I launched the 30 at 30 project three years ago in an attempt to celebrate (rather than complain about) turning 30 years old. Three years later, I am closing in on completing this project, but I still have some work to do. While I have finished the initial portion of the project, counting down my 30 favorite musical artists, I still have five lists of 30 to write before I can officially put a bow on the 30 at 30 project.
So far I have written 25 list articles covering everything from my favorite student comments to my favorite video games. It has been a lot of fun generating the list topics, brainstorming the items for the respective top 30s and then writing about them. More than anything, this project has compelled me to write. I wrote a lot in high school and college but then kind of fell in and out of it in my 20s. Having the 30 at 30 project has kept me motivated to write on a semi-regular basis, especially during the summer months when, as a teacher, my schedule is much more accommodating. The current word count for the entire 30 at 30 project is approaching 119,000 words. It has been a labor of love for sure.
As the calendar shows September 8, I am officially 32 years old as of yesterday. The first two years of my 30s have treated me very well. Two years ago I wrote my list of “Things I Want to Do in My 30s.” The good news is I still have eight years to go, but I thought I’d take this opportunity to reflect on my progress after two years as 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) two years later.
30. Stop biting my fingernails.
I have actually made great strides on this goal recently. Although I still have the occasional relapse, I am pleased to report that I have seen my nails grow long enough to use clippers several times over the past month or two.
29. Develop better posture.
This goal remains a constant challenge. I often think about it after sitting or standing uncomfortably for a while, but in the moment, I still need to get better at making good posture the norm.
28. Keep up with technology.
Birthday presents I got this year included the Apple Pencil for my new school-issued iPad Pro and an iPod nano since my 2009 iPod Touch finally bit the dust. I have also been using Snapchat and YouTube to keep friends and family up-to-date on my son’s activities. I think I’m doing pretty well when it comes to technology.
27. Wrestle my brother Mike in a wrestling ring.
Unfortunately no progress has been made on this goal.
26. Take a long road trip to a place I’ve never been.
I guess it depends on how we are defining “long” because Jessie, Ben, and I drove to Keuka Lake in New York state in June for a family vacation. Aside from my speeding ticket, it was a great experience.
25. Make time for quiet reflection.
Copy and paste from last year: This remains an area for improvement. I’m much better at filling my downtime with noise.
24. Start a podcast.
On the plus side, I got a microphone. Unfortunately, that’s as far as I got. There was a one-day period when I thought Jessie and I were going to start a podcast together, but the idea never materialized.
23. Bowl a 200 game.
My average rose again this past year at Polish Falcons and Eastway Lanes, and I proudly now have double digit 200 games to my name. My new, related goal is to bowl a 600 series. To date, my career best is 591, and I’ve only topped 580 three times.
22. Run a 5K faster than I did in my 20s.
I did run an official 5K this past year for the first time in six years. My time was better than I ran in 2007 and 2009, but it did not beat my personal best time of 25:57 in the 2008 Dan Rice 5K.
21. Dunk (on a regulation hoop)
With each day that goes by, this (admittedly lofty) desire seems to grow less and less realistic.
20. Perform standup comedy.
I am not sure where the right place is or when the right time will be, but I remain interested in making this happen at some point in the not-too-distant future.
19. Take an improv class.
It’s not a top priority, but I still think it would be fun, especially if I did it with Jessie or someone else I knew.
18. Get a dog.
The odds are increasing that this is more of a late-30s objective.
17. Write a book.
By the time it is finished the 30 at 30 project will have the length for a book, but I think it was always best suited for online publication. I still hope to write a book someday, but I do not have any specific ideas in mind as of now.
16. Be aware of what’s happening in the world.
I am proud to say that I am getting better at this. Each year I think I grow a bit in terms of educating myself about important issues and current events,
15. Care about my community.
I think having a child really helped me in this regard. I want my son (and any other future children) to grow up in a good community, and therefore, I care more about issues in my community. I certainly have room to grow about being actively involved and helping out in my community, but the level of care is trending upward.
14. Get involved in my parish.
This remains a long-term goal, but honestly, attending to Ben’s needs every week during Mass occupies all of my energy right now.
13. Write more poetry.
I think I wrote one poem last year. Maybe there is another one I am forgetting, but either way, this clearly remains an area for improvement.
12. Play in a basketball league.
I made a few basketball contacts over the past year; however, nothing has really led to any consistent play time. I’d still love to find a league or even a regular pick-up crew to play bball with before my ankles and feet tell me they won’t support my playing any longer.
11. Sing with confidence.
Without a doubt, Ben has helped me achieve this goal (at least in the privacy of our own home). He loves music, especially Leon Bridges, and despite the fact that he is not yet even 10 months old, I have sung to him more than anyone else in my life.
10. Host family gatherings at our home.
We have had some small gatherings, but I think we can still be better about hosting friends and family.
9. Find “our place” in Erie.
I don’t think Jessie and I are ready to crown any establishment just yet, but we have had some very good dining experiences at places like Pineapple Eddie Southern Bistro and Cork 1794. Here’s hoping one of these places or some other place becomes “our place” in the near future.
8. Be mindful of what I eat and drink.
I made really good strides at the beginning of this past summer. I cut down on my before bed salty snacks and limited my sweet desserts, but it all kind of fell apart in the final month of summer.
7. Coach basketball.
Copy and paste from last year: Here’s hoping the right opportunity will present itself.
6. Become a distinguished teacher.
My paperwork is all in to the PA Department of Education for my Level II certification. That alone won’t make me a distinguished teacher, but it’s a helpful, practical step of professional development. Meanwhile, I think I’m doing my best work ever inside the classroom to start my fifth full year of teaching.
5. Inspire someone in my classroom.
I already dubbed this category a success last year, but why stop there. I hope to continue to inspire more students this year.
4. Do a better job staying in touch with my siblings.
Being the only one of my siblings with a child of my own has helped strengthen my relationship with my siblings in some ways. Each of them has embraced the role of aunt or uncle in their own unique way. Yet in other ways, being the only one with a child has been challenging as we sometimes have different priorities based on our current life situations. It’s clear that our love for each other is there. It’s just a matter of us communicating better to ensure that we stay close.
3. Spend more time with my mom and dad.
Perhaps they are more recognizable these days as Grandma and Grampa. Either way, I’m pleased to say that I feel as close to them as ever (not that I ever really felt distant from them). They have thrived in their new roles as grandparents while somehow still managing Mom and Dad and husband and wife duties. They are the best.
2. Find more married projects with Jessie.
Being parents is undeniably the biggest, most challenging, and most rewarding project we have ever embarked on. It will forever be a work in progress, but we’re in it together, and that has made all the difference.
1. Start a family.
I’ve already made mention of it several times through my reflections on other part of this list, but this goal was officially crossed off the list on November 13, 2015, when Benjamin Gregory Hubert was born. The love I have for my son is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. And now that “start a family” is checked off, I suppose “grow the family” is the next step.