Life Bucket List – Watch the Sunrise on Another Continent

Remember that time 5 months ago when I said I would share with you some of my Life Bucket List items that I had already completed?  Well, I’m finally being true to my word.  I’m trying to do the ‘R’ from my post Your Life is an Occasion and Recommit myself to some items I have let go during the last few months.  My blog being only a fraction of the aspects of my life that I’ve left unattended.  So, without further ado, I present to you the experience surrounding the completion of #37 on My Life Bucket List – watch the sunrise on another continent.

Eleven years ago, I worked for a subprime mortgage company as an Executive Assistant.  The company held annual trips as a reward for their top sellers.  To be fair to the rest of us peons, they had a drawing that all of the Executive Assistants could be included in for a chance to join the company on the trip.  This particular year the destination was Barcelona, Spain.  I could hardly believe that I even had a small chance of going on this trip.  Sadly, my name was not drawn.  However, the woman whose name was drawn had gone the year prior and she didn’t think it seemed fair that she should attend two years in a row.  She encouraged the executives to draw another name.  I was in utter shock when my name was drawn.  I can still remember how I practically sprinted to my office phone to call my husband and inform him that we needed to get our passports ASAP so that we could go on our virtually free trip to Barcelona.  The trip included our airfare, our hotel accommodations (at Hotel Arts Barcelona, a Ritz Carlton Hotel), transportation to/from the hotel, massages upon our arrival, free breakfast daily, one excursion of our choosing, a city tour, and two nights of lavish dinner parties.  It was a dream come true.


At the time of our trip, I had already made a Life Bucket List that included my desire to watch the sunrise on another continent.  A trip of this magnitude seemed like the perfect opportunity to make it happen.  Neither my husband nor myself had ever been on another continent so it was a magical experience from beginning to end.  The trip was dripping with so many extravagant experiences that could only have been brought to you by a company that clearly mismanaged their funds, and we soaked up every last bit of it.

On the morning of our second to the last day in Barcelona, we set the alarm so that we could head down to the beach and watch the sunrise.  The last thing I wanted to do was miss it, so I made sure we went down plenty of time in advance.  The problem is, I think we headed down too early.  It felt like that darn sun would never rise.  We were both so tired, as the time change was still messing with us and we were both fighting off colds.  It was a special memory, nonetheless.  Plus, now we can say that we watched the sun rise over the Balearic Sea, which I believe would be considered a portion of the Mediterranean Sea.  I’ll be honest, I’m not savvy with geography.  What I do know for certain though is that we were on a different continent.

Barcelona (1)

The thing about any activity we set out to do, as individuals, is that the outcome may surprise us.  I thought I wanted to watch the sunrise on another continent, but it was really that I wanted to visit another continent.  The sunrise just seemed like a fun way to experience it, but I am not a lover of mornings.  Perhaps I should have chosen to watch a sunset instead.  Sometimes the activities we do turn out better than we anticipated, sometimes worse, and other times different in such a way that it creates a set of unexpected memories.  The latter was the case recently, when my Dad & Step-Mom treated Aaron and I to a magic show at our local stage theater.  It was, well,  I guess I’m not sure what it was.  Amateur?  Impressive?  Corny?  Pathetic?  Delightful?  Can such an event be all those things at once?  By the end of the show, after all the laughing and heckling had subsided between my Step-Mom and myself, I decided that when it wasn’t amazing, it was amusing.  The whole night made for an evening I will never forget nor could I have anticipated.

I enjoy the things I learn about myself when I experience something new.  Whether it be a magic show or another bucket list item, I feel alive when I’m out discovering life for myself.  It reminds me of the Helen Keller quote I shared in Journaling the Journey, “I don’t want to live in a hand-me-down world of others’ experiences.  I want to write about me, my discoveries, my fears, my feelings, about me.”  As for this Life Bucket List item, I learned that sunrises are magnificent, if you’re already awake, and that my heart delights in travel.  As Susan Sontag said, “I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.”

