29 things to do before I turn 30.

Good morning from me as Year 30 begins! I'm trying to ignore my growling stomach before my annual physical this morning by putting together my list of hopes and goals for the coming year. This is a fun and helpful practice that i picked up from my friend and mentor Rosie Molinary the year I turned 25. While I don't tend to do an official recap of each year's list to see how "well" I did on achieving these things before my next birthday, when I do go back through them, I definitely get a sense that many of these elements of my life have slowly shifted in the direction I wanted them to go. Sometimes it takes a couple of birthdays to see any movement, and that's fine, too. I also notice that there are often repetitions--lessons I need to keep learning or areas of life that I still want to flesh out and enrich. With each year, I have the privilege of adding one more number to the list, another way to intentionally seek a full life.

1. Walk 10,000 steps every weekday. I know it's doable because I'm currently doing it. We'll see how winter factors in, because a lot of these steps currently happen outside, but I hope I'll just suck it up, grab my jacket/hat/gloves, and head out anyway.

2. Increase jogging capabilities from one mile to three. Big news, guys: the other week, I discovered that I can jog one mile (four laps) on a flat track without being too, too out of breath. Mind. Blown. I'd like to up that, if possible. Who knows if hills will ever be involved.

3. Visit a new place. This shows up on my list pretty much every year, and I think every year it's come to pass. I know we'll be heading to Chicago for a wedding next year--yes, sadly, Chicago is a new place for me--and who knows what else will appear on the horizon? (Any suggestions?)

4. Organize our home office. This is definitely a repeater. It's a mess. And I know it can be less messy and more actually usable as an office.

5. Hang more photos and art on the walls. And get said photos and art framed first!

6. Go to the mountains. I'm hankering for cool air, sweet views, and hike-sore muscles.

7. Lead at least one one-day writing workshop. I currently lead a writing group every other week, but I know that not everyone who's interested is able to attend when that's scheduled. So I'm hoping to put together a couple of opportunities for people to just show up once and learn about life writing (and do some writing, of course!).

8. Add a couple of new dinner recipes to my repertoire (and keep trying bread). Sean is the main cook around here, hallelujah, but I'd like to have more than just one recipe that I can throw together easily, especially as he takes on more responsibility at work. Also, I would love to someday not have to buy bread at the store.

9. Eat a wider variety of vegetables. We basically have broccoli and salad every week, and I know we're missing out on so many more! (Any suggestions on veggies or how to prepare them?)

10. Increase hand weight amounts. This I definitely count as a success thanks to earlier lists; I moved from 3s and 5s to 8s and 10s, and while I'll probably keep those as my primary weights, I'd love to be able to comfortably use 12s and 15s.

11. Write and send real birthday cards. A way to purposefully connect with important people in my life all over the country, not to mention a practice that is going out of fashion thanks to the Internet.

12. Practice real life vulnerability. This one and #13 really feel important to me this year, and I'm crediting and thanking writer/blogger Rachel Held Evans for both of them. RHE mentioned this in a webinar that I took the other week about developing your writing voice for memoir/blogging. She stressed that too often, we think that being really open (too open?) and honest in a Facebook status or anywhere online means that we're being truly vulnerable. But real vulnerability, she says, is actually practiced away from our screens and devices, in real life conversations and situations. It is here that we cultivate our relationships and learn about our true selves and others; not on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, no matter how helpful those platforms can sometimes be for expressing yourself. So, as someone who enjoys and appreciates the Internet and social media for making connections to friends new and old, I want to be purposeful and aware of practicing vulnerability, openness, and honesty in my flesh-and-blood daily life.

13. Keep good secrets. Connected to this, RHE says that it's important to "keep good secrets"-- a.k.a. don't broadcast everything in your life on social media, y'all. Don't take a picture of everything. Lessen your grip on FOMO (fear of missing out) (or having people think you're missing out because you're not taking a picture of it!) and realize that some moments--many moments, if we really stop to think about it-- are meant for just you, or just you and your closest people. Not everything needs a ton of virtual likes, and or a ton of time spent wondering why you didn't get as many likes. I think I struggle with this sometimes, because I do really enjoy sharing, but taking Saturdays off from social media has been a huge step.

14. Visit friends in NYC. I just threw this in here because I haven't been up to the Big Apple in nearly six years, and both of my trips have been great fun. I'd love to go back!

15. Get new passport. Yeah, that whole thing about getting all my documents changed with my married name? Still happening...probably eternally happening...But I would like to visit other countries again someday, so, there's that incentive.

16. Keep actively seeking to be an ally for my sisters and brothers of color, my world siblings who are LGBTQ, and all others who need my listening ear and my measured voice.

17. See a writer I love speak/read in person.

18. Vote. Duh.

19. Don't shy away from hard conversations. Since I'm not a confrontational person, this can be tough, but I aim to try.

20. Save at least $100 per paycheck.

21. Get a library card. This has been on here for awhile. Maybe I should add: get a library card, and actually use it to borrow books (Amazon Prime is so good and so dangerous).

22. Have people over to our house more often. I definitely want to throw a Christmas open house this year. (And maybe buy some new dining room chairs and other small furnishings.)

23. Stretch regularly. I haven't been flexible since I was like, four. Hopefully I'm not too far gone.

24. Write what I feel called to write. This feels slightly like a cop out because I think it should probably read, "REVISE MY DANG MEMOIR MANUSCRIPT FROM GRADUATE SCHOOL THAT I WORKED SO HARD ON AND WANT TO SUBMIT FOR PUBLICATION SOMEDAY..." (I typed this in a sing-song voice, if you're wondering.) I do think it's been important to take time off from that creative venture, since I did spend so much time on it, but I really want to feel inspired to return to it and make it better. And maybe this comes to Anne Lamott's "butt in chair" tactic rather than starting with inspiration--Just start. But at the same time, along the lines of what I actually wrote in bold, I do want to feel passionate about whatever I choose to write in my free time, not forced.

From my grandmother's birthday book.

From my grandmother's birthday book.

25. Start a blog email/newsletter. I'm on the road to this--subscribe here!

26. Try a new spiritual practice, like keeping a Psalms notebook or Lectio Divina.

27. Support friends who are writers, artists, creators. Like these folks, and more!

28. Approach all with compassion/do not fear/be present. Okay, this is a lot, but I think they all connect. I don't understand the fear permeating our country, and I pray that I may live counter-culturally in these ways, even when it is difficult.

29. Have a big 30th birthday party. Enough said! Cheers to a new turn around the sun.