November Bucket List Life Dare: The 31 Days of Everyday Adventure Challenge

november-2016-bucket-list-life-dareThis month I’m honored to team up with Shelly of The Goal List in her month-long challenge: 31 Days of Everyday Adventure. Shelly and I share a very similar outlook on bucket lists – that not every bucket list experience has to be over-the-top expensive or in some way monumental. Adventure comes in all shapes and sizes. To illustrate this and help others learn how to embrace adventure in multiple forms, Shelly’s challenge contains “31 Small Ways to Bring Adventure Into Every Day.” From complimenting a stranger, to learning a new dance move, to being a tourist in your home town, the options are all doable. For many of them you may find yourself nodding along and saying, “I’ve been wanting to do that for a while now.” Let this challenge be the kick in the pants you’ve been needing.

Each week I’m going to share one thing I’ve done in response to the challenge. This week? “Write a gratitude list. Start dreaming by being thankful for what you already have.” It’s an appropriate start to the month during which we celebrate Thanksgiving here in the U.S. Here’s my list.

I’m grateful for:

  • the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series (how could I not be, as a lifelong Cubs fan??).
  • my husband who has put up with me for over twenty years now.
  • my parents, who I’m lucky to get to visit with every week.
  • my three girls, who are all fun and interesting in their own ways.
  • a job I look forward to going to every week, with great co-workers.
  • the community I live in, that often does live up to the name a customer service rep once mistook it for, “Neighborville.”
  • my writing coach and fellow parenting journalists, who all push me to take my writing to the next level.
  • the women of the Redbud Writers Guild, who help keep me keeping on in my writing journey while not forgetting the God who enables me to write.
  • Alex, the white schnozzle rescue dog who keeps me company when I’m home writing and makes us all laugh at least once a day.
  • the ability to pursue my bucket list dreams and help my family find adventures that fit them and their personalities.
  • the options and opportunities available to my kids in their education and extracurricular activities.
  • the small group Bible study that meets in our home and the couples we’re getting to know through that.

31-days-dated-logoI could continue on for a while. I have so much to be thankful for. How about you? Have you ever written a list of what you’re grateful for? If you haven’t, give it a try – you might be blown away. Or if that’s not your thing, sign up for the 31 Days of Everyday Adventure challenge for daily prompts throughout November. You don’t have to do them all (although imagine how adventurous your life could be if you did!), but I’m sure you’ll find at least one way each week to step into adventure.




Bucket List Bonds: Another Reason the Cubs Win Was Such a Big Deal

I have talked often about the way going after life goals brings connection (it’s the theme of my video course, Build Stronger Bonds Writing Bucket Lists). And usually I’m talking about connection in the present tense, with those in your life today. But this past weekend in Chicagoland I witnessed how powerful that bond can be even with those gone from our lives. Like my grandma.

bucketlistbondscubswinGrandma Seman loved sports. When she moved from her home in Hawaii to a suburb near ours a few years after my grandfather died, I got to spend a lot of time with her. On almost every visit to her house, her tv or radio would be tuned in to a Chicago sports game. To this day, I take great comfort in the hollow sound of a ball game on AM radio. Because it brings back those days at Grandma’s house.

While she enjoyed sports year round – football, basketball, and hockey, Grandma’s favorite team by far was the Chicago Cubs. She would sit in her recliner with a crochet project in her lap and give her own play-by-play of the game. She’d exclaim over runs scored and scowl at what she thought were poor calls. And more than anything, she’d talk about the players. Grandma knew each one by name, reputation and background. Andre Dawson and Ryne Sandberg came up most often. But she could chat just as fluently about Mark Grace, Shawon Dunston and other ball players. And like many Cubs fans before and after her, Grandma suffered disappointment after disappointment.

It’s hardly news that the Cubs finally had their day when they beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fight for the National League Pennant on Saturday. All over the Chicago Metro area longtime fans danced for joy, sang “Go, Cubs, Go!” and shot off fireworks. My own daughter shrieked and bounced all around the house (and she’s only waited 17 years, nowhere close to what others have).

My first thought was of Grandma. How thrilled she would have been to see her Cubbies get to the World Series. As she did with other Cubs’ wins, she would have talked like she never had a doubt they’d do it. Grandma always had faith that the Cubs could go far. Seeing them win the National League pennant would have been on her bucket list. Which made it a bittersweet day.

Turns out, a lot of other people were feeling the same way. That win brought back the memories of so many Cubs fans who longed to see their team go to the World Series. Social media lit up with people giving shout-outs to those they wished had been alive for that day. The connection in that moment of a long-awaited dream come true spanned generations and even death.

If you ever wondered about the power of a life goal to bond people together, talk to a Cubs fan about last Saturday. They know that power.