In Dreams Awake

‘Twas a night in December of 2011, not a creature was stirring not even a mouse, the stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that my BFF soon would be there.  The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while I anxiously awaited to start a horrifically cheesy Christmas movie that ABC Family had put out called 12 Dates of Christmas.  Sigh.  I was never good at poetry, so I’ll leave it for Clement Clark Moore.  Seriously though, I really wanted to see this movie and I knew my BFF, who has an equally pathetic love for cheesy rom-coms, was the perfect person to have by my side.  It had everything you would expect of a magoo made-for-TV-movie; discontinuity, plot holes, everybody growing together as people, cheesy lines, and a male lead character saving the world one wayward teenager at a time.  And, sadly, my BFF and I loved every second of it.  We even watched parts of it over again when we realized there were some hidden gems we had missed.  I may have liked it so much that I convinced another friend of mine to watch it with me again this year.  And even though we both laughed at all the corny lines, poor acting, and plot holes, we both found ourselves sighing, as smitten women do, at the tender predictable ending.

Watching the movie a second time, I found myself appreciating the concept of making the most of our lives.  If you didn’t watch the trailer in the link above, the lead actress lives Christmas Eve over and over again until she gets everything just right.  Think of the movie Groundhog Day with less humor and more magoo.  I got caught up in the message of living to our full potential in an effort to create a happier and fuller life.  They drive the message home in one scene when they use Henry David Thoreau’s quote, “Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.”  What a beautiful concept, right?  It reignited my desire to make sure my life matched my values, my righteous desires, and my dreams, as that’s how I interpret that quote.  I feel like the message is that we are to be active participants in creating a life that exemplifies who we aspire to be.

I think that’s why I like the idea of bucket lists so much.  They are like the blueprints of my dreams.  I think back to my 30th birthday and my husband’s gift to me.  My Life Bucket List has “Ride a Zamboni” on it.  My guess is that had I not put it out there as a sincere desire it would not have come to pass.  That February night in 2011, I was in dreams awake.  Or even something simpler I did this past week from my Christmas Season Bucket List.  I had on there to take cards to a retirement home.  As much as I genuinely wanted to do it, I could have easily justified not doing it.  The Saturday was cold and rainy and my husband would not be with me to help with the kids.  However, because of the list and having put it out there as something I wanted to do, I made the extra effort to do it.  How glad I am that we did.  It felt so good to brighten the day of so many people.  Plus, it was darling to see the pictures and notes my children created for the residents.  Seeing my children brighten someone else’s day is me living in dreams awake.

But it’s not just about bucket lists.  It’s about making the effort to live your dreams, whether they be small or large.  To live in the moment, to make the most of that moment.  That’s the message that 12 Dates of Christmas and Henry David Thoreau are trying to make, I think.  We have this glorious opportunity to change the world around us for the better merely by making a commitment to ourselves to live to our full potential.

In some ways I’m great at this and in other ways I fail to accomplish my dreams.  Perfect example: I dream of being healthier.  Not thinner, though that would inadvertently happen, but healthier.  I hope that one day I can live in dreams awake with a fit body.  In the meantime, cheeseburgers beat out vegetables every time.  Thankfully, I have not completely given up on myself.  My determination to accomplish my Life Bucket List may be all I need to make this a reality since several items on there require a healthier body.

Each of us has our strengths and our weaknesses.  And while Amy Smart got to live Christmas Eve 12 times over before getting it right, we also have another day to give it our best effort.  So, here’s to embracing our strengths and challenging ourselves on our weaknesses in the hopes of living in dreams awake; our truest life, or rather, to our full potential.

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Free Printable Christmas Season Bucket List

I’m a firm believer in holding off on all things Christmas until Thanksgiving has been fully celebrated and appreciated.  So, here I am, on the day after Thanksgiving to kick off the Christmas season!  I decided I would put together a fun little Christmas Season Bucket List, as I’m sure comes as no surprise.  Sadly, I only completed 16 of my 20 items on my Awesome Autumn Bucket List.  The following list is sure to be completed, as it is filled with all the things that our family loves to do every year around this beautiful time of year when we celebrate the birth of our Savior.

I like to post bucket lists on our refrigerator for reference!  This means that today the Awesome Autumn Bucket List comes down and this one goes up!  Feel free to download your own copy of this Christmas Season Bucket List!  May it help make your Christmas season merry and bright!

