Choosing a Life of Travel and Adventure (My 100 List)

On a bus driving back from a middle school track meet my teammates, our favorite coach and I were discussing places we’d like to visit. Smiles were plentiful as we shared what lands near and far we wanted to jet or drive off to see in our lifetime–California, Hawaii, Australia, England…the list went on and on.

We also discussed places we had no desire to visit. I remember my coach saying, “Idaho. Who would ever want to go there?”

I jumped up off of the sticky-hot black bus seat waving my hand in the air and said, “Me! Me!”

“Of course you do. Only you,” he said, laughing.

“I Love Potatoes!”

I settled back into my seat with a big, silly grin on my face, my eyes wide with excitement. I didn’t register the teasing nature of his voice and so naturally I continued on.

“They grow potatoes in Idaho! Idaho potatoes! I love potatoes!” My grin was so large then as I thought about everything that you could make with potatoes…French fries, hash browns, mashed buttery goodness…

He laughed again, and the conversation transitioned to different topic.

A Steadfast Love

There’s nothing particularly dramatic or exciting about this old conversation yet I still remember it all these years later. It’s a moment I come back to occasionally as it reminds me that (1) my love for potatoes is long-standing and still unshakable, and (2) that my love for travel, adventure and new experiences has always been undeniably important to me.

It’s a choice I’ve made about my life–that I will (and must for my own sanity) continually seek out new adventures, opportunities and travels as much as my budget will allow. As I’ve written before, I live my life in a way to minimize any regrets I could have later on down the road because I didn’t do this or that.

I try to do everything I want to, within reason. And at the very least I’ll know someday that I tried my very best to make it all happen.

Putting Love into Lists

To better focus my passionate travel-adventure desires, I’ve made bucket lists, both long and short, throughout my life. The same items have often appeared from list to list–visiting the Egyptian pyramids, going on a safari in Africa, learning to scuba dive, etc. etc. But what each of my old lists share is that they have gotten lost or have simply been forgotten in the abyss that is Google Docs.

Recently, I opened up a bucket list that I started at a time when I thought such a list would keep me motivated and excited about the future since I was in need of a little inspirational push. Well, no surprise: I forgot about it. As a result, it never served much of any purpose except for fulfilling my incessant need to organize my thoughts and plans.

Looking through it, however, I realized that I still wanted to do all of the things and go to all of the beautiful places listed. I was also surprised that I had already started to chip away at the list, having visited Colombia, gone camping, seen a Thunder from Down Under show (100% recommend), sat in awe during a Cirque du Soleil show, completed a color run, hiked among the beautiful rugged nature of Red Rock Canyon, and taken pole dancing classes (also recommend).

I was elated when I was able to cross these items off. I thought to myself, “Holy shit, I’m doing it!”

And so here’s to getting out there and f’ing doing it–to continuing down whatever dreampath you set for yourself long ago but have forgotten about or strayed from. Go back to it now and review whatever it is you wrote down, drew, or clipped from a magazine and saved in a folder.

It’s Time

It’s time to pick up your dreams or plans again and forge ahead–because it is an honorable and courageous act to try your best to do what makes you feel most alive.

If you feel that you need permission to go forward then I’m giving it to you now. Your steps may be small and require some time and preparation but they are not insignificant. Each step you take is a display of your own bravery and perseverance to keep on despite challenges and setbacks that life puts in your way.

To keep myself accountable to my own dreams, I decided to distill my crazy-long bucket list down into a top 100 list, a la Hanny who blogs at Beradadisini.

Here it is and here I go, moving forward every day.

Wishing you a happy journey,

KP

My 100 List (updated 1/3/2018)

