40 x 40 Challenge: Happy Birthday to Me!

30 Oct

Image sourceL http://cdn.themetapicture.com/media/funny-dog-birthday-cake-sad.jpg

Today is my 39th birthday. That gives me one year before I celebrate the most infamous milestone of midlife. And buy a corvette and get a trophy wife. Oh wait – sorry, women don’t do that. Got confused for a minute!

Seems like a good time for a bit of reflection to reconnect with my friends and family, my curiosity and creativity, and my health. In that spirit, I’ve created my list of “Forty by Forty” – a mini bucket-list to be completed before I turn 40.

Since these need to be done in a year, they’re not the grand items of a life-long bucket list. I’m not trying to see the pyramids or raft the Nile. (Hopefully those happen in the NEXT forty years.)

Because life is good. And it’s often in paying attention to the little things that that we live life most fully. Here goes…

  1. See the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean.
  2. Try sushi. I know, I know. I’m the only person in America who doesn’t like sushi. But it’s been ten years since I last attempted it, so I’m going to see if my palette has evolved. 
  3. Attend Nerd Nite DC. I’m a nerd and I’ve always been curious.
  4. Become a certified coach. Already enrolled, so unless I screw up, this should earn a checkmark. 
  5. Take a “Girls Trip” with my mom and sister.
  6. Practice yoga every day for one week. 
  7. Take an official walking tour of DC. I love walking tours. I live in a city that offers them. Why haven’t I done this before? No idea.
  8. Find the doors at the O Street Mansion
  9. Explore wine country with Alan. We’ve booked our flight, so this should get a checkmark. 
  10. Completely avoid Diet Dew for one month. Ideally, I’d like to give it up for good. But let’s start with a manageable goal.
  11. Get a library card from the Library of Congress.
  12. Sponsor one classroom project each month on DonorsChoose.
  13. Go Facebook-Silent for two weeks. This one already gives me palpitations, which probably means I’m addicted.
  14. See an exhibit at the Phillips Collection. Unbelievably, I’ve lived here almost two decades and haven’t set foot inside this gallery, only blocks from my place.
  15. Make a Halloween costume.
  16. Find a StoryCorps booth and record a story. Ideally with my dad. 
  17. Get professionally fitted for a bra. No sense giving in to gravity just yet.
  18. Get a new driver’s license. Actually, this is kind of a to-do list item. But still…
  19. See the sunset over the Pacific Ocean.
  20. Send one handwritten note of gratitude to someone each month. 
  21. Record a podcast with my friends. Not sure what we’ll do with it, but I’m pretty sure it will be hilarious.
  22. Learn to change my bike’s rear tire. Although I hope I’ll never need to use this. 
  23. Write 50,000 words toward my next novel.
  24. Complete a Century Ride. Preferably with my sister. 
  25. Learn why ziplines are so hyped.
  26. Review the books I read on Amazon. I use other people’s reviews to shape my reading list – time to give back. 
  27. Swim 50 miles. Not all at onceI used to swim all the time, but it’s fallen by the wayside in recent years. Time to jump back in.
  28. Roast an entire chicken. Yep, I consider myself a pretty solid cook, but I’ve never actually cooked an entire bird. WTF?
  29. Compliment a stranger every day for a week. Different strangers… because otherwise that would be creepy.
  30. Volunteer for a cause I care about.
  31. Declutter my friendships. Prioritize the people who make time for me. 
  32. Do an inversion every single day. For non-yogis: this is basically just doing something upside down. Headstand, handstand, shoulder-stand – it’s supposed to be good for your lymph system and your perspective.
  33. Update my resume. Not because I want a new job, but to reflect on my accomplishments.
  34. Help Alan have a good 40th year. 
  35. No candy for a month. Ridiculous that I’m almost forty and still think Skittles count as part of the food pyramid.
  36. Host a scavenger hunt. 
  37. Break a rule. Easier said than done when you’re compulsive and risk-averse.
  38. Provide free sales coaching to someone who tries (poorly) to try to sell me something. 
  39. Contribute to Wikipedia. Not just in a financial sense. Edit an entry. 
  40. Go camping. I used to do it all the time, but haven’t since I got rid of my car. Time to bring it back!

What about you? If you weren’t designing a life-long bucket-list, but rather had to focus on something specific to do during the next year, what would make your list? I’m curious. 

Image Source: Matt Groening - The Simpsons, Fox Television

PS: Here’s the Donor’s Choose project I just sponsored in New Orleans for October:

Most of our students will be first generation college students. These students don’t get much help from their families in the college planning process. Our students are from the inner city and their needs are many, academic as well as socio-economic. I took over a high school library two years ago that has a fair book selection, but no budget for new books and very few up-to-date books on ACT, college and financial aid, careers and scholarship information. Our library has one up-to-date college guide and one scholarship book that are constantly checked out. I want my students to see all of the possibilities and plan the best future possible. 

