Forty Firsts 11-26: I’m really on a roll now! 

I have been busy, busy, busy with regular life but also with lots of firsts! The biggie is that we went to Washington D.C.


We, of course, saw lots of museums and monuments. I’m not counting them as individual firsts because they all fall under the umbrella of my first trip to DC but a few of the things we saw were:

  • The Washington Monument
  • The Lincoln Memorial
  • The Roosevelt Memorial
  • The Jefferson Memorial
  • The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial
  • Arlington National Cemetary
  • The White House
  • The Capitol Building and Visitor Center
  • 3 Smithsonian Museums (American History, Air and Space, and American Indian)

Some of these were just drive or walk bys because it was a short trip but even a glimpse of the history in this city was enough for us to be in awe. 

Now, a few things I did count as their own separate first even though they happened as part of the larger trip.  Things that we specifically sought out for their own individual attributes, either on the drive or in the city, I counted as a first. 

In the city we went to the National Zoo specifically for our first Panda sighting. The zoo is kind of remote compared to other places we visited and required special effort. Plus we have a much better zoo close by so this was really about the pandas therefore it counts as a first. My challenge, my rules. :p

We also specifically sought out Nando’s despite other restaurants being more convenient. Kya wanted to try it because it’s a favorite of one of her favorite artists, Ed Sheeran. 😜 It did not disappoint!   


On the drive to DC we stopped at The World’s Largest Windchime. On the way home we stopped at Funky Bones, an outdoor sculpture featured in Kya’s favorite book. We also stopped (just stopping for gas doesn’t count, we have to eat or sleep for me to include it) in six states we’d never been to. 

Since we returned from our trip I’ve had even more firsts including: my first experience on the floor for a concert (or in “the pit” as they called it), my first visit to the Ozark Actors Theater (local theater that I can’t believe I’d been missing!), joined the Chamber of Commerce and attended their First Friday Coffee and monthly luncheon, and attended a crochet class. 

 By my count that’s 16 more firsts since my last post, bringing me up to 26! I’m only a little more than halfway to my goal and already I’ve visited new places, tried new foods, had new experiences, stepped out of my comfort zone, and learned a new skill! I can hardly wait to see what the rest of this year and this challenge bring. 😃 


Forty Firsts #7: St. James Public House

I’ve been to the Rolla location of Public House on multiple occasions and love the atmosphere (even though I’m not really a beer drinker, shhhh). In spite of my fondness for the original location (and the fact that a close friend is one of the owners) I somehow hadn’t managed to make it to the St. James location. So, a friend’s birthday along with another friend commenting that we really needed a night out seemed like the perfect opportunity to check it out. I was not disappointed! 

As I shamefully admitted above I’m not really a beer drinker but an ample wine list, along with other liquor, means that’s not an issue. The birthday girl enjoyed her sampler of craft beers while the rest of had some great local wine. 

In addition to drinks we also had some great food. Sausage and cheese platters, artisan sandwiches, hummus, and raspberry cheesecake bites are a few of the delicious goodies on the menu. 

The atmosphere was just as fun as the Rolla location. It’s relaxed, upscale but casual, and quiet enough to have good conversations while still feeling lively and fun. This was my first visit to this location but it definitely won’t be my last! 

Forty Firsts #6: Bridal Expo

Last weekend I had the opportunity to participate as a vendor in a local Prom and Bridal Expo. 

Multiple vendors offering goods and services for weddings and other formal events gathered together to meet (mostly) brides. Each guest had a “passport” that had to be stamped by each vendor for them to be eligible for door prizes which meant each and every bride came to my booth where I was able to talk with them about honeymoon destinations and the advantages of using a travel agent. I’ve never been a vendor before and I’m very introverted so I really appreciated that the organizers of the event set things up this way. 

I was the only travel agent present and, in addition to having a lot of fun, I felt like I made some great contacts. I haven’t actually gotten any new clients yet but that’s okay. It was a fantastic experience and over the course of the day I fine-tuned my message which will be helpful as I move ahead with my business. I was able to let people know that not only are my services free but that they are VALUABLE. 

