Checking in on the 30 at 30 Project as a Newly Minted 31-Year-Old

Two years ago, when I turned 29, I knew that I wanted to commemorate turning 30 in a special way. The concept of the 30 at 30 project was born. The initial idea was a music project: compiling 30 CDs, each consisting of my favorite tracks from my 30 favorite musical artists. Thanks to the suggestion of my wonderful wife Jessie, I also decided to write about each of the CD mixes that I created, which I would post periodically on the site. The final one (Counting Crows) was posted two days ago. However, the 30 at 30 project is not over.

As much as I enjoyed writing about my favorite musical artists, I felt like I was leaving out important pieces of my personal story. So I expanded the 30 at 30 project and decided that I would write 30 lists with the musical artists counting as one of them. My first list was published in June of 2014, counting down my favorite student comments left for me on my end-of-the-year survey. Since then, I’ve published an additional 18 lists covering a wide variety of topics. I still have 11 more to go to achieve 30 at 30 status though, so I think I’m going to let this project extend into overtime and continue writing at age 31. I still have plenty of fun topics to cover, including my favorite movies, books, and foods.

More than anything, I’m grateful that the 30 at 30 project has provided me with a creative outlet to write again. sat dormant for more than five years between posts before I launched the 30 at 30 project. Altogether, I’ve written more than 95,000 words since that introductory post a year and a half ago. With my list articles averaging nearly 3,500 words, I’ll be well over the 100,000 words before all is said and done.

As the calendar shows September 7, I am officially 31 years old today. Age 30 proved to be a very good year, and I hope that the rest of my thirties will follow suit. A year ago I wrote my list of “Things I Want to Do in My 30s.” The good news is I still have nine years to go, but I thought I’d take this opportunity to check in and assess my progress after one year being a thirtysomething.

The following list of 30 Things I Want to Do in my 30s was first published on September 7, 2014. My italicized commentary explains the progress I have made (or not yet made) one year later.

30. Stop biting my fingernails.
Unfortunately, I have been unable to shake this bad habit yet.

29. Develop better posture. 
I’d like to think I’ve made small steps in the right direction. In general, I seem to have fewer achy back days; however, as I am typing this sentence I am aware that I am totally slouched down in my chair. 

28. Keep up with technology.
So far, so good. 

27. Wrestle my brother Mike in a wrestling ring.
There are a lot of obstacles to overcome to make this a reality. Step one is finding someone with a wrestling ring. Step two is getting them to give us permission to use it. Step three is aligning schedules for Mike and I to be in the ring at the same time. Odds are this might be the biggest longshot of all 30 items on the list.

26. Take a long road trip to a place I’ve never been.
It did not happen this year, but I feel confident that it will happen at some point before 40.

25. Make time for quiet reflection.
This remains an area for improvement. I’m much better at filling my downtime with noise. 

24. Start a podcast.
I lack both the spare time and the equipment that I had when I used to have a podcast. I’m also not sure what I would podcast about. Sports? WWE? Education? Parenting? I don’t know, but I really hope I can make it a reality.

23. Bowl a 200 game.
I crushed this goal. I bowled my first (214) and second (207) 200+ game on January 15 at Polish Falcons. I then bowled five more 200+ games this summer at Eastway Lanes. I also bowled a 300 no-tap game in the final week at Eastway!

22. Run a 5K faster than I did in my 20s.
I finally got back into a semi-regular running routine late this summer, but my distance generally hovered around 2.5 miles and the speed was nothing to brag about. This goal is somewhat ambitious, but I think it’s doable if I can stay active and avoid injuries.

21. Dunk (on a regulation hoop)
This goal may be even more challenging than the wrestling ring one. My career dunk tally remains stuck at zero.

20. Perform standup comedy.
After the reception I got when delivering the best man speech at Mike and Crystal’s wedding, I have added confidence that I could do this someday and not make a complete fool of myself. 

19. Take an improv class.
It hasn’t happened yet, but I still think it would be a fun thing to do.

18. Get a dog.
Not yet, Jessie. One new living being at a time.

17. Write a book.
My parents are my biggest supporters of this goal. I want to make it happen, but I’m not sure that I’ve come up with the right concept yet.

16. Be aware of what’s happening in the world.
Have I gotten better? Yes. Am I satisfied with my day-to-day level of awareness? No. I can continue to do more to stay informed.

15. Care about my community.
This is one of the tougher goals to assess. Like I wrote for #16, I’ve gotten better in this area, but there is a lot of room for personal growth here as well.

14. Get involved in my parish.
Jessie and I are in charge of running the Facebook page for Sacred Heart, so that’s a start.

13. Write more poetry.
I did write “A Positive Sign” after learning Jessie was pregnant, but otherwise my personal writing has been dominated by the 30 at 30 project. I could probably benefit from diversifying my creative outlets a bit.

12. Play in a basketball league.
I helped the Prep faculty team defeat the CYO all-stars this past spring, and I’ve played some pickup bball at the Gannon rec center. No league play yet though.

11. Sing with confidence.
Driving by myself in the car remains my singing comfort zone. Beyond that I tend to clam up.

10. Host family gatherings at our home.
Due to some unforeseen circumstances, this past summer did not go as expected, which prevented us from hosting the 100-Year Birthday Party we had talked about hosting for our baby grand piano.

9. Find “our place” in Erie.
We’ve had some good dinners, but I don’t think we’ve found “our place” yet.

8. Be mindful of what I eat and drink.
I’m disappointed to say that I have work to do here. My metabolism is not what it used to be, so I need to be more diligent about my diet and nutrition. 

7. Coach basketball.
Here’s hoping the right opportunity will present itself.

6. Become a distinguished teacher.
I just finished the first week of the new school year. With each passing year I feel more confident in my abilities as a teacher. There is always room to improve, and I intend to continue to do that every year.

5. Inspire someone in my classroom.
This is another category that is somewhat difficult to assess, but based upon the end-of-the-year survey feedback that I received last year, I think I can register this one as a success.

4. Do a better job staying in touch with my siblings.
I think I’m doing a little better at this, but I hope that the upcoming change in my family unit will encourage my siblings and I to communicate more regularly.

3. Spend more time with my mom and dad.
I’ve tried to make this more of a priority and will continue to do so.

2. Find more married projects with Jessie.
Our biggest married project is currently in progress…

1. Start a family.
…because Baby Hubert is due to arrive at the end of October. Without a doubt learning that I was going to be a dad was the most exciting news of the past year, and it’s hard to imagine anything will top the birth of him or her in the year to come!

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