38 Responses to “40 x 40 Challenge: Happy Birthday to Me!”

  1. Holly October 30, 2013 at 6:38 am #

    Happy Birthday!!!! I hope you have a great day and an amazing year! I hope you’ll add explore western Maryland to your list – I (finally) moved in to my place last night. My list includes living intentionally and focusing on friendships! xxxooo

  2. lexy3587 October 30, 2013 at 7:30 am #

    number 29 made me laugh. Day 1: “A woman on the bus told me my hair looked nice today, how sweet is that?”, Day 2: “the same woman told me she liked my shoes. That’s kind of random isnt’ it?”, Day 3: “I think a woman on my morning commute is hitting on me, she told me I have a sassy walk.”, Day 4: “I think she’s actually stalking me, because I left a half an hour later to avoid her, and she was waiting at the bus stop – said something about ‘compliment-buddy’?! And then she said I was pretty neat. I’m worried.” Day 5: “I didn’t go to work today. I’m trying to avoid my stalker. Is that the mail? OHMYGOD, why is there a valentine in my mail?! it’s not February! It says I maintain a lovely garden. oh god, I’m definitely being stalked.” … the places my mind goes 😛
    Good luck with your list – they all sound like fun! apart from getting your license, but, yeah, that’s a thing that needs doing. I hope your state lets you smile in your photos – Ontario does not, and I look like a gangmember in a penitentiary in my license.

    • pithypants October 30, 2013 at 7:47 am #

      Ha! I love the way your mind works – I could totally see it playing out that way. And I think it’s mildly bad-ass that you can’t smile. That way the cops will know it’s really you when they pull you over. Because who smiles when getting ticketed?

    • Alicia October 30, 2013 at 9:16 am #


  3. Chrystal October 30, 2013 at 8:05 am #

    First of all, Happy Birthday! Second, I’m jealous that I didn’t think of doing this on my 49th birthday this year (but mine would have to be 50 x 50). I think first on my list would be “Have a private reading with a medium”. I’m working up the courage to do just that…

    • pithypants October 30, 2013 at 8:21 am #

      A psychic! That’s an awesome addition to the list. You know, you could wait until you’re pushing 52 and create a list of things to do each week of the year.

  4. Michelle October 30, 2013 at 8:11 am #

    Happy birthday! I think you have a great list. I especially love that you included things like going to the museum near your house. There are so many great things in our own back yards that we just never get around to.

    • pithypants October 30, 2013 at 8:22 am #

      I know. It’s so easy to plan trips to see other places, but not approach our own towns as tourists. I’m excited about it!

  5. Karen October 30, 2013 at 9:16 am #

    I turn 40 in May. I’m going to copy your idea. But 20 of my ideas are going to be super easy since I only have half as much time. Happy birthday Al. Miss and love you lots. 🙂

    • pithypants October 30, 2013 at 10:04 am #

      Ha! Or you could do a list of 20 good things, and 20 easy things, like “brush teeth,” and “get dressed.”

  6. Alicia October 30, 2013 at 9:19 am #

    This is inspiring. Really. And thoughtful. You know I’ll do what I can to help with #5. And #10. I just brought a case of LaCroix into work to substitute for my Dew cravings (and no, people who do not know us, we did NOT grow up in a trailer eating Froot Loops for dinner).

    • pithypants October 30, 2013 at 10:05 am #

      I was going to include a few that included my sweet nephews, but then I realized I was trying to control WAY too many variables. So they’ll just get some good attention from me. And LaCroix is in my future.

  7. carriesjourney612 October 30, 2013 at 9:34 am #

    I love this list and knowing you, it will all get done this year! I am turning 49 in Dec – maybe I should put a list together 50×50! I just can’t believe I am turning 50 in 13 months! 🙂 I look forward to reading about your adventures – they are always great! Enjoy your special day my friend! xo

    • pithypants October 30, 2013 at 10:07 am #

      You? 50? Not possible! You wear it well. And based on your amazing travels, you do a good job tackling a constant bucket-list – so only create the formal list if you are OCD and enjoy checkmarks. 🙂

  8. The Byronic Man October 30, 2013 at 9:51 am #

    One of my big ones (not in the next year) is to visit Antarctica. I know; I’m an odd guy. I’ve always wanted to see it. I’ve dreamt about it.

    My wife loves the desert and the heat. We’ve gone camping in the desert in August more than once.

    • pithypants October 30, 2013 at 10:09 am #

      Nothing wrong with that, Captain Cook. One of my friends is going this winter. He’s stoked but may need a second mortgage to cover the cost. Do you run? I’ve known other people who have done the “marathon on every continent” quest, and it seems like that was (potentially?) a more affordable way to see the penguins.

