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 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,
My 100 List
- Go skydiving
- Learn to scuba dive
- Volunteer abroad
- Go on an eco-vacation
- Attend a wellness retreat
- Attend a silent retreat
- Go snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef
- See the Northern Lights
- Go paragliding
- Write at least four books (1 poetry, 1 fiction, 1 nonfiction, 1 children’s picture book)
- Visit the Amazon Rainforest
- Stay at Kindness Ranch
- Volunteer at a farm sanctuary
- Own a beach house
- Stay on a private island
- Start and manage a successful small business
- Go on a safari in Africa
- Visit the Egyptian pyramids
- Stay at an ice hotel
- Go on a vegan cruise
- Visit all 7 continents
- Go on a week-long train trip (ideally the Trans Siberian Railroad Trip)
- Attend a fancy (fur-free) runway show
- Learn to tango in Buenos Aires
- Have three meals in three countries in one day
- Participate in GISHWHES
- Learn Italian past a beginner level
- Learn basic Turkish
- Learn basic Hungarian
- Learn basic Arabic
- Learn to play Clar De Lune on the piano (or violin)
- Learn how to give a good massage
- Party all night until morning comes
- Run a half-marathon
- Try acupuncture
- See a movie at a drive-in
- Live in an ashram for a period of time
- Go skinny dipping
- Watch a meteor shower
- Learn the basic star constellations and be able to identify them
- Give a moving public speech to a large group of people (100+)
- Attend a TED talk/TED conference
- Attend a writing retreat
- Take an acting or improv class
- Take singing lessons
- Take a class in basic car mechanics
- Take a photography class
- Take a class in painting or drawing (or both!)
- Build my own garden
- Learn a few good magic tricks
- Take a ceramics class
- Take a jewelry making class
- Take a sewing class and learn the basic skills
- Go on a winery tour
- Take a social etiquette class
- Learn to drive stick shift
- Get a PhD or an advanced certification
- Attend the Venice Masquerade
- See the 7 Natural Wonders
- Explore the 7 Underwater Wonders
- See the 7 Industrial Wonders
- See a Blue Man Group show
- Attend a fancy red carpet awards ceremony
- Go to Niagara Falls
- Visit Bora Bora
- Visit Stonehenge
- Visit the Coney Island Boardwalk
- Tour the White House
- Go to San Francisco
- Swim in Devil’s Pool, Victoria Falls
- Vacation in Igloo Village (Finland)
- Attend and participate in a body painting festival
- Create my own perfume
- Visit all provinces in Canada
- Visit all 50 states
- Visit the Great Bear Rainforest
- Get an MFA in Creative Writing
- Become a major donor to at least one organization
- Visit the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center
- Become fluent in Croatian and Spanish
- Invest in the stock market
- Learn how to be a strong negotiator
- Learn to birdwatch and go birdwatching with a guide
- Learn to ballroom dance relatively well
- Ride in a hot air balloon
- Own an electric scooter
- Take a solo trip to three different countries in one summer (a la Eat, Pray, Love)
- Work in a bakery
- Pay for the bill of a stranger
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen or to help the homeless population in another way
- Improve basic mental math skills
- Go white-water rafting
- Jump off a waterfall
- Create a set of greeting cards
- Take a helicopter ride
- Bathe in mud
- Give blood
- Go on a cross-country roadtrip
- Learn to make a few good cocktails
- Learn to surf
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Feature photo credit: Istanbul Lion / KP Original