First a little rant
There’s been a lot of craze about the 23 things to do except get married blog. I have mixed feelings.
I started college after my children were older. I have seen the countless girls that go to college to find a husband, with their degree being a secondary consideration, (though they will say and possibly believe otherwise). There are astounding social boundaries put around these young high school and college girls to marry right away.
I think the blog was written with a need to break free, by someone trying to let loose of boundaries that are far more commonplace than we’d like to acknowledge.
I also think it was written with a little too much severity towards those that choose to get married earlier in life rather than later. It’s true you shouldn’t do it just because it’s the norm, just because there’s pressure in the ideal that you’re only whole when you’re with someone.
That does NOT mean that there is an age boundary in which to or not to get married exists. Marriage should be about love, commitment, and hope.
I know lots of women that have married at a young age and have been happily married for decades. I know young women now that truly have found someone special and perfect for them and they are happy. They didn’t choose to get married because of societal pressures. And that’s also fair.
My list will not include marriage at all, because hopefully along the way, each of us will find that someone, and whether or not it’s our choice to create a (joyous) legally binding contract with them, is a matter of personal taste.
And Now for My List
And so, at 41, this list includes things I wish I had done, things I have done and hope that everyone does, and things that just belong on the list.
1) Stop worrying about what others say or do.
If you can end each day able to say you did your best with what you knew and what you had, then nothing anybody says or does changes that. It’s none of your business, even if they are trying to make your business their business, it’s their enterprise in futility unless you engage. So don’t.
2) Find a hobby.
Or three. Do something on a regular basis that just makes your soul sing. I love to make art. I don’t do it nearly enough. But when I do, it’s like something else takes over me and I sit back and enjoy watching my soul dance to the song that plays in the background. Find that something and do it, often.
3) Grow a plant.
There is one kind of plant that will grow for you. As a general brown thumb I know there are also lots of plants that won’t grow, but keep looking until you find that one that has the same rhythm as you, then talk to it every day. Yep, it’s ok if you look stupid talking to your plant. It will do you both good, so do it any way.
A) It doesn’t have to be around the world. I never realized until I started travelling out of the US, how few Americans travel within our country! Or how many people I’ve met who have done little to no travelling inside their own countries! Yes, it’s completely, totally, amazingly awesome to see other countries, but don’t let it stop you from seeing your own. America is really a whole lot of little countries. I’ve been to all 49 Continental states, and I can tell you from experience that no region is like another other than national pride stuff.
B) Go to as many countries as you can. When they say life changing, they are not kidding. Do it. Go somewhere at least once. It’s worth the sacrifices to get there.
5) Do something so outside of your comfort zone that the people you know and love would never believe it was you except you brought photographic evidence.
Take one giant leap out of your imposed boundaries. And take pictures of all of it. Then, try something else too. Why stop at once?
6) Believe in yourself. Love yourself.
- If even for just one day, every single time you hear those self-doubts creeping in – push them back and stand tall. Believe in you. It’s always amazing to me to find out how many people believe in me, but yet I still find it hard to believe in myself. But I’m starting to. And so should you.
- Love yourself. I feel as though this should have happened long before 41, so put this high on your list. Look at and learn from, then let go of the negatives in your past. Be who you are today with the understanding that it is what it is at this point. Let yourself relish in all you’ve overcome and accomplished to be who you are today and then love yourself.
7) Be a self promoter.
Maybe not the pushy lobbyist type, but when you talk to yourself or to others, talk about your good points. Leave your bad points out of general conversation. Accept compliments graciously and give them freely. Don’t talk bad about others because it makes you look bad. Self-promote your positivity and positive will float back to you.
8) Don’t hunt for your special someone.
It really is true that love comes along when you least expect it. So stop looking, wishing, waiting etc. Just live your great life and one day BAM. My BAM hasn’t happened yet, and I’m 41. But I’m not out there with my love harpoon; I’m just living my life. I have shared and learned about love along the way. And I am learning to love me.
(*if you already have a special someone, you can hunt for them. Hunt for their dinner, hunt for their socks, or make them dress up and then hunt them down, that’s ok)
9) Complete a 30 day challenge.
