40 THINGS TO DO BEFORE MY 40TH BIRTHDAY.
1. Find a form of exercise that I truly ENJOY and do it habitually. ✓
Kathryn Jernigan’s classes at the Choctaw Wellness Center!! I attended her aerobic step class for a year or two, and then started going to her hip hop dance class after she stopped teaching step. I love Turn Up dance fitness 1000 times more than I ever loved step, and exercise is truly part of my normal routine for the first time in my entire life. I even became a Turn Up instructor to take over Kat’s classes when she had baby Tobias in 2021! Who could have ever seen this coming. (The Lord, that’s who.)
2. Start and maintain a car replacement fund. ✓
Step One: Create a separate savings account ✓
Step Two: Pay off the truck (last payment was in January 2021) ✓
Step Three: Pick out a replacement car as mine slowly bites the dust ✓
Step Four: Buy a mind-numbingly awesome TESLAAAA ✓
Step Five: Make extra payments and pay it off early ✓
3. Keep some higher-maintenance plants alive.
4. Take a class with Daniel.
5. Start planning meals monthly instead of weekly.
6. Give away something really expensive, anonymously.
7. See one of my favorite bands live in concert.
8. Master the basics of another language.
9. Spend a minimum of two weeks traveling in Europe.
10. Take a sister trip with Robyn.
11. Make at least three recipes from every cookbook I own.
12. Identify mentors in my life, and make time to meet with and learn from them.
Julia (Julie) Boyd at the Choctaw Nation, February 2021
Brandie Holloway and Lindsay Cavallo, 2022
13. Set up a home office space. ✓
2020: Hahahaha….did NOT think this would happen as a result of a global pandemic and subsequent quarantine, but here we are!
14. Send more birthday cards, thank-you cards, and just-because cards. ✓
2020 – check! Thanks, quarantine!
2021 – ‘Just because’ handwritten notes to my grandparents
2021 – Birthday cards to friends
15. Read at least 30 new books. ✓
1. It by Stephen King, finished in 2020
2. The Reason for God by Tim Keller, finished in 2020
3. The Mystery of Marriage by Mike Mason, finished in 2020
4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, 2020
5. The Gospel Comes With a Housekey by Rosaria Butterfield, 2020
6. Friends, Partners, & Lovers by Kevin A. Thompson, 2020
7. What Grieving People Wish You Knew about What Really Helps (and What Really Hurts) by Nancy Guthrie, 2020
8. Every Good Endeavor by Tim Keller, finished in 2020
9. Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki, 2020
10. Go Pro by Eric Worre, 2020
11. How Can I Love Church Members with Different Politics? by Jonathan Leeman and Andy Naselli, 2020
12. The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien, 2021
13. The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst, 2021
14. Me? Obey Him? by Elizabeth Rice Handford, 2021
15. The Problem of Pain by C. S. Lewis, 2021
16. Tea With Isabel by Julie Sneed Womack, 2021
17. What If I Don’t Feel Like Going to Church? by Gunner Gundersen, 2022
18. The 40-Day Sugar Fast by Wendy Speake, 2022
19. Help! I’m Married to My Pastor by Jani Ortlund, 2022
20. The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien, 2022
21. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, 2022
22. The 40-Day Social Media Fast by Wendy Speake, 2022
23. The Hard Good by Lisa Whittle, 2022
24. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, 2022
25. The Pastor and Counseling by Jeremy Pierre and Deepak Reju, 2022
26. Book Lovers by Emily Henry, 2022
27. Without Merit by Colleen Hoover, 2022
28. Keep the Doors Open by Kristin Berry, 2023
29. Energy Leadership by Bruce D. Schneider, 2023
30. All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover, 2023
31. Dune by Frank Herbert, finished in 2023
32. It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover, 2023
33. The Two Towers by J. R. R. Tolkien, finished in 2023
34. It Starts With Us by Colleen Hoover, 2023
35. The Return of the King by J. R. R. Tolkein, 2023
Series I enjoyed again:
Harry Potter (2020), Hunger Games (2020), Divergent (2020), Maze Runner (2020), Twilight (2021)
Humility: The Journey Toward Holiness by Andrew Murray
How to Break Up With Your Phone by Catherine Price
The Connected Child by Karen Purvis
Fairy Tale by Stephen King
16. Make a food passport and fill it with “stamps.”
17. Unplug as often as possible. Schedule weekly device-free time and stick to it.
Doing the 40-day social media fast was an eye-opening experience. It definitely made me want to change my social media consumption long-term by setting strict boundaries about when I open those apps.
18. Go skydiving. ✓
Freaking did it. And it was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life!!
19. Make my own pasta.
20. Spend intentional time nurturing the marriages around me. ✓
2020 – Daniel and I started leading another foundation group
2020 – I taught the wives’ breakout sessions at Lakepoint Date Night
2021 – regularly spending time in prayer for Lakepoint couples
2021 – I taught the wives’ breakout sessions again at Lakepoint Date Night
2022 – I became the Marriage Ministry leader and planned multiple events
21. Pay it forward at least once a month.
22. Make peace with my body’s ‘flaws.’ ✓
2021 – Finally came to a place of acceptance with my body, after realizing that I’ve spent my entire life in a state of wanting to weigh less than I do. I’m learning how to ignore the conflicting messages from the world – “Love yourself the way you are” but also “Never be satisfied” – and finding a happy medium. It IS possible to maintain a disciplined workout routine and still enjoy an unhealthy meal every now and then without feeling guilty about it.
