33 Before 33

I am not big on my birthday. I don’t like lots of attention, and my childhood memories are fraught with poopy birthdays. As an adult, I try to make just enough plans so that I get out of the house, get a hug from someone I love, and eat some tasty food. This year that all worked out despite having a rocking headache so I call the day a win. For so long, my birthday was something I hated, but I am preferring the gentler approach of it being a little different than any other day, but not the greatest day ever. And so, I’m using my 32 birthday as a kickoff to a year of intention, and hopefully excitement.

Before I get too deep into this, I have to acknowledge that I am blatantly stealing this idea from my friend Ryan, currently living in South Korea with his fiance Mallory. (It is worth noting that Mallory is one of my most favorite people on the planet, AND she deserves credit for this idea.)

Anyway, Ryan posted his 32 Before 32 post last summer, and I knew right then and there, I was going to steal it. I don’t have all the same reasons for being into this idea because I don’t have a summer birthday; my birthday is pretty close to all the new year stuff, etc. But I am a fan of making lists, and I am about to read The Art of Non-Conformity on Ryan and Mallory’s recommendation so, you know, reasons.

I gave up on New Year’s resolutions a while ago mostly because they were always about losing weight and made me cranky and insane. Also, I have a killer knack for being sick and depressed on and around New Year’s which is just not the best fodder for thinking hopefully or aspirationally. But this birthday thing spoke to me, so I’m stealing it.

While I certainly threw in some things Ryan calls “softballs” (like going to events I already have tickets to,) I also threw in some harder to measure goals. See “Engage more deeply,” and a personal favorite “be less judgmental.” I don’t have a metric for judgment, but I am increasingly aware of my judgment of other people’s opinions, and I want to make it an official goal to curtail that nonsense.

So here’s 33 things I’m going to do before I turn 33:

  1. Visit South Korea.
  2. Visit Japan.
  3. See 3 of my favorite friends marry the loves of their lives.
  4. Serve on the committee for the Swissvale Community Garden’s second growing season.
  5. Engage more deeply with my local community and help to make dramatic impacts on the area.
  6. Complete the Rachel Carson Trail Challenge.
  7. Hike 100 miles on the North Country Trail in celebration of its centennial.
  8. Do an assisted pull-up. (Look for an unassisted pull-up before 34! Maybe…)
  9. Hold a solid crow pose. (Bakasana for you Sanskrit lovers.)
  10. Read 15 more narrative books.
  11. Read 3-5 entreprenuerial/inspirationy type books.
  12. Re-establish daily meditation practice.
  13. Complete at least one of the beautiful coloring books I was gifted for Christmas.
  14. Walk for at least 10 minutes every day.
  15. Be less judgemental.
  16. Shave part of my head.
  17. Refresh my Spanish skills using Duolingo.
  18. Summit Mount Davis. (highest peak in PA, admittedly not that high.)
  19. Interview 12 local Pittsburgh area artists. (1st one here.)
  20. Visit Fallingwater for the first time.
  21. Spend a little time in a salt cave.
  22. Take a painting on glass class.
  23. See some great acts live – David Cross, Ellie Goulding, Florence + The Machine, Janet Jackson, Beyonce. (And yes, I want credit for not making each of those its own list item – 33 is a lot of things!)
  24. Make a fabulous loaf of gluten free bread.
  25. Go camping three times.
  26. Attend the Laffey family reunion for the first time and meet a bunch of relatives I don’t know.
  27. Have a weekly Moscow Mule night on the deck during the summer.
  28. Pay really close attention to our household budget, and stick to it, for a whole year.
  29. Write more. (Specifically, I published 21 posts on this blog in 2015, so I’m shooting for 25 before I turn 33)
  30. Make a painting!
  31. Dance more.
  32. Go 30 full days without logging on my personal Facebook account. (I have to access groups and pages for work.)
  33. Go 30 full days (a different 30 days) without watching TV.



  1. Ryan   •  

    Well done all around! Happy to see you started strong with Korea and Japan… especially with Korea in its rightful first place. Love how much hiking is on this list and hope to knock off a few trails while you’re over here this fall. Also, lots of credit for keeping 23 as one post!

  2. Shannon   •  

    Wow, what a great list!! I love it! Maybe I can join you for one or two 🙂

  3. Tirzah   •  

    I like this a LOT! I might be inspired to make a list of my own and think more about the year than the birth-Day… good stuff.

  4. Denise Shaulis   •  

    Love your post! There are several I may take on for my life.

  5. Nina   •  

    Love this! And I just might steal your list 😉 It’s such a good one!

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