common with everyone, but I really do relate to you! I haven’t read many of your posts yet, but I legitimately get the feeling that I am inspired by some of the same things as you. Even more surreally, I think we are motivated and approach challenges (and define success!) in similar ways. I look forward to coming back and reading more, especially since I’m trying to compose a list myself for my 20’s. 🙂

    • Dena says:

      I have never been one to shoot for big goals. I think I felt like that made me lazy or unmotivated when I was younger, but now that I’ve accomplished things I never knew I would (single parent, two-year degree and now working on a bachelor’s), priorities shift. While some people might define success with money or objects or the number of social events they’re invited to, my success is defined by the small things that make me happy. I’m working on it…I’m jealous of you for figuring it out while you’re in your twenties! 🙂

  11. Pingback: Let’s Go Camping! | Two Girls and a Road

  12. I’m tired just reading what you have been doing until now! If I may be so bold possibly have a few BIG goals…like the getting married one and another biggie and focus on those, the other smaller tasks will fall into place and you will have room for them all but if you spend most of your time on the smaller things the bigger goals may remain untouched. I so did enjoy reading this today. Thank you

    • Dena says:

      I appreciate it! My biggest goal (besides the getting married one) is “closing the gap”…that’s also proving to be the most time-consuming and stressful. By using the little goals as milestones, I feel like I’m making progress even while the BIG goals are taking time in the “progress” department.

      Thank you again!

  13. Looks like you need to cross some of these off yer list! 😀

  14. Pingback: Let’s Go Camping! | Ludowe

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