Archive for the Category » The “New” Challenge «

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016 | Author:

Well, as someone who loves to be celebrated (because hey, I’m a youngest and maybe slightly egotistical) I always keep track of my half birthday, and that was earlier this month. Which means it’s time for a 6 month update on my goals list for the year! I have a bit further to go…

  1. Play a disk golf game w/ 4 holes at par
    • When I made this goal, my friend that I played with a lot then told me I needed to up the ante and make a harder goal. I didn’t believe him, but it only took a month after my birthday that I accomplished this goal. I updated the goal to playing a whole round of disc golf at bogie par (4 strokes instead of 3), and accomplished that in October. So I’m now working on the goal of a whole game at par. That goal is taking a while still.
  2. Buy a house
    • This is one of those things that you put on a list and don’t expect to necessarily complete it. But it turns out, this goal is like any other goal — I just had to break it in to parts and steps, and then do those one by one until it was done. It’s actually one of the bigger accomplishments I’ve made, but one of the easier ones accomplished. I was at the right point in life and in the right place in the world.
  3. Walk a marathon distance
    • (I have plans to do this next week. Pray for the least amount of blisters possible.)
  4. Be able to do 3 pull ups
    • (I joined a gym. Still embarrassingly weak. But working on it regularly.)
  5. Make 30 pitches for articles to be published
    • (I’ve been slacking on this. I’ve done maybe 5 or 6. Need to get serious soon here on this.)
  6. Smoke a cigar
  7. Leave the country again
  8. Go to a new state
  9. Go to a professional football game
    • (I missed the boat on this and won’t be able to accomplish it as even the pre-season doesn’t start until the week after my birthday. BUT I’m making it a point to go soon after.)
  10. Learn to play tennis
  11. Run through or picnic in a field of sunflowers
  12. Do Lumosity for 30 days
    • (I’ve started this goal numerous times and always miss a day within the first week or two. Need to find a better system to keep me consistent and accountable.)
  13. Take a pottery class
  14. Ride a camel or elephant
  15. Watch all of Seinfeld
    • Currently on season 5
  16. Finish watching Lost
  17. Watch the Matrix Trilogy
  18. Read another Steinbeck book
  19. Read Harry Potter Book 1
    • Started it. Put it down during a busy season. Need to pick it up again.
  20. Read 3 memoirs
    • I have read “Home is Burning” by Dan Marshall and it was irreverent, crass, hilarious, and honest about grief and death and hard life.  I laughed hard. I cried softly. I loved it. I’m currently reading my 2nd — “The Glass Castle”
  21. Read Catch 22
    • Didn’t care for it. Didn’t need to read it. But I would’ve continued to want to read it until I figured that out for myself. Now I know.
  22. Go on a backpacking trip
  23. Do “morning minutes” every day for 21 days (where you write for 10 minutes straight first thing upon waking)
  24. Try fruitcake
    • I thought I’d missed the boat on this one also, but as I was at a party after christmas, they had some! It wasn’t bad. I’ve always thought I might like fruitcake. I have the palate of a 90-year-old woman.
  25. Complete level 1 of Rosetta Stone for Italian
    • In process
  26. Try Gin
  27. Learn to play poker
    • Technically I learned to play. But I haven’t really played a full game. I think this still needs to happen.

Also, it’s been exciting to me that since I’ve started these lists, I’ve seen some of my friends get inspired to make their own lists which I think is incredible!! It’s so fun to see people define and work on their own goals. If you have any lists like this or just any goals that you’re working on, I’d love to hear about it!

Jo O’Hanlon is an adventurer and storyteller. She tries to be honest about the ugly and hard parts of life, and the beautiful parts too. This blog is one of the places she shares her thoughts and stories.

Other places are

instagram: @jrolicious         twitter: @jrohanlon

Tuesday, February 02nd, 2016 | Author:

Now that it’s February and the New Year motivation is waining, let’s talk about goals! (If you don’t know, I love goals… check out my list of 27 goals to complete before I turn 27 in August HERE.)

wholesale insurance broker CA MGA

photo credit: Lomax Dashboard via photopin (license)

“I have a grand plan for life,” a date told me once.
“Oh?” I said. “And what is this grand plan?”
“To make millions and have a lake house,” he said simply.

“And…?” I asked, confused.
“And what?” he asked.
“And what is your plan to achieve that?” I asked.
“That’s the plan.”

The problem with his logic is the same problem many of us have that gets in ways of achieving what we want in life.

