I’m feeling reflective in the last few minutes of 2015. Although this has been a year of loss and frustration, 2015 has turned out to be one of the most remarkable and memorable years of my life. Like the #39BucketList, I’m really sad to see it go.
The #39BucketList started on the night of my 39th birthday. I found myself alone in New York City on a business trip for a brand new job. My new boss had dinner with me, but once he headed home for the ‘burbs, I was alone for the rest of my birthday. The city and evening stretched out ahead of me. Was I going to go back and sit in my hotel room? Hell, no!
On that night, I decided to take advantage of as much of the city as I could. I wandered all over midtown Manhattan alone. I sat outside for a while watching the ice skaters at Rockefeller Center. I went to the very top of the Empire State Building (yes, I paid extra to go to the 102nd floor). I went to the really cool Blue Bar at the Algonquin Hotel and had a drink (try the Matilda!). I went shopping at H&M after midnight. Crazy, I know!
#39BucketList was never a specific list of things that I wanted to do before I turned 40. It was about saying “yes” to things that are important, that feel right and that make me happy. While it may sound juvenile and a bit selfish, it was a frame of mind to help me become more comfortable in my own skin and get me and my family on a better path. Instead of simply enduring life, I wanted to enjoy it. It’s not that I’m not incredibly grateful for everything that I have. I am lucky to have a wonderful family, healthy children, and (while it’s not anyone’s ideal apartment) a roof over my head. For me, happiness means appreciating everything that I have, but also dreaming that there’s always something exciting around the corner.
As painful as it was to turn 40, I truly had an INCREDIBLE 39th year in 2015. For the first time since I was in my 20s, I traveled all over the country. In one year alone, I took four trips to NYC, two trips to DC, and trips to Houston, San Francisco, Cleveland, Chicago, the White Mountains, the Walt Disney World Resort (of course!), and more trips to Atlanta than I care to remember. On each of the business trips, I had the opportunity to meet, present to, and get to know all kinds of people. As much as a natural introvert as I am, I always feel a little sparkle inside when I’m out there in front of people.
I had the opportunity to be on TV, to the delight of my inner teenager, who was convinced that she’d dye her hair blonde, move to LA and become an actress. I had a blast coming up with nonsensical soundbytes such as “the bustle of the city” and “gotta have these peppers,” all while showing off one of my favorite places in the world. It was an AWESOME experience, even with the ridiculously frizzy hair and the wardrobe malfunction issues.
I found my voice on social media. I have come to love Twitter, a mini virtual universe where something is always going on. I have quite an eclectic Twitter network, made up of approximately 40% Disney enthusiasts, 30% social activists (many of whom I discovered during my #NoBoston2024 days), 25% professional contacts, and 5% spam accounts…well, ok, maybe it’s 25% spam accounts, and 5% professional, but whatever. Most of the time on Twitter, I feel like I’m the weird girl sitting alone at a cafeteria table talking to herself, but it is really fun to connect with people you’d never actually meet in real life.
I didn’t think anything would top the TV experience, but it was a spur of the moment cruise to the Cape that truly topped off my summer. My husband and the kids were staying with my inlaws on the Cape, and as I had to work in the city, I planned to meet them later in the week. Rather than take the bus (which was really the most cost-effective and sensible option), I decided she need to take the Provincetown Ferry, declaring it a #39BucketList item. And I’m so glad that I did. There I was, sitting in the open air on this ferry boat, my legs propped up on my suitcase in front of me. The water was a little choppy that day and the boat was just speeding along, rocking in the waves, the ocean spraying in my face every so often. I had no little people to care for, no worries that Bree was going to jump overboard, or having to take Owen to the bathroom. I was completely relaxed, listening to my favorite playlist on my iPod, and just watching the as the city faded away into the place where the sky met the ocean. The sun started setting, and I thought the ride couldn’t get any better. Until I saw my first whale! I’ve never been on a whale watch (that I recall) and so I just watched this whale in amazement. And then I saw another whale. And then another. And I could see more in the distance – a random tail shooting up, a spray of water. I think I saw about 10 whales in total. Completely amazing and an experience I’ll never forget.
Even though I’ve crossed the threshold of 40, I am going continue the Bucket List idea. One of my friends posted the perfect hashtag on Facebook that cemented this all for me: #39TilYouGetItRight. Obviously, 40 is not an end point, and while I can’t use #39BucketList anymore, the purpose and idea behind it doesn’t have to go away. Maybe the next decade will be about pushing myself to really explore what excites me and what I’m really passionate about. More than anything, I want to feel more of that “sparkle” that I felt a few times over the past year. I’ve always admired people who knew what their dream was at an early age and chased it. It finally occurred to me this year that the reason I haven’t found my “dream” is not because I failed, but it’s because I never identified what that dream really was.
I am sad to see 2015 go, but can’t wait to see what adventures await in 2016.