Objects in the Rearview Mirror May Be Closer Than They Appear

Helllooooo mid-thirties!

Despite my perfectionist, overachiever past, I'm not much of a goal setter.  It's not that I don't have goals, it's just that as I let go of my perfectionism, I also let go of a future oriented view.  I am of the opinion that having a rigid timeline of major life goals can set you up for disappointment if you don't achieve said goals by the defined 'acceptable age', it can lead you to chase things that are only status based or that might lose importance for you over time, thereby leaving you feeling empty when you achieve them and lastly, I believe setting strict goals can give you tunnel vision, closing the door to otherwise unexpected, amazing opportunities.  Instead, I try to be present in every day, promising myself that my short-term actions are in alignment with my long-term ethics. I try to make decisions based on how I want to feel on a day to day basis (creative, balanced, energetic, passionate, happy), rather than being driven by what might look good on paper.  I dive head first into opportunities as they arise or ride out a crazy, spontaneous idea.  I'm not throwing shade on people that set stringent goals for themselves, I have just found the method that works best for me.  

My grandfather passed away two weeks ago at nearly 94 years young.  He had an admirable zest for life and often talked about how he wanted to live to be 100.  Though we had very different hobbies and ideas about HOW to live life, we definitely shared that passion for living as well as a birth month and the characteristic Scorpio stubborness.  My grandfather didn't want a wake or a funeral, just his friends and family getting together for a celebration of life.  So that's what we did last week.

My grandfather, the boat lover

My grandfather, the boat lover

My family celebrating my grandfather's life last week

My family celebrating my grandfather's life last week

In honor of my grandfather and my 34th birthday today (also inspired by my friends Christina Thelin and Mei Liu), I decided to take a look back at my 33rd year to celebrate some of my favorite grounding, adrenaline pumping, joyful, challenging, proud and fulfilling moments. Thirty-three definitely came along with its challenges (starting with waking up on my birthday last year to learn that Trump was the president-elect!), but I feel so grateful for the amazing experiences I've had this past year. I don't think I've quite realized yet how much they will continue to affect me in the years to come.   

Despite my goal setting aversion, I also created a loose list of things ('goals' if you will) I hope to do during my 34th year that will help me cultivate the feelings I mentioned above- you know to keep that celebration of life alive. Here's to another great year.  

33 Things to Celebrate at 33:

1. Drank ALL the Malbec in Mendoza (THE place to drink Malbec in Argentina)

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2. Reunited with my half-brother after 20 years during a 12-hour layover in Brussels, Belgium

3. Bungee jumped (twice!) off a bridge in Bulgaria

4. Rode on the back of a motorcycle from Belgrade to Budapest and back again (thanks, Josh Bordes!)

5. Climbed on Stupas in Myanmar

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6. Jammed out at an amazing percussion drum show (La Bomba de Tiempo) in Buenos Aires

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7. Ran my 26th marathon (Buenos Aires, Argentina) in my 4th continent and 6th country

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8. Climbed the highest mountain in Indochina (Mount Fansipan in Vietnam)


9. Climbed the highest mountain in Poland (Mt. Giewont in Zakopane)

10. Drank beer at Oktoberfest (Proust!)


11. Got my 3rd tattoo in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

12. Got my 4th tattoo in Sofia, Bulgaria (and realized that it was accidentally my 4th tattoo from my 4th continent!)

13. Drove a motorbike for the first time through Sapa, Vietnam (this was followed by a few other motorbike adventures in Southeast Asia!)

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14. Slept on and did sunrise Tai Chi on a dragon boat and kayaked around Bai Tu Long Bay, Vietnam

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15. Went to a Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan, Thailand and made it until sunrise

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16. Participated in a flashmob wedding proposal in Bangkok

17. Helped build a sustainable, solar-powered hot water heater in Buenos Aires

18. Volunteered at Hospital Beyond Boundaries in Cambodia

19. Went cross-country skiing for the first time in New Hampshire

20. Spent Thanksgiving weekend at Joshua Tree National Park

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21. Meditated in The Integratron

22. Ran a 5K in Singapore

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23. Fed and bathed elephants (my favorite animal) in an elephant sanctuary in Thailand

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24. Watched the Thaipusam Festival in Kuala Lumpur

25. Watched Orangutans swing through the forest in Borneo

26. Went to a stranger's Vietnamese wedding in Vietnam and a Cambodian wedding in Cambodia

27. Donated blood in Phnom Penh

28. Ran my first Hash in Cambodia.  On on!

29. Visited Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany

30. Bathed nude in a mineral bath in Bulgaria

31. Went to a Gabby Bernstein conference in Stockholm (The Universe has your back)

32. Accidentally flashed everyone outside the Moulin Rouge before I went in for a show (#ladymarmalade)

33. Drove a riverboat while sipping Port down the Douro River in Porto, Portugal

Damn, it's been a hell of a year!

34 Things I hope to do at 34:

  1. Stand by my best friend as her bridesmaid on NYE
  2. Stay in the Sky Lodge in Cusco, Peru
  3. Run a marathon on my 5th continent (I'm already confirmed to run the Antarctica Marathon in 2020, so New Zealand or somewhere in Africa are at the top of my list)
  4. Hike the W Trail in Patagonia
  5. Hike Machu Picchu 
  6. Continue to perfect my Spanish (daily Duolingo)
  7. Start a Fulfillment by Amazon Business
  8. Run another 30-Day Plant-Based Challenge
  9. Publish another article (preferably in an academic journal)
  10. Attend the next American College of Lifestyle Medicine Conference in Indianapolis
  11. Visit a new national park in the U.S.
  12. Read a novel in Spanish
  13. Hanglide in Rio de Janeiro (check!)
  14. Ski at least once (somewhere other than the Northeast U.S.)
  15. Run a trail race
  16. Visit a penguin colony
  17. Write a letter or postcard to one friend or family member on a monthly basis
  18. Cook more often
  19. Develop a more routine meditation practice (even if only 5 minutes a day)
  20. Stop giving a fuck about what other people think and live authentically everyday
  21. Start taking a Vitamin D supplement daily (started, let's see how it goes)
  22. Find my next home base
  23. Sit down once a week for a creative writing session (~20 minutes)
  24. Vary my exercise routine (more yoga, pilates, weight lifting, hiking, stand up paddle boarding or whatever else may peak my interest!)
  25. Make a practice of disconnecting from all screens for a few hours each week
  26. Learn how to be more vulnerable in romantic relationships
  27. Read more (~1 book/month)
  28. Attend more live music events (~1/month)
  29. Live with a Chilean family and work in their vegan cafe for 2 weeks (scheduled for late November!)
  30. Volunteer at least 3 times over the course of the year
  31. Get a massage at least once every 2 months
  32. Go to Burning Man
  33. Learn how to drive stick shift
  34. Get my motorcycle license

Thirty-four is already off to a great start.  Here's how I've celebrated so far in Rio de Janeiro today!

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