Our last business tips blog post dealt with 4 tips to creating effective goals as we begin a new year. This week, we have some tips for you to help you actually achieve those goals.

4 Tips for Achieving Your Goals This Year

1. Plans are different than goals. Goals are what you want to achieve, plans are how you get there. This man’s “grand plan” was actually a goal (and not a strong one that is probable to be achieved as he had no set parameters like when he wanted it accomplished by, where the lake house could be, etc.). First you need to define your goals, then the next step is to start figuring out your plan of action as to how you can achieve those goals.

2. Break your plan into parts. If your goal is to be able to do 3 pull-ups by your birthday (ridiculous, I know, but I’m seriously working on it), break it down. How will you achieve that goal? Probably not by focusing in hard on it the week before your birthday. In this instance your plan might include a several parts. It might involve choosing to buy one of those above the door apparatus’s that allows me to do pull-ups at home. It also probably involves joining a gym. And then, of course, it involves actually working on exercises that build the muscles needed for pull-ups.  And on and on. Your plan could be simple and be put into place right away, or it might involve several different aspects that will all work together to help you reach your end goal. But you won’t know which it is until you sit down and start to actually break out your parts of your plan.

3. Define the tasks that comprise your plan.  To keep on with the pull-up goal example, first you might look at your budget and schedule and think about workout options and gym locations. Next you might go with friends to several gyms to check out the facilities and see which ones have options that you like for working out the muscles needed for pull-ups. Next you’ll choose one and sign up for the gym. Then you have to work out consistently and measure your progress. You might even have to buy some strength bands to use for assistance in being able to do the full motion to help your body practice by actually doing (assisted) pull-ups. Every part of a plan is comprised of several tasks, and the most accomplishable plans are those with defined tasks.

Evaluate your status several times throughout the year. How many times have we set up goals for ourselves for a year, only to then in November revisit that list and see that we’ve completely forgotten to attend to some of them throughout the year? Many times. That’s how many. Keep your goals visible, go back to them often, and keep track of your progress evaluating whether you need to put other plans in place, change course, or change goals altogether. It’s ok if midyear you decide that a goal you’d made in January is not longer as important or viable in August and you want to change. But do it as a conscious decision, not just decided by the fates because you forgot about it in the midst of the everyday hustle.

What are some of your goals for the year?  Share with me in the comments!

This article was originally featured on Abram Interstate’s blog. If you are an insurance agent or a small business owner, check out the weekly business tips blog posted there every Thursday.

Jo O’Hanlon is an adventurer and storyteller. She tries to be honest about the ugly and hard parts of life, and the beautiful parts too. This blog is one of the places she shares her thoughts and stories.

Other places are

instagram: @jrolicious         twitter: @jrohanlon

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015 | Author:

A quick story: I was out disk golfing (courtesy of my Jo’s 26 before 26 list I’m now a regular disk golfer). We came up to a pin and there was something in the pin.

“What is that?” I asked my friend Brian who was closer to it.

“It’s a crabapple.”

As I came closer I inspected it. “Ohh. That’s what a crabapple looks like. I’ve never seen one before.”

“You’ve never tasted one?” he asked seeming incredulous.

“No,” I said, surprised. “They’re edible? What do they taste like?”

“I don’t know… They’re pretty good.”

I retrieved my disk and we walked toward the next hole in silence for a minute until he looked at me with a smirk on his face. “They’re not edible, just so you know. Don’t go eat one.”

“What!? It’s good you told me!”

“I know. I realized, you’d bake a crabapple pie one day and I’d be like, “why on earth would you do that?” and you’d say, “I don’t know. I didn’t know what they tasted like so I put it on my Jo’s 26 before 26 list. I’m trying to get the most out of life.” “

“Yeah. I would do that,” I conceded, content.

I may be somewhat gullible. But at least I do try to get the most out of life. Hopefully I won’t die eating crabapple pie. But if I do, it’d be alright. There are worse ways to go.

