forty for 40 {thankful for lessons learned}

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They don’t call them milestone birthdays for nothing. They are special moments in life that should be marked and celebrated surrounded by those you hold dearest, whether it is one person or a hundred. For my fortieth, we had a party. Because that is what I do; throw parties. But this time I handed over the cooking responsibilities to someone else and was able to really just enjoy being around people that hold meaningful places in my life. Right before I turned the big 4-0 I took a little stock and decided to make a list. Because that is the other thing I do; make lists…and lots of them.
I remember it clearly. Sitting down that day in May to make the list. Turned off the t.v., put on some 80s music and with a cup of mint tea, set out to craft one type of list I’d never done before. It was in no way a bucket list, but instead something that would challenge me in my fortieth year to try new things, make time for the activities I’ve always loved but never did, reach beyond myself to help others and to simply just cross things off my rolling to-do list that had been on there so long they were growing dust bunnies.
Okay, it took me two years because toward the end I found it easy to procrastinate. Ironically, none of them were the hardest ones. But that is pretty typical of my personality. Tackle the difficult head on and let the easy stuff linger. This endeavor certainly proved that after 40 years, that aspect has not changed.
But what I did learn along the way was monumental. When you stop to really look at your life it can be daunting but I walked away with an amazing realization: I liked my life. I also realized what I really wanted wasn’t more stuff but more time. More time with people I care for deeply. To make more memories. And so while some of the 40 things forced me to break out of my shell and attack stuff alone, it also gave me a gift –  the opportunity to do many things with family and friends. And along the way, to meet some new people. Some of my friends have decided to now make lists of their own. My cousin Johnathan has already started tackling his and I was so incredibly proud to help him check one off – run a half marathon. Despite nearly breaking my foot a month prior there was no place I wanted to be this past June than with him on that race course.
So the list is done. I have no strong desire to make a Fifty for 50 or even a bucket list…but never say ‘never.’ What I’m left with is a list that is scribbled on, lined through, highlighted with two colors and filled with tons of chicken-scratched notes. It represents something special and I’ll keep it forever. I’m also left with so many great photographs, some of which I’m sharing here {sorry for all the running ones!}. But the things I cherish most are not tangible. They are the priceless memories and the relationships that I thought could never be more special that became stronger. They are the reasons why, on this particular Thanksgiving, I feel extremely blessed.
T H E  L I S T
1]  Bowling – Love it! Lots of outings with lots of friends. Going this Sunday!
2]  Visit the Seattle Public Library Central Branch – I have a great love for architecture. When I’m walking around any city, new or familiar, you’ll frequently find me looking up to take it all in. Took me forever to go the three miles to the library. Pathetic. But it didn’t disappoint. Designed by Rem Koolhaas and Joshua Ramus it’s stunning. 
3]  Visit San Juan Island – Seriously had never been despite having lived most of my life in the northwest.
4]  Karaoke – Used to sing a lot with most of that time spent forcing my friend Tiger to sing sappy sweet slow songs with me. On my birthday, without practice or missing a beat, he indulged me in my favorite song.
5]  Walla Walla Wine Weekend – I love wine so why had I not been to Walla Walla before this? Headed off on a road trip with Katie, Joe and Mike and had a fab weekend celebrating favorite wineries, discovering new gems and meeting new friends who make some amazing wines.
6]  Explore the Olympic Peninsula – There is a rain forest in Washington? Really, how did I not know this. Hoh is beautiful and transfixing. 
7]  Deception Pass – Had not been there since I was a kid so had no recollection of it. It is a must visit day trip.
8]  Hike around Mount Rainier – Another ‘never done it’ that I was lucky to do go my cousins Donna and John who were visiting from San Diego. We had a spectacular day surrounded by pristine views and beautiful landscapes. Experiencing snow on a blistering hot day…amazing.
9]  Read all the books in the house I’d amassed but not read – Oy! There were tons! Favorite – Half the Sky!!
10] Tennis Lessons – tons of power, no control…needed to correct this.
11]  Canoe Lake Washington – Another one involving several outings. Fun! 
12] Visit Woodland Park Zoo – One of my favorite places in the city. Mike loves it, too.
13] Seattle Aquarium – Needed to finally visit post remodel. Nanette and the kids, need I say more?!
14] Art Class – The teachers at Pratt rock! That is all.
15] Paint One Canvas – Done! Painting’s harder than I thought it would be. But so rewarding. 
16] Distribute 100 scarves to Seattle homeless – Thanks to my friends Phyllis, Kara, Sherry and Terry we hand knit 108 scarves which helped men, women and young adults throughout the city.
17]  Start a Blog – Well…here it is. Thanks to Todd for the name.
18]  Run a Trail Race – Hard!  And since I’m not a mountain goat will not be doing any more. I’m a road girl.
