Every year I make a list for my birthday. Then I try to cross off as many things as I can. I’m always surprised by how many I do achieve; often it’s the outliers and far fetched ones that end up miraculously manifesting. Others seem to show up again and again as works in progress. I’m never discouraged by the things I don’t finish, for I often find myself looking back on previous lists, and realize that though something maybe didn’t happen in a particular year–many do happen sooner or later.

 
There’s a chapter in my book about writing lists. I think there’s magic in the process. Listing for something makes it so much more likely to become real. And every year I’m reminded of this as I’ve had friends and strangers email me with opportunities to make items on my list come true.

38 Before 38

1. Put self care first. Every single day.
2. Restore energy + vitality (recover from adrenal fatigue)
3. Do yoga in the morning.
4. Write for 6 minutes every morning for 90 days. Then start over.
5. Learn to meditate.
6. Work steadily and patiently on my next book. Revel in the writing process.
7. Submit an essay to Modern Love.
8. Submit work to Salon, The Normal School, Brevity, Creative Nonfiction, Glimmer Train
9. Go back to Santa Rosa + write the story.
10. Apply to Tamales Bay Writers Workshop
11. Read: as many books on this list as possible.
12. Read: Essentialism.
13. Read: The Life Changing Art Of Tidying.
14. Read as often as possible: The Paris Review, The Rumpus, The Normal School, Narrative, Gulf 15. Coast, The Toast, Sadie, Electric Literature, The Millions, Brevity
15. Go to 5 live shows.
16. Watch: Birdman, Under The Skin, Wild, Five Easy Pieces, Being There, Ida, How Do You Know, Somwhere, The Conversation, Roman Holiday, The Theory Of Everything, Force Majeure
17. 36 questions with my love. And oysters. And white wine. And also maybe dancing.
18. Attend a Creative Retreat
19. Make smart investments.
20. Attend gallery opening
21. Attend a Creative Morning PDX
22. Go to some drop-in figure drawing classes
23. Paint one big canvasses in my studio
24. Send out bi-weekly creative newsletters again, finally
25. Go solo camping on the coast.
26. Go camping with the family on the coast
27. Spend the night in a fire look out at the top of a mountain with T
28. Get back into biking this summer + bike to the coast with T
29. Go camping at Crater Lake with the boys
30. Save for a trip to Hawaii next Winter
31. Swim at the Kennedy School with the boys
31. Hike on Mt. Hood
33. Go to Pickathon with the boys
34. Take a paragliding lesson
35. Visit Seattle
36. Get a wetsuit
37. Learn ocean paddle boarding
38. Save for a trip to Paris when I’m 40


37 Before 37

1. Strengthen my core
2. Visit as many museums as possible... 5, minimum.
3. Work slowly and steadily on producing pieces for publication. Let that work inform the slow and steady work of writing my second book.
4. Attend a writing conference.
5. Start swimming again.
6. Spend time on the Pacific ocean.
7. Morning writing.
8. Yoga.
9. Make time to read the Sunday Times in its entirety once a month.
10. Make a driftwood mobile with Bean + Sprout.
11. Write a love letter to each of my boys.
12. Make a sock elephant with Sprout.
13. Read at least 6 books this year.
14. Buy some new house plants.
15. Make + give away survival packs for the homeless.
16. Send pretty cards for no reason.
17. Finally watch The Godfather.
18. Go to the circus.
19. Attend a creative conference.
20. Get my financial life in order.
21. Find a mentor.
22. Be a mentor.
23. Set Bean up with an international pen pal.
24. Get a facial.
25. Use a standing desk.
26. Take a paragliding lesson.
27. Go on 12 super sexy dates with my guy. (Went on about half as many, but still.)
28. Spend some time out doors everyday.
29. Finally host an interview series on my blog.
30. Paint at least one of big canvasses I’ve had in my studio for years.
31. Get as close to 8 hours of sleep every night as possible.
32. Spend an evening star watching my guy this summer.
33. Have a picnic with friends.
34. Learn a new water sport: kayaking, paddle boarding, surfing.
35. Make ALL work I do be either writing, or as as a strategist.
36. Go bright blonde for a while.
37. Spend an afternoon on a sail boat.

36 Before 36

1. Buy a pair of turquoise tights (They ended up being grey + polka dotted, but still.
2. Receive a huge bouquet of ranunculus
3. Help someone harvest honey
4. Run 15 miles a week
5. Drive less
6. Use reusable bags at the grocery store every time
7. Teach a creative workshop
8. Teach a writing class
9. Submit 5 pieces of writing
10. Nurture creative collaborations
11. Host a creative interview series on my blog
12. Host monthly dinner parties for friends
13. Cultivate habits that sustain my work
14. Spend more time on the Pacific
15. Spend a weekend in a cabin with just T
16. Save for the big things
17. Go camping with the boys this summer
18. Read a half dozen of the great American novels I never read in high school
19. Clean out closets and give away extraneous stuff
20. Let self care be a priority 21. Focus on the essentials: pair down, give away, simplify
21. Start small.
22. Sketch weekly.
23. Become conversant in French
24. Learn to fish-tail braid my hair
25. Get back in the pottery studio + throw some bowls
26. Send postcards
27. Take Bean to the Natural History Museum
28. Ride a carousel
29. Take a paragliding lesson
30. Go to bed earlier more often
31. Learn the Lindy Hop
32. Wear more stripes
33. Acquire a pair of cowboy boots
34. Night swimming in natural water
35.
Read poems before bed daily
36. Go flyfishing.