  1. Go skydiving
  2. Learn to scuba dive
  3. Volunteer abroad
  4. Go on an eco-vacation
  5. Attend a wellness retreat
  6. Attend a silent retreat
  7. Go paragliding
  8. Write at least four books (1 poetry, 1 fiction, 1 nonfiction, 1 children’s picture book)
  9. Volunteer at a farm sanctuary
  10. Own a beach/vacation house
  11. Start and manage a successful small business
  12. Attend a fancy (fur-free) runway show
  13. Participate in GISHWHES
  14. Learn Italian
  15. Become fluent in Croatian and Spanish
  16. Learn basic German, French, Turkish, Hungarian, and Arabic
  17. Learn to play Clar De Lune on the piano (or violin)
  18. Learn how to give a good massage
  19. Run a half-marathon
  20. Try acupuncture
  21. See a movie at a drive-in
  22. Live in an ashram for a period of time
  23. Go skinny dipping
  24. Watch a meteor shower
  25. Learn the basic star constellations and be able to identify them
  26. Give a moving public speech to a large group of people (100+)
  27. Attend a TED talk/TED conference
  28. Attend a writing retreat
  29. Take an acting or improv class
  30. Take singing lessons
  31. Take a class in basic car mechanics
  32. Take a photography class
  33. Take a class in painting or drawing (or both!)
  34. Build my own garden
  35. Learn a few good magic tricks
  36. Take a ceramics class
  37. Take a jewelry making class
  38. Take a sewing class and learn the basic skills
  39. Go on a winery tour
  40. Take a social etiquette class
  41. Learn to drive stick shift
  42. Get a PhD or an advanced certification/get an MFA in Creative Writing
  43. See a Blue Man Group show
  44. Attend a fancy red carpet awards ceremony
  45. Go on a week-long train trip (ideally a Trans-Siberian Railway trip)
  46. Stay on a private island
  47. Stay in a lighthouse
  48. Go on a safari in Africa
  49. Visit the Amazon Rainforest
  50. Stay at Kindness Ranch
  51. Visit the Egyptian pyramids
  52. Go on a cruise
  53. Go camping — DONE! (Twice–once in a tent and another time in a yurt.)
  54. Visit all 7 continents (visited Europe, North America & Central America, and South American so far–four to go!)
  55. Vacation in Igloo Village (Finland) or stay in an ice hotel
  56. Learn to tango in Buenos Aires
  57. Have three meals in three countries in one day
  58. Visit all provinces in Canada
  59. Visit all 50 U.S. states (visited: California, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia–36 more to go!)
  60. Visit the Great Bear Rainforest
  61. Tour the White House
  62. Go to Niagara Falls
  63. Go to San Francisco — DONE! (Summer 2017, for the AFP Conference)
  64. Visit Bora Bora
  65. Visit Stonehenge
  66. Visit Macchu Picchu
  67. Visit the manatees in Crystal River, Florida
  68. Visit the Coney Island Boardwalk
  69. Visit the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center
  70. Attend the Venice Carnival
  71. See the 7 Natural Wonders
      1. Grand Canyon
      2. Pacicutin
      3. Northern Lights
      4. Victoria Falls
      5. Harbor of Rio de Janeiro
      6. Great Barrier Reef
      7. Mount Everest
  72. Explore some of the 7 Underwater Wonders
      1. Belize Barrier Reef
      2. Deep Sea Vents
      3. Galapagos Islands
      4. Palau Reefs
      5. The Great Barrier Reef
      6. Lake Baikal
      7. Northern Red Sea
  73. See some of the 7 Industrial Wonders
      1. The Brooklyn Bridge
      2. Bell Rock Lighthouse
      3. London Sewerage System
      4. Panama Canal
      5. Hoover Dam
  74. Become a major donor to at least one organization
  75. Attend and participate in a body painting festival
  76. Create my own perfume
  77. Invest in the stock market — ½ DONE (investments in cryptocurrencies via David)
  78. Learn how to be a strong negotiator
  79. Learn to birdwatch
  80. Learn to ballroom dance relatively well
  81. Ride in a hot air balloon
  82. Participate in a Color Run — DONE!
  83. Take a solo trip to three different countries in one summer (a la Eat, Pray, Love)
  84. Work in a bakery
  85. Pay for the bill of a stranger
  86. Volunteer at a soup kitchen
  87. Improve mental math skills
  88. Go white-water rafting
  89. Jump off a waterfall
  90. Create a set of greeting cards
  91. Take a helicopter ride
  92. Bathe in mud
  93. Give blood
  94. Go on a cross-country road-trip
  95. Learn to surf
  96. Attend the Olympics (summer or winter)
  97. Paint an abstract painting
  98. Ride a Segway
  99. Eat at the Melting Pot or enjoy fondue in a more glamorous location like Switzerland
  100. See a male strip show (Thunder from Down Under, etc.) — DONE (Thunder once & Magic Men twice!)

