Turning 40: Help Wanted!

As I mentioned last week, I am planning to make a list of 40 new things to try/learn/experience to celebrate my 40th birthday. The good thing about this is that I’m not putting a time limit on when I have to finish the 40 things, although certainly, barring unforeseen events, I want them finished before I turn 41. Ideally before 2023.

I was reinforced in my determination to do this by a comment on last week’s blog, stating that people lose their desire to do new things after the age of 23. I don’t know what kind of research supports this statement, but it still can’t hurt to deliberately push yourself to learn new things after 23. However, I want to keep it fun and think of ways to make it other-focused.

The bad thing is that I really want to have the list composed before I turn 40, which is next Thursday, June 23 (even though I legally turned 40 on May 23, since the doctor messed up my birth certificate, but I don’t go by that date). I thought it would be fairly easy to compose a draft, but it turns out that 40 is actually a gigantic number. Not just a large quantity of years, but a large list when one assembles things to do in celebration.

Anyway, this post is an appeal for more ideas, but I’ll show you some ideas so far.

  1. Travel on a sand road with a baby- COMPLETED!
  2. See wild horses- COMPLETED!
  3. Go to Laura’s for bread-making lessons- COMPLETED, thanks!
  4. Eat at newly opened Hotel Elkhart’s Relish Cafe- COMPLETED, with friend Amber
  5. Meet a new neighbor for the first time and immediately invite them for a meal –COMPLETED
  6. Visit Elkhart County Historical Museum
  7. Visit RV Museum
  8. Ride the little train (at the train museum) with Anina
  9. Take Anina to the zoo (I’ve never been there)
  10. Stay at historic Hotel Elkhart for a night
  11. Switch email providers (and have a rest from blog posts and emails while I figure that out?)
  12. Post progress on Instagram for 40 days? (I dislike using social media, and I either need to learn to use it or delete it. Thinking this might help me decide which!)
  13. Learn how to use collaborative software with editors.

Here are more ideas that were suggested to me

  1. Go skydiving
  2. Make Pavlova (Thanks for the recipe, Rosanna!)
  3. Make spring rolls (ditto!)
  4. Visit my cousin Anita in her new location on the Missouri River
  5. Let Anina stay at the babysitters for 24 hours (thanks Stephanie and girls!)
  6. Bike the Pumpkinvine Trail (thanks Rose!)
  7. Hot air balloon ride
  8. Elephant ride
  9. Reuniting with someone you haven’t seen or talked to in 10 years
  10. Send a birthday card to someone you’ve never met
  11. Find joy in all you do (7-11, thanks Linda!)
  12. Learn a song on an instrument
  13. Learn to crochet or knit – I do know how to do both, but making something I haven’t made before would be a good option, Thanks Janien for 12 and 13
  14. Spelunking…hmmm. Caves seem about as rare as elephants in our neighborhood.
  15. 40 acts of kindness…Little things like taping quarters to a bubble gum ball machine and then watching for children to find them, or taking wild flowers to someone in a nursing home, or paying for a strangers coffee at McDonalds, etc. Thanks CJ!

As you can see, that’s only a total of 28! And, thanks for the suggestion Wendell, but I kind of doubt I will go skydiving. Linda, I don’t know of an elephant close by to ride and I’m pretty sure I would get a severe case of motion sickness on a hot air balloon, so it doesn’t hold a lot of appeal. Also, with my still-expanded size, who knows if I would exceed the weight limit for all of the above? But that’s another topic.

So here’s my problem. What I need to finish off the list is a bunch of small (free!) things I can do, such as a fun activity with Anina or Marnell or a great Bible verse or poem to memorize…a new book to read? an online class or tutorial or recipe? a new kind of tea or coffee or gum or game or lotion or grain or soap? (Bonus if you send a sample!)

So leave me a comment or send me an email. Be sure to specify if you don’t want your name mentioned. Thanks for helping me celebrate! Note-I doubt I will be able to do everything that everyone suggests, so don’t be offended if yours doesn’t make it to my list. And feel free to share wild and wonderful ideas too, even though there are only so many of those that can be fit in.

Will I make it through the list of 40? I think so, barring unforeseen events. However, if I live to be 80, I think I’ll pass on this idea.

P.S. Is there an elephant to ride anywhere close to Elkhart, Indiana?

Stay tuned for updates about the release of the kidnapping book, coming soon.

Save with the set of 1-3. Click on the photo.