19] Lose 10 lbs – Finally learned a scale number is not what’s important, although I surpassed the 10 lbs.  More muscle, less fat equals lean. One dress + two pant sizes smaller, healthier than I’ve ever been and still working on it.
20] Watch all the AFI Top 100 Movies I’ve never seen – Not a movie watcher so the list was 65 movies long. Walked away with a great appreciation for acting, story telling and cinematography. Favorites? Gone with the Wind, Schindler’s List, City Lights, Double Indemnity, The Godfather {though my guy friends repeatedly try to convince me 2 is the best}, Midnight Cowboy, The Philadelphia Story, Rear Window, The African Queen, The Apartment, The Sixth Sense, and Toy Story. I loved the soundtrack to Easy Rider and West Side Story, of course. Hated Cabaret – Joel Grey freaked me out. This one was the hardest for me – I can not sit still for two hours so God help me if the movie runs long. But am lucky to have a great video store in my neighborhood, Video Isle with an amazing lady, Jeannie. Enjoyed getting to know her with each movie. She is a fount of knowledge and was so helpful to me. Best part, now when I see her walking around Queen Anne it makes me happy to be able to say hi to her by name. 
21] Visit the Museum of Flight – Great day with Mike + my parents. Have always loved planes, thanks to my dad.
22] Learn to finally knit a hat – It’s as easy as they say.
23] New Washer + Dryer – Yep, it took me 8 years to finally commit to two new appliances.
24] Dine at Spring Hill – On my ‘must try’ list for far too long. Go for Monday fried chicken. Actually, run!
25] Take a Photography Class – Happy to take my SLR out of auto.
26] Join the Seattle Scrabble Club – happy, happy, joy, joy! I have a Scrabble addiction. Just ask my friends.
27]  Get a Kindle – Awesome gift from my parents! Always by my side. Currently waiting for me? Steve Jobs bio.
28]  Run Beat the Bridge – ‘Run’ being the key. For 4 years helped put this fundraising race on for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. It was time for me to get off my butt + do the race since it holds such a special place in my heart. Will run it every year I can. Hope I can get Heide and Kelsey to keep running it with me.
29]  Run the Sound to Narrows – in addition to BTB, my friend Steve Hamilton has put on this race for years. Born + raised in T town. It was time to tackle the hills of 5 mile drive. If I ran that loop every week I would have buns of steel. Great race with SuLee and met lovely Marisa. 
30] Run the Inaugural Seattle Rock n Roll Half Marathon – my second half with Joy. Love this race.
31]  Run the Amica Seattle Half – a hilly race I needed to tackle again.  Was SuLee’s first half making it extra special. And I met a wonderful new friend,Wendy. I’d soon get to make another at a future race, her beautiful daughter Amy. 
32]  Run a Marathon – What were Mika and I thinking? Oh yeah, Arizona in January sounds nice. Totally forgot about the ‘winter training in Washington’ part. But we did it! Thanks to my friend Doug who upgraded us to a great suite + to Mike and his dad for coming out to cheer me on during the 26.2 miles. When I crossed the finish and the older man put the medal around my neck, I am not too proud to tell you I cried. And since I figured I felt so great afterward, thought I’d do another that year. Portland was on deck, with SuLee and Amy. This time decided to do something more meaningful than just batter my body. Through the incredible generosity of my family and friends, raised over $13,000 for diabetes research. Made the plantar fasciitis and hip pain so worth it.
33] Dinner at the Herbfarb – nice evening with Mike. Good food and wine. It was an experience.
34] Floral Class – okay, love flowers so much, took two. Both, with my lovely friend Katie. We did a contemporary handcrafted class and an amazing ikebana one taught by a wonderful woman.
35]  Wine Primer – love learning new things about something I really like. Great Saturday afternoon with Deniz, Heidi, Lauren and the Reads.

36] Take a Baking Class – Can I just say, I suck at baking! Didn’t inherit my mom’s baking skills at all. But Nanette helped calmed my nerves and our stuff actually came out great! Really need to start baking more now.
37] Trip to Portland – Had been way too long. So many great places to visit and incredible places to eat!
38] Take Golf Lessons – Got a great rec from Tony. He was right, Chris Aoki is amazing. If you want to learn or better your game, she is the person to see! I was actually sad when my classes ended.
39] Volunteer at Mary Bridge Childrens Hospital – this hospital heals, nurtures and cares for our communities’ children when they are at their weakest, scariest points. And they provide that same level of love and concern for their families. So many of my friends’ families have been helped by this special place, volunteering there was a natural choice. The drive every Wednesday ended in a rewarding experience that left me invigorated for the rest of the week. And I was so fortunate to meet Nicole and Lauren. They make people’s lives better just with their smiles and after my volunteering year, am proud to now call them friends.
40] Finally Fix the Backyard – after four landscapers and four disappointing designs decided to rip almost everything out and do it myself. Love that it now has a good foundation that I can add seasonal color to. Learned a lot along the way, including how to run irrigation tubing.  
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