Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Reverse Bucket List

There’s something about a new year starting that inspires many people to write a bucket list.  You’ve seen them – the 101 things I want to do before I kick the bucket.  I am not against writing a bucket list, in fact I wrote one for myself several years ago and I must admit it is a great feeling to be able to cross items off the list as you accomplish them.  It provides a great deal of satisfaction. 

Setting goals is a fantastic way to start off a new year, but it’s also important to take time to celebrate as well.  In that spirit I have decided to share with everyone my reverse bucket list – a list of so many of the wonderful things that I have done during my lifetime so far.  I am always a very goal driven person, but sometimes I am so busy looking ahead that I skip over the part where I stop and feel good about where I am in my life.  This list is a chance for me to celebrate and to take a minute to slow down and look back on my accomplishments.  I had a lot of fun coming up with this list & although I am sure I missed quite a few, I think this is a pretty good representation of my adventurous spirit:

·      Went skydiving
·      Rode a jet ski
·      Drove a snowmobile
·      Went Kayaking on a lake, river and in the ocean
·      Went ice skating
·      Went roller skating
·      Went hiking
·      Went snow skiing
·      Went cross-country skiing
·      Went water skiing
·      Rode an ATV
·      Rode in a hot air balloon
·      Went rock climbing & repelling
·      Went para-sailing
·      Swam with dolphins and stingrays
·      Held an alligator
·      Went scuba diving
·      Went river rafting
·      Went on a cruise
·      Got a tattoo
·      Ran a 5K
·      Ran a half-marathon (Okay so I walked/ran it, but I finished)
·      Graduated college
·      Got married (twice actually)
·      Had children (2 beautiful daughters)
·      Bought a house
·      Wrote & published a book
·      Rode a subway in NYC
·      Rode in a NYC cab
·      Rode in a cable car in San Francisco
·      Rode in a Gondola in Venice Italy
·      Visited the grand canyon ( and hiked part of it)
·      Went skinny dipping
·      Flew first class
·      Visited Rome
·      Visited Paris
·      Visited New York City
·      Watched a play on Broadway
·      Visited London
·      Protested for a cause
·      Visited Niagra falls
·      Swam in both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans
·      Went to a drive in movie
·      Attended a mystery dinner theatre
·      Drove part of Route 66
·      Went to Speed dating
·      Ordered room service
·      Rode a Segway
·      Stayed on the Vegas Strip
·      Saw Cirque du Solei
·      Visited Disneyland
·      Visited Disneyworld
·      Visited the Empire Sate building & went to the top
·      Visited the Space Needle and went to the top
·      Visited the St. Louis Arch and went to the top
·      Visited the Leaning Tower of Piza and climbed to the top
·      Visited the Coliseum
·      Visited the Smithsonian
·      Visited the Lincoln Memorial
·      Went to Mexico
·      Went to Canada
·      Visited Napa and did wine tasting
·      Played laser tag
·      Made a snow angel
·      Went gold panning
·      Dyed my hair bright pink
·      Attended my high school reunion
·      Spent the night at a haunted hotel
·      Kissed someone under the mistletoe
·      Did a pub crawl in England
·      Watched a meteor shower
·      Visited Germany
·      Drank beer from a glass boot
·      Visited Switzerland and had a real Swiss fondue
·      Was a bridesmaid
·      Threw my three coins in the Trevi fountain
·      Visited the French quarter of New Orleans
·      Earned my beads in New Orleans 
·      Had a bonfire on the beach
·      Went whale watching for Orcas & saw some
·      Went sailing on the ocean at sunset
·      Rode a bike through Central Park
·      Visited the Sistine Chapel
·      Drove a convertible
·      Rode in a limousine
·      Rode a motorcycle
·      Took a sleigh ride in the snow
·      Visited Times Square
·      Walked in the Florida Everglades
·      Attended Space camp
·      Attended a Major League Baseball game
·      Attended an NBA Basketball game
·      Attended an NFL football game
·      Attended a College Bowl football game
·      Explored Pompeii
·      Went Christmas Caroling door to door
·      Stayed in a hostel
·      Rode a double-decker bus in London
·      Went camping
·      Saw a bear in the wild
·      Was the Keynote speaker at a conference
·      Saw the Daily Show in person
·      Rode in an airboat across the everglades
·      Visited the Hollywood Walk of Fame
·      Went horseback riding
·      Explored a shipwreck under water

I guess some people could say I am bragging, but that is not my intention – I just want to remind myself that I really have done a lot…and I’m not done yet, I still have so many things I still want to do.

What is on your bucket list - and what adventures have you done that you can celebrate?

Monday, December 29, 2014

My 2015 Book Challenge

Reading has always been an important part of my life, and now as I try to navigate the world of professional writing, reading is even more critical than ever.

For the past three years I have participated in the Goodreads Reading Challenge.  I have not managed to meet my reading goals yet, but to be fair – I keep upping the goal.  Two years ago I read 46 books, but my goal was 52.  I thought it would be a cool idea to read at least 1 book per week (52).  I did start after the year began, so my results were pretty good.  Then I decided to increase my goal to 100 books this past year –and so far I have completed 71 books.  With only a few days until the end of the year I doubt I will get much beyond 72, however I nearly doubled my reading total from the previous year.  I will do the Reading challenge again this year – and I think I will stick with a goal of 100 books in 2015, and hopefully this year I will make it all the way to 100 or I might up the goal to 104 – that way if I do finish, I will have read 2 books per week.  Each time I have increased my goal my reading has increased as well.    