And with that, I give you this years new goals:

Jo’s 27 before 27 List:

  1. Play a disk golf game w/ 4 holes at par
  2. Buy a house
  3. Walk a marathon distance
  4. Be able to do 3 pull ups
  5. Make 30 pitches for articles to be published
  6. Smoke a cigar
  7. Leave the country again (so far age 24 is the only age since I was 17 during which I haven’t left the country.)
  8. Go to a new state
  9. Go to a professional football game
  10. Learn to play tennis
  11. Run through or picnic in a field of sunflowers
  12. Do Lumosity for 30 days
  13. Take a pottery class
  14. Ride a camel or elephant
  15. Watch all of Seinfeld
  16. Finish watching Lost
  17. Watch the Matrix Trilogy
  18. Read another Steinbeck book
  19. Read Harry Potter Book 1
  20. Read 3 memoirs
  21. Read Catch 22
  22. Go on a backpacking trip
  23. Do “morning minutes” every day for 21 days (where you write for 10 minutes straight first thing upon waking)
  24. Try fruitcake
  25. Complete level 1 of Rosetta Stone for Italian
  26. Try Gin
  27. Learn to play poker

If you’d like to support the Story Project (to cover travel expenses, costs of Stories for those who can’t afford it, etc.) you can do so below or contact me at if you’d like to send a check. Thank you for your support! 

 To Donate to Stories By Jo: The Story Project click below

Jo O’Hanlon is an adventurer and storyteller. She tries to be honest about the ugly and hard parts of life, and the beautiful parts too. This blog is one of the places she shares her thoughts and stories.

Other places are

instagram: @jrolicious         twitter: @jrohanlon

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015 | Author:

Note: These are just in the order I wrote them. I’m including all 12 for posterity, but 1, 4, 5, 10, and 12 are my favorites.

#1 10.26.14 Fear of Fragile

All of us are dying,

that’s the crux of life

Life weights you down

like a child on your knee

ticking off the beat of time.

The living are the breathing

and with our breaths

we cry “too few.”


Too few are the breaths and the minutes

and the life that’s spent with you.

For when your breaths are done —

done permanent and final —

we are left with the real

test of grief’s bereft confinement.

Too small will be our breaths

our lungs suddenly too shallow

to take in air to fill our chests

because death hurts our vitals.


Fragile is the life of men

where bones break

and flesh is scraped

and hearts stop

in one quick moment.


I fear the life that breaks us

the news that knocks on doors,

“Ma’am, your son is dead,”

“Sir, the cancer’s spread,” or the

“I just don’t love you anymore.”


I fear the things that shatters worlds

in one swift-kick moment.

It’s hard to live not knowing

how to handle it.


The grief that comes and straps you down

like a straight jacket in an asylum.

It holds you, molds you,

then leaves you stripped and done.


This fragility is an assault on our senses.

To watch the life leave a body

is to see the flower wither in the sun

to see the short transition

from life to death is so heavy

like watching your own eulogy.


Where does the life go? It just fades?

Does it wither or run away?

Does it just cease? How can we know?

How can we ease ourselves

away from this fear of being mortal?


Does it ever hurt less, to have

worlds shatter in an instant?


#2 12.11.14 Dear Death

(Written after reading an update on my old college chaplain’s wife’s cancer. She passed away soon after.)

Death, go away.

You’ve got the wrong doors.

Death, pack your bags.

You take what isn’t yours.

Death, leave us be.

What are you looking for?


Death, you bastard.

You rape us, leave us bleeding.

You take us, no retreating.

You beat us despite our pleading.

What are you looking for?


Death, you merciless villain.

You invade common places like the kitchen.

You flip the switch in the prison.

You take the shooter to classrooms with children.

What are you looking for?


Death, leave us be.

You strip our joy and bend our knee.

You knock us down, make us scream.

You leave a hole where wholeness should be.

What are you looking for?


Death, please, go away.


#3 May 4, 2015 Again Alone Written in flight to start a month of travel for the story project

Another airport

another city

another day of traveling alone.

Wandering, wading deeper into the unknown

where I am unknown, without a home.

My heart is a vagabond, a knapsack

to hold its pain, tied to a stick of hope

slung over my shoulder as I trail along.

I am adrift, tossed in the waves,

propelled by the wind, weathered by

the raging sun. And I am searching

for the shores of a home,

but the best I find are islands.

And it’s just not enough.

So I set sail again,

I wash away again,

and I tell myself maybe this will be the time

I’ll find what I’m searching for.

Maybe this time I’ll run aground.

Maybe this will be the time I am found.

Maybe this time I’ll find myself,

and find myself being known.

Maybe my feet will find fertile ground

and roots will shoot down

from the soles of my feet

planting me firmly in a new



But until then, it’s another airport.

Another road.

Another city where I will get

to hear the stories of the people.

And I’ll move on,

again alone.


