Bucket List Life Dare: Start a Ripple of Change

August 2016 Bucket List Life DareWhat bothers you most in life? What action would you be willing to take this month to be a pebble causing a ripple of change?

It feels like there’s an ocean of uncertainty, fear, and just plain bad stuff in our world lately. Terrorist attacks, brutality toward and by police, political divisions and coups and corruption. The world’s problems loom so large. And we’re so small. Insignificant. Overwhelmed.

And yet…

Even a single drop of rain on the ocean sends out a ripple. And that ripple broadens as it goes out, in wider and wider circles.

That’s what this month’s bucket list life dare is all about. You being one small droplet causing a ripple of change for the better in our world. Dare to do that one thing, take that one step against the grain. Instead of complaining about something, do the opposite. Be the person who puts away their cell phone at the checkout and talks to the cashier. Be the one who complements the mom whose kids seem like a handful. Bring a cold drink out to the postal worker who is running late delivering your mail.

Take that step of kindness you always meant to, but never had the time for before. Start that ripple of change.


CoursePromoImageStart a ripple of change that brings your family closer by creating family bucket lists. I can teach you how. Check out my book in e-book or paperback or take my online course, now only $15!

Looking Forward and Back

Dec28LookingForwardHas 2015 been a good year for you? Or a struggle? What can you learn from your experiences this year to make the next one even better? What do you most want to see happen in your life in 2016? If you are serious about living your bucket list dreams, then I invite you to spend time looking forward and back.

The week between Christmas and New Year’s is one of my favorite times of year (next to Christmas itself). Aside from the lull in regular activities during winter break, I love the perspective afforded during the year-end wrap up. I spend time reviewing the past year and celebrating all that has transpired in the past twelve months. And I use both my accomplishments and missteps to plan what I’ll go after in the year to come.

For example, in 2015 we missed out on the trip to Hershey, Pennsylvania that we’d hoped to make because of health struggles for our middle daughter, Katherine. But after a long series of doctors and tests, we did get a diagnosis and successful treatment. Her health is so much better now than it was in January. With this coming on the heels of her sister’s protracted concussion recovery, I learned how to be persistent and stay positive on my kids’ behalf. Hopefully health won’t be an issue for any of us in 2016. And while Hershey isn’t on our list for 2016, we are thinking through what other places we’ll visit.

Early in the year our eldest, Bethany, travelled to Spain on a school exchange trip – and adventure that was both eye-opening and frustrating. But instead of staying mired in all that went wrong, we chose as a family to host another teen from Spain a few months later. And that experience showed us that it is possible to have a successful cross-cultural exchange. In 2016, I want to keep that same attitude of not letting one poor experience prevent any of us from embracing opportunities for adventure, in whatever form.

That’s just a little of what I’m pondering as I look back on 2015 and prepare for 2016. This process, more than any other, makes the biggest difference in my life when it comes to reaching my bucket list goals and helping my family reach their goals. It gives me a grid to evaluate the decisions that will arise in the coming months. I can ask: does this fit what I’m hoping for in this year or not? Will it distract me (or my family) from what we most want to do? Does it help us to become the people we want to be?

This process also helps with time management and calendar planning. I go through a brief exercise similar to this one every month for my writing career goals. It shapes my action plan and daily “to do” lists. I can see clearly what next steps I need to take toward realizing my most desired goals. Which allows me to map out my time each day to make sure I continually make forward progress. At the end of the month I always review how I did on reaching my goals before planning goals for the next month.

The other strength in taking time looking forward and back is that you can use it to plan your budget. What bucket list goals did you have to bypass this year because of finances? How could you adjust your spending (or boost your earning) in the next twelve months to make a more costly goal attainable?

Why not join me in a year-end review and planning session? Pull out your favorite pen and a blank sheet of paper. Curl up in a cushy chair, under a cozy blanket with a cup of tea or hot cocoa or a glass of wine. And enjoy both looking forward and back in order to make 2016 a year of bucket list goals achieved! That’s what I’ll be doing this week.

If pouring into your relationships with your spouse and kids is a goal for you in 2016, then I invite you to check out my Udemy course, Build Stronger Bonds Writing Family Bucket Lists. It helps you Build Stronger Bonds Writing Family Bucket Listsbring your family closer, create more camaraderie & make quality memories, using your bucket lists as a springboard. Plus, it’s available for the lowest price right now. Take 60% off registration through 1/1/16 using the code NEWYEAR16.

Don’t Give Up On Your Dreams

Imagine helping trim the trees at the White House. Did you know that you can? The White House boasts 62 trees and enlists about 100 volunteers – florists, interior designers and regular folks – to put on the lights and ornaments. The First Lady decides the theme and then the team of volunteers goes to work.

Don't Give Up On Your DreamsOne of this year’s volunteers hails from a suburb near our little city. Mary Mazzeffi, a long-time floral arranger, applied to be a volunteer for multiple years before finally being selected. The experience marked a bucket list achievement for her! She even had the opportunity to trim a special three-foot tree to adorn the President’s elevator. Talk about once-in-a-lifetime opportunities!

What I want you to notice about Mary’s story though, is this: it didn’t just happen to her. She made it happen by her persistence and determination. She estimates it took six or seven tries before she made the cut to volunteer. But she kept at it and lived her dream of decorating the White House.

I talk a lot about the bucket list goals we live out as a family. But there are also a lot of disappointments behind the scenes here. My kids audition and don’t make the cut. They apply for special programs and recognitions, only to be turned down. We make plans to attend special events or visit our hoped-for destinations, only to have the plans fall through. And me? I’m a writer who often submits essays and articles to publications, which means I also receive rejections.

