8 In Celebrations/ Goals/ Heart

My 30 Before 30 List (and Some Thoughts on Turning 29)

I used the front yard of our house in Charleston, MO frequently for on-location outfit shoots. 🙂

Thoughts on 29

Today is my 29th birthday, and I’m surprised to report that that statement actually feels really right. I’ve often heard people reflect on this time of life by saying that part of the joy of your late 20s and early 30s is finally not caring what other people think. Well, let’s be honest, to borrow a sentiment from Mollie Hemingway, not caring what other people think is my veritable spiritual gift (and may be a byproduct of loving nothing more than Bible study and musical theater throughout junior high and high school). Nothing new there!

One thing I have noticed slowly shedding is my deep sense of nostalgia. I have always been accustomed to a kind of quiet panic accompanying birthdays (Have I done enough with my life? Oh my gosh, I’ll never be 28 again!). I’ve looked back at my childhood, my college years, and my early 20s (except law school) with rose-tinted glasses and a sense of wistfulness. I’ve felt like what’s ahead can’t possibly be as fun as what’s behind. I really noticed a difference when my parents moved. Yes, I wanted to commemorate the move and take a moment to honor that era. But it wasn’t the identity crisis that I think it would have been a couple of years ago.

As I’ve considered this shift, I’ve taken some time to think about what is different now (not with circumstances, but with my perspective).  I’ve had more time and freedom over the past year than I have in a very long time to call the shots on the direction of my life, and it has been so fulfilling to get to decide how to spend my time more intentionally (see Ephesians 5:15-17). This has meant stretching and challenging myself to be more adventurous, try new things, and trust myself when I’m in completely new territory. But it has also been guided by a joy rooted in more regimented routines that have brought the contentment that only discipline can. (I wrote a little bit about that here.) It definitely doesn’t mean I don’t have a million things to work on, but instead that I think I’ve found joy in the journey peace in the struggle.

And of course, circumstances ain’t too bad around here either! I have always been blessed beyond measure, but it’s particularly evident waking up with my best friend singing happy birthday and the sweetest puppy in the world trying her hardest to get a lick in whenever she can. 🙂 So this year, as always, I am thankful for this moment and the blessings that surround me in it. God is always good.

My 30 Before 30 List

In that spirit, I’ve also wanted to compile one of those 101 in 1001 lists that so many bloggers do for a very long time. But 101 things has always sounded so overwhelming to me, and it just seems destined for failure, even if I had three years. Honestly even 30 items in one year is ambitious. That’s almost two and a half items a month, people! I’m not doing this just because it’s cute, though, and there are some things I really want to say I’ve done before I’m 30 so maybe when I get there I can know which things I want to spend more time on. So, without further ado, here is my hopefully-somewhat-doable-but-also-challenging to-do list for this year (in no particular order):

  1. Take tennis lessons.
  2. Develop a consistent and substantial designated prayer time.
  3. Make individual photo albums of our trips to Italy and Maui.
  4. Make photo albums of 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 (I have to get at least two items for all those albums!).
  5. Celebrate Will’s 30th birthday beautifully and meaningfully.
  6. Buy an old-fashioned, real, grown-up pajama set and rock it like Lucille Ball.
  7. Brush up on my French.
  8. Clean out all of our storage spaces.
  9. Celebrate our second anniversary with champagne and cake.
  10. Try a round of golf (or at least the driving range).
  11. Revamp my skincare routine.
  12. Admit my hair just isn’t that curly anymore, and finally learn how to do my own blow out.
  13. Revamp my hair care products and styling routine once I’ve done number 12.
  14. Make a rotating cleaning schedule and try to clean for 15 minutes a day.
  15. Try calligraphy.
  16. Prioritize more time for walking Pippa and use it to call family and friends.
  17. See 12 plays/musicals.
  18. Learn things about wine (I’m not really even sure what there is to know, but I guess I’ll learn that too).
  19. Learn about the cheeses that pair with said wines and how to make a proper cheese board.
  20. Read one book on finances.
  21. Take a class on floral arrangement.
  22. Find a cause I care about to volunteer with through Junior League.
  23. Take a sailing lesson.
  24. Do an entire month of the Whole 30 without cheating.
  25. Try CorePower Yoga and buy classes there or at another local yoga studio.
  26. Finally get to inbox 0 and attempt to respond to personal emails in a timely manner.
  27. Invest more time and effort into my outward gratitude list. (If you’re wondering where all the acts of kindness for other people are on this list, those things are on their own separate list. Details coming soon.)
  28. Finish blogging our entire wedding before our second anniversary.
  29. Run a 5k.
  30. LEFT INTENTIONALLY BLANK (gotta leave room for a brilliant idea).

I’m going to create a new page to add to the bar on the top of the blog to track this list and report on progress. Also, expect to see these items in my monthly goal lists. I’m not superwoman, people.


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  • Sandra Cox

    Wow! Your 30 before 30 is exhausting! You can do it if anyone can. Have a happy, happy 29 Catherine.
    Love from the Cox’s
    Tom, Sandy, Katie, Corinne and Maggie

    • Catherine

      Thank you, Sandy! My love to all of you as well!

  • I’m so in love with this list! You go girl! So if I find some things that will check off multiple things on your list in Charleston will you come visit ASAP?! I’m thinking a weekend of floral arranging, play watching, wine tasting fun is in order!

    Erin, Attention to Darling

    • Catherine

      YES!! Visit Charleston is definitely on the list too!!!

  • Sarah Shaneyfelt

    I love this! I turn 29 next month and I find myself wondering how I’ll feel my last year of my 20s. I love the mindset of just being in the present and being more intentional about the time we spend. Happy Birthday!

    • Catherine

      I love that, Sarah! Thanks for stopping by, and that’s so cool that we are the same age!

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