I’m currently approaching the “10 days until 30” mark in my life.  So far on the blog, I’ve referenced my ambitious 30 before 30 list in addition to my 2016 resolution to lighten up on myself.  These two things don’t exactly go hand in hand.  How does a girl gracefully embrace turning 30 while not putting additional pressure on herself to accomplish tasks that her 25-year-old self thought were important to happiness?  This post might be a little self-indulgent, but I have been working really hard to take pressure off of my own shoulders, and I want to celebrate that.  Let’s just say that my 25-year-old self had no idea what the late twenties were going to be like.

Here’s a few things I really think about turning 30, thanks to the whirlwind of ups, downs, cats, cuddles, jobs, names, and challenges that I’ve had in the past five years.  Disclaimer: this blog is in list post format, because no matter my age, I will always love lists.

1) I’m going to throw myself an epically awesome 30th birthday party.  I think my 25-year-old self would have been on board with this project, given that I have always loved celebrating my birthday.  However, I’m talking about decorations, actually mailing invitations, and doing some serious party prepping in my own home and yard.  I can’t WAIT!

2) Screw the classics. I will read as many Elin Hilderbrand books as I damn well please.  For the past two years, I’ve set a Reading Challenge for myself: 30 books in one year.  While this is ambitious among my other commitments and hobbies, I added on the additional stressor of reading 10 classic novels per year.  As of June, I’ve barely scratched the surface on one of them.  I’m going to drop the guilt about indulging in chick lit and accept that I’ll get to the classics in my own time, rather than forcing myself to do so.

3)  I will celebrate all of the things I’ve accomplished on my 30 Before 30 List, rather than focus on what hasn’t been completed.  I went to Norway.  I got promoted, was published, presented at national conferences, and supervised staff. I started a DIY blog and renovated several rooms in my own home.  I became a Jazzercise instructor.  There’s no need to focus on the fact that I never joined a kickball team or learned to crochet.  There’s time for those things too, of course, but now it’s time to celebrate what I have accomplished.

4) Meditation is everything.  Nowhere on my 30 before 30 list did I write, “do nothing” or “slow down”.  I’ve discovered in the past six months that taking time to actually press pause during my day is one of the best things I could have ever done for myself.  It’s actually made me calmer, happier, more well-rested, and a better partner and friend to the people I love most.

5) I’m committing to my health.  While I’ve been a fabulous fitness instructor for a few years, I haven’t exactly made any big changes to my eating habits.  My love for chicken nuggets knows no bounds.  However, I think it’s time to start getting a little more serious about being healthy and eating some greens.  The first step involves enjoying my brand new Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share from Von Thun Farms, so I’m already taking baby steps to get there.

6) I’m all about hobbies.  I’ve been on the DIY train for a while, but this blog has unfortunately started to feel more like a chore rather than a hobby.  Of course, cutting back on the weekly posts has made a big difference in this feeling.  Now I can post when I want to, as opposed to feeling like I have to.  I’ve also embraced a few new hobbies: I took a calligraphy writing class, I’m becoming quite the beer enthusiast, and I’ve decided that color-coordinating my outfits is a hobby (and a super fun one, at that).

7) “Good for her, not for me.”  For a long time, I turned to a great mantra from Theodore Roosevelt: “Comparison is the thief of joy”.  This is still one of my favorite quotes, but I’ve decided to modernize and personalize it even further with these words of wisdom from Amy Poehler in Yes Please: “Good for her, not for me.”  Amy advocates that instead of competing against each other, women can benefit from acknowledging each other’s successes. I love how Amy talks about her good friend Maya Rudolph being a childbirth warrior and giving birth to her children at home, which is something that she would never do.  To me, this quote shows that there’s no need to compare or feel jealous, and I can simply acknowledge that feat is someone else’s thing – not my own.  That’s a great way to live.  Oh, you started a brewery?  You got a salary increase? You wrote a novel? Good for you, not for me – there’s plenty of things I can enjoy about my own successes.