The more I said this aloud to others the more the idea was reinforced to me. Sometimes I need the reminder that people aren’t doing me a favor by utilizing my services. We are entering into a mutually beneficial relationship as agent and client. I’m only beginning this year of firsts and I can already see that it isn’t just going to be about new experiences but new understandings. I’m ready. 

Forty Firsts #4 & 5: Well that was definitely a first…

My daughter and I recently committed to taking a day every other week to do something fun together. Large or small, new or old favorite, it doesn’t really matter as long as it gets out of the house and we have a little fun.

So, last week we were trying to decide what to do on a cold and windy afternoon when I remembered a tiny little vacuum cleaner museum in a neighboring town about 25 miles away. I’m sure you’re wondering what in the world is fun about a vacuum cleaner museum!?!? But here’s the thing- we LOVE stuff like that.

In The Odd Life of Timothy Green Jennifer Garner’s character runs a pencil museum. The first time we watched the movie one of us wondered aloud who would go to a pencil museum. Then we looked at each other, burst out laughing and simultaneously shouted, “US!!!” Because we would totally go to a pencil museum. Or skip Space Mountain at Disney World in favor of Hall of Presidents (yes, we totally did that). 

 But I digress… 

 So, it was decided. Our first outing of our new commitment to get out more would be to the vacuum cleaner museum. No the irony of that isn’t lost on me. First things first though, we had to get some lunch. We had a gift card for Subway and the plan was to have a free lunch to go with our free museum. But then a little place I’d never been caught my eye.  One of our favorite things is trying out local restaurants and this was one we hadn’t been to yet. The allure of crossing another first from list was greater than the allure of a free meal so Tuggie’s won out.

Meh. I didn’t even remember to snap a pic of the food because it was pretty uninspired. There are generally two types of small town diners- the iconic type serving up a combination of really well prepared traditional favorites with fresh ingredients and the more common type serving up lots of deep fried frozen foods I can easily replicate with a trip to the freezer section of my local grocery store. Tuggie’s was, unfortunately, the latter. It wasn’t great but it also wasn’t especially bad or anything so I’m still okay with it since it was a first in my year of firsts. 🙂 

 After we finished our meal and a quick stop at a friend’s house we were off to the vacuum cleaner museum! 

I’m not really sure what I was expecting but this place was just adorable! It was tiny but it was set up in such a neat way that it still had a big impact. The vacuums were sorted by decade and each decade was separated into a different “room” complete with period decor, furnishings, wall coverings, and of course flooring. 

There were also period advertisements on the wall and plaques with “Did you know?” type information. 

I’m a huge fan of vintage and antiques (we actually have a booth at an antique mall and I recently started buying vintage dishes, furnishings, etc. for our house) so this set up really impressed me! My favorite was the 1950s era kitchen with great old appliances along with the vacuums. 

This first was fun and it was interesting to see how this time saving appliance we all take for granted has evolved. Plus we learned some new things, even if some of them were kind of funny in the grossest way…

It was definitely a low-key adventure but also unique and fun.!

Forty Firsts #2 and #3: Networking It

I mentioned a while back that I recently began working as a travel agent. That’s where a lot of my energy is focused right now so it shouldn’t be a huge surprise that some of my firsts are going to be geared toward helping that venture be more successful. One of the things I’m looking into is joining a professional organization so recently I attended a BNI (Business Networking International) and a Chamber of Commerce meeting. Originally I was going to count these two as one but they turned out to be such different experiences (like apples and oranges) that I decided they are actually two completely separate firsts.

BNI was the first of these two meetings I attended as well as being the first meeting of ANY professional organization I’d ever attended for the private sector. (I belonged to a teacher’s association when I worked in public schools but that’s not even apples and oranges. More like apples and koalas.) I won’t bore you with the details of how BNI works but it’s basically a business referral group. You meet with people from industries different from your own so you can refer people to them in exchange for them referring you.

