Friday, May 10, 2013

40 Things To Do Before I'm 40

About a year ago a friend of mine posted a list on Facebook of 40 things she wanted to accomplish before she was 40. I thought it was a fabulous idea. I was born the same year as she was and I was also facing the big milestone birthday in just about a year and a half. So on December 30, 2011, I finalized my list and shared it as a public declaration that this would be my goal.

Yesterday, on May 9, 2013, the last day of my 39th year, I completed the list. I didn’t complete it perfectly, but I did, somehow, manage to finish it. There were a couple substitutions I had to make, for example, Tour the Taliesin (Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and studio near where I grew up that I’d somehow never been to) had to be replaced when I realized the tours closed for the year and wouldn’t reopen by my birthday. But for the most part the list is as it was when I made it.

And now – to the list…

Kelly’s 40 by 40 List

To be finished by May 10, 2013



1.        Finish my book 8/9/12 – This was the sequel to my first novel, The Gathering Storm. I thought this would be one of the most difficult to accomplish, but Storm Damage was finished far ahead of the deadline. I have also just started writing the third book.

2.       Fly somewhere Florida with the family 3/27/13 – We flew to Atlanta and then on to Fort Lauderdale, then drove to Key West. So my previous blog post about flying can be amended a bit.


3.       Run a mile without stopping on St. George Island 4/11/12 – I have a high resting heart rate (90 bpm) and a very low blood pressure (80/50) and therefore when I do aerobic exercise I often feel like I’m going to pass out. I continue to run a mile about once a week, even though I get no joy out of it. I even bought a treadmill. But I’m still glad I did it.

4.      Give blood with (name deleted) 1/19/12 – This did not go well. It deserves its own blog post. Look for it in the future. Again, glad I did it though.

5.       Try 10 new restaurants

                                I.            Backstreet Café with (name deleted) 1/13/12

                             II.            Andrew’s with (name deleted) 1/20/12

                           III.            Comet Café with (name deleted) 2/3/12

                           IV.            Golden Mast with (name deleted) 2/4/12

                             V.            Kil@wat with (name deleted) 3/10/12

                           VI.            Loaf and Jug with (name deleted) 3/15/12

                        VII.            Papa Joe’s with (name deleted) 4/9/12

                      VIII.            Blue Parrot with (name deleted) 4/11/12

                           IX.            Giordano’s with (name deleted) 4/13/12

                             X.            La Fuente with the family 5/19/12

This was just a great excuse to try new restaurants with friends. I could have said 20 or 30 new restaurants, because I probably went to that many. I deleted everyone’s name from all these activities since I didn’t ask their permission to post about them, but another great thing about this list was getting to do so many fun activities with friends.

6.      Go out dancing at Victor’s in Milwaukee with 6 other couples 9/1/12

7.       Start a fire without using a lighter/matches with steel wool and a battery 5/8/13 – This is the one I thought was going to stop the list dead in its tracks. I had tried sitting in the sun with different lenses (it looks so easy in the movies with a magnifying glass) but it was frustrating and not at all fun. Two days before my birthday I decided to Google “How to start a fire without matches” and up came a video of a man using steel wool and a 9-volt battery. It looked so easy watching him. I made my box of kindling and sat on my wooden deck and ripped up an SOS pad into pieces and then touched the 9V battery to it and – whoosh! Up it went in flames. I took a picture for documentation, dropped the box and ran for water. It was frighteningly easy but also a lot of fun.

8.      Watch the movie Harvey with my husband. “You got the screwiest uncle that ever stuck his puss inside our nuthouse.” 1/20/12 – If you haven’t seen this movie, you should.

9.      Do an obstacle course Dirty Girl Mud Run with 5 other girls. 8/19/12 Again, the running part of it sucked, but the obstacles were a blast.

10.    Bike a Lake Country trail with the family 4/29/12

11.     Take the kids to a new national park Congaree National Park in SC 11/18/12 and Dry Tortugas in FL 3/31/13
Congaree National Park
Dry Tortugas National Park

12.    Catch a fish at Merton Millpond with (name deleted) 5/9/13 – I caught 2 catfish in less than an hour, and we threw them back.  Probably shouldn’t have left this till the last day but had to rely on the kindness of others. And when I was done with this, I was DONE!

13.    Break 50 for 9 holes in golf at Ironwood Golf Course, May 2012 – This should have been a bucket list item because it was too difficult to achieve in one season. I did, but it was a scramble with a girlfriend, and they said it counted so here it is.