35 Before 35

1.Walk a slack line
2. Shoot a double exposure series with my holga
3. Learn to develop film in a dark room
4. Watch: Darjeeling Limited, and The Artist
5. A successful, joyful, profitable New England book tour.
6. Teach an e-course or workshop
7. Explore the process of screen printing
8. Paint with encaustic
9. Run a 5K in 25 minutes.
10. Watch the sun rise from the top of a mountain
11. Write 5 short essays or stories
12. Plan a interview series on my blog.
13. Spark curiosity
14. Read: Contents May Have Shifted, and A Visit from the Goon Squad, and The Lover’s Dictionary
15. Do one tiny creative act every day + keep a record
16. Hear Elizabeth Strout read her work
17. Buy flowers for myself. Especially pink peonies. Or accept lots of lovely flowers from T. :)
18. Do another small art tag sale.
19. Launch my new website.
20. Give unexpected presents
21. Collect pretty plates
22. Yoga. Do more of it
23. Leave the country
24.Paint a corner of my house aquamarine
25. Say no to things that don’t ignite joy, spark creative potential, or fill my well
26. Paint the rooster series
27. Start trends, make waves, and create opportunities.
28. Teach Clover to heel. Sort of.
29. Paint the big canvases I’ve had in my studio for 3 years.
30. Make time to just be quiet every day.31. Call my sisters regularly
31. ?
32. Support local artists. I now own three new pieces of local art.
33. Throw a set of bowls on a potters wheel.
34. Start a local mentoring program for young creatives.
35. Spend time at the ocean

34 Before 34

1) 1) Snowboard blue squares.
2) Sign a book deal.
3) Go car camping this summer.
4) Host a fabulous 4th of July party for friends.
5) Use twitter’s list feature.

6) Log 500 miles on my bike this spring/summer.(Close: logged 439)
7) Run with friends
.
8) Attract prosperity.

9)
Make industry connections.
10) Watch “500 Days Of Summer” and “Lars & The Real Girl.”
11) Make face to face visits with faraway friends happen.
12) Write more love letters to my boys.
13) Do another tiny art tag sale.
14) Be featured in Seven Days.
15) Make my father’s handwriting into a font.
16) Go ice skating.

17) Submit a magazine feature.

18) Croissants: from scratch. With chocolate filling.
19) Attend a creative conference or workshop.
20) 5 pull-ups.
21) Go to Quebec with just T.(Close: Went to Boston instead.)
22) Start learning French.
23) Leverage my creative capital.
24) ?
25) Become an SEO ninja.

26) Make an awesome new workout mix.
27) ?
28) Finish photo albums from 2009 + 2010.
29) Take pictures with my Holga + new Polaroid cameras.
30) Hike Smugglers Notch.
31) Paint the rooster series I have in my head.
32) Read a poem (ALMOST) every day.
33) Take a trip to the ocean.
34) Say yes.

33 Before 33

1) Launch & get funding for A Field Guide For Now.
2) Go to some local galleries.
3) Write some query letters.
4) Read/re-read every book on this list.
5) Plant berry bushes.
6) Learn CSS.
7). Finish A Field Guide To Now manuscript.
8) Hike Mt. Mansfield.
9) Go for a family bike ride.
10) Make a big deal out of friends & loved one’s birthdays.
11) Attend a writer’s conference.
12) Start the process of going back to school.
13) Make croissants from scratch.
14) Go to the Biodome in Montreal this summer.
15) Plant peonies.
16) Work on my abs.
17) Throw a garden party with pretty lights and fun drinks.
18.) Buy a vintage cake stand.
19) Wear dresses more.
20) Take risks with fashion.
21) Organize the basement.
22) Go mountain biking this summer.
23) Multiple streams of income.
24) Ride a train with the boys.
25) Go camping with friends.
26) Go to the local farmer’s market regularly.
27) Submit five short stories.
28.) Buy a new bikini.
29) Build a greenhouse with recycled windows.
30) Complete some new canvases.
31) Become adept at Photoshop.
32) Go to a museum.
33) Remember: “What if there is no emergency?”

32 Before 32

1. Read the New Yorker cover to cover often.
2. Learn to bake bread
3. Go berry picking.
4. Build Bean a treehouse.
5. Attend a writer’s conference
6. Submit some stories.
7. Stick with a regular writing routine.
8. Start keeping a Molskine notebook again.
9. Go to a drive-thru movie with DH this summer.
10. Bike the state of VT
11. Run a 5k
12. Frame & hang family photos in the hallway.
13. Take Bean fishing
14. Plant seed starts.
15. Keep a nature journal.
16. Go camping with the boys.
17. Roast marshmallows in the back yard by the fire with the boys.
18. Paint some big canvasses.
19. Teach Bean to swim.
20. Book manuscript: finish it.
21. Plant sunflowers and hollyhocks and zinnias.
22. Spend a weekend in Quebec in the summer.
23. Get a season ski pass and take on black diamonds.
24. Send paper mail more often.
25. Take the boys to the jazz festival.
26. Get back in the pottery studio.
27. Take Bean rock climbing.
28. See some classic movies.
29. Go dancing.
30. Learn to make pasta from scratch.
31. Make an organized submissions calendar.
32. Go to a concert.

 

Also check out my: Mighty Life List.