Expect the disappointments, but don’t dwell on them. Look for what you can learn from them and then move on. Keep the goal on your bucket list and vow to continue trying. Because ultimately, I think the missed tries make the final achievement more meaningful. Just last week I heard this affirmed by the director of a popular local high school music show.  About those who don’t make the cast on their first attempt, he remarked, “many students who audition in subsequent years grow to be superb members of the cast – often making much more growth in the long run than students who do get in on their first try.”

Think of Mary Mazzeffi the next time your efforts at reaching a goal fall short. Remember: don’t give up on your dreams. After all, you could end up decorating a tree for the President’s elevator.

 

My Udemy course, Build Stronger Bonds Writing Family Bucket Lists, helps you work with your kids to write the bucket lists that help them push past Build Stronger Bonds Writing Family Bucket Listsdisappointment to reach their goals. You’ll also bring your family closer, create more camaraderie & make quality memories, using your bucket lists as a springboard. Plus, take 50% off the registration price through 12/31/15 using the code BUCKETLISTNOW.

Family Bonding Through Bucket Lists – Introducing a New Video Course

CoursePromoImageGail Carson Levine is coming to Naperville,” my middle daughter Katherine said. “Can we go?” She’d read Ella Enchanted and The Princess Tales. I knew she liked Levine’s books, but when I saw the $25 ticket price, I flinched. It was too much, even with two autographed copies of Levine’s newest book and a chance to hear her speak about her writing. Or so I thought at the time.

A year later Levine’s name came up again and Katherine lamented that we’d missed her visit. “She’s my favorite author,” Katherine said. I stared at her in horror, my insides churning. I had no idea. Katherine was such a voracious reader that it had escaped my notice that she had a favorite. Knowing I’d passed up such an amazing opportunity for her hit me hard. It was like a MasterCard commercial – 2 tickets to Gail Carson Levine appearance: $50. Meeting your favorite author: Priceless. Except I’d failed to see it. More importantly, I’d lost a chance to bond with her, to make significant memories. I vowed then to get to know my kids better so that I wouldn’t make the same mistake again. I wanted to know what matters most to my kids. We started talking and writing bucket lists not long after, answering questions that included “who do you most admire? Who do you want to meet more than anyone else?”

Have you ever had something like that happen to you? Or do you fear it will? Maybe it’s not the cost that causes you to miss out on things like this, but a busy schedule. Whatever your situation, writing bucket lists with your family can help you get to know your kids and spouse even better. It helps build stronger bonds – between parent and child, between siblings and as a whole family. I’ve seen it happen not just in my family, but with readers of my books and now I’m providing the tools for many more parents to build those bonds in their families. I’ve pulled together the best information, worksheets & activities for families in my first online video course, Build Stronger Bonds Writing Family Bucket Lists.

The course officially launches today on Udemy. You can learn more about it there, but here’s a video that gives an idea of what it’s like:

Right now I’m offering the course for 50% off. Simply click this link or use the coupon code BUCKETLISTNOW. And if you sign up by midnight this Friday, November 27th, you’ll receive a special BONUS. I’m inviting registered students to a special live video call (that will also be recorded for later viewing) where I will share tips for making the holiday season less stressful & more meaningful (using bucket lists). And I will answer questions about students’ biggest challenges to staying connected as a family during the holidays. You won’t want to miss it!

I hope you’ll check it out. In the meantime while you’re here, tell us in the comments about a time you missed a priceless opportunity with your child (or a time you didn’t miss because you recognize the value of it).

August Bucket List Life Dare: Seize the Summer Moment

It’s August. Our school district is clamoring for my attention again with registration forms in the mail and orientation reminders in my inbox. As much as I want to ignore it and pretend my mornings will forever be blissfully quiet with kids sleeping late, summer is winding down. School will be starting again. Soon. And that feeling that we haven’t done everything we wanted to for the summer niggles at me.

August 2015 BLL Dare_ Seize the Summer Moment (1)You too? I have some good news for both you and me: it’s not over yet. Even as we shop for school supplies, we can still complete something we had planned this summer that we haven’t gotten around to. And even better, we have a natural deadline to spur us on – the first day of school.

So that’s the theme for this month’s bucket list life dare: Seize the Summer Moment. Think back to the first day of summer. What did you envision the three months of June, July and August 2015 to look like? What did you hope you and your kids would be able to do or create or see or learn or visit or encounter?

Hopefully you can say your summer lived up to much of your vision. And maybe you were pleasantly surprised by experiences you hadn’t dreamed of ahead of time. But there are probably one or two things that you couldn’t fit in or just plain forgot about. That’s what this dare is about. Pick one or two things, preferably bucket list goals – things that you have never experienced before, that you still want to get in before summer ends. Then make them happen in August (or by Labor Day, if you want to give yourself until the official end of summer).

My goal is to take my kids to Magic Waters, a water park we have never tried. We pass it every summer on our way to my in-laws’ summer home, but since we go out there to boat and fish and swim, it never made sense to hit the water park. This year we were fortunate enough to be given passes to Magic Waters. But first summer school and its rigorous homework prevented us. Then vacation away, appointments, work and other obligations made it hard to get out there. Now we have no reason not to go – we just need to make it happen. And I can’t wait for the fun we’ll have when we do!

How about you? What is one new adventure you want to still squeeze into your summer? Take the August Bucket List Life Dare and make it happen.