I had a moment in Target the other day, holding a vintage My Little Pony. I grew up waist-deep in these pastel plastic lovelies. They were the toys my sisters and I fought over, the favorites-to-top-all-favorites.
At the store for a couple weeks ago to pick up a birthday gift for one of my son’s friends, I walked past an end cap filled with Cabbage Patch dolls and nostalgia-producing Etch-a-Sketches. Then there were the ponies. Without even meaning to, I picked up a couple of them (Blossom and Peachy, if you must know) and put them in my cart.
I couldn’t help it.
Then I remembered all the practical reasons I should take them out of my cart – we are on a budget, adult Courtney has no need of My Little Pony toys, Target has a way of lulling us into purchases we would never make if it wasn’t for their alluring layout and blasting A/C.
Also, I read the box. “35 Year Anniversary Edition!” it proclaimed.
“No way,” I thought. “These toys aren’t from that long ago.” Then it hit me. I am 35. The toys are definitely from that long ago. Ouch. Back on the shelf they went.
Except today I’m not 35. Not anymore. I’m 36. Older than John Steinbeck was when he wrote Of Mice and Men. Older than Amelia Earhart when she flew across the Atlantic. Older than Jesus’ earthly age when he died on the cross.
[Though I’m not older than Marilyn Monroe was when she sang “Happy Birthday” to JFK in a slinky, sparkly dress. So I could still sing a song to a powerful married man in an inappropriately sexy way, I guess? Ick.]
Birthdays tend to make me reflective. Church is so busy around New Year’s that I never really make resolutions. But every birthday gives me pause as I think about the past year–its joys and sorrows and challenges and triumphs–and look forward to the year ahead.
So without further ado, here are 36 things I hope to learn this year as I turn 36.
- …keep a plant alive indoors. This year I managed to kill a cactus. A CACTUS. And not from overwatering it, either.
- …apply more than one basic kind of eye makeup.
- …launch my first book. (WOO HOO!!!! Any of you out there have tips on this one?)
- …raise a baby girl.
- …parent a kindergartener. Our oldest is doing great at his new school, but the combination of language-immersion and an all-day program means I have a lot of learning to do. Which brings me to needing to learn how to…
- …speak beginning Spanish. Gotta keep up with the 5-year-old!
- …take things a day at a time.
- …exercise regularly (and enjoy it) now that I can’t run any longer. Earlier this year my doctor told me I could run, but only if I didn’t want to walk later. Um, no thanks. But I love running and struggle to exercise if I can’t put on my tennies and go pound the pavement. This year I’m determined to find another form of exercise to fill the running-shaped hole in my heart.
- …cook sauces.
- …use spices and herbs. I’m the master of bland food preparation. The only two spices I know how to use are Lawry’s seasoning salt and garlic powder. I know. It’s bad. Time for a change.
- …fold laundry and put it away in the same day. The struggle is real.
- …change a tire.
- …navigate a hardware store.
- …regularly preach sermons with strong calls-to-action. My sermon’s conclusions are often their weakest links. I want to end with the same strength I use when I begin.
- …press in to mentoring relationships to grow in my leadership skills.
- …poach a perfect egg.
- …grow a backyard vegetable garden. We had a great one in Wisconsin. The one I planted here grew for three weeks and then died a curly-leaved, shriveled-to-bits death. Apparently planting crops in the rainy Midwest is different than trying to grow things in arid southern California. Who knew?
- …swim with my face in the water. Yes, I’m 36 and I still basically dog paddle. I’m in no danger of drowning, but it’s a travesty.
- …stand up on a surf board while it’s in the ocean. Without getting eaten by a shark.
- …put on sunscreen every single blessed day, no exceptions.
- …pastor the same church for more than five years. Haven’t done that before, and I’m excited to learn what ministry looks like when roots begin to go deep with time and intentionality.
- …continue to navigate social media in a way that doesn’t steal my soul.
- …identify the local birds in our neighborhood.
- …hang a picture correctly on the first try. Apparently the carpentry saying is “measure twice, cut once” but when I hang pictures I prefer the “nail as many random nails as you need to until everything hangs level and then pray you never move that picture so Daryl never sees what you did to the wall.” Yeah, that’s gotta stop.
- …make peace with high temperatures. I hate the heat, but I live in a gorgeous place that happens to be really hot 2-3 months of the year. I’m done complaining about it. Time to learn how to deal. And perhaps invest in one of those ice-cooler-neck-band thingies.
- …read more poetry. I love poetry, but I don’t read it often. This is the year. Send me your suggestions. I’m already a big fan of Mary Oliver, T. S. Eliot, Jane Kenyon, Donald Hall, Denise Levertov, David Wright, and Brett Foster. Who else ya got?
- …invite more people over for dinner when the house is a mess. Because hospitality is more important than eliminating dust bunnies, yes?
- …spend my Wisconsin time soaking up the outdoors. This year in Wisconsin I spent 90% of my time in this one coffee shop (Hi, Eagle River Roasters! I love you!) finishing up Book #2. I’m super grateful for the time to write uninterrupted and the family that loved on my kiddos so I could bring the book home. But I missed the lakes and trees and wind on my face and swimming with the fam. This year? STAND UP PADDLE BOARDING, HERE I COME.
- …purchase a pair of sunglasses that doesn’t get broken or scratched within its first month. Maybe I’ve outgrown the $10 Target variety at last and should invest in… what? I don’t even know what’s out there in sunglass world. Fill me in!
- …accept my shifting postpartum shape with gratitude. Babies aren’t built in a day, and neither is a healthy postpartum body.
- …plan at least one surprise date for Daryl.
- …mother three kids without losing my ever-living mind.
- …decide what my next book will be about.
- …be a good friend/neighbor/social butterfly and a healthy introvert simultaneously. The struggle is real.
- …follow Jesus more closely.
- …go to bed at a reasonable hour.
Who wants to teach me?
When’s your birthday? What do you hope to learn this year?