39 Experiences I’ve Had Before Turning 39

A friend of mine shared with me an article called, “40 Experiences Everyone Should Have Before They Turn 40”. After joking with her that I have over 14 months before reaching that milestone, I looked at the article. It’s an ambitious (and expensive) list of places to see, culinary experiences to have, events to take part in, and ways to give back to others. While I certainly felt drawn to a handful of experiences listed, I was reminded that my greatest moments of fulfillment and enjoyment were not had while pushing my body to its limits, eating a fancy meal, or indulging in an expensive bottle of wine. In fact, the greatest moments in my life weren’t even had while traveling abroad, though I’ve traveled extensively.

No, the experiences that stand out for me in my (almost) 39 years on this planet are those that have connected me inward (to myself), upward (to God/Spirit), and outward (to others). They are moments of gentleness, simplicity, humility, honesty, openness, and trust. These virtues are not often valued by the world, but they have contributed to what I believe are 39 years well-lived, despite many mistakes and challenges.

So, in anticipation of my 39th birthday (a long seven weeks off), I thought I’d share my list of 39 Experiences I’ve Had Before Turning 39. Perhaps you’ve had some of them, too.

1. Cart-wheeled as an adult in a public place

2. Cried in front of a friend

3. Gained wisdom from the stories told by my grandparents

4. Pulled over to the side of the road just to pick wildflowers


5. Walked away from and returned to God

6. Laughed at myself

7. Practiced meditation, centering prayer, and yoga

8. Named my inner child (“Henrietta”)

9. Talked out loud to animals while out for a walk


10. Experienced rich blessings by connecting with the homeless, hungry, and marginalized

11. Wrote a letter to my favorite author

12. Grew roots in a faith community

13. Apologized for hurts I’ve caused

14. Faced my fear of public speaking, singing, and acting

15. Marveled at the beauty of Creation


16. Followed God’s call to become a counselor and then a spiritual director

17. Rode in a hot air balloon

18. Sent love poems to boyfriends

19. Recovered from an eating disorder

20. Practiced forgiving others

21. Forgave myself

22. Shared my story with others

23. Gave a cat a forever home


24. Sought support from counselors, spiritual directors, and pastors

25. Prayed for my “enemies”, those who despise me

26. Developed friendships deeper than I thought possible

27. Visited war memorials on Memorial Day


28. Thanked a veteran on Veterans Day

29. Learned about the difference between healthy and unhealthy love

30. Went back to school…twice

31. Attended high school and college reunions

32. Nursed an injured cat back to health

33. Read my favorite novel out loud to my partner


34. Practiced self-expression through creative arts

35. Remained close with my mom, dad, and brother

36. Let go of “what might be” in order to embrace “what is”

37. Learned the value of stillness

38. Lived alone

39. Loved and lost and loved and lost and loved…

As I review this list, I feel deeply satisfied and content. Sure, it would be nice to experience some of the things on that other list, but at (almost) 39 this feels like a great start.

Peace, joy, and health,



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