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I didn’t know about life lists until sometime last year (for someone who blogs for a living, I’m surprisingly slow to pick up on things like this), at which point I was completely enthralled with the idea. Shocking, I know, considering I make lists to keep track of my lists for trips and work and stuff. I mean, you guys don’t even know how hard it was for me to not create a whole life spreadsheet. (Okay, fine, I made one. But I’m not sharing it, so don’t tell. Shhh.)

Anyway, so I’ve basically been working on it for a year. Partly in my head, partly on Post-Its, and partly in various documents on my computer. And finally I decided, ENOUGH! Does it have any power if it’s not shared? I don’t know, but I want to share it — I want it to be real, and I want a reason to work toward checking off the items.( A reason other than the fact that these items are things I just totally want to do. Because, I guess, that’s not reason enough? Whatever.)

One of the things I loved about creating this is that it not only gave me a way to articulate things I want to accomplish, but it gave me an excuse to look back on things I’ve done; things I’m proud of. Just because I’ve already done it doesn’t mean it’s not worthy of being on the list, you see — if I hadn’t already done it, it would be on there, so why not put it on there and have something to cross off, right?

(Yes, I do that with my to-do lists, also. SHUT UP.)

So, with no further ado (because this has been a lot of ado — much, and about nothing, really), here it is: My Life List. It doesn’t all make sense, and I might not do all of it, and that’s okay. Let me know what’s on yours — maybe I’m missing something! (And shitballs, that was more ado, wasn’t it? Sorry, y’all.)

(Big thanks to Kate O for inspiring me to separate this into sections, which has helped immensely. And, fellow life listers — if I stole your idea, I’m totally sorry and you can tell me I stole it and I’ll add in a link. I promise I didn’t do it on purpose!)

Key: italics mean it’s in progress, bold means I’ve done it. If it’s bold and in italics, it probably requires explanation

Living
1.    Live on the beach
2.    Own a house with a backyard and guest rooms
3.    Live a laid-back life on a laid-back island, in the Caribbean or elsewhere
4.    Marry someone who makes me laugh and think
5.    Know the best restaurants and bars (hole-in-the-wall, fancy, whatever) in every city I love
6.    Become a regular at a local restaurant or bar (Norm!) (preferably, within walking distance of the beach house I’ll live in)
7.    Live in a truly energy-efficient home
8.    Plant a beautiful flower garden and keep it alive for more than a year

Travel
9.    Spend a month (or more) in Europe without everything planned out
10.    Fly first class on a long flight
11.    Go to Egypt; see the pyramids and the Sphinx, etc.
12.    Do a Pacific Northwest wine tour
13.    Hike and camp Machu Picchu
14.    Drive throughout the Northeast in the fall to see the leaves
15.    Attend a Final Four basketball game (TWICE!)
16.    Take a roadtrip with girlfriends
17.    Go on an African (photo) safari
18.    Ride public transportation alone in a major city
19.    Spend enough time in another country that people no longer assume I’m an American tourist
20.    Go to Hawaii and visit at least three islands
21.    Go horseback riding along the beach
22.    Zipline through a rain forest
23.    Visit the hometowns of my ancestors (which would probably involve finding out where they lived, I suppose, and also who they were, and gah, this sounds like a lot of work.)

Good Stuff
24.    Help homeless animals in more ways than adopting
25.    Become fluent (again) in Spanish
26.    Learn French, German, and Italian well enough to get by
27.    Take a painting class
28.    Surprise my goddaughter with a really amazing, life changing gift
29.    Celebrate a major anniversary with good friends at a fancy party
30.    Start or join a book club with a wide variety of people
31.    Send my family on an all-expenses paid vacation
32.    Learn to be a better photographer and print, then frame and hang my favorite photos
33.    Own a nice camera
34.    Be a season ticket holder for the closet college’s football and basketball teams
35.    Hike a mountain and have a picnic of wine and cheese at the top
36.    Write down my parents’ stories
37.    Develop a pet product and donate proceeds to an animal-related charity
38.    Star in a play (in high school — Arsenic and Old Lace, I was Aunt Abby — but I’d like to do it again)
39.    Read the classics I missed in high school
40.    Commit favorite quotes to memory
41.    Organize a 5k to benefit charity
42.    Know the names of all my neighbors
43.    Send cards with a handwritten letter on people’s birthday

Health/Fitness
44.    Start exercising first thing in the morning
45.    Be good enough at golf to play without constant embarrassment
46.    Learn to surf (thanks Erin)
47.    Be confident in a bathing suit, regardless of the size on the tag (without the help of any boozy drinks)
48.    Coach youth sports
49.    Waterski all the way around a lake
50.    Complete a sprint, Olympic, and Ironman 70.3 triathlon
51.    Win the swimming leg of a triathlon
52.    Learn swing dancing with my husband and be GOOD at it
53.    Play in a beach volleyball tournament
54.    Learn to breakdance
55.    Take an adult tap class (and perform!)
56.    Paddleboard (I mean, I did it, but not very far or for very long or very well, so I think it deserves another go)

