I’ve often heard people say, “I’ll add it to my bucket list” and I’ve wondered, do people actually make bucket lists? Full confession: I’m a list person. I crave reminder notes; I live to cross items off my to-do lists; and my entire life is organized on a calendar. This is partly because I have a terrible memory and partly because it helps me to organize and prioritize.
However, one list that I’ve never created (until now) is the infamous bucket list. What my list seeks to do is tangibly outline my goals and dreams to ensure they stay top-of-mind amidst the flurry of day-to-day life. The items on my list need to be things I can cross off and not things like, “continue to learn” or “be a good person.” That kind of work is never done. My list is there to make sure that I can be happy with how I’ve chosen to spend my time, whether it’s because I gave back, strengthened my connection to the most important person in my life, JP, had an experience that fundamentally changed me, or simply enjoyed the wonder of being alive and truly living.
I’ve considered mortality frequently after losing my dad and I’ve already learned that when you look back and reflect on your life, it won’t be about how many hours you put into your day job or how much money is in your bank account. Rather, a successful life is measured by how much happiness you generate, the inspiring memories that you create, and the mark you left on the world. It sounds lofty, but I truly believe that people often don’t realize what’s important or where they should have directed their energies until it’s too late.
Recommendation: If you haven’t already seen it, watch Adam Sandler’s movie, Click. Even if you don’t like Adam Sandler, I promise this movie will move you. It is not his typical comedy and it encompasses what I’ve tried to explain above in a very real way. It examines work-life balance, family dynamics, and intimate relationships.
Now, onto my list, which is in no particular order but is, in fact, categorized:
1. Go whale watching. I am flat out amazed by the ocean and the majestic creatures within it. Outside of places like Marine Land, I have never seen a whale and I would love to be awed by them in their natural environment. I told JP that I’d happily go out in a zodiac boat for this adventure but he maintains that we need a solid ship. We’ll see.
2. Visit Yellowstone National Park. I am an animal person. Some might even say I love animals more than people (and they wouldn’t be wrong, exactly…). Seeing the natural beauty of Yellowstone, plus all of the amazing wildlife, would be a dream trip for me. It would also push me physically because some of those hiking trails are serious business.
3. Go on an African safari. Similar to my Marine Land experience, I’ve never seen elephants, lions, rhinos, giraffes, leopards, cheetahs, gorillas, hippos, crocodiles, or zebras outside of the Toronto Zoo. I would also love the experience of sleeping in a treetop hotel and exploring Cape Town. My African adventure would have to be several weeks long.
4. Explore the rainforest. Zip lining through the treetops, experiencing nature like I never have before, and seeing animals that aren’t even at the zoo would be a dream come true.
5. See an active volcano. Mother Nature is so powerful and I want to experience a natural phenomenon up close (well, not too close).
6. Go to Europe. Unfortunately, most of my travel thus far has been the all inclusive variety, which doesn’t really count. I want to feel the romance of Paris, immerse myself in the history of Rome and Greece, eat chocolate in Germany, and experience things that are completely outside of the norm for me. Ideally, I’d like to bring Grams along with JP and I, but I’d need a reliable baby-sitter for B. Any volunteers? We’ll bring you back something cool.
7. Walk behind a waterfall. JP chases waterfalls. He is a hobby photographer and he does his best work when his subjects don’t move (much). He has brought me along on many waterfall journeys (with B, of course). Getting up close and personal with a waterfall would be amazing to experience with my partner in crime.
8. Swim with dolphins. Outside of an all inclusive resort, I am not really sure where we can do this, but I definitely want to. Perhaps there is one more all inclusive jaunt in our future (and if it was to Jamaica, we could go to Dunn Falls and check off two items from the list at once. I’m all about efficiency).
