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A Trip to the Mediterranean and Bucket Lists

Posted Jul 15 2013 12:23pm

I’ve got big plans scheduled for next weekend (more on that later), so this weekend was full of rest and relaxation. Whenever we can, if we know we have big plans coming up, we purposely try to keep it low-key for the week leading up to the big plans.

Our weekend included an early morning hike up a nearby mountain.

The bugs and humidity were so worth it once we saw this view!

The bugs and humidity were so worth it once we saw this view!

And a “trip to the Mediterranean” through a meal cooked up on Saturday night. The meal included homemade hummus, tzatziki sauce, baked pita chips, a Greek salad and smothered chicken. I promised the BF we’d be transferred to the Mediterranean, and I feel like I delivered!

greek collage

Here are the abridged recipes I used to make this meal. I highly recommend that you give them a try, because everything was delicious!

Feast fit for the Greek Gods

Feast fit for the Greek Gods

  • Pita Chips: Cut pitas into 8ths, sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper, bake at 400 for 15 to 20 minutes
  • Hummus: Blend together 1 can chickpeas, 1/4 cup liquid from can, 1 tbsp tahini, 2 garlic cloves, 5 tbsp lemon juice, 2 tbsp olive oil and salt to taste
  • Tzatziki: Mix together 1 cup greek yogurt, 2 tbsp fresh chopped dill, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 finely chopped cucumber, 1/2 lemon, 1 tsp lemon zest and top with olive oil and mint for flavor
  • Greek Salad: Chopped romaine, feta cheese, kalamata olives, tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers; dressing = 10 tbsp olive oil, juice from a lemon, 1 tsp red wine, 2 cloves minced garlic and oregano
  • Mediterranean Smothered Chicken: From my girl, Kristen at Iowa Girl Eats  (sans pasta)

However, instead of talking about food and fitness, today I’d like to talk about goals and bucket lists. Why am I getting so deep, you may ask? Well, because, my friends, next weekend we’re headed to my hometown, Omaha , to celebrate my 30th birthday!

And, like any milestone birthday, turning 30 makes you think a little deeper (which I don’t often do!) about what you’ve achieved in life so far and what you’d like to do next… (settle in with your lunch folks, this one’s a lengthy post!)

In My Next 30 Years

I’ve always wondered why 30 was such a big deal. Perhaps it’s because every “decade” birthday is important. However, I don’t remember anyone making this kind of raucous about turning 20! I guess 30 represents the “point of no return” age.” Yep, I’m officially and adult now, and there is no turning back. I’ve been living and working on my own (outside of college) for 8 years now, and if I haven’t figured out how this whole “life” thing works, then I’ve got some catching up to do.

"Seriously, girl, I'm 35 in people years, and I've got it all figured out."

“Seriously, girl, I’m 35 in people years, and I’ve got it all figured out.”

I remember hearing the Tim McGraw song, “In My Next 30 Years,” in high school and being instantly hooked. Back then, the lyrics didn’t mean that much, and 30 seemed so far away…

I’ve never been one to put deadlines on goals, but there were definitely a few things I wanted to accomplish before turning 30. So, in the spirit of milestones, here are a few things I checked off of that imaginary box in my head and a few things I’d like to check off “in my next 30 years.”

Bucket List Item #1: Run in a Marathon

Running by the Magic Kingdom in my first marathon. Happy as a clam.

Running by the Magic Kingdom in my first marathon. Happy as a clam.

Post-college after I got my first real-world job and realized it wouldn’t fulfill me completely, I was desperately seeking a way to fill the void. I had always loved to run but feared taking the plunge into marathon land. In October 2006, I decided to pull the trigger. While commuting 3 hours a day to my job in a suburb of Chicago, I trained for my first marathon. Most of my training was during the winter, but I didn’t let the Chicago winters intimidate me. On January 7, 2007, I completed the Disney Marathon , running the exact same time for both splits.

I ran the race at a conservative pace not knowing what to expect. When I finished, I felt that sense of fulfillment that I had been looking for, and I also felt like I needed to do it again! Since then, I’ve run in 2 more marathons and about a dozen half marathons . Running centers me. It helps me strive to achieve concrete goals, and when I’m training for a race, I often find that there is more order in all areas of my life.

Feeling proud after I completed the National Marathon.

Feeling proud after I completed the National Marathon.

