29 Things Before Turning 30

turning30

[bra_dropcaps style=”dropcap1″]I[/bra_dropcaps]I turned 29 years old today. Which means, I have 365 days left to accomplish everything on my “do before age 30” bucket list. (coming soon). As I was making my list, I found a few blogs talking about things one should know/have done/be like by age 30. I got pretty discouraged by some, grossed out by others, and found one or 2 which sounded a lot like some things I have or would like to accomplish. So, before I list my bucket list, I wanted to make a list of all the things I have accomplished by age 30 (and 29, if you are counting)…with one extra slot at the end to add something from this year.

So, in no particular order, here are 29 things I have done before turning 30:

1. Become a Runner. Since I was a kid, I was terrible at running. I always placed last or close to last in gym class for the mile run, I hated playing soccer because it meant running laps around the field for practice, and I got shin splints every time I ran for track in High School. It was terrible. So, in my early 20s, I stuck to a running regimen until I could run at least 3 miles every single day (without sprains and pains). I loved it. But, I loved it even more because it was so hard for me to accomplish. (And now, I need to get back into shape so I can do it again…so that’s one goal for my 30s!)

2. Backpack around Europe. During my sophomore year in college, I had the opportunity to study abroad and attend the University of Leicester in England. While there, we had a long 6 week spring break halfway during the semester. During that time, my best friend and I traveled around to 14 different countries in Europe. We stayed in hostels, went to old churches and museums, discovered new restaurants, and learned new cultures. I learned a lot from those 6 weeks and have several stories that range from funny tales to moving moments that we experienced traveling around and discovering Europe.

3. Stick to a Budget and be Debt Free. I went to business school and have always been an avid budgeter, so when I graduated with a bunch of debt without enough money to even buy a car to get to my new job, I was terrified. I opened a credit card, bought a car on loan, and planned to live with my parents (thanks mom!) until I could get all of my loans paid off and everything sorted out. Several years later, I am debt free and have planned out a savings account that helped us with unexpected medical bills and enough to finally afford our first home!

4. Learn an Instrument Proficiently.  By middle school, I had played a few instruments but was never terribly good at any of them. I had a love for music, but hadn’t yet developed any music theory. For the first time, I was determined to become good at music. So, I picked up the french horn, got lessons, and practiced every night (I’m sure I annoyed my family to no end back then). I finally reached my goal after a couple years of hard work and ended up in the KC Youth Symphony, placed 1st in the State Orchestra, took lead in both HS band and orchestra, and was a part of several smaller groups who played together for events and competitions. Mostly, I am thankful for the way it cultivated my love for classical music and the sort of work ethic that one needs to reach tough goals.

5. Learn what I Believe and Why. I think everyone questions their faith, what they believe in, and what is important to them. I realized one day in school after a conversation with a skeptical friend, that I really knew nothing about Christianity besides a few few verses, songs, and a couple cliches. I would never give a book report on a book I never read, so how could I say I believed in something that I knew so nearly nothing about? I made a decision then to really learn about what I believe. So, I read the Bible (all of it), read theology, talked to experts, really listened to sermons, started memorizing prayers and attended bible studies. I didn’t always get the answers I was looking for but, I did learn a lot about learning to know God and the fact that as a Christian, I am always learning more. But, it was important to me that I now know what I believe and why. I have a passion for my faith that I have never had before and I love God in a way I never knew I could. I really want to put Him first in my life and I love doing so. I am thankful for my faith through all of the tough things life has had in store for me, I don’t think I could have gotten through it all otherwise.

6. Fall in Love. I think every little girl dreams about prince charming and her wedding day. I am lucky enough to have gotten my wish. I met Jason in my mid-20s and quickly fell in love. We had a great wedding day and every day I am reminded how lucky I am to get to spend my life with him. By Jason’s example, I have also learned how to fall in love with God (my true, first love). God’s love for us both has been amazing and humbling to behold in both of our lives. I can’t wait to keep falling in love every day with my Creator and learn how to love my husband, my family, my friends, and the whole world of amazing individuals more and more.

7. Learn how to do my Hair, Make-up, and Pick Out an Outfit. I am probably still not very good at this, but I think it is essential for any girl to know what flatters her body, how to accent her more flattering features, and look nice for a date or job interview. I was a tomboy as a kid, so I didn’t learn much about dresses and make-up until much later than most girls. I still prefer comfortable pants and ponytails. But, I know how to straighten and curl my hair, pick make-up that covers well and looks natural, and how to dress when it matters. (Another goal for my 30s is to start dressing/looking nice on a regular basis, I am terrible about it right now!)

8. Go to a Movie and Eat at a Restaurant ALONE. If you had asked me to do this 10 years ago, I would have never done it. I hated even sitting in class alone before it started. Now, I don’t mind sitting in a movie that I want to see but no one else has time, or sit at church by myself, or try a restaurant with a table for one. I’m confident that being alone is OK (and sometimes even preferable, ha!).