23. Celebrate 10 years and 15 years of marriage.
10 years in 2022 – check!
24. Take another friendscation. ✓
1. Definitely did not expect to be able to check this one off so soon – my surprise 30th birthday trip to NYC was the best-kept secret ever!! I’m 100% convinced I have the best husband and the best friends in the entire world. ♥
2. Our November 2020 cruise got cancelled because of COVID, but we made up for it by spending the week in Nashville instead, and it was a blast!
3. May 2021 South Padre Island girls trip with a bunch of LP ladies – we got to stay in Jessica Wright’s parents’ beach house, and it was so relaxing! (Although my trip to get there was an adventure and a half)
4. When the guys’ plans to visit John in Japan were thwarted, we planned a week at the Royalton Bavaro resort in the Dominican Republic instead!
5. We traveled to Jackson Hole, Wyoming for John and Amanda’s wedding with the most gorgeous backdrop – the Tetons.
6. We journeyed to Cabo San Lucas in October 2022 for Cory and Victoria’s stunning and sweet sunrise wedding.
25. Do something risqué.
26. Come up with a system to keep track of when food goes bad and stop throwing away so much freaking produce.
Step One: Get quarantined and become forced to stay home and cook all the time, lol.
Step Two: Try HelloFresh and get the exact portions for every meal, every time!
Step Three: Give up on grocery shopping all together. No produce in the drawer means no produce to throw away, right?
26. Break out of my comfort zone and do adventurous things.
1. Tried authentic Chinese barbecue in Chinatown, NYC, and at the whole meal with chopsticks
2. Stopped being intimidated by homemade bread dough and pie crust and made a freaking BALLER chicken pot pie and croissants that were so complicated they took 3 full days to make
3. Signed up for HelloFresh and discovered I like Brussels sprouts – who knew??
4. Got in an uncharacteristic creepy mood and watched The Shining for the first time, Halloween 2021
5. Went skydiving!!
6. Got certified as a dance fitness instructor. WHAT.
7. Started the foster care application process in Fall 2022
8. Did door-to-door canvasing and evangelizing in Nacogdoches, TX
28. Read at least one book out loud with Daniel every year.
2020 – Every Good Endeavor by Tim Keller
2021 – LOL….oops
2022 – The Pastor and Counseling by Jeremy Pierre and Deepak Reju
29. Save up for something expensive. ✓
1. 15 acres of natural forest land – 2020
2. The Kingston apartment complex – 2021
3. Building a house – _____
30. Do some real landscaping in our front yard.
2020: Not the front yard, but we finally hired some guys to do dirt work and lay sod in the backyard in May! My dreams of having a pretty backyard have returned.
2021 update: Fitz….has…ruined…everything.
2022 update: I give up. The backyard can be a dirt pit forever for all I care. Maybe we’ll get some astroturf. On a brighter note, Justin fixed up our front flowerbeds with mulch and reshaped the right one by the driveway, and they look amazing!
31. Spend one year doing a “month without:” a month without Netflix, fried food, biting my nails, dessert, etc.
32. Make a calendar for all family/friend birthdays.
33. Host a beauty swap or clothing swap party.
34. Start recording my prayer requests. ✓
If you’ve never heard of Val Marie Paper, go check out her prayer journals right now.
35. Write letters to the 10 most influential people who have impacted my life.
1. David Anderson – 2021
36. Play the piano every single week.
37. Remodel our downstairs bathroom. ✓
1. Solo painting party while Daniel was in Boston (emerald green top, creamy white on bottom)
2. Installed new gold fixtures, including a new light above the mirror
3. Put together a corner shelf for new towels and amenities
4. Bought and displayed new wall decor
38. Sponsor a child, and maybe even go meet him or her.
39. Invest in quality skincare and use it consistently. ✓
I slowly acquired everything in MONAT’s skincare line and started using it in 2022. I decided if I’m going to try it, I want to try all of it together, the way it’s supposed to be used, so I can get the best possible results.
40. Host a backyard dinner party, with multiple courses and everything. ✓
Dara’s “Thirty South” country club-themed 30th birthday party was SO MUCH FUN. We had a crawfish boil, live music, croquet, and everybody dressed up! It was in the front yard instead of the back, but who cares??
*Bonus: Each year, visit a new place I’ve never been to before.*
- 2020: Back to NYC for the second time, but this time around, we ate at a bunch of new restaurants, saw a lot more of Central Park, went to the New York Public Library, Chinatown, and Little Italy, and watched Phantom of the Opera, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Drunk Shakespeare // Colorado Springs, Pike’s Peak, Manitou Springs, Garden of the Gods, rafted Royal Gorge // San Diego, California // Nashville, Tennessee
- 2021: Orange Park, Florida for Corey and Lacey’s wedding // South Padre Island // Punta Cana, Dominican Republic // The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios, and Islands of Adventure
- 2022: Jackson Hole, Grand Teton National Park, and Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming // Hot Springs, Arkansas // Cabo San Lucas, Mexico // Alexandria, Virginia
- 2023: Los Angeles, California // Universal Studios Hollywood // Nacogdoches, Texas
- 2024: ________
- 2025: ________
- 2026: ________
- 2027: ________
- 2028: ________
- 2029: ________
- 2030: ________
On my travel wishlist:
The Grand Canyon
Lake Moraine and Lake Louise in Banff, Canada
Redwood National Park
The Greek Islands
To find out why I decided to do “40 By 40,” click here!
To read my original “30 By 30” post, click here!