A family friend invited me to attend because she has seen growth in her business through this organization and thought I might benefit from it as well. I had the opportunity to introduce myself and my business to a roomful of people whom I’d have probably never met otherwise. I was able to learn a bit about networking and the process BNI recommends for making business referrals. I felt welcome and left feeling excited about the prospects, if not about the cost and a few of the rules. It’s a steep financial and time commitment. About $600 up front plus monthly dues and required attendance at weekly meetings. Early, early morning meetings. And I wasn’t really sure what that $600 was for. I mean I know that I was supposed to be getting referrals for my membership but none of the people in our meetings are being paid, it’s run by volunteers. And our monthly dues pay for the room we use for meetings. There’s a website but it’s pretty basic and not something that people outside of BNI are likely to use. So, is all that money going to administrative fees outside of my community?

About a week after the BNI meeting I went to my first Chamber of Commerce meeting. Again, Chamber groups can be found all over the country with small, local chapters. However, unlike BNI, each is considered an independent and separate entity that establishes it’s own rules, procedures, practices, etc. that fits best with the local community. I was lucky enough to attend a “Chamber 101” meeting and learn about a lot of the ins and outs of the organization. The much lower joining fee (around $200) gets our names included in a directory that is available at our local Chamber office, a customizable web page on the Chamber site, a customizable app inclusion, weekly newsletters that I can also add my own event info to, networking coffee and lunch events, and more. There’s a small staff that keeps things running smoothly, participates in business events, puts on these seminars, etc. I like that I can see where my $200 is being spent.

Both of these events were great experiences where I met new people, learned about some positive marketing opportunities, and ultimately discovered how to look deeper than the surface to figure out what is right for me and my business. I can’t afford to join both of these organizations right now but even if I could I probably wouldn’t because one stood out as a better fit for me. But beyond the business opportunities presented my most important lesson was more personal. Up to this point I’ve been apprehensive about simply saying, “I’m a travel agent.” It doesn’t feel real because I haven’t had enough experience, enough bookings, enough commissions, enough, enough, enough, But I AM a professional and it’s not presumptuous of me to think so, it’s necessary. And it’s necessary for me to be okay with accepting an invitation that I decide not to follow through with. It’s not personal and in order to be successful I have to let go of my (sometimes real, sometimes false) sense of letting people down, disappointing them, or feeling judged by them. Another necessity.

These types of firsts are great because they push me to grow and become more myself, more ready to take on the next chapter. But there will be fun challenges as well. Up next- a new restaurant and a kitschy museum.

Forty Firsts: Swadee Thai (plus an overview of ideas for the year)

This week I finally managed to cross a first off my list! A nearby town opened a Thai restaurant that everyone had been raving about but I hadn’t managed to get to yet. So, Thursday when I dropped my daughter off at the coffee shop where she was meeting her friends I headed over for a solo lunch, my first at this restaurant and also my first Thai ever!

Eggplant with chicken sauteed in chili paste. Simply delicious!

Eggplant with chicken sauteed in chili paste. Simply delicious!

It was fantastic and I can hardly wait to go back! Honestly though, I’d have tried this without a challenge so it felt a little like cheating. However, I realize that if I’m truly going to have forty firsts this year I have to count EVERYTHING, largely because I simply can’t afford or don’t have access to a lot of things that I’d love to try for the first time. For example, there’s an artificial snow ski area near us but even renting equipment proves to be expensive especially because I’d still need to buy proper clothing and pay for at least one lesson. Too expensive. Sky diving is also a bit expensive (though I admit that didn’t really look into this one much, lol). I also thought about a belly dancing class which is also kind of expensive but I found a 6 week course that I could have managed with a little bit of effort. But it takes place on one of the evenings I have to work (and my work schedule isn’t flexible).

