I don’t know why, really, but I’ve resisted listing out all the things I’d like to do/accomplish/attempt in my lifetime. But the other night, as I pulled the covers close, my mind filled with all the things I could do and just thought and thought and thought about this instead of getting some much-needed post-holiday rest.

It seems appropriate, at the start of the New Year, to do something like this, so I’ve been working on it for the last couple of days. These aren’t resolutions. I fail at resolutions, whole-heartedly. Mine are always uninspired. I had “Have Fun!” on my list of resolutions for years! (I’m fully aware of all that says about me!) But this list and exercise is more about thinking about the next year, and the next and next and next… and what all can happen. It’s inspired by Mighty Girl’s Life List, and the lists she’s inspired, in turn. It’s about thinking about possibilities. It’s amazing, really, the potential we have, and I feel blessed to even be able to navel gaze like this. Maybe that’s exactly what I hated about making a list like this for so long, the self-satisfaction of it all? The absolute priveledge it depends on and is proof of?

But, here I am dreaming about what to put here, anyway. And honestly, it feels really good! Amazing, in fact! It’s been a long time since I’ve felt inspired to even write something like this. I thought about specific things for this list, things I’d be able to check off. There’s the perennial items like volunteer more, be creative, be thoughtful. get in shape and improve my mind, but those things are generally hard to measure. These aren’t. There is a beginning. There is an end. I’m sure this list will change, as I do. After all, it takes more than a few days to come up with a list of things to accomplish in a lifetime, right? Still, here they are, a work in progress:

Own a piano and take lessons : Visit the Spice Bazaar in Istanbul : Start a charitable fund : Swim 30 laps without stopping : Run a 10K : Live in NYC for at least a month : Self-publish a book of my dad’s photographs : Begin and finish Iver’s baby book : Begin and finish Jellybean’s baby book : Start a nonprofit news website : Go camping to see all the remaining old growth hemlock trees in North Carolina : Go scuba diving : Learn all the national and state capitals : Cut my hair short : Take a workshop at the Rocky Mountain School of Photography : Do a photo-a-day project the year I turn 40 : Graft some branches from my grandmother’s apple tree to an apple tree I plant at my house : Visit every county courthouse in North Carolina : Become a friend of my local library : Visit all the national parks with Pat and the girls : Make a family tree for Iver and Jellybean : Read (or reread) 50 of the top nonfiction and fiction books, per these lists : Learn how to bake bread, and do it regularly : Go to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade : Make apple cider : Visit every state fair : Go to a book reading once a month for a year : Play in the rain and splash in puddles with the girls : Work out with a personal trainer : Go to the opening games of the Olympics : Ride in a hot air balloon : Ride in a convertible : Learn how to cut up a whole chicken : Take Iver to Iver, UK : Plant a rose bush : See Wynton Marsalis with Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra perform : Toss and spin a pizza crust up in the air : See the cherry trees blossom in Washington, DC : …

Have you put together a list like this?

I’m a person who likes physical order. I like a clean house. I like having clean laundry. I like a crumb-free floor.

I suppose I get this honestly, really. My mother would, every Saturday, come hell or high water, run three-hour marathon cleaning sessions at our house. We’d mop and sweep and vaccuum and dust and wash everything. Our house was an old (as in 1890s) modified Carolina T two story, so it was big, with towering ceilings and expansive rooms. It was exhausting. Occassionally, we’d clean her silver with silver polish (that took FOREVER), and scrub the linoleum in the kitchen with hard-bristled brushes. And then I spread out our neurotic cleaning frenzies to other places. I began hiding pennies under the knicknacks at my piano teacher’s house, just to see if she ever moved anything to clean. She never did. I suppose that eventually she found all those pennies — maybe 30 of them! — and wondered what the hell was going on. Just me. Being nosey and mean.

Still, I may hate to admit it, but it really does bug me when our house is dirty (messy is OK, though it can still make me anxious). Interestingly, other people’s messes — at their own homes, mind you — doesn’t bother me much anymore. No more hiding pennies! I swear, friends!

Now, I don’t want Iver and Jellybean to feel anxious about making a mess. I want art projects to go crazy. I want their shoes to be covered in mud. I want grass stains on their jeans. I want paint under their fingernails.

So I pocketed all my don’t-get-messy tendencies today, and we played with our food. (Please forgive me, hungry people everywhere, for this! It all for an experience!)

Before lunchtime today, I dumped a bunch of O’s into a giant snap-n-go container, threw in some cups and sat on the floor with Iver. She didn’t know what was going on, this trough of wheat O’s. Was she supposed to eat it? Look at it? Put it in the drawers she’s obsessed with? She looked at me. I looked at her. So in I dove, raking through them, filling up one cup, pouring the O’s into another, sprinkling them here and there. Then she got it. Aha! And there they went!

