Typically, after people congratulate me on my big swim, they ask me what I’m going to do next.
My response is always:
I want to give back to my community and build a pool in Rutland, VT. I consider this to be more important than any other extraordinary athletic feat I could ever hope to accomplish.
However, seeing as I’ve had quite the monumental year this year – what with swimming the English Channel and turning 30 – it seemed like a good time to pause and evaluate my personal and professional goals. Back when I turned 21, I made a list of 21 things I wanted to do in the next 21 years. Curious about my progress and even what was on that list (as I haven’t looked at it in years!) I went back and dug it up.
I was amazed at how much and how little about me has changed. My 21 year old self, as different as she may be from the person I am today, was absolutely the seedling capable of accomplishing many great things! So I decided to re-type the list and give you a glimpse into who I am and who I hope to be.
21. Request a song on the radio – Actually, this is a lie. I didn’t want to request a song on the radio, I wanted a song dedicated to me. But I decided I didn’t want to say that in my list because I didn’t have any control over it, ultimately. But one day, at a sporting event where some friends were playing in a band, they dedicated a song to me. Since then, I’ve had lots of songs dedicated to me Ta da! Check!
20. Receive a dozen roses – I guess I gave up on the whole ‘things being out of my control’ with this one (the list was never in any particular order). I actually received a dozen roses the very day I first printed this list – before anybody ever read it. I thought that was pretty cool. I have received them a few other times over the years, too. Yellow is my favorite. They’re good luck for actors and symbolize friendship.
19. Go horseback riding – When I thought of this, I thought of riding through the woods along a trail enjoying open fields and hills and scenery for miles without blemish or interruption. That was exactly what I got out of the deal, too, when a group of friends invited me to go with them on a trail ride. It was perfect!
18. Swim the English Channel – I’m positive that my 21 year old self had no idea what this meant at the time – and my 30 year old self is still reeling from the beautiful, wonderful, amazing impact it has had on me and my friends and my community. I am indebted to that 21 year old and her sense of timelessness and adventure and dreaming. I am ever so grateful to be one of the few to have swum the English Channel and I hope that the story continues to inspire.
17. Ride on a motorcycle – I got my motorcycle license the same summer I got my pilot’s license! Check!
16. Marry my best friend – Now, doesn’t that just seem like a good idea?!?
15. Attend the Oregon Shakespeare Festival – I didn’t know this was on the list, but I always talk about going to this! I’m sure I will get around to it, someday.
14. Drive across the country – I have seen the country by car, but never as the driver! I’m sure I can fit it into my life.
13. Write a screenplay – I think I was thinking that I wanted to write a screenplay because I’d already written two books by the time I was 19. Neither of them are any good, but they’ve been written. I think I was looking to write something different from fiction. I can take it or leave it, the screenplay notion, I think… but I don’t think it’s outside the realm of possibility, either.
12. Have a drink – I did not drink before I was 21. Because I follow the rules. I have since had a drink. Check!
11. Act in a performance outside of high school – I always loved theater and acting. I am hoping that I can be involved in some kind of community performing arts in the future, too.
10. See a Broadway Show – I think I keep trying to force my way to NYC and it never happens. I think I’m going to stop trying to make it happen. It will happen! And if it doesn’t… I’ve seen a show in London! That’s pretty much more awesome than I could have dreamed!
9. Take Fencing Lessons – I’m a closet fencing-lover. Don’t judge me. I haven’t done this yet. But I will.
8. Be a manager or owner – I have been a manager and I’ve worked for myself in small ways over the years. So in some ways, this has been done. But I think there’s more that I want out of it, yet. I am leaving it unchecked for now.
7. Be the best youth leader ever – I think this is one of those forever types of things. I want to always be mindful of the young people around me and how I can help them with whatever they are facing.
6. Have a song written for me – I did have a song written for me, once! Check!
5. Go sky-diving – I think this was more appealing when I was a thrill-seeker. Now… meh. I just feel like my life is thrilling and exciting enough with what my body, mind, heart and spirit can do! But I sure wouldn’t say no if somebody wanted to take me!
4. Finish my degrees – Ba ha ha! My 21 year old self even said ‘degrees’! Plural! I love me! This is my most immediate goal. I begin in January!
3. Travel overseas somewhere – That’s done! I’m so excited to have done the traveling I did with the people I’ve met! I’m sure I will travel more in my life, but even if I don’t – how could I not be immensely satisfied with all the memories I have already!
2. Get published – I really do want to have a book published. A good one. Someday, it will happen.
1. Get my pilot’s license – This is what I went to school for… but was unable to finish due to lack of funding. I did complete my pilot’s license eventually, but the degrees were contingent upon multiple ratings, which is why I needed to finish my degrees and my license. The license is done! Check!
It’s a wonderful life with some big dreams and hard work.
I do have other athletic goals, but none that I want to reveal at this time. I don’t want my life to be defined by an athletic achievement or dictated by athletic goals. Right now, I’m just glad to be home. To not always be busy. To see my nephew. To work hard at my job. To make my own meals. To have time to watch TV. To start working at coaching. To plan meetings and plug myself into the community. To share my story with school kids and friends and family.
I am ever so excited for what’s next!