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Fiftieth Birthday Ideas– Nifty 50 Update #1

Fiftieth birthday ideas….hmmm. I thought I would do something EXTRA special for the day. But a day isn’t very long….

Many of you will remember that I turned 50 this year, and to commemorate this major milestone, I made a list of 50 things I wanted to do in the year between my birthdays– from March 31, 2015 to March 31, 2016.

I called the list my “Nifty 50” and shared it in this newsletter and on my blog.Here’s the list:

WHAT I WANT TO DO AND BE THIS YEAR (March 31, 2015 to March 31, 2016) in no certain order:

  1. Get back to my neglected container gardens– outside home and the one at my studio.
  2. Go back to Asia.
  3. Go back to Mexico.
  4. Travel to a place I’ve never been.
  5. Another mini-holiday in Big Sur.
  6. More 3 hour baths!
  7. Try more new recipes and cooking styles.
  8. Archetype re-balance: more Lakshmi (I’m generally Kali or Saraswati.)
  9. More deliberate (planned) socializing (I’m either a hermit or an impromptu socializer.)
  10. Make at least 2 virtual courses for clients.
  11. More Abundance Mindset
  12. Read more fiction and poetry. (Decades ago, I pretty much read ONLY these.)
  13. Try making fermented foods, beginning with sauerkraut (Raw kraut is expensive and I eat it daily.)
  14. Try making own almond milk (again, daily, expensive)
  15. Adjust diet & activity/movement to current age (My body is changing  too fast and so are its needs.)
  16. Take lots of photos as a way of seeing rather than archiving my life.
  17. Back to dance class.
  18. Skydiving– is this the year?
  19. Explore a wisdom tradition that I don’t know so much — or anything–about.
  20. Jewelry of the year: Rose-gold.
  21. Read more tarot.
  22. At least 1 museum exhibit per month
  23. More african violets around my bed! (Love this for reasons beyond my comprehension.)
  24. Purge like nevah before! Lots of space for the new.
  25. Share more of personal self with my clients and audience. In fact, BAKE my personal self into my work.
  26. Blog a really good list of book reviews with unexpected choices.
  27. Stay current with yoga apps.
  28. Ditto for meditation apps
  29. Work smart. Continue the 4 hour per day desk rule, for one thing.
  30. Get back to walking more than 10 miles per week (I love walking and 10 miles/week isn’t enough.)
  31. Practice and teach more pranayama.
  32. Love. More. And Wiser.
  33. New website for Foster & Flourish
  34. Continue to develop the Meditation-Mapping toolkits and building audience.
  35. Promote my books more  + effectively.
  36. Expand my peer-to-peer network.
  37. Collaborate more.
  38. At least 1 vase of flowers in my home at any given time.
  39. Go to more conferences.
  40. Attend at least one retreat that’s longer than 7 days.
  41. Listen smart. Everyone is the Guru.
  42. Is this the year to finally get another pet?
  43. Take more of my own advice.
  44. Shine as bright as I want and if people don’t like it, too bad I am fucking fifty. (At my best, I’ve been pretty good at this, but can always get better.)
  45. Don’t spread self so thin. Stay the course more and more. (I’m good at change and sometimes change too often.)
  46. Wear more dresses. (I love dresses, despite my choices over the last decade.)
  47. Sing and dance everyday. Preferably at the same time. (I’m pretty good at this as well, but, when life gets tough or speedy, singing and dancing falls into the ditch.)
  48. Watch more movies.
  49. Keep better connections with old friends– and not just on Facebook.
  50. Less coffee, more tea in the morning.

My “Nifty 50” post inspired more responses than almost any post I’ve ever written.

The responses were in quantity, but also quality.