9. Go on an Alaskan cruise. I’m actually pretty terrified of going on a cruise in case I get sick and spend the entire vacation vomiting. However, my friend DK tells me that I’m entirely too risk adverse and that I need to push my limits. I have a feeling she didn’t mean taking a cruise, but we all have to start somewhere. I want to experience the wildlife of Alaska and see the glaciers, so I figure a cruise is a good way to get a taste of everything.
10. Explore California. Wineries, beaches, fantastic vistas…sign me up (just keep me the hell away from La La Land)! This would be my ideal coastal road trip (provided JP and I don’t kill each other in the car).
11. Go to Bora Bora for our 10 year anniversary. JP would be entirely satisfied living the cottage and country life and never setting foot on a plane again. However, he knows I have wanderlust and so he is my (somewhat reluctant) travel companion. One trip that he actually wants to take is to Bora Bora so he can sleep in an overwater hut.
12. Go to Thailand. Who doesn’t want to get up close and personal with a tiger cub, ride an elephant, charter a long boat, and be completely blown away by beautiful beaches? I am terrified of such a long flight, but I know that it would be well worth it!
13. Visit every American state and every Canadian province and territory. Some states and provinces appeal to me a lot more than others (hello, Hawaii and Newfoundland!) but I’d at least like to see something from each, even if we are just passing through. I think there is so much to experience right in my own backyard and I’d like to do exactly that.
1. Self-publish a novel. This is really important to me and is actually the number one thing I want to do in my life. Seriously. Writing of (almost) all kinds is a passion of mine and I dream of seeing my name in print (please don’t think less of me for being vain in this regard). I’ve researched the self-publishing process and I’m going to try and convince my friend AR to do NaNoWriMo with me. Water for Elephants was a NaNoWriMo novel. Hey, it could happen.
2. Start my own business. I am not passionate about office work, which is what I currently do. I love to write, but I absolutely despise the politics, gossip, and general bullshit that is office culture. However, this post is not meant to be a work rant (I’d need more than one post).
I want to find my passion and start a meaningful family business that makes an impact on people’s lives. The current pipe dream is some type of accommodation business to contribute to people’s vacation memories and help them create treasured moments with loved ones.
1. Live in a log cabin on the lake. JP is a water baby and he has converted me into a woman who craves country living: open spaces, privacy, serenity, and being in touch with nature. Plus, I might finally be allowed to get a pet goat.
2. Learn to garden. My friend DK says that I fail at nurturing anything without a face. To date, that has been quite true. However, with her guidance, I am going to conquer this challenge and grow a beautiful garden that I can be proud of.
3. Achieve and maintain a healthy weight. This is an entire section of my blog, so I won’t go into great detail. This will be accomplished through eating healthy food (that is local and sustainable) and being active.
Make a Difference
1. Rescue a dog. I love puppies. They make my heart melt. I crave the bond between mama (being me, not the dog mama) and new puppy that allows me to raise a happy, healthy, and balanced dog. However, there are so many dogs who need to be rescued and could benefit from an experienced dog owner like myself. One day, we will add a rescue to our pack (even if that means we have three dogs…we will be in a log cabin with lots of property, so the more the merrier, right? JP?).
2. Participate in the Ride to Conquer Cancer. As I continue to get fitter and stronger, I’d like to participate in this meaningful fundraiser. Unfortunately, I don’t think there are many of us who can say that we haven’t had cancer impact our lives in some way. This cause is especially close to my heart as it’s what took my dad away from me.
3. Volunteer at a hospice. My dad was on his way to a hospice before he died in the regular hospital. One day, as hard as it would be for me to go to a place like this, I’d like to volunteer and help people who are having the most desperate, devastating, and terrifying experience of their lives.
4. Volunteer more in general. My cause of choice: animals. This could mean training one of my (future) dogs to do hospital work, volunteering with a rescue organization, fostering dogs, or working with the Lions Foundation.
My list is going to continue to evolve as I do and I am going to document my progress on this blog. You will share in my joy when I accomplish something on the list and (hopefully) empathize with my struggles when I have setbacks. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait!
I’d love to know, what’s on your bucket list?