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Category: Inspiring Bucket List Stories

With inspiring Bucket List stories, the goal is to share once-in-a-lifetime experiences, people accomplishing them, and hopefully inspire readers to go out and do them.
Many people often say they want to travel somewhere, accomplish some feat, or desire to improve themselves. However, they lack the motivation. So with these inspiring bucket list stories hopefully you fill find ways to relate to others who are living out their bucket lists.  Perhaps you will see that people just like you have found the reason to live the life they have always wanted to live and you can do it too!

Remember, “It is Better to Live One Day as a Lion, Than a Thousand Days as a Lamb!”

The Liebster Award

The Liebster Award

The Liebster Award!

Recently, I received an email informing me that the Bucket List Project was nominated for Liebster Award by Andreea of 10TravellingTips. If you don’t know Andreea, she’s a Romanian ex-flight attendant that shares her traveling experience, after visiting more than 60 countries, by adding 10 easy travel tips for each place visited.

So what is the Liebster Award?

The Liebster Award exists only on the internet, and is given to bloggers by other bloggers. Earliest cases of the award go as far back as 2011. It is a way to be discovered, but also to connect and support the blogging community.

“In German, Liebster means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.”

If you have been nominated for the Liebster Award and choose to accept it, you are required to follow these rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and post a link to their site.
  2. List the rules of the award in your blog post & display an image of the award. Then write a post about your nomination on your blog.
  3. Answer the questions your nominee has asked in their blog post.
  4. Nominate 5-10 other deserving new bloggers for the award and ask them 10 questions of your choice.
  5. Revel in the winning of the Liebster Award!
The Bucket List Project won the #Liebster Award! Break out the Bubbly & read all about it! Click To Tweet

My Liebster Award Questions & Answers

Andreea of 10TravellingTips, with her nomination, asked me 11 questions and here are my responses:

  1. Which country left the biggest impression on you and why?

    So far I love everything about Spain. My first trip there was to Barcelona and then to Run with the Bulls in Pamplona. Though very different in personality, both were filled with history, culture, and great food! My second trip to Spain was to walk the entire Camino de Santiago from the Pyrenees to the Atlantic Ocean. Again, I was amazed by the culture and kindness of all the people in all the northern regions of Spain. Plus the physical scenery was often breath taking!

  2. Show us your most beautiful travel photo.

    The Taj Mahal
    Bucket List #69) Travel to the Taj Mahal, India (completed on 1-17-2017)
  3. Do you prefer to travel alone or accompanied?

    I think Andreea of 10TravellingTips is trying to get me beat up because this is a loaded question! To be honest, I don’t know. For the majority of my life until 2012, I, like most people always traveled with others.  There wasn’t another option in my mind and I always enjoyed the company of others. However, if people couldn’t or didn’t want to travel where I wanted to go, I often missed out and never went. Then in 2013, I decided I didn’t want to wait on others and their schedules and took my first solo trip to Spain. I loved it. For the next several years, any big international trip I took was always solo. There is just something about traveling on your own schedule without having to worry about the needs or feelings or cost of another person. Plus, when you travel alone, if you want, you can always make new friends. Now with that said, I did take a major trip with Darcee to India for nearly 4 weeks and it was great. Her company reminded me of how special it can be to share experiences with someone and that even when traveling with others, you can still make friends.

  4. What is your no. 1 dream destination?

    Everyone always asks me this question and it is so hard! Currently, I am enamored with Morocco, Antarctica, China, Argentina, Mongolia, and Myanmar. However, I would have to say if I had to choose one dream destination it would be to spend several weeks exploring my family heritagein Cuba.

  5. Where are you planning to travel this year?

    Planning where to travel is always fun for me as seen in my 2017 Bucket List Hopes and Goals. 2017 already started off with a bang, as Darcee and I were in India racing an auto-rickshaw for several weeks and then visited the Taj Mahal. As for the rest of the year, we have a list of places. First the plan is to travel to Scotland, England, and Wales in April and May. Then we hope to explore the national parks of Northern California at the end of Spring.  Near the end of July, we will be exploring Alberta, Canada and Banff National Park. Then come the end of September, we are flying to Germany to celebrate Oktoberfest with the possibility of a side trip to Morocco!

  6. What is your biggest fear while travelling?

    Tough question. I don’t know if I have any major fears while travelling because I am usually happiest being nomadic. I guess if I am travelling with Darcee, I worry about her safety since I often find myself in fun but “risky” situations.

  7. What are the 3 items that always go in your suitcase?

    First and foremost, I always pack several cigars. There is just something about sitting at a café or an outdoor area in a foreign country with a cigar as I relax and ponder my day of exploration. Secondly, it may be the Eagle Scout in me, but I never travel without a pocketknife. It’s not that I always seem to need it, but as they say in the scouts, “Always Be Prepared!” Third, I would have to say, a notebook and pens. Even in this day and age of social media instant posting, I find handwriting notes, travel plans, or even memories of the day in my notebook, help me to remember things better.

  8. What do you love most about travelling?

    I recently realized I LOVE that nervous feeling in my stomach before a major adventure or experience! With traveling, I often get that feeling and it makes me feel alive. When you are exploring, you are often seeing things for the very first time and processing new information through all of your senses. To hear strange sounds, taste new flavors, see great works of art, or touch different environments offers me a great way to learn and grow that I would never have had back home.

  9. Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?

    Hopefully, 46! But seriously, I don’t really make plans that far off. But I would hopefully have checked off over 100 items off my Bucket List Project and perhaps added 50 more!

  10. Tell us your favourite travelling quote if you have one.

    Live your Life by a Compass, not a Clock
  11. What motivated you to start your blog?

    Why post The Bucket List Project online? For 3 Reasons:

    1) I need everyone’s help…keep me accountable, help me find ways to accomplish my goals, or just cheer me on!!

    2) I want to help others with their own Bucket List Items.  #103 on my list is to Help anyone Complete an Item on their Bucket List within 1 year of them Helping me Complete one of Mine!!

    3) I want to Inspire People to Dream & then to GO OUT & COMPLETE THEIR BUCKET LIST!  If I can do this, then ANYONE CAN!  Too many people, my Friends & Family included, just go through life living a mediocre existence!