9. Acknowledge that I don’t know everything and can’t do it all. Ok, I am still learning this one, but I have learned quite a few times that I have made mistakes, am still learning, and need to be both patient and humble in daily circumstances (it is still a constant struggle). I also have learned that I can’t do it all. When Jason had his transplant I had taken on an enormous amount of responsibility and I just simply could not do it by myself. I had to swallow my pride and accept help from others. It helped me to realize that I am only one person and I don’t have the talent or resources to take on every responsibility. I had to not only learn how to say, “No.” but also, “I can’t”. The last year has taught me how to accept the goodness of other people, genuinely, and truly be thankful for the God-given gifts of others and not be jealous, envious, or angry at myself.

10. Do nerdy things like play Skyrim and watch Star Trek. I really like nerdy things. I used to be embarrassed and hide it. But, the truth is, I love being a nerd. I like to play chess and board games. I have watched every single episode of Star Trek NG, DS9, and Voyager at least twice. I have played through at least 3 characters on the first person RPG game Skyrim, I have watched several anime series and I love to watch and play Halo with Jason. My favorite movies include Harry Potter, Disney Classics, and Lord of the Rings. I can tell you our complete Family Zombie Invasion Plans and argue why taking a car out of town is better than walking (Jason and I still disagree). I also love how my family can go on for hours discussing Doctor Who and apocalypse survival. I’m OK with it. I’m a nerd.

11. Learn to Cook. I love to cook and make homemade, yummy meals but it used to not always be the case. I didn’t know the difference between a zester and a grater not very many years ago. When I started living on my own, I started learning new kitchen techniques and trying new recipes. I learned how to sauté, broil, bake, make frosting you can’t stop eating (I blame about 5 pounds of weight upon this discovery), make a roux, steam veggies, and try creating a recipe from scratch. I can now eye ingredients and test a recipe as I make it instead of just following directions, something I never would have thought possible a few years ago. Now I have to deal with an obsession over new pans and kitchen gadgets, there are just so many amazing kitchenwares out there!

12. Create, Promote, and Manage a Blog. I loved blogging. The Fresh Fridge, my food blog, was an awesome way to keep me accountable while learning to be a better cook (see above), learn photography, and learn how to promote, market and use social media. I think every dedicated blogger can agree, managing a blog is hard work. It takes many, many behind-the-scenes hours to make just one post. Despite the workload though, I loved blogging and the work and time was all worth it. One important lesson I learned while blogging was that having a successful blog of any kind, makes you incredibly vulnerable to criticism. It helped me to learn how to practice good customer service and how to take the tough comments along with the praises and continually learn how to create better content. (Another goal of mine is to revamp and keep up with my blog again!)

13. Learn Graphic Design and Freelance. Every kid gets asked what they want to do when they grow up, my answer was always “be an artist”. Well, plans changed and I went to KU and got my business degree in Marketing. After working several years in agencies and doing what every good business student does, plans changed again. Little by little, I had been learning to Illustrate and do graphic design from Jason (having a personal instructor really helps when you want to learn something!). Then, to get better I decided to start selling my design work online. A few months later, I had my first freelance gig and then a few weeks later I got my first long-term contract. I admit I still have a long way to go and much to learn about being a successful graphic designer and freelancer. But, I love it, love it, love it! How many people get to say they do what they always wanted to when they grow up?

14. Get my Ears Pierced. This may seem like a strange milestone, but because of sports and my tomboy youth, I didn’t get my ears pierced for a really long time. When I finally did, I was 24 years old and taken to the mall by my mom to get them done for my birthday. I got 2 fake diamond studs put in and never looked back. I now obsessively love earrings and wear them all the time. I think they are my version of a shoe obsession, I just love having more!

15. Learn to Clean and Organize like Martha Stewart. When I was a teenager, there was a time when you literally could not see an inch of my bedroom floor. Just to think of it makes me shudder. College helped a little in the responsibility department of cleaning my room, but it really wasn’t until I was on my own that I discovered my love for organization and clean rooms. Fast forward to learning that I needed to be diligent about keeping our apartment not just clean, but completely sanitized daily for Jason’s transplant and I learned a whole new crazy level of being a clean freak. I discovered I absolutely love being organized. Thanks to Pinterest and other blogs, I have found a way to keep to a cleaning schedule and organize everything from a linen closet to my earring collection and everything in between. A few of my favorites: Clorox wipes are lifesavers for quick messes and hydrogen peroxide & vinegar cleans grime from the tub in a snap!