#4 JessicaWritten for my sweet, unassuming friend who asked me to make one of my 12 poems about her and who would never normally ask for such a thing, but thought that I would appreciate the bold request. She was right. 

She is the silliness of a four year old

housed in an aging soul.

Her beauty is pure, not boastful

her blue eyes shine like gold.


Her heart — oh her heart! —

Her heart is where she lives.

She’s made a home in that

space in her chest.

She invites you to come in.

Her life says, “Come sit,

feel for a while,

Your pain can come in with you.

I’ll yell with your anger

I’ll shout with your joy

your sadness is welcome here, too.

Tell me, is the temperature ok in this room?”


Her friendship is lunar,

always present, even in distance.

Always beautiful, even in darkness.

She participates in life like an event.

Everything is to be remembered,

even this very moment.


Her words are soft,

her squeals are loud.

Her life is loving.

Her parents are proud.


She is a well of life

smiling at the world from behind sweet freckles.


#5 Let me hurt. (written after hearing Abandon Kansas’ Jeremy Spring describe their new album saying “I’m just gonna let it hurt for a while”)

Just let me hurt for a while.

Don’t choke me out

trying to tie a bow around it.

It’s a wound,

not a present.

I’m broken,

not wrapped.

I’m bleeding out and you

used a ribbon as a tourniquet.

Don’t do it.

Please, let me hurt for a while —

it’s all that I have left.


F*cks, hells, and shits

punctuate my language.

Pain leaks

into my sentences.

Because when I’m honest, sometimes

my brokenness still feels fresh.

I didn’t know grief could be

so violent without death.

Don’t demand a positive spin.

A silver lining won’t fix it.

So please, let me hurt for a while —

it’s all that I have left.


I wonder how long it will be

before I can breathe through the memory.

Because right now, to remember

still feels like drowning.

Because right now, in my hometown

I still feel like an enemy.

Someday there will be more, but

for now this is my story.

So just let me hurt for a while — I’m sorry.

It’s all that I have left.


I’ve barely started

to trust again.

But I’m afraid of myself

in the end.

I don’t totally know

how to get around this bend.

I don’t totally know

if I’m good at being a friend.

When I tell the truth,

I’m afraid I will offend.

I want vulnerability.

I want to mend.

But just let me hurt for a while —

it’s all that I have left.


#6 Close

Don’t get too close.

Don’t hold me tight.

My fear will lead me

straight to flight.


I’ll stay right here,

you stay right there,

or you’ll look for me and

I’ll disappear into thin air.


If you approach, do it slow.

Don’t try to take control.

If you do,

I’ll up and go.


But if you find your way,

If you become near, you see,

know that you’re dear to me.


If you ebb and flow

slowly gaining ground

don’t say it too loud.


It scares me when people know

that they are in my heart

it’s a power that could tear me apart.


#7 I Lie To Me

“I can’t do this”

I’ve breathed too many times.

I am quick to admit defeat to me,

But outwardly I claw and gnaw

at the challenge threatening to stop me.

I lie to myself

but it feels like the truth.

My words battle my will —

with each failure admission

I take a breath and try again.

“I can’t do this” is the mantra

on the way to my success.

Somehow my stubborn will

ignores my cries and tries and tries

until it is finished.

I am always surprised at

myself in the end.

Why do I still believe

I cannot do this?

Maybe some day I’ll believe in myself

the way my spirit does again.


#8 As It Happens (written upon moving to Wichita, June, 2015)

By happenstance I met a band,

their name: Abandon Kansas.

Once upon a time

they stopped through where I lived.


By happenstance I saw a band photo,

after many years had passed.

Facebook let us

become friends fast.


By happenstance I went on a road trip

and I stopped where the band lives.

I wandered downtown,

saw where the river splits.


By happenstance I fell in love

with the town on the plains and

I thought — “This feels like

what a hometown is.”


Two years later, on purpose,

I actually live in Kansas.


#9 — Our Father Who Art In Heaven

Our Father

Our. The peoples of the earth,

of all shapes and sizes

Our. The people from the dirt,

our colors pre-decided.

Our. Those around the town

neighbors to one another.

Our. Those spread apart who

don’t care about each other.

Our. The slave and the owner.

Our. The president and the lawn mower.

Our. The world that God so loved.


Who is

Is. Is there in our brokenness and weakness.

Is. Is Immanuel — God with us.

Is. Is familiar with our pain.

Is. Is the love that will not stain.