14.    Read the complete sonnets of Shakespeare completed 3/9/12

15.    Shoot a gun with (name deleted) 6/6/12 – Guns scare me but I ended up surprising myself and really enjoying it. I don’t feel like shooting anything living, but I would be glad to do target practice on a regular basis.


16.    Find a new food to love Brussels sprouts at The Purple Pig with girlfriends in Chicago 10/13/12

17.    Gamble at Potawatomi with friends 2/9/13 – I learned how to play roulette from a pro and then I won some money on the slots.

18.    Play Frisbee golf at Sussex Disc Golf with my kids 8/28/12 – We bought the discs and have been back since then.


19.    Invest in another piece of art at Mount Mary art fair, painting by Richard Collopy, bought with Lucy 9/9/12

20.   Read T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland 1/11/13

21.    Write Jeremy a poem It was a haiku/Because I am so lazy/But now I am through 1/11/13

22.   Tour a Brewery Sprecher Brewery with the family 1/26/13 – Hard Root Beer? Yum!

23.   Submit a crossword to the New York Times 1/19/2013 – This was my 3rd submission ever, and I haven’t heard back yet.

24.   Observe five new things in the sky Comet Panstarrs, Sun in H-alpha light, Zubenelgenubi & Zubeneschamali, Nebulae M8 and M20, Globular cluster M22, various nights 2012 & 2013 – I didn’t keep a log of these and there are probably more – some with binoculars, telescope, my eyes alone, etc.

25.   Float down the Wisconsin River with my mom and sister and kids 7/20/12

26.   Get a pedicure with Lucy at Kirsten’s in Hartland 6/12/12

27.   Find a favorite red wine Folk Machine Pinot Noir at Hinterland with friends (also a new restaurant for me) 10/26/12


28.   Visit the St. Joan of Arc Chapel with a friend and kids 8/3/12 – I’ve always wanted to touch the stone that Joan of Arc is supposed to have touched that is cooler than the surrounding building (it was disassembled and brought to Marquette campus and reassembled). Now I have.


29.   Send a message in a bottle at St. George Island 4/11/12 – I put the message in a wine bottle after a fun night and threw it in the sea. The next morning I found it on the beach. My friend then threw it farther in and we never saw it again.

30.   Fly on the trapeze at TSNY Chicago 8/12/12 – If I had to pick one thing that I enjoyed the most, it would probably be this. Although I wouldn’t have told you that for the first week afterward because I hurt so bad from bruises and sore muscles. See my blog post on the trapeze for more.

31.    Take Kaden to a Brewers game vs. Pittsburgh – Brewers win 12-8, went with 5 other families 9/2/12

32.   Keep a journal of 40 by 40 list, also started blog 5/23/12 (yes, this one!)

33.   Tour Pabst Mansion with the family 4/29/12 – Because of the time period, it was great research for my historical novels.

34.   Hike a new section of the Ice Age Trail Monches Segment with the family 4/28/13


35.   Take a trip with friends St. George Island with friends 4/6/12-4/13/12 – Hands down the most relaxing vacation I’ve ever had. Dolphins swam outside our house every day, and circled us on our wave runners. Paradise.


36.   Contribute to Daisy in Samoa 11/2/12 – She lives in Samoa and works in textiles. She has already paid back half the loan I made to her. I will reinvest the loan in a new person once it is paid off.

37.   Send out query letters for A Different Sky early April 2013 – This is one of those things that if I didn’t put it on the list I might not have done it, and it’s too important for me to sit around and do nothing on. Still waiting…

38.   Create my own signature cocktail Kelly’s Cotton Candy = 1 can 7Up, 2 shots cherry noir Grey Goose, hunk of cotton candy, stir and add ice. With (name deleted) 1/12/13 – It’s like a kiddie cocktail but not for the kiddies.

39.   Sing karaoke Goodbye Earl with girlfriends at On the Rocks 4/13/13

40.  Knit a scarf Pretty & pink for Lucy’s American Girl doll 4/21/13


Will I make a list of 50x50? Well, probably not, but I will keep a bucket list. I already have a couple things on the list. See a tornado has always been on the top of that list, but it’s not something that can be forced into a certain time period. Having a list of things I’ve always wanted to do has simply given me an excuse to push myself and to get others to rally behind me in helping me achieve my goals. I had 33 different names of people who helped me along the way, and for many of the activities, my friends are what made them fun. Karaoke by myself? No thanks. But karaoke with friends belting out one of the best songs about strong girlfriends ever written? Thank you very much!

And with that … Happy 40th Birthday to me!

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