With my birthday only two days away, I’ve started to reflect on my life, all I’ve accomplished and everything I haven’t. I must say, I have been extremely blessed throughout my life and can complain about nothing. I have a wonderful family, the best friends anyone could ask for, grew up having incredible teachers who made a lasting impression on me, attended a great college, got the internship of my dreams which led to my perfect first job, I currently have a job anyone would be lucky to have, and I’m marrying the man of my dreams. I’ve achieved a lot over the years, and I know everything will only get better from here. However, there are still many things that I’d like to do in life, and a lot of those things I want to do in my 20s.
But before I say goodbye to 26, I have to acknowledge how great it was to me. A quick recap: I celebrated one year at my new job (May will be two years!), I had the privilege of being the maid of honor in my friends Whitney and Brittnee’s weddings, I was on the TLC TV show “Randy to the Rescue,” several of my best friends welcomed their sons and daughters into the world, went on many wonderful trips and vacations, got engaged, started planning our wedding, and bought a wedding dress! How could it possibly get much better? Only by checking off the rest of the items on my “30 before 30” bucket list.
So, without further ado, here are 30 things I’d like to do in the next three years (in no particular order):
1. Go on a Diners, Drive-ins and Dives road trip. It doesn’t have to be a cross-country road trip, either. There are dozens of these featured restaurants in Florida and in Georgia (several in the cities I frequent) that I just have not made it to yet. If they’re good enough for a TV show, they must be worth a visit, right?
2. Marry the man of my dreams. The hunt is over … this will happen on 12/13/14. Can’t wait!
3. Play tourist in my hometown. It’s pathetic (and slightly embarrassing) how terrible of a local I am. I grew up in Savannah, GA – where SO many people travel long distances to visit – and can tell you very little about the history and best places to eat. I’ve gotten much better about learning more about my hometown since I’ve been with Jimmy, but there is still much to learn, see and do.
4. Go to an Iowa game. Jimmy is a University of Iowa graduate and always talks about how much fun their tailgates were, and how Hawkeyes know how to have a good time. I need to see it firsthand to believe it! I’m sure it’s completely different from how we did it at GSU.
5. Charter a sailboat for a day. Boats, tubing, beaches, pools … I grew up on the water and still love it to this day. My dad used to own a sailboat and has always had a passion for sailing, yet he hasn’t been on one in years and neither have I. It would be a day of paradise to take one out for a day, learn the ropes, and enjoy a beautiful sunset at sea. Dad, when can we go?
6. Visit the west coast. More precisely: California. Shopping, fashion, wineries, beautiful beaches and perfect weather year-round? I’m in. Who wants to join?
7. Go out of the country. As hard as it is to believe I haven’t been to the west coast, it’s even harder to believe that I’ve never been out of the country. Except when some friends and I walked across the border from Detroit into Canada at 7 a.m. … but that doesn’t count. I’m talking Europe, Spain, South Africa, Greece, Australia … I MUST go!
8. Play a round of golf. I’m a little disappointed in the two most important men in my life right now. My dad and my fiance ALWAYS play golf, yet I’ve never swung a golf club. C’mon, now … get me out there! Who knows, I could be REALLY good! (Don’t laugh.)
9. See a show on Broadway. Preferably Wicked. Or Rent. Or for the icing on the cake, Idina Menzel in a show on Broadway. I’ve loved her since I first heard the Wicked soundtrack (she played Elphaba) in 2009 before seeing the show for the first time and have been in awe of her talents ever since.
10. Sit front row at a show or concert. I’ve had fabulous seats at many shows, but I’ve never sat front row. One of these days I’ll just have to splurge and do it! *Completed: 3/9/14 – The Band Perry at the Florida Strawberry Festival. 6/24/14 – Lonestar and Foreigner at Hard Rock Live Orlando (and caught Foreigner’s guitar player’s pick)
11. Go on a cruise with Jimmy. I think we could both use a few days of having to do absolutely nothing (except sleep, eat, tan and relax.) Maybe this can be one of our anniversary celebrations or a joint birthday party!
12. Go on a “just because” weekend trip with the girls. We all need a weekend of fun away from home, even if it’s a stay-cation at a nearby beach. Girls, get ready!
