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.
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.