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Welcome to the Seeker’s Passage!

I’m so excited to be starting this blog on the eve of my 29th birthday. I previously had a blog that chronicled my mid-20s but decided it was time to step over to a blog that could travel with me through my late 20s and beyond!

I hope this blog is a bit of a continuation of the mission I started on my first blog, which is to “find my way and share my finds.” For that reason, you’ll find the same ambitious lifetime Bucket List as before.  But I also hope this blog evolves as I do.

So thanks for sharing this journey with me!

For my initial post, I thought it would be fitting to post my Before-I-Turn-30 Bucket List.  I scoured the Internet for the best recommendations of experiences you should have before your turn 30.

Some of them were deep like “Learn to Love Yourself Unconditionally” and “Forgive Your Parents,” which is beautiful but, A) Not necessarily something tangible you can do and then check off forever and B) Not necessarily something you would want to limit within the confines of a date on the calendar.

So I stuck with the items that I can feasibly and physically do this year.

I must say, I was pleased with how I have already accomplished a lot of the suggested goals at some point in my 20s.

 

First, A Look at Some of those Before-I-Turn-30 Items I’ve Already Checked Off 

 

Attend college. I have an undergraduate degree in journalism and psychology and went back several years later to complete my graduate degree in education. I feel so blessed to have parents who encouraged me from a very young age to pursue and value education.

Learn to cook for yourself. I actually really enjoy cooking, although admittedly it can be hard to do when you’re single. But I must say, I definitely know my way around a crockpot and even have some signature dishes like tamales and tres leches cake now.

Know your family history. Documenting my parent’s lives and their histories has been so rewarding.

Land your dream job. Two years ago I chronicled my big leap of faith in leaving my long-time job and going back to school to become a school counselor. It was one of the scariest yet best decisions I’ve ever made. God rewarded my leap of faith in ways I couldn’t even imagine.

Find your cause. It really is amazing how your causes take shape over the course of your life. For me, it’s immigrants, the elderly (specifically those with dementia and Alzheimer’s), animal rights, and women’s rights. These causes really can move me to tears and break my heart, mobilizing me to fiercely advocate for them in any way I can. For others, cancer, obesity, poverty or homelessness are causes that are closest to their heart. Find your cause because when you do, it will become a grounding force for you when you feel like you’ve lost touch with yourself and what truly matters.

Rage at a music festival. My ears will probably resent me later for this but I have enjoyed some pretty quality concerts during my 20s, including 4 years of Carolina Rebellion, 1 year of Sunfest, 1 night of the iHeartRadio Latina Festival and countless individual concerts that have included the likes of Usher, Kei$ha, Sister Hazel, No Doubt, Maroon 5, John Mayer, Chris Brown, Miranda Lambert, Journey, etc, etc.

 Stop smoking. What a battle this was! I tried to quit and failed so many times…until I didn’t. Can’t believe it’s been nearly 4 years since I’ve smoked.  So grateful to not be slowly killing myself anymore. For those who haven’t kicked this habit but want to, I promise, you can do it too!

Sing in public. I love me some karaoke! It’s not about being the best singer in the bar, it’s about letting your spirit shine through in your selection of song and your delivery. “Criminal” by Fiona Apple and “Black Horse and The Cherry Tree” by K.T. Tunstall were two of my favorites to sing. But nothing beat singing Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and getting the whole bar to sing along with me! I felt like a legitimate rock star!

Travel by yourself. I will forever cherish the memories that I made with my favorite partner in crime (my dog, Phoenix) during our trip up to Virginia Beach.

Familiarize yourself with a foreign language. As I have often said, learning a new language is like gaining a key to a whole new world. And I feel very grateful to now hold three keys in my hand: English, Spanish and Portuguese. There are nothing but beautiful things to be gained when you take the time to learn a new language.

Move somewhere entirely new. Yes, my initial experience of moving somewhere new was very difficult and emotional… but the benefits have far outweighed the risks in the end. Moving somewhere new strengthened my faith in not only God, but myself.

Watch a meteor shower. Not only is it majestic and serene, but if fills you with this profound sense that you’re just a small part of something so much greater.