It also explains why Steve Goodman’s song, A Dying Cubs Fan’s Last Request, has such staying power. Take a look:



When Life Goals Yield Big Visions: An Interview with Bev Hawley

For the most part, a bucket list contains straightforward personal goals. But for some people visions for something beyond themselves come out of a bucket list goal – like a vision for opening a gallery to showcase a bucket list project.

Bev Hawley, a professional children’s photographer in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon, is such a person. Her Bucket List Gallery and Studio (The BL Gallery, for short) sprang from a bucket list project, called “Dogs Walk By.” Bev has been keeping and completing her list of life goals for years. I am excited to be able to share with you an interview with Bev. She’s adventurous, talented and inspiring.

Copyright Bev Hawley

Copyright Bev Hawley

You are pretty bold with your approach to bucket list goals. Not everyone will open a studio/gallery in order to accomplish a goal. How did you get to the place where you could do that? 

I think the boldness, if you want to call it that, has come from years of experience with this concept. When I wrote my first 25-30 items on a piece of paper it was more of a whim or just following something someone suggested. I spent very little time on it and very little thought. A speaker on Oprah said something to the effect of, “if you aren’t willing to commit your dreams to paper, why do you expect them to happen?” That made sense to me so I took a few minutes and jotted down a list and set it aside for several years only to discover the list with all of the things accomplished. Right then, I became a believer and have jotted down my hearts desire ever few years ever since. I don’t think it is a matter of boldness taking on some of these things it is rather just taking little baby steps that keep leading you along… I call it following your inspiration. The awesome part is how quite often it is strangers who come into your life totally out of the blue and help one accomplish their dreams, whether financially or just being the right person to take you to the next step.

Can you describe for readers your “Dogs Walk By” bucket list project? Why is that significant for you? How have people responded to Dogs Walk By?

Copyright Bev Hawley

Copyright Bev Hawley

My Dogs Walk By project I am currently working on came about because I longed to have a dog in my life and that wasn’t practical for my family. So I kept noticing other people walking their dogs and I found it very interesting how each owner and dog carried themselves so uniquely. I wanted to photograph the dogs without the person overpowering them, but still having the relationship there. I tried a few photographs but it felt a bit voyeuristic.  I needed a retail shop for credibility and a place with lots of dog owners who walked by.
Fast forward… I’ve been working on the project at my little leased studio/gallery for 6 months now and hope to have all of the images for phase one done by March 1. As I mentioned, the most amazing part of this project to me has been total strangers have volunteered an hour of their time and energy to help me accomplish my goal. I figured several of my friends would step forward and when I ran out of them I would be up a creek. But almost all of the people who have participated in this project so far have been total strangers who loved the idea and even though they didn’t at first know I could photograph anything…. because I had no work to show..they came anyway.  I love how this project has been evolving. I refuse to put it into an organized box and that has really given it wings. I’ll maybe be able to tell you what this is all about in a couple of years… it is truly a work in progress.

What other things are currently on your bucket list? 

Well, I keep that list close until it starts opening up and I need to make it public. I can easily get influenced  if others think the idea is trivial or stupid so that is why I keep my list under wraps.

Can you tell us about your favorite bucket list experience?

Oh my, that’s like asking me which of my children I love most. Each one has played an important role but let me just share a little of what I love about this current project. On my list alongside DWB was also: get out and be more a part of the community, have my white seamless background back in my life to photograph on, have a public window display to inspire others, have a little retail shop, photograph Santa illustrations again. Amazingly enough… all of these things are being accomplished in this little space in a community I had never set foot in, until this year. It would take too long to describe all of the little tiny steps and missteps that led me to this place. But it is following up on those little inklings that keep nudging at you and not outlining where they are taking you. You will be amazed at the ripple effect that starts coming into your experience.

Do you have any tips to offer to someone just starting out with keeping a written bucket list?

Allow yourself only about 30 minutes and jot down what is close to your heart. I wanted a few dollars in a savings account, a digital camera, two weeks alone, and to publish a book… you get the idea. Some felt very easy to do, while others looked magical. Make sure that the things on the list are measurable  and that you can accomplish them. I once wrote down…to love more… which was my heart but not easily measurable. So those type of goals are on another list for me. Don’t labor over your list…if it doesn’t come quickly to mind it shouldn’t be there. My bucket list isn’t a one time shot, it is something I work with when the thought comes to me…usually every couple of years. All of the things on my list are something I feel in my heart.

You can learn more about Bev Hawley on her website and on FaceBook (@theblgallery).

(Photos copyright Bev Hawley, used with permission).

September 2016 Bucket List Life Dare: Pass It On

What is something you do well? Have you ever thought of passing along your expertise to someone else?

September 2016 Bucket List Life DareI have been sewing since I was 16 years old. After making a skirt in Home Ec class in high school, I was hooked. Sewing is not for the faint of heart. For one thing, there are the patterns. If you’ve ever tried to follow one, you know what I mean. It’s like reading a foreign language. Just when you think you have one figured out, something goes awry in the execution. Thankfully, my mother is an excellent seamstress. For many years I consulted Mom when problems arose during my sewing projects – which was pretty much the case with everything I made. Knowing that I had expert help on call gave me courage to stick with it.