33 thoughts on “Turning 40: Help Wanted!”

  1. You cramped our suggestions by adding the free detail. Now we’ll really have to use our imaginations.
    Clean out 1 drawer a day until all the drawers in your house have been tidied.
    Get rid of something ugly that you feel obligated to keep. No one will care!
    Go to the pet store & admire the birds & reptiles.
    Anina might like a Betta to swim in a jar on your counter. But that’s not free.
    Google parks near me. Choose one you’ve near been to. Near as in, less than hours drive. Pack a lunch & spend the evening at the park.

  2. I rode an elephant at the Indianapolis Zoo. That was about 20 years ago, so I don’t know if they still have them. Also, because hot air balloons move with the breeze, it is unlike any other ride I’ve been on. You might not get sick, but I hate to guarantee anything. Here are a few ideas you might not have tried:
    —observe the Advent, weekly, if you haven’t
    —make a new Thanksgiving or Christmas recipe
    —play a new yard game like Kuub
    —make a Thanksgiving wreath for your front door
    —do handprint/footprint art with Anina
    —help do an oil change in your vehicle
    —learn about the Authagraph and draw your own
    —paint rocks and place them around the neighborhood for people to find
    —make cheese with Aunt Virginia
    —sew matching dresses for you and Anina
    —paint (not sidewalk chalk) a scene on your sidewalk. Use washable paint so you don’t get to spend 40 days in the slammer for vandalism.
    —take Grandma Kulp to Hona Yori, the Japanese restaurant where they cook in front of you
    —release 40 helium balloons, including a large silver 4 and 0, tied together
    —donate $40 to a charity you never supported before. Find one helping Ukraine or something rescuing baby sea turtles.

  3. I love your creativity! Enjoy each thing on your list to the fullest. Here are a few random ideas:

    – Invite a Walmart cashier for lunch
    – Create a beautiful table scape (china/flowers/cloth napkins/etc) and take it to a park for a special dinner
    – Bake sourdough something with Aunt Virginia

    1. Yes, aren’t you impressed? She makes mozzarella cheese and cheese sticks. And sourdough breads and pizza crusts. Both are new in the last few months.

  4. Start a list of 40 things that bring you joy/you are thankful for.
    Greet your cashier by name.
    Pick a new habit, recipe, or devotional for Christmas.
    Offer to intercede for someone when you hear them dumping out their heart; deny yourself something while you do so (coffee, sugar, reading, social media, whatever)
    Say No. (Your year is going to be fairly busy with ‘doing’, it seems!)
    Take donuts to your coworkers at the hospital; drop off a coffee or cake pop for someone working somewhere who you think could use a lift.

    1. Marlese Anderson

      If you do this one, then you can stop and visit me in Nebraska and meet a new baby who shares your name 🙂

  5. -Read through the entire Bible in 40 days.
    -Read one book of the Bible in it’s entirety for 40 days straight.
    -Memorize one stanza – or all – of the poem “The Bells” by Poe. I think that one is fun to recite.
    -Go tent camping, cooking only over the fire for a weekend with your little family.
    -Go backpacking.
    – Learn to cook an ethnic food you’ve always wanted to learn.
    -Vlog yourself cooking that new food and post it on your blog for all of us to enjoy.

    I love how you push yourself to do and try new things! I think Anima will be proud to have a Mom like you. Congrats on 40 years and may many happy years follow!

  6. Hi Katrina,

    Happy birthday! What a neat way to celebrate. And some good ideas so far 🙂 Just a couple ideas for you. 1. Do intermittent fasting for 40 days. It really is simple and easy to do. Nothing after supper till the next morning! 2. Drink a *green* smothie for 40 days. *must have a green in it.
    I think after 40 days you’ll be so amazed at how you feel you’ll keep doing it!
    This isn’t doing good for others but after all it’s your birthday so that’s ok to do something for yourself 😉😉 have a fun time completing your list

  7. Here’s a book to read—–it’s so interesting. One that I read from the library, bought one to keep and have reread it at least once.

    The Physician by Noah Gordon

    To whet your appetite here the synopsis from Amazon.

    An orphan leaves Dark Ages London, taking a dangerous journey and posing as a Jew to study medicine in Persia, in “an adventurous and inspiring tale” (Library Journal).

