39 and Holding: My Bucket List for Turning 39

When you grow up as a fifth generation Texan, there are a few things in which you can claim expert credentials, including inter alia, big hair, big cars, big lies, and a certain kind of music.  Now most of you are probably too young or have, shall we say “more refined taste” in music than I do, so you don’t know the genius that is Jerry Lee Lewis (or George Jones, but that’s an entirely different post).

I grew up tuned in to my dad’s country music station, way back before Taylor Swift (or her parents) were born or Billy Ray had his mullet.  My dad’s country music wasn’t glamorous and glitzy, unless you counted that new hat (with the tag still attached) that Minnie Pearl wore on Hee Haw.  One of my first favorite songs was Jerry Lee Lewis’ “39 and Holding,” even though I had no idea what he was holding or why he didn’t just put it down and sing about something else.  I remember my dad explaining to me, over a delicious late 1970’s snack of Cheez Whiz and Ritz Crackers, that it was about holding on to being young and trying to have a good time.  Out of respect for my tender age, my dad naturally edited out the parts that hint at budding alcoholism and philandering and crippling vanity.

So, on the eve of the eve of my 39th birthday, I find myself returning to two things: that song and my bucket list.  I love to crank up the Jerry Lee Lewis and revise my bucket list.  Now, however, it’s time to give it some wings and let it fly.

Here are the things I would like to accomplish or to see come to pass while I am age 39:

1. Learn to play the piano, or the trumpet or the flute  (I started out very lofty, but then I said, “Fuck musical instruments; just learn how to play.  With your kids. With yourself (not in the naughty way, but in the child-like way). Your husband. Your friends. The World.  Learn how to play.”)

2. Take a Zumba class (This is the item that is about facing fears and refraining from making fun of something I have never done.  Zumba, I am coming for you.)

3. Learn what the hell a meme is.  (I. WILL. NOT. WALK. THIS. EARTH. HAVING. NO. IDEA. WHAT. THIS. IS.)

4. Write at least 5 handwritten letters.  (It’s a lost art, people.  I want to do it before I forget what my own handwriting looks like. Read this post about letter writing. )

5. Finish a novel. (Just finish. No excuses. No hating on it.  Write with love and finish it.  Get to the end. You deserve it.)

6. Let go ONCE AND FOR ALL of all the so-called “skinny clothes” that I always sort of hope will fit one day again.  (Including those obscenely tight Mavi jeans and the dress from my rehearsal dinner.  Be too busy for this shit.  Get that out of your house, be bigger and be fabulous.  You are never going to look like Kate Moss again — and you never really did.)

7.  Set better limits around technology.  (Hate this stupid idea.)

8. Let go of setting vague limits around technology. (This one is even worse. I can see what’s coming.)

9. No computers or iPhones once we sit down to dinner as a family.  (No trying to get around this by standing up for dinner. You will be happier if you SLOW. DOWN. AND. UNPLUG.  Remember that husband you love so much and waited so long for? He’s not enjoying your Twitter life, and he’s sitting right next to you.)

10.  More gratitude lists for the gifts I have here and now.


11. EVERY SINGLE DAY of the year, wear shoes that love my feet and support my body.  (How can I expect to run with the wolves if I can’t walk in my shoes?  They can should be fabulous, but they have to support me.)


New philosophy: Better shoes, better life.

New philosophy: Better shoes, better life.


18 thoughts on “39 and Holding: My Bucket List for Turning 39

  1. As usual, I can relate to a lot of what you write about – and what you included in your “list.” Thank you for linking to my blog post about letter writing. For me, it really is about slowing the hell down and getting back to myself and why I decided to become a writer in the first place. But really, before all the writing, twitter, facebook, blogging, Pinterest, Goodreads, etc., I’m Stephanie first, with a lovely life, with a husband who loves me for all I am and for all that I’m not. I have two healthy kids and a strong body that allows me to ride 20 miles at a time. And more if I wanted to. Happy early birthday, my friend. Funny how we’ve become close 20 years after going to the same school every day. But perhaps we needed to go on our separate life journeys first to find our way back. Proud and blessed to call you my friend.

  2. Christie, thanks for sharing your bucket list! I now see that this list doesn’t have to have 100 items to be complete, and can be in flux. A few items that resonated with me:
    1. Learn to play–I love the idea behind this one and hope I can embrace my child-like self more this year. This forty-something year of my life, thank you very much. ;-P

    2. Your comment about Zumba being the “item that is about facing fears and refraining from making fun of something I have never done.” I do this WAY too often and appreciate your commitment. Perhaps I can draw inspiration from you and try knitting. Or not.

    4. I LOVE getting real mail and know my kids do, too. We only write REAL thank-you notes and I send as many cards as I can through “snail mail.” I also believe we should support the US Postal System, or its going to be gone soon.

    5. Your note about “writing with love and finish it” made me think about all the unfinished projects I DESERVE to finish and feel good about. Not perfectly finish–just finish, Thanks for the reminder that its about progress, not perfection.

    6. And finally I love the idea of “being too busy for this my skinny clothes and other shit.” I don’t have as many as I used to, but I do have some and I have some pictures of my skinny self that I find difficult to let go of and throw away already. I commit to being “bigger and fabulous” along with you! And by the way, you look BETTER than Kate Moss!!

  3. I love #6 and #10. So with you on #5 but I am frankly not as optimistic. I’ve put it on my bucket list just to give myself plenty of outs.

    Love handwritten notes. I try to write a couple a year. Mostly because I still have so much damn stationary from our wedding – nearly eight years ago.

    • I know! I cut through Nordstrom’s one day and they were sitting there looking so lonely. Not sure they meet my criteria or my budget, but they are so cute. And, where exactly am I going in those? Details. Get the shoes and the parties will follow.

  4. Love your Minnie Pearl reference! Brings back a ton of memories of watching Hee Haw and shelling peas. I hope you have a great birthday! You will achieve all this and so much more.

  5. More later, because I have a lot to say, but the sprinkler is running and I have to go move it. Step away from Zumba. Just say no. I went to Zumba twice and actually cried on the way home the second time. White girls from the midwest cannot twist and shimmy the Zumba way. Maybe it’s my German heritage that causes me not to be able to swing my hips that way. Whatever it is, I have learned to move on. I’ll stick to walking and maybe someday running. But Zumba? Hell to the no.

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