Some people wrote to encourage me and ask me to post updates on my progress throughout the year. Others said that my post had kickstarted their motivation to make their their own list. Others sent me copies of lists they’d already compiled and were working through. Others opened up to me about a single issue or intention they’ve been working on during the last year:

  • overcoming shyness/ lack of assertiveness at work
  • deepening their commitment to meditation by going on retreats and taking classes
  • a variety of artistic and creative projects

One person had set an intention to visit every continent on the globe before they died.

I was really, REALLY moved by the responses. First of all, it’s an incredible honor to have complete strangers open up to you in this way.I’ll never meet all these people, yet they trusted me enough to tell me their wishes and desires, as well as their fears and vulnerabilities.

The second reason I was moved was because, originally, I had hesitated to share the Nifty Fifty post, at all, thinking that perhaps I was being narcissistic. Who would want to read a middle-aged woman go on about her dreams? I had thought, “why should I assume this will mean anything to anyone but me?”

But the opposite had turned out to be true.

The whole experience of sharing that post and getting all the responses reminded me that we see ourselves in one another. We read with interest what others do, and we think, “what would I do in that situation?”

Sharing ourselves and listening to others share draws us closer to one another while simultaneously drawing us deeper into ourselves.

Recently, I realized it’s been almost 6 months since I made the list and that I had n’t really looked at it since I made it. (Why obsess over it?)I felt like the time to check in on Nifty Fifty was dawning on the horizon.

So, as I opened my blog and began to search for the Nifty Fifty post, I felt this backwards tugging in my stomach, and recognized the feeling as aversion. I paused and relaxed.

As I took a deep breath, along came a flood of negative thoughts. I felt dread. I wanted to procrastinate looking at the list.

I was genuinely curious, yet I was also afraid. Hmm. Interesting.This kind of surprised me. Kind of. After a few more moments I realized this “fear and loathing” was normal.

Fear is caution that has just gotten a little too big for its britches. A protective voice that’s just a little too loud.

What was I afraid of? I guess, fear of failure, fear of not being enough. I think I was also afraid that my inspiration to work through the list might have waned and that the whole project would just wither on the vine.

Of course this hesitation was only momentary. I looked at the list.


Reading through the very first time, I was flooded with all sorts of reactions– thoughts, feelings, of course– but also new ideas and tons of insight.

Jotting down notes to myself, as fast as my fingers could type, I felt like I could turn the notes into a blogpost.

But the notes were copious. I was overflowing with information. The Universe was sending me a hefty download. After awhile, I made myself stop typing and took a walk.

On the walk, I realized the whole role my Nifty Fifty list played in my life had shifted over the last 5.5 months.

Originally, I had thought the list was about creating and maintaining intentions.Looking at the list most recently, I felt it was about gracefully surfing the waves of chaos and embracing change.

At first these two perspectives seemed at odds. Creating intention was about discipline, while surfing chaos was more like going with the flow or rolling with the punches.

But actually creating intention and embracing change are two sides of the same coin. The face of The Dreamer is on one side of the coin; the face of The Improviser on the other side.

I had made a list of 50 desires, shared it with you, then put it away for awhile and kept going.

Now, writing to you about my second visit to the list, I feel like the process has shifted from being about dreams and improvisation, to begin about reality and mindfulness.

“May I have the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.”

The notes I wrote when checking in on my list are TOO LONG for a single blogpost, but I’ll chisel out the best bits and share them with you over the next couple of posts.AND…….Between now and the next post, I’d like to hear from you.

As you record and track your intentions over time, what feelings and thoughts are you visited by? What new ideas arise when you comb through your To Do lists? What role does list making play in your life?

I’d love to know. 

And know this….

Eventually, I’m going to disclose, to talk about my progress– which things I have and haven’t checked off my Nifty Fifty list.

Until then, keep dreaming and improvising. Stay mindful and keep it real. Acknowledge your fears but don’t let them bully you into submission. Fears are cautions that have gotten too big for their britches.

Few of us are afraid to dream, but many of us are afraid to fully admit our dreams and work tirelessly to make our dreams happen.