I still remember the first time I completed an entire project without having to seek Mom’s help. It was a Halloween costume for my daughter. Every year when the girls were young I would create one new costume. With three girls that meant someone got a new one while the others had to choose something from the closet. Each year I sought Mom’s help with the costume. Until the fifth one. By then I had been sewing for nearly 20 years. That’s how long it took to master the skill of sewing.

Sewing is something I love to do that I’m proficient at. And it’s something I gladly teach to others when I can – my daughters, children of friends. But I still feel like I have more to give when it comes to sharing this knowledge. “Teach someone how to sew” remains on my bucket list.

My goal for this month’s bucket list life dare is to spend time teaching someone a new sewing skill. I think my youngest (who is already comfortable around my sewing machine as a quilter) may be needing to learn how to make button holes. But if other opportunities to teach sewing arise, I’ll seize them too.

In light of the new school year, I’d like to dare you to add an element of teaching to your bucket list, a way use what you know and pass it on to others. Even if you can’t accomplish it this month, think about completing the phrase, “Teach Someone to/How to…” as an item for your bucket list.



FBL Starters Freebie Updated - Cover

Daddy/Daughter Trip to the Olympics

David Williams and his wife Sarah are longtime friends of mine. One of the things I have always admired about David is his desire to see the world. In his 20s, David made it his goal to travel to every continent (so far he’s made it to 6 continents and 80 countries). But he didn’t leave that goal behind when he become a dad – he uses that passion to shape his parenting. He takes his kids on trips to places you and I only dream of going (like Fiji, Australia and Paris, to name only a few) – because that fits his vision for his family.

WilliamsOlympicsMost recently, David and his fourteen-year-old daughter Lydia traveled to Rio for the Olympic games. I thought it would be fun for you to hear from David about this once-in-a-lifetime bucket list trip.

When did you get the idea to go to Rio for the Olympics?

It is something I have always wanted to do. I always liked watching the Olympics and I thought it would be cool to go. It seems like lots of people talk about going, but not many actually go.

About nine or ten months ago, I booked award [airline] tickets, but didn’t book anything else. I didn’t know whether I go. As the year progressed, I started thinking it really would be fun. And I imagined Lydia would have fun if we went. So I booked a hotel and bought event tickets [a few weeks before the opening ceremony].

Did you have any concerns about going to Rio?

Everyone was saying “you’re crazy. You’re going to get kidnapped. There’s Zika. That’s the worst idea I ever heard.” My theory was that it was incredibly important to the country of Brazil that these Olympics go okay. They will do whatever it takes to make the Olympics go well and make sure visitors are safe. Because their national reputation is at stake.

And that was the case. I didn’t see one mosquito the whole time. I felt incredibly safe. The people were super friendly and there were tons of [Olympic] volunteers.

What were some highlights of the Olympics?

I sat next to the father of Britain’s best Olympic swimmer and World Champion in the 200m freestyle. It was pretty cool.

Also, we had tickets for three sessions of swimming. But nothing else. So after dinner the first night I decided we should go see something else. We looked online at beach volleyball, for tickets to the game the next morning. And they had no cheap tickets (B & C level) left, only A level (top tier). But they were only $22 each. So we went to a beach volleyball game.

Just you and your daughter Lydia went to the Games. Why her and not the rest of the family?

I knew it was going to be expensive. My wife wouldn’t want to go, my eldest was busy with high school marching band and I had taken my son to Tokyo earlier in the year. But I knew my middle daughter Lydia would love it because she likes swimming.

Did that trip impact your relationship with your daughter?

Any time you spend extra special time with your kids, it will help your relationship. I’m all about experiences you remember. This is something Lydia and I will remember for the rest of our lives.

Lydia is a really laid-back person. But she had the biggest smile the whole way home. She got to see Missy Franklin, Michael Phelps, and Katie Ledecky. It was a great experience that went off without a hitch and she had a great time.

I want my kids to realize what a big world there is and to be interested in the rest of the world because they experienced it.

Any advice for other parents?

I’m very thankful that I’m able to do a few things like this. I try to do it at a very reasonable price. Just being flexible is the key. If you’re flexible and willing to sit on a plane for a while, it’s worth it to go to some of the famous cities of the world and experience them with your family. It costs money. But I do think it’s worth it.

Everyone should check out theflightdeals.com. You can find amazing airfares if you’re willing to go wherever and aren’t set on a particular destination.

What’s next on your bucket list?

I’m planning on taking my son to Hong Kong in November, thanks to a really good airfare I found.


CoursePromoImageWant to bring your family closer by creating and living out bucket list dreams like this one? I can teach you how. Check out my book in e-book or paperback or take ”my online course,” now only $15!