26 Before 26

Last year I did not make a birthday bucket list. I meant to, I started to, but at that point I wasn't really blogging and honestly, I wasn't feeling terribly inspired. I was working and not making enough money to cover my bills and not sure where I wanted to be in a year and going home every day and binge watching Netflix until I fell asleep. It was a pretty rough time.

This is not to say that times are especially easy now, but things are looking up. I'm blogging (and in my own way), I'm working and just covering my bills, I'm actively thinking about and searching for the place I want to be in the next year (after making a big move to get closer), and I have (mostly) replaced TV with inspiring podcasts and reading time.


I'm pretty stoked about this year's birthday bucket list. And I've decided to be kind to myself with it in two particular ways: 1) I will check in at the halfway mark, and if there are any things I know I will not be able to accomplish, either because I am no longer interested in them or life just isn't making them possible for whatever reason, I can then post a revised list with those subbed out for different tasks. And 2) I am only putting things on it that can be legitimately crossed off. No recurring tasks, no ambiguous mastery of a skill.

My hope is that by adding in these two concessions, it's not unreasonable to really strive for 26/26, which makes it that much more fun and challenging. Who doesn't want perfect attendance? And so, without further ado...

26 Before 26

1. Buy a pair of cute walking shoes- I am living a much more active lifestyle lately, and getting some new walking shoes is necessary. What are your favorite, most comfortable, cutest walking shoes?
2. Take Olive to a dog-friendly restaurant- We've never done this before, mostly because Olive still gets super excited around people and likes to jump on them and super excited about food and likes to try to get it in her belly. But, she has to learn, right?! Maybe we'll go at a slow time and see how she does.
3. Tour the state capitol- I haven't done this since I was a kid (or possibly ever?!) and it seems like a thing a person should do in her life.
4. Incorporate 3 new ways to reduce waste in my life- I was really into environmental issues in college and got lazy about it in grad school, but this podcast lit a fire under me to really start being intentional again about my impact on the planet.
5. Go to 2 museums- I have big love for museums, and this will be a fun way to re-get to know Austin, connect with friends/family, and get out of the house in an affordable way.
6. Try 5 new restaurants- Food=life and I'm trying to break away from my old college haunts.
7. Send 2 stories out to at least 2 different publishers- I just hate the publishing game so much, but I want the stories I've worked so hard on to be read. And, you know, it's good for my career.
8. Attend a conference and/or networking event- I haven't decided what I want this to be yet, but I'm really excited to connect with people who are passionate about the same things I am and start building contacts in my city!
9. Host a dinner party- I didn't manage to get this done this summer, and I still want to. Catering parties was something I did on a regular basis in Blacksburg, and I want to make sure that tradition follows me here.
10. Take a trip to Ikea- I keep going back and forth on exactly what I need to get for my apartment, but regardless, I definitely need to go to there. Plus, a small confession: I've never been inside of an Ikea before. Day trip!
11. Plan a weekend vacation & do it- This was one of my favorite things from my 24 Before 24 list, so I definitely wanted to include it again.
12. Buy a piece of art- This has been on my list forever. I want to support awesome artists, and I also love the idea of having an art collection. Right now I'm itching to invest in an affordable focal piece for my bedroom.
13. Lose 10 pounds- I went back and forth on including this, and on including it in a number of pounds way. I may change this later. But long story short, I've lost about 15 pounds this year, mostly by being more active, so I want to keep that momentum going and get back to my pre-grad school weight. As always though, being healthy is the most important thing.
14. Learn some basic knitting skills & knit something- I have always loved the idea of being able to sew and knit, but never had anyone to teach me growing up. Hopefully this will be the year to make it happen!
15. Take a dance lesson- I am not a good dancer, so this is a pushing myself out of my comfort zone goal. It seems like a fun thing to do and expand my skillset (maybe?) a little bit. Who wants to be my dance partner?
16. Help Mom decorate & organize her house- This is something I've been excited about doing since I got back to Texas, but I haven't had the time to even begin to think about starting on it. I love to decorate and my mom does not at all, so this is a perfect meetup and need and ability.
17. Buy a planner & write all over it- I have been dying to get this planner for years, and just haven't had the dollars for it ever. I also have not bought any other planner because I feel like it can't compare to this one. It's time to save up or settle.
18. Read 25 books- My goal for 2015 was to read 25 books, which I may or may not be successful at. I think I'll stick with that number for the next year!
19. Eat vegan for a week- My sister, Erika, went vegan this year, and has had a really positive reaction to it in every possible way. I don't have any real intention of going vegan, or even vegetarian, but I'm interested in seeing how different my life would look, and my body would feel, on a vegan diet, and I have a sneaking suspicion it would teach me a lot of good eating habits that I could carry over into my everyday, regular eating life.
20. Learn a new go-to hairstyle- I wear my hair basically the same two ways every day and it's really time to mix things up a bit. Re-visiting my hair board on Pinterest.
21. Send out cute Christmas cards- I talked about wanting to do this last year, but hadn't really thought about it until too late. I still have (a little time) to plan ahead.
22. Start a balcony garden- My sweet sister sent me organic seed soil and an awesome mix of seeds to do this, so I need to do some research and make this happen.
23. Find a volunteer activity I enjoy- I haven't done much volunteer work since college, and I would really like to get back into it. A goal for the heart and soul.
24. Apply to a job I’m really, really excited about- I'm still hunting that dream job, whatever it may be. Sometimes the pressure to apply to things that I feel I could reasonably get an interview for is too real, and I need to allow myself to stretch and apply for jobs I truly adore, even if I feel like there's a snowball's chance in hell of getting any traction for it.
25. Start (or re-start) a long-form writing project- My love of writing started with the novel, and I didn't really move to short form writing until college. I'd like to get back into my original love and take on a new long-form writing project, OR dig up an old one and finish it.
26. Post 95 blog posts- My goal at the moment is to post 2x a week, so if there are 52 weeks in the year, and I subtract 4 weeks (to give myself a grace period) and multiply that number by 2, I come up with 95. So rather than telling myself I have to post 2x a week, giving myself a number to shoot for seems like an easier goal to be accountable to and give myself some flexibility.

I think I have a pretty good list here, and I can't wait to get started! What are your goals for the next year?

Yours Truly, Jen

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