November 21, 2008

A 19-step program

Last week I turned 26. For weeks (fine – months), I was freaking out about it, and I blame Jessica Simpson. When I tried to wrap my own words around why I was concerned about the big 2-6, this is the closest that I could get (taken from an email written at the beginning of the month):
By 30, I feel that I really need to have my shit together and be ready to be settled. And I’ve always had these ideas that “ready to be settled” would mean that I’d have done all these “things” first.
(Before you say, “But Ashley, you’re married! You ARE settled!” let me just stop you right there. Because Trevor & I didn’t get married for the sake of sitting back and watching the rest of our lives pass by. We got married young so we could do all the things we’d always envisioned individually, together.)

In the spirit of being proactive, and not turning around in circles whining and rambling about being in a career rut, I would like to share with you a list I’ve made. It was going to be “26 Goals for 26,” but I got stuck at 19 and didn’t feel that I should add arbitrary goals I feel lukewarm about, just for the sake of crossing them out. Look at that – I’m growing already.
  1. Pay off my credit card debt: This one’s a biggie, and it’s been in progress since midway through this year. Barring any dental emergencies, I'm hoping to be debt free by April.
  2. Volunteer regularly: This is the other biggie. I am not working in non-profit like I kind of always thought that maybe I would be, so this is how I can contribute, and I intend to make a habit out of it.
  3. Write thank you notes: I want to be the type of person that sends thank you notes. I always have the best intentions – and I really was good around the wedding, so I just need to stock up on some stationary and devote an hour after every holiday.
  4. Lose 20 pounds: I’m not going to be one of those people to harp on her attempt to lose weight and how/why. So, much like Brad Pitt doesn't want to discuss his tattoos, let’s just leave it at that.
  5. Call my Grandma at least 1x a week: I always set this as a goal, and sometimes it slips through the cracks for no reason.
  6. Finish Top 100 books: This should be the easiest to do – I already have most of them on my bookshelf just waiting.
  7. Donate to camp: It’s been a couple years, and I know they need it. Just find your checkbook already, Ashley!
  8. Learn how to use my sewing machine: I got this as a wonderful shower gift almost 2 years ago – and I have a pile of clothes that need fixing. It’s time to get to it.
  9. Have at least one night a week that doesn’t involve alcohol: Not a glass of wine with dinner or a bottle of beer while I watch TV. It’s really not that hard.
  10. See one independent movie/month: Anyone who knows me know that I’m a movie person. But I don’t just want to be the inane fact spewer – I want to be a Smart Movie person, who learns and grows from seeing challenging movies, in addition to the basics (I’m never giving up on rom coms, so might as well just admit that now.).
  11. Send birthday cards: I love finding the perfect card, and too often I let the fact that it will be a day or two (or 7) late get in the way of actually sending it – but that’s no reason to not tell someone you were thinking of them. They’ll appreciate it even if it’s a month after their birthday – at least I do.
  12. Go to Nashville: I have a nephew who is 2 years old who I have never met. That is beyond unacceptable.
  13. Finish Grandma’s scrapbooks: I started these as a Christmas gift 3 years ago, and there’s really no excuse to be keeping all of these photos and memories in my apartment 3000 miles away from her if I don’t plan on getting them done.
  14. Go on a girl vacation: Having talked about this for years, it needs to happen. More than one night away, and preferably someplace tropical. This is the year for it.
  15. Take the GRE or let go of it forever: Do I want to go to grad school? Honestly, I don’t know. But this is one of those things that I just can’t put off forever.
  16. Take an Adult Ed class: Spanish, or wine tasting, or Public Speaking or one of the other dozens of classes I read about every week in the BCAE emails I receive.
  17. Carry a canvas bag: I have a million of these and always take them to the grocery store. But what about all the non-planned shopping trips – to the drug store and the coop for just one dinner ingredient? This is about being proactive and prepared.
  18. Grow a vegetable: I want to be a mom who gardens. This is how I plan to start.
  19. Have at least one day each week that doesn’t involve TV: Before we had cable, it was rare that a night ever involved TV. My, how 5 months can change things. I need to get better in balance on that.
I really don’t intend to be the type of blogger that uses this as a forum for self-pity or talking about how important my life is, so I hope this doesn’t come across as such. For me, this list is about recognizing that the little things make up a life. The likelihood of being able to make One Big Decision that will get me on the Right Track is, well, not likely. Each of these things is possible, and as I incorporate this into my life, I am taking small steps to being that person I want to be. A responsible, respectful, informed, useful member of society.

Don’t worry – we’ll be back on pop culture next.


Sarah said...

Girl vacation. Coming soon....early 09. WOOT!

Meredith said...

Puerto Rico, Rico????
BTW I didn't see playing Word Twist with your big sister daily on that list :(