My 31st year was full of highs and lows. Quite frankly, there were probably a few more lows than I would have liked. As of late though, I feel like the tide is finally turning in my favor.
This past year my marriage has faced challenges but withstood them and is beginning to blossom in such a beautiful, albeit unexpected way. I went through (but overcame) a bit of a depressive slump and have two wholly unplanned but meaningful tattoos as a result. I’ve been increasingly concerned about the state of the world but I’ve stepped up to the plate instead of retreating in fear.
But before I can officially put this year in my rear-view mirror, I must revisit my 40 by 40 list of things I hoped to accomplish this decade. Here’s a brief rundown of what I’ve marked off my list in Year 31:
Wear (and Rock) Red Lipstick (Level 1)
Honestly, I’ve always been more of a Chapstick kind of gal. But when one of my best friends got married in France and I found a striking red dress and fascinator for the rehearsal dinner, I decided that I simply could not avoid my self-assigned red lipstick challenge any longer. I received so many compliments on my dress and fascinator but I was most surprised that people noticed (and loved) the lipstick. It went over so well that afterwords, I branched out and decided to occasionally wear lipstick to work and once, I even sported this bright red shade again just to get drinks with friends at a local wine bar. I mean, I don’t even know who I am anymore! Who am I and what have I done with my Chapstick loving self? Just kidding — there are currently at least three tubes of Chaptstick within my immediate reach so I haven’t strayed too far from my roots. But I can appreciate the art of red lipstick now and even more, I think I may actually like it.
Participate in a Podcast (Level 2)
So I can’t tell you which podcast I participated in nor can I tell you what we discussed, but I swear it happened. This year, I got to be an anonymous guest on a very popular website’s new(ish) podcast. Let’s say that this website is a sort of specialized advice column. I had written in with a question and much to my surprise, the webmaster asked if I would be interested in discussing my letter (and the issues in it) on the website’s podcast. I was a little hesitant (mainly because like a lot of people, I’m not really a fan of my own voice) but Adam was super encouraging. He kept reminding me of this item on my 40 by 40 list and saying that there was no time like the present. Quite frankly, when I wrote this item on my list I was not envisioning participating in a podcast that had such a wide audience but I did it! I ended up really enjoying the experience itself and really enjoying the feedback I received on my question (both on the podcast and in the comments and feedback posted on the website following the release of my episode). All in all, I’m very happy that I listened to Adam’s encouragement and marked this one off my list when I did.
Stay the Night in a Castle…er, Chateau (Level 4)
As I’ve mentioned, one of my dearest friends got married in France in May of this year. The trip was amazing save for the fact that I feel within hours of landing, I fell down a flight of stairs and broke four ribs (ouch!). One of the coolest things about the trip was the venue my friend chose to host the festivities and guests. We got to stay in this amazing Chateau (that’s literally French for “castle” y’all). According to Wikipedia, a “castle” is typically agreed to be a private, fortified residence of a lord or noble. The castle we stayed in was the the Chateau de Jalesnes and it dates back to 1610. The Chateau’s first occupant was the Marquis de Jalesnes — Charles de Jalesnes. A “Marquis” is a nobleman who ranks above a count but below a duke. The Chateau had stately guest rooms, intricate gardens, heavy iron gates, and even an abandoned moat. So as far as I’m concerned, the Chateau de Jalesnes counts as a castle and I’m marking this one off my list.
And while I can’t mark them off just yet, I’ve made strides towards accomplishing the following this year:
Write/Send letters to 3 mentors who have impacted my life (Level 2)
I wrote a letter this year to a dear mentor at my old law firm who has truly led an inspiring life dedicated to public service and progressive values. He is an older gentleman who has seen some of the worst things humanity has to offer and yet, he always looks for the bright side. In my letter, I recalled once taking Holland with me to the office while I chatted with some old co-workers. This man came came upon us and found Holland scribbling away with pens and highlighters at a friend’s desk. He got on her level and spoke to her gently. When he got ready to depart, Holland gave him the piece of paper she had been coloring. My friend joked, “You may want to hang onto that, it could be worth something one day.” This gentleman, without missing a beat responded sincerely, “It already is.” That simple statement is an embodiment of everything he is and everything I strive to one day be. I am grateful that he has been a part of my life.
Visit three countries in Europe (Level 4)
It is very clear by now that we went to France this year. That’s one European country down — two (and hopefully more) to come!
Read Three Classics I Haven’t Read Before (Level 1)
I had high aspirations of getting through at least three classics this year. I started off strong — finishing (and loving) both Jane Eyre and Catcher in the Rye by the end of April. I took some time off to focus on work and preparing for our France trip. Sometime in July I started For Whom the Bell Tolls and strugggggggleeedddd my way through each page for months. Literally months. Every time I picked the book up I would just have this overwhelming sense of dread. I couldn’t connect to the characters or to the writing. I found myself wanting to skip paragraphs then entire pages. It was, quite frankly, a disaster. A few weeks ago I finally admitted defeat and checked it back into the library half read. Shortly thereafter, I quickly powered my way through Eat, Pray, Love. But I don’t think that Eat, Pray, Love qualifies as a “classic” so my quest for another classic will have to continue into Year 32.
Happy Birthday to me.