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wish list: 29 things to do before i turn 30


In three days, I'll be entering the last year of my twenties. In three days, I'll be only 365 days away from the big three-oh. Crazy! As always, I'm thrilled to be celebrating my birthday (I'm a big fan of festivities!), and this year my celebrations have an added bonus: recapping the list I put together last August of the 28 things I wanted to do before I turned 29. As someone who strives to be present, looking back isn't something I encourage myself to do often, but I feel like birthdays are one of those rare occasions when it's beneficial to look back on the past year and contemplate the progress made. 

As I settled down to review the 28 Things to Do Before I Turn 29 list, I was flooded with a rush of warm memories from the past 12 months. So much has happened -- it's been one of those "big" years -- and I feel content with where I am in my life. I have a lot to be proud of and a lot to be excited for -- and what could be better than that? As I contemplated the wish list I had for last year, I realized how thankful I was to have it. I was grateful that I'd taken the time to think about the things I wanted over the year (a year-long vision board of sorts) and I was also grateful that I now had something I could reflect on as I recalled the year I was 28.

Instead of hazy memories and a vague sense of accomplishment, I had a tangible list (taped near my desk, complete with items I'd crossed out as I accomplished them) I could review, making it easier not only to recall some of the fun times from the year before, but also to see exactly what I had (or, in some cases, hadn't) accomplished over the past year. Doing the recap of the list was both fun and productive, giving me a sense of pride at what I'd done -- and the thrill of knowing I could create a whole new list for this new year of my life. Here's what I discovered when I took a closer look at all the crossed-off items on my list: 


The Recap : 28 Things to Do Before Turning 29

1. Write a new short story (fiction!). The piece I wrote isn't my favorite piece of work, but I'm glad that I got back into fiction writing. // 2. Visit the Kandinsky art exhibit. Checked it out last August and loved it. What a talented and inspiring artist! // 3. Discover amazing new music every MondayDiscovered so many new artists on Urban Outfitters and found monthly free songs on Amazon. Yay! // 4. Cover my wall with my own art. Maybe not covered, but I added a few more pieces and it makes me happy to see my own creations on our walls. // 5. Volunteer at an animal shelter. I served the committee for my local animal shelter's annual gala and I loved it so much that I'm doing it again in 2012. // 6. Eat more fruits + veggies. Still a work-in-progress, but I've been doing much better this summer with help of my boyfriend's new healthy eating habits! // 7. Visit Portland, OR + ask about PortlandiaGot laughed at for asking locals about Portlandia, but feel head-over-heels for Portland. Love it and can't wait to go back someday. // 8. Learn how to take great photos with my DSLR. I don't know if my photos are in the "great" category yet, but I've definitely improved and I've actually found that using my iPhone camera has helped my skills as well. // 9. Get something (an article?) published. My first published article, "Living in the Moment," was featured in Life + Dog. Yay! // 10. Keep adding money to my savings. Did an amazing job of this until I left my full-time job and had to start digging into them -- but that's what all the saving was for! // 11. Summit an entry to PostsecretCan't tell you what I sent in, but I dropped it in the mail this year and it felt good to send my secret out into the world. // 12. Take Bella for more walks. I'm walking her quite often these days and I'm trying to really enjoy the time I have left with her. // 13. Make this cool art for my apartment. This didn't turn out as cool as I'd hoped (perhaps it was my lack of patience...), but I had fun making it. // 14. Stop watching so much TV. I cut my DVR-recording list in half, but I still find myself watching way more TV than I'd like. Adding this one to this year's list! // 15. Read at least 50 books on my list. I've read 67 books since August 2011. Woohoo for reading! // 16. Make a digital scrapbook. I didn't actually do this, but I think Instagram counts. It's a scrapbook of my life! // 17. Finish reading + be inspired by The Spark Kit. The kit was absolutely inspiring, as was The Fire Starter Sessions. So empowering! // 18. Make these polaroid magnets. I made these for myself (and for my sis too!). Really loved this project. // 19. Say "I love you" more often. Hmmm... Not so sure if I did very well on this one. It's still something I need to work on. // 20. Learn to sell on Etsy + Ebay. Etsy? No. Ebay? Yes. Didn't love it, but I mastered it! // 21. Create a book with my Instagram photos. I created one for my parents instead -- but I ended up making some stickers for my holiday cards. // 22. Finish + share my ebook. Successfully launched Live Happily Ever After Now. So happy with it and the positive feedback it received! // 23. Plan a trip to visit my cousin in Hawaii. Funds being what they are, I haven't planned this yet. Maybe in 2012/2013! // 24. Make a new vision board. I just did this one recently + was very pleased with the results// 25. Organize my art + wrapping supplies. Finally did this! Here's how it turned out. I'm in love with my craft cart! // 26. Participate in this Photo ChallengeNot only did I do this challenge, but I also created Gratitude, Christmas, and 365 Photo projects of my own. Photos really help me stay present and mindful. // 27. Find an incredible Halloween costume. I found not one, but two -- this Elf costume + this ringmaster costume. // 28. Be more positive + present (of course!). Always a work-in-progress, but feel good about the progress I've made over the past year. 


