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!

November Bucket List Life Dare: Express Gratitude

November 2015 Bucket List Life Dare: Express GratitudeDoes it ever feel to you like Thanksgiving is here and gone in a flash? Like the blessing over dinner that we pass off as “giving thanks” isn’t proportionate to how much we have to be grateful for? It bothers me, but I have to admit that I’m not very good at doing something about it. Sure, I am quick to say “thanks” on a daily basis to people who help me. But I’m not as good at taking it deeper and really reflecting (and acting) on the abundance in my life that I have to be grateful for.

It makes sense that we ought to appreciate what we have more. Thankful people are more satisfied, less aggressive, and more giving. Not only that, but research shows that grateful people actually get further in life. Gratitude expert Dr. Robert Emmons of U.C. Davis says this:

Participants who kept gratitude lists were more likely to have made progress toward important personal goals (academic, interpersonal and health-based) over a two-month period compared to subjects in the other experimental conditions.

If we want to live more meaningful lives as individuals and as families by reaching our bucket list ambitions, we need to be practicing gratitude regularly. That’s why I decided this month’s dare should challenge us to make something more of our gratitude.

So here is this month’s Bucket List Life Dare: Name one person you have been wanting to thank – for something they did or an influence they had on your life. Take time this month to write or otherwise express your gratitude.

If you want to take it a step further and build off Emmons’ gratitude list research, you could make your own list, adding one item each day that you are grateful for. Then note who you have to thank for that item. Did someone help you obtain, attain, or maintain what you’re grateful for? Choose one of those people to express your thanks to this month.

I will be sharing about how the October Bucket List Life Dare went for me, and asking you to chime in on your experiences, later this month. In the meantime, let us know in the comments if you’ll be joining in this month’s dare.

October Bucket List Life Dare: Random Acts of Kindness

We’re into a new month already, which means it’s time for another bucket list life dare. This month is about taking action on those kind, uplifting ideas you’ve had for making another person’s day better.

October 2015 Bucket List Life DareOne of my struggles is in making the shift from being a person who wants to be more generous, thoughtful, and kind, to actually acting that way more often. I’ll think to myself, I should send a card to so-and-so to let them know I’m thinking of them or praying for them. And then a day goes by, and a week. And nothing happens. I forget until I’ve lost the inspiration or prime opportunity to do it.

Or I hear someone’s reaction to having their Starbuck’s drive-through order paid for by the person in front of them. I don’t think, I wish someone would pay for my order. Because that’s not what excites me about these stories. What I think is, I should do that someday.

Well, just like my other Bucket List Life Dares (which you can find collected on the Bucket List Life Dare page), the purpose of this month’s dare is to help us make someday happen now. In October.

So while there may be an official Random Act of Kindness Week, I’m challenging us to make random acts of kindness happen this month. Why? Because I think collectively we could pad the lists of things others will be thankful for this month if we get out there and shower the world with kindness. And I’ll bet we’ll have more to be grateful for too.

I don’t have a particular idea in mind for my own response to this dare. Instead, I am preparing myself to seize the moment when it comes. One thing I’ve learned in my adventures in bucket list living is that when you focus your attention on something – in this case, finding a random act of kindness to commit – you’ll be poised to recognize it when it presents itself. So I’m ready!

How about you? Are you game to join this month’s Bucket List Life Dare? Is there a Random Act of Kindness on your Bucket List? Or is simply the action of committing a RAK on your list? Make this the month it happens!

Talk About It: Post-Adventure Family Conversations

What kind of conversations do you have with your kids after you’ve reached a bucket list goal? What does your “debriefing” look like?
Chez Kent 411bOver Spring Break our family took a few bucket list adventures. Our eldest daughter spent three weeks on a school-sponsored exchange trip to Spain. The rest of us visited the LEGO Discovery Center for the first time. And I worked on a big project preparing for my next bucket list goal.

As much we enjoyed those adventures, we found the conversations we shared afterwards equally important. We heard stories about the differences between Chicago and the Spanish city of Santiago de Compastela. We talked about why we all agreed that it the LEGO trip would have been better for younger kids. And my family gave me feedback on my progress with my project.  We had these conversations not just for the fun of swapping stories (which is a huge part of it), but also because we’ve learned that processing our experiences helps us to appreciate, and deepen, the value of them.

