I really should have written this post a while ago. Maggie at Northern Expenditure challenged other bloggers to come up with a list of accomplishments, or “awesome opportunities you’ve taken.” She wrote about a friend who was disappointed about not checking everything off of her to-do-before-I-turn-30 list. In comparison, Maggie decided to come up with a list of the noteworthy things she has done so far in her life. As much as I am working hard for my family’s future, it’s important to look back on our progress and the experience along the way. The inspiration for finally adding this post came from a bucket list I found on my Evernote, which was drafted way back in February of 2014. I jotted it down when I was still pretty lost and before starting this blog. It was encouraging to realize that I had already completed some of the tasks on that list and it made me think about all of the other awesome things I’ve been able to do by the age of 33.
The February 2014 “Dreams List”
- Start a blog
- Write a book
- Teach a college course
- Take a road trip with the kids all over the county
- Travel to Spain, Ireland, Australia, Hawaii, California, and Alaska
- Start an Etsy store
- Speak fluent Spanish
- Go skydiving
- Fly a plane
- Own a horse
- Foster a litter of puppies
- Eat food out of my own garden
- Learn how to knit
- Learn how to play the piano
- Learn how to play the guitar
- Go skiing
- Swim with dolphins and sharks (not at the same time)
- Go on a missions trip to build a school or something
- Sponsor a child in another country
- Go to the cabin every single year, once in the fall
I’m proud of myself for only including one possession on the list, even back when I was still transitioning from my consumerist ways. To be honest, I’m not even sure that I still want to own a horse anymore. As you’re reading my blog right now, I think we can agree on marking that one complete. I’m still working on my book and hope to finish it this year. I’m not sure why I want to teach a college course, but it probably has something to do with the fact that my father was a college professor. I enjoy my tutoring side hustle, so it should be an achievable goal for the future. For anyone who has been following this blog for a while, you know that we were pretty successful with the garden last summer, so that’s another item that I can check off the list. My great-grandmother was from Spain, which is why I want to visit the country and become fluent in Spanish. I used to have a decent ability to speak the language, but it has atrophied over time. My father has a cabin in Maine that we love to visit, but we don’t end up there every summer. It is a long drive for us and that requires us to take more time off from work. I’m looking forward to a time when we can go there whenever we want, including a trip to take in the fall foliage. And the big road trip? Well, that’s in the works 🙂
I have quite a few things left to learn and experience, but the point of this post was not my to-do list. It was to recount some unique accomplishments in my life. So, in response to Maggie’s challenge, here are the experiences that I’ve already collected in my bucket.
My Fill-The-Bucket List
There are quite a few travel destinations on my dreams list, but we have gone a couple of places already. Mr. Smith and I took an epic trip to Washington D.C. together. It was our babymoon (I was about 5 months pregnant) and just so happened to be right after a huge snowstorm. We hiked all over the place through huge snowdrifts. The Jefferson Memorial was quite a challenge because there were no cleared paths to it. The D.C. trip ended up being a pretty frugal experience, with all of the free museums and a hotel package purchased through Groupon. We are looking forward to taking the kids there someday (maybe on the roadtrip), but it will probably be more fun when they are a little bit older. I’m glad we were able to see it all on our own pace.
We went on one cruise together to the Bahamas. While not the most economical vacation (and definitely one of the causes of our credit card debt), it was heavenly. Mr. Smith loved the all-you-can-eat buffets and we both enjoyed exploring the islands and floating in the crystal blue water. We often talk about the cruise and can’t wait to go on another one, someday.
Learning How To Crochet
I had totally forgot about my idea to learn how to knit until revisiting the dreams list. My mother jokes that I inherited a “crafting gene.” I’ve dabbled in a bunch of different things, but finally found my new favorite hobby with crochet. I wanted a crocheted blanket for the baby, but the options on Etsy were somewhat expensive. I decided to watch YouTube video tutorials to teach myself and enjoyed it a lot (the blanket turned out pretty good too). It’s just so relaxing to just repeat the motions and keep my hands busy. Crochet is also rewarding because of the finished product. I love creating things instead of just wasting time being a zombie in front of the day or goofing around on my phone.
Raising Three Children
Most people are biologically able to parent children, but raising good kids takes a toll on your heart, soul, and sanity. They may sometimes drive us crazy, but I am so proud of how my children are growing up to be awesome human beings. There have been many sacrifices over the past six years, but they were worth it. The return on this investment of time and effort has been enormous. I never realized how much joy and love children could add to your life. Raising three children has been quite the experience.
We moved around a lot during my middle school years and as a result, I was horribly shy. I made a decision to become a cheerleader, because I figured that being in front of a crowd would push me out of my shell. I worked hard to become pretty good at it and ended up cheering for all of high school and college. After college, I joined an All-Star team that traveled to national competitions. We won first place at one of these competitions. My “National Champion” jacket is something I will probably hang on to for a very long time. Cheerleading gave me confidence, allowed me to travel the country and meet so many people, and tested my physical abilities. I will also treasure the opportunity I had to coach a high school team. It was really the natural evolution of my cheerleading career and allowed me to become a mentor.
Earning A Doctorate Degree
I don’t get too specific about my education or my occupation on this blog, for a variety of reasons, but look forward to discussing more about those topics in a few years. Education is a privilege and an asset. I feel very accomplished in the dedication and diligence it took to obtain both of my degrees.
Learning To Love Frugality
I used to spend money on so much unnecessary stuff. It cluttered me. It has been an enlightening and transformative experience to refocus my energy, and money, on more-worthwhile goals. I have learned how to transform the clothing in my closet, how to cut my own hair, and make all sorts of things from scratch. We have been modeling good behavior for our children. We have even been making less of an adverse impact on the environment. I love being a frugal weirdo and can’t imagine being any other way now.
Becoming A Writer
While my dreams list includes the specific goal of writing a book, there are intangibles that go along with it. I wanted to express my ideas, and share knowledge and stories with others. I have been growing as a writer through this site and guest posting on other blogs. The fact that two of my posts have been feature on Scary Mommy and a couple featured on Rockstar Finance has provided me with some validation as a writer. I’ve even become confident enough to seek out freelance work. I am starting to feel comfortable thinking of myself as a real writer. Even Laura Vanderkam likes my writing (I am a huge fan of hers, so that was a pretty awesome day).
The really monumental thing about becoming a writer is the effect such success will have on my long-term plans. The reason for this blog is my need to create a better life. I’m unhappy with my current career path. The fact that there might be a future for me that includes writing is incredibly motivating. Our plan is only for semi-retirement. As I will have to continue working part-time for the foreseeable future, it would be amazing my income could come from doing something I enjoy.
Thank you Maggie for challenging me to consider my past experiences. My husband and I are working hard to build an awesome life filled with freedom and possibilities for our family. But that isn’t to say that we haven’t done anything worthwhile just yet. To the contrary, you can manage to have some excitement on weekends or in your allotted vacation time from work. The issue is, that we want more.
Join in the challenge! What do you already have in your bucket?