Keris Stainton – author, journalist, Mum, and all round fab-person – tells us about her ’40’ list, and why she plans to skip a few items.
I recently turned 40. Realising the big birthday was approaching, I decided to list 40 things that I wanted to achieve in my 40th year (or 41st or 39th or whatever it is, you know what I mean).
When I was a teenager I was obsessed with the ’20 Things to do Before You’re 20′ type lists you used to get in magazines and I’d have half-hearted stabs at them, but they’d invariably include something like ‘bungee jump’ that I haven’t the slightest interest in. I decided a bespoke list was the way to go.
I came up with probably ten items with no problem at all. Things like ‘Go back to New York’, ‘Make a family tree’, ‘Find a “signature” perfume’, ‘Milk a cow.’ Another ten were probably nostalgia-based: Visiting Jodrell Bank, Parkgate, Hilbre Island, all places I haven’t been since I was a child. A few more were food-focused: try bacon or cheese chocolate and oysters, make a really good cheesecake. And then I started to flounder. I put in a few admin items: read all the books on my TBR pile, catch up with online items, organise all my photos.
The final group could probably be called ‘things I’ve been thinking about for years’ – have a go on a Potter’s Wheel, get a Brazilian wax, learn to crochet, have a singing lesson.
At the end of the year, I’d achieved less than half the items on the list. But I was actually okay with that. I do plan to cross of plenty more as time and funds allows, but then there are a few others that I’m just going to skip. And that’s okay too.
A while ago I listened to a recording of Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington in conversation with one of my heroes Nora Ephron. Someone asked them if there was anything good about getting old and Arianna said that it frees you up to let things go. She said she’s always wanted to learn French, but now she’s in her sixties she knows it’s probably never going to happen… and that’s okay.
I’ve found that with quite a few of the things on my list. Do I really want to learn to crochet? Or is it just that I feel like I should have learned it? If I really wanted to learn wouldn’t I have done it by now?
Does the thought of learning to sing fill me with excitement in the same way that, say, going to New York does? No, it doesn’t. So why do it? Yes, twenty years ago I thought a singing lesson would be cool, but does that mean I still have to do it now I’m 40? Nope.
I’m with Arianna: realising you don’t need to do the things you always thought you needed – or even wanted – to do is freeing. So for me a ‘To Do’ list or a ‘Dream’ list or a ‘Bucket’ list, whatever you want to call it, has been a brilliant experience. It’s helped me focus on the things I really want to do and it’s also allowed me to strike off the things I probably won’t bother with.
I’m going to do one every year now. It’s the first thing on my list.
Keris is author of the books “Jessie ♥ NYC”, “Emma ♥ LA” and “Della says: OMG!” – find out more at keris-stainton.com