Abundance: Bucket List Goals in Community

Members of the Redbud Writer's Guild at our 2015 Retreat

Members of the Redbud Writer’s Guild at Our 2015 Retreat

I recently had the opportunity to gather with more than 30 other members of the writer’s guild I belong to for our bi-annual retreat. We held workshops, learned from industry professionals, and heard the stories of published members about their road to publication. But more than that, we shared our lives – our hopes, our dreams, our heartaches. And we left profoundly changed by each other’s presence that weekend. I think I can safely say that each member on that retreat has a renewed courage for stepping out to achieve her next writing dream.

In the past week I’ve watched different members chime in on our FaceBook group with blog posts they finally gathered the nerve to write and book proposals that they are at last drafting and submitting. The energy is palpable and it is extending into our group beyond those who attended the retreat.

I’m also part of another online group of writing professionals. We share our career challenges, swap feedback & critiques, and are emboldened by each other’s risk-taking to step out into our own new ventures. And we eagerly champion the works of all the members in the group.

A common theme in both of these groups is a spirit of non-competition that sees the pie as being big enough for everyone to have a piece. In the world of publishing, this attitude of abundance is, unfortunately, extremely rare. Yet it is inexpressibly valuable.

Think about your bucket list. How do you react when someone you know accomplishes a goal that is on your list? It’s hard not to be a little jealous. In fact, I think it’s a natural first reaction. But what do we gain by that? And what instead could we gain by celebrating others’ successes with them? How could we learn from what they are doing that could translate into our future success?

Similarly, who do you know that is pursuing a goal you’ve reached who might benefit from your skills, resources, and knowledge?

It’s easier to take risks and try new things when we have someone beside, behind, and before us. It’s easier to reach our goals when we don’t waste our energy competing with others, but instead lend a hand to lift them up with us or give them our shoulders to stand on.

In what way could your world be better through linking arms with another instead of hoarding your experiences for yourself? What could you do this week to help another person get closer to reaching one of their bucket list goals? Look for ways to foster a spirit of non-competition among your fellow bucket list adventurers. Because abundance begets abundance.

Photo credit: Redbud Writers by Dorothy Greco, used with permission.

From Bucket List Wish to Legacy: A Review of the new book The Art of Work

ArtofWorkRecently I had the opportunity to read an early copy of a new book by Jeff Goins called The Art of Work (coming out next week, March 24th). I have followed Goins’s writing for the past few years, but what impressed me about this book was how well it dovetails with the concepts in my book, Bucket List Living For Moms. For any mom looking to reshape her work life or find a new career, The Art of Work makes the perfect companion to Bucket List Living For Moms.

In it, Goins emphasizes the need to listen to your life for cues about your purpose and calling, a process familiar to readers of Bucket List Living. “The trick is to find your vocation hidden in your life,” Goins says. He goes on to outline the stages involved in finding and fulfilling that vocation, with examples from the stories of how others worked through these stages in identifying their callings.

What readers will find most helpful about The Art of Work are the chapters about how to progress toward turning your aspirations into a lifelong legacy. As Goins notes, “A calling is not merely a moment; it’s a lifestyle, a constant progression of submitting to a larger purpose.”

Use the questions from Bucket List Living For Moms to explore your personal calling and create your unique bucket list of dreams. Then read The Art of Work for a road map to turning some of your bucket list goals and longings into a purposeful work life and meaningful legacy.

Right now Jeff Goins is offering a free paperback copy of The Art of Work. Simply subscribe to his email list and pay $6.99 shipping. You will receive the book, along with a pdf copy, video mini-course and more. Learn about his offer here (note: this is a limited time offer and will probably disappear once the book officially releases on March 24th).

Because of its value in helping chart a fulfilling work life, where vocation and bucket list converge, I have also added The Art of Work to my list of Books & Magazine for Bucket List Living. Check it out for other great works to inspire you in making your bucket list dreams a reality.

Adventurers in Training

Living out a bucket list is not as much about the items on the list as it as about being open to – and inviting – adventure. It is about being transformed into an adventurer.

AdventurersinTrainingOur family suffered two losses this past week.

On Wednesday, my husband’s grandmother died. A spunky Brit with a quick tongue, she lived 99 full years. Grandma Billie, as we called her, came to the U.S. many decades ago as a war bride and young mother, yet still spoke with a British accent to her last day. She had two long marriages, travelled extensively, and took care of herself and Grandpa with minimal help until only a few years ago. She made us laugh often and made it her objective to teach my three girls how to brew a proper pot of tea, taking infinite care to show them each step and making a show of setting out her fine bone china to serve it in.

On Sunday, my 66-year-old aunt died from a progressive palsy. And while she didn’t get to have Grandma Billie’s longevity, her life was full too. She had a career in corporate America before raising my two cousins. When my cousins studied German in high school, Aunt Sandy opened their home to a German exchange student. In turn, this fostered an interest in Germany and its culture and led her and my uncle to traveling there to visit their exchange student. I also watched my aunt dive into a second career as a school librarian, where she truly thrived. She carried this love for books and reading with her everywhere, giving my girls books as gifts and inviting them on her lap to be read to.

Can two lives be summarized in two paragraphs? Hardly. But as I look at two buckets tipped over, pouring out the precious contents of memories, I see that our adventures here are simply training for adventures to come.

We can choose to live safely, going about our everyday lives – working, eating, playing. We can follow the patterns drummed out by the dominant culture that call us to stay busy, be productive, offer our kids an infinite variety of options for attainment and entertainment. Or we can dare to be adventurers. We can listen to the call to risk and be different. To try something new that issues forth from our heart’s longings. We can heed the Voice that whispers of who we were created to be. Here. And after.

