30 things to do before I turn 31.

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Happy new decade to me! Here are some things I hope to live out in the year to come.

1. Consider what I actually need in terms of amount. Too often I find I don't think before I consume--whether that's clothes, dessert, or social media.

2. Continue building up strength/cardio. 15-pound weights, you're up next!

3. Get a dog. ALERT: THIS HAS HAPPENED! Sweet Lucy the 4-year-old black lab joined our family 2 weeks ago!

4. Drink a gallon of water per day. Because I want to see if I feel any different, and I know it will be good for me either way.

5. Feel free to say no. This isn't saying I'll shirk responsibilities, but I will consider what I take on as a responsibility in the first place.

6. Pray the hours again. I used Phyllis Tickle's Prayers for Lent Through Easter from the Divine Hours for my Lenten practice, and I'd like to do her prayers for Advent through Epiphany this winter.

7. Build authentic author platform. I created my own professional Facebook page back in the summer, and I've barely touched it since. Why? I think while some of it is legitimate forgetfulness or busy-doing-other-things, a lot of it is due to "imposter syndrome." Who am I to have a professional author page on Facebook? What do I have to say and share that people will want to hear? There are so many voices out there already. This year, I'd like to get past this and simply share what resonates with me--whether or not people end up reading it.

8. Meet more neighbors. We've already started doing this, but there are plenty of folks on our street that we still don't know. How to change that... cookies, perhaps? 

9. Live our own journey. The world we're in makes it so easy to compare our lives to others', and I want to strive to, well, ignore that, and appreciate where Sean and I are on our path.

10. Pay more attention to/ask more questions about/be more aware about money and finance. I am true to my English major self in that I really don't like or understand the intricacies here. I have a husband who does, so too often I lean on him for that support--not that I don't appreciate his strengths in that area, but I think that it would ultimately make me feel more confident in multiple aspects of life if I were more tuned in here.

11. Continue meditating and journaling. This has been an important part of my daily morning routine for almost 2 years now, and I'm proud of having kept it up. In 2017, I've added a third element: going through my Wendell Berry collection page by page and reading a poem aloud each day (now the dog gets to listen in).

12. Eat healthily (most of the time). Self-explanatory.

13. Seek out more writing continuing ed opportunities. I had the opportunity to attend a writing conference this summer, and did a 6-week writing workshop this fall--both inspired my words and gave me new writing communities to connect to. I'd really love to go back to the Collegeville Institute sooner rather than later.

14. Submit my writing to publications. This is something that I honestly forget about as a writer. I guess that partially means that I write first and foremost for myself, which feels positive--but I think that I also shy away ("forget") about submitting pieces because of (why else?) the fear of rejection. Plus, I write new pieces less frequently than I'd like. May all of this awareness spur me to put my voice out there more in my 31st year.

15. Run at least two 5Ks. Last year I successfully ran my first two 5Ks ever, finished both of them running, and had a great time. I'm already signed up for one in a couple of weeks. I haven't trained as much as a jogger, but I truly believe that walking up five flights of stairs at work and strength training on the regular have influenced my cardio capabilities more than anything else.

16. Quit using "nothing" as a response. You know how someone asks you "What's up?" and you say "Nothing"? Or "How are you?" and the word that blurts out of your mouth is simply, "Fine"? Sometimes that works, but most of the time I find those are covers for more complex emotions I'm experiencing. If I feel comfortable with the person asking, I want to be more honest about where I am in that moment.

17. Do yoga regularly. I'm excited that this has already begun to begin, thanks to a new class being held at my workplace. When I've tried to do yoga on my own in the past (or with a video instructor), I've felt impatient--it hasn't felt as "exercise-y" as strength training or cardio, it goes more slowly, it takes more concentration. But at this phase of life, with a great in-person instructor and friends in the class, I am really enjoying it and savoring how my body and mind feel during and after class. I'm even making it out of the house early one day a week, which tells you how much I want to be there!

18. Clean out my email inboxes. When do we ever have time for this? It feels so small and unnecessary because it's not visibly piling up on a desk. But mentally... that's another story.

19. Write paper letters more often. I just got some beautiful new stationary for my birthday, so this should not be hard.

20. Have a writing goal for each week. I'm not exactly sure what this looks like yet. I journal for myself everyday, so I'd like it to be different from that. A blog post? A shitty first draft of a new piece? Plugging along on my manuscript? I need to explore this further.

21. Advocate for myself at the doctor. This is something I'm not very good at doing, and I want to strengthen this "muscle" as it were. Too often, I feel like I'm at the mercy of the doctor's schedule, and that what they tell me is what it is. But then I get home and I have more questions, and I feel like an idiot for not thinking to ask in person, and I feel like an idiot for calling and asking them, and... why? Because I care what people think of me. But when it comes to my health, my well-being, I need to be the most important person in the room, and in my mind.

22. Keep home desk clean/organized. Check back with me on this at "40 things to do before I turn 41."

23. Be generous. In a myriad of ways.

24. Consider the source. Good advice for all of us these days.

25. Write down all passwords somewhere. Ick/ack/don't yell at me for not having done this yet in life.

26. Make a landscaping plan for our backyard and begin to implement it. Now, if only this didn't cost money...

27. When I'm riding the bus, no Internet; only reading, podcasts, or quiet. For reasons two-fold: stop using my phone as a tool for boredom, and save data.

28. Make actual photo albums. I haven't done this in years and it used to be one of my favorite pastimes. I think it's partially because now I have photos of such random daily life (thanks, Instagram) that it doesn't really feel like they fit anywhere... and yet I don't want my memories to disappear from view in the overcrowded cloud.

29. Apologize only when necessary. I'm one of countless women with the apology complex, saying "I'm sorry" more than I say most anything else. Sometimes it's meant as something different--I think of it more like "excuse me" at times--but in many moments I really do say it to bypass any discomfort at something I think I've done wrong (but often haven't really), or something I know I haven't done wrong but want to be told that it's okay anyway. It's almost a manipulation tool sometimes (I'm going to apologize even though I know I don't have to so I can be told how good I am!). And sometimes I just say it because it's habit. ("I'm sorry for saying I'm sorry" has come out of my mouth more than once.) But I want to be as mindful as possible about my apologies--are they deserved? Did I do something that warrants it? Am I using it to achieve something other than forgiveness? When I do need to apologize, may it be genuine, and may it be said only one time--with no need to lay it on in fear that the first didn't take.

30. Continue learning and listening--and acting--in the fight for racial justice and equity. I have felt really blessed to have opportunities to participate in dialogues with my sisters and brothers of color and with my fellow white siblings over this past year, and I pray that they keep going. I also pray that I have the courage and strength to bring more white people into these conversations and listening sessions. The key for me has been recognizing that I'm a strong human being and I am not being attacked personally--but I do want to help change things, and in order to do that I must acknowledge the realities of white privilege and that I benefit from it. White supremacy is real and today we are seeing that in forms extreme and moderate (both incredibly harmful) more than I can remember in my lifetime. If you want to talk with me more about this, please reach out. 

BONUS: I ended with a similar mantra last year, but here it is again, as we journey on in this divisive time: Approach all with compassion. Combat the fear of others, of the other, that has infiltrated our society. Do not propel those irrational fears forward into the world, but instead act as a vessel for kindness, listening, and understanding.


The Birthday Lists: An Archive

25 things to do before I turn 26

26 things to do before I turn 27

27 things to do before I turn 28

28 things to do before I turn 29

29 things to do before I turn 30