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Feature photo credit: Istanbul Lion / KP

Finding My Anchors Amid Uncertainty

The Rock (yes that Rock–Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) is the inspiration behind today’s post. Or one of them at least.

(Remember, I’m going to occasionally talk about my obsessions on this blog…The Rock is just one of many…and did you know he has an f’ing alarm clock you can download?! Mind blowing goodness, that’s what it is.)

In a recent video post on his Instagram page, The Rock spoke and wrote about his anchors in life–his family and his physical training–and how they drive him to keep pushing himself.

In The Rock’s own words, “Find your anchor and protect it.”

(Now that man should have his own f’ing daytime talk show. Oprah, can you smell what The Rock is cookin’?)

Rock GIF.gif

And so, thanks in part to The Rock, I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea of anchors. 

Having recently transitioned out of one life chapter, I’ve been grappling with how to stay steady and strong as I begin a fresh, new chapter.

A lot has changed over the past few years.

  • I’ve grown older and wiser and tougher.
  • I’ve changed jobs and volunteer gigs.
  • I’ve had some dark days and I’ve had some great ones.
  • I’ve travelled and stayed still.
  • I’ve tried new things I never in a million years thought I would (pole fitness, skiing, Krav Maga, shooting a gun to name a few) and stubbornly refused to let other things go (mac and cheese addict forever).
  • I’ve read and not read.
  • I’ve written and not written.

All through these normal life fluctuations my anchors have largely remained the same and kept me sane–my family, my friends and my own training.

Anchor #1: Family

My family has given me the unconditional love only a family can. Despite our disagreements, annoyances, and frustrations we may share sometimes, I know that I can always count on them to be there for me no matter what. 

I am grateful to have such a family as I know not all do. They are there with a life float if I ever need it and they are always open to listening if I choose to share my thoughts.

I am grateful. I am grateful. I am grateful. Thank you.

Anchor #2: Friends

My friends have given me joy, adventure and a place among them to shine as myself. With them, I am safe to be exactly who I am while also being pushed and challenged so that I can grow ever more wiser. They make me smile, but more importantly they make me laugh.

This last sentence reminds me of a line in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice when Elizabeth Bennett writes to her aunt and uncle about her relationship with Mr. Darcy: “I am happier even than Jane; she only smiles, I laugh.”

My friends aren’t quite like dreamy, steamy Mr. Darcy but the same sentiment applies as they give me pure joy.

Thank you. I am so grateful.

Anchor #3: Training

And then my training anchor comes in two parts: inner (self, soul, emotional, mental, whathaveyou) and outer (physical). I have found over the years that if I leave either part unattended my whole self suffers whether or not my family or friends are readily available.

My inner training has ranged from reading and writing to coloring and meditating and yoga. All of these practices bring me back to center even amid chaos.

My outer training has varied over time from steady distance running to high intensity fitness like Krav Maga and MMA. Whatever it is, I know I need it. Go a week without it and my mood and outlook already feels off. With it, I feel powerful and empowered.

Find Your Anchor(s)

If you’re like me and feel like you’ve lost your way during a life shift or anticipate some life changes happening down the road, I encourage you to think about who or what are your anchors and make sure you keep ‘em by your side.

You may not need them all the time (helicopter anchors are no good just like helicopter parents–eek!), but when you do need them they will be there waiting for you. Just remember to pay attention to them occasionally if they happen to be real people…real people don’t wait forever (real talk).

And if you feel like you don’t yet have anchors–don’t worry. Try some different tactics on for size that may make you feel calm, collected, safe and happy. No harm in trying and no harm in failing. Just keep going.

I wish you boundless seas of goodness in your anchor search. May you find what you need even amid uncertainty.

With love,

KP

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The Art of Beginning Again

You know how people say something (career field, skill, craft, etc.) is both a science and an art? Well starting fresh, beginning again, starting new, or whatever you call it is more of the latter than the former.