The Bucket List Project nominates the following bloggers for the Liebster Award:

  1. Be|Esther – Esther give tips on how she has and continues to thrive and overcome good and bad experiences. In addition to this, she helps small business owners promote their businesses online!
  2. World in Paris – World in Paris is a team of quirky explorers with a preference for the local side of Paris and its less known sights. I love how they are continuously looking for new ideas to enjoy the best of Paris.
  3. Live Jennormously – Around mid-2015, Jennifer made a promise to herself to never stop having adventures or trying new things. She’s traveled overseas solo, hiked and camped in back-country, and scuba dived. I love her passion and her desire to share it with other adventurers.
  4. Danay – Danay is a Latina entrepreneur, mom and wife. She loves to share stories of her family and write about her journeys, challenges, wins and some of the interesting things she discovers and divulges about being an entrepreneur, a mom, a traveler, a proud Latina and trying to be awesome.
  5. Momming with Grace – Breeanna shares her story as a police wife, cancer killer, and God lover trying to make it through parenting our girl, Annabelle Grace, with a whole lot of Grace.
  6. Wandering with MI – A CPA by profession, on Maria’s free time she’s a traveler, foodie, chef (to her family and friends, haha), adventure seeker and just now, a blogger. I love reading about places she’s been to, the food that she’s tried, her lifestyle, and her personal experiences and thoughts on everything.
  7. A Baby Abroad – Dani is raising a baby while living abroad and making the most of it by travelling near and far. A Baby Abroad is about our journey into parenting, family life, and family travel because the world is too interesting and marvellous to miss out on it… even with a baby in tow. 
  8. A Touch of Bliss – Mikaela is a lover of all things beauty, fashion and lifestyle! Her blog is filled with everything but you may also find some more personal posts. Here she talks about her struggles with body image, self esteem, anxiety and other ‘normal’ daily struggles and my quest to combat them.
  9. Leave the Couch and Go – Anya and George created Leave The Couch And Go, because they’re passionate about happy and healthy living, and it’s high time they share their knowledge, talents and experiences with you.
  10. Ivy & Sprig – Ivy and Sprig is meant to depict moms who are still growing themselves in their interests and passions while raising little sprigs too.  Stephanie seeks to encourage your faith, give you practical ideas for your family and give you a laugh sometimes.

Look who The Bucket List Project nominated for the #Liebster Award! #blogger Click To Tweet

Questions for my Nominees:

  1. Of these four Wizard of OZ characters, which do you most resemble in your own life & why?
    • The Protagonist (Problems just happen when you’re around.): Dorothy
    • The Brains (You think of ways to avoid/escape problems.): Scarecrow
    • The Heart (Everyone loves your spirit when problems occur.): Tin Woodman
    • The Hero (“Who’s a coward now that your problem just got REAL?”): Cowardly Lion
  2. What is a scary moment you’ll never forget?
  3. What is a Bucket List item you have already completed and why was it on your list?
  4. What is the #1 travel destination item on your Bucket List and why?
  5. What is the #1 Non-travel item on your Bucket list and why?
  6. Pick one photo with a good story and tell it!
  7. How do you find inspiration and get new ideas for your blog?
  8. What is your favorite post that you’ve written?
  9. What is the Craziest or most Extreme thing you have ever done?
  10. What is your favorite and least favorite candy bar?

— Don’t Forget to Pin It! —

The Travel Whispers Blogger Challenge

The Travel Whispers Blogger Challenge

Travel Whispers Blogger Challenge

People are often asking me how I learn about these crazy adventures, experiences, or places to travel that are on my Bucket List.  Well, the internet of course! I not only scour the internet but I subscribe to numerous travel and adventure blogs out there to learn about the world.  That is how I found out about The Travel Whispers Blogger Challenge!

The Travel Whispers Blogger Challenge is the brain child of  travel blogger, Stephanie Fox.  Aimed at rounding up 2016 and looking towards 2017, she created 10 out of the ordinary travel questions that would not only share your personal insights on traveling but also introduce other travel bloggers to your readers.  At the bottom of this post, I will list several travel bloggers who are participating as well.  So after reading, please check them out too.  You might find some exciting new bloggers to follow and some great travel ideas for the future!  Also, you can find them across Twitter and Instagram by using the hashtag #TravelWhispers.

When The Travel Whispers Blogger Challenge was passed on to me by Sara & Nacho of I Do What I Want To, I was a  bit nervous to say the least since The Bucket List Project is still a newbie in the blogging world.  However, I found the questions a great way to learn & share not only about myself but my hopes for The Bucket List Project.

Reading The Bucket List Project's answers to the Travel Whispers Blogger Challenge #TravelWhispers Click To Tweet

So with bated breath, here are The Bucket List Project’s answers to The Travel Whispers Blogger Challenge:

1. If you had to move to a country that you’ve NEVER been to, and live there for ten years, where would you go?

I think I would want to go to Cuba since it is where my mother and family are from originally.  To live in such an exotic environment that offers an unbelievable culture all while seeing where my family grew up, would be amazing.  Plus, being ideally located in the Gulf of Mexico, it would allow me the ability to travel home to see my family in the US, while also, being able to explore other parts of Central and South America.

2. If you had to live in a hotel for the rest of your life, which hotel would you choose and why?

Not gonna lie, I would take a hostel, airbnb, a guest house, or even a tent over most hotels any day. To me, most hotels are just places to store my stuff while I am out and about exploring. However, if I had to be sentenced to a hotel I think I would either want to live in the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans or the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego.

Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego, California

3. If you could only eat the cuisine of one nationality forever more, which would you choose?

This question is tough.  If I could only eat the cuisine of one nationality forever, I would have to either say food from Spain or Thailand (minus the Scorpion on a Stick…been there done that).

When it comes to Spain, I think they offer some of the greatest variety as Barcelona has unbelievable seafood with a Mediterranean flair while up North the pork is phenomenal.  With Thailand, I think it offers a great infusion of Asian styles while also finding some modern flavors from around the world in their more metropolitan cities like Bangkok.

4. Who has given you ‘holiday envy’ this year, and how?

Oddly enough there is a couple who I met in Chiang Mai, Thailand during a holiday festival in 2015, called Yi Peng/Loy Krathong. Hands down Chelsea and Mark give me ‘holiday envy’ for all the holidays and festivals they attend.  Though they currently living in Dubai, they travel all over the place.  In 2016, amid all their awesome travels, I most envied their adventure at Oktoberfest in Munich, which now is on my 2017 Bucket List!

5. If you had to look at the same sunrise or the same sunset every day, where in the world would you never get bored of seeing? Please don’t say sitting outside Cafe Mambo in Ibiza.

I don’t think anything has ever beaten the sunset I saw in Oporto, Portugal.  For the rest of my life, I could easily sit amid the tourists, with a cigar and a glass of port wine, just watching the sun set along the Douro River .

The Sunset along the Douro River in Oporto, Portugal (NO FILTER)

6. If you were taking a ‘staycation’ in your hometown, where would it be and what would you recommend others do?

I am from New Orleans, Louisiana where there is a ton to see, experience, and most importantly EAT! First, if possible, stay at the Hotel Monteleone.  Its one of the older hotels in the French Quarter blocks away from all the fun and action.  However, the most important thing to do is to go down to the famous Carousel Bar and ride the Carousel while having a Sazerac, a Vieux Carre, or any cocktail bartender Marvin Allen recommends.

During the day, you need to explore the art galleries on Royal Street, see St. Louis Cathedral, wander around Jackson square, find treasures in the French Market, and stroll the Moon Walk along the mighty Mississippi River.