When it comes to bucket list goals in your family, I hope you take the time to talk about them when you have accomplished them. Here are some ways to make the most of your family’s post-adventure chats:

  • Celebrate. Talk about how fortunate you were to be able to accomplish this particular goal. Ask your kids what made it the most memorable for them.
  • Reflect. Encourage your family to think about their individual roles in the experience. What did they do that worked well? What would they have done differently? What would they suggest to someone else approaching the same experience for the first time?
  • Applaud. Have family members exchange words of appreciation and affirmation. If it was a shared experience, ask each one to observe something positive they witnessed about another family member. As parents, share your positive observations.
  • Extract. Point your children toward the growth aspects of the experience. Where did they exhibit new skills or build on character traits? Ask everyone to talk about what they felt they gained from the adventure.
  • Commemorate. Discussing the adventure offers the perfect opportunity to seek your family’s input on how they want to mark the experience. Will you be putting together a photo collage? Or do you plan to display a souvenir? How might your family help you with these projects? Do they have ideas on how to observe or remember reaching that goal?

You may be surprised about what you learn from your kids during these conversations. Their perspective can be refreshing, and allowing them to process for themselves will internalize those experiences in significant ways.

Remember, it’s never too late to chat about the adventures you’ve taken. Make it the topic of your next family dinner and see where it leads!

Photo credit: Chez Kent 411b by Nathan LeClair on Flickr via CC License.

Why Bucket Lists Make Me Grateful (Mom to Mom Gratitude Gala Week 1)

Mom2MomGratitudeSunlight radiated off a nearby hill. Below us a small lake rippled in the gentle breeze. My daughter and I ate our lunches at a shady picnic table, watching archers arrange targets in the range across the parking lot. It gave us just enough time to observe the local protocol before pulling her bow and arrows from the trunk to give it a go.

We spent a little over an hour at the archery range that Saturday, but it remains one of my favorite memories from the past year. Just my youngest and I, testing our skills with her new compound bow.Archery

If it hadn’t been for a shared bucket list wish – try out archery – we wouldn’t have been at the range that day. She wouldn’t have gotten that bow set for her birthday. We would have overlooked the free archery class offered at the state park where we camped this summer.

Instead, bucket list in mind, we gave it a shot. She signed up for the class and found out she has a knack for shooting. And the rest, as they say, is history.

I am so grateful. I’m grateful her bucket list alerted her to watch for opportunities. I’m grateful for how trying a new sport broadened her interests.

I’m also grateful for how it taught her to think differently about herself – to think in terms of possibility. I might be able to get really good at this.

I’m thankful for how my children are growing in their ability to leap at fresh experiences (without whining). I’m thankful for how we are learning together, spurring each other on, and forging the identity we want our family to have.

Not every day in our life involves a “bucket list” experience. In fact, there are others I know who engage in many more adventures than we do. Yet I am so thankful for adventures spread out and adventures found in “small” circumstances – like a bow for a birthday gift.

I have seen how the excitement doesn’t wear off at our slower pace. The thrill is always there.

Some days that’s what adventure looks like in a bucket list family.

And I am so grateful. I never know what surprise is waiting for us around the next bend. Or what new shared hobby we’ll discover. Or how we’ll be changed.

So tell me this: what does adventure look like in your family? How does that make you grateful?

Remember, leave a comment to be entered in the Mom to Mom Gratitude Giveaway. Likewise, if you Tweet this post or share it on Facebook, you’ll be entered. While you’re at it, consider subscribing to this blog if you haven’t already so you don’t miss any of the upcoming guest posts by my fellow mom writers. And join my monthly newsletter list for regular encouragement and inspiration to find the adventure in everyday bucket list living. (Again, each of those actions scores you another entry in the drawing!)

Don’t forget on Wednesday to join me over at Christa Melynk Hines’ blog. And on Thursday I’m a guest at Heidi Smith Luedtke’s blog (or sneak over there now – I think it’s live already).