Goal for my Next 30 Years: Expand Workouts

Once I immersed myself in the land of healthy living blogs, I noticed all of these crazy workouts that my favorite bloggers were doing. But, I just kept running, doing abs and my 8 minute arms.

This time around on the blog, I’ve put some effort into exploring new workouts and have even come up with some of my own . Every week, I try to learn one new move and incorporate it into my workouts.

Legit gym rat here!

Legit gym rat here!

I always felt such a sense of a accomplishment after a long run, and now I’ve found I can feel that same accomplishment after a 20 minute tabata workout !

I hope to continue this pattern and may even dabble in that whole CrossFit thing that’s all the rage these days ;-) .

Bucket List Item #2: Place in a Race

Celebrating the NYC Half with friends and family...but I really wanted to place!

Celebrating the NYC Half with friends and family…but I really wanted to place!

Keeping with the running theme, I never told anyone, but I’ve always wanted to place in a race. After running in my first marathon, I noticed that at certain distances, I was right on the cusp of winning a place on that podium, particularly in 15Ks and 5Ks. And, as those who read my blog consistently might know, I finally made it happen a c ouple of months ago …twice!

First, I won second place overall in the Gardiner Cupcake Festival 5K (figures it would be a race for cupcakes…)

So proud of myself. The girl in 1st place thinks I'm weird ;-)

So proud of myself. The girl in 1st place thinks I’m weird ;-)

Then, the next day, I ran in the Newburgh Off-Broadway Race and got second place in my age division.

2 in one weekend!

2 in one weekend!

After running in more races than I can count, it felt pretty special to stand on that podium.

Goal for my Next 30 Years: Become Certified

This one is a big one for me. I’ll always love running, but my fitness interests have really expanded through blogging. At some point, I would like to become an NASM certified personal trainer. I am not sure when it’s going to happen, and I’m not even sure what I’ll do with the certification.

nasm-logo1

But, I know I want to explore my passion for fitness even further, put in the work and get that certification.

Stay tuned!

Bucket List Item #3: Meet Someone Special

Okay, cheesy I know. I’m not one to talk about relationships here on the SHLB. But, how many people out there do you think DON’T want to meet someone special by the time they turn 30? This is a time in your life when you’ve started to figure it all out, and you want to share those special moments with someone. I had plenty of time on my own to live the “Sex and the City” single life in NYC, and I was more than ready to settle down when I met the BF.

I was ready for this guy!

I was ready for this guy!

However, may I remind you, we did meet in Las Vegas. Yes, I met the BF, my roommate, in the City of Sin. I certainly didn’t go to Las Vegas on a work trip intending to meet the man of my dreams. Just goes to show you single ladies out there: You really WILL meet someone when you least expect it.

Goal for my Next 30 Years: Accept those Differences

With this one, I suppose the goal for my next 30 years is kind of obvious. Of course, I hope to get married, start a family, etc. But, to do that, I’m going to need to continue to grow and change with my partner. And, a major part of that is accepting each other’s differences.

Paula Abdul may not have been the best singer, but she sure was onto something when she sang, “Opposites Attract.” Somehow, of all the people in the world, I’ve found my exact opposite. And, I couldn’t be happier about that. The BF is slow, deliberate and exact in everything that he does. I am quick, constantly on-the-go and can’t sit still for more than 5 minutes. If our lives were movie titles, I’d be “Fast and Furious” and he’d be “Before Sunset.” (as in, I’ll get it all done before sunset, so chill out.)

"We go together, because opposites attract!"

“We go together, because opposites attract!”

He’s a thrill-seeker, and likes to do things like ride really fast roller coasters and zipline. While I love to explore new places, the big thrills like  bungee jumping and skydiving will never enter my bucket list.

My little thrill seekers!

My little thrill seekers!

He likes plain chocolate chip cookies and savoring the good flavor of a quality vanilla ice cream. I’m not interested in food, unless it’s covered in sprinkles, whipped cream or bbq sauce.

Everything is better with a twist and sprinkles...that's my food motto!

Everything is better with a twist and sprinkles…that’s my food motto!

He’s a Jersey boy who, although he doesn’t often show it, has a a slight desire for “fist pumping” action every now and then. I’m a Midwestern girl who will never fully understand the brashness of the “east coast mentality.”