At night, you need to stroll Bourbon Street (even us locals do it from time to time), walk through Pat O’Briens courtyard, listen to old school jazz at Preservation Hall, or head over to Frenchman Street to hear some modern Jazz and New Orleans Funk Music. Drink Sazeracs, Pimm’s Cups, Daquiris, Hurricanes, any beer from Abita Brewery or explore any of the pre-prohibition cocktails served throughout the city.

To eat, it really doesn’t matter cause it’s all great! Head over to Café du Monde for beignets if you want a light breakfast.  Though you may want Stanley’s for a hearty breakfast by the cathedral.  For lunch grab yourself a poboy or even better, head over to Central Grocery for a muffuletta sandwich, a bottle of Barqs Rootbeer, and a bag of Zaps Crawtators and head up to the river to eat and watch the river boats!  As for dinner Antoine’s is by far the #1 fine dining restaurant in all of New Orleans in my opinion.

7. Describe your perfect travel day of the year?

My summer was packed with unbelievable days on the Camino and in Portugal afterwards.  But if I had to choose a perfect day, it would be with Darcee in Nassau, Bahamas this past March. We had taken a boat out to the coral reefs for snorkeling and then to scratch off Bucket List #202) Ride in a S.U.B. (Scenic Underwater Bubble).  It was amazing.

8. What have you ticked off your bucket list in 2016?

2016 was a very exciting year for The Bucket List Project as we added many items to the 2016 Completed Items list!  However, I would say the highlight was my pilgrimage along the entire Camino de Santiago.  Not only was it amazing to explore all of Northern Spain, but along my “Walk,” I learned a lot about myself and met some amazing friends. You can read Excerpts from My Personal Diary Along the Camino here.

9. What is top of your travel bucket list for 2017?

I tend to be ambitious and perhaps a bit over zealous when it comes to planning out my Bucket List travel plans every year. 2017 is no different.  When I wrote my 2017 Bucket List Hopes and Goals I realized that I had listed 7 countries outside the US & at least 3 different states from Louisiana.  But I guess that is because I am one of those Shoot for Stars kind of guys. With that said I would have to say which of the 10 destinations is top on my list this year it would be a tie between Alberta, Canada and Morocco.

Alberta escaped me last year, but this year it’s a must for me, if not for Banff National Park alone. We have all seen the remarkable photos of Lake Louise in Banff and that marvelous mountain skyline. Well, I want to see that in person.  Plus Canada is celebrating its 150th anniversary of their National Parks. So all entry is free for the entire year of 2017! You can get your Free Pass HERE!

As for Morocco, exploring the Blue City of Chefchaouen, checking out the markets of Casablanca, and taking a camel safari into the desert are all hot on my list!

10. Share your favorite Instagram photo of 2016?

So The Bucket List Project only started on Instagram in September of 2016.  But slowly I have been posting up some of my favorite Bucket List Project pictures from the past.  In November 2015, I was fortunate enough to go to Thailand’s Lantern Festivals of Yi Peng & Loy Krathong.  It was probably one of the best experiences of my life.  While we were all lighting and setting sail to our balloons, I was able to catch this mother and daughter sending off their hopes and dreams into the sky!

Instagram: @TheBucketListProjectBlog




Now since this is a Whispers challenge, I would first like to thank by Sara & Nacho of IDoWhatIWantTo who inspired me to participate.  You can read their responses by CLICKING HERE!

You can find more travel whispers at the links below:

Stephanie Fox

Josie Wanders

Young and Undecided

My Own True North

If you are a travel blogger and want to take part in the fun, then join the facebook group here.

2017 Bucket List Hopes and Goals

2017 Bucket List Hopes and Goals

It’s that time again, time for reflecting and planning out my 2017 Bucket List Hopes and Goals!

I was home from India for barely a week when I started getting that same damn question, “So what’s next on the Bucket List Project?” It is a question that sometimes bothers me. I appreciate that people are excited for the next adventure (as am I), but sometimes I just want the chance to enjoy the items previously accomplished and tell that story before moving on to the next. Regardless, 2016 was a great year of amazing adventures, new experiences, and wonderful new friends.  See all the Bucket List items I scratched off in 2016 by CLICKING HERE!

So what’s next on the Bucket List Project?

Trying to figure out what I want to do next can be a rather daunting task, especially since I am such a bucket-luster (is that just a dreamer of buckets?) that dreams of big adventures. Being that 2016 was filled with amazing travel and personal experiences, continuing that level of success can add to the difficulty.

But, for the past several weeks, I have been pondering what exactly my 2017 Bucket List Hopes and Goals are going to be.  Some of the items came easy, as they are items I’ve had on my mind, while others popped up for various reasons.  So, with the use of a modern technology (pen & paper) and a time tested strategy (the line graph), I believe I have come up with a great rough draft of my 2017 Bucket List Hopes and Goals.

Now I know that this technology is somewhat foreign to many, therefore I will post below what is written on my 2017 Bucket List Hopes and Goals graph for easier reading.

Reading the 2017 Bucket List Project's Hopes & Goals. Have you seen this list yet? #bucketlist Click To Tweet

Here is my 2017 Bucket List Hopes and Goals:


  • #129) Learn How to Make “GrandMom’s Pizza Pie”
  • #130) Eat weird things:
    • #18) Eat Pop Rocks & Drink a Coke and Not Explode


  • #17) Travel to The Republic of Ireland
  • #143) Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland
  • #210) Explore the Giant Causeway & walk across the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge in Northern Ireland


  • #18) Travel to Scotland
  • #130) Eat weird things:
    • #8) Haggis in Scotland
  • #16) Travel to England


  • #5) See my 6 Pack Abs


  • #188) See the Synchronous Fireflies in Elkmont, Tennessee
  • #100) Do 3rd of 4 Urban Adventures in random city in the U.S


  • #187) Travel to Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada
  • #108) Do 4+ OutDoor Adventure “Mud Races” (4th & Final is the Spartan near Banff, Alberta, CA)
  • #198) Witness Pink in Nature:
    • c) See a Pink Waterfall
  • #118) Geocache in the 2nd of 4 Cities (Edmonton or Calgary)


  • ????


  • #66) Travel to the Berlin Wall
  • #132) Drink Beer at OktoberFest in Germany
  • #189) Travel to Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany


  • #156) Travel to Chefchaoueh (the Blue City) of Morocco
  • #158) Visit my 5th of the 7 Continents (Africa)


  • 197) Go to Notre Dame vs Navy football game in South Bend (11-18-2017)


  • ???

Whenever Possible this Year

  • #200) Continue to Explore my home state of Louisiana
  • #203) Continue Reading my 11 Classic Adventure Books
  • #37) Be in a Movie: Be seen
  • #38) Be in TV Show Episode
  • #39) Be in a National Commercial
  • Try to Make Amends with 1 Person on my List
  • #103) Fullfill 1 Bucket List Item for Anyone who helps me with 1 of mine!