So, coming up with a list of ideas proved more difficult than I expected but I did manage to put one together. I wanted some diversity so I split the list up into categories to make sure I wasn’t just listing 40 restaurants or places to go; the idea is to create more adventure and if the list isn’t diverse I’m afraid it will feel more mundane than adventurous. I also wanted more than 40 so if some things didn’t work out I’d still have options. And options are all this list is, I imagine (hope) that other opportunities to try new things I haven’t even thought of will present themselves throughout the year. As a somewhat obsessive planner I had to have a guide of some kind though so here goes:

Day Trips

  1. Grant’s Farm
  2. The Muny
  3. Fort Davidson
  4. Taum Sauk
  5. St. Louis Art Museum
  6. Mural Walk in Cuba
  7. Missouri State Penitentiary
  8. Museum of Archaeology, MU Campus
  9. Vacuum Cleaner Museum (there’s a story behind this one I’ll share when we do it)
  10. Busch Stadium Tour
  11. Titanic Museum
  12. Mark Twain Tour of Hannibal
  13. Walt Disney Tour of Marceline (his hometown!!)

Vacations/Weekend Getaways

  1. Washington DC
  2. Visit Funky Bones in Indianapolis
  3. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
  4. Mother/Daughter trip with my girlie
  5. Eureka Springs
  6. Le Claire, Iowa (home of Antique Archaeology)
  7. 100 Mile Yard Sale
  8. B&B with R (probably in Hermann)

Restaurants/Local Businesses

  1. The Cave Restaurant
  2. 3 Squirrels Winery
  3. Public House St. James location
  4. Swadee Thai  (YAY!! Crossed one off!)
  5. Mexican place in St. James (preferably on a night they have live music)
  6. German place in JC
  7. Jazz in Columbia (cajun seafood!!)
  8. Lamberts (home of the throwed rolls)
  9. The Landing
  10. Ozark Actors Theater (the SHAME that I’ve never been!!)
  11. Waynesville’s swanky new movie theater with recliners, cocktails, etc.


  1. learn to make pie crust from my mom
  2. learn to use the barbecue grill (again, the SHAME)
  3. create a custom wood painted sign
  4. cut wine bottles into glasses
  5. create a terrarium
  6. grow my own strawberries
  7. make a basket
  8. make jewelry
  9. make soap
  10. make a burlap wreath for my door
  11. use the quilt scraps I’ve gathered from damaged quilts to make ornaments, sachets, wall hangings, etc.


  1. Get my first commission check (WOOT!)
  2. Enter and finish a local 5k (I’ll walk it though, I’m NOT a runner, lol)
  3. Host a backyard movie
  4. Get that stripe of color I’ve always wanted to try in my hair
  5. Do a fun themed manicure
  6. Get a massage
  7. Let R teach me to shoot (this may not happen as he likes it but I don’t- I’m TRYING to use this list to be more open to things he likes that are outside my comfort zone)

So, that’s what I’ve got so far. 50 things (you have to add the lists together, formatting wouldn’t allow me to use automatic numbering consecutively for different lists and I was too lazy to to back and number on my own after I realized it). There’s not really anything too daring on the list which disappointed me at first but the more I thought about it the more I realized that this challenge is about making space for being more of myself and this list is very me. If the money presents itself to try sky diving or if that belly dancing class opens up on another night I might give daring a try. I’m open to whatever the year brings.

Forty Firsts

So, I’ve been contemplating that 2015 is my 40th year. I want to do something special to both acknowledge the milestone and symbolize that this is just the beginning. I thought about a special vacation, a physical challenge, a big party, etc. but none of it felt “right”. And then I came up with an idea that is so ME that I can hardly believe I didn’t think of it before.

I love trying new things more than anything and if there’s one thing I would wish for to add to my pretty fantastic life it would be more adventure. So, this year I’m going to have 40 FIRSTS! Some will be big adventures (my first mother/daughter trip to Disney), some will be small indulgences (my first massage), and some I haven’t thought of yet. But whatever I decide it’s going to be FUN!

I’ve been so sporadic with this blog that I’m not sure if anyone is still following along but I’ll be chronicling my adventures here for my own record of things. If you’re here and if you have ideas- from new foods I should try to new places in the Mid-Missouri area I should visit to new small indulgences I can try at home leave me a comment. I’m ready for your ideas!

Bring on the ADVENTURE!

Bring on the ADVENTURE!