16. Learn to drive a car in Manual. When I turned 17 (yes, one year after the legal driving age) I got my driver’s license. A few months later, my parents surprised me with a car. I ran outside, shocked and overjoyed, jumped in, and realized instantly I was going nowhere – there was a stick shift. A bit disappointed, but determined to earn my new wheels, I met with an instructor and learned the basics of driving in manual. The next week, still feeling a bit nervous, I took a deep breath and went out to practice alone. A few streets later, I sat stalled for 10 minutes at a stoplight while a man behind me waved cars on until I finally got the hang of getting into first gear. Although I felt a bit mortified after that, I finally got the hang of it and now can confidently say that I can drive a car equipped with either an automatic or manual transmission (and successfully drive through a stoplight on the first try).

17. Climb a Mountain. Ok, this one I saw from one of those famous bucket lists. I don’t really know if I qualify but, I used to go climbing all the time with friends and have climbed a few cliffs. I still remember the first time a conquered a difficult “10” route at a gym and a time when was able to do pull ups by the dozen. (Where did that strength go?) I still own my own climbing harness, chalk bag, and shoes, so maybe it will officially happen one day. That said, I have hiked up a mountain, if that counts. (Perhaps I need to add this to my goal list too!)

18.  Be a Mentor. For 3 years I had the awesome opportunity to mentor middle-school aged girls for our church’s confirmation classes. I didn’t know every answer, but I did have to opportunity to get to know and be supportive of the young ladies in our classes. I hope I was able to make a difference for all of them, but I know it did make a difference for me. Being a mentor forces you to look hard at the way you act, make decisions, and hold yourself accountable. It forced me to start wondering, “would I do this if my confirmation girls were watching me?”. It helped me to define what being a mentor was and live by it, as someone who first teaches by example.

19. Volunteer, at least once, for something uncomfortable. Stepping out of one’s comfort zone, especially when volunteering is hard to do. You freely are giving your talents and time when you could be doing something else and so naturally you want to volunteer for something you are passionate about and want to help with. So, doing something that is dirty, hard, and demanding for something you are unsure you even want to do is tough. But, you never know until you try. One night, I found myself volunteering at the last minute (because they had no one else), for a 3-day overnight for a youth group retreat. I was completely nervous and hopelessly ill-prepared, I had never done anything like this, didn’t know anyone there, and just gave up a perfectly good weekend to spend 3 sleepless nights, in the cold, with middle schoolers. I kept asking myself, “what was I thinking?”. Well, I got through it and when the weekend ended, I jumped in my car and cried the entire way home. It was partially exhaustion, but also the pent up emotion of having had a great weekend, in the cold, with some pretty cool fellow volunteers and middle schoolers. That weekend was the reason I decided to become a middle school mentor for the next 3 years, I could’t believe it, I loved it!

20. Have a “Pinterest” Party. Since Pinterest, things have never been the same. Now, I hop on and have an ideas list about 10 feet long and no way of ever accomplishing 99% of what I found. But, last summer, I had the opportunity to plan a bridal shower for my now sister-in-law, with Pinterest as my aid. The theme was “A Recipe for Love” (I know, pretty cheesy). Everyone brought their favorite recipes for the bride-to-be, we had a dessert table complete with a hutch for height and decorated it with all of the pretty food we made. We played a game (I video taped my brother answering questions and made the bride guess his answers) and made a Pinterest-y craft of making picture frame recipe holders. I was exhausted by the end of the night, but it was the most fun I ever had planning a party. Thanks, Pinterest!

21. Create something that goes Viral. I don’t know the exact definition of something that is “viral”, but I figure if it has been seen by and shared over 10,000+ times and downloaded over 2000+ times, it counts. I started creating posters for verses that meant a lot to me last year to help me memorize them. It was during Jason’s treatment and I really needed some visual encouragement and figured other people did too. So, right before mother’s day, I made a poster for proverbs 31:25. After I posted it up, the next morning it had already been shared over 500 times and continued to be shared all over the place. Boy, was I surprised! The biggest impact to me though, was when another woman going through chemo e-mailed me to tell me that she had posted it by her bed to help her keep motivated during treatments. I was so glad to hear it helped encourage someone else! Sometimes, the internet is pretty cool!

22. Negotiate a Contract. Ok, this one is easy for me, I used to negotiate contracts and deals all the time for my job. But, I am very glad I have gained a lot of experience in this area to know what works, what doesn’t, and how to use your best judgement to strike a good deal or back out of a bad one. I think the hardest thing to learn is how to clearly set out your objectives and learn to compromise on lesser important details to get the big details right. That, and, gaining as much knowledge you can about the other parties goals. In this case, knowledge is definitely power!

23. Take a Class “just for fun”. In college, my schedule was always filled to the brim with accounting, economics, and marketing classes, so taking a fun class was pretty much out of the question. However, I did get to pick 2 classes while in college that were purely interests of mine. The first one was a lit. class based on the works of C.S. Lewis and the second was a film class about silent films from the 1920s. I enjoyed both of them quite a bit and gained a great appreciation for both subject matters. I hope to take more classes in the future, just because they sound interesting.

