Well, the time has come. The last year in my twenties. I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with my birthday. I love the idea of a celebration, even if it is for myself. (I don’t really like attention.) On the other hand, I’m growing another year older. I know thirty isn’t really old, I just always get dramatic when I hit another milestone birthday because I hate the idea of getting older. I don’t feel that old though, so I guess that’s important. Anyway, during my thirtieth year, I’ve decided to make a “30 Before 30” list of things to help improve my quality of life (which is already pretty damn good.)

I’ve started to reflect on the things that used to be part of my routine that aren’t anymore, or things I’d like to make a part of my routine in order to jump into my thirties in the best way possible. Here’s my list of thirty things I hope to accomplish in the next year before I hit the big 3-0. Who’s going to help hold me accountable?

30 before 30, blog, photographer, chicago, bucket list


  1. Take a fitness class.
    Growing up, I was always active. I played softball in the summer and attempted basketball in the winter to just make sure I didn’t lose momentum. I continued to play softball through college, but after graduation I basically stopped playing or doing anything relatively active altogether. Since I was always involved in sports, I never really thought about taking actual classes for fitness. I’m starting to realize that my metabolism isn’t what it used to be, so I kinda need to get on this.
  2. Eat healthy.
    See #1. My body is starting tell me I can’t live on delivery or donuts. I need to get on this healthy thing before it’s too late.
  3. Lose 15lbs.
    Ok, so is this cheating if I split these up into different numbers? I can eat healthy and work out and still not lose 15lbs, so I don’t think so. When I moved to Chicago 5+ years ago I looked damn good (at least I thought so). Granted, it might have been because I didn’t eat in order to pay my rent, but I felt good about myself. I’d like to get to that again, but in a healthy way.
  4. Go on a clothes diet.
    My closet it jam-packed with stuff I think I’ll wear, but I never do. I’m sure everyone can relate to this.
  5. Create a fun and productive work space.
    Right now my desk faces a blank white wall. This motivates me to go for walks or do chores, but I spend most of my time at that desk. I want to have a space that I can enjoy working at and keep organized.
  6. Visit the West Coast.
    I don’t think I’ve ever been West of St. Louis and this is really sad. One of my best friends recently moved to California, so that’s fueling my desire to get out that way. I’ve been East plenty of times and need to check out what the rest of the U.S. has to offer!
  7. Get a passport.
    Ok, so I love traveling but never go anywhere. It makes me sad that there are some places in the world I’ll probably never see in my lifetime. Top 3 places on my must-visit list: Italy, New Zealand, and Germany. Maybe if I get one of these I’ll be more motivated to just get up and go somewhere.
  8. See more live music and concerts.
    I used to go to concerts all. the. time. I rarely go to shows anymore. I went to Lollapalooza this past summer and while I hated the crowds, I still loved the experience of seeing some of my favorite bands perform live. Besides buying their music, it’s also the best way to support the artists you love.
  9. Make more “weekends”/set actual office hours.
    This is hard to do and anyone who is their own boss or freelances full-time can relate. (Especially if you’re a wedding photographer.) Don’t you feel like you’re constantly working? When I worked a full-time office job and was still trying to grow my business, I would come home from work and hop on my computer and get back into editing photos or updating the website. Now that I’m freelancing full-time, I need to learn to schedule time for myself.
  10. Build something/DIMyself.
    So I think I’m crafty, but I’m kinda not. I’m not exactly sure what I want to make, or what exactly I could make that would fit in our apartment, but I like the feeling of accomplishment when you can show something to someone and say, “I made dis!”
  11. Read more news.
    What world are we living in? Sometimes I’m glad we don’t have cable because the news these days is really depressing. However, I don’t like relying on the internet or social media blasts about breaking news. Or when my mom calls me and asks if I’m still alive because of something terrible that happened in Chicago that I’m nowhere near.
  12. Educate myself on politics.
    It’s election year, yo.
  13. Keep houseplants alive.
    I wanted to bring some pretty flowers inside to brighten up our place, so I bought one of the easiest plants to take care of; an orchid. It’s dead now.
  14. 365 Project.
    I always wanted to start a 365 photo project. January 1st I shall begin!