Now this definitely looks like a lot.  Obviously, this is just a rough draft because with life, especially mine, things are always subject to change. But as a list-maker, I feel writing it all out not only allows me to maintain focus but keeps me accountable.

So what do you think about The Bucket List Project’s 2017 Bucket List hopes and Goals?  Is there anything on the calendar you think is missing that I need to put on there this year? Please let me know in the comments below!

Also , what is on your 2017 Bucket List? I would love to hear about your hopes and goals for 2017!

My First Year in the Woods – A Bucket List Adventure

My First Year in the Woods – A Bucket List Adventure

My First Year in the Woods – A Bucket List Adventure

There’s a passage from Hemingway that I’ve often told people if offered a choice I would live in for eternity….

“Now that the bad weather had come, we could leave Paris for a while for a place where this rain would be snow coming down through the pines and covering the road and the high hillsides and at an altitude where we would hear it creak as we walked home at night.  Below Les Avants there was a chalet where the pension was wonderful and where we would be together and have our books and at night be warm in bed together with the windows open and the stars bright.  That was where we would go.”

And that was where I had gone.  While not in my beloved France, I had carved my own version of this utopian scene in my own little patch of forest in the woods.

This first winter I had done just that.  Sat in my bed reading with the window slightly cracked, the snow falling softly with that almost silent swish, the fire cracking in the wood burning stove.  The warmth not fully reaching me in the bed but seeing it there created an internal warmth that spread outward and covered me in it’s own glow.

When people speak of bucket lists they are really speaking of dreams.  The dream of going somewhere or doing something that uplifts their spirit, gives their lives hope, fulfills a deepest wish in their soul, makes them leap out into the world, throw themselves in the mix of humanity and experience.  You could say the cabin was my ultimate bucket list check off.
It’s the first anniversary of acquiring my little patch of felicity in the woods.  It’s been a year of wonder, magic, aggravation, solitude, terror, reflection, disruptions, solace, empowerment, but mostly it’s just been absolutely life changing wonderful.

It’s become not just a place I go to but almost a mental retreat available at all times.  If I’m having a soul punishing day I shift my attention from what I’m working on to looking up a cabin project idea and daydreaming about what I’m going to plunge into on the next trip. Cabin as a state of mind?  I certainly think so.
After traveling around the world and methodically checking off one bucket list destination after the next I came to a point where I was not satisfied with just my week or few days in one of the places that I loved.  I yearned to be able root myself to a specific place of meaning.

I normally spend a lot of time researching interesting places to stay.  Whether just an off the grid destination or someplace that had been designed with a bit of magical realism in mind.  Places where they spent that little extra time to add something intangible that you feel as well as see.  I drew inspiration from these places and wanted to carve something like that as my own.

The cabin was years in coming.   It was a spark in the back of my brain after my first visit to Mammoth Lakes when I was 25.  I didn’t ski, I hadn’t spent much time in snow, and even with being raised basically underwater in New Orleans I was a mountain girl in spirit and I knew it.  My heart soared anytime I saw a peak in the distance.  There was a little leap inside of me every time I saw the topography of the land changing to a rising landscape that directed your eyes and your soul UP!

As I look back on the year it’s sometimes amazing to me that there wasn’t always a cabin.  Maybe in my mind it was always there.  The reality of it was just an extension of someplace I was already living in the deep reaches of my soul.
Why the cabin?
Why did I decide to plant my soul in a spot with no running water in the winter, road access only 4 months of the year, horrible resale value, and a water system that defied logic or reason?
When I inherited the cabin there was a book there.  Sitting solemnly in a stack of other old books on the coffee table called “The Man from Mono”.

On one of those nights that writers always love to write about, where the wind and snow was swirling outside and the wood stove stacked with as much wood as I could squeeze into one metal box.  I was buried under four blankets, wearing a pair of ear muffs, and trying to figure out how to line my long johns with long johns when I realized that I had left my book in the car.  Having no desire to test the limits of my wardrobe and sanity by trying to deconstruct my sofa attire and rig myself back up to go out in the blizzard.  Then snowshoe a mile round trip to the car parked at Tamarack Lodge just to retrieve a small paperback.  Tonight’s reading was going to be “The Man from Mono” by default.
What a find.
As I sat there with my frozen fingers and a bottle of wine that was conveniently chilled to the perfect temperature.  (Not by a wine fridge or any special device, but by the sheer chill of the cabin.)  I delved into this story that brought to light just why we do it.  Why we’ve always done it.

The need to not only be in nature but to conquer it lives very deeply in all of our souls.  John Muir, Shackelton, Franklin, Captain Cook, Krakauer, Ansel Adams, Bruce Chatwin.  Contemporaries to our world and the years behind us.
This man from Mono told a story of a very regular life led in very extraordinary circumstances and hardship.  Where this simple man set up trap lines in the winter, tourists wait in long gate lines to get into one of the most famous National Parks in the world.  His world was challenging and difficult.  He lost many friends to the rigors and dangers of that time and lifestyle.  But you could sense that he wouldn’t have chosen any other life.  His existence was connected and fed by the world in which he lived and the people who also chose that same life.

I was no different.  That siren pull of nature was always beating inside me.
Somebody asked me recently what the best part of having the cabin was and I answered because I knew it was always there.  Always within reach.   Always just a drive away….

Love reading the bucket list adventures of being a new forest service cabin owner at Chateau Fosho! Click To Tweet

About Our Guest Poster:

Raised on the outskirts of New Orleans between the bayou and the river, Michelle Faucheux has always been fascinated with history, travel, adventure, and exploration which has taken her as far as Egypt, Africa, and Antarctica. In a “previous life”, she was an avid concert goer, classic movie buff, and even a 3 time Louisiana Beauty Queen as a young adult. When not in her charming atelier apartment in an old New Orleans Victorian home in the Garden District, you can find Michelle living by a Silver Lake in Los Angeles or Twin Lakes in Mammoth Lakes where she is working as a producer for commercials, music videos, and photo shoots.

To share Michelle’s journey & adventures of being a new forest service cabin owner & the trials and tribulations that go with it, visit her “Chateau Fosho” website when you have some time for escaping to cabin living by visiting:

The Second Bucket List

The Second Bucket List

September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Wow. I can feel you losing interest.

