Thirty Before 35

It’s that time again. My birthday. As of today, I’m thirty-three.

I wish I was one of those people who approaches birthdays with grace and enthusiasm. I’m a whole year wiser — yay! But really, I sort of dread my birthday. I liked being twenty-six. Thirty-three sounds so… old.  But, unfortunately aging is one of those inevitabilities we can’t control, and in the spirit of my 2014 word stoicism, I’m going to accept it and move forward with a positive attitude.

Which brings me to…

Ever since I started following Ghenet Myrthil‘s blog, I’ve been inspired by her Thirty Before 30 project. She’s created a list of things she wants to do before she turns thirty this summer, and it’s been so fun to follow along as she fulfills her goals. What better way to make birthdays brighter than establishing objectives and finding a sense of achievement in accomplishing them?

I love Ghenet’s Thirty Before 30 project so much, I’ve decided to jump on board. Obviously I’m beyond thirty (*sob*), and thirty-five isn’t far off. So, I’m giving myself two full years to check the items off my list. Thirty Before 35, if you will.

I’ve thought long and hard about what I want to include on my list, and I’ve decided to go big or go home. I realize that some of the items are almost entirely out of my control (#2 and #25 specifically), but they’re things I desperately want to happen. So, I’ll do everything in my power to get there, and if I don’t, well, at least I’ll know I tried. Conversely, some of the items I’ve included may seem silly or trivial, but they’re ambitions I’ve had in the back of my mind for a long while, and several of them are things I want to do with my husband and/or daughter. Therefore, on the list they’ve gone.

What I’ve ended up with is part to-do list, part bucket list. I’m excited about it!


  1. Bake a Rainbow Cake.
  2. Sell a novel (or two!).
  3. Complete a 500 piece puzzle.
  4. Have a picnic on the beach.
  5. Read and review a Stephen King novel.
  6. Drink a Hurricane in New Orleans.
  7. Have professional family photos taken.
  8. Run Disney’s Princess 1/2 Marathon.
  9. Attend a writers’ conference or festival.
  10. Order a Stitch Fix box.
  11. See a musical.
  12. Plan and host a tea party with my girl.
  13. Make a quilt.
  14. Take an international vacation.
  15. Watch Friday Night Lights in its entirety.
  16. Complete a three day juice cleanse.
  17. Write a manuscript that’s not contemporary YA.
  18. Pass 2K Twitter followers.
  19. Read Speak (my most shameful YA gap book).
  20. Host a brunch.
  21. Master “Space-A” travel.
  22. Attend a writers’ retreat.
  23. Get a massage.
  24. Make Chocolate Babka.
  25. Add another child to our family.
  26. Visit Mount Rushmore.
  27. Master “Crow” pose in yoga.
  28. Go to a(nother) country music concert.
  29. Plant an herb garden.
  30. Teach my daughter to swim (really well).

There they are. Thirty things I hope to accomplish before my thirty-fifth birthday. This list will be in a tab up there above my header, and (like Ghenet) I’ll cross items off (and most likely blog) as I accomplish them. Sounds fun, right?

Here’s to a happy birthday. I’ll be binge-watching Friday Night Lights and eating cake if you should need me. 🙂


33 thoughts on “Thirty Before 35

  1. Ruby Young says:

    Hello, Katy… You are one of the people I have listed as following from last year’s A to Z challenge. Your blog title on my dashboard caught my eye this morning. I’m approaching 81 this year, and I realized a lot of those things I’ve never done in my life, but it doesn’t dismay me. I’ve enjoyed every one of my birthday anniversaries, regardless of my accomplishments (or lack thereof), and so you should as well. It’s good to have goals, but don’t get lost in your zeal to accomplish them. Enjoy the ride along the way! Much love to you, my young friend! Ruby (aka Blabbin’ Grammy)

    • katyupperman says:

      Thanks for the advice, Ruby, and I’ll certainly take it to heart. The ride has been pretty great so far and I’m looking forward to seeing where it takes me in the future. ❤

  2. Alexa says:

    Happy Birthday Katy! I love your list! I’d love to do 8. I’m planning to try and run a 1/2 marathon in October, but it would be so much more fun to do it dressed as a Disney Princess
    Have a lovely birthday and good luck with the list. Especially 2 & 25. I know it’s impossible to control, but I sometimes feel putting what we want out into the universe helps 🙂

  3. Colin says:

    Happy Birthday, Katy!

    YA celebrates youth, but I fear our culture often swings too far in that direction, and forgets to honor maturity. Every year you live, you grow, you become wiser, and you are better able to be a mentor to your child(ren–here’s to #25!), friends, and younger family members. Life’s tough, and those younger than us need people who have been there and done it to show the way. Think of yourself as being that much more experienced; and look forward to the wisdom and experience you’ll gain over the next few years as you accomplish your 30-by-35 list. It’s an awesome list, and I wish you all the very best with it! 🙂

  4. Elodie says:

    Happy happy happy birthday, Katy! 😛 I love this list and I’m very much looking forward to seeing you accomplish as many as possible! I might steal your idea when I turn 33 in a few months 😛
    And can I just say? I’d love to come over for brunch 🙂 and maybe we could do this writer’s retreat in Toscana (that would be TWO goals in one :-))
    I wish you the very best and without turning all sappy and all, I’m glad I came across your blog a few years back now, friend ❤

    • katyupperman says:

      That would be awesome, Elodie! When I’m ready to sign up for my writers’ conference and retreat, I will definitely email you first so we can coordinate. And if you ever find yourself in Florida, I’ll prepare a brunch for you any day of the week. 🙂

  5. Ghenet Myrthil says:

    Yay, I’m so happy you made a list! It looks great and I’m excited to see you check things off. Even having the things that are out of your control on the list will keep you motivated to do everything you can to make them happen. I’m rooting for you!