There is no manual, no special sauce formula, no foolproof “ten steps to a better fresh start” (although the internet may beg to differ). You just kinda go, maybe make a plan, and then hope for the best all the while cowering with fear inside, your palms constantly slippery with the sweat of anxiety.

But let me back up a bit.

It has been over a month since I’ve written. There are so many things I want to write but don’t yet know how. During this gap, I left my job, a field of work I enjoy, and a strong support system, then moved across the state to enter a completely new field via graduate school.

To say the least I’ve been busy and tired and decided somewhere along this busy-tried highway that writing was again just something that could wait. And so I shelved it, like I often end up doing. It got put back on one of those dusty, dark places you might find in a garage, stuffed among the useless cords, old paint, and ratty shoes.

Being Afraid and Stuck

I give the cold shoulder to writing when I am busy, sure, but more so when I am afraid. And I still am. 100 f’ing percent.

In addition to being afraid I’ve been a cocktail of other emotions. Happy. Sad. Happy. Sad. Really sad. Really nervous. Happyish. Maybe excited? Relaxed. Frantic. Almost hysterical. Calm. Confused. And of course, afraid, afraid, afraid. (Not the “dark thing under your bed” afraid, but the “holy f, what am I doing?” afraid.)

Packing up your last successful life chapter and waiting at the station until you pull into the next one just, well, sucks. Plain and simple. Let’s just call it what it is.

Things are eerily calm yet unsettling at the same time. You feel like you’re on a wobbly dock trying to stay balanced so you don’t fall into the water below where it’s so gray and murky that you can’t even see your own reflection.

And you can’t see that darn reflection because your new chapter self hasn’t quite manifested yet. It’s partly there — since you’ve got all your past chapter selves hanging around like friendly, old ghosts  but none of these feel quite right to take on your next steps.

So you’re just kinda stuck for the time being and more vulnerable than usual. Which is where I’m at right now. (I also want to cry uncontrollably. Comes with the territory.)

Things I Know and Things I Don’t

I desperately want to get un-stuck but I know it’s not quite the time yet — it will happen though.

What I also know is that I wanted this change (i.e. leaving my job, moving away, going back to school); I planned for it in all humanly possible ways — lists, sound financial management, early packing.

Few details can escape my masterful planning (ask anyone who knows me, surely there will be nods as they read this), yet the planning didn’t make me feel any better. It reassured me that I can plan well and that I’m insanely organized. But I didn’t need this reassurance.

What I needed was someone to spill the beans, to tell me that fancy schmancy secret formula to coping with a new start — the “science.” But no one did because no one really knows.

The Terrifying Beauty of New Beginnings

Each new beginning is our own precious little terrifying experience. We can shape it however the hell we want it.

Even if someone is taking the same steps as you or has taken the same steps before you they are still not experiencing exactly what you are. 

Sure, you can gather some intel from Past New Beginners and seek advice from your dear family and friends but ultimately it’s your choice in how you proceed down the promising yet poorly lit New Beginning Road.

Whether it’s dancing like hell or running around bat-shit crazy, do your thing.

And I know, I know — you can’t see the entire path in front of you but that’s half the fun! And half the fear. (I know that too).

For me personally, I worked very, very hard professionally to get where I was in my last life chapter and so starting a new one makes me feel a bit like a splattered bug on a car windshield — dead on arrival.

I’ve felt disoriented and uncertain and questioned my own abilities, talent and experiences. In sum, I didn’t feel like much of anything and my head and heart were totally out of sync.

But these frightening feelings and thoughts pass as they now are for me.

I had to take some time to remember where I was and who I was and who I am today, reminding myself that I’m one badass mother f’er. (Self confidence is the shit, isn’t it? Makes you feel like you can fly — and you can, metaphorically speaking.)

It also helped to begin establishing a routine, meet new people and explore what the area has to offer to cultivate that feeling of excitement about the future.

Perhaps this is the “science” part of the Beginning Again Equation — but we are all different and maybe this is not how you would handle a new start (and that’s fine).

So go ahead and take whatever new beginning that you have chosen or that you’re thrown into and make it fully your own, fear and all. 

Begin again as the person you’ve always admired (your true BA self) and I’ll be right there beside you, doing it too.

Cheers!

XOXO,

KP

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Feature photo credit: Light between trees / KP