Food/Drink/Celebration
57.    Become an expert wine taster (Taste 1000 wines and KEEP NOTES)
58.    Cook a vegetarian meal that meat eaters love (I have yet to win over my Dad, but there are several meatless meals that Jared totally digs)
59.    Grow vegetables, then eat them
60.    Make a pie like my Grandma’s
61.    Dedicate one afternoon a week to drinking wine with a couple of friends (this would require not having to work every afternoon, so I guess I should add WORK LESS)
62.    Learn to identify 100 cheeses by taste
63.    Put together a cookbook of my favorite recipes to share with friends

Organization
64.    Have a beautiful (and beautifully organized) closet
65.    Keep my house clean on a regular basis
66.    Print the good photos I have saved on my computer
67.    Create a travel file and keep notes on where I’ve been, what I liked best, what I would do differently, etc.
68.    Go through old home videos, edit them, and put all the keeper parts into a digital file

Crafty
69.    Win a Halloween costume contest in something I created
70.    Wear something stylish that I sewed myself
71.    Put all my printed photos into albums
72.    Organize all my crafty supplies and keep them in one place (even the same room would be a start)

Work/Writing
73.    Write a book that makes people laugh
74.    Write a book that makes people think (these can be the same book or different ones)
75.    Have someone recognize me (by name or sight) because I wrote something that resonated with them
76.    Interview a really, really famous actor (Sean Connery)/athlete (Misty May-Treanor, Aaron Rodgers)/writer/____
77.    Write for a living
78.    Have a column in a local newspaper
79.    Put all of my favorite articles/posts/stories together in one place

Style
80.    Develop a signature style
81.    Find the perfect mascara
82.    Phase leather out of my wardrobe and own high quality, beautiful, cruelty-free shoes and purses and jackets
83.    Buy a pair of high heels that don’t hurt my feet, regardless of cost
84.    Decorate my house in a way that makes me smile
85.    Learn to mix patterns successfully
86.    Find the perfect perfume
87.    Own a DVF wrap dress
88.    Put together a collection of cool hats

Huh?
89.    Throw out the first pitch of a baseball game
90.    Bid on and win a big ticket item at a silent auction
91.    Sing on key (so, um, taking voice lessons should probably be on there)
92.    Curate an enviable repertoire of jokes
93.    Be able to sew more than a button
94.    Get in a fight, and preferably win
95.    Walk a red carpet
96.    Perform a stand-up comedy routine
97.    Be an extra on a favorite TV show
98.    Watch an old movie outside, either at a park or on a beach
99.    Perform “We Didn’t Start the Fire” at karaoke
100.    Dance on a table in public

Is this list final? Hell no. I’m sure I’ll add things as I think of them, and I’ll remove them when they no longer appeal to me. But it’s a start, right?

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What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?

I saw this quote for the first time a couple of months ago, and it’s stuck with me — no, plagued me — ever since. Because I just don’t know the answer.

I mean, there are a few obvious things. If I knew I couldn’t possibly fail, I’d find cures for horrible diseases, and bring about world peace, and probably make a bunch of money doing it. But those things all require skills I don’t actually have (unless you count knowing which bras create impressive cleavage, because that, I’ve got down pat). No, what’s really getting my goose is the fact that I’m not quite certain what I would attempt that’s even somewhat within my grasp. But I have a few ideas, and I hope you’ll share your ideas with me, too.

Yes, I would write a novel. A really funny one that would make people smile. I would come up with great fundraising ideas for my favorite causes, like PHF and the Alzheimer’s Association. I would train to be an impressive athlete. So why am I not doing that now? Am I that concerned about failure? Because I don’t really think I am.

I think the thing that’s getting me all worked up is that I’m not sure how I define failure. My parents raised me to believe I could do anything, and a part of me really holds on to that. Like, with a white-knuckled death grip.

Like, at present, I’m not working a novel, but I am writing and editing for a living, and even being called an expert (I KNOW!). I wouldn’t have guessed that possible five years ago, but, there you go.

I’m not able to pull in millions for the charities close to my heart, but I did help raise a few hundred bucks for the Alzheimer’s Association this year, and I’m currently heading Silent Auction efforts for next year’s Puppy Hill Farm Gala. Plus, we’re fostering our second adoptable dog, Millie, and I’m sponsoring Knudley, a Sanctuary dog at PHF. It’s not a lot, but every little bit helps.

I’ll probably never run a marathon, but I’ve completed other races I’m proud of, and I’m training for another one. I mean, there are millions of people who would never even dream of setting foot on a start line, so that’s something, right?

It seems to me that, if you don’t put a static definition on failure, you don’t have to fail. Working toward your goals should never feel like failure, even if your dreams and reality never quite meet. Even those setbacks you experience in that journey generally serve a purpose — you learn, you grow, you move on. I’m only 29 (for a few more weeks, anyway) — I plan to have many more years of not failing before I’m through.

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The death of John Hughes brought with it a flood of memories for millions. Who among us didn’t try to do the lipstick trick? (Turns out it doesn’t work so well when your cleavage consists of a training bra stuffed with toilet paper.) And it’s hard to find someone my age (or five to 10 years older or younger) who doesn’t have an important adolescent memory closely tied to one of his movies.

