buck·et list

 a number of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have or accomplish during their lifetime.

i.e.”hiking the Grand Canyon is the first thing on my bucket list”

My undeniable wanderlust has me tackling an ever-growing bucket list; adding new things faster than I could possibly tick them off.  I have spent hours daydreaming of the trails I want to crush, the mountain summits I want to conquer and the countries I want to explore. Most of the time my bucket list excites me, but sometimes I feel defeated; like there aren’t enough years in my life to conquer all of the adventures on my infamous “list.”

Then I got to thinking…am I living in a bucket list bubble? We live in an age where achieving our bucket list dreams and sharing with the world makes us feel like we are “broadening our horizons” and ultimately “being successful.”  In this day and age, we are in a reality where doing the most extreme and incredible things gets us the most likes, the most followers or shares.  But I’m beginning to think that having such a narrow “check the box” attitude is confining.  What if my bucket list dreams become too time consuming or financially outrageous?  Will I feel like I’m not succeeding? Does my bucket list reflect MY dreams, or is it more about achieving the most extreme and awesome things?   How do I find a happy medium and make my bucket list a reasonable and achievable dream; one that is more about becoming my best self, achieving my goals and feeling great about myself?

Sometimes I get so caught up in the awe and amazement of the things I want to check off, that I fail to see the amazing things that I am doing right before my own eyes without taking the time to consider how amazing they truly are. If I go about putting only the most extreme challenges on list, I may forget about the less extreme things which are awesome in and of themselves.   Does this hit home with you?  I encourage you to take a step back, put down your bucket list and think. Think about all of the things you didn’t realize you’ve accomplished or perhaps overlooked because they didn’t necessarily fit the mould of present day “bucket list” reality.  What have you done that is your own great achievement?

I gave myself a challenge to see if I could come up with just ten amazing and incredible things that I have done in the last year that have never made it on my bucket list but REALLY should be there. I wanted to think about why they were ultimately profound for me. Why they meant more than just ticking off a box on a list.  I wanted to go beyond my bucket list.

Turns out, it took no time at all to come up with ten things I’m excited and proud to have achieved. All of which meant more than any mountain summit or trail I’ve been able to check off.  Here they are in no particular order:

  1. Expanding on my winter camping skills: I put my strength, perseverance and skills to the test in some extreme settings this year only to find that not only am I up to the challenge…but I love it. That feels pretty bad ass.
  2. Successfully built and started fire in wet conditions… without a match:  I’m not quite ready for Naked and Afraid yet, but I’m proud of this accomplishment. It shows that I’ve pushed to learn more; to be more self-sufficient in every trip I take in the outdoors.
  3. Planned more adventures in a year than ever before:  I’ve found a passion that I love, and is healthy for my mind and body. I’ve also found time to enjoy this even with my insanely busy work schedule.  Finding “ME” time and enjoying what I love is something so many people struggle with, so I’m blessed that I’ve been able to make an opportunity to do this.
  4. Put myself out there to meet more like minded adventurers and made some great friends in the process: As you get older, meeting new friends gets harder and harder… but meeting like minded people who love the same hobbies is even more challenging.  By joining groups and reaching out to new people, I’ve been able to meet some new folks who have become great friends and also helped me expand my adventures.
  5. Completed a 100 + mile distance hike: For me, this a huge milestone in an of itself because its difficult to get enough time off of work to do any trip of great length in a single setting. Being able to hike 100+ miles, see some incredible country while pushing myself harder than ever before was a worthwhile and challenging endeavor that helped me grow as a backpacker and a person.
  6.  Capturing a Night Sky: I don’t consider myself a photographer by any means, but I’m always looking to capture the places I roam and do them some justice.  I’ve been getting a lot better this year by trial and error. I’m most proud of some recent photographs that I’ve captured of the nights sky over the Red River Gorge.
  7. Sharing my love of the outdoors by starting this blog (which has been incredibly fun): To be able to share my passion with others and encourage a love for the outdoors is a lifetime goal I am now realizing. Having people tell me that I inspire them to go be outdoors or try a new things feels incredible and I plan to keep on doing it!
  8. Trying new outdoor adventures: (such as canoe-backcountry exploring and rock climbing) The only way to grow is to try new things. “If it scares you it’s probably worth doing, ” has become my new motto.  These new experiences open doors for me for more adventures in the future.
  9. Taken my boyfriend (and our new dog) on their first backpacking trip and convinced them that camping and hiking is actually pretty darn awesome: There is no greater feeling than enjoying something you love with the people you love, so this was a huge milestone for us.  Taking people into new (and potentially uncomfortable) settings can be challenging so I’m glad that I was able to two get new adventurers on board and signed up for the next trip 🙂
  10. Being Present: This is my most favorite accomplishment to date and the most important and applicable one in my daily life.  While taking time to enjoy time doing something I love, I have found myself being more aware of my surroundings. I have felt a deeper connection to the things and people around me. Time slows down, I find peace and calmness. In these instances, I truly “live in the moment.”  For me, my fast paced and stressful daily life often gets the best of me, so I find great joy in slowing down to the pace of nature when I adventure.  The more I have learned to do this on my hiking trips, the more I’ve seen this translate back into my daily life.  I find myself en route to work before the sun comes up, stopping to take a deep breathe and looking to the moon and the stars and being appreciative for that moment and the beauty it holds…instead of focusing on the day’s tasks that lie ahead.  I will forever be grateful for these moments and the opportunity to understand the importance of what being present means in my life.

What an eyeopener to stop and consider all of the seemingly small victories. One may actually may find that they have accomplished something much larger;  something that has created incredible memories or a profound sense of pride.  Its important that I remind myself to not get so caught up about the countries or summits or trails on my bucket list that I forget about the important accomplishments that I’m actually most proud of. When I look back over the year, the events which stand out to me the most are not the times I’ve checked something off of a list; they are the journeys I’ve spent enjoying life with people I love and care about.  Hiking with my family, sipping wine and watching the sunset outdoors with friends, or overcoming obstacles to complete something difficult;  I remember these moments more profoundly than putting an X in a box next to something on a list.

Take a moment to look within and see what may be hiding on your undiscovered bucket list that you’ve already accomplished.  Take your own #beyondthebucketlist challenge and share your undiscovered bucket list gems that you are proud to have accomplished.

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3 thoughts

  1. Good thoughts… You made me think too about some things I want to achieve. I do think that I mostly want things for me and not to tick lists.

    For example, conquering mountain tops isn’t my thing. As I enjoy photography I find the best views are around the mountains, and are often quieter and nicer walks to do.

    But one thing I definitely want to achieve is more walks and especially some longer distance ones!

    Ps, as a photographer, that photo of your night sky is awesome! 👍


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