“Never regret growing older – it’s a privilege denied to many.” I don’t know the origin of this quote, but I’ve loved it since I first heard it. Sure, it’s not as hashtag worthy as #YOLO, but it’s far less obnoxious.
I’ve never loathed birthdays or been sad about getting older. I always find birthdays to be good reminders to be thankful for all the people who have supported and loved me along the way and made me who I am.
Birthdays are also good for reflecting and making changes – a time to remind yourself what’s important and what isn’t – your own personal chance at a “new year’s resolution,” if you will.
At 29, inspired by a friend (thanks, Em!), I decided to make a list of 29 things I wanted to accomplish before I turned 30. Most of my goals revolved around the people in my life – making it a point to make memories with or build up the people who pour into me every day. Some were things I wanted to learn or experience, some silly, some serious, some worth sharing and some too personal. I won’t go through them all, but I wanted to share a few favorites that have helped me send out this last decade with a bang. You’ve been fun, 29.
Without further ado, a sampling . . .
Start a Walk to End Alzheimer’s team and raise money in memory of my grandfather who passed away last year from the disease.
- My family and I (“Roy’s Pride and Joy”) raised more than $1,200 for the cause and walked last October in celebration. If you’ve never been involved with this organization, I can’t recommend it enough. Such a beautiful sight to see families coming together in the names of their loved ones. Thanks to everyone who donated to this incredibly worthy cause!
Surprise my friends more often.
- This consisted mostly of sending cards with a small gift like a necklace or a Starbucks card to friends I don’t get to see very often. I often miss the lost art of letter writing and the act of thoughtfulness for no other reason than to let someone know you’re thinking of them. If you’ve ever received a card or treat “just because,” then you know what a great feeling that is. If I don’t succeed at anything else in this lifetime, I want the people I love to feel and know how much I love them. I will never stop trying to be better at this.
Take my nephew to an OSU game.
- Loved getting to experience a football game at my alma mater with my favorite teenager! I can’t believe he’ll be headed off to college in just five more years. Okay, starting to feel a little older, all the sudden…
Develop a healthier lifestyle.
- This started with a Couch to 5k program I did just for some motivation. I lost 10 lbs and felt great, so I started making better eating choices and following some new lifting routines, which eventually led to a total loss of 24 lbs in 2016. Slight derailment during the dreadful cluster headache period, but that’s over for now (praise hands!) and I’m working to get back on track in 2017. Here are two shots of me from March and December. This was never about a diet or losing weight, but just creating overall healthier habits. It’s been very rewarding.
Finish the kitchen renovation.
- Okay, this one really needs like a ¾ check mark, because we are SO CLOSE. It’s been almost two years, and in our defense, we’ve done a LOT of work, primarily ourselves, and it extended exponentially beyond the kitchen. So this was a lofty goal. But seriously, it looks and feels AMAZING. We said farewell to 1972 and modernized just a tad. Full update to come soon, but a little sneak peek for now… (The flooooors…all the heart eyes for these floors after a year of concrete.)
Go to a concert with my besties.
- If I could spend the rest of my life traveling the world, reading books and going to concerts, I would do it. Concerts with your friends are so much fun, and Carrie Underwood NEVER disappoints. Neither do my besties.
Surprise Wade more often.
- Jim Gaffigan (just because). Turnpike Troubadors (his birthday). Jason Isbell (5-year anniversary). In return, he surprised me with Garth in Vegas (anniversary) and Hamilton in Chicago (in 5 days!!! for my birthday). We both win. It’s been a good year, all around.
Join the Catholic church.
- This one was pretty in depth, and you can read all about it here.
Visit my best friend in Rhode Island.
- It’s a sad state of affairs when your childhood best friend up and moves across the country. After two long years of her being a north easterner, I finally made the trek, along with our other two best friends since forever. This trip was so much fun. Something to be said for traveling with friends you’ve had since elementary school. Boston, Rhode Island and Cape Cod – it was a perfect vacation with some of my favorite girls on the planet.
Visit Baby Neil in Colorado.
- When one of your best friends lives in another state and has a baby and you are able to go provide an extra set of hands, GO. Not only do you get to help out a friend by cooking some meals and giving them extra chances to sleep, you also get the bonus of lots of baby cuddles. Win win.
Pray for someone specific each day.
- This started off one way, and ended another. At first I picked a different person each day, either just because they popped into my head or they posted a prayer request on social media. But then it shifted some. I had some friends going through some pretty big and heavy things over the last year, so a lot of days I prayed for the same people on repeat. But regardless, it re-focused my praying habits. They were intentional and much less focus on my own needs. It helped me to practice more gratitude and graciousness. If I’m ever unsure how to pray, or struggling to find the right words for a situation, I lean on this line from the Lord’s Prayer – “Thy will be done.” I find that it’s always the right thing to pray, and incredibly comforting to know that He’s already got us covered. It’s changed my perspective a lot over the last year and made tough days easier. I plan to keep this one up, so send your prayer requests my way any time.
So there you have it. Those are the highlights (I’m willing to share)! My biggest takeaway is the importance of investing in “your people.” Making friends and family a priority. Taking a step back once in a while to note what really matters in the overall scheme of life. Sometimes the state of the world feels so heavy and overwhelming and it’s easy to feel beat down or frustrated. But we’ve got this limited time to work with, and focusing our sights and thoughts on loving others, and them in turn loving you, makes our burdens so much easier to carry.
To be as transparent as possible, I’m four days out and I still have 6 items to complete, and let’s be real, I won’t be learning Spanish in four days. So, I didn’t quite get there, but I’ll just use those remaining items as my jumping off points to celebrate the new decade I’m about to enter.
That said – if anyone wants to join me for a murder mystery dinner this year, or would like to pitch in to help me pay someone to professionally deep clean my house, or push me harder to learn Spanish…I’m ready and willing. Let me know if you have any fun ideas to add to my list for year 30 or the decade beyond!
My 20s consisted of graduating from college, getting married, buying our first home, getting a great job, going to a LOT of weddings, traveling more than I ever could have hoped for and making many unforgettable memories. But I’m not sad to see them go, I’m only looking forward to what lies ahead.
Thanks to my phenomenal husband, I’ll be spending my birthday weekend in a city I’ve wanted to visit for years (comin’ for you, Chi-town!) and seeing the musical I’ve been completely OB-SESSED with since I heard the first note and I when she found out she was going to get to hold a sloth for her birthday? That was basically my reaction when Wade surprised me with tickets. Full-on fetal position, bawling like a baby.. Remember that video of Kristen Bell
Let the countdown to 30 (and more importantly, the countdown to Hamilton), begin!