The past year has been one of my best. Though I didn't cross everything off of my list, I'm pretty proud of how I've spent the last 365 days. Most of the things I wanted to do, I accomplished. And I did a couple of other pretty cool things too like: quitting my job to start writing full time, finishing the draft of my book (can't wait to share it with you all!), publishing my first workbook, becoming a Google Search Expert (nerd alert!), discovering amazingness on Pinterest (love that site!), seeing a lot of my favorite artists perform live, getting my first full-size Christmas tree (which made me feel very grown up!), and trying out meditation, just to name a few. It's been a very exciting year -- and I have a feeling that this next one's going to be just as thrilling! 

I'm looking forward to this next year -- the last year of my twenties! -- and it was fun to spend time thinking about the things I want to accomplish before I launch myself into the next decade of my life. Here are the 29 things I hope to do before I turn 30: 

29 things before 30
Creating my wish list last year made me realize how much I really enjoy having a checklist, a motivator helping me to do the things I might want to do but might need a little push to get started on, and I can't wait to get started on this next list. If you don't have a list of your own, I'd recommend creating one. It doesn't have to be as long as the ones I've created (even a list with a handful of things can help push you to do what you've been wanting to do), but it should be filled with things that will make you feel happy, productive, and inspired. 

What do you want to do before your next birthday?
I'd love to hear what's on your wish list!  

put the bad book down : 5 reasons to stop wasting time



For months, my dad was reading a book he didn't enjoy. He would complain about it, but continued to trudge through it. Typically able to read a book in a week or less, it took him months to finish this one. All the while, I told him, "Life's too short. Just stop reading it and start reading something else!" He refused, determined, as always, not to put a half-read book back on the shelf. I would shake my head, never quite understanding why anyone would waste free time on something that wasn't enjoyable. 

My dad and his determination got me thinking though. How often to we keep at something even when it's not bringing us happiness? How often do we persevere for reasons other than true joy? Of course, there are many things in life we don't enjoy that we must do, but what about the things that aren't required? Do we do them because we love them? Or do we do them because we feel we should?  

Giving up isn't something I love to do, but it's something that's sometimes necessary for living a positively present life -- especially when it comes to personal pastimes and just-for-fun activities. We've all heard the old "life is short" saying, but do we really take it to heart when it comes to pursuing a task no longer bringing us joy? Some of us know when to stop, when to throw in the towel -- but many of us will doggedly pursue something, even when the fun has been sucked out of it and it seems more like a chore than a pastime. Determination is a worthwhile trait, but, when it comes to your free time, sometimes it's just better to put the bad book down. Here's why you should stop doing what you don't love: 

5 Reasons to Stop Doing What You Don't Love

1. It's a waste of time. You know that life is short, but do you really act like it's short? Between work or school, relationships, and commitments, we're only given so much free time to spend doing what we really love to be doing. Are you doing what you love during your precious hours of free time? Or are you doing what you think you should? Are you making the most of every minute? Because if you're not, you're wasting your time -- and, as I'm sure you know, time is one of life's most valuable commodities. 

