Several years ago, or perhaps more recently than that, bucket lists were the thing to do. Bucket lists for the year, for the seasons, (I even had at least one) for the holidays, and for getting older, most notably 30 before 30.
Well, I never got around to making that 30 before 30 list. However, since my birthday in March, I have done a great deal of thinking about the things I am glad to have accomplished before 30.
I ran the race.
Whether it is a marathon, a half, or a 5k, or something altogether different, like bikram yoga or barre method or swimming, I believe it is incredibly important to find a rhythm of getting active. For a few years, this was me running an annual 10 miler here in DC. Two kids later, I am still finding and readjusting my workout rhythm and routine -- most often it is a long, fast paced walk. Whatever yours rhythm is, grab onto it and find ways for it lead to whole health -- cardio pumping, stress reducing, fresh air breathing, calorie burning.
I took career risk.
Somewhere between living in Boston and DC I took a few risks. I accepted a job with a presidential administration with very little background knowledge of what would be required of me. I returned to work for a former boss in IT after we both acknowledged I knew only about 10% of what was needed, but that he thought I was still the right fit. Then I left the traditional workforce completely to stay at home and be a building manager. Whatever your career risk looks like, your 20s is the time to take it. Worry less, risk more.
I left home in Philadelphia. I left a city I loved, Boston. But I kept moving. Mark and I have some longer term goals of getting settled someday. But in the mean time, we are keeping our hearts open to moving. Even when you feel firmly rooted in a place, you may be at you most mobile state. Don't count out moving just yet.
I learned to cook.
Along the way I have burnt everything from elbow macaroni to bacon wrapped dates (and probably countless other things Mark could surely name for you). One of the biggest lessons I needed to discover in cooking was what I preferred. I learned that I like the "throw it in the pot, mix it all together" type of cooking. I also don't like baking chicken, I'm afraid it will dry out. These are pretty minor, but knowing this has guided what I spent my efforts learning. Also, finding a few cooks, or cooking blogs whose taste/style you like is far better way to go than tossing some darts at pinterest. That is just plain overwhelming.
I changed priorities.
I realized that when given the choice between two desires, I had to have my priorities in order. Most significantly, this is a apparent in our housing choice. We have chosen location (in the city, short commute) over size (1 bedroom apartment, less than 900 sq. feet). Your choice might not be so specific, but understanding the weight of your priorities is extremely important and will help you when decisions need to be made quickly. For example, I really want a fireplace, but a yard/play space definitely needs to rank higher on my list -- I am raising two wild and crazy boys! We have also applied these priorities more broadly to our family life. Mark often needs to work long hours, but never on Saturday or Sunday mornings. Those are non-negotiables for us. It is more important to have family time and go to church together for worship than to have our weeknights be less chaotic. The crazy thing about priorities is they ebb and flow. There is a constant motion of life that leads to these priorities shifting and our re-examining time and time again. But approaching this is prayer is the only way we have kept sane. We pray about priorities daily.
I learned my needs.
This is similar to priorities, but looks more basic. For example, I need to process my day before it gets started. Although I never realized this before, waking up last leads to a grouchy or at the very least, somewhat flustered day. I also need to eat small snacks throughout the day. I get lightheaded easily and if I skip snacks, often get bad headaches. Starting with a glass of water, rather than coffee, leads to less caffeine consumption over all. These needs are basic, but also easily overlooked. As I process my needs, and ensure I meet them, my days run smoother. I become a more effective wife, mother, and friend when my needs are met. I also need to talk to an adult during the day. As an extrovert, staying home with the boys left me leaning too heavily on Mark and my siblings for my communication outlets when I first transitioned to home. I will be sharing more specifically about this need later this week.
If you are going to make any list, make a list of books to read and actually read them. This is a life giving habit. It will carry you through many changes and trials, and serve you well as you age. Make reading a daily part of your life now while you have the time. (I promise, you have significantly more time than you think you do). I was an early adopter of Good Reads, but then it felt like it took up too much time. Recently, I have gone back to this website/app because I find it encourages me to keep reading. It also helps me keep track of what is on my to-read list and what I should request at the library. Are you a reader? What are your tricks to keep reading, and keep track?
I dove into friendships.
Over the course of my 20s, I both consciously and subconsciously began to narrow my friendships. This doesn't look like ignoring or excluding people. In fact, I send more snail mail and Christmas cards than ever before. Over the course of a week, I invest in and lean on far more friends, than ever before. But by narrow I mean, I stopped spending time with things that didn't align to priorities. When I do talk to these friends, it is a much narrower subject area, which leads to significantly deeper conversations and relationships. In talking with friends, I focus on the most important parts of our life, which leads to deeper relationships.
I learned to bake.
This might have been a bit of my mid-life crisis preview. I realized I couldn't make my own kid's birthday cake without fear of it totally flopping. After feeling unfit to be a mother (totally irrational) I went through costco size bags of flour and sugar (definitely impulsive). However, at the end of this crazy spurt of baking, I now have go-to chocolate chips cookies or scones when I need to bring something somewhere. I can make homemade bread or biscuits if we really want them with dinner. And I can make an apple pie. Your baking endeavors might look differently. Or you might decide you have no desire to bake these things. However, learning a few basics gave me the freedom to bring grocery store cupcakes to Behr's class on his birthday. I now have the choice, homemade or store bought and it is freeing.
These are a handful of milestones I crossed before I reached 30. They aren't a perfectly round 10 or a pre-planned bucket list. But they are life lessons that were accomplished over time and more often in community. I hope that some of these can be relatable to you. Even encourage you that after spending your entire life in school, there is still a great deal of learning in your 20s. In fact, there is a great deal more learning that what is simply listed here. I would love to know what you are learning these days.
What have you changed or conquered in the past few years of your life?
regardless of which side of 30 you are on