13. Go to a Braves v. White Sox game. My Braves v. Jimmy’s Sox. I’m usually a nice fiance and cheer for his teams, but it won’t happen here. A little friendly competition never hurt anyone!
14. Reread my favorite books. The Great Gatsby, Four Blondes, Pride and Prejudice, Much Ado About Nothing, Taming of the Shrew, Les Miserables. I haven’t read them in years and they were my favorite for a reason. I’d like to see if they still are!
15. Read 20 books. That’s 6.7 books a year. I love to read, and this is a great excuse to do it. TV off, book open. The six listed above can kick it off!
16. Take a dance lesson with my dad. My dad is a dancing KING! He loves music and he loved to boogie … slow dance, fast dance, shag, head bang. (Just kidding, he doesn’t do the last one.) I love to dance too, and I can’t think of anything more special and fitting than learning some of the classic moves with my pops.
17. Spend a weekend with just my sister. We see each other often, but we never have any time to just the two of us. I think it would be good for our relationship to spend some one-on-one time together, no boys, parents or kids, and just have a good time. We’re the only sisters we have, after all!
18. Go to Chicago for St. Patrick’s Day. I find it kind of fun to think about the fact that Jimmy and I are both from cities that have the largest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. I’ve done the whole Savannah St. Pat’s thing my whole life – now it’s time to celebrate Chicago style!
19. Sit on the beach during a sunrise. I’ve seen them as they were coming up, but I’ve never actually sat in the sand and watch it from the shore.
20. Run a half marathon. Because no sane person wants to run a full marathon for fun, especially one with asthma! But I do think it would be rewarding to complete a half, even though I hate to run.
21. Own a pair of designer shoes. I’m talking Christian Louboutins or Manolo Blahniks. Ever since I was a little girl, I have had an obsession with shoes. No, seriously. I used to snuggle with them instead of stuffed animals when I went to bed. They’re the only things that ever look great and a girl can feel 100% confident in, so why not splurge on a nice pair once in your life.
22. Take a photography course. If you know me at all, you know I take a gazillion pictures of anything and everything. I took a photography class in college, and I’d like to take it a step further.
23. Own my own event planning business. Whether it’s a full-time job or a side gig, it’s something I’ve always dreamed of doing. If I don’t do it now, I never will.
24. Finish my scrapbooks. I love to scrapbook and have started several from trips and big events, but haven’t taken the time to sit down and finish them. It is time!
25. Play beach volleyball in my bikini. This may sound kind of weird, but it’s kind of a big deal to me. Even at a size 4 with 2% body fat, I have never been confident about my body. I was too worried about jiggling or not looking like a Baywatch lifeguard when I ran in a swim suit. Looking back I realize how crazy I was, because I’d do anything to have my old body back! So that’s my goal – to get it back and play beach volleyball in my bikini!
26. Take each of my nieces and nephews on a one-on-one date. With my busy schedule (and now planning my wedding) it’s hard to justify an extra trip to Savannah when I’m rarely home on the weekends as it is. But my six nieces and nephews are my world and I want to cherish every moment of them before they are too old to hang out with their aunt (willingly), so this is something I MUST do!
27. Sky dive or bungee jump. I am absolutely terrified to do these, but I think I’d love it once I did!
28. Swim with dolphins. I’ve always wanted to do this and I live in Florida. What is wrong with me?!
29. Take a cooking class with my mom. I grew up helping my mom in the kitchen, which led to my passion for cooking and baking. I think it’s only appropriate that we take some sort of out-of-the-box cooking class together!
30. Dye my hair. I’m not talking highlights or low lights. I’m talking completely changing my hair color. I did it once on my own from a bottle and it was a disaster, so this time I’ll leave it up to a professional.
31. Be out of debt. If I could choose only one of these things to accomplish by 30, it would be this. I want to be financially stable and debt-free before having children, and I think 30 is a good goal. So long student loans and credit card payments – I’m having a stress-free, grown-up life.
31. Donate my hair to locks of love. Mine grows fast … it’s only fair that I share with girls who aren’t as fortunate.
So there you have it – my three-year challenge. I will update as I check items off my list! Am I missing anything important? Anything you think I should accomplish before my 30th?
So with that, I gladly welcome 27 into my life. Here’s to another incredible year, and my last birthday as Blakeley Ainsworth!