When I turned eighteen I felt like I was standing at the precipice of some monumental shift in my life that I couldn't quite define. After receiving a handmade card from a family friend where they had written in it, "Someone once said 'all the world's a stage'... here's hoping your future is filled with successful comedies and love stories," I realized what it was that gnawed at the edges of my being: I was unsettled about the next chapter of my life's story, because for the first time ever I honestly had no idea what it held.
I was a free spirit who wanted to wring everything I could out of the life that I was blessed with. I couldn't imagine doing what it seemed everybody else was on course to do: graduate from high school (and promise to stay friends forever with people you'd inevitably forget about within years), graduate from college (after partying the first two years, and hunkering down and taking it more seriously the latter two years), get a 9 to 5 job (with a decent benefits package), find a stable boy (who may not be perfect, but you can see what a good husband and father he might make someday), have said boy propose (with a stereotypical diamond in some cliché manner on a holiday no doubt), buy a house together (because that's what you do when you're serious about someone), get a dog (and if that survives...), have a baby (and name it something stupid)... all before age thirty.
Where was the adventure? The time for self-discovery? The opportunity to make a huge move, fail miserably, and bounce back with fists up and a chin held high? And where were those comedies and love stories?!
So, I made a promise to myself: I wouldn't settle down until I was twenty-eight. I thought ten years would be plenty of time to do everything I wanted to do in life, like explore: the world, jobs, boys (I vowed to not get married until that ten years was up), mistakes, miracles, and most importantly: myself.
I just didn't realize how fast ten years would fly by.
I have lived a lot of life in this past decade and of all the accomplishments I have under my belt, the one I'm most proud of is keeping that promise I made to myself. Who does that? Who follows-through with some pact they made with themselves when they were eighteen? I did. And regardless of how selfish it may have seemed to put myself first, to spend these last ten years having the best love affair a person could ever have... it was the most important thing I've done in all of my days
So far, that is.
Twenty-eight is probably the age I approached with the least trepidation, because I realized: nothing was going to happen. When the clock strikes twelve and I magically turn from twenty-seven to twenty-eight I'm still going to be me. An extremely short, freckled girl with messy mermaid hair who fights relentlessly for what she believes in, feels emotions intensely loves passionately, and is continually humbled by the grace of God.
The only thing that's different about me (besides that second number of my two digit age)? I did everything I said I was going to do...
(I didn't put this list together to brag or to bore. I put it together for my own stubborn head and heart to be reminded of the beauty in a life well lived...)
Explore the world...
- Got tattooed in Fayetteville, North Carolina
- I was nearly stung by a jellyfish in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
- I fell in love with the west coast thanks to Seattle, Washington
- I saw a komatala in San Diego, California
- Did Halloween in Salem, Massachusetts
- Became an alcohol spokesmodel in Killington, Vermont
- Found the prettiest autumn drive in Lincoln, New Hampshire
- Attended indie fashion shows in NYC, New York
- Took a drive for a cheesesteak to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Ate my weight in BBQ in Munsford, Tennessee
- Went gambling with money that wasnt mine somewherein Mississippi
- Had the best and drunkest vacation of my life in Tornoto, Canada
- Got pickpocketed in Montreal, Canada
- Lived in Dublin, Ireland
- Lived in Tenerife, Spain
- Lived in Basingstoke, England
- Took a holiday to Guernsey (the Channel islands)
Had loads of different jobs...
- Sports writer
- Beer model
- Substitute teacher
- Au pair
- English teacher
- Marketing specialist for Guinness
- Marketing director for Gelato Fiasco
- Marketing and brand manager for Turtle Love Committee
- Marketing assistant for KICTeam, Inc.
- Marketing manager for Baxter Brewing Company
- New media producer for Healthcare Finance News
- New media producer for a friend in the tattoo industry
- Self-published author
Owned many cars...
