30 before 30

  I turned 26 on Sunday. And for some reason, 26 feels so much closer to 30 than 25 did. I mean, I’m over half-way through my 20s, and closer to 30 than to 20 now. I’ve seen these 30 before 30 lists before, and I like the idea. I like the idea of having some concrete goals and a public bucket-list to keep track of how I’m celebrating the last of my twenties. So, I created my list – some fun, some serious – a smattering of all aspects of life and all my priorities. Here they are, in no particular order:


1. Pay off consumer debt. No car loans, credit card balances, or personal loans by thirty. Here we go.


2. Run a marathon with Thom. Yep. I’m adding the obligatory marathon to my bucket list. I’ve run five half marathons, and always wanted to do a half marathon with Thom, but I’d also like to take it a step further and run the whole 26.2, at least once.


3. Learn how to make the five sauces of French cooking. Thanks to The Hundred Foot Journey (watch it!) and my obsession with all things French culture, I’ve had it in my head for a while that I need to learn the five “mother sauces.” Bechamel, veloute, espagnole, sauce tomate, and hollandaise, here I come.


4. Make Petit Provence-worthy croissants. There’s a French bakery (see the cake above) near us that Thom and I are quickly falling in love with, and their croissants are to die for. Big, golden, flaky, warm, buttery – everything a croissant should be. So I’m taking that on as my latest baking challenge.


5. Have a baby (or more). I mean, no explanation on this one.


6. Plan a trip to Iceland. Thom and I fantasize about visiting Iceland. It’s so foreign, and beautiful, and austere. I would like to actually sit down and figure out how to set aside money for it, and make traveling a priority.


7. Print out an actual photo album of our wedding pictures. I don’t have a single quality print of our wedding pictures. And they are gorgeous, so it’s really, really shameful. One of my favorite past times with my own family is looking through the old albums. Time to invest in some for Thom’s and my family.


8. Write a book. I have a couple ideas up my sleeve, and honestly, it’s just a matter of sitting down and making it a priority in my life.


9. Participate in NaNoWriMo. Just for fun. And not because I have any particular novel to write, but it’s one of those things that would be fun to do.


10. Go backpacking in the caldera of Mount St. Helens. I’ve seen pictures, and it’s gorgeous and creepy all at once.


11. Go to Canada. I’ve been to Mexico, but never to our other neighboring country. And now that I live in the Northwest, there’s really no excuse not to.


12. Complete IIN training. In pursuit of starting my own business, Institute of Integrative Nutrition’s health coaching program is the training that I really want/need to equip me for what I want to do.


13. Do 25 man push-ups in a row. I’ve never had upper body strength. Like, ever. It would be nice to actually be able to carry around my own weight (literally).


14. Do a hand stand. See above.


15. Leave banking. It’s been five interesting, stretching, strange years in this banking industry. But I really don’t want to be doing it for the rest of my life.


16. Work from home. This is my ultimate goal, no matter what I end up doing. I want to contribute to our home and raise our kids. And have it all? I don’t know…but I’m excited that this is a choice for families these days, and I would really love to set my own hours.


17. Get a puppy. Need I say more?


18. Drive down Highway 1 and see the California coast. Again, I live in the Northwest, and this seems like seriously one of the best ways to see the Pacific coast.


19. 52 in 52. Read 52 books in 52 weeks. My reading habits have been sub-par since graduating from college, and I’d really like to get into a rhythm of reading regularly and broadly.


20. Stay overnight on the Oregon coast.


21. Take dancing lessons with my hubby. We both love to dance, but aren’t very technical. It would be fun to learn at least one style, and be good at it.


22. Build the obligatory 3-6 months of expenses emergency fund. I mean, we aren’t kids anymore, and we want to have kids. It just seems logical…


23. Go skinny dipping. I’ve never done it. And I know this is another obligatory bucket list item, but for good reason?


24. Read all the way through the Bible again. It’s been since high school that I’ve actually followed on of the read through in a year plans. But I’d almost like to take all four years to read the Bible – to go really slow and really soak it in.


25. Date my husband. Yes, our schedules are all over the place and finances are wonky, but I want to be intentional about carving out us-time.


26. Develop a good skin care routine. Thirty is coming, and I rarely moisturize or do anything besides washing my face in the shower. I want to develop a simple routine that takes good care of my skin.


27. Go jet skiing with Thom. He loves it; I love it; we’ve never done it together.


28. Book a luxury, overnight stay in downtown Portland. We booked a really nice hotel room for our wedding night, and I was so glad we spent the money to have the luxury experience. But I’d like to do it again, close to home.