Ok, how’s this: I had a brilliant, sparkling, insanely talented, kind, magical friend and Ovarian cancer stole her from me. Don’t worry, you’re not alone, being more interested in a person than a disease. People do not like to hear about ovarian cancer. While she was sick, and after, I posted things on Facebook about her and her family, and pictures of the two of us. I also posted statistics and graphics from the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition and The Mitchell Cancer Institute, where she was treated. The pictures and stories would get “likes,” comments of hope and support, and private messages asking how I was, how she was, while also promising prayers and offering well wishes. The graphs got maybe one or two weak “likes.” Yet, the majority of my Facebook friends are women  and while Breast cancer gets so much well deserved attention, gynecological cancers get significantly less.

jean-nicole-happyI met Nicole Teague in college and I heard her sing before I heard her speak. We were both auditioning for a musical and she sang something from the show we were auditioning for. My first instinct was to dislike her, out of jealousy and intimidation, but after 14 years of friendship, I don’t know a soul who could ever truly dislike her. She was one of “those people.” Anne of Green Gables called them “kindred spirits” and try as I may, I can’t think of a better way to say it. Before I met Nicole, I was sullen and closed off, but she almost seemed to accept that as a challenge. We forged a friendship very quickly and I poured myself into her in a way I had never done before, or since. I feel terrible saying that because I have awesome life long friends and cousins and two incredible, wonderful sisters. But she was the platonic love of my life.

I really never could describe the grace with which she approached death. To most of us, it’s an abstract concept, a distant, far-off event. The traditional “bucket list” is a fun thing, even the name, implying “Things I will do before I kick the bucket,” is filled with whimsy. Nicole created her bucket list knowing that she had a limited amount of time to fulfill it. As a result, it was at some points a kinder, simpler list. She had the obligatory desire to climb Machu Picchu, of course (don’t we all?), but she also wanted to have red hair – a very simple wish – and take her two wonderful daughters somewhere on a plane. She wanted to travel to Italy, but cancer stole that from her too, she was too sick to be away for that long. fountainShe wanted to jump into the Fairhope fountain with all of her friends (what, were we going to tell her NO?!) and we did that. She wanted to ride a Segway and ride in a police car, and she did those, too. She had wanted to run a full marathon since before she was diagnosed, but was far too weak and in pain from the chemo, so one day in January 2013 my husband and our friend Dane each ran 52.4 miles- one marathon for themselves and one for her.

There was also a second, unspoken bucket list. One entry involved spending time with her friends. At both of the hospitals she spent time in, her room had to be arranged so that it would be near a waiting room – because she had so many visitors, there had to be space for overflow. Someone would be appointed door monitor and retrieve people now and then from the waiting room (“Nicole will see you now”) like at a doctor’s office. Another item on the list was arranging things for after she was gone. The last time I spoke to her coherently, she was adding and figuring (she was excellent at Math) on a list of bills. She compiled a checklist for her husband with important facts and numbers for him to be able to conduct the business of life without her. Because not only did he lose his wife, he lost his team captain.

joe-nicole-and-daneShe planned her own funeral. She and Dane compiled a perfect slide show, selected hymns and chose her flowers. She very quietly wondered out loud to me one day who would be able to speak about her at the funeral. I was dizzy as I responded. I could. She called my husband and asked him to be a pallbearer, the way another woman her age may ask someone to be an usher at her wedding. He was honored beyond words.

But the most important item on Nicole’s unofficial, unspoken bucket list was her daughters. She read the Harry Potter books with them. She sat on the couch and watched Barbie shows on Netflix with them (a saintly task, as anyone with young girls knows). She painstakingly wrote both of them letters for major events in their lives (turning 13, starting high school, wedding day) that she wouldn’t be there for. She quietly hoped that her younger daughter would be baptized while she could be there; one day, during a simple, mother-daughter conversation, she indicated that she was ready, and Nicole was able to see her baptized.

Nicole had achieved most of the most important bucket list items before she even made the list, and far before she was diagnosed with cancer. She met, fell in love with and married a man whom she doted on and adored, had two brilliant, healthy girls, secured many steel-strong friendships, completed a bachelor’s degree, lived in her dream town, performed in many plays and countless church services, traveled to France, England, Mexico and Scotland, lived all over the United States, and was lucky enough to have two incredible, wonderful sisters (hey, just like me!).


She also did something she didn’t realize. She made people better. She scoffed when I told her, but when I am faced with certain obstacles in my life, I try to do what I think Nicole would do. When meeting a new person, I’d like to give a half nod and smile (I may still do that, now and then) but would Nicole do that? No! She’d introduce herself, flash her bright smile and make that person feel like one of the most important people in the world. So, that’s what I try to do. One day, sitting on her couch, I mentioned that someday I wanted to volunteer at the Reading for the Blind radio station. She gestured to my phone on the coffee table and said, “You have a smart phone! Go to their website! Email someone right now!” So, I did.

Nicole lost her battle to Ovarian Cancer but Early Detection is a chance for survival. Read Why! Click To Tweet

This is difficult for me to discuss, because we only talked about it a few times, it was too hard. You see, with Ovarian cancer, early detection is nearly the only chance for survival.  ovarian-cancer-info

It’s so easy to say, “This is an older woman’s problem. I’ll worry about this when it’s time for my hysterectomy,” but Nicole was diagnosed at 34. That means she started having symptoms at 33. By anyone’s standards, she was a very young woman. The signs are so subtle. Feeling full after not eating much, abdominal discomfort, bloating, frequent or urgent urination. It’s come to light recently that many women with Ovarian cancer used talc products, so please do not allow anyone you love to apply baby powder to their “bathing suit region.” Research is being done at the Mitchell Cancer Institute in Mobile, Alabama to develop an early detection test- which is absolutely essential. One in 75 women will be diagnosed with Ovarian cancer, if they detect it early, their five year survival rate is 90%. Nicole was diagnosed on Tuesday, September 18, 2012 and died Tuesday, September 9, 2014. I’d have been thrilled for 3 more years.

She did so much in the short time she had. Truly. She softened the heart of this hardened grump and she made everyone love her without trying at all. She took chances, put her neck out, went for the big part, volunteered from the audience. I miss her every moment of every day and September has its own special sting for me. I’d be willing to bet that if you have ovaries, there’s someone who loves you who wants you to pay attention to them. And I’ll also bet that if you don’t, you love someone who does. Please know the signs, educate others, like NOCC and The Mitchell Cancer institute on Facebook, wear TEAL for ovarian cancer awareness in September (or purple, for all gynecological cancers). And tell your loved ones how you feel, every day. why-teal

I complimented a new acquaintance on her coffee mug the other day, it was covered with rolling pastures and hills. She thanked me, and said that someone had given it to her because it reminded them of Italy, and she always said that heaven was just like Italy. I think I startled her with the exuberance of my response, because I yelled, “Score! That’s one more item down, then!”

*I mentioned Dane briefly, but his role in Nicole’s illness was not brief at all. To learn more about him and Matt, her husband, please read Matt’s words at:

*Nicole wrote her own beautiful entry on her bucket list, the tangible one. You can read her lovely words (and see her lovely face) at:

*If you want to help fund Ovarian Cancer research, consider donating to the Mitchell Cancer Institute at:




Benjamin Franklin

“Many people die at twenty five and aren’t buried until they are seventy five.”

― Benjamin Franklin

One of the biggest challenges I often have when pursuing my bucket list is finding others to participate in the events with me.  This challenge comes at me from multiple angles because everyone always seems to have something holding them back.  Perhaps it is fear, but that isn’t usually the objection they present to me.  When I ask for participants, cost or physical ability are given as reasons why they can’t join me.

