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February 18, 2014 | 02:26 PM
I turned 27 earlier this month. Like most birthdays after 21, the day rolled in quietly and left without much fanfare.

I got a free coffee in celebration at Caribou Coffee in Lake Geneva, and a few friends and family members gave me some nice birthday cards.

This year is the first year I celebrated my birthday while not being in a relationship since I turned 21.

So while I’m slowly “getting over” the break up of a nearly six-year relationship, I’m starting to define my life as it is now.

My life can be “single, alone and unhappy,” or my life can be “full of adventure and accomplishment.”

I’m not going to wait until I’m happy to do things I want to do. I’m going to do things I want to do and be happy while doing them.

I choose adventure and accomplishment.

Right now, I don’t see a crossroads in my near future. There aren’t any “big decisions” coming up like where I should attend college, where I should apply for jobs or where I should live.

I’m sort of anchored where I am, here in Lake Geneva, and this is not a bad place to be.

In an effort to make this year more climatic than the last, I created a bucket list of sorts. Except, this list has a deadline of my 28th birthday, not my death.

To fill the next 365 days, I decided on 28 things to do before I turn 28.

The list includes traveling, classical arts like the opera and outdoorsy-type things like camping and fishing.

I plan to spend some time in Washington, D.C., the Apostle Islands and Washington Island. I want to participate in all the water sports this lake offers, like stand-up paddle boarding.

But it also includes some very mundane things that are probably normal for many people.

I want to take a dance class, ride in a hot air balloon and learn to change my own oil. Hopefully, I can find someone to drag along to the dance class.

When I was writing my list, I tried not to be reactionary. I tried not to focus on all the things I’ve wanted to do in the past and never did. I tried not to use my former relationship as an excuse.

I just thought about the future, about all the things I think would be fun to do: like running a 10K, volunteering at a soup kitchen and zip lining.

See the eagles fly

This weekend, I’m checking one thing off my list already.

In the winter, as the northern most parts of the Mississippi River freeze, bald eagles start nesting farther south to find open water.

Around late February every year, Prairie du Chien hosts Eagle Appreciation Days, and this year, I’ll be there. The eagles congregate around the city.

There’s something majestic about bald eagles. They’re strong and elegant birds. While they were removed from the endangered species list in 2007, you don’t see bald eagles everyday.

I’ll spend Saturday watching eagles, and a week later, I’ll be on the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, checking another project off my 28 by 28 list.

When I used to think about traveling, I used to imagine the castles in Europe, the lions in Africa and the Great Wall of China.

But really, there’s a lot to see just in Wisconsin. Most of my list, 27 of the 28, are things I can do in Wisconsin.

And 27 of 28 — besides the dance class — are things I can do alone, though friends are more than welcome on this journey.


Tags: Staff Editorial

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