      • The Byronic Man October 31, 2013 at 3:19 pm #

        THERE’S AN ANTARCTICA MARATHON??? This is too exciting…

      • pithypants October 31, 2013 at 5:24 pm #

        Because most people LOVE running long distances AND freezing their asses off? Seriously – who realized there was even a market for that?

  9. Sally October 30, 2013 at 11:41 am #

    Regarding #40, have you thought about bike camping? Greenbelt Park is 12ish paved trail miles (MBT, Anacostia-something-something) from downtown DC. It’s also 2 miles from Greenbelt Metro, so even if you have some huge bike disaster (flat rear tire, par exemple…?), you can still get home easily.

    • pithypants October 30, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

      Interesting. I had NOT. Mainly because I get all achy even if all I’m carrying is a BIKE LOCK in my backpack. Add a tent, sleeping bag and other accoutrements, and I’m pretty sure I’d just ride off into the bushes, never to be seen again. Although, maybe I’ll be more badass when I’m approaching 50 and will try it then? I have a decade to practice…

      • Sally October 30, 2013 at 12:20 pm #

        Woman, get thee to a bike store and get a rear rack! They are life changing.

  10. Natalie October 30, 2013 at 7:22 pm #

    1. As an educator, I love you for number 12.
    2. As for sushi- maybe try something cooked? I know it isn’t REALLY sushi but you can pretend
    shrimp tempura rolls have a palatable texture
    my husband likes volcano rolls (deep fried, so of course they are delicious)

    • pithypants October 30, 2013 at 7:37 pm #

      Awesome suggestions – I see a volcano roll in my future. I’ve often said you could deep fry anything and I’d eat it. Perhaps it’s time to test that theory?

  11. thesinglecell October 30, 2013 at 8:53 pm #

    Happy birthday! So much to react to… and then you give me an assignment… aauugghh! I guess my reflection from last year’s Days of Christmas series on what I’d like to learn this year would be like a bucket list… kind of. I’m so disappointed in myself vis-a-vis the lasagna thing.PS I have been to the Mansion On O and we found lots of things. Some of them were doors. Some of them were signs that the sheets hadn’t been washed. Also? You’re not the only adult who doesn’t like sushi. I can only do tempura rolls. And as for #37: every time you put a question mark at the end of a word that’s not actually a question (like, “Also?”) you break a grammar rule. Cross it off the list! You been doin’ it!

    • pithypants October 30, 2013 at 9:03 pm #

      Good point. I was going to say “it doesn’t count if I’m deliberately breaking it…” but then I realized that’s exactly what I’m going for. Maybe I should clarify: a non-grammar rule.

      • thesinglecell October 30, 2013 at 9:15 pm #

        Oh. Hmmm. Jaywalking?

      • pithypants October 31, 2013 at 11:47 am #

        I do that in my sleep.

      • pithypants October 31, 2013 at 11:47 am #

        Maybe I don’t actually have a problem breaking rules, as it turns out?

  12. The Atidecrem Life Project November 1, 2013 at 4:00 am #

    Best of luck with your bucket list! Find a really good place to eat for sushi to at least give it a fair chance. 😉

    • pithypants November 2, 2013 at 10:06 pm #

      Thanks. It’s funny that out of 40 things, sushi seems to receive the most comments.

      • The Atidecrem Life Project November 2, 2013 at 10:13 pm #

        I went to live in Japan for a few months to eat sushi there. I also like your #20, 29, and 37! Best of luck!

      • pithypants November 3, 2013 at 12:07 pm #

        Wait. Did you move to Japan JUST TO EAT SUSHI? Or did you move there and then get to eat sushi. I’m imagining moving to Italy to eat pizza now.

      • The Atidecrem Life Project November 3, 2013 at 12:16 pm #

        I was so burned out at work, and at that time, I was into anything Japanese. So when I told my management, “I quit,” they said, “don’t do that. Take a leave and come back.” So I went to Japan alone, made it my base country, and travelled to other countries from there. I’ve always loved sushi and sashimi, so it really helped with the decision, but I really wanted to eat sushi in Japan. I think it is awesome to eat food/dishes where they originate.

  13. Lorna's Voice November 4, 2013 at 4:54 pm #

    Happy birthday! My birthday is coming up. Golly, I’d have to do a 56 X 56 list. That’s too many things to do, don’t you think? I’m tired just thinking about it!

    • pithypants November 5, 2013 at 1:08 pm #

      Right. I think that once you’ve crossed 52 and are looking at something more than a feat per week, it’s time to just go back to picking ONE major thing from your big bucket list and focusing on that.

      • Lorna's Voice November 5, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

        That sounds about right…


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