The 40 List, the Last Day

Last year I created a “40 List,” a list of 40 things I wanted to do in the year before I turned 40. I started out strong and even revised it to include more items that were less about accomplishments and more about making a difference in the world around me. I actually did accomplish many items on the list. Well, several. Okay, a few. Six. Six items.

I could say that Covid was the reason I didn’t get to my list, but that would be a cop-out. Looking back on the long list of goals I realize that the reason I didn’t finish most of them was because I lacked the discipline to keep working on them. So many of them could easily have been tackled at home, sitting on the couch or in bed, with just a fraction of the focus it takes me to post a long blog. But I didn’t.

Part of me wants to be disappointed, but for some reason, I’m not. I’m admittedly shocked at how little time I devoted to working on checking off items from my list. I’m also somewhat shocked at how quickly the year went by, given the constant stream of dumpster fires this year threw at us. But I’m not disappointed in myself because that wouldn’t change or help anything.

What I have accomplished this year is a closer connection with my children. We went into lockdown on March 13th and their schools were closed, sending them into virtual learning mode. I chose to keep them home through the summer instead of sending them to daycare while I worked. They got to know a new babysitter, Cora, who has since become a beloved part of our family. When it was time to make the decision on whether or not to send them back to in-person school, I chose to keep them home for virtual school and grandma, who retired in August, graciously agreed to be their sitter/teacher at home (for a weekly fee, of course – and she deserves it). I thought keeping them at home would be detrimental to their emotional health, but I’ve found we are much more bonded now, and they are bonded to each other. I also hold some pride in knowing I made a difficult decision but one that has turned out to be beneficial and safe for all of us.

I also focused more on building and learning more about hiking in this area. While hiking has been a life-long hobby/interest/love of mine, I never went to the trouble to push myself and my limits. I’ve done more hikes this year than in any year before now. I also did more challenging trails and have even joined the REI Co-op (I can’t believe I didn’t do that before now, but it was always too intimidating). I’ve slowly been building my gear inventory and have a few bigger goals on the horizon with hiking and camping.

I raised and processed my own chickens, grew most of my own food this past spring, set foot on the A.T. for the first time (and cried when I did), earned my green belt in TaeKwonDo (before Covid and a deep pay cut shut that all down), dabbled again in painting, took a few thousand pictures with my camera (that are still stuck on the memory card), learned to accept my body and be comfortable in my own skin at a nudist park, and loved deeply and openly. I also kept working through a pandemic, an accomplishment that puts that whole 40 list in perspective.

I’m not giving up on my 40 list. It will just now be a list of goals to accomplish while I’m 40 instead of before I turn 40. Tomorrow is my birthday, and I have some new goals for the coming year. I’ll carry over some of the items from this past year, but I have a new perspective that will inform the new list.

Goals are just that – goals. They are not a measure of success or value. They are ways to keep ourselves moving forward instead of stagnating. Not reaching those goals doesn’t always mean that we failed, just that we went in another direction. And that’s totally okay. Here’s to 40 trips around the sun! And here’s to making the most of the next one! I’m looking forward to creating, and tackling, a brand new list of goals.

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