I saw a Covid meme before my birthday this year that I felt best summed up thirty-nine: “I’m not adding this year to my age, I didn’t use it.”

With an eye on 2021 and optimism for a vaccine and a return to somewhat of a normal life, I thought I’d keep things light this week and share with you a few of the things I’d like to accomplish before the big 40. Will I achieve most of these? Probably not but I sure do enjoy a good list. I recently took the Enegram test and much like those who know me well suspected I was a 6.

I enjoy making lists, feeling productive and accomplished. I’ve tried to include some practical things that I know are achievable and some, to be honest, were probably on my list a decade ago. Without further ado ...

1. Run one more marathon, certainly not the Knoxville marathon. I have visions of the Honolulu Marathon or the Big Sur, probably a stretch but hopefully I can run one somewhere just a touch warmer or with more predictable weather than spring in East Tennessee. Blazing hot or sleeting rain do not make for a fun race. My friend Stephanie and my still wonky big toenail can vouch for how many times we thought about throwing in the towel.

2. See the wild ponies run on the beach at Ocracoke Island. I realize this is a very “Nights In Rodanthe” theme but who doesn’t love a good Nicholas Sparks moment from time to time?

3. Practice more yoga. I like to run. My knees don’t love it as much as they used to. Yoga helps, I promise.

4. Take piano lessons again. My mom would be proud. She made me take lessons until the 7th grade when I gladly ditched them for B team basketball. Since y’all know I’m not a former Lady Vol, I should have listened to my momma.

5. Ride a horse. I witnessed an elementary school friend get thrown off one at a birthday party. That left a mark for sure.

6. Buy Mama a new treadmill. My old $300 special from a decade ago is hard on these 40-year-old knees. I’m Mama if you hadn’t already guessed.

7. Visit the Moorings. Andy Barnett and I have been “planning to take” a big trip since our 5-year anniversary trip to Kauai. It’s been a hot second or seven years, so this is long overdue. I’ve already been planning this one so I feel confident about actually achieving this goal. Also thank you to the Netflix’s series Bloodline and the second love of my life Kyle Chandler for turning us onto this little gem.

8. Take our daughter to Andy’s and my alma mater, Emory & Henry. I realize we didn’t go to Utah state and can’t really think of a reason why we haven’t made this short pilgrimage. Blame it on Covid? That seems to be my excuse for everything we’ve missed in 2020.

9. Visit Graceland.

10. Learn another language. Ask me what I remember from two years of high school Spanish and French. No puedo ver. Bonjour.

11. Eat a Big Mac. No, I’ve never had one. Have you met my mom?

12. Get my beloved half caffeine almond milk latte from the original Starbucks. My sweet running friend Brenda now lives in Seattle. You game Brenda?

13. Buy myself a dress from the flagship J.Crew store. During quarantine I think I kept them afloat.

14. See the Redwoods.

15. Drive the California coast in a convertible. I image a beautiful summer day, cool breeze off the ocean and me looking glamorous in a scarf and oversized sunglasses. I’ll probably just end up with really tangled hair. Grace Kelly I am not.

16. See the Northern Lights.

17. Take that much needed and long overdue Covid-delayed girls’ trip with my college girlfriends. We had an epic one planned for 2020. Covid.

18. PR a half.

19. See Morgan Wallen in concert. Again, Covid. I snagged some great seats in Atlanta as a Christmas gift for Andy last year. Oh well. We can appreciate his new music.

20. Have friends over more. I’m a neat freak and nothing makes my OCD shine like people coming over. If Covid has taught me anything it’s to embrace life, the crazy messiness of it all and savor those precious moments with friends and family. I can clean next pandemic.

21. Unplug for 24 hours. Lord I’m attached to my phone. Got to get better about this one.

22. Take my little bug, aka: my daughter, to a drive-in movie.

23. Take a surfing lesson. Should have done this when Andy and I went to Kauai. Turns out everything on that island is gold and we didn’t take enough money.

24. Ride in a hot air balloon. If you grew up in Southwest Virginia/Northeast Tennessee then you’ve probably been to Fun Fest. Seeing the hot air balloons take off has always been my absolute favorite. So visually stunning. Now I just need to be brave and find a ride.

25. Learn from my childhood friend and half of the dynamic duo that is Field and Flour how to make her famous sinful, salted chocolate chip cookies.

26. Get my dang passport.

27. Use my wedding china. Didn’t even make it out of my parents’ house until they moved to Greeneville after my daughter was born. So glad I just had to have it.

28. Volunteer more, something I’m actually passionate about. Like everyone else, I often get tangled in obligations or doing things I feel like I need to do or have to do.

29. Be proud of something I’ve achieved through hard work. Being a perfectionist and often a glass half full kind of gal, I often had my eye on the next project, promotion or rung in the ladder. Moving to Greeneville certainly threw my dreams and plans for a loop, but in the best way possible. Here’s to hoping in my 40’s those dreams I keep stored away can come to fruition.

30. Take a solo trip. Maybe just to Asheville for the day. You mothers out there know this can be virtually impossible but in 2021 I’m gonna try.

31. Eat by myself in a restaurant. Perfect follow up to number thirty. Of course, I’ve done this a million times but I don’t know that the Whole Foods or dearly departed Earth Fare hot bar count as I work and shove food into my mouth. Can my date be my Kindle?

32. Learn how to make a signature cocktail.

33. Reconnect with an old friend. Namely, my doubles partner and best friend growing up, Alison. We were inseparable for so long. Jobs, four kids — three of them are hers — and life have gotten in the way. I miss her and her laugh. Nothing better.

34. Find a signature lipstick or gloss. I think I’m too old for Chapstick to be my signature color.

35. Learn to gracefully accept a compliment. Andy Barnett will appreciate this one.

36. Buy a piece of art I love.

37. Learn how to play semi-decent golf. Andy and I have been talking about this for years.

38. Forgive in my heart of hearts. Stop hanging onto blame and old hurts.

39. Be more deliberate with my prayer and scripture reading. Good follow up to number thirty-eight.

40. Be a fun, loving, more carefree mom, the mom I intended to be for Landon. Saved the hardest for last didn’t I? This is certainly not my nature but something I determined to be once I learned I was having a girl. I come from a long line of perfectionists and well, I didn’t fall far from the tree. I so badly want to change the things about our relationship that we both seem to struggle with. Most days, I am nowhere close to this and Andy is the “fun parent,” but I’m a work in progress. Aren’t we all?

Jessica Barnett is a Southwest Virginia girl married to a Greeneville native, a mom, personal trainer, certified fitness nutrition specialist, runner, herbivore and ice cream lover. To learn about working with Jessica, prospective clients may email jcbarnett616@gmail.com.

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