…but reading is about much more than just the number of books, it is the choice of books.  I read new books by my favorite authors (Claire Cook, Jodi Picoult, etc.).  I read books by fellow aspiring authors.  I read books from the bestseller lists that everyone is talking about.  I read books that help me with my own historical research.  I read books that my book club chooses.  I have piles and piles of books at my house that I am hoping to read one of these days.  I am never at a loss for something to read; in fact it’s often quite the opposite.  I am often overwhelmed at the amount of choices I have for reading.  Recently I found this amazing book challenge list on a blog post ( and I was intrigued.  The list of books to read isn’t a list of specific titles, but more a challenge to find a wide variety of books.  I really love this list and I am going to try to fit these into my reading goal for 2015.  I will also share this list with my book club, because I think they would appreciate it too. Feel free to join me in this reading challenge and 'challenge' yourself to read one or more of the books mentioned on this list.  I would love to hear all about your reading, and I promise I will share about my reading on my blog this year too.
A book with more than 500 pages
A classic romance
A book that became a movie
A book published this year
A book with a number in the title
A book written by someone under 30
A book with non-human characters
A funny book
A book by a female author
A mystery or a thriller
A book with a one-word title
A book of short stories
A book set in a different country
A non-fiction book
A popular author's first book
A book from an author you love but haven't read yet
A book a friend recommended
A Pulitzer-Prize winner
A book based on a true story
A book at the bottom of your to-read list
A book your mum loves
A book that scares you
A book more than 100 years old
A book based entirely on its cover
A book you were supposed to read in school but didn't
A memoir
A book you can finish in a day
A book with antonyms in the title
A book set somewhere you've always wanted to visit
A book that came out the year you were born
A book with bad reviews
A trilogy
A book from your childhood
A book with a love triangle
A book set in the future
A book set in high school
A book with a colour in the title
A book that made you cry
A book with magic
A graphic novel
A book by an author you've never read before
A book you own but have never read
A book that takes place in your hometown
A book that was originally written in another language
A book set during Christmas
A book written by an author with your initials
A play
A banned book
A book based on, or turned into, a TV show
A book you started but never finished

Saturday, December 27, 2014

2014 My Year in Review

Another year is almost over, 2014 is quickly closing, as we turn the page on our calendars and usher in 2015.  There is always something about ringing in a new year that causes us to reflect.  Its more than training our brain to write a new number when we write the date on a check, it’s the idea of the passage of time and the knowledge that our time is not limitless – a new year causes us to look at how we have used our time on this planet so far and it forces us to wonder how we will choose to spend our remaining time.

I have never been a fan of new years resolutions – mostly because although they are made with good intentions, rarely do any of us follow through with these ‘resolutions’ and they simply become empty promises.  I can ‘promise’ to go get more exercise and loose some weight – but unless I actually get up off the couch, that promise doesn’t really help.  (To be honest I try to avoid the gym the first 2 or 3 weeks of a new year because its too crowded with the folks who ‘really mean it this time’ when they say they are going to lose weight.  I know they will quickly return to their pre-resolution behavior within a week or two and my gym will be less crowded).

The one thing I really do enjoy about the New Year is the opportunity to reflect on our past year.  What a great chance to review what we are proud of and what we would like to do differently.  

As I reflect back on 2014 I am extremely proud of the year that I had:

  •       I made a big decision this past year to quit a job that I really loved because the challenges began to far outweigh the benefits of working there.  That was a huge step for me.  It was hard to leave the kids, and I still miss them, but I don’t miss the negative atmosphere and the frustration created by incompetent and uncaring administrators. 

  •       I took a big leap this year and jumped into the world of writing.  I began by writing a comical memoir of my recent health challenges and I used this book as my training ground to learn all about hiring editors, working with designers for cover art, and the community of independent authors who choose to self-publish books.  I worked on building my social media presence.  I not only published one non-fiction title, but I decided to write a short ‘how-to’ book on parenting based on my personal and professional experience.  I also submitted a piece of fiction to an anthology of short stories and I was elated when my story was chosen for publication.  I finished up my entrance into the world of writing this year by participating in National Novel Writing Month, actually managing to write over 50,000 words in one month.  It was an accomplishment I am very proud of.  As the New Year begins, I hope to continue to write more fiction as well as some non-fiction books.  I feel so lucky to be in a position to be able to pursue my dreams, and 2014 was a fantastic start. 
  •       The biggest event this past year was my dream wedding to the most wonderful man I have ever met.  Like something out of a fairy tale, our wedding was spectacular – turquoise water, soft white sand beneath our bare feet, with my daughters at my side, I married my best friend and spent a week in honeymoon bliss at one of the most beautiful places on earth.  Its pretty hard to top this moment and other than the birth of my two daughters, this event will be one of the greatest memories of my life.

Yes, 2014 was a pretty darn good year for me and I can’t wait to see what 2015 will hold in store.