Become a mentor. As you get older, you start realizing that the real gift is being able to give away what was so freely given to you: Phone calls, letters of encouragement, advice, etc. I have had the great privilege of mentoring many teenagers over the years and also have some “spiritual children” whom I sponsor in other countries as well.  They have all been huge blessings in my life.

Take a cross country road trip.  My father and I took a cross country trip when I moved out to Phoenix, Arizona for a summer. It was pretty cool to see the terrain of these great United States of America change over time and distance.  Plus, dad and I had a chance to really bond over long car conversations and fun new experiences in places like New Orleans, Louisiana and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Donate your hair to cancer.  Not only was it empowering to cut off all my hair and then subsequently shave my head, but it was humbling to be doing it for such a great cause – and to honor such a sweet boy.

Go camping. My two best friends and I went camping in Pisgah National Forest when we were just 22 years old! Camping is uncomfortable, terrifying and exciting…. I’m not saying I’ll ever do it again but I’m glad for the experience! On a related note, you don’t know darkness until you’ve camped in the mountains. Holy cow!

Take part in a city running event.  I was the kid who cried during the required mile-run in elementary school. To make it through a 5k event without stopping to walk (or cry, for that matter) was a big deal!

Adopt a rescue pet. What can I say? Phoenix is my kindred spirit and my favorite sidekick. My life has been greatly enriched by having her by my side these last 9 years.

Sleep on the beach. This might fall into the same category as the camping experience. Loved the idea in theory although, what people don’t tell you is that the sand can be hard, the sand bugs can be itchy and the sound of the waves can make you want to pee all night.  Not sure I’ll be racing to try it again but I’m glad to have had the experience all the same!

Give blood. It’s such a simple act and yet, it can truly be life-changing or life-saving for someone.

Ride in a limo. Everyone should ride in a limo at least once.  Make the experience even more memorable by waiting for a special occasion (like when my sister graduated from high school) and spending it with the entire family.

Go crowd surfing. I can’t tell you how elated I was to be riding through the air with just strangers’ hands holding me up as Three Days Grace played in the background.  What a fun, whimsical experience!

 Try different hair color.  I’ve done this with varying levels of success but each hair color sure did make me feel like a different person! Although after the last experience I had in which I tried to go platinum blond and, instead, the hairdresser took off 40 years of my life, I don’t think I’ll try this again anytime soon.

Go zip-lining. This was actually a big fear of mine because I’d read so many stories about people dying on them.  But luckily in graduate school, I had the chance to overcome my fear when our final exam was a ropes course. I must say, going down a zip-line is one of the biggest adrenaline rushes I’ve had in my life.

 Attend a midnight premiere of a movie. In my early 20s, my friends and I never missed a midnight premier of the latest Twilight installment. It is pretty fun to get caught up in the hype of a new movie – and it’s probably when you’re most likely to see people come dressed up in character, which is fun!

 See a Broadway show … on Broadway. In New York City. I am so grateful to have gotten to see Chicago on Broadway! I was expecting the theater to be bigger and the acting to be more serious but the reality was so much better and so much more distinctive than my expectations!

 

The Top 12 Things I Want to Do Between 29 and 30

 

So yeah, the 20s have been pretty sweet! Of course, other things happened in my 20s that were actually quite difficult, like addiction, self-doubt and dysfunctional relationships.  But everything that’s happened to me during the last nearly 10 years – the good and the bad  – have blended together to make me whao I am today.

So to round off the last year of my 20s, here are the 12 things I hope to accomplish in the next 12 months:

Go one year without eating out in restaurants. I am truly…. truly…. embarrassed when I look at my bank statements and see:

Starbucks: 7.57

Moe’s Southwest Grill: 6.62

Panera: 11.08

Starbucks: 5.75

Jamba Juice: 6.65

Etc.

It’s not even like I’m eating at 5-star restaurants. There are just certain restaurants and certain dishes of which I can’t get enough.  And then I think, “How’s this measly Mini Masterpiece with mushrooms and cheese really going to break the bank? What’s the harm in this tall green tea frappuccino?”