24. Go Caroling. I am a terrible singer, but a few years back I volunteered with my small group to go caroling for a retirement community a few weeks before Christmas. We came in and sang several carols for everyone and got many to sing along, clap, and have a fun time. As the evening came to a close, some of us stayed behind and talked to a few people. We decided to walk out together, but just as we were about to go, a woman came by and told us her father wasn’t able to hear any of the carols since he couldn’t leave his bed and if we wouldn’t mind, if we would come sing a few in his room. We agreed and the 3 or 4 of us ( I can’t remember exactly) came and sang for this man. We learned that the woman was his daughter and that he was no longer responsive, but she was sure he could hear us sing. We sang “Oh, Holy Night”, his favorite, and she said she felt his hand squeeze hers during the song. We talked a little more with her and then had to leave (visiting hours were over). We called back the next week and found out that the man we sang for had passed away the next morning. It was an experience I will never forget, to have had the opportunity to sing to a man so close to heaven. Now, whenever I sing that song, I always think of that night and how beautiful life is, even when it is so close to its end.

25. Get Engaged in Ireland. I get a lot of comments about my wedding ring because instead of a traditional diamond, it is an emerald. While we were dating, Jason and I took a trip together to Ireland on a whim and the second day we were there decided to visit a little monastery up by the Irish coastline. When we arrived, the place was deserted and looked after by a man who never spoke to us, just stared as we walked in. We took our time and walked around, then Jason went and got his guitar out of our rental car and we sat down and he sang some songs. As he was singing, out of nowhere, came 2 Irish Shepherd dogs. They sniffed us and then they both decided to lay down at Jason’s feet for the free concert. Jason then informed me he had written a new song, he sang it to me and of course, I can’t remember a word of it, because when he was done he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him! Of course, I said “yes”. (The Irish dogs approved.) I have worn my emerald engagement ring (along with my wedding band once we got married) ever since.

26. Enjoy Kansas Basketball. One of the best parts of being a KU alum is being a Kansas men’s basketball nut. When I was in school, I had good friends who were always able to score us front row seats in the student section, we snuck in newspapers to throw superstitious confetti, we chanted and had our rituals, it was a blast. In 2008, when the KU men’s team played in the National Championship and Mario Chalmers put up the game-winning 3 pointer, I was able to witness the eery yet awesome sound of the entire city of Lawrence roar in screams at the same moment when the buzzer sounded and KU won the game. (We then made our way to Mass St. and celebrated all night as any good Jayhawk does.) Rock Chalk!

27. Go Bungee Jumping. On a Spring Break trip my freshman year in college, all of my friends decided it would be fun to try bungee jumping (the tallest one in North America, according to the guys running it). My friends all went one-by-one…and I chickened out. As we got halfway back to our hotel, I realized they would be talking about it all break and I would be the only one who had not gone…so, I had to do it. We raced back and I got taken up the giant lift to be pushed off a tiny metal ledge. My friends and a few others chanted my name in encouragement. As I was nudged off the lift, I belted out a shriek I never knew I had in me. It wasn’t too bad, the last part where I felt like I was no longer in free fall was sort of fun. The guys who helped me back down said I was shaking uncontrollably and I just laughed, because I could not yet speak. But, I did it. I won’t do it again, but I did it. So, checked that one off my list!

28. Buy Second-Hand. I love going to antique stores, shopping on Craiglist and hoping I contact someone soon enough to get a deal, going to garage/estate sales and occasionally getting to a thrift store. Almost all of the furniture that I own that isn’t a hand-me-down of some kind, is second-hand. I like to up cycle and make something my own. I still have yet to buy any big piece of furniture from a store…and it may never happen. There are just too many great deals on used items that are unique, stylish, and affordable!

29. Be a Vegetarian. For 2 years I decided I was a vegetarian. I did not eat meat at all (but I did eat cheese and eggs). The reason why…I did not like the taste. I am not an animal rights activist, although I do like animals. I am not a health nut, although I do think it is important to eat a healthy diet (which is why I like to cook!). One day, after years, I stopped and ate a turkey sandwich. But, I still struggle with liking the taste of meat very much, which is exasperated by a growing allergy to chicken. I will say from my experience, cutting out a major food source is hard to do without sacrificing nutrition, and I did eat protein daily in other forms. After discovering the importance of protein from Jason’s doctors, I now consciously try and have a good amount of protein in my diet rather than just carbs and dairy.

30. TBD! I still have one year to fill in this one. I hope I make it count!

I hope I remembered everything correctly, but those are my top 29! Now, for my 30 befre 30 in 365 days Bucket List. Any Suggestions?