Pages Menu
Categories Menu

Posted by on Jul 10, 2016

Forty by Forty: A Birthday Quest

The curse of a dormant blog is that I frequently get hacked and spend a night drinking a bottle of wine trying to rid the blog of malware (I’m sure I’ve wiped out important technical components of the site because I have no idea what I’m doing).  But more disappointing is when I don’t write on a regular basis, all motivation goes out the window and I soon realize it’s been more than a year since I’ve written anything.  For a while I blamed the fact we hadn’t traveled abroad for two years or that our lives weren’t as interesting anymore.  Since my last post in April 2015 though, we’ve moved from California to Seattle and now to Portland, Oregon. We’ve gotten two more passport stamps in Iceland and Denmark and we’ve driven across the country twice. No excuses.

Back on the road in Iceland. Photo credit: Cory Adams.

Back on the road in Iceland. Photo credit: Cory Adams.

I’m back with a new mission. We won’t be traveling around the world anytime (soon), but as someone driven by to-do lists and spreadsheet trackers, I’ve got a new quest to share and hold myself accountable to making it happen. And no surprise, it involves a bit of travel. I turn 40 in October 2017 and today marks exactly 15 months to the big day.  I love celebrating my birthday so to commemorate four decades of a great life, I’m starting a list of 40 things I want to do before turning 40.  The list has been generated by things I’ve always wanted to do, suggestions from friends and random things I’ve come across in articles or books.  Some are serious, others are silly and many are going to require significant investments of time, energy and in some cases money (sorry, Dave).

Without further ado, here is my #40by40 list:

1) ______________________  (this one is blank because I want your help. If you have ideas, throw them in the comments!)

2) Learn how to fix my bike by taking a bicycle repair class

3) Take a surfing lesson

4) Spend a weekend on a houseboat

5) Do a multi-day snow shoe hike from cabin to cabin

6) Stay a night in a lookout tower

7) Go horseback riding on the beach

8) Take a multi-day train journey

9) Stand on the 4 corners

10) Go to Banff National Park – completed with a trip in July 2016

11) Have a destination chosen for me by other people or show up at the airport and buy a ticket that day

12) Take a Yoga Teacher Training course

13) Learn a language for a purpose

14) Give a large sum of money to a stranger

15) Do a digital detox for two weeks

16) Build something

17) Learn to cook Julia Child’s boeuf bourguignon

18) Ferment or can something

19) Make something I can wear

20) Finally take real guitar lessons and learn at least one song well

21) Take a wilderness outdoor/first aid class

22) Do a keg stand (plenty of people have already offered to help with this one)

23) Learn how to brew beer

24) Go on a backpacking camping trip

25) Drive a race car

26) Milk a cow

27) Be an extra in a movie or TV show

28) Watch a roller derby match

29) Take a Bollywood dance class

30) Have a bonfire party on the beach

31) See a show on Broadway – completed June 2016 by seeing “Beautiful” in NYC

32) Learn how to make roli-poli (something my grandmother always made for us that no one in the family has been able to replicate)

33) Do a century (100-mile) bike ride

34) Learn a martial art (and/or break a board)

35) Be able to do a head or handstand in yoga

36) Summit a mountain

37) Swim across a lake

38) Walk the 30-mile Wildwood Trail in Portland in one day – completed August 2016

39) Take a rock climbing class

40) Celebrate my 40th birthday in Africa!

In New York City a few weeks ago, I was able to cross #31 off the list by seeing “Beautiful” on Broadway with my cousin Gretchen and am headed to Banff National Park (#10) in a few weeks.

The first off the list - see a show on Broadway!

The first off the list – see a show on Broadway!

Fifteen months to cross off 39 more things. I’m certainly not the first to try something like this, but I can use all the encouragement and help you can provide. In a time of madness and chaos in our world, I’m ready to focus on something fun that I can do with my friends and family over the next year.

You can follow along here on the blog or on Instagram where I’ll be posting in real-time from here on out.


  1. I am in for any except the keg stand ! Number one babysit two week old twins!!!!

  2. I love and admire your send wig adventure, Jill!

  3. This is quite the hefty list but if there is anyone I know who can pull it off it is you. I hope I am part of some of these adventures -I will PM you my top choices:)

  4. Love this list!

  5. Okay – a trip to see me and we can check off – #4(if a cabin cruiser will be an okay sub for houseboat), #26 (hello?), #28 (we have some serious derby teams in these parts), 30 (easily paired with 4 as a celebration for #37), & #37 (I will travel in a dinghy near you to make sure you are safe, and more importantly, that you don’t have a Champy sighting without me!)

  6. Woo hoo! Can’t wait to help you complete this!