18) Get Properly Fitted for a Bra

According to a few articles on the internet, like this one at Nordstrom.com, which also has a measuring guide, roughly eighty percent of women in the United States wear the wrong size bra. Considering a bra is an article of clothing most women don for several hours or more every day, most days of the year, wearing one that doesn’t fit seems pretty silly. It’s also a bit unsettling to think that the majority of breasts are not being given proper care.

I had originally specified getting fit at Victoria’s Secret because, with my minimal knowledge about bras, I figured that was the best place to do it. However, after reading a few too many blog posts denouncing the quality of bra fittings at the well-known lingerie company, and after coming across a few articles highlighting the services rendered at department stores, I decided to go to Nordstrom to find out what size bra I actually should be wearing.

While I’ve happily jumped out of an airplane with a guy named Mutley strapped to my back and a parachute on his, and I’ve cheerfully watched great white sharks swimming to and fro, where the only thing separating us was a cage with metal bars, and even backpacking to a campsite and spending the night alone in the wilderness proved to be tremendously more fun than scary, I was not looking forward to having a woman take measurements of my chest and bring me various bras to try on. Though I don’t flit around locker rooms buck naked, my apprehension wasn’t because I would be taking my shirt and bra off in front of another woman. What I was terrified about was admitting that I was nearly thirty and had never been fit for a bra, and that I didn’t really know all that much about bras or how they should fit.

In my defense, I’ve been a late bloomer—in a lot of regards. I didn’t emerge into the world until three weeks after my scheduled date of birth, I didn’t talk until I was two, and let’s just say I joked well into my college years that I (still) had the physique of a twelve-year-old boy. Though my friends often teased me for having a small chest, I had never had any issues with my lack of lady lumps. In fact, I reveled in spending less on running clothes because the built-in bras in some tank tops were sufficient enough, and I didn’t need to purchase expensive sports bras. I was also able to wear many a dress without worrying about visible bra straps, as I just went without.

Even still, I felt uncomfortable walking up to the counter, asking to be fitted for a bra, and then, once we were in the relative safety of the dressing room, admitting I had never before been fitted. It was even worse when I told her I wasn’t really sure what size I wore, and when I removed my shirt and bra, and felt sweat cascade down my back as if I had just completed thirty minutes on an elliptical trainer, I wanted to sprint to the car faster than Usain Bolt blazed his way to victory in the 2014 Olympic 100 meter dash. Luckily, the bra fitter, whose name I will change to Lucy, was wonderful, kind, patient and, best of all, apparently not deterred by my surely off-putting perspiration. She assured me that I shouldn’t feel bad because most women don’t know their real size, nor do they bother to get properly fitted. Furthermore, she seemed confident she would be able to help me get the perfect bra.

Using a white measuring tape, Lucy took a few measurements around my chest, and under and across my breasts. To my surprise, the band size she told me was one size smaller than I had ever worn. I was pretty sure my breasts had grown in recent months, so if anything I would need to increase in band size, not decrease. To my even greater surprise, the cup size she told me was appropriate for my girls was three sizes larger than I had ever worn, or had remotely considered wearing in my weirdest dreams. Lucy explained that most women do not wear a band tight enough to give proper support, and then they try to adjust the straps to make it work. I thought about the numerous bras I had worn where it seemed like every day I had to readjust the straps to make them fit. She then enlightened me about cup size, and that a decrease in band size meant an increase in cup size. Going down one band size would explain going up one cup size, but I had gone up three. I guess I just didn’t know how bras were supposed to fit.

After trying on a number of bras in various styles and by different designers, I selected two. I thought they seemed too tight at the time, but she said they would stretch and that I just hadn’t been used to wearing that size. When I got home, I wore each for about twenty minutes, and realized that they were indeed too tight—uncomfortably so, and to the point that I would not be able to wear them all day like I knew I would need to. Though the two I bought would not be my new greatest bras, or even in my drawer among the ill-fitting collection I had amassed over the years, I did learn more about my body, bras and bra sizes in general, and that I would just have to keep trying if I wanted to move into the small percentage of women who wear the correct bra size.

29) Do a Random Act of Kindness

When I created the goal of spending a night alone in the wilderness, I knew I would be able to plan for it, and I knew it would be obvious when I had accomplished it. I only had to work up the courage to execute it, and maybe learn how to build a fire beforehand. (I did not do the latter, but fortunately I figured out the technique when I was out there—or at least lucked into getting a blaze going).

Likewise, going one month without Facebook, serving at a food kitchen, and driving to Mexico were all easily-definable goals, and I could specifically ascertain when each had been achieved.

How, though, could I make it a goal to do something random? By making it a goal—at least the way I make goals, which is to devise a plan to properly execute and achieve them—doesn’t that remove the element of randomness? Furthermore, I (now) believe doing a random act of kindness shouldn’t even be a goal on a list as much as it should simply be a common thing people do in their daily lives.