Is. Is the heart that won’t grow cold.


In heaven

Heaven. Where there’s no more pain.

Heaven. Where the racist is forced to change.

Heaven. Where the lightness reigns.

Heaven. Where death is illegal.

Heaven. Where we’re all equal people.

Heaven. Where brokenness is made whole.

Heaven. Where we are all loved and known.

Heaven. Here now when we bring love home.


#10 Break and Fall (written because it was the last day and I needed more poems)

Day break

When my heart breaks when I wake

I know thats a day break.

The day I break,

A day that acts

Just like you.


And heart break,

What does that mean?

My heart burns

But this isn’t heart burn

It’s heart break,

Like an earth quake,

It makes my chest shake,

But I’m from California,

I’ve done this before.


These walls are too thick

To let your pain score,

They won’t crack,

I’ll just be sore.

I know the drill,

Even if I don’t live there anymore.


Night fall.

When I fall into bed at

The end of the day

I know that I’ve failed again,

Fallen again into that trap

of routine where my days start

with breaking, end with falling

and its just you in between.

Grief, you dirty bastard,

you won’t ruin me.


#11 Just a day

Early morning dew rises and gives way

to the heat of the day.

The grass dries,

my eyelids rise,

my heart is full.


Coffee cup is emptied with the dawn long gone,

the day draws on.

My hunger paces,

my mind races,

my fingers type away.


Afternoon slinks in without warning

of the exit of the morning.

My thoughts slow,

heart rate low,

creativity’s around the corner.


Three o’clock comes and I don’t mind the sitting

now that it’s productivity city.

Here we go.

Here we go.

My brain chants silently.


Happy hour is just an hour

when happiness is a regular prowler.

The dusk dawns,

fireflies turn on,

I walk down by the river.


Evening brings the close of a day

normal in most ways.

I worked away,

played in spades,

and my heart is still full.


#12 “26.” (written on the back porch in the eve of my last day of being 25)

Tomorrow marks the anniversary

of 26 years spent here.

26 years since that August morning

that I came home gift baring,

as my eyes held newborn tears.

A slip and slide was my peace offering

to the boy and the girl — my siblings.

That’s the story I’ve been told.


26 years is long enough to hold enough pain,

and not nearly enough life.

My appetite for life is voracious,

so hand me my fork and my knife.

When I get to the end of it all,

I want to still hunger,

content, but not satisfied.

For as long as I live,

there’s always more that I want out of life.

If you’d like to support the Story Project (to cover travel expenses, costs of Stories for those who can’t afford it, etc.) you can do so below or contact me at if you’d like to send a check. Thank you for your support! 

 To Donate to Stories By Jo: The Story Project click below

Jo O’Hanlon is an adventurer and storyteller. She tries to be honest about the ugly and hard parts of life, and the beautiful parts too. This blog is one of the places she shares her thoughts and stories.

Other places are

instagram: @jrolicious         twitter: @jrohanlon

Tuesday, September 09th, 2014 | Author:

Last October, I had a realization that in less than a year I would be turning 25. I remembered that your pre-frontal cortex supposedly becomes fully developed by the time you are 25 years old. Meaning that it’s harder to learn new instruments,  new languages, or new technical processes (I think).

“Crap!” I remember thinking. “There’s so much I had planned to do to develop my brain by then!” (Yes, I actually think things like this. I’m weird. Whatever.)

I quickly decided that I needed to create some sort of goal list to help keep me on track for what brain-developing things I wanted to do before my pre-frontal cortex said “yeah, we’re good enough. We’re done. Thanks.”

So I, somewhat panicking, started to write down some things like that. “Learn italian. Play more piano. Create more paintings…” I began. But then I had the thought, maybe I should make a list of 25 things to do before my 25th birthday.  I firstly was thinking of those pre-frontal cortex related goals. But I realized that I may not be able to start learning Italian, become fluent in Spanish, Learn the cello, play more piano again, write a book, read ALL of the classical literature out there, and more items that I deep down wanted to do while it was still “easy”.

So I started a list of 25 things and I chose a few of the pre-frontal cortex developing options that I could fit within the year, and then I filled the other 25 slots with some times from my bucket list, and some from my “I really would like to accomplish this this year” unofficial list, and the last just from what sounded like fun things for the year.

This is what I came up with:
25 Things To Do Before I Turn 25:
1) write a book Started but have not finished. The book has changed shape and direction a lot in the past year, which is a good thing I believe. More on this below.

