Friday, February 01, 2008


In my blog wanderings and perusals over the past three years, I've seen many lists of "Forty Things to do Before I Turn Forty." By the time I thought of composing my own, my time was seriously running out, and I was faced with either making a list of "Forty Things to Accomplish in the Next Nine Minutes" or of finding a creative alternative. (Allow me to offer a small bit of advice: given a choice between Lots of Potentially Emotionally Unhinging Work or a Creative Alternative, go for the latter.)

My alternative to the "Forty Things to do Before I Turn Forty" list? It needed to be something positive, something affirming, something that would help me appreciate the life I've had already and the one I have now rather than laying on the pressure to do more, accomplish more, be more. I needed not a list of things to do, but a list of wonderful things I have done in my first forty years, a list of appreciation and celebration. Therefore...

Forty Things I've Done Before Turning Forty

1. Learned to see God as a very real and compassionate Person rather than a Lurker with a Big Board.

2. Convinced my brother to willingly eat mud.

3. Slept in trees.

4. Jumped out of a barn loft.

5. Earned a writing degree, had success with creative pieces, publication, readings, two Pushcart nominations and served a week long term as Poet in Residence at Bryan College.

6. Been proposed to or seriously co-considered marriage five times.

7. Had a sixth man fall to his knees dramatically before me in a public place, spread his arms wide and sing loudly, "Besa me! Besa me mucho!"

8. Promptly married him.

9. Stayed married 17 years to the above to date.

10. Gave birth to two children with a midwife presiding and no meds.

11. Learned to enjoy poetry. Learned to detest poetry. Learned I can't live without poetry.

12. Enjoyed mathematical theory.

13. Pieced and hand-quilted a quilt from dress scraps.

14. Found out what happens when one puts one end of an electrical cord in one's mouth while the other end is still in the outlet.

15. Learned to cook, yea, even unto a complete Thanksgiving meal for company.

16. Played the piano and the oboe.

17. Walked barefoot through snow.

18. Danced.

19. Put my brother in a tractor tire, rolled him down a hill and survived my mother's wrath afterward.

20. Attended wonderful Renaissance festivals.

21. Played the lead onstage in "Once Upon a Mattress."

22. Sang a solo in Handel's Messiah.

23. Learned to live without medication for an affective disorder--something a diagnosing doctor said I would never do.

24. Lived amid a passion for learning.

25. Discovered a passion for teaching.

26. Learned to live in the midst of prayer.

27. Made peace with an ongoing and difficult relationship from my past.

28. Learned where I fit in my family.

29. Read thousands of astounding, wonderful books.

30. Tutored and taught writing to amazing people.

31. Moderated for the beautiful ladies of LHM's Lighthouse and Covenant Women for several years.

32. Given up an addictive and self-destructive way of "coping."

33. Found the courage to keep/enforce my own boundaries while remaining unruffled.

34. Learned jewelry making.

35. Mentored some incredible young women.

36. Learned to recognize and name flowers, trees and other native plants.

37. Taken up yoga.

38. Kindled a love of books in two children.

39. Laughed nearly every day.

40. Been a student of grace.


alaiyo said...

What a lovely, lovely idea. I'll add one for good measure -- proven yourself a true heart friend.

Love you!

Cindy said...

Thank you, Beth. That is an honor to read. :)

Lauren said...

Awesome! What a wonderful, positive way to remember the joys of the past 40 years. Just think now on all the new things you will discover this year to add to that list. I, too, will add one. You have brought much joy into the lives of those around you and have, through example, helped me on my way to being more positive as well.

Cindy said...

Thank you, my pseudo-sister. ;)

predictablepoet said...

This creates such delightful images and responses! Thanks for sharing this bit of creativity and accomplishment. I hope I'm half as blessed and blessing when I'm your age.

Jennifer said...

I love #2, and congratulations on #22. The others are wonderful, too, but surely that's obvious.

I have one to add as well: taught someone enjambment; quite the feat. :)

Cindy said...

Thank you, Megan. When you turn 40, your list will be at least twice as long with the good start you strike me as having now. :)

Jennifer--Regarding #2--Oh, there were others, too! #22--Perhaps I should have specified that I did not do this under the composer's own direction. :0 And as for the enjambment---what a gift you have given me with this information. I did not know that; now I can die happy. :)

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

I love the list! Since my next milestone is 60 (not for two years), if I start now, maybe I can come up with a list of my own!

Paul said...

Cindy, After reading this I feel a sense of awe, amazement, admiration, peace and hope. Your humanity and wisdom shine!

Cindy said...

Susan--Why not do 58 Things now? :) Your life--from what I understand through reading your blog and manuscript--has already had many, many wonderful things in it. Why wait for a birthday to list them and take an indulgent soak in your accomplishments?

Paul--You may no longer be a minister for a church, but you are a minister in the most basic and beautiful sense of the word and probably always will be. Thank you for the ministering your comment has done to my spirit tonight after a very long day. You and your blog are always an encouragement.

Gretchen Birch said...

I heard about #7........... Alexus told me and wow....... that must have been interesting!

Fieldfleur said...

Beautiful affirming content for one's life here. I'm blessed just to be able to read about how one discovers these things. I'm glad it's you too.

P.S. Happy late birthday!!!!!