    A child holds the hand of his dying mother and is terrified, aware something is taking her. Orphaned and given to an itinerant barber-surgeon, Rob Cole becomes a fast-talking swindler, peddling a worthless medicine. But as he matures, his strange gift – an acute sensitivity to impending death – never leaves him, and he yearns to become a healer.

    Arab madrassas are the only authentic medical schools, and he makes his perilous way to Persia. Christians are barred from Muslim schools, but claiming he is a Jew, he studies under the world’s most renowned physician, Avicenna. How the woman who is his great love struggles against her only rival – medicine – makes a riveting modern classic.

    So nice that when looking at Amazon I see that there it is the first in a trilogy and there are two more books that I can read carrying on with the same character.

    You will love it——so many interesting incidental byways in the book.

    Try it—you’ll like it.


  8. Marsha Burkholder

    I love this idea Katrina! So fun to read all the ideas!!
    A few simple ones:
    -Have coffee with someone you’ve been wanting to get to know better ( someone you think you would enjoy?)
    -informal family or mother/ daughter photo shoot with someone who will make it relaxed & fun!
    – see if there is a local mom’s group sharing/Bible study time hosted at a local church you could try out.
    – write 40 handwritten notes to people who have blessed, shaped, encouraged you thus far in life.
    – 40 days of praise & worship… maybe host a night of worship during this time? Find a new worship song.
    -buy a journal to record your new experiences\ maybe a different kind of journal ?
    You seem to love other cultures! Read books, watch YouTube/ research a culture you want to learn more about. plan a short trip to visit if possible? 🙂 *blog your experience! 😉

  9. Have u played the game pandemic?? If not you should learn..I really think it would be something you would really enjoy..and I thot u should plan a reunion from the year we taught school 😊😊

  10. Wow, I’m getting lots of good ideas myself here… A couple more:
    – Listen to some “island music” – whatever you pick (Hawaiian steel guitar? Cuban jazz? reggae, salsa…?). Easy way to get a very brief, indulgent, vacation feeling on a busy day!
    – Use an extra (non-book-checkout) service from your library – e.g., take a free class/webinar, or see if your library offers anything besides books to check out… I didn’t know until recently, but our library system offers odd things, like a free pass to area museums, check out fishing poles or tools, or sign up to be able to use their equipment to digitize old slides/photos etc.

  11. Put a puzzle together.
    Have some friends (but not your closest friends) over for coffee or tea.
    Paint a picture
    Make 1 new recipe a week for one month.
    And treasure your 40th year and the memories that you make doing 40 things.

  12. Go through a drive through and pay it forward to the next person. ( not free I realize)
    Leave an autographed copy of one of your books somewhere (park bench, etc) and post a clue on social media

  13. Hmm, you’ve got me thinking. I am turning 40 this year too!

    How about passing out 40 roses 🌹 to random folks around town on your birthday? I’ve always wanted to do something like that.

  14. Happy Birthday! We share the same day but I have 15 years on you! Do the hot air balloon ride and tell us what you think. It’s on my bucket list! Since turning 40 I’ve been on more adventures then before so that doesn’t always hold true! Working for CAM Disaster Service has taken us coast to coast. We’ve had many interesting experiences and met many interesting characters! We travel alot besides. Have a trip to Nicaragua planned to visit our missionary son & family.

  15. Loretta Miller

    I have about 2 years until I hit 40, but you’ve got me thinking, too! 😉
    Try an odd food combination, like strawberry jam on homemade bread with a slice of fresh tomato. Sounds weird, but tomatoes are fruit and it really is tasty!
    Write 40 words every day for 40 days. Maybe making it a children’s book. But limit yourself to 40 words at a time. 😉
    Stick inspirational notes/quotes in 40 different books at the local library.
    Introduce yourself to a stranger in the park and invite them to share a picnic lunch or snack with you.
    Read a book on a subject you never considered reading.
    Learn 40 words in another language.
    Find someone twice your age, ask them questions about life 40 years ago and try doing something like they would have done the old-fashioned, non-tech way.
    Be a secret sister for 40 weeks and leave notes or small gifts for someone who could use the encouragement.
    Choose a few small things/treats that you can do for yourself and do one every week of your 40th year.
    Take a photo a day for 40 days.

