Family life

14 things to do before I'm 40

Tracy realizes that half of her life is over. It's time to kick it up a notch.

By Tracy Chappell
14 things to do before I'm 40

Three months ago, I turned 39. I usually enjoy my birthday — I’m an age-is-just-a-number kind of gal — but this one was unusually lackluster and understated. A little like how I was feeling. The birthday hit me in a way I hadn’t anticipated. Suddenly, I realized I no longer had a buffer. I was staring down the big 4-0. And I didn’t like it.
This is a good time to have friends, especially ones who inspire you to flip your perspective. I have a friend who declared this our “take it back” year: All of us have been so focused on raising kids that we’ve forgotten about ourselves and it was time to turn that around. We were supposed to be setting goals. I was lackadaisical about it — I think because my birthday falls later in the year the whole thing hadn’t quite hit me yet. But now, the clock is ticking. Fast. Turning 39 has made me feel reflective, questioning everything I am and have and know. That’s probably a good thing but, as another friend said so perfectly, it can make you feel a little melancholy.
While I’ve been looking at the coming months as a kind of death march, several friends have embraced this as a wake-up call that time isn’t going to slow down, so we need to make the most of today. Every day. They’re right: The first half of my life is over, now it’s time to kick it up a notch for the second half. My friend has a “40 things before I’m 40” list in the works. I didn’t quite come up with that many (and I only have nine months left!), but thought I’d give it a try. I won’t call it my bucket list (since I’ve abandoned my death march), but it’s just a series of things I want to accomplish to ensure that I’m sailing into my forties feeling happy, healthy, motivated and inspired. My best self. Geesh, now I sound like Oprah. I can’t believe I’m publishing this!

  1. Secure myself an awesome hairdresser. I’m too old to just be going to anyone who can take me right now. I should have someone who will be my miracle worker.
  2. Go on a vacation with my husband. Without the kids. It’s been nearly three years since we’ve done this and it’s so time.
  3. Read The Kite Runner. It’s been on my shelf for about three years (sorry to the person who lent this to me!) and, for some reason, I feel it’s important that I read it.
  4. Find a pair of jeans that I want to live in. I broke off my love affair with denim two kids ago, and I’m ready for a reunion.
  5. Learn how to do eye makeup. Maybe learn how to do all of my makeup properly.
  6. Lose 20 pounds. Sorry — I wish I didn’t even have to put this on my list, but I either need to lose it or make peace with it. And I’m not ready to play nice quite yet.
  7. Have a spa day. Because I’ve never, ever done this!
  8. Purge my basement. I have totes crammed into the back corner that contain my leftover wedding stuff (!), others that are filled with books I read in high school. Time to find a home for it all, or get rid of it. So then I can move on to transforming my basement from a sprawling playroom to an awesome rec room. (But that’s for my forties.)
  9. Watch Out of Africa and My Fair Lady. I own both of these (Out of Africa on VHS!) but have never watched them, and that just feels wrong.
  10. Get into a writing habit. Don’t get me wrong, I’m writing all the time, but I have some personal projects that get left on the backburner because, well, I’m already writing all the time and sometimes it's hard to get back in that chair when I don't have to. But my own writing is important and I’ll regret it if I don’t start making it a priority.
  11. I have to keep this one to myself. (I can’t tell you everything!)
  12. Make a new friend.
  13. Get into an exercise routine. For real. I’ve finally come to the realization that there is no cure for my addiction to chocolate, so the only solution is to work it off. When I was running, I loved it. When I did Pilates every week, I loved it. But I stopped both and I’m still not sure how it all happened.
  14. Find a cause to get involved in. I’ve been feeling the push lately to devote energy into helping others in a more organized way. What better way to “take it back” than by finding a way to give a little back? 

Care to join me in making your own list? And if you have any suggestions for the perfect pair of jeans or where to get great makeup how-tos, please share!
Photo by Pedro Moura Pinheiro via Flickr.

This article was originally published on Nov 05, 2012

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