  15. Get organized.
    My closet, my desk, my life. There are papers everywhere that I probably don’t need and things I have that just cause clutter. Less is more.
  16. Plan a fancy 30th birthday party.
    Let’s do it up big!
  17. Learn how to sew/get a sewing machine.
    Driving 45 minutes to have my mom hem something isn’t ideal for anyone.
  18. Take more photos of family and friends.
    Three of my grandparents passed away this past year. I don’t need to explain how difficult and emotionally draining that was for me and my family. In the midst of everything, we were going through old family photos and it really reminded me how important photos are to help future generations learn about your life. You’d think as a photographer, I’d always have my camera around. I’ve found that lately when I’m not at a gig I tend to leave my camera at home.
  19. Print more photos.
    See #17. Not only do I want to take more photos of my life, but I need to start printing them. We all do. What good are photos if they just live on your computer or phone?
  20. Mentor.
    This might be conceited, I don’t know. I would just really like to help someone out that is interested in photography. I wish I had someone to guide me or to look up to when I was starting out. I know I’m not the greatest, but sometimes having a little support is all we need.
  21. Join a group.
    This will probably help with the mentoring thing. I really would like to get more into my community of photographers. It’s such a great way to network and learn things from others in your field.
  22. Go hiking.
    I want to be more outdoorsy, okay? Lets go get lost in some forest or something. I’ll bring my camera!
  23. Give blood.
    Last time I signed up to give blood I ended up being sick on that day and then just kind of forgot about it. It’s so important and can help save so many lives!
  24. Volunteer.
    I need to make more time to do this. I’ve been wanting to volunteer at an animal shelter. Anyone wanna do this with me?
  25. World Series Game.
    All right…so…this is wishful thinking. If you don’t know me, I’m a huge White Sox fan. Also if you haven’t been paying attention, they haven’t been doing so hot the past few seasons. I’ve never attended a World Series game and would love to do this one day! I can’t justify shelling out a ton of money to see a team play in the world series that isn’t the Sox, so they need to do well this season so I can accomplish this. Maybe this should just go onto a separate bucket list.
  26. Start playing the violin again.
    Another thing you might not know about me is that I used to play the violin. I started when I was about 5 years old. I was watching an orchestra on tv and told my grandparents I’d love to play an instrument one day. Within a week I had my very own violin and started taking lessons. Spoiled? Maybe. But I played all the way throughout high school. I haven’t picked it up in a very long time, but feel like it’s something that can probably be very cathartic if I ever find myself getting stressed.
  27. Invest.
    Here it is, the getting older and trying to be responsible part. I want to make sure I am taking care of my future self!
  28. Do another photography show.
    I haven’t done an art show in a few years. Most things I take photos of these days are portraits. I’d love to get back to my more stylized and artistic shoots and be able to submit some stuff to shows. I did a show with my urban exploration work a few years ago and it was a great experience. I’d love to get back into this!
  29. Treat mah-self.
    This may go against my whole “saving for the future” thing, but sometimes we need to learn to live in the moment. It’s ok to splurge on things we’ve been eyeing as long as we don’t go overboard. I tend to only splurge on camera gear. Whenever I buy something for myself that I don’t actually need I always get buyers remorse.
  30. Learn to code/improve my website.
    Now that I have this new, fun website, I want to learn how to use it! It’s a great way to connect with others and I’m hoping I can do that with you all.

This list is a little ambitious and kind of all over the place. I’m not one for bucket lists and coming up with thirty short-term goals was pretty difficult! Hopefully I can fit all of this into one year! If you have any suggestions or if you’re trying to come up with a list of your own, feel free to comment below. I’d love to get some inspiration from you!


[…] the first week of 2016, which means it’s time to reflect on the past year and set goals for the future. One of the biggest things I’ve accomplished so far this year is launching my new website! It […]

[…] can read my initial post when I came up with the idea for the 30 Before 30 list here and you can read my half birthday (6 month) update here. It was really tough. I don’t know […]

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