8) I’m eliminating “should” from my vocabulary.  I mentioned this earlier in the spring, but I am all about removing “should” from my vocabulary.  For me, this is a word tinged with guilt and shame, and it puts unnecessary pressure on my shoulders.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought, “I should probably be vacuuming instead of reading this book right now” or “I should stop comparing myself to others” (ugh, shame on shame right there).  Instead, I’m actively trying to use phrases like “it would be better if…” or “instead of this, I could do this…” to replace “should”.  It’s become a very angry word for me.

9) Embracing my inner fangirl.  Gone are the days of being “too cool”.  I remember when I was in fifth grade, I told my mom that I couldn’t wear a Mickey Mouse t-shirt because it wasn’t cool.  I was so concerned with what other people thought of me that I wouldn’t even entertain the idea of wearing a really cute Mickey shirt.  Granted, I was ten, but that moment has always stuck with me.  Since then, and especially now that I’m approaching 30, I’ve decided that it’s time to embrace my excitement or love for things and wear them directly on my sleeve.  For example, this past weekend, I went to an awesome New Jersey brewery called Jersey Girl Brewing Company and LOVED IT.  I promptly put on a t-shirt and asked if  I could stand up on the platform next to all of the brewing equipment.  I just about foamed over with excitement (or maybe that was my beer), and it made the experience even better.  I also bought two pint glasses.  Good thing I have money to help me embrace my inner fangirl.

10) Being okay with uneven numbers on lists.  See what I did there?  This will just be a top nine list. :)

I’m sure there are countless lessons I’ll learn as I embark on this new decade.  After all, it’s only a matter of time before I get cracking on the 40 before 40 list.  Today, I’m all about finding joy and letting go of the pressure.  Let’s see where this next decade takes me!



Creating Krista Flashback: My 30 Before 30 List

Oh, to be young.  I was rummaging through some old documents on my computer when I came across a very special list.  I love listmaking as much as (okay, more than) the next person, and I remembered that about four and a half years ago, I embarked on the journey of writing a “30 Things to Do Before I Turn 30” List with my good friend Michelle.

We had just ended a weeklong vacation of sun and fun in Los Angeles, and I guess we were feeling pretty ambitious, because we created lists of more adventures to go on.  Now that I’m embarking on the twilight of my twenties and some of my closest friends are turning 30 right now, I thought it would be fun to check in on this list and see how things have progressed.  It’s even more fun to laugh at the ridiculous items (get an iPad, go to the Superbowl) than it is to check off the items that I most wanted to accomplish.  Without further adieu, here’s how things are shaping up from this old school list:

1) Go to Norway.  I think we can safely say I checked this one off the list (it was at the top for a reason).  Dan and I had an amazing vacation last year with our friends Sean and Janice as we sailed from Southampton, England to the ports of Stavanger, Skjolden, Alesund, and Bergen over a 10 day cruise.  It was pretty magical.

2) Start a second Master’s or a doctoral program. This one, not so much.  I did attempt to take one Master’s level class, but it didn’t work out so well. My other jobs take up quite a bit of time.  But I’ll never say never.

3) Take a cake decorating class and make a cake for a special occasion.  Anyone want to teach me the fine art of cake decorating?

4) Take a grantwriting class and get a grant for work.  I have taken a grantwriting class and have been part of the process that led my previous office to get a $10,000 grant for Hurricane Sandy relief work, but I can’t quite take full credit for such an awesome accomplishment. I’ll give myself partial credit for this one.

5, 6, 7) Get a promotion and pay raise, supervise a graduate intern, and present at a national ACPA or NASPA conference for student affairs.  Three professional goals, all accomplished.

8) Embrace my curly hair and get no more straightening treatments (except for special occasions).  I was doing pretty well on this one until the sheer volume of my curls got the better of me and I got a relaxing treatment LAST WEEK.  Sorry 25 year old Krista, I was desperate.

9) Teach three Jazzercise classes a week on a consistent basis.  I’ve got this one down, for the most part. It’s my second job!

10) Go to Las Vegas.  Little did I know that I would travel to Las Vegas three times in the subsequent four years after writing this list.  As much as I enjoyed the various Vegas-related brunches, dance parties, and overall fun, it’s time for a break.

11) Start writing a novel. I haven’t made it too far yet on this one.  But a blog is like a never-ending novel, right?

