Thursday, February 17, 2011

Living Intentionally- My Birthday List

Tonight Marty and I took the plunge—the plunge into the deep unknown world of our finances.

We had our first meeting with a financial planner to start looking at where we are and where we want to be. Most of the time, we practice the avoidance strategy--a little “don’t ask don’t tell” with a side of “we’ll get to it later.” But, the reality is we now have two children who will one day want cars and college, and hopefully, if we live long enough, we’ll need money to keep ourselves out of an old folks’ home. At some point, we had to acknowledge we are officially adults and start acting like it when it comes to money.

For me, this realization really started sinking in when I turned 35 in November. Not just a realization that I was now an adult who needed a comprehensive retirement plan, but a bigger realization that I had so much more for which I was responsible. As if two babies at one time wasn’t enough responsibility, I was also in charge of living my own life.

In the midst of feeling like the weight of my birthday was going to crush me, Marty tried hard to perk me up by planning a birthday surprise that included an afternoon at the art museum sans babies.

As we strolled through the whiteness of the museum, I felt the tension between the peacefulness of the setting and my frenetic mind. Feeling more mixed up than an abstract painting, I had to work to slow down and soak in the serenity. Away from my cell phone, Facebook, and babies, Marty and I walked through the museum at our own pace. I felt keenly aware of the sanctity of life as I looked into the eyes through the ages. As I tried to place myself in the grandness of history, I realized anew that one of our greatest abilities is the ability to think, and for a while, I selfishly reveled in thinking deeply about the art that was before me. I realized much of the beauty was of the ordinary variety—a bowl of fruit, a couple in love, a sunrise, a man standing alone. As a new mom, I was drawn to the pictures of mothers with their children. Regardless of the time that separates us, the connection is the same, and I thanked God again for the opportunity to count myself among those who answer to name of “mommy.” In a time when the world seems to be shrinking, my stroll through the museum reminded me that there is still a big, wide world that awaits my visit. Just as art requires us to slow down and be intentional in our thoughts, I think the art of enjoying life requires some of the same intentionality. Don’t we all need to slow it down and appreciate the art of daily life just a little bit more?

One of my favorite teacher sayings and an art-inspired one at that is, “Attitude is the mind’s paintbrush,” and as I left the museum that day, I tried to color my attitude with a brighter hue.

I resolved to be more intentional about my happiness and about living my life. I resolved to quit using the babies as an excuse for not doing things and instead view them as the motivation for doing them. My babies deserve the best mommy possible.

And that was the start of my birthday list. I resolved to create a list of 35 things to do in my 35th year, which brings us back to the trip to the financial planner. Number 11 is “Re-evaluate my long-term finances and set tangible goals for my money.” Check!

The list is in no particular order. Some of the goals are broad. Some are specific. Some can be checked off. Others will always be a work in progress. The ultimate goal is to use each day to the best of my ability, and hopefully arrive at 36, alive and healthy, rejuvenated and ready to find 36 new ways to love my life.

1. Be the best mommy I can be.
2. Be present.
3. Learn to take a good picture.
4. Exercise.
5. Run a 5K.
6. Go to NYC with my mom and sister.
7. Teach the babies how to sign. (in progress)
8. Read at least a book a month. (so far so good)
9. Join a yoga class. (have taken 1 class)
10. Learn to gamble. Poker, craps, and some other game (had a great Texas hold'em lesson recently)
11. Re-evaluate my long-term finances and set tangible goals for my money. (in progress)
12. Send more hand-written cards. (sent a couple)
13. Throw a party and reconnect with old friends. (threw a Christmas get-together)
14. Support a charity. (Go, Little Pink!)
15. Blog more. (currently keeping up my week-long challenge)
16. Take swimming lessons with Emily and Drew. (starts at the end of February)
17. Worry less. (daily struggle)
18. Appreciate more.
19. Update Emily and Drew’s baby books.
20. Watch old movies that everyone has seen but me. (must find a way to stay
21. Learn to make a good mixed drink.
22. Put work into the proper prospective.
23. Buy only items that I love.
24. Lose weight and get back to my 2006 weight.
25. Eat healthier and set a better example for Drew and Emily. (loving the crock pot meals!)
26. Travel to one new state/country that I have not yet visited.
27. Say I love you more.
28. Cut clutter.
29. Pay for a stranger’s meal.
30. Find a church home for our family.
31. Go hang-gliding.
32. Lower my cholesterol.
33. Watch a meteor shower.
34. Take a spur-of-the- moment road trip.
35. Begin our own family traditions.


Heather Gudac said...

#29 is on my 'not-yet-created' list as well.

Marcia (123 blog) said...

Hi Melissa, I saw the post come up on one of yours and clicked over.

LOVE your list.

Have you seen my 36 and 37 lists on my blog too? We have a couple in common.

Let me know if I can help you with any of yours...

Samantha said...

Great list! "be present" really stood out to me. Time moves so fast and I wish I could live in the moment more!

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