You Happen to Life

You Happen to Life

Written by Heather

Topics: Planning & Reflection

Whether or not you call it a bucket list, you most likely have one. The list of feats, adventures, and experiences to conquer before you “kick the bucket.” Or if you’re like me and always trying to find a more positive way of phrasing things, I have a “list of things to do in life.”

When I saw Andi’s bucket list the other day, I realized I hadn’t revisited mine in a long time. While I have updated it mentally, I hadn’t touched the written list in about five years. Andi’s inspired me to put pen to paper, update my own, and share it publicly for the first time.

To kick things off, here is the initial list…probably created during a serious day of procrastination in grad school. While it is short, simple, and mostly travel related, it’s pretty energizing to see that 5 years later, I’ve accomplished quite a bit! No need to put things off. We’re never guaranteed a tomorrow.

— Be in Sydney, Australia for New Years.
Will happen this year!

— Be in Dublin, Ireland on March 17.
Welcomed my 30s on St. Patrick’s Day in 2010.

Guinness Storehouse

— Go to Las Vegas again.
Went in March 2006 for a friend’s wedding.

— Visit NYC at least once every three years.
Business trips took me there in January 2007 and 2008, and we made time to see a show and eat out.

— Spend a week in California in the next five years.
Work conference in San Francisco in 2008, and I had extra time to visit my friend Dennis.

Full House houses in the background

— Have children.

— Spend at least a week in New Zealand. Preferably much more.

— Go to Thailand.

— See Taipei 101, the world’s tallest building.
Haha, it was the world’s tallest at the time, at least. Guess I’ll have to update this one.

— Go to England.
First time was for New Years 2007 in London, and I have returned 3 times to spend time with great friends.

— Visit South Africa.

— Go on a Mediterranean cruise.

— Do a tandem skydive.
Accomplished July 2007 at Skydive Orange. See photo at the top of the post. Ignore my horrible form.

— Go to the Outer Banks of North Carolina (OBX) each summer as I have for all but three years of my life.
Sadly I missed 2008 and am missing this summer as well.

Sunrise on the last day in Nags Head

— Live in the mountains.

— Walk in the snow whenever I have the chance.
Had plenty of opportunity with both Snowpocalypse and Snowmageddon this past winter.

Front yard

— Hike often.
Had a fair amount here in Oz so far, but always a work in progress.

— Kiss in the rain.

That’s all I had, but it seemed like a lot at the time! I truly never thought I would do and see so many of those things in just a few short years.

The brilliant thing about this list is that I will never finish it. With every experience that I “check off”, several new ones are added. Traveling overseas seven times in four years created the desire not only to continue traveling but also to live abroad for a year (Hello, Oz!).

I think my new list will be be a mixture of once-in-a-lifetime events to experience before I die, “do one thing every day that scares you” types of challenges, and general wishes for a happy and healthy lifestyle. It’s hard to keep challenges, goals, and big dreams separate when brainstorming, and as it’s my list, I don’t have to :-)

My “It doesn’t happen to you, you happen to life” List


Be in Dublin, Ireland on March 17. March 2010
Spend a week in California by 2010. April 2008
Go to Las Vegas again. March 2006
– Live in another country for a year.
– Welcome a new year in front of the Sydney Opera House and Bridge.
– Travel around India with a friend (and be there for Holi).
– Get messy in Spain at La Tomatina.
– Eat up at Eurochocolate, Europe’s largest chocolate festival in Italy.
– Spend time in New Zealand.
– Visit Thailand, Malayasia, & Singapore.
– See the Petronas Towers, Taipei 101, and Burj Dubai.
– Visit southern and southeastern Africa.
– Travel through Patagonia and visit Peru.
– Antarctica!
– See the northern lights.
– Spend the night in an ice hotel.
– Find a partner and do a massive American road trip, complete with tons of crazy stops.


Do a tandem skydive. July 2007
Deliver a karaoke performance. July 2010

Anyone wish to pose some new ideas?


– Hike part of the AT with a friend.
– Do a 5k and run the entire thing.


– Walk in the snow whenever I have the chance.
– Learn how to make various types of espresso drinks from a barista.
– Kiss in the rain.
– Be an extra in a movie.
– Take a photography class.
– Take drum lessons…I have wanted to play since I was 16.
– Take a sign language class…have been interested since I was very young.