2. It's getting in the way of fun. If you're not doing what you love to do, you're not having fun. Spending time on activities that don't bring you joy hinder you from making the most of your free time. They take all the fun out of being able to do what you want. If a pastime is starting to feel more like a chore, consider it a fun-blocker. If you keep doing it, you're blocking the way to potentially fun activities -- and who wants to do that? Don't let fun-blockers get in the way of enjoying your free time! 

3. It's boring. Doing something you don't enjoy doing gets old really, really quickly -- especially if it's something you're not being rewarded for or paid for. You've probably heard the saying "only boring people are bored," and there's some truth in that. If whatever you're spending your free time has become mundane, it's time to spice it up. Free time is an amazing gift and the last thing it should wasted on is an activity that bores you. 

4. It's a source of frustration. Like my dad reading his bad book, the more time you spend on an activity that doesn't bring you happiness, the more frustrated you'll become with it -- and with yourself. While a little frustration can make things interesting, for the most part, your free time should be spent doing things that inspire and excite you. If you're facing more frustrations than fun, it's time to rethink the way you're spending your time. 

5. It's not the only option. If you're spending your time doing what you don't want to be doing, you're missing out on doing all the things you do want to be doing. For example, think of all the amazing and exciting books in the world! My dad could have easily put down the one he was reading and picked up another option. No matter what you enjoy doing in your free time, there's always a fun alternative for a pastime that grows dull. Not giving up what you don't love gives you a lot less time to test new options. 

Whether it's a bad book, a craft project, an experience you've been trying to cross off your bucket list -- if it's not making you happy and bringing you joy, don't do it. We sometimes set goals for ourselves and feel that we'll be let down if we don't achieve them. It's okay to accept that something isn't what you thought it would be. It's okay to change your mind and realize you no longer want to do what you started doing. Now, I'm not advising you to give up on your goals or sell yourself short when it comes to your big, crazy dreams -- but consider how you're spending your free time and ask yourself if it's really what you want to be doing. You might be surprised by the answer and realize that, yes, it's time to put the bad book down. 


creating your vision board : 3 essentials for success


"What you think is what you are.
What you pursue becomes your reality."



I'm not quite sure how I feel about the Law of Attraction (sometimes I swear it must be true; other times I feel it's just me seeing what I want to see), but I'm passionate about knowing what I want and going after it. Which is why I periodically create vision boards to physically depict what I want in life. (See my DANI board from back in 2010.) Not only is it fun for me to create something (I'm a big fan of crafts, as you can see by my new craft cart!), but it's also a great way for me to sit down and really think about what I want in life. I, like many of us, claim I know what I want, but sitting down and really thinking about it helps me focus on what's really important to me -- and determine how I can incorporate those important things into my life. 

Creating a vision board is easy. Because it's about you and what you want, you can use any format and any medium. Even though it's a completely open-ended task, having done this a few times, I've discovered that there are some essentials that should be woven into the vision board-creating process. Here's what you'll need to have to make your vision a success: 


#1 : Time

To create a truly great vision for yourself, you need time. You need the time to figure out what you really want in your life. Just slapping some words or images on a board isn't going to get you very far (or very far in the right direction). Determining a vision for your life takes careful thought. As you create your vision, imagine what it would be like to really get (or keep) these things in your life. Are they really what you want? When you dedicate time to your vision, you'll uncover what's truly important to you -- and avoid desiring things you think you're supposed to want.

