When I was a kid I hated the fact that my birthday is in the summer. With school being out, I never got to bring cupcakes and celebrate with my class like the other kids. On top of that, since it’s smack in the middle of summer, most of my friends would be away on vacation or at camp and couldn’t come to my birthday party. It’s a silly thing but I felt like I missed out on birthday fun.

Today’s my birthday and I’m finishing up an intense week of focusing on writing at the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley, a writing workshop that happens near Lake Tahoe every summer. It’s been such a privilege to spend my birthday week with other like-minded folks who are here to work on telling their true, personal stories, and who are committed to the art of crafting those stories. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend the week that I turn thirty-nine. Oh, and, since I’m basically in summer school for a week, I’m bringing my favorite gluten-free chocolate chip cookies to class today.

Last year on my birthday I wrote about the goal of completing a draft of my book manuscript before I turn 40. That’s one of the reasons I’m here at this workshop. I’ve also shared about the writing retreats I’m taking this year, and the material that I submitted to be workshopped is fresh material—I just wrote it three months ago on the retreat I took with two friends in April. It feels good to know that I’m making steady progress toward that goal.

Last year I also wrote about maybe creating a 40-before-40 list—a bucket list of sorts, things to accomplish before I turn 40. I did end up making that list, and when I have shared it with friends several others have jumped on the bandwagon. So I thought I’d share my list (strikethrough obviously representing progress of completed items) in case it sparks and idea or some inspiration for you.

40-before-40 List:

  1. Complete the draft of my book manuscript
  2. Attend a writers conference as a writer
  3. Attend an international yoga retreat
  4. Vacation to Mexico
  5. Sign with an agent to sell my book manuscript
  6. Take swing dance lessons with Jeremy
  7. Take horseback riding lessons
  8. Maybe skydive (I reserve the right to change my mind and add something else here instead)
  9. Go parasailing
  10. Eat at the French Laundry
  11. Read the complete Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  12. Dress up as Wonder Woman for Halloween 2018
  13. Float down the American river in summer
  14. Watch Lost
  15. Read the Diary of Anne Frank 
  16. Watch all of Seinfeld
  17. Go paddle boarding
  18. Do paddle board Yoga
  19. Go to the Florida Keys
  20. Visit Judy Blume’s bookstore in Key West
  21. Meet Judy Blume
  22. Go back to New York City
  23. Visit the World Trade Center memorial
  24. See a Broadway show
  25. Stay at the Ashland Springs Hotel with Kendra
  26. Visit Portland
  27. Go to Powell’s bookstore
  28. Lead a yoga session
  29. Read Brene Brown
  30. Read What is the Bible? By Rob Bell
  31. Publish a big name writer in Under the Gum Tree
  32. Hold crow pose for one minute
  33. Take private yoga lessons
  34. Do a headstand on my own
  35. Go to the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival 
  36. Read The Empathy Exams
  37. Speak at Creative Mornings Sacramento
  38. Hire someone to build our backyard deck
  39. Throw clay with Kendra and Shen
  40. Go glamping

Turning 40 is a milestone and not many of my friends are looking forward to hitting it. Me? I’m excited. A list like this helps, because it keeps the journey fun and interesting, and I know I’m accomplishing what I want to be doing in life. I guess I’ll be doing a lot of traveling, yoga, and writing in the next year.

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