It doesn’t matter what your choice of challenge is, but complete a full 30 day, every day, challenge that pushes you out of your comfortable zone. It doesn’t have to push you out of your comfort zone, but at least your comfortable zone. Ie, reading a poem everyday isn’t out of my comfort zone, but it’s not something I’m used to so it would be out of my comfortable zone, whereas making my bed every morning is well within my comfort and comfortable zone, I just don’t always do it. Be courageous, pull up your gumption, exercise your will power for 30 days. Then see how much easier it can be to take on the little tasks of life!
10) Go to college.
You don’t have to take on a full degree program if you can’t afford it, but take a class every year. Even if it’s a how to fix stuff around your house class. Keep learning and interacting with other learners. It’s important. Just do it.
11) Read Les Miserables.
Don’t just watch the movies or see the musical; read the book. It will change your life, you will be amazed. Yes, the first 200 pages are kind of long and slow, and will make you want to abandon the mission. But I promise it’s a worthwhile understanding of the characters as they transition into the rest of the story. Even if it takes you a year to read it. Read it.
12) Learn how to ride a scooter, motorbike, motorcycle, etc.
It’s so cool. It’s fun. It’s energy efficient. It’s fun. And it will help you empathize and be more aware of cyclists on the road. Did I mention a cool and fun it is??
13) Be involved in a child’s life for at least one school year.
School is tough. Give your time to help a child or children get through a school year the most successful they can be. The reward is priceless.
14) Get to know a teacher.
If you are not a teacher, get to know one. Be their friend, listen to their stories. I would personally suggest not having this be your child’s teacher if you are a parent. But get to know a teacher and see all that is involved. Appreciate everything that teachers put into teaching.
Just do it. It doesn’t matter if you’re good or have rhythm, just get out on a dance floor and dance. If you’re a guy, I sincerely promise that a girl will not care about the moves as much as she will appreciate that you got out there and danced with her. If you’re a girl, think less, feel more and just dance.
16) Know how money works.
Understand what it is and how credit works for and against you. Figure out how to live within your means. Appreciate the work involved in making money, and how it depreciates as soon as something is purchased. Be wise in your purchases. Understand money.
17) Wear color.
Put a splash of color in your outfits. Be bold, love it. Wear a crazy color and don’t give a rat’s ass what anybody thinks. You’ll be surprised at how many compliments you get.
18) Walk around naked.
I was in my thirties before I felt comfortable walking around naked outside of my bathroom. I’m not necessarily saying become a nudist, do that if you want to, but be comfortable in your skin. If you have to make sure all your curtains are closed first, do that, but take command of your home commando style. It is liberating.
19) Make a collaborative art piece.
Find some people willing to sit down for an hour and take turns putting something new into the piece. Let each of your own creative inspirations fall onto the same place and see what comes out. It’s a magical experience.
20) Learn how to do basic car maintenance.
It’s not just a car guy thing, it’s a driver thing. Know your vehicle, what it sounds like, what it feels like when it’s running well so that you know when it’s not. Know how to check your oil and what different colors mean. Learn where all the basic engine parts are, what they are, and what they do. Learn how to change a tire, a spark plug and when it needs to go to a mechanic.
21) Play lots of board and card games.
They’re FUN. Have fun, play for fun, enjoy the time with the people you play with. Bring one with you when you travel. They are great time consumers that keep you interacting with people. Heck, invite random airport strangers to a game of go fish.
22) Get to know your neighbors.
Have block parties and bbq’s. Invite them for dinner or drinks. My neighbors throughout my life have been such a blessing. We look out for each other, burglars beware. Take them a little plate of something and introduce yourself. We’ve lost a lot of community by not asking for that proverbial cup of sugar. So go ask for it.
23) Love the holiday, not the commercialism.
No matter what the holiday is, be about the holiday. I have spent too much time forgetting about many holidays as I let my bitter emotions get in the way. Get the stuff you want, when you want, not when the stores dictate. Give homemade stuff, be with the people, live in the moment of it all.
24) Be in a theater production.
Be a tree if that’s all your comfort level can handle, but go be part of a production. It’s an amazing feeling. Theater people are amazing people. Don’t blame me if you start making a habit of it!
25) Move house at least once.
It really helps you see how much unnecessary stuff we can accumulate just by being stationary. At the very, very least, pack up like you were moving and change something in your house. Make it necessary to box up your life, then make sure you keep what’s necessary, and start sorting through what’s not.
26) Have an emergency plan and bag.