She flipped them here. She flipped them there. She ate handfulls. She dumped them everywhere — under the stove and the refrigerator, in the corner under the cabinets, down her shirt, in my shoes. I caught myself raking them up into neat little piles, but stopped myself and flung them around, too.

And, really! So fun! And freeing! It’ll be a good activity before a meal or at snacktime when I’m looking around for something to do to occupy this girl who won’t sit still for anything and likes new things and new experiences constantly. Just like her mama. No pennies. Yet.

Am I the only one who feels that once the hub-bub of Christmas is over, it’s time to get on with it and start the New Year? The days between Dec. 25 and Jan. 1 just seem like a waste of time, like eating dessert after gorging on Christmas Eve buffet (I should know, it happened!) but here’s what I’m up to:*

Software upgrades. My photo library software had a catastrophic fail this year. As in the photos from Iver’s first 10 months are completely inaccessible. Not gone, thank god, but I can’t access them through my library. What a pain! Let this be a lesson: BACK-UP YOUR PHOTOS!!! (Just for good measure, here are some more exclamation marks: !!!!!!!!) After this happened, I bought some online storage, and I’m working on backing all 170+ GB of photos up. (These aren’t all of Iver, despite the fact that I do take a billion photos of her, but include work and scouting shots and photos of all the things we did in Life Before Baby.) I spent hours and hours backing some up to disc last year, but it wasn’t enough. You don’t think you need this until you do. Then you sob in your closet because your photos are gone. Believe me. And I know I’m not the only one saying this! I didn’t listen because I didn’t think it would happen to me. Then it did. Blech. Here’s hoping an upgrade works because I can’t stand to think that I’ll never get to see them again!

Calendar reconfigurations. Goodbye by beloved Moleskin calendars! I’ve decided to save the money and (finally) use my laptop and phone calendar functions. I find the idea of this more satisfying that the implementation, because I’m a Post-It list maker kind of person, and where am I going to store all those lists now? Don’t know. Any ideas? (I realize this may seem ridiculous to some, by I live or die by my calendar and this is a big change for me.)

Planning for work like there’s no tomorrow in which to do said work. I have some HUGE projects on the horizon — including, but not limited to, oh, having a baby! I’m on it! I’ll update you about what’s going on when I get closer to launch, which shouldn’t be too far away.

Baby, baby, baby! Jellybean #2 is on her way, and do we have some work to do to prepare! This time around it’s different, not like last time when we had absolutely no baby supplies whatsoever and it seemed all about counting how many pairs of baby socks I’d managed to find. This time it seems more like marathonish mental preparations are necessary. We need some time planning and organizing and baby care preparations. After we had Iver, we implemented rigorous meal and house-cleaning plans that helped me get through the days without having to divert any brain space to what we’re having for dinner or what needed to be cleaned around the house. They really helped, and we were devoted to them until October or so. I have a feeling they’re going to be reinstated, and soon.

All of this means I can’t sleep at night!

*By the way, I totally realize that I just abandoned telling you how we ended our Advent celebrations. We had a housefull of people visiting and multiple holiday meals to plan and last-minute shopping to do, among all the Advent things I’d planned. It was hectic. I was tired. So, here’s what we did, or attempted to do:

18: Bake holiday cookies and deliver to friends. (Rosemary butter cookies, sugar cookies, pralines, peanut brittle, iced spice spritz cookies, chocolate-covered pretzels! This actually stretched over a couple of days, both the baking and the delivering)

19: Go for a drive and look at the Christmas lights. (Asheville needs to pump some of its love for Halloween zombies into the holidays! The lights were meager!)

20: Go for a winter walk. (Uh, I didn’t do this, really, but rolled it into tomorrow’s celebration.)

21: Walk around downtown and look at the window displays. (See #19. There’s no Macy’s window displays here, my friends. The Chocolate Fetish did have some displays incorporating what looked like antique chocolate molds. Thank you Chocolate Fetish!)

22: Share what I’m thankful for over the last year. (SO much! Things became clearer for me over the past year in so many ways. I’m constantly amazed at the generosity and creativity of my friends, and so, so thankful for our growing family!)

23: Pop popcorn and watch a Christmas movie. (Abadoned this one. I have to say I was getting a bit tired of Christmas movies, even though I’d recorded Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, which I’d wanted to see just to have seen it. Oh, well! Next year!)

24: Read The Night Before Christmas (in front of the fire). Well, the fireplace is sitting in our garage, so we read sitting all wrapped up on the couch, in front of the Christmas tree.

All in all, this was *so* much fun!

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