29. Find a church family in Oregon. We had such a wonderful church family on Long Island, and it was so hard to leave. It would be wonderful to find a group of like-minded friends here.


30. Go to Crater Lake. It’s the deepest lake in the United States, and it’s here in Oregon.


For My Friends (and friends yet-to-be)


copyright Jenni Cannariato 2015
Aren’t friendships funny things? 

I’ve been thinking a lot about the tide of friendships, the coming and going of them, over the last year. Thom and I have reached the point in our adulthood where lifestyle-choices, faith-based choices, family choices – all choices – are adding and subtracting close friends, left and right. We’ve weathered the first wave of deaths, babies, divorces, big moral decisions, and faith changes.

And we are far enough out of college that those life-long friends we’d thought we’d have forever are the ones we haven’t heard from since graduation day. And some we’ve seen a couple of times. And some we talk to and pray for regularly. 

And we’ve just made a move across the country and set on end all those friendships we had on Long Island. And here the question sits: whom will we keep? And who will drift away?

My friend Cara, I’m going to start calling her my unexpected friend. Her friendship was unexpected when I transferred from my home-base campus in Fort Wayne to the foreign corn fields of Upland. The couple of times we’ve spoken since college have been unexpected. And then, most unexpectedly of all, she’s planning on moving to Portland the same summer that I moved to the area.

So we met and hugged my husband at Apple and then we sat in Nordstrom cafe and looked for bacon and avocado on the menu and drank ice-cold water and had a lovely, long talk about the five years since graduation, and the two years since we last spoke. 


 At the end of the evening and the hugs, I walked to my car under a cotton-candy pink sky and had one of those God-your-humor-is-fantastic moments.

  I mean, seriously, go figure.


courtesy of QH Photography
 And then there’s those friendships that you instantly feel a connection, from across the room, and know you have to be friends with that person. Or the friendships that weren’t deep but then suddenly are. Or the friendships that stretch across a lifetime, but come in spurts and bumps and unusually long emails and wedding visits. 

There’s the high school friends, the college friends, and the friends that I only had for a very small window of time, and we never talked again, but they still meant so much to me. 

Life’s strange on this earth with people moving around, and friendships blooming and dying every day. 

Really. How do you figure out who to hold on to and who to let go? Who do you keep calling, and keep texting, and keep emailing? Who do you make space to go visit, or invite to visit you? Who do you choose to be your best friend? And who stays at the acquaintance level? Whom do you keep setting up coffee dates with, and whom do you say “no” to? I mean, I’ve known hundreds of people in my life. And it could be a two-job scenario just to keep up with everyone. And family. And my husband. 

Here’s what I’m thinking: we don’t decide. We just live, and stay present, and trust. Trust, trust, trust. Because friendships are, by nature, mysterious and unexpected and humorous. And who can possibly know, upon that first “nice to meet you,” who will be the friend we call in all the big moments of life, or who will be the person we smile and nod to at the grocery store? 

Isn’t that part of the fun and the fear of building new friendships? 

So here’s my resolve: to stay present. To pour into the people who are close to me, those ones that keep inviting, keep calling, keep texting, keep loving. To commit to sending a text, or an email, or a phone call, or a prayer when a name pops into my head or dreams. To hold my friends with open, upward hands – totally surrendered to the plan God has for our lives. To love them dearly, to hug them close, and to hold them loosely. To understand that each moment is precious and measured and counted. To laugh and cook dinner and keep my home open and stay up a little late. To reach out, to ask for help, to be humble and vulnerable. To respond to texts and emails and phone calls with genuine anticipation and excitement. To say “yes” to requests for coffee and walks and Pilates. 

Because, honestly, we don’t know where our next dearest friend will come from. We don’t know when someone will slip out of our lives. It’s the pain and beauty of living in this overlap between the kingdom of heaven and a broken world. We get to love people, but we have to lose them sometimes, too. After all, “To love is to be vulnerable,” as Madeleine L’Engle said. 

And because, this is the thing: It’s worth all the pain. And the loss. To love people is, after loving God, the most beautiful and wonderful and worthy thing we get to do on this earth. And although we don’t get to decide (let’s be honest) who or when or for how long, we do get to decide how much of ourselves to give, and how deeply to love. 

So here’s to loving deeply and well and often, to being surrendered to the whispers of God suggesting just who needs our presence, and to the adventure of unexpected friendship.

to my very best, lifelong friend

So tell me, how do you prioritize and commit to friendship? Over life changes, distance, etc? When do you know to pursue versus let go?