It may sound crazy but, emergencies by definition rarely have a time frame to prepare for it in. So be prepared before hand. How prepared is up to you, a full year of survival food, water, clothing, first aid, etc.; or a few days worth of basic minimum’s. Make sure the people you will want to know where they are, know where to look for or find you too. Nothing makes an emergency more difficult than the fear of not knowing the whereabouts of the people you love.
27) Climb a tree.
You can hug it once you’re there if you want to, but just find the joy that we used to know and climb a tree. If you can’t right now, do what it takes to get able to, because it’s just a fun thing to do and you will be so happy.
28) Make a bucket list.
Watch the movie, check out The Buried Life guys, and make your own list. Then look at it every day. Remind yourself that you have goals so that you can live today in preparation for them.
29) Kill a mosquito.
Ok this may not sound like the best idea, but it will make me personally really REALLY happy. Just squash one for me.
30) Get your face painted.
Just do it, it’s fun, and as an adult you can appreciate how nice a brush feels against your skin in a way you never could as a kid.
31) Try really hard to learn a new language.
As a still monolingual language learner myself, I am not going to say you have to learn it in order to gain the experience, but try as hard as you can. It’s so cool to communicate with a stranger in a different language.
32) Make a silly, just for tonight, bucket list.
I think you can also call it a scavenger hunt or any number of things, but get some friends to help you make a list of some silly things you have to do, get a picture of you doing it, or a signature, or something to show you accomplished it. IT IS SO MUCH FUN.
33) Write a blog.
It’s kind of cool to see that people you couldn’t possibly know are reading your thoughts. Mine started out as a way to keep family and friends, that refused to use facebook, up to date with the happenings of my life. But it’s become a thing I just do now, just because it feels good to do. And who knows? Maybe, you’ll be the next super blogger!
34) Make your bed first thing every morning.
If the bed is made, even the messiest rooms look better. And clean rooms look messy if the bed isn’t made. It gives a sense of accomplishment to the start of the day. I mean, you’ve barely gotten out of bed and VOILA, instant success. Who doesn’t want to start their day that way?
35) Literally laugh out loud.
Don’t hold back, don’t just giggle, laugh. For that matter, cry out loud, feel peace out loud, be anxious out loud, express yourself.
36) Have a heart to heart with people at least a decade younger and older than you for the purpose of hearing their story.
Listen, ask questions, be a receiver, a learner. None of us know any more truth than what we’ve learned, and there is SO MUCH MORE out there to learn! Take relationship advice from the younger generations as well as the older generations. Find out about political views and dance moves. Vast stores of wonderful thought is out there, be open to it.
37) Participate in an activity that makes you the master of your body.
Join a sports team, start cycling, train for a marathon, learn how to swim, sign up for an amateur body building competition, start a fitness video challenge, but get out there and discover your weaknesses and strengths. You’ll find you can do so much more than you thought!
Help those less fortunate, even if you are in unfortunate circumstances yourself. There is always a way you can help someone, even if you need help. Trade services with someone, join a soup kitchen for a month, mow your neighbors lawn for no reason, check with a religious institution if there is any need you can fulfill, read aloud at a local childrens’ library or retirement home. Be a positive force and positivity will find you.
39) Have someone else wash your hair.
OH MY GOD does it feel good to have your hair washed for you. It’s most awesome if you’re both in the shower, just saying, but if right now, the best you got is the local hair dresser, well, honey, pay the $10 bucks and ask for a 15 minute shampooing.
40) Learn about the sky.
The clouds, the moon, the stars, they are our history, our present, and our future all wrapped in one beautiful eyeful. You can be just as good a predictor of the weather as any TV weather man with very simple knowledge. It’s amazing to just watch the clouds, but to have enough knowledge about them to truly be wowed by how remarkable they are is a feeling that is indescribable.
41) Run/ Walk a marathon.
I haven’t done this yet, but I want to. So, I can’t give a lot of insight, except it seems to be one of the most commonly suggested things by people I’ve asked what they would put on a list like this.
Bonus) Hug and Kiss the people you love more.
Be affectionate and caring and say you love them. It’s funny how living abroad everybody does the cheek kissing. And it’s wonderful how much of a bond you make with people because they are open, hug and kissy friends. If you’re one of my friends back home, be prepared, I hug and kiss a lot more now and I LOVE it.
There it is, my list of 41 things to do before 41. I hope you do them all. Peace and Love to each of you!