GOALS (and not so much bucket list-ish)

– Visit NYC at least once every three years.
– Visit my friends in London at least once every five years.
– Go to the Outer Banks of North Carolina (OBX) each summer as I have for all but five years of my life.
– Invest time and money learning how to cook. I bake, but I rarely cook, and I am sure I would love it if I tried.
– Relearn Spanish so I don’t put all of those years of high school and early college study to waste.
– Resume baking gluten and dairy-free recipes once I have the ingredients and a kitchen again. (check out the foodie sites on my Links page)
– Resume Turbo Jam and Zumba workouts as soon as possible (i.e., when I can take a class or have a DVD player).
– Volunteer with an organization at least once every two weeks when I’m settled/living in one place.
– Work for organizations that promote healthy lifestyles and have a positive culture.
– Continue performing in plays at church once I’m back home.

And there you have it! Looking at the travel goals, it’s a bit overwhelming — both in terms of time and money O:-) While I’m not guaranteed a tomorrow, hopefully I have many more to come.

To follow up on my last post, I leave you with a few “do one thing” challenges I remember taking on in the last few years:

Finally saying hi to a cute guy at the gym. He talked to me a few times afterward and then that was the end of that.

— Wearing a bikini at the beach without a shirt or shorts to cover up for the first time since I was, oh I don’t know, 10 or 11? I have never been and will never be a bikini-ready girl (even with a tankini I wear shorts) but I figured it was a good challenge for body image, self-esteem, and accepting myself as relatively healthy woman with disproportionately massive thighs.

— Walking into my first Zumba, hip-hop, and belly dance classes at the gym. After taking “street jazz” lessons (jazz meets hip hop) for three years as a teenager, I realized I missed dance as a form of exercise. I didn’t stick with the hip-hop class, but I did belly dance for several months and Zumba for over a year.

— Taking my first ever yoga class with a friend who had been practicing for a couple of years…and it was Bikram. Nothing like a 90-minute series of postures in a 100+ degree room for your first time!

It doesn’t happen to you, you happen to life.

Do you have a bucket list post or list online? I’d love to see it if so :-)

22 Comments Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Melissa says:

    This is an awesome list! you certainly are active and adventurous – good on ya! Love the featured image, is that you skydiving? If so, however did you find the courage???

    • Heather says:

      That is indeed me! Back in college I saw flyers for Skydive Orange around the university and decided I would do it one day. When I started grad school, I promised myself I would go when I graduated. I was a year late on keeping the promise to myself, but I did it :-) I was actually really excited about it until the night before…then I got nervous and wondered what I’d gotten myself into 😉

  2. Mom says:

    Insightful sweetie……I knew some of your wishes on your ‘bucket’ list but most I did not.
    I need a bucket list………..

  3. Nice! There’s some good stuff here. I was actually thinking the other day how I need to have more goals… but I think mine might be a bit different. For example, number 1 on my list is to learn how to read lips. haha

  4. Erica says:

    I think Andi has sparked a Bucket List revolution! I’m scared to write mine out for some reason.

    • Heather says:

      Give it a go — even if you don’t share it! I was nervous about sharing mine…I’ve thought of other things to add since then. It’s exposing a bit of yourself, isn’t it?!

  5. Dad says:

    I’ve always had a bucket list in my mind, but you’ve inspired me to put it in writing. I have always believed that in goal setting, if you don’t accomplish the little ones, the big ones most likely won’t come to fruition either. You goals truly are a mix and its obvious you want to see them become a reality. I’m very proud of you.

  6. Judith says:

    Heather, Thailand was one of the best holiday’s Sammy and I have taken as far as relaxation goes. We Stayed here:
    In Koh Samui Thailand and had the best time. The island is great.

    Go to Italy! The food, the wine, the sights, the people. And the coffee, oh my gosh, the coffee. The Italians cannot make a bad cup of coffee. Even the vending machine coffee is delicious, you seriously just can’t beat it! Sammy and I have been 4 or 5 times now (he’s been a lot more due to work) and we are going again in 2012 with friends to celebrate our 10 year, their 20 year and her 40th. If you do go let me know I have a list of places in Rome that I give out that a friend of mine compiled for me – he was born and raised in Rome.

    The other place I would recommend is Austria, especially Vienna. Mozart concerts, the Schoenbrunn, the Christmas markets – go at Christmas it’s magical. The food and the coffee, it’s almost as good as Italy. You can also take day trips to Berchtesgaden, Germany; Bratislava, Slovakia; and Insbruck, Austria.

    I have so many other places I love – especially in Germany – my 3rd favorite place to go. If you decide to go to mainland Europe let me know.

    Also – Turkey is incredible – the best Calamari I’ve ever had. It was like butter. And I enjoyed it in a roof top restaurant that over looked the Hagia Sofia, the Blue Mosque and the Bosphorus at sunset. Incredible. I can dig up the name of the restaurant if you are interested.

    Oh and then there is Switzerland…

    O.K. I guess it’s obvious that I can go on and on. But if you are looking to add to your bucket list I suggest Spring in the Sienna town square sipping espresso, Christmas