Giving yourself time to create the vision you truly want also frees you up to think about things that are important to you that you might not have considered before. Time gives you the freedom to see things from a different point of view -- and to contemplate some aspects of your life that you might not have thought of as important before. For example, I put "concerts" on my vision board. Sounds a bit trivial, doesn't it? But, for me, being at a really great concert is one of the true places I feel absolute and utter joy. (Just ask anyone who's gone to one with me and seen that stupid grin on my face as I bounce up and down with the excitement of a toddler!) "Concerts" didn't come to my mind when I first started working on the board, but after spending time thinking about what I really want more of in my life, they came to me. 

It's tempting to just rush into the whole vision board thing. After all, you know what you want, right? But don't rush it. If you take your time, you'll discover things -- important things -- that are must-haves for your life's vision. 


#2: Accountability 

Yes, the vision board is just for you -- but when we don't share our dreams and desires with the world, we lose some of the accountability that comes with sharing what we want. When you tell others what you want, you're more likely to actively go after it. You're more likely to stay on track with your goals. Same goes for your vision. If you tell someone about it, you'll both make it more tangible and you'll have someone to hold you accountable for your desires. You don't have go blog it the world (like I'm about to do!), but even just telling one person can help you be more successful in turning visions into realities. Here are the items on my current board . . . 


1. Bella  –  my best pup; need to enjoy the time I have with her 

2. Boyfriend  –  best guy I know; need lots of him in my life

3. My Book  –  hoping for lots of success with the launch (coming soon!)

4. Sobriety  –  two years and counting... gotta keep it up! 

5. Now  –  living in the present is a struggle, but a worthy aspiration

6. Music  –  cannot live without it; a life-long must-have!

7. Love  –  romantic, platonic, familial: the more love, the better

8. Beach  –  need to spend more time by the seashore

9. Calling (not Job)  –  less work, more passion

10. Organization  –  essential for my productivity (and sanity!)

11. Meaning  –  living life with a purpose is vital

12. Art  –  it inspires and excites me

13. Positivity  –  imperative for living the best possible life

14. Friends  –  couldn't survive without them

15. Knowledge  –  always learning, always curious

16. Romance  –  adds a little sparkle to any day

17. Sunshine  –  lights up even a dark day

18. Color  –  one of my favorite things in life

19. Dreams  –  never giving up on my crazy ones

20. Perseverance  –  even when I struggle, I must keep going

21. Time  –  to do what I love, to enjoy life

22. Happiness  –  a lasting, content kind

23. Relaxation  –  hard for me, but I need more of it

24. Creativity  –  making my ideas into realities

25. Concerts  –  few things make me happier

26. Truth  –  difficult at times, but always the way to go

27. Tools  –  particularly technology, one of my great loves

28. Gratitude  –  striving to be thankful for all I have

29. Laughter  –  without it, life would be such a waste

30. Writing  –  the only thing I could spend a lifetime doing

31. Action  –  less waiting, more doing

32. Give Back  –  donating time to those (pups) in need

33. Clouds  –  without them, sunshine would be meaningless

34. Business  –  building, growing, succeeding

35. Celebration  –  life's too short not to celebrate

36. Beauty  –  it's everywhere & I want to find it all

37. Adventures  –  need more of these in my life

38. Money  –  enough to be comfortable & make a difference

39. Books  –  without them, I would be lost

40. Home  –  someday, a house; now, my little family in our apartment


It feels good, putting those desires out there. Now if ever start to give up on these dreams -- or lose sight of what matters most -- I've got a whole bunch of people out there in the world who could hold me accountable. 

#3 : Conviction

Finally, you need conviction. You need to believe that what you want is what you can get. If you don't, your vision board is certain to struggle. You need certainty. You need confidence. Without the belief that you can (and will!) succeed, your visions won't be more than just images on paper. The main purpose of creating a vision board is to identify what you want, but it also serves as a reminder for you to be confident in yourself and your desires. Believe that you can achieve what you want -- and, more importantly, believe that you deserve to achieve it. 


Have you ever created a vision board? 
If you have (or will), what's on it (or will be on it)?