And yet, I had made it a goal. I obviously felt I had been lacking in doing kind things on a whim, which, in my opinion, does not include tasks I believe should be automatic like holding doors open for others. I had to clearly make it a goal to do something I should have been doing for years. I have learned a great deal since I started this project nearly a year ago, evidenced in part in the letter I wrote to my future self, and doing nice things just to be nice was one of them. Though I may be somewhat dismayed that it took me nearly thirty years to figure it out, to use a trite saying: better late than never.

My random act of kindness itself is hardly worth mentioning, as my intentions for creating the goal were not so I could then relate what generosity and kindness I bestowed on an unsuspecting person, but I will say that I accomplished it. And I was surprised when it occurred, which I suppose is exactly what I was going for. I hope to perform many more random acts of kindness in the coming years, and months, and days, and continue to be pleasantly surprised by achieving things for which I did not plan.

*For those curious readers, I will divulge that the act involved pro bono freelance work.

22) One Month without Saying a Negative Thing About Anyone

If I learned one thing from watching Bambi, it’s that Walt Disney and company were quite content with teaching little kids the awful truth that sometimes you can lose your mother unexpectedly and at a very young age. If there are two things I learned from that much-beloved childhood film, the second is, “If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nuthin’ at all.” For those who may have forgotten, this is said by the little rabbit Thumper, who, after announcing that Bambi doesn’t walk very well, is reminded by his mother of his father’s advice to be nice.

Though I’m not sure I need to be reminded too often of the first lesson, I definitely could and should heed Thumper’s father’s advice much more frequently than I do. I don’t consider myself negative, whiny or gossipy, but throughout my nearly thirty years I have spewed more negativity than I’d like to admit.

I am not a religious person, as evidenced in my post about practicing spirituality for one month, so the main ideology I try to live by is that of the Golden Rule: treat others as you would like to be treated. While I hardly live a life void of speaking ill of others, I do try to be conscious of it and keep such comments to a minimum. Selfishly, perhaps, I just wouldn’t want people saying mean things about me.

That philosophy, however, has not kept the negative self-talk to a minimum. I have always been my biggest critic, and seemingly have no issue saying negative things about myself. I am fine standing in front of the mirror and stating every perceived flaw and thing here or there that could be improved. If I’m watching Jeopardy!, and I miss a question to which I know the answer, I readily put the heel of my palm to my forehead and make a sound akin to Homer Simpson’s “Doh!” Come to think of it, I often have no trouble unleashing a litany of similar gestures and sounds on the innocent game show contestants themselves—primarily during Wheel of Fortune—if the answer is so painfully obvious to me, but so completely lost on them. (I understand that, in addition to my goal of playing Bingo at a Bingo Hall, this offers more evidence of my fondness for “grandma”-like activities).

I wanted to see if I could make it one month without uttering such off-putting talk—to and about others (even if my voice doesn’t penetrate through TVs), and to and about myself. I knew it would be a challenge I would need to focus on intently and intensely, considering I had formed the unpleasant habit decades ago.

To achieve success, I decided to avoid using gimmicks, or multi-step plans, or rubber bands I’d snap on my wrist every time I reverted to my old ways–not that those ways of quitting bad habits don’t work for a lot of people. For me, though, I knew that focus and willpower would be the only way to go. I would just quit it.

And, essentially, I did just that, which makes it sound considerably easier than it was. In part, I simply talked less—which is difficult in its own right because I am a talker. But I focused, with every ounce of my mind, on not saying anything mean or nasty or whiny, and instead sought the positive in everyone, and everything, and talked only of that. When this proved difficult, I resorted to Thumper’s dad’s advice and just kept my mouth shut. I let my thoughts go to battle on my mouth’s behalf, and that seemed to work out for the most part.

I’ll admit that I sometimes came up with ways to make a certain negative thought or feeling known, without actually saying it, which I chalked up to being crafty rather than a broken streak of no negative talk.

For example, if someone swerved right in front of me on the highway without using his turn signal, I might have said something like, “Gosh, I’m so appreciative of all the drivers in the world who use their turn signal when they rapidly switch lanes and are nearly touching bumpers with the car behind them,” and then of course think, Even if I’m not experiencing any of those drivers here!

Or, perhaps, if a Wheel of Fortune puzzle was missing only one letter, say, the “x” in the word “experience,” I might say to the contestant, “Oh, my gosh! You are a mor….ally decent person, no doubt, because surely they don’t let immoral people on the show.”

Like I said, I found ways around saying negative things. But, for the most part, I practiced using the filter in my brain that sometimes—and sometimes rarely—keeps thoughts from finding their way to and out of my mouth. I also realized that the less I said negative things, the less I thought them. It was somewhat of a self-fulfilling cycle that was beneficial to others and to myself.

Disney and the gang may have had a few, I’ll say interesting, ideas about what people should be made aware of at a young age, but teaching them, albeit via a talking rabbit, to withhold negative thoughts rather than unleashing them on people, or animals, was certainly not a bad one.