However, one of the biggest objections people offer is time!  This of course is an overall category that can include time to take to complete the event, time off of work, time to save the money, or fear of taking the time away from their  current lives.  Inevitably, everyone says they want to do said bucketlist event, but try to push it off to a more “convenient” time for them.  Now I understand that when it comes to my bucketlist items, just because I am rip roaring and ready to go do something now, it doesn’t mean that everyone else is ready.  But what bothers me is how people blow off their own personal bucket list items and dreams! In my humble opinion, I think it is sometimes fear that is the biggest culprit of time and perhaps people don’t realize that is what is actually keeping them from saying “yes.”

Time is probably the most precious gift we have. You need to watch Prince EA's video! Click To Tweet

Time is probably the most precious gift we are given and we as humans abuse and waste this gift in the worst way.  People bank on the idea that they will have time -later – but sometimes, later never comes!  They hope and pray that they will have the time and resources to accomplish items on their bucketlist when they get “older” or retire, but often, it doesn’t happen.

So in the spirit of inspiring others, I wanted to share this great video.  It was written and presented by Richard Williams, better known by his stage name Prince Ea.  I hope that it will inspire even just person to live life to the fullest now and move past all of the objections, fears, and limits put upon them.  Don’t end your life with regrets.  Remember it is better to have lived just 1 day but as a Lion than to have lived a 1,000 days but as a lamb.

Words and performance: Prince Ea

Client: Neste
Agency: TBWA
Creatives: Steve Brown, Pia Grekula
Marketing Director: Sirpa Tuomi
Business Director: Iikka Maunumaa

Director: Taito Kawata
Producer: Kimmo Manninen
Production Manager: Siiri Koponen
DP: Johan Wasicki
AC: Antwon Tevajärvi
Post: Dermot Gallagher, Arttu Rautio
Music: Markku Mäkelä
Grade: Marko Terävä / Post Control
Local production: Bui Baldvinsson & Finni Hardarson

Does music inspire you?

Does music inspire you?

kurt vonnegut

“What would be your walk up to bat music?”

This was the question posed to me and several others at a New Orleans Zephyrs minor league baseball game on a beautiful mid June night at the Shrine on Airline.  Most of the others came up with interesting or fun song titles but I suddenly went blank!  I sat there pondering this question for the rest of the game while critiquing the current batters choices as they came up to bat wondering why on earth they chose a specific song and trying to figure out the ultimate song to announce the coming of the Great Eric to the Plate!

But alas, I could not come up with a “now at bat” song and tried to forget about it.  That was until a couple of days later when I was watching WWE wrestling and listening to all of the wrestlers’ “entrance” music.  If I was heading down the ramp to do battle with Andre the Giant, what song would get me all fired up to make the long walk to meet him?  Again, I was blank!

Music has been important to sports like baseball games ever since “The Star-Spangled Banner” was played at the start of the 1918 World Series.  With little ditties like “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” it was a nice filler for breaks between innings while people would purchase their “Peanuts and Cracker Jacks.”  As boxers and wrestlers have used their “entrance music” to get them and their fans all fired up for victory, baseball players have followed by blasting their walk up or “now at bat” music in hopes of inspiration and success!  Even pitchers have gotten in on the action with their “out of the bullpen” music.  This is perfectly portrayed in the 1989 movie, Major League as they announce the entrance of pitcher Ricky “Wild Thang” Vaughn!


So what is it about music that gets people fired up and excited?  Why does it inspire people to pursue success and complete major feats of adventure, strength, and skill?  What is it about music that perhaps reignites that fire in someone to overcome all the odds and achieve their goal?

What Music gets you inspired to chase your dream or bucket list? #bucketlist #bucketlistinspiration Click To Tweet

Well, there are millions of documented studies out there that can explain this phenomena better than I can.  But in short, some of the studies out there have discussed how music floods the brain with a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine is the chemical in the brain associated with pleasure, motivation and reward.  Other studies have shown that there’s actual evidence that your brain waves are indeed affected by the music you listen to and depending on the tempo of the song, you can create alpha and theta waves that will stimulate inspiration and creativity!  But again, this is well beyond my knowledge on the subject.  I just know that music is and has always been the soundtrack to my inspiration in pursuit of many of my Bucketlist items!

So why am I stuck determining a “Now at Bat” or “Now to the Ring” song?  Perhaps there are too many songs from which to choose? Surely there must be one song that inspires me.  I just couldn’t think of one, so I decided to ask others.  I posed this question to several of my friends:

” I have a random but very interesting question. You know when baseball players go up to bat or when wrestlers or boxers or introduced from the back and they play their entrance music that keeps them all fired up and jacked out of their minds with energy? My question to you is what would be your entrance music into the WrestleMania ring or a title boxing match or when you come up to bat at the World Series?”

Below are their answers:

  • “Music has been a big part of my life. When I got really really sick the song that got me through the most painful procedure (3 Spinal Taps ) post operatively was Bittersweet Symphony by the Verve.”  ~Mana’Olanakeiki Alo
  • “Believe by Mumford and Sons.  It means to me just to know ur still alive and never give.” ~Alex Arechavaleta
  • “I love Another One Bites the Dust by Queen.  That driving beat motivates me to do anything.  When we were cycling Africa, I’d put that song on during the final stretch of a very had day and it got me though the final kilometers.  I got into camp with a smile on my face and my head bobbing to the beat.  Freddie Mercury had the best voice in Rock n Roll, that bass line is fantastic.  You cant help but be ready to take in the world when you hear it!” ~Deb of The Planet D
  • “Bouncing Back by Mystikal. It’s about coming back stronger when you get knocked down.” ~ James Folse
  • “This may sound a little unique, but seeing that my music background is in classical, I would have to say Chopin’s Revolutionary Etude Op. 10 no.12 in C minor. It has a lot of momentum and power and always gets me pumped when I hear it. His Ocean Etude Op.25 No.12 in C minor is another good one for the same reasons. They are both very aggressive pieces, you can feel his anger and wrath when you listen to them both. Something about these pieces makes me think its time to put my game face on!” ~August Bailey
  • “I love “lose yourself” by Eminem. The lyrics of this song made me want to take my shot. The excitement, the emotion; everything comes together and you make this decision to do something you’ve dreamed about. The feeling is amazing, and you know that “success is the only mother$#@in’ option, failure not”. It just sums the process up so perfectly.” ~ Zachary Smits
  • “Mine isn’t a typical jacked up anthem. It’s something that reflects my whimsical side yet for whatever reason, gets me moving. It’s root beer rag performed by Billy Joel.  I picture if my grandfather had an iPod when he was a youngster, this would probably be what was on his workout track. And that makes me happy. Plus the speed of it makes my feet move significantly faster when I’m on a run.” ~Joseph Elfer
  • “I think my song is Right Here Right Now by Jesus Jones because I love being in that moment.  The adrenaline, the build up to it…that is the most fun to enjoy it…and to make the most of it.  The Son says Right Here Right Now, there is no other place I rather be!!  I love it!” ~Mark Firmin
  • “William Tell Overture.  It reminds ‘me’ of when I was a youngster and full of piss and vinegar!” ~Mark Snider
  • “My entrance music theme song is Imperial March by John Williams.  Once you leave the locker room, you already made the commitment to reach your goal, now you have to focus on the details of how you’re going to reach that goal, you need to focus.  Imperial March is slow, steady, and relentless.  When you come out the locker room you need to lay a solid foundation and make good plans to reach your goals.  This song helps me focus on setting myself up for success.  The Death Star was not built in a day, by people who rushed into the project.” ~Nicholas Kidder
  • “Fighter by Christina Aguilera.  This song is the embodiment of life experiences. Everyone goes through ups and downs, but this song lets me turn those experiences into personal strength.” ~Sarah Smits
  • “The song that motivates me is See You Again by Wiz Khalifa.  I love the Fast and the Furious movies, so that song really gets me.  It makes me strive for more!” ~ Cris Salas
  • “What a Wonderful World because it has always meant a lot to my dad and I.  When I hear that song I think of him – someone that has had more than his share of hardships but never quit trying or smiling, someone who can do anything and who motivates me to keep going even when I want to give up.” ~Darcee Snider
  • “Rich Kids by New Medicine no question about it.  If you listen to the song you just know.  Its kind of a punk rocker song but it’ll motivate anyone to get up and move!” ~ Ali Salas