2) learn italian (took my first class at least)

3) play piano more (I said I wanted to learn at least 5 new songs well. I didn’t But I learned 3 new songs and re-learned 2 old songs)

4) climb a 14er Mt. Bierstadt, Colorado, Nov. 2, 2014 — hiked in halloween costumes with Kate. Completed despite being on a beta blocker that keeps your heart rate low at all times and makes exercising a light-headed affair.

5) go to the batting cages my friend Justin went with me to accomplish this.

6) take a dance class My roommate Brianne went with me to a line dancing class

7) be in some sort of acting production I met my friend Dan through this process. He filmed me in a promotional video for a luxury apartment complex. He posted on craigslist looking for actors. So I call him Craigslist Dan.

8 ) read Anna Karenina (Started it, should be finished within the next week. Though in the meantime I met actor Stephen Fry (ask me about this in person) and we talked about literature and I said I was reading Anna Karenina currently and his response: “Ahh, the greatest work of literature there is.” “Really? You think so?” I replied. I’ll have to see if I agree by the end.

9) read one more jane austen book Read Emma. It was pretty good, but more predictable than I would have liked. Pride and Prejudice will probably always be my favorite work like that.

10) publish an article in a magazine I got to write an article for my work and have it published in the Insurance Journal which is a national trade magazine. You can read it HERE

11) get fit Was in the best shape of my life this fall. I slacked a bit after that, but still feel in pretty fit. A couple days ago I moved all of my possessions from my packed car up 3 flights of stairs up to my 3rd story apartment in Colorado, and really, it was a lot of work, but I wasn’t even really huffing and puffing, and I’m not sore at all 2 days later. I’m impressed by this. PLUS, see #4.

12) get off beta blocker This was one of those “I want to do this, but realistically it won’t happen” goals. And I did it. Through a lot of chiropractic work, and dieting in ways that helped my neck heal properly, I was able to get off this nasty drug that I needed to prevent my migraines after a bad car crash. When I started the drug I was having migraines literally every day. When I got on the drug, I started to have only about 8 per month. I am now off of it for a few months and have only about 4 or less migraines a month. Which I’m ecstatic about! I can also sleep normal amounts, I have energy, I can work out normally again without blacking out, and that is Fan-FREAKING-tastic in my book!

13) run a 5k I ran the Courage Run 5K in Granite Bay with my friend Theresa. Theresa had also done a similar goal project of 28 goals before she turns 28. We found out that we both had these lists, and we had this goal in common, so it was great to get to cross this one off together!

14) go to a standup comedy show My friend Justin’s little brother is a comedian and had a comedy show in Sac so it was awesome to go with a bunch of our friends to support him and to also get to cross this off my list. He and the others were really quite funny. It was a blast. I want to go to more of these.

15) watch casa blanca This has been on my life list since I was in high school and a teacher I very much respected and who wasn’t the artsy, literature-reading, romanticism, old-movie watching type told me is was his favorite movie. And you know what, for someone who has resisted watching old movies for my whole life, I loved it. I’d buy it.

16) watch The Office series I had seen couple episodes here and there, but never gotten into it. Many friends who had similar entertainment tastes to me loved it, though, and my friend Jessica in college had convinced me to try it. I had put it on my life list then. And I completely watched the series this year and it is SO GOOD. I love it. I want to own it. I already re-watch it sometimes. And as I watched through the seasons I would send my “Oh my goodness!! Jim kissed Pam! Jim kissed Pam!!!” comments to her. It was a lot of fun and almost felt like we were in college again watching something for the first time together.

17) watch breaking bad I have begun, but not completed this. I will be doing so this fall, though.

18) milk a cow Theresa also went with me to accomplish this. It took a lot of asking around trying to actually find a cow someone would let me milk. I hit a lot of dead ends in this search. BUT, at the state fair I met a farmer who told me there was an exhibit (mostly for children) where they demonstrate how to milk a cow or a goat every hour and then let you do it too. SO we totally waited in line and milked a cow, AND a goat at the state fair.

19) catch a fish This was another life list item that I was very intent on completing at some point. I’ve fished and tried to catch fish many times in life and had NEVER been successful. My brother Jason and our family friend Tim took me out on Tim’s boat though on the lake for a fishing day and I caught not one, but FIVE big mouth bass! Tim is a fishing pro, so that helped to have his guidance of how to cast and where to cast, etc. But FIVE Five freaking fish!!! I think this was the goal that I was most excited about completing. I couldn’t stop smiling and I would’ve felt like a parade to celebrate wouldn’t have been entirely over the top for my giddiness.