Because I do believe there is more and that what awaits for those who choose to heed the voice of the One who made them is adventure upon adventure. From what I’ve been told, both Grandma Billie and Aunt Sandy were ready to go. And I like to believe that their lives came to a close in a manner like that in The Last Battle, the final book in C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. Peter, Edmund, Lucy and the others are led out of the old Narnia and into the new, real Narnia, climbing mountain after mountain with the urgent cry of “Further up! Further in!” The promise to them, and I believe to us, is truer, deeper adventure than they had ever known, but for which life heretofore was always preparing them.

Which makes us all, if we choose it, adventurers in training.

 Photo credit: Devils Head Fire Tower Lookout by Casey Reynolds on Flickr via CC License.


The Date Night Passport: A Bucket List for You & Your Sweetheart

The last date night I had with my husband was the day after Thanksgiving. He won tickets to Muriel Anderson’s annual hometown concert. So the two of us went.

Date Night PassportIt was an evening of fantastic harp guitar music with accompaniment by artists Paul Wertico (from the Pat Metheny Group) and Jeff Coffin of Dave Matthews Band. During intermission we munched on homemade cookies and drank hot apple cider. And we chatted, just the two of us, without interruption from kids.

Here it is, less than a week until Valentine’s and we haven’t been out together since. Our kids are old enough (11, 13 and 15) that we don’t have the excuse of finding a babysitter to blame our dating lameness on. Just inertia and lack of ideas.

Before last fall we most often met for lunch dates during the week. With my husband working on the other side of our city it was easy enough to catch an hour together. But then one of our daughters became ill at Halloween and has been home at lunchtime ever since. That and doctor’s appointments and the holiday season made it tricky to manage a lunch date.

But we’re well past the holidays now. We’re due for a date. And as my eldest points out, we deserve a night out together now and then too – not just lunch dates.

So we inked it on the calendar. Tuesday for lunch – our Valentine’s date. We’re not much for crowds, so we have rarely gone out on February 14th. The 10th is close enough. But we also have a new source for inspiration: a Date Night Passport.

I had seen this idea on Pinterest – a booklet of date night ideas that you mark off as you complete them. And it immediately resonated with me. We could create our own date night bucket list. In fact, I had already been lamenting the fact that we live in a small city known for its top-rate restaurants, but we’ve never taken advantage of this. I knew we needed to get intentional about trying new date spots (besides which, our favorite gyros shop closed down).

So I created our very own passport. It has the names of 46 restaurants in our city that I want to be sure we try out. I included addresses, phone numbers, and price ranges for all of them to make it that much easier for us to decide (and make reservations if we need to). Italian, BBQ, steakhouse, French, Japanese, Irish pub, even pizza await us.

Tomorrow we’ll try Cajun at Heaven on Seven. I can’t wait.

If you’d like to create your own “Passport to a Great Date Night,” you can download the printable booklet here. It contains categories for 46 different date nights (mostly restaurant-themed, but you can interpret the prompts as you wish. Italian could mean going to a bocce court instead of pasta). Pair it with a gift card for your first destination and you’re all set for Valentine’s Day!

Do you live in the Western Suburbs of Chicago and want to use the same local version I created for my husband and I? Email me (lkrupicka[at]word-crafter[dot]com) and I’ll send you the PDF.

A Family Bucket List Achievement: Trying Middle Eastern Food

9862595676_c36be86bba_zIt was a chilly December night, but the place was already packed when we arrived with friends. We scrambled to grab two tables as diners cleared their trays to leave. Then our families made our way up to the front counter. Servers behind glass-topped stations took our orders.

The chicken shawarma pita caught my attention and that of our eldest daughter.  My middle daughter zoomed in on lentil soup. And my youngest boldly ordered a falafel and basmati rice bowl. Add an order of fries with garlic sauce alongside a pita and my husband was happy.

My dad talks about how when he was growing up he ate a limited variety of foods. My grandmother often cooked Carpatho-Rusyn and Polish foods and basic meat-and-potato meals. By the time he married my mom he had never eaten Chinese food or even pizza.

My gastronomic upbringing was another story. With two Korean sisters by adoption, my family frequently ate Korean dishes. I hadn’t considered this an adventurous lifestyle until the recent increase in the popularity of sushi. My response: eat sushi? No thanks! That is, until I realized that one of my favorite Korean dishes (kimbap) is actually sushi.

My family also cooked Mexican, Italian and even French crepes at home. My parents encouraged us to keep an open mind when it came to food by exposing my siblings and I to a wide variety of dishes and flavors.

In our home now we have attempted the same. But you know how it goes – you settle into a routine. Your menu tends to rotate around a standard list of recipes. When you go out to eat you stick to your favorite restaurants. Not that there’s anything wrong with this. Unless your goal is to foster an openness to new food experiences in your kids.

Which is why our family bucket list includes certain restaurants and types of foods. Last year one of our goals was to introduce our kids to Middle Eastern foods. I can’t say my husband and I have eaten much of it ourselves, so we welcomed this challenge for our own benefit too.

Enter Naf Naf Grill. It took us until the last week of December to reach this bucket list goal, but through the prompting of friends, we ventured out to this promising local restaurant chain. Think Chipotle with Middle Eastern food. Pitas, shawarma, tahini sauce, basmati rice and more in a build-your-own meal style.

We had a great time! Naf Naf served up interesting flavors and hearty portions. I had to force myself to slow down and save some of my pita for later. Our family traded tastes around so that we could sample some of everything. And everyone agreed that Naf Naf should go on our list of regular restaurants.

I would call that a success! Next up on our family food bucket list: Korean food. My kids really need to try kimbap.

Photo credit: “Naf Naf Grill” by the Shifted Librarian on Flickr via CC License