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Revisiting the 30 Before Thirty List

Yesterday, I celebrated my thirtieth birthday. I’m truly looking forward to this next decade, and I think my thirties will be the best years yet! So now that my birthday has come and gone, it’s time to see how I did with my 30 Before Thirty list. I had given myself six and a half months to do everything.

I finished all of these…

  • 1. Visit the Modern Wing of The Art Institute of Chicago. (Done!)
  • 2. Dye my hair red. (Done!)
  • 5. Stop drinking soda. (Done!)
  • 6. Lose 20 pounds. (Not drinking soda should help.) (Done!)
  • 8. Sew a dress for Eleanor. (Done!)
  • 10. Donate some of our books to the library. (Done!)
  • 11. Cook Pad Thai from scratch. (Done!)
  • 12. Organize the catch-all closet in my office. (Done!)
  • 13. Get good at applying liquid eyeliner. (Done!)
  • 14. Print the bajillion photos I have stored on my computer and put them in albums. (Done!)
  • 15. Alphabetize our CDs and finish putting them into sleeves. (Done!)
  • 16. Landscape the front of the house. (Done!)
  • 17. Make an origami paper crane. (Done!)
  • 18. Visit the Farnsworth House by Mies van der Rohe. (Done!)
  • 19. Learn how to use my camera in manual mode. (Done!)
  • 20. Find my perfect shade of lipstick. (Done!)
  • 21. Decide for good whether I want a tattoo or not. (Done!)
  • 22. Pay off my credit card. (Done!)
  • 23. Make a video montage of Eleanor’s first year. (Done!)
  • 24. Have a date night with Brandon at least twice a month. (Done!)
  • 25. Grow tomatoes. (Done!)
  • 26. Have an adorable family photo taken. (Done!)
  • 27. Sing along perfectly to “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)”. (Done!)
  • 28. Take Eleanor to the Shedd Aquarium. (Done!)
  • 29. Reduce (or eliminate) my reliance on paper towels. (Done!)

I didn’t finish these…

  • 3. Finish redesigning my Smart & Lovely portfolio. (It’s in progress.)
  • 4. Launch my design service. (I need to finish the portfolio first.)
  • 7. Repaint my office. (I’m going to wait and see how the white trim looks first.)
    * 08.16.11: Done!)
  • 9. Clean out the basement. (It’s getting scary down there, but we’ll get it done.)
    * 11.02.10: Done!
  • 30. Paint all of the trim in our house. (I made progress, but the dining room took forever.)

But here are a few things that I did finish in addition to the items on my list…

Along the way, many of you made 30 Before Thirty lists of your own (and many variations thereof, including a 30 Before Seventy list by a 67 year old woman). That just makes me incredibly happy. After a weekend spent concentrating on achieving dreams and goals, it seems fitting to wrap things up today. Next, I’m going to have to get going on my life list!

Pretty, but with Meaning

I like kooky jewelry. Tons of baubles and charms on a bracelet? Sign me up. Huge dangly earrings? I’ll rock those. Big yellow resin necklace? I have one (I wore it this weekend).

Then there is the other side of me — the side that loves classic or understated pieces imbued with meaning. My wedding ring of course, but there are others. The delicate green enameled bracelet that was my grandmother’s. The silver cuff from Tiffany’s that Brandon’s grandmother gave to me upon hearing of our engagement. The wedding ring my mother wore when she married my father. I adore jewelry with a family connection and a sense of history.

I resisted the Eleanor/elephant connection for a long time, but then I became obsessed with a rose gold elephant necklace that a reader had told me about. It was small, with a tiny little diamond (Eleanor’s birthstone) on it. Dainty and perfectly lovely. “It will represent my daughter”, I thought, even though I knew it was too expensive. I put it on my wish list where I put the other beautiful things I admire but don’t necessarily plan to buy, and I tried to forget about it. Then Brandon surprised me with it this year for Mother’s Day. Actually, I believe the gift was technically from Eleanor, though I don’t know how a one year old managed to navigate the online shopping process.

I love that necklace. I wore it every day for months, and you’ll still find me wearing it more often than not. And now I have another necklace to pair it with.

I’m writing this in San Francisco after having attended the Mighty Summit. We focused on our life lists, which is much like my 30 Before Thirty list but bigger. Grander. I have lofty goals and dreams, and I look forward to sharing them with you when I’m ready. For now though, let me just tell you that it was an amazing experience, being surrounded by a group of talented, successful, kind, helpful, inspiring women all working toward achieving great things. Blogging has brought so many opportunities, but more importantly many friendships. I’m eager to move forward, pushing for bigger and better things, all the while surrounded by new and old friends and an incredible sense of community.

We all committed to working on five of our dreams this year. Maggie told us at lunch on the last day that when she set the wheels in motion on her life list, she bought a gold band to commemorate the occasion. She wears it every day along with her wedding ring. We were then each given a gold necklace by lemonade handmade with five small rings on it, representing the five things we will accomplish this year. She teared up telling us about the meaning behind it, and I’m doing the same while writing this. The necklace symbolizes a commitment to acheieving your goals, yes, but there is more. There is the strength of the women I met this weekend. The passion we each have. The dedication, and the love of what we are doing. The ability to put forth a goal and the follow through to actually achieve it. It will also remind me to really believe in myself.

You are going to see that necklace on me a lot.

Meaningful Jewelry

Eleanor at Crown Fountain in Millennium Park

OK. Maybe Eleanor wasn’t that into the Modern Wing of the Art Institute, but I made it up to her by letting her splash around for half an hour in Millennium Park’s Crown Fountain. Now, for purely selfish reasons (I’m San Francisco bound and I’ll be missing her), I’m posting footage of Eleanor having a grand ole time.


Eleanor at Crown Fountain in Millennium Park from Nicole Balch on Vimeo.
shot with my Zumi camera
music: “Afternoon Speaker” by The Sea and Cake

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