While some of those memories are sure to be happy, some are certain to recall pain. But at least we have them. Not everyone does.

kris&garndma

Grandma Sara and me at my high school graduation open house, 1998.

When I was in sixth grade, I remember getting so annoyed with my Grandma Sara for asking me whether I had homework multiple times on the way home from school. “God,” I thought, “why doesn’t she just listen and pay attention?”

A few years later, after she’d been officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s but was still well enough to live on her own, I remember being frustrated that she’d forgotten to make the pie for Thanksgiving. She made the best pies, and when I’d asked her whether they were done (as a helpful reminder — I wasn’t a completely terrible child), she assured me they were. People with Alzheimer’s sometimes tell you what you want to hear, not even realizing that they’re lying.

The following month, I tried to get out of going to her apartment because OH MY GOD, if I had to hear that poinsettia story ONE MORE TIME I would definitely die (in the way that teenagers often die). Yes, Grandma, I know they used to be all tall and spindly and kind of ugly, and you’re right! Now they’re so lush and full and beautiful! It is amazing.

I would give anything — ANYTHING — to hear that story from her one more time. Or any story, for that matter.

Grandma Sara has been in a nursing home for the past eight years and has dealt with Alzheimer’s for close to 18. She can no longer put together a sentence or tell us what she’s thinking. At 90 years old, her physical condition remains mostly good, but mentally … she’s mostly gone. On rare occasions, she’ll light up for a second when she sees one of us. Whether she recognizes us or is just happy to see a smiling face, it’s impossible to tell. She hasn’t responded in a way that makes sense to anything I’ve said in years. Mostly, she just tries to be polite to these people who come and sit with her. Sometimes she laughs, sometimes she’s weepy. We never know why — we’re just thrilled when we visit on a good day.

This is a woman who used to put on lipstick to get the mail. She had her family convinced she liked the wings of the chicken best because she knew everybody else liked the other parts better. One time I asked her if she’d ever sworn in her whole life, and she responded, “Don’t tell anyone, but I might’ve said, ‘Oh, hell,’ once or twice.”

She made the best cookies and pies, as well as the most beautiful formal gowns for my mom’s high school dances, and she took care of me after school for years (always making sure I had a snack). I taught her to shoot baskets, but never took the time to let her teach me how to sew.

Yuki has raised a lot of money in past years. She's not too keen on the UF mascots, though.

Yuki has raised a lot of money in past years. She's not too keen on the UF mascots, though.

On October 24, I’ll be walking in the Gainesville Alzheimer’s Memory Walk in her honor. I’m looking for people to walk with me — if you want to raise money, great. If you just want to show support, that’s great too. I’m also taking donations — you’ll see a small button over to the right if you want to donate online, or you can contact me if you’d rather do it in another way. Or, if you just want to share a story about how Alzheimer’s has touched your life, I’d love to hear that, too.

**Ed: I forgot to mention that anyone who lives in the area and wants to donate or become a part of Team Go for Grandma is TOTALLY invited to a par-tay at the Seymour residence following the walk. There will be food and booze — what more do you want?

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When I talk to people about changing the world (yes, really, I have conversations about it), I always end up feeling overwhelmed. No matter what I do, it’s not going to be enough. I can save this dog, but I can’t save 200 others in need. I can help one child, but not the rest of her family.

Except, maybe I can.

Sometimes you need to believe, especially this time of year. Maybe whatever small donation of time or money you’re able to make really can be integral in changing the world, and if you don’t believe me, watch this. I hope it inspires you as much as it inspired me.

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Now that I set my own (kickass) schedule, I don’t have to get up very early. With my previous job, there were days when I did get up well before dawn, but I was Up and Going Places, so by the time I was dressed and had my teeth brushed, it didn’t feel all that early. I’m really not a morning person, but I don’t see much point in grouching around for the first hour of my day. If I have to be up, I get up and get going.

Except today. I woke up a little before 4 a.m. (!?!) this morning and Could. Not. Fall. Back. Asleep. It’s particularly strange because I had a really big day yesterday — it was the Puppy Hill Farm “For the Love of Animals Gala,” which is the main fundraiser for the rescue from which I got Yuki and Rudi. I’m on the board there, and I try to do a lot for the Gala, so I spent all afternoon helping to set the place up and arranging silent auction items. It was a FABULOUS event. If I had brought a camera, I would show you pictures. But, I didn’t, so just rest assured that we all (J, me, Mom S., and my folks) looked amazing, the food was phenomenal, and we raised loads of money for the pooches.

What’s interesting (at least to me) is that I think I’m up (at 4 in the morning) because I had a Diet Coke yesterday. I used to have Diet Coke all the time when I woke up to an alarm and not a cold, wet nose. And, I always had coffee — Big Coffee — in the morning. And now one little bitty Diet Coke keeps me from sleeping? I guess caffeine works when you don’t have it often. Who knew?

Anyway, it’s now after 7 a.m., and I’ve already been working for almost 3 hours because what else is there to do at 4 in the morning? Also, what time is lunch if you start your day that early? I’m getting hungry.

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