As you can see, many songs motivate people in many different ways.  It is interesting to ask this question to people cause at first they offer up something funny or trite but after some digging its amazing to find out their song and even more amazing to find out why that song moves them!

So what did I finally decide on my song?

I think the song that drives me is “Remember the Name by Fort Minor.”  I love the lyrics of the refrain because it fits every goal I go after:

This is ten percent luck
Twenty percent skill
Fifteen percent concentrated power of will
Five percent pleasure
Fifty percent pain
And a hundred percent reason to remember the name

So what would be your “Now at Bat” or “Entrance” song?  Let me know in the comments below!

90-Year-Old Woman Says No Chemo So She can Travel The Country

90-Year-Old Woman Says No Chemo So She can Travel The Country

Robert Frost

I have been very blessed and lucky in the first 40 years of my life to elude major illnesses or injuries.  But as you get older you start to think & notice things, like Heart Disease, Strokes, & of course the most evil of them all: Cancer.  Perhaps this is because I entered an era of my life where others my age started having to deal with those issues while those older than me, like my parents, seem to be facing those challenges a bit more regularly.

Now from 20-35 years old , in typical macho, ego-centric, male fashion, I develop thoughts of a fighter.  You know, the “That won’t ever happen to me and if it did, I would kick [Insert Disease Here]’s ass!” type of thinking.  But as I get older humility is sneaking into me, and I start to wonder.  What would I do if my doctor told me I had something like Cancer?  Would I fight?  Would I accept pain and misery, to sign up for “potentially life saving” Chemo?  Knowing me, the answer is a most confident: PROBABLY! But is there another option?  Well for for 90-year old northern Michigan resident, Miss Norma, there definitely was  another option: “the one less travelled by and that has made all the difference”!

   DRIVING MISS NORMA (as shared to Eric by Driving Miss Norma)

Miss NormaSome time in 2015, as Norma’s husband of 67 years, Leo, was dying in a hospice center, another medical crisis suddenly arose.  After having some blood detected in her urine during a routine exam she was sent for an ultrasound, and then another. The day after Leo was admitted to Hospice we learned that she had a large, likely cancerous mass on her uterus.

Two days after Leo died, Norma found herself sitting in an OB/GYN office talking about treatment options.

The Story of Miss Norma is truly inspiring! #MissNorma #bucketlist Click To Tweet

You know the drill: surgery, then radiation and chemo in some order. When the doctor was finished he asked her how she would like to proceed.

A tiny woman at 101 pounds and under five-feet tall, an exhausted Norma looked the young doctor dead in the eye and with the strongest voice she could muster, said, “I’m 90-years-old, I’m hitting the road.” The gynecologist, and the confused first-day medical student who was observing, looked to her son Tim and daughter-in-law Ramie for some clarification.

They had had time to talk to Norma beforehand about the likelihood that there would be some bad news coming from the doctor. She made it VERY clear to us that she had no interest in any treatment. Her family  “got it” and were in complete support of her decision.

Norma with a Slingshot

But what next? They couldn’t imagine leaving her in a nursing home, especially after she’d just walked down the long halls of the local Tender Care Hospice to visit Leo in the last room on the right, reserved for the dying. No way. There was also no way she could live at home alone without Leo—they were a well-oiled interdependent team for more than six decades.

So Tim and Raimee explained to the well-meaning doctor and his student that they live in an RV and that would be taking her wherever she wanted to go. The doctor didn’t hesitate to say, “RIGHT ON!” They asked if he thought us irresponsible for this approach. His reply was telling:

“As doctors,” he said, “we see what cancer treatment looks like every day: ICU, nursing homes, awful side effects. Honestly, there is no guarantee she will survive the initial surgery to remove the mass. You are doing exactly what I would want to do in this situation. Have a fantastic trip!”

So Norma packed her bags, grabbed her dog Ringo,airstream with ringo and started touring the country in an Airstream RV with her son, Tim, and his wife, Ramie. Six months into the journey, her cancer symptoms have lessened, and she’s in no pain. Her travels have taken her to New Mexico, Louisiana, South Dakota, and Florida. Her adventures include participating in a Native American ceremony, visiting Disney World, and riding in a hot air balloon. “We love traveling with her,” Ramie says. “We’ve been to a lot of these places, but we’re seeing them through fresh new eyes and it’s fun to see her reactions and meet people on the road.

She was recently interviewed and these are my favorite highlights:

  • When asked how she’s kept her positive attitude, “Just keep on going every day, that’s about it.”
  • After losing the love of her life, her advice is to talk about the good times: “Storytelling is really, really helpful.”
  • “People shouldn’t be afraid to travel,” she said. “No matter your age.”
  • “I’m having the time of my life!” Norma told The Huffington Post

I have been following Miss Norma’s Adventures for the past several months and was honored when her team granted me permission to share her story on The Bucket List Project.

To keep up with their adventures, visit Miss Norma’s Facebook page, Driving Miss Norma.

I have created a Monster!!

I have created a Monster!!

(Originally  published on 09/17/13)

Those of you who have recently had a chance to talk to me in person, know how much I LOVE talking about my Bucket List Project!  It has been a motivating factor in my life for the past year in improving my Mind, Body, & Soul!  But it has brought about a great Side Effect….Inspiration to Others!  There is nothing cooler than getting an email, text, or Facebook message from someone declaring that they have either started working on their own Personal Bucket List or even Better Completed an Item on their list that they have been pushing off for many years!