12 & 13) Read 50 professional development books and 50 books for fun.  Oof.  This one’s a toughie.  I think I probably read closer to 15 professional development books overall, with about 10 of them being in the year 2014.  I started off 2014 by signing up for a reading challenge called 52 in 52, where you pledge to read 52 books in a year (I made it to 26).  I tried to alternate by reading one professional development book and following it up with a book for personal enjoyment, but I always found that I got much more out of the reading for pleasure opportunities.  This year, I embarked on an overall challenge to read 30 books (including 10 classics) and have made it past the 30 mark with four classics under my belt.  Not too bad.  Check one of those two off!

14) Walk a cat on a leash.  My childhood cat loved walking on a leash, but my current felines, not so much.

15) Wean myself off of Diet Coke/Pepsi (two times a week maximum).  I’m going to give myself partial credit for this one.  I would say I keep the soda consumption to a maximum of four times a week, but it’s usually less than that.  It’s a bad habit, I know.

16) Decorate an entire room of a house with fun interior decorating ideas.  Well, let’s just say I really went above and beyond the #16 goal.  So far, we’ve done a pretty significant overhaul in our downstairs bathroom as well as our kitchen.  The living room has been checked off the list and the guest room and upstairs bedroom have made progress as well.  Of course, I’ve created my entire blog based on this item, so we can safely say I predicted success.

17 & 18) Go to one Jets game per season and go to the 2013 Superbowl at the New Meadowlands Stadium.  In all fairness to myself, I’ve at least made it to a few games at New Meadowlands Stadium since I wrote this list.  However, I’ve been slacking on the one Jets game per season (mostly due to having very limited free time on weekends) and I definitely did not shell out the big bucks for the Superbowl back in 2013.

19) Improve photography skills and get better and documenting events. Dan certainly has improved his photography skills, and I’m doing my best with snapping shots for this blog.  Cell phone cameras have also greatly improved, so documenting events is a lot easier when I don’t have to bring my camera around.  I think my #100happydays challenge back in 2014 really showed that I could commit to taking a picture each day and share it with the world, so this one’s partially complete.

20) Finish one scrapbook! Aside from creating my wedding photo album online, I haven’t been doing any scrapbooking since I wrote this list.  At all.

21) Ride the Tour de Cure for Diabetes with my dad as many years as we can.  Absolutely.

22) Host one medium-size party at home every year (20+ people).  We’ve gotten into the habit of throwing both annual Halloween parties and celebrations for my birthday.  I love hosting!  If only it didn’t cause me major cleaning anxiety.

23) Learn to knit or crochet.  Oops.  I haven’t quite gotten to this one yet.  I did make one measly attempt at crocheting, but I’m going to blame my lack of progress on my left-handedness.

24) Create popular creative content (blog, YouTube, etc.).  Well… here we are.  Check.

25) Get an iPad or cooler, more futuristic equivalent and be tech savvy with it.  Aww, this is cute, and so very 2011 of me.  I’ve had the same iPad since 2012, so it might be time for an upgrade, but at least I accomplished something tech-related on this list.

26) Make a dessert pizza.  I’ve eaten a dessert pizza… does that count?  Probably not, but I love that idea and should be able to get to it in the next seven months.

27) Visit at least three football stadiums outside of New Jersey.  I made it to one non-New Jersey stadium since 2011, but it was arguably the most important one for me: Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis!  My interest in football since creating this list has waned, but I still had a great time traipsing the stadium by myself.  There’s still time to make it to two more…

28, 29, & 30) Learn to play tennis, learn to play golf, play on an informal sports team.  Apparently, my inner Sporty Spice was calling to me back in 2011.  I never answered.  I would still love to build on my golf skills, but it’s difficult to do when Jazzercise takes up most of my fitness time.  I can proudly say that I did run a five-mile race in 2014, which I never thought I would do, but these last three items ultimately go unchecked.

Are you keeping track?  Based on this list (and the partial credit I’ve given myself), I’ve made it through 17 of these 30 goals.  There’s a few more to get to in the next seven months, so we’ll see how it goes.  What I really want to know is… how many list-makers out there have done something like this before? Have you tracked your progress, or for those under-30 somethings out there, are you going to start?  It’s a pretty fun challenge – I’d love to hear about it!