I love this time of year and I’m excited to spread the love and joy that it brings me!


After publishing, I discovered typos in the Printable Christmas Season Bucket List.  In my effort to not take more time away from my infant son who patiently waited while I put this together, I will not be redoing this printable.  I apologize in advance if you decide to print this out and the typos bug you, as they do me.  Alas, my role as a mother takes priority.  Thank you in advance for understanding.

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Fall Craft: Leaf Mason Jars

Here in our neck of the woods, Fall is quickly becoming a thing of the past.  Winter greeted us with a significant snow storm that served as a reminder to get cracking on my Awesome Autumn Bucket List before I embrace the next season.  So, when I was walking the girls home from school, I told them to grab all the leaves they could find so that we could work on our Fall Craft, which was an item on our bucket list.  Sadly, we started this project too late in the season for it to be a complete success.  However, it still turned out pretty cute, so I thought I would share.

You may be asking yourself, “Hey, didn’t she say that she isn’t crafty?”  You are correct, I did say that.  But for some reason, if you put some sort of brush in my hand, it somehow seems easier for me to tackle.  This time it was a sponge brush to pull off the DIY Leaf Mason Jars that I found on Pinterest through the website Plan Provision.  It doesn’t provide much of a how-to on the site, but it does tell you what you’ll need.  The problem in our results was that I wasn’t aware that the leaves this late in the season would prove to be too crispy and therefore would not stick properly to the mason jars.  We had to cut up the leaves a bit to make them stick at all.  While I still think they turned out nice, I plan to do this project again next year earlier in the season for a more professional looking final product.

If you still have a bit off Fall hanging on where you live, you may want to give this project a go during your Thanksgiving break.  If, like us, winter is upon you, then keep this in mind for next year!  It really did add a beautiful effect to our dining room.  Even better, it left us one bucket list item closer to completing our goal of creating the most Awesome Autumn yet!

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A Life Bucket List

I apologize in advance if you’re thinking to yourself, “Another bucket list?”  It’s true.  I present to you yet another bucket list.  You shouldn’t have been too surprised, I mentioned this was coming in An Inspiring Bucket List.  A reminder that my complete bucket list contains a total of seventy items.  The list that I am sharing with my readers outlines fifty from the complete bucket list.

I think it’s important to note that a bucket list should consist of Do’s not Have’s.  Does that make sense?  For instance, I want to have a dog, but that is more of a wish list item than a bucket list item.  To make it a bucket list item, I changed it to Adopt a rescue dog (#5).  Another good example of this would be in regards to an item pulled from my complete bucket list, which is not shown here.  It reads: Take a trip in an RV.  Ideally, I would like to own an RV.  However, the ownership of an RV would be a wish list item, not an action item.  The desire of owning an RV would be so that we could go on a trip in an RV.  That’s the real goal in my life.  I want to gain experiences and memories, not things.

I also should add that my husband gave me a Life Bucket List rule that I am to abide by.  I’m hoping you all will keep me honest.  He says that I cannot do any two-fers.  Looking at the fifty items that are publicly shared, this may be irrelevant.  An example would be that on my personal list I have Visit Silver Falls.  I have it on good authority that you can see the backside of a waterfall (#35) at Silver Falls.  Per my husband, I cannot kill two birds with one stone on the Life Bucket List.  I may have broken this rule a few times with our Ultimate Summer Bucket List.  I guess one example would be that I can’t visit Niagara Falls (#49) by going on a helicopter ride (#48) over it.  Perhaps this is worth keeping in mind if you are busily making your own Life Bucket List.

Some of these items were on my original list made years ago and have since been achieved.  You can anticipate me sharing those accomplishments from time to time.  My hope is that you will join me on my journey of making these items my reality.  I genuinely hope that you will also share your bucket list items as well.  My goal is that we can all help one another live to our fullest potential and begin making the desires of our heart happen.  If you have an experience with any of these items and have pointers to share.  Share them.  If you hear about a deal for an overnighter on a train (#20), tell me!  Please.  This is a lofty list and I am requesting your help.  Hopefully, I can help you as well!

Wish me luck!