In short, we balance each other in every way. At the same time, we sometimes get caught up in our differences and trying to convince each other “my way is the right way.” In the end, we always challenge each other to see a different POV, and this is one of my favorite things about our relationship. I would never want to be with someone who didn’t inspire me to think a little differently. In the next 30 years, I truly hope we continue to demand this of each other.

So much in common, but its our differences that make us special. Yeah, I know this pic is cute ;-)

So much in common, but its our differences that make us special. Yeah, I know this pic is cute ;-)

Bucket List Item #4: Write for a Magazine

Newer readers may not be aware, but I’m obsessed with magazines, particularly health and fitness magazines. I read them all, from cover to cover (Letter from the Editor, all the way to that back page which is usually a profile of a celebrity or 8 snacks under 80 Calories).

When I was 16 years old, I wrote my first feature story for the Burke High School newspaper, “Girls Just Wanna’ be Buff” about all of the amazing female athletes at my high school and the “new trend” of girls kicking a** in the gym. Thus, the dream was born.

My first dream was to be published in a magazine. Because of the incredible program at Northwestern University’s journalism school, that dream became a reality. I interned at a trade beauty magazine my junior year and was lucky enough to have many stories published in the magazine. But, I’ll never forget how amazing that first byline felt. It was  ”feature well opener” which was supposed to tie all of the feature stories together in one short paragraph. The editor-in-chief actually came over and told me, “We were all struggling to figure out a way to put these things together. I never could have thought of this. Great job!”

My first ever published article...notice my reflection. I couldn't find a better picture!

My first ever published article…notice my reflection. I couldn’t find a better picture!

To this day, it’s probably the most meaningful compliment I’ve ever received.

Since then, I’ve been chasing my dream of working and writing for one of my favorite female consumer magazines ( see this post ). I think I’ve finally gotten to the place where I realize that’s not going to happen. And, I’m okay with it! Instead, I’m reworking this goal a bit…

Goal for my Next 30 Years: Byline in SELF Magazine

I would like to have a byline in on of my favorite magazines, such as Health, Fitness, SELF or Shape magazine. To do this, I’m going to need to think of a brilliant story, write it and query the editors of these magazines. I know that once the right idea comes to me, I can make it happen. I also know that it’s going to take hard work to make this one a reality. You can’t write just anything and think you’re going to get these editors’ attention. It has to be unique, thought-through and well-written. I know that one day, it will come to me, and I’ll make this dream a reality.

Byline coming to a magazine near you...

Byline coming to a magazine near you…

Bucket List Item #5: Figure Out What I’m Supposed to do With my Life

This one is certainly a bit abstract. But, I know I’m not the only blogger who has dreams to follow her passions and make it into a career. This dream is exactly the reason I started this blog. Healthy living is so much more than a way of life for me. My passion for healthy living has transformed me into a more confident, secure person who believes she can achieve anything. The blog has been a vessel for exploring anything and everything that piques my interest.

I never considered myself a “cook,” but through this blog, I’ve discovered that I have it in me !

Working a grill, and loving it! Who knew?!

Working a grill, and loving it! Who knew?!

I love discovering new ways to make classic dishes healthy. I’m never going to turn this into a career, but I’m enjoying learning how to cook things I never thought I’d be able to make. The other night, I cooked up a stuffed pork with cauliflower mash.

I actually made this!

I actually made this!

Never in a million years could I have imagined making this dish back in my little studio kitchen last year in NYC!

Goal for My Next 30 Years: Focus, Focus, Focus!

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but my posts are LONG. Way too long in fact. I always spend about 2 hours more than I intend to on these little posts. I hope to continue exploring my interests on the SHLB but to use those explorations to lead me into what I’m really supposed to do with my life. Right now, I have the time to spend hours on these posts, but eventually, that won’t be the case.

Maybe I'm supposed to be a fisherwoman? I'll figure it out.

Maybe I’m supposed to be a fisherwoman? I’ll figure it out.

I hope that putting in all of this hard work and effort will guide me to exactly the place that I’m supposed to be. And, of course, my ultimate goal is that you all continue to read and enjoy these adventures along the way!

I think I have more than enough goals to keep me busy for the next 30 years and beyond. I didn’t even cover, friends, family, travels and a multitude of other things! So much to do…but plenty of time!

So, cheers to the milestone that is 30. And thanks to good ol’ Tim McGraw for writing such a great song!

YOUR TURN:

Whether your are 19, 21, 35 or 72, what is one thing that YOU hope to accomplish in your next 30 years?

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