    As for getting older, think of it this way – it’s another year to do the things you love and be with your family. You’re lucky to have another year, you know? At least that’s how I’m trying to think about it. 🙂

    Anyway, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! Enjoy that cake and FNL marathon. You deserve it. XO.

    • katyupperman says:

      Thank you, Ghenet, for the idea and the encouragement. And you’re totally right about looking at birthdays with appreciation. Clearly I need to sway my perspective a bit; today’s just another day to be thankful. 🙂 I hope you’re having a wonderful day!

  6. Sophia says:

    Happy birthday Katy! Perhaps dreading your birthday is a February thing (mine is tomorrow and I feel the same way. Just waiting for the quarter life crisis to kick in). Then again, I think birthday’s stop being fun after 21. Anyway I’ll stop being such an Eeyore. I hope you have a lovely day and wish you the best of luck in accomplishing your goals!

    • katyupperman says:

      Sophia, we’re almost birthday buddies! And funny you should mention Eeyore. I thought of him as I wrote the beginning of this post. Here’s hoping you have a great day tomorrow, and that the pesky quarter life crisis stays away. ❤

  7. Temre Beltz says:

    Happy, happy birthday, Katy!! I hope you have an amazing day today and feel all the love and wishes everyone who cares so much for you is sending your way ❤ I love this idea of a list and had so much fun reading through your goals! It's such a great way to commemorate fun activities; so many times we do accomplish really neat things, but often forget to reflect on them or think about how much work/time/miracle it took us to get there! I am also thirty-three (thirty-four in June, yikes!), so I totally feel you in the getting older department. The great thing is I feel like every year I get a little more comfortable in my own skin and a little more thankful. Big hugs, Katy! P.S. Also, I can't help wishing that maybe when you go to a writer's conference, it might be my first time to attend one too – how awesome would that be?!

    • katyupperman says:

      I’ve felt the same way about becoming more comfortable in my skin over the last few years, too, Tem. I think maybe that had to do with becoming a mom? Whatever the catalyst, I like it. 🙂 And YES, can we please coordinate our first conferences to coincide? That would be amazing!

  8. Krispy says:

    Happy birthday!!!

    This is a very cool idea, and I see you’re actually on your way to accomplishing a couple of these (Friday Night Lights seems like it’ll be crossed off the list soon, haha)! Looking forward to following your progress, and have a great birthday, lady! 🙂

    • katyupperman says:

      Thanks, Alice! And yes, FNL is obviously where my priorities are right now. Who needs to write another manuscript when Tim Riggins is just waiting to be Netflixed? 😉

  9. Jennie says:

    My birthday is next month and I might just have to jump on this bandwagon!

    I know you can cross these things off your list in no time. And, sending extra vibes for the items outside of your control! 🙂

  10. Erin Bowman (@erin_bowman) says:

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!! I love this list and I wish you the best of luck with all of them (even the ones not entirely in your control.) Also, #17? I need to hold myself to the reverse goal. My closest to contemp ms is still speculative with sci-fi twists. I admire you people who write straight contemp. 🙂

    • katyupperman says:

      Aww, thank you, friend! Contemp is my happy place (and my comfortable place!) but it’s a bit of a hard sell, unfortunately. I think that branching out will be a great personal challenge, and maybe changing up the status quo will shake things up for me professionally, too. 🙂

  11. Miss Cole says:

    Happy Birthday, Katy!

    This is a great idea 😀 I’ve already found myself thinking of what I can do before my 30th. For your Stephen King item, I recommend The Shining. It was my first and it’s still my favourite King novel.

    • katyupperman says:

      Thank you for the recommendation! I haven’t decided which King novel I’ll read yet, but I’m definitely looking for input. I’m thinking it’ll be THE SHINING because it’s SO popular, or maybe his more recent 11/22/63. I’m intrigued by that book’s concept and it’s twist on history.

  12. Alison Miller says:

    I love this list! And you MUST READ SPEAK!!! So powerful. I made my book club read it one month – they loved it. Also, I’m thinking I should do a list. Except mine would be 40 before 45 (double sob!)

    And Happy *belated* Birthday again! Hope you watched tons of FNL, ate lots of junk, and had oodles of snuggle time with C. 🙂

  13. Kim Smith says:

    Happy (belated!) birthday Katy! I love the idea of the list. I *coughcough* won’t tell my age, but my list would be-ahem- a little longer. I have a one-liner from one of my characters — Dwayne Brown. He says, “Birthdays are just a thang and a chicken wang. Every day on this side of the dirt is a good day.” Don’t look at your days as something to dread. Enjoy them!

    • katyupperman says:

      I was just telling my daughter this morning that every day I grow older is also a day I get to spend with her, so it’s all good. I love that quote from your character, Dwayne. He sounds like a lot of fun!

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