September 06, 2018

5 Powerful Lessons I Learned from Creating a Bucket List

Plus a check-in on my summer bucket list...

Looking Back at My Summer Bucket List

How is summer over already? How is it September? I don’t have the answers to those questions. But in the spirit of closing out summer, I wanted to take a look back at my summer bucket list with you — both what we did and what I learned.

This season has been a season of a lot of personal change, a lot of business challenges, a lot of growing, a lot of loving, a lot of evolving. So, with so much going on, it was great to have this list to keep us on track for the summer.

Let’s take a look at what we did…

My Summer Bucket List Check-In

1. Make my daughter feel special on her birthday!

Huge check mark on this one! Did you see her rainbow-themed first birthday party? My daughter is so outgoing and so social. She loves being around people! So, she really enjoyed being the center of attention at her birthday party.

2. Create a new tradition between us.

We sure did! Our summer tradition turned into going out for brunch on the weekend at one of our two favorite casual Mexican food restaurants: Escalante’s (which made our Houston Margarita Guide) or La Mexicana, a favorite neighborhood dive.

I mentioned in number one how much Elle loves people. Well, her other true love is food! Ha. So, this tradition brought joy to her, which brought joy to me.

3. Be a tourist in my own city with a staycation.

Well, we sort of did this one… We did something that was a cross between a staycation and a short road trip. We didn’t stay in Houston, so I guess it wasn’t a staycation in the true sense of the word. But we drove less than two hours, so it wasn’t necessarily a true road trip either.

A few weeks ago, Elle and I took a little getaway to Hyatt Lost Pines. The mommy and me time was great. We played and swam and made smores and so much more. We made some really great memories!

4. Give Elle her first snow cone.

Check! We enjoyed snow cones at Bebida’s several times this summer.

5. Host a pool party

While I do this most years, it just didn’t happen this year. But we still did lots of swimming!

6. Take a trip to the mountains.

Circumstances beyond our control curtailed our usual trip to Colorado. Hopefully soon!

7. Go to the beach.

Galveston counts, right? While I envisioned a more glamorous beach destination for us, Elle was more than thrilled with Galveston! She marveled at the sand and the water and the waves and the birds. A good reminder that kids don’t need the fanciest of things. They just need time and affection and love.

Plus, I did get a Cabo beach getaway all to myself, as I mentioned.

8. Have a picnic.

Too darn hot. Given that we live in Houston, this should go on a spring or fall bucket list.

9. Try a new cocktail.

My go-to cocktail of the summer became the La Parilla at State of Grace. Here’s the menu description: “reposado tequila with blistered serrano infusion, triple sec, grilled lime, smoked salt, mezcal floater.” The perfect smoky flavored cocktail with a kick of spice. My mouth is watering now!

10. Do a finger painting project with Elle.

We aren’t quite ready for that yet, but soon I look forward to crafting with her!

11. Improve my Spanish language skills.

Given that my daughter’s first and most frequently used word is hola, I better get my Spanish-speaking skills in gear!

12. Bake cookies.

We will do this during the coziness of the fall season!

13. Take a road trip.

See item number three for details.

14. Try a new workout.

Heck yeah! This summer, I’ve become addicted to working out at Lagree HTX. I can’t say enough good things about the workout, the studio, and the team there. (Hi, Anna and Leah and Krista!)

15. Plan an afternoon with my girlfriends.

We did this last year. And it was such fun that I wanted to create something similar this year. Sadly, a big planned day together didn’t really happen this summer, though we did have lots of fun times together.

16. Slow down.

Yes, yes, yes! I’ve been savoring moments of play with Elle so much. Maybe it’s because I’m realizing how quickly she changes.

17. Blow bubbles with Elle.

Oh yeah! Bubbles are the coolest things when you’re one year old. Bath bubbles, blowing bubbles… it’s all so fun!

18. Go to a baseball game.

Truth be told, I felt like I should include this. It’s an American summer past time, right? But in reality, I don’t enjoy baseball that much. And a four hour game with a baby? Not fun. So I ended up scratching this off the list.

19. Set my phone aside for a full 24 hours.

I haven’t done this yet, but I’m going to do it this coming weekend!

20. Make my house a home — hang art, get organized, etc.

Slowly but surely, little by little…

21. Read a NYT bestseller book. Bonus points for fiction, since I always gravitate to nonfiction!

Well, I thought I “failed” at this one. But then I looked at the NYT bestseller list and realized there is a kids book section! And Elle and I read a couple of these this summer: Rosie Revere Engineer and The Day The Crayons Quit.

22. Watch the sunset.

Oh yes! We watched some gorgeous ones from our own porch.

23. Surprise a stranger by paying for their coffee.

Crap! I forgot about this one time and time again. I will rectify that this week though. I am surely at Starbucks and other coffee shops frequently enough to do this!

24. Make a scrapbook / photo album.

Working on making something with Mixbook. Stay tuned!

25. Enjoy ice cream with Elle.

She had lots of ice cream and gelato this summer. Our favorite of course was the unicorn sundae!

5 Lessons I Learned from Making a Bucket List

While my bucket list was simply a guide post for my summer with my daughter, I still learned some important lessons from the exercise. Here are five of the most powerful lessons I learned.

1. A bucket list isn’t a checklist.

For those of us who like to make to do lists and check things off, we can fall into the temptation of viewing a bucket list as a check list. That can lead to stress, as we hurriedly attempt to check things off the list.

The whole purpose of a bucket list though is to experience life and make memories. So, focus on the experiences!

2. A bucket list is a blueprint for living your best life.

Writing a bucket list is like mapping a route for a trip. You know when you enter an address into Google maps? It gives you a few different route options, and you choose one. Well, in the end, you may not take the exact route laid out. But the map still serves to guide you in the correct general direction.

Well in the same way, a bucket list is a map to get you headed in the general direction in which you wish to go. It’s a guide for living your best life.

3. A bucket list isn’t carved into stone.

You can add to it and subtract from it as you go along. In fact, there is a paradox that happens. Your bucket list may actually grow over time, rather than shrink – even though you are checking things off the list. But that’s only appropriate, isn’t it? After all, you as a person will hopefully grow with time! So, your list may grow with you.

Find what makes you happy and brings you joy – and do more things like that! Don’t feel like a failure if you don’t do everything on the list. Be flexible, be fluid, be fun.

4. A bucket list is a great motivator.

Much as writing down goals is powerful, writing a bucket list is powerful. The simple act of putting words down on paper has power.

Furthermore, I found that, in those moments when I was feeling uninspired or unmotivated, I could consult my bucket list for activity ideas. No need to mindlessly fritter away time when you have a wish list of memories to create!

A bucket list, quite simply, forces introspection… Am I living the life I wish to live? Or, at least, am I taking active steps to lead the life I wish to live? Creating a bucket list is a big step towards living with intention.

5. A bucket list is a good reminder that time is finite.

None of us is going to live forever. Or, in this case, summer sadly doesn’t last forever. So, we should ask ourselves how we want to live out our finite number of days. Squandering away the time we are given is perhaps the worst way to live life.

Bucket lists are great reminders that life is short and should be lived to the fullest.

In Conclusion

I really enjoyed the experience of creating a bucket list to guide our summer. I plan to carry the practice forward. Perhaps I’ll make one for the fall and holiday seasons. Stay tuned.

Bottom line: It is incumbent upon all of us to insure that we are living our best lives. And that doesn’t just magically happen. We have to live life “on purpose”. And a bucket list is a great tool to spark that intentional living.

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