Ugh. A lot. Drained checking account. Cavities. Extra weight.

Enough.

Go skinny dipping.  I think this might stem from college. When I was a senior, we had this end of year party and a bunch of people jumped in the pool naked. I chickened out and jumped in my bra and underwear instead. I want to feel the liberation that comes with being buck naked in a pool (or ocean).

Gamble at a casino (preferably, Las Vegas!) I know how to play blackjack and poker – although the slot machines hold a bit of charm for me as well! And taking a trip to Vegas, dressing to the nines and trying my hand out at some games of chance sounds like quite the memorable way to bid my 20s a fond farewell.

Sleep over somewhere haunted. Umm, this legitimately freaks me out.  Around other people, I might look down my nose at horror movies and dismiss them as mere child’s play.  But in reality, I am highly impressionable when it comes to horror movies. Heck, I still don’t like standing at the side of my bed for too long because of that scene in The Sixth Sense. And don’t even get me started on the devil from The X-Files that steals your soul from the  foot of your bed.  There’s a reason I need to wrap my feet up in my sheets at night.

I don’t even know how I’m going to get this done but better I get it done now while my ticker is still good in case ghosts really do exist.

Stay up until the sunrise in a different city. Haha, this might happen BECAUSE of number 4 above. I think the longest I’ve ever lasted into the morning was 3:30 a.m. But how poetic would it be to watch the sun set and then rise again several hours later. Plus, I’m pretty sure your brain becomes pretty loopy when you do that. So it could just be entertaining to see how weird and emotional I get.

Take an improv comedy class. I mean, I’d like to think of myself as a witty person.  I personally find my one-line quips and sarcastic asides hilarious.  I’d love to see what comes out of me if given the creative space and situational inspiration in an improv class to really explore my comedic style. If I’m the only person who ends up laughing, I’ll consider it a success!

Write a letter to yourself in ten years.  Man, I can’t even imagine what I would have written to myself when I was 20 years old to my 30 year old self. I’m fairly certain I would not have had one iota of accurate insight into what the next 10 years of my life were to bring.  And I’m sure it would be the same if I tried to write a letter to my 40-year-old self. But you know, that’s the beauty of such a letter – to see how much we change, grow and evolve in just a decade’s time.

Do something that truly scares you. I have no idea what this means or what this is going to look like. But I know that by putting it on my list, I’m inviting God into my life to put something in front of me that he wants me to do but that he knows is going to terrify me initially. But you know, that’s the perfect recipe for personal growth!

Travel somewhere that truly feels like the ends of the earth. I realized recently that many of my travels have taken me to big cities, which is lovely but on the other hand, sometimes the cities all start to look like each other.  But you’d hardly be confused between Niagara Falls in New York and the Grand Canyon in Arizona, or the Himalayan Mountains in Nepal and the Sahara Dessert in Africa. I want to see more of those natural wonders.

Build a savings account of $5,000. This is a lofty goal and I’m honestly not sure I can meet it.  But dream big, right? Truly, I have a terribly fickle and unstable relationship with budgets and savings accounts. It would be great to have a sizeable savings account that actually lasts month-to-month.

After all, do you know that one study found that people’s financial peace doesn’t come from how much money they make or how much money they spend? In fact, it comes from the amount of buffer they have with their emergency fund.

Read six Great American “classic” novels (see Lifetime Bucket List). I think this would be a great personal goal to set for the next year and a great way to start chipping away at my Lifetime Bucket List item. There are so many talented writers across history and it’s time I start learning from them!

Play travel roulette with my significant other. Oh my goodness, I am so excited about this list item!  Did you know there’s a website called packupgo.com where they will literally plan a surprise three-day vacation for you after you give them some basic information like your budget and your travel dates? You literally go to the airport without knowing where you’re going and then you open an envelope for the big reveal! Anyone who knows me knows that I love randomness and I love surprises – and this has both! Can’t wait to see where we end up!

Well, thanks for taking the time to read my first SeekersPassage blog.  Can’t wait to share with you how things go as I check off the items on my Before-I-Turn-30 List!

Be well.

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