20) write a good fiction short story I struggled with this one and I knew I would, which is why I made it a goal. I don’t know how to write fiction. Never have. I asked friends for topics. Which I couldn’t turn into anything. But my brother-in-law Chris posted a story that he wrote on the spot for inspiration, and that did get my juices going. I ended up with THIS STORY which I’m actually pretty proud of.

21) Go to Georgetown falls (near auburn) This was awesome. They are natural water slides in the river. A large group of friends all went together, headed up by my friend Amy which was super helpful, because I didn’t know where they were. My friends Lizzy and Theresa drove and hiked there with me, which was a bit tedious because of getting lost, and traipsing through the forest, but we came out alright. =)

22) start writing a 2nd book Through the process of blogging every week since January, I have started to realize that I have some thoughts on grieving and death and my honest experiences with loss that I want to share. I’m compiling some of the blog posts as well as other not-yet-published material for a short book on Loss and Life, and how to hold both together at the same time.

23) paint at least 5 more pieces. This year kind of exploded art-wise for me. Since January, I have painted and drawn over 50 completed pieces and sold many of them. to be fair, when I made this goal, 5 new pieces in a year was way more than I’d ever done. Crazy how life changes.

24) stick to a budget Did this. It isn’t super fun. Never has been. But you know what, when I went to the Dentist last week and had my first cavity and needed to pay for the filling, I had the money to do so because I budget for stuff like that, sad as it is.

25) Try snowboarding I went snowboarding for the first time ever, on the last day of the season when there was not even snow covering the whole mountain. It was a LOT harder than most things that I try for the first time. But I had a lot of fun trying and I want to go again next year, and hopefully get to the point where it’s not QUITE so hard and so much work. This is actually how I got to know Brianne who ended up being my roommate my last few months in Rocklin. I had met her once before at church, and then saw her the night before and said, “hey! Do you want to go snowboarding on Saturday (two days away)?” I had decided that I had to go, whether I went alone or not, because I wanted to complete this goal. And she said “Yeah, that sounds like fun!” So it ended up that she, myself, and another girl, Lindsay, all drove up and snowboarded together, and my brother met us up there for the day too!

After my 9 months of goal-oriented living from late October, 2013 to early August, 2014, I’ve realized that it was so much more of a fulfilling project than I thought it would be. Those goals in red are the only ones I didn’t complete all the way, though I was satisfied with the fact that I started everything. And that I still intend to finish them all.

One of the things I’ve been learning about is to dream big and create and work toward big goals. I think this type of challenge brings me to life and helps me live more fully, even if I sometimes fall short of those goals.

One of the things I didn’t think about when I started this is how this list would help me to foster friendships and create camaraderie with those around me who got excited about the list for me and wanted to help me accomplish things. This is why I’ve listed who I completed these goals with. Because it became a pretty continual conversation topic that invited people not just to know about my life, but to participate in things that I wanted to do, and that they maybe wanted to do, too.

And the bottom line is that I ended up starting work on 25 goals, and completing 23 of them that otherwise might have been nice, “I want to do this sometime” thoughts that may not have happened for a long time, if ever. And that, friends, makes me happy.

Which is why I’m also deciding to do a goal list for this next year of life too. Check out my 26 before 26 list HERE.  Look for posts about it on Facebook and Instagram as I start in on another year of living intentionally and fully.

Jo O’Hanlon is an adventurer and storyteller. She tries to be honest about the ugly and hard parts of life, and the beautiful parts too. This blog is one of the places she shares her thoughts and stories.

Other places are

instagram: @jrolicious         twitter: @jrohanlon
Tuesday, September 09th, 2014 | Author:

Here are my 26 goals to accomplish before I turn 26 on August 7, 2015

1. Climb another 14er

2. Do a cartwheel

3. Read a Graphic Novel

4. Write/Draw a cartoon/comic series (short or ongoing)

5. Return to Büsingen, Switzerland

6. Read the Brothers Karamozov or Moby Dick

7. Read another Hemingway novel

8. Continue learning Italian (complete work books on my own, take another class, or some tangible effort like this)

9.  Start a book project writing biographies on regular everyday-Joe people in the US

10. Write 12 more poems

11. Go to another concert/show

12. Go to a new country

13. Make 4 new oil paintings

14. Get something published in a non-trade-journal magazine

15. Try slack-lining

16. Play disk golf

17. Learn a new card game (and remember how to play it later)

18. Try a completely new food

19. Learn 4 line dances well

20. Try 6 new whiskeys

21. Go to an Imax movie (real movie, not science/museum movie)

22. Read Twilight

23. Read the Psalms at least 30 days in a row and meditate on them

24. Learn all the US Presidents, memorize them. (I’m embarrassed to put this on here, but seriously, this needs to happen now, as it’s way overdue).