  16. Danette Martin

    What a fun idea, Katrina! I hope you have a splendid year-long birthday that’s enhanced by doing the suggestions you’re receiving. Here are a few more ideas from me:
    ~ Make a meal consisting of three menu items – one of your favorites, one of Marnell’s, and something that Anina really likes to eat. (watermelon? ha)
    ~ throughout the year, make a Spotify playlist of 40 songs or jingles you enjoy listening to.
    ~ bake some you-get-to-celebrate-with-me cupcakes or muffins and take them with you on a walk, handing one to each person you meet until you run out of baking. If the recipients sing Happy Birthday to you, that’s a bonus.
    ~ Dig through old photos of yourself (or at least ones that have you on somewhere) and post on your blog a favorite (or more than one) from each decade of your life.

  17. -Take Anina to storytime at the library.
    -Surprise Marnell by completing one (or more) of his household tasks before he gets to it, ie. taking out the trash, cleaning the vehicle, etc.
    -Research when, how, how often the number 40 appears in Scripture.
    -Make homemade Play-Doh for Anina.
    -Go fishing
    -List or write about 40 memories from your growing up years.

  18. Play Lazer tag. Maybe pick up longboarding or roller skating. If you don’t already know you to use chop sticks, learn. 😉 Try eating vegetarian for a day. Get Marnell to pick out your outfits for a week. Hand out 40 tracks. Pray for 40 different people in one day. Plank for 40 seconds. No shame if you have to work yourself up to that one.
    Have fun with this Katrina! This is quite inspiring ☺️

  19. What fun ideas!!! I love doing new things but I’m heading to the next “big” number in a few years so I’d need 50 ideas, but lots of these sound really fun to try!
    About the skydiving my daughter just went and said it was the best thing ever!! But obviously not free… here’s a few of mine
    1. Learn a song in a new language
    2. Read 40 books in a wide variety of genres, that you might not normally pick, classic, autobiography, self-help, non-fiction, geography
    Topical etc etc.
    3. Memorize 40 verses special to yourself
    4. Plant new variety of flowers or herbs you haven’t tried before
    5.make a friend w a sail boat, to go sailing
    6go geo-caching (very fun!)
    7. Do a book signing in Holmes county Ohio
    8. Find a new alley-way/historic part of a nearby city and explore and imagine the stories that took place there. (One of my favorites:) usually includes finding a cute coffee shop or cafe close that I’ve never been to.
    9. Scooter thru a city on an electric scooter or segway… (the kind that you can pick up various places thruout the city via an app on your phone) try not to have a wreck and skinned knee trying to get the hang of driving it like I did:(
    10. Stand under or behind a waterfall.
    11. Do a 40 mi. Hike in a weekend camp along the way

  20. Well… this is to the idea that one looses the desire to learn new things: hogwash! I am 75 years old. After we became empty nesters I was free to pursue my own interests albeit they had change since I was 23. Within the last 15 years I learned machine embroidery and just a couple years ago got a quilting machine- not computerized. Am still learning with it. Embracing new skills, learning, wading through challenges will keep your aging brain healthy and happy. Go for it!

  21. Susan Schlabach

    If you’ve never eaten Pupusas (El Salvador food) go to 3418 S Main St in your town to have some. There are varieties as in pork, bean or cheese filled. But you’ll do yourself a favor if you order Queso con Loroco for sure. Pile on the curtido, the cabbage slaw served alongside. It’ll change your life.

  22. I turned 60 a couple of months ago, and I wish I’d done something like what you’re doing. Here are a few ideas, although some of them may be bigger goals than you’re looking for:
    1. Learn a new language, maybe use an app. I’m learning German via Mango for free through my county library.
    2. Learn a new instrument. I am trying to relearn to play violin after letting it go for the most part in middle school. Lessons would certainly help but teaching yourself new things has its own satisfaction.
    3. Put yourself in one of your books. I did this and found the character doing fun, daring things I wouldn’t have tried. Before publishing, I changed her name so no one would think it was a true story. 🙂 I think it would be fun if you put yourself as a child in one of the Brady Street Boys books. Maybe put your five-year old self, assuming that’s how old you would’ve been at the time they’re set. Or your teenage self to interact with them on the same level.
    4. Try cooking something a completely different way than you’ve ever cooked it before. Like sautéed cabbage instead of boiled. It’s so mild and good that way.
    5. Volunteer at a Ronald McDonald house where people stay while a loved one is in the hospital if there is one near you.

  23. Make Ukrainian borscht and remember the country in crisis. I live in Ukraine and can share an authentic borscht recipe with you.

  24. Rosalie Nissley

    Send 40 people a personal note whether it’s a birthday card, thinking of you note, sympathy card, anniversary card, etc

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