On reflection, this item is the activity that has changed me and my life the most. Before the 40/40list, I had this blog, but I wasn't sure what to say with it. I knew I wanted to chronicle my writing pursuits and the rejections I received as I was building a writing life. I planned to write about life and my observations in between rejections, but that seemed too broad and unfocused. In the sixteen months before last January, I published a total of 20 posts. In the past 12 months, I have published more than 180.
Blogging about my 40/40 list gave me a consistent topic on which to write. And the more I wrote about my year-long celebration and other life observations, my readership grew. For that I am deeply grateful. I honed my craft, chiseled my voice, and learned that people were interested in what I had to say. I have written hard truths in the past year. I feel braver and stronger and more sure of my self and my stance on things.
I am certain that I will be writing about the ways the 40/40 list has transformed me for many posts to come, but the following is my initial analysis.
As the list has come close to completion, people have asked me what activities have stood out over the course of the year. These are the ones that come readily to mind: (and like the list itself, in no particular order)
Physical activities: I did not expect to enjoy all of the physical activities I put on the list as much as I did. Curiosity put them on the list, but I never dreamed that I would actually like training for the 5K. I have signed up for a second session of ice skating lessons, and I am certain I'll take more tennis lessons as time and budget allow. These activities tested my perceptions about my athleticism and what I assumed was my lack thereof. They also reminded me of what impact my ten years of dance training had had on me after all.
Test driving the MINI Cooper: This was a fun day spent with a good friend. I never dreamed that I'd like driving a MINI Cooper as much as I did or that owning one could be possible.
Rereading the Anne of Green Gables series: Revisiting this book series felt like going home. I was reminded of just how important Anne was to me as I was growing up, making sense of the world, and my place in it at a vulnerable time for every girl. I related to her so much better than I did my peers at the time, and Anne gave me the courage and confidence to like being myself—no matter how different I felt from others my age. I also discovered the last two books in the series that I somehow was never curious about reading as a youth. I'm grateful that I explored these books in my fortieth year. I am certain that I appreciated them as an adult far more than I would have as a young girl. Rainbow Valley and Rilla of Ingleside felt like unexpected birthday gifts.
Ice Skating at Steinbergs: This was another gift. I did not expect Cadence to enjoy this so much. I will never forget the radiance on her face as we went around and around the rink. My daughter looking up at me and saying over and over, “This is the best day! I'm having so much fun, Mommy! Let's do this again, okay?”
Cooking activities: There were only three cooking related items on the list, but they made an impression on me. I got to share each one of them with special people and with each one my confidence in the kitchen grew. And then because of my successes, I was more willing to try new things and kind to myself when they didn't work out, and then my confidence grew more. I am a different woman in the kitchen at 41 than at 40. My next forty years have a lot of yummy goodness in store. I'm just sure of it.
Daily yoga: Four sun salutations every day taught me about patience, setting goals, and the power of incremental success. These lessons will be applied in other areas of life moving forward. Not to mention how great it feels to touch my toes every single day.
40 book list: I could not have predicted the trajectory my life would take by creating this simple list within a list. I chose the most meaningful forty books of my life thus far, then sent the link to one of the authors whose book made the list. In this year of taking opportunities and risks as they came my way, this message to the author opened the door to attending her retreat in Montana, which in turn opened the door to knowing myself and my craft better, having a new vision for my novel, and making special friendships—one in particular. I have stayed in constant contact with my friend Pamela, and she is coming to visit us in February. We're going to continue the conversation we started in Montana about writing and life and I am richer for her presence in my life. Saying yes to the unexpected things that come our way is a really fantastic way to spend this life.
When I started the list one year ago today, my blog's page views were just over 1,800. As of this week, I hit 16,000 page views. I asked the resident mathematician in my life to figure out what the percentage increase was. Jana did, and we both looked at each other, mouths agape. In one short 12-month period my blog's activity has increased by 780%! I'm calling that a success.
The greatest legacy of this list is knowing that I won't need to create another list to get stuff done in my life. The 40/40 list taught me that life is too good and too rich to sit by and be a spectator. I will continue to sampling new experiences—not because it's on a check list—simply because I want to.
Final item on this list: CHECK.