- a Volvo stationwagon
- a Chevy Citation
- a Toyota Camry
- a 1998 Ford Taurus
- a 2003 Ford Taurus
- a Ford Fusion
Got lots of ink...
- a phoenix on my lower back
- "75%" on ankle
- a butterfly on neck
- snowflakes down the leftside of my torso
- the longitude/latitude of an apple orchard
- song lyrics down my forearm
- my sister's signature on my left wrist
- my mom's signature on my right wrist
- a 3/4 sleeve of apple blossoms
- and, a wasp
- starred in indie films (like 13th Heaven, Freaky Farley, Off-Air, Gray [for the 48 Hr. Film Fest in Boston])
- went to lots of concerts (like Nickel Creek, Sufjan Stevens, Andrew Bird, St. Vincent, Mumford and Sons, Miike Snow)
- was the maid of honor in two weddings
- had my identity stolen twice
- had my phone number writen on a men's bathrom wall
- tried out for Olympics
- went to college three different times for three different things
- kissed a total stranger on the street
- went skinny dipping
- went to a drive-in theater
- started a business
- auditioned for a reality show
- read the Bible cover to cover
- attempted skateboarding
- jumped off a cliff into water
- learned to play the guitar
- wrote a demo CD
- went to an all day music festival
- became a vegetarian
- purchased a designer shirt
- visited a castle
- got a pet
- took up yoga
- gave out several microloans
- volunteered with youth
- did three 365 projects
- won awards for a book I wrote
- rode a segway
- climbed a tree
- spent lots of time on a nude beach
So... what's next?
After reflecting on all the things I've accomplished, I know there are a couple things missing I'd like to do. And I'd like to do them as soon as possible. Since I'm a girl who likes a challenge (especially when it comes from myself), I thought the next step would be to create a "leap list" of all the thing I'd like to do before I leap into my thirties (which I hear are fanfuckingtabulous... less drama, indecision, whining, entitlement, and self-absorption. Sign me up!). As you’ll see, some are ridiculously simple. But life has a way of happening. And I don't want to overlook the little things - I want to stare directly at them, and make them feel both acknowledged and appreciated. Because they are. Truly.
So, I present to you my next big life project entitled: Thirty Before Thirty (the thirty things I'd like to do before I'm thirty). In no particular order....
1. Write a thank you note to everyone in my life who made a difference
2. See a sunrise from somewhere I never have before
3. See a sunset from somewhere I never have before
4. Fill my wine rack, then drink it all
5. Give 100 hours of community service
6. Read all my children's books
7. Go to karaoke or an open mic night and preform
8. Give a ridiculously large tip to a ridiculously nice waitress
9. Buy a new wardrobe and donate my old clothing
10. Find 100 geocaches
11. Run a mile
12. Buy a piece of art
13. Build a blanket fort and have a sleepover (preferably with my sister)
14. Do something for animal activism
15. Turn twenty-nine
16. Go to bed by 8pm or earlier every day for two weeks
17. Take a road trip
18. Attempt to not complain about anything for a week
19. Go 48 hours by myself without ANY technology distractions
20. Do yoga outside on the beach or in a meadow
21. Take a picture of every beautiful thing I see
22. Visit every apple orchard in Maine
23. Move to a place I like
24. Get a car I like
25. Go snowboarding again
26. Help somebody knock something off their own leap or bucket list
27. Build a puzzle from start to finish
28. Pull an all-nighter with friends doing something fun (that doesn't necessarily revolve around alcohol)
29. Do something - anything - spontaneous
With such a busy schedule, I've lost the ability to just get up and do something unplanned these past few years. I'd like to change that. I need to revive that sense of freedom that comes with spontaneity.
30. TBA (because a girl needs options, and life likes to throw curve balls)
Thank you to everybody who took even a single step in my journey these past ten years. I hope you'll stick around to see what the next two... even ten... years has to offer. I have a feeling it's going to be crazy and beautiful.
Who would want it any other way?
With love and gratitude,