25. Learn more about current politics and news and voting schedules.

26. Watch the sun rise over the ocean

Note: I created this In the first week of being 25 and have since already begun accomplishing some! Updates to follow.

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010 | Author:

As a rule, I don’t watch musicals.  I hold fairly firmly to this rule: exceptions really only include animated disney movies , or live performances.  So, by definition, this would exclude movies such as “Mama Mia!” but I have made an exception.

my friend Jessica’s dad, Jim, loves Mama Mia.  Like, LOVES mama mia, and all of the music in it.  He’s been telling me so since April. And, when it came to light that I had not seen it, he said “That’s it… we’re having a movie night!”  So… months later, after much preparation time on my part, we had a movie night, and I watched a musical.

It’s not really that big of a deal that I watched a musical, what was rare was that I did actually enjoy it.  It was fun with the friends and food that was there, and with my running commentary of how it’s ridiculous.  But really, it was fun.  and it was set in greece, which is always a nice setting for things.

So, on saturday, watching mama mia was my new thing.

On Sunday I went to the artwalk on the bay and it was incredible.  I expected to have to walk past several tents before getting to “the good stuff” and finding anything that impressed me.  instead, I walked up to the event, and the first tent caught my attention right away.  all the paintings were amazing in there, and she used so many layers of paint that it was seeping with texture.  I loved it. The next rows and rows of tents were just as good.  At the end of the walk, I found one my favorites though: the Pecoffs.  My old apartment mate, marissa, raved about their work and had their books on display in our apartment last semester, and now she’s actually interning in their gallery.  Their booth was incredible.  they use so much color and expression and I love the perspective they use in the paintings!  I actually even got inspired enough that I went home and re-created one of their newer paintings.  I’m really happy with how it turned out.  The image below is my re-created rendition:


On Monday I quit a job for the first time.  It was not a fun experience. but it was an experience that i suppose was bound to happen at some point.  Every other job I’ve had was set from the beginning as either being hired for the summer, or the semester, or the year.  Or else I graduated and moved away from the job. understandable.  this was the first time where I had to straight out just say “I can’t do this anymore. I’m so sorry.”  And I am sorry.  It was just too much. I was stressed, not sleeping enough, and had begun to miss classes in order to get some sleep in.  so in the end, it was being counterproductive to be making money in a job that makes me miss the education I need which costs money.  And even though I was relieved, and I had peace that quitting was what I needed to do, I still actually shed some tears as I drove away that morning.  I hate not being able to be reliable for what they need me for.  But, what’s done is done now.  and it’s for the better for me. and now, i’ve had that experience.

On tuesday I watched a premier of a new documentary called “Little Town of Bethlehem.” It’s about three men’s lives in the holy land, each from a different background religiously and ethnically, and about how they’ve decided to face the issues of their land and community with non-violence.  It was really eye-opening.  I was having a really hard time keeping focused on it because I missed the first 15 minutes of it because of a class, but I would definitely like to watch it again.  I think it could be a great tool to open up conversations of how we can all participate in lives on peace when dealing with these tough issues.

Wednesday I did yoga for the first time. I have been reading “Eat, Pray, Love” and I had just gotten to the second section of the book where she’s in India the day before.  She talks all about the practice of yoga and all it’s different elements (some of which I agree with, some of which I don’t).  So, it was semi-serendipitous that in my aerobics class on wednesday we came in and that’s what we were doing for the day.  I must say… yoga is harder than it looks.  I thought it was difficult because of the amount of stretching it requires, but it really did work my muscles.  I woke up this morning definitely feeling the after-effects. However, at the end of the work-out, I was way more relaxed and loose then any type of work out I’ve done before, even though I was just as worn-out and dead-tired.  I really like it and I want to try to do it again. Also, my favorite positions were the “dead bug” and the “happy baby”.  I could not stop laughing while doing them because we were a gym full of people looking absolutely ridiculous. It was great.