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We are 1/6th into 2017, and although I knew The Number was coming up, and I was preparing for The Number, I just realized within the past week that I am already in my 40th year. Dun dun dunnnnnnnnnn.

And I am feeling so many, many things.

As many do, I struggle with loving my life where it is, and knowing that it could be so much better. So much more fulfilling, giving, returning, loving. I look back at my adult years, and although there are few things I regret in them, I feel so much younger than I recall myself feeling in my 20’s. (I guess that’s what quitting smoking and a daily multiple bottle of Mt. Dew habit can do for you!)

A great amount of information has been put out lately about self care, and it’s something I’ve been striving to do for myself. To be a better wife, a better mother, a better child of God, a better friend, a better artist, a better Melissa. So, with that – I’m claiming


I’ve started a list of 40 things I want to do in my 40th year. Some of them I know won’t be completed because of timing, but I can start them. Some are simple and easy and some will be complicated and hard. But I can do hard. And so can you, my lovely friend. Because, if you’re reading this – you’re a friend. 

So, here’s my list. And I would love your help. If you have any ideas for me, or can help me with some of these – please reach out. I will accept them with open arms.

  1. Get a new tattoo.

  2. Attend a paint night

  3. Skydive

  4. Give 40 gifts #1 

  5. Watch the solar eclipse. (if you have contacts along the southern corridor of Nebraska that we could pitch a tent in their yard on Sunday, August 20th, I would love to connect)

  6. Run an obstacle course (Tough Mudder, DirtyGirl MudRun, Warrior Dash, etc)

  7. Visit my sister in St. Croix, VI

  8. Join a book club

  9. Take an adult girls’ weekend away

  10. Volunteer 40 hours at kids’ school

  11. Volunteer 40 hours in photography – of some kind or another.

  12. Hike 40 miles.

  13. Run 40 race miles (in multiple races, not all at once – I’m not that crazy!)

  14. Photograph a twin or more multiple birth.

  15. Learn to snowboard switch aka goofy foot first.

  16. Learn to ride a rope tow. Yes, in 20 years of riding, I have never once grabbed a tow rope. Although I haven’t mastered it, I certainly tried it at Trollhaugen on the last Saturday of Blizzard Ski School. Man, did my arms hurt that day!

  17. Read 40 books

  18. Plant 40 trees.

  19. Learn to ride a motorcycle

  20. Earn the designation Certified Professional Photographer. I have to pass a written test and enter images that follow certain guidelines for critique.

  21. Create images to enter into PPA’s print competitions for 2018.

  22. Pay off personal and business debt.

  23. Become healthier. I originally had lose a specific # of pounds listed, but I don’t want that to be my end goal. I want to learn to love my body the way it is, and although I don’t right now, I’m not sure that losing weight will necessarily be the answer. And I don’t want my kids to think that a person can’t be healthy or happy until they reach a certain number on the scale.

  24. Read 40 books in the Bible. Ruth 

  25. I would love to do a Portrait Project of photographing forty people who are also “In Their 40th Year”

  26. Return to Big Sky and celebrate our 20th anniversary of Jon asking me to be his wife, and our 18th wedding anniversary. Super hard, I know, but it’s already planned! 😉

  27. And best yet…. all portrait sessions (with some exceptions)….. will be $40!!!! This is only for the session fee. This does not include any product, printed or otherwise. It does include the pre-session consultation, the photography session, and the viewing/ordering session after. All the regular mumbo jumbo applies. (I reserve the right to discontinue this one at my own discretion…. self care and all yo.)

  28. Run a 5K. Yes, this is the start of my 3rd year of running – and although I have completed 5K distances and longer, I’ve only done run/walk cycles to make it.
  29. Drive the entire way around Lake Superior.
  30. Visit the Apostle Islands. I can’t decide between summer and kayaking or hiking to the ice caves in the winter – husband said “why not both?!” But I’m just going to leave it as one item for now.

What else can I add? Tell me below and see if your suggestion makes my list!

Follow my journey on Instagram @ #40in40mlp. And I’ll do my best to keep up with my shenanigans here too!

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