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Free Printable Awesome Autumn Bucket List

Happy October!  I’m sure you’re already busy making autumn memories with your families.  If not yet, you’ve probably seen your fair share of autumn and fall bucket lists that have you feeling excited about the crispness in the air, the crunch of leaves under your feet, and the idea of wrapping your hands around a delightfully warm drink.  My hope is to kick off October by giving you some added ideas to make this your most awesome autumn to date!

My love of bucket lists knows no season.  Take a look at the bucket list I’ve created for our family to complete over the next couple months.  The list is pretty self-explanatory.  The only item that may need some research is “Make a Fall craft.”  I thought about giving some ideas, but we all have different types of crafts we prefer and Pinterest is loaded with more ideas than you can pin.  I tend to lean towards the mess-free crafts.

If you want this cute and handy print out to put up somewhere in your home, download the FREE Printable Awesome Autumn Bucket List for your family.  I know I plan to put it up on my fridge for reference.

May you enjoy many happy memories this season!

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An Inspiring Bucket List

I am so excited to write this post!  My Ultimate Summer Bucket List was truly an inspiration for my life and this website!  While I already knew of The Power of a Bucket List from last summer, this summer my list took on a whole new meaning for me.  Last summer’s bucket list brought about my most favorite summer at that point.  Knowing how the creation of that list had such a strong impact on the outcome of our amazing summer in 2013, I had a desire to tweak this year’s so it would be that much more enjoyable.  For this summer’s list, I took in to consideration that I would be 9 months pregnant and then I would have an infant in tow.  What I didn’t take in to consideration was my Stroke of Luck.  And I most definitely did not take in to account the several additional doctors’ appointments I would have to attend.  But, guess what?  I completed all 70 items on my Summer Bucket List.  Yes, I know, the bucket list on my website only had 50 items.  I had added 20 more items that were specific to my region of the United States.  So, I didn’t let my pregnancy, my infant, my stroke, my tumor discovery, my doctors’ appointments, my two house guests, or anything else keep me from accomplishing my goal.  So, what does this mean for my life and this website?  It means we’re about to embark on the adventure of my Life Bucket List.  My wish is that you will not only follow along, but join in and begin creating and living out your own!

While the completion of my summer bucket list against all odds was certainly inspiring, my desire to focus more fully on my Life Bucket List came from my friends.  As the summer was drawing to a close, my devotion to the bucket list was becoming more widely known and discussed.  One friend suggested that I make a summer bucket list strictly for adults to accomplish in the summer of 2015.  This came about because we have been trying to make this dinner happen, which involves ordering your meat in advance and driving two hours to the restaurant.  Obviously a difficult thing to coordinate among friends with young kids.  She added, “Sara, you should put THAT on your bucket list for next summer, that way we know you’ll pester us to make it happen.”  And pester, I do.  Then, my dearest friend of twenty-five years shared her quote in response to my bucket list success, “Where there’s a will.  There’s Sara.”  I even received jokes about if a stroke or giving my daughter “the birds and the bees talk” (post to come on this topic) was on this past summer’s bucket list.  If they had been, I could have checked those off also!  I’m not sharing all this to toot my own horn.  I’m sharing these remarks because they made me aware that I was out living my life instead of just talking about it.  This made me realize that my daily life could be as fun and rewarding as my summer, if I went after my life bucket list the way I had my summer list.

As I mentioned in my post The Power of a Bucket List, I am revamping my list and I’m shooting for 70 items.  This will include some that I have already successfully completed.  I will not share all 70 on this website, as some are more personal in nature.  In being consistent with my Ultimate Summer Bucket List, I’ll go ahead and focus on sharing 50 of my 70 items here on my site.  I’m still working on the revamp, but some items that you can look forward to are my desire to run a half marathon, learn to cook 14 balanced meals, go on a hot-air balloons ride, and learn to play the piano.  I’ll also share the success (or disappointment) with previous items that were already completed along the way.

I’m pumped up to do this!  I hope you will set some time aside to make your own list and begin planning out how to make each item happen.  Since I am still adding items to my Life Bucket List, I hope you will share some of your ideas with me.  I would love some added inspiration.  In the meantime, stay tuned for some adventure being added to First You Must Begin!

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