I haven't always called these challenges "birthday-bucket-list-challenge." They started just as birthday challenges, but the new name sums up the purpose. I created the first list, 25 While 25, because I was noticing that I was getting caught up in daily routines. I had dreams but I was planning to do them "someday" without any plans to make someday happen. I decided I wanted to do things that Past-Liz and Future-Liz could both be proud of. The goals I set were there to help me be the type of person I hope to be, realize my dreams, and keep the love of life alive.
This year's list has been the most challenging to create. The goals are more abstract and introspective, which is why I've added description. I am anticipating the next months are going to be very interesting and probably filled with a mix of joys and set backs. I look forward to the adventures ahead and meeting the Liz I will be on my next birthday.
This is the list:
1) Choose a "My One Word"
I found the process of choosing a word and the year journey with my word useful and something I want to repeat this year. The idea of the movement (project) is that by choosing a word to focus your year around and making it a lens to see the world through, it can change your life.
2) Read the whole Bible
This is a clear goal, it has been a while since I've made it all the way through the Bible. I read about 16 books last year, some more than once. My goal is the whole Bible using a One Year Bible reading plan. I will be happy if I read as many, or more, of the Scriptures that I did last year.
3) Paint the canvas
This is a familiar challenge. I bought this canvas for my 30th birthday. My intent had been to add something every month. It didn't happen. It is going to happen... someday. My goal is that it will happen some time this year.
4) Go on a spiritual retreat
I've already accomplished this one. Early in May I attended Mark East, an annual retreat put on by Intervarsity. It was amazing and exactly what I needed at the time.
5) Fill a journal
I enjoy writing. I especially enjoy journaling. I find it helps me process, think, and especially pray. In the past it has been a key tool in my spiritual development. In college, and while living abroad, filling a journal was a regular occurrence. Lately journaling hasn't been a priority; I want to change that. I don't think a filled journal will magically fix my habits but it is a start.
6) Take a course
We hear lots of things about the importance of being a continual learner. I like the idea, which is where the idea of this challenge came from. I know there are more ways to learn, but I also know me and taking a course is one way to achieve this goal. The best part is, a friend registered me for a 14 module writing course, which I am enjoying.
7) Write more
This is an abstract goal. How do I measure "more"? What does a win look like? There are two parts to this challenge 1) writing fiction and 2) blogging.
When it comes to fiction, I only seem to write in November. I want to change that which is why I've started the daily writing warm-up challenge. Any month, outside of NaNoWriMo, that I write more than 500 words is a success. I have started work on a novel, if I complete it outside Nano, I think that could also count towards a win.
For the blog, I want to be more active on the site than I was during my 33rd year. That means I need to exceed 115 posts. So far I am off to a good start.
8) Read more
Another abstract post. I think a victory would be two-fold. Part one is completing at least two thirds of the reading challenges I have signed up for in 2015. Part two would be signing up for at least 15 challenges in 2016.
9) Dance more
This is inspired by Kid President's Guide to Being Awesome. There just needs to be more dancing in my life. I am going to work on my happy dance, dance in public, and if I have opportunities to actually learn to dance, try it.
10) Draw (almost) weekly
Starting next week the Wednesday weekly sketches will be back. My specific goal will to have 35 sketches throughout the next year.
11) Be thankful
Normally, this means writing the weekly Thankful Thursday posts. This challenge will include writing a minimum of 35 weekly thankful posts but I want to add giving thank you cards. I don't have a specific way to track this goal. I want to be a person who acknowledges what others have done and who says thank you. Setting a number goal doesn't seem useful. If I surpass the number, it is not like I am going to stop being thankful. Does anyone have any suggestions?
12) Make 500 cards
This might be a bit optimistic but possibly doable. I considered making the goal 1000 but a friend pointed out that if I did try to make 1000 cards that would be the sole goal accomplished this year - and that would be no bueno. Even 250 will be better than nothing. Either way, card making will happen this year.
13) Do something I've been putting off
I'm a procrastinator; there are always things that I've been putting off that need to be done, like laundry or dishes. For this challenge I am thinking about the big tasks that I've been putting off for years.
14) Experience Summer
Since graduating from college I often feel like I miss summer. But not this year. This year the goal is to enjoy summer as much as possible. I am hoping to hike, visit the beach, have a bonfire, swim, maybe camp, canoe, or even sleep under the stars.
15) Learn to cook five dishes
This challenge began as "learn to make a poached egg". Then I added hollandaise sauce as a separate goal, then more dishes were added till half of the 35 goals were food-related. I've pared the cooking list down and complied it into one goal. I want to learn to make Eggs Benedict, risotto, a fish dish, a dish with egg plant (that I enjoy), and something I've never tried.
16) Cosplay with my sister (at Hal-Con)
My sister and I have been talking about cosplaying together since December. In February I shared some of our top character/costume ideas. We've narrowed the ideas down to three sets, one for each day of Hal-Con. Now we just need to make the costumes and attend the event.
17) Know 1000 Spanish words
For the past 105 days I have been learning Spanish with Duolingo. As of this moment I've learned 353 words. My goal is to learn and remember 1000 in total by my next birthday. That said, I've only been able to practice the reading, writing and listening. I probably won't be able to correctly pronounce most of the 1000.
18) Finish four children stories
Ten years ago I made up three stories about a polar bear name Pogo for my sister. I have started to write them down, but haven't finished. The other story was one my mom wrote in college that she has given to me to finish and tweak to send off to an agent. This is a separate goal from "write more" because it is about editing more than actual writing.
19) Send a completed work to an agent or publisher
Between the "write more" and "finish stories" goals I should have something completed this year. I have in the past just shelved away completed works. This year I am going to take a risk and send out something to see what agents/editors think. I am expecting (based on many other authors experiences) that this could be a year of much rejection.