One of the coolest things to hear is the unusual things on Someone’s Bucket List that is Extremely Important to them!  See, it is very very easy to put “Losing Weight” or some sort of Travel on your Bucket List.  I mean think about it.  When you were 5 years old, you never dreamed really about travelling.  You dreamt of some experience or adventure that would lead to a personal greatness.

If you really take some time to sit down and think about all the things you want to do, experience, and see in your life, then you will discover that you have some very creative and obtainable dreams!

Below, I have listed some of the coolest Bucket List Items that have been recently shared with me.  A couple have even been Completed!

What Cool Thing Inspires You?  Write it Down & then Develop a Plan to Do it!

* Catherine F: “I know 2 things that would go on it……watching boxing match ring side and going to a roller derby.”

* Danielle H:   “choreographing a Musical!”  COMPLETED!!

* Amy L: “Take a Glass Blowing Class!”

* Kristy W.D.:  “Travel to Ireland to Have a Proper Pint at the Guiness Brewery…& Drive Down a Country Road while Getting Blocked by a Herd of Wandering Sheep!”

steve krobert skydiving
Steve Krobert skydiving

* Steve K: Go Sky Diving for my Birthday!  COMPLETED (Jan 18, 2015)

* Margaret W. R.: “when I’m a senior – join a seniors dance troupe and perform at a sporting event and not be embarrassed”

* Craig T: “Get over my fears of snakes by going rattlesnake hunting!”

* Cathy W.: “getting my haircut in London after high school with jet black dye and neon blue tips – Punk Rock Style!”

* Jon A.: “Go to Matador School & wear the cape!”

*Mike P.: “Meet the Dalai Lama”

*Wade T.: “I’ve also wanted to go to one of the many balls in Vienna ”

* Nicole T: “splash in the Fairhope Fountain! I’ve always wanted to, and there’s no time like the present 🙂 Ice cream at my house after 🙂 Bring a towel. No worries if you can’t make it–I’ll be jumping anyway!” COMPLETED!!


Meet Amy Larsen & Her Bucket List!!

Meet Amy Larsen & Her Bucket List!!

( This Post was originally published on 09/05/13)


Amy LarsenBack in February of 2013, I was lucky enough to meet group of great people from Cheyenne, Wyoming.  Amoung this group of people was a young woman named Amy Larsen.  Though she was full of spirit, she seemed to be struggling with her life.  So I shared the story of my Bucket List Project with her.  Then something remarkable happened…SHE ACTED!  Within the next couple of months I would chat with her and she developed her own Bucket List.  She decided to take control of her life and persue all of her dreams of travel, Personal Growth, and overall Living!

Back on August 17th, Amy gave a speech at a Young Adult “Seekers” retreat in Grand Teton National Park.  Below is part of what she shared with the 22 Young adults who were in their mid 20’s to 40’s.

Excerpt from Amy Larsen’s Speech:

“On Jan 21st of this year my whole entire world forever changed. My grandparents had passed away in Sept and October, which has been a struggle as I was extremely close to them, plus my mom had passed way 10 years ago, so all that was left in her family now was her brother and her sister, who is developmentally disabled. On Jan 21st, my uncle passed away suddenly, which just left my aunt Kathy, a 63 year old- 6 year old. I had always been told that at some point I would be the guardian of Kathy, I just didn’t think it would be now and I certainly didn’t think I would be doing it on my own. My life was no longer my own and my decisions are no longer about just me, I have to consider her. Who is going to watch her while I am gone, does she have what she needs, how is she grieving loosing her entire family! Does she really need dog food? For the first time in her life she will be living on her own (in an independent retirement community), making decision about what she wants to do with her organization, and having to rely on me! The rest of her life she is looking to me to take care of her every need, and I am not going to lie it has been a little overwhelming. Both of us have had a steep learning curve! I know I have failed and succeeded, but we are somehow figuring this all out.

Loosing so much family so quickly, and gaining so much responsibility has caused me to re-evaluate what I thought was important in my life, what I truly wanted out of life. I knew something needed to change, life was too short. In Feb I had a chance meeting with what would become a new friend, and a mentor of sort. I met Eric and he had created a bucket list and was living it out! I became obsessed by this idea of a bucket list and have spent hours facebooking with him about it, making my list, trying to come up with 100 things, based on what was of value and importance to me. I no longer wanted to talk about living a life, I was going to do it! I wanted to have a real bucket list, one that I checked things off of, one that were my hopes and dreams, the things that would make me a better person. So with the help of Eric the bucket list was born, the planning began and items started to be checked off. I did my first 5K, I kayaked with the Orca Whales in the San Juan Island, I did an adventure race, I saw Les Miserable. These things are not just something to throw into a conversation, to “talk” about, to be trendy, to prove something to someone! This is me, doing what is important to me, living my life! My #1 item is in the works, The Camino de Santiago.

I made my new favorite quote “You don’t choose a life. You live one.”  my motto! To date I have marked off some significant items. It has been fun to put my dreams on paper, work towards them and to date, have friends share in those bucket list items with me. It gives me purpose, something to work towards, something to accomplish, something to say “Yes! I lived.” Eric introduced me to actually “doing” life. He said to me one time “Its your story, make it worth the read.” How great of a statement is that!

Well, life has been crazy busy between work, play and family and at the beginning of August as my friends and I were driving up to the mountains to watch the meteor shower we got to talking about the “bucket list” and how right now it just feels weird not working towards something. Well, moments later we had what was probably the closest I have ever been to a near death experience. A truck was coming down the hill, in our lane! Mind you we were out in the middle of nowhere, so the only lights were those on our vehicles. As the truck was getting closer we realized he wasn’t moving over, didn’t slow down, just kept going. Thankfully the driver recognized what was going on, and with seconds to spare, was able to pull off the road. We all sat there in silence for a minute, and thanked him for saving our lives! Needless to say when we got to where we were watching the stars, just lying there between two of my close friends, the sky looked different, somehow more clear, that moment with them seemed more important than the things I wasn’t doing, or the work that needed to be done. When I got home, I pulled out my bucket list because to me, what had happened that night, was God reminding me to keep living, keep dreaming, and keep writing my story.

So I went back to my bucket list, started to pick out what my next check would be. It was then that I noticed a few things. I always thought the adventures, hopes and dreams were what was important to me, and they are, but what is more important is that almost all of my items involve someone else, they are all things I want to share with other people. The best part of my bucket list adventures so far has been sharing it with other people! I had put my hopes and dreams down on paper, held myself accountable and in between the lines spelled out how important being in relationship was to me. Not only do I want to write my incredible story, but I am excited to include the amazing characters that I will take and encounter along the way. “

Amy Larsen

~Amy Larsen is the Assistant Director of Pastoral Ministries at the Diocese of Cheyenne & she currently Lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming!