My life so far: a different kind of bucket list

This week I was thinking about bucket lists, lists for life, and while I was putting my own together it occurred to me that I probably have an enormous “already accomplished” list. Despite my lack of an overly stamped passport or nuanced social media feed, my 32 years have not been without adventure and accomplishment. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that, so here are the highlights, in list form because that’s how I roll.


  • Visit 41 states (another on the agenda for later this year)
  • Visit 14 National Parks (two more on the docket for this year)
  • Go on a cruise
  • Drive all the way across the country
  • Swim in the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans
  • Walk the Golden Gate bridge
  • Visit Niagara Falls
  • Solo long-distance road trip (a bunch, not a big deal)
  • Multi-day motorcycle trip


  • Ride on a mechanical bull
  • Earn SCUBA certification
  • Ride in a hot air balloon
  • Visit an active volcano (Hawaii’s Kilauea)
  • Scuba dive in an ancient collapsed volcano/caldera
  • Go snowmobiling
  • Go snow shoeing
  • Go snow skiing
  • Go water skiing
  • Stay in a yurt
  • Climb a mountain (several, big ones)
  • Go rock climbing
  • Eat escargot / oysters / bison / alligator / ostrich
  • White water rafting
  • Fish in the ocean (with actual octopus as bait, ew)
  • Geocaching
  • Sail on Lake Michigan
  • Learn to handle and shoot a gun
  • Do a somersault / cartwheel / back flip / front flip
  • Attend a Holi Festival of Colors celebration (the largest in the Western Hemisphere, btw)
  • Run a 5k / 10k

Spiritual Enlightenment

  • Make a religious pilgrimage
  • Read the Old Testament
  • Read the New Testament
  • Read the Koran
  • Read The Book of Mormon
  • Forgive those who have deeply hurt me
  • Volunteer at a homeless shelter
  • Donate money to charity
  • Befriend a stranger (Hi, strangers!)
  • Buy a meal anonymously for someone

Personal Growth & Continuing Education

  • Fall in love
  • Elope (tell no one for months)
  • Be a mentor to someone
  • Learn to read music
  • Learn to play the piano (since I was 5ish, I can sight read most things)
  • Learn how to operate a DSLR camera, not in “manual” mode
  • Learn how to paint with oils
  • Read classic works in literature and politics
  • Speak in public to a crowd
  • Impromptu public speaking
  • Act in a play
  • Direct a play
  • Participate in community theater (as an actor and as a director)
  • Receive a standing ovation (not necessarily related to any of the above)
  • Volunteer with teenagers
  • Be interviewed by a major news station regarding something I’m passionate about (ages 12 and 31)
  • Learn to play chess
  • Learn American Sign Language
  • Learn to knit / crochet / sew
  • Read a jillion books on a thousand subjects

Life Things

  • Meet someone famous (Daniel Craig, Hugh Jackman–he called me a sweetheart!!–Chris Noth, Robert Redford)
  • Have the Bare Naked Ladies sing me “Happy Birthday” (age 19, woot!)
  • Attend a live Olympic event (Salt Lake, 2002)
  • Volunteer at the Olympics (Salt Lake, 2002)
  • Try eating vegetarian for an extended period of time (meh)
  • Gamble in Vegas (I won like $3.75)
  • Play the lottery (didn’t win anything)
  • Grow vegetables in a garden
  • Attend a major rivalry sporting event (meh)
  • Take ballroom dancing lessons
  • Bonfire on the beach / in the desert
  • Sleep on a trampoline
  • Keep a plant alive for more than a year
  • Ride a horse in the mountains
  • Watch the sunrise / sunset
  • Walk in the rain
  • Run on a beach barefoot
  • Go to a movie / dinner by yourself
  • Witness a solar / lunar eclipse
  • Sleep under the stars
  • Box seats at a sporting event (it’s the only way to attend a sporting event, really)
  • Season tickets to the symphony (not always, but once)
  • Attend a professional Broadway show (many, many times)
  • Make a gingerbread house from scratch (no hot glue, no graham crackers, no kit)
  • Pay off student loan

Sometimes it’s easy to think that you have missed out on X, Y, or Z. I find this especially the case after looking at some kind of social media where a friend, acquaintance, or total stranger has part of the life I thought I always wanted. It’s easy to forget that someone’s travel photos, or pics of their darling (clean, happy) children, or a status about a major adventure is not their entire life. They all have the hard, rotten days as well. And it’s also sometimes easy to forget that your experiences that did not make it onto social media for comments and hearts are also valid and worthwhile and have shaped who you are as a person.

What is on your Already Completed Bucket List? What are some of the best experiences of your life? What days are seared into your brain, what months and years changed the trajectory of your life or reshaped a goal or direction?

Harriet sig


Bucket List for Life

In skipping about the interwebs today I learned that I missed an opportunity to see the Northern Lights in the mountains surrounding my home. This is highly unusual, the Northern Lights are typically not visible this far south. I was suddenly devastated about missing something I didn’t know was even a possibility. This thought, which has been niggling at me all day, prompted this list, a bucket list for my life. I’ve written a number of shorter lists for the summer, or resolutions for a year, or even a 5-year plan, and I am not trying to discredit those at all, they definitely have their place. I want a larger more comprehensive list that can be a sort of guiding star for my life. Some of these items are easily accomplished in an afternoon or even a few days, others will take years of planning and action. And, frankly, that’s probably how Life should be, no?

Bucket List for Life: Harriet

  • Visit all 50 states in the U.S.A.
  • Visit all seven continents (yes, including Antarctica)
  • Visit at least 50 of the 58 national parks in the U.S.A.
  • See the Northern Lights
  • Jump out of a perfectly good plane with a parachute (and an expert) strapped to my back
  • Learn to ride a motorcycle
  • Fly in a helicopter
  • Run a full marathon
  • Scuba dive in an actual ocean
  • Hike a mountain over 14,000 feet tall
  • Become fluent in 3 foreign languages (Mandarin, Spanish, and something else)
  • Live in another country for at least 6 months
  • Ride an elephant
  • Go to the races! (The horse races, that is)
  • Read Jesus the Christ by J. E. Talmage
  • Write a book
  • Get a book published
  • Earn a Master’s degree
  • Earn a Ph.D.
  • Learn how to play the cello
  • Take at least one class every year: at university, a community learning experience, or a private course
  • Spend 2 weeks without technology (ideally a meditation-type retreat in the mountains)
  • Sell a commissioned piece of art
  • Own a home outright
  • Plant a tree and watch it grow
  • Plant a tree and walk away
  • Give away $1 million dollars over my lifetime
  • Start a non-profit organization
  • Fall in love. Again and again.
  • “Be the change you want to see in the world.” -Ghandi

Alright, Self, there are 30 things for your life. Get on it.

What is on your bucket list? Do you have an actual list? How do you decide what to include and what to skip?

Harriet sig