20) Go to the symphony
This one is simple, I plan to hear good music played by an orchestra. There is even a plan in place to meet this goal in November.
21) Send mail
I love receiving mail. I think others do too. So I want to cultivate a habit of sending letters, notes, and cards to people this year. I am going to try for a 10-mail minimum.
22) Swim in the ocean
I might chicken out on this, the Atlantic ocean is the closest ocean to me and it is cold but it is a bucket list challenge I want to attempt.
23) Visit a provincial or national park
I have so many fun childhood memories that happened in provincial and national parks. Younger me would be so disappointed in how little time I spend in parks these days. This is another thing I would like to change this year.
24) Find My Style
I've renamed this challenge a few times. It is one of the hardest to explain, I want to intentionally consider my wardrobe, fashion sense, hairstyles, and make-up. Some of the first ideas was a wardrobe capsule, another was get a new hair style (cut and/or dye), the last was wear make-up. For awhile I called it the "be girlie" challenge.
I have style, in that I wear clothes and therefore it is a style in the same way eating is a diet. What I do not have is a constant defined style. If I had a formal event next week I have no clue what to do with my hair and make up. If I had a causal event that I wanted to show a little more effort for I also would have little idea what to do. While working on this list I discovered "Disney Bounding" and 'Everyday or Casual Cosplay." Both fashion ideas got me thinking about what it means to have style.
By the end of this year I want to have at least two everyday casual cosplay outfits, I want to shop for clothes with more direction than "I need pants" and I am going to try new hair styles and learn about make up. Through all that I hope to mash my girlie side with my geeky side, and my desire for comfort with my love of dressing up all in an attempt to define myself and my style.
25) Be healthy
This is another of my abstract goals, like the challenge above it started as a number of smaller challenges. These goals were things like have a regular sleep pattern, take walks or exercise more, and eat better. All of these things would be good for me. My hope is that over the year I develop healthy habits to help balance my life. I am going to be looking at how to be active, how I deal with stress, what and when I eat, and discovering an ideal weight.
26) Be a vegetarian for 30 days
Simple enough. Avoid meat for 30 days. I'll still eat dairy and eggs. The other exception I am allowing myself is meals when I am a guest. My 30 day vegetarianism will not effect those who have graciously offered to feed me. This goal is inspired by my vegan friend Jessica. Hi Jess! *waves*
27) Host a party
I enjoy having people over. Sadly, at the moment my place isn't in a state in which I would be comfortable to have people visiting. The biggest challenge of this goal will be making my apartment people worthy. The next is deciding on the type of party. It could be a dinner party, themed night, murder mystery, or Christmas open house. I have so many theme ideas like Harry Potter, country, costume, or Disney. It is going to be hard to decide.
28) Let someone know how much they mean to me
I often tell my friends and family I appreciate them. I believe telling people you love them is important. This challenge won't change that. How this goal is different is it is challenging me to show people in ways beyond words that I appreciate them. This goal was inspired by The Five Love Languages and The Kid President's Guide to Being Awesome.
29) Keep a plant alive
Some people have green thumbs. I do not. I kill things that are green. Any plant I have had has died. I did keep a plant alive in high school (my mom might have secretly watered it) and a non-desert plant alive in college. I also kept a house-warming-gift-plant alive for just over two years. It died this winter because it got too cold close to the window.
My friend Jenn has given me a tomato plant. It already has little green tomatoes growing on it. I've been told all I have to do is water it daily unless it rains. I've been told I only have to keep it alive till all the tomatoes are ripened and harvested.
This is my tomato plant; his name is Hank.
30) Try something new
The first draft of these goals had many things I would like to try once in my life. These were activities like kayaking, skydiving, and dog sledding (which I learned actually exists only three hours away). There were also experiences I would like to have - for example seeing the Northern Lights. The motivation for all of these goals is another attempt to be a life-long learner. I am not sure where my life is going to take me this year or what new things I'll be able to afford (experiences can be expensive) so I reworked all those great experiences into one open challenge. I am going to be doing something new that I have never done before. I am looking forward to discovering what that challenge will be.
For those unfamiliar with the term, vlogs are video blogs. Not something I ever thought about trying until a recent conversation with Ross. I was telling him how much I enjoy his PSA vlogs. As the conversation continued he asked me when I was going to make a vlog. I think I said "we'll see" but it got me thinking.... why don't I try something like a vlog? I have a few ideas percolating so at some point I shall make some type of video.
32) Surprise someone in a way they will appreciate
This is another goal inspired by a conversation with Ross. We were talking about how we both like surprises but not everyone does. When surprising someone it is important to make the good something a surprise the other person can actually appreciate.
33) Have an adventure with my family
I love adventures. I love my family. I love adventures with my family.
34) Celebrate someone's birthday by celebrating others
This goal comes straight from Kid President's Guide to Being Awesome, step 25 to be exact. I highly recommend reading the book. It has been helpful in the refining of these 35 challenges. The best part was that I read step 25 a few days before my sister's 15th birthday and thought the idea would be a perfect way to celebrate her birth with others. With the help of many people Operation Cupcake was a huge success!
35) Take a risk
Last year I put myself out there, took a risk, and was horribly crushed by the results. It is tempting to hide and not make any dangerous decisions. I also recognize that trying to avoid risky situations is no way to live. My challenge is to put myself out there in some way this year. I am not sure what the risk will be - it could be something that scares me like driving in a new city, or silly like letting a friend set me up on a blind date. It might be doing one of the above challenges such as sending my writing to an agent but I expect it will be a risk I haven't even thought of.
So that's the list, the 35 things I plan to do before my 35th birthday. That gives me 296 days or 9 months and 21 days to complete it.