Thirty Things

I am about to be thirty.

So for lots of reasons that seem different from the clichés (but probably aren’t), I want to stamp my mark on this moment – because now is as good a time as any to start the rest of my life.

I am going to do and be lots of things in my time, but in the next eighteen months it will include the following Thirty Things:


Visit one city I have never been to before

A week in Sharjah, UAE check.

A weekend in Belfast, double check.

A day in Valetta, Malta, triple check.

A few days in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, quadruple check, Soviet style!


Be by the sea. A lot.

Yes, but there is always room for more.


Take one, two, three friends out to lunch


Join a group I’m passionate about


Walk five miles of country road


Make six beautiful things

  1. Edgar
  2. Halloween decorations
  3. Paper Snowflakes
  4. Velvet Ribbon Bookmarks
  5. Mom’s Pillow
  6. Christmas Fudge


Go seven days completely unplugged and off the grid (in your own house)


Compliment eight strangers (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8… harder than it looks)


Hold a baby at least once


Do ten cartwheels


Read eleven books I’ve always been curious about

  1. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark. Quintessentially Edinburgh. A sense of humour (and acidity) I doubt I would have appreciated in my own youth. Perhaps it wasn’t too long on the ‘to read’ list after all, but waiting for the right time to find me. Practically perfect in every way.
  2. Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Truman Capote. I’ve never seen the film. Yes, I too have the song in my head now. It is much slimmer and sharper than I imagined from the saccharine mooney-eyed college girls who hung posters of Holly like wishes – but so much the better for it. I hope I get the chance to read the other novellas.
  3. The Arrival, Shaun Tan. Shaun is without a doubt one of my favourite people. He is lovely and kind and extremely talented. His work makes my heart sing and more often than not, I find myself crying. I had the honour of chairing him at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, which was a delight. If you don’t know his work, honestly, you are missing something beautiful. This book lived up to all my expectations and is the sort of work I long to linger over with tender fingers and soft eyes.
  4. The Enchanted April, Elizabeth von Arnim A rather fitting holiday read I imagine, and look! in the pretty vintage fabric bound hardback, just released by Virago. Stylish and suitable and utterly charming.
  5. I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith. I talk about it over here. A lot.
  6. Mansfield Park, Jane Austen. The last Austen I’ve read (well, of the finished novels). My collection is now complete. I’m glad I saved this one for last, intentionally or no. It has none of the hot blooded romance I looked for in my girlhood and plenty of the careful, considered study of country life which my older mind finds soothing.
  7. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen. Again. This time it was far more acidic that my dreamy teenage reading had been.
  8. The Art of Choosing, Sheena Iyengar.The first piece of non-fiction on this list. Interesting. I mused on her theories and research one time. I still do occasionally.


Send postcards to one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve people


Grow a wildflower garden


Eat off of pretty things as often as possible

Beautiful dishes make me happy


Write a really good short story



Barbecue and picnic sixteen times this summer


Paint the house a color you love

Getting closer


Bite the bullet, and do that super secret project you are embarrassed to admit

I started it people, but more on that later…


Build a bonfire

And remember love…


Learn to make twenty new recipes

  1. Chicken Friend Rice
  2. Homemade Pop-Tarts
  3. Courgette Muffins
  4. Navajo Flatbreads
  5. Peanut Brittle
  6. Pumpkin Cookies
  7. Pumpkin Soup
  8. Homemade Brownies (& Brownies with Mint!)
  9. Apple Pie
  10. Red Velvet Cake
  11. Bagels
  12. Chicken and Dumplings
  13. Homemade Cinammon Rolls
  14. Beer Butt Chicken!
  15. Fudge
  16. Granola Bars
  17. Beef Casserole
  18. Honey Roast Parsnips
  19. Haggis & Clapshot
  20. Barley risotto

Twenty One

Learn to sail

Twenty Two

Play on a swingset and remember how awesome it is

Twenty Three

Sing in public, just once, and see how it goes

Twenty Four

Create twenty four sweets and send them to someone you love

Twenty Five

Wave at twenty five people riding by on the bus

Twenty Six

Get rid of twenty six articles of clothing

Twenty Seven

Go on a road trip

Twenty Eight

Go twenty eight days without sugar or bread of any sort

Twenty Nine

Learn twenty nine words in another language

I never specified if it needed to be 29 words in one language, or across multiple. I have a handful of words in Kyrgyz, a few in Dutch, one or two in Arabic and, if I squeeze my brain hard enough, please and thank you in Maltese. Perhaps if I learn hello in 16 more it will count?


Have a midnight carpe diem, just for you.


12 Responses to “Thirty Things”
  1. kevindeisher says:

    I think this is a fabulous post and idea. I would have a hard time doing mine by age…51 is a lot of things to accomplish! But I love the idea of making goals like this and doing something to make them happen.


  2. Pure Fiction says:

    Hello, I stumbled on your blog and I love this idea of thirty things to achieve while turning thirty. I can help you with number 8 🙂


  3. pegodaaj says:

    Looks like an awesome list. 🙂


  4. throckmorzog says:

    a) what’s happening on Dec 22? I’m in, whatever it is.
    b) you need to cross off #15: publishers label your stories as ‘really good’, hey, missy, who are you to discredit that? Hmmph.
    c) dying to hear about #18…
    d) #29: didn’t you pick up this much Dutch and/or Kyrgyz?


    • smgrady says:

      22 December last year I arrived at your house for Christmas cuddles and cookies… want to do it at my house this time around?

      Also, news anon on this sorely out of date list…


  5. Anika says:

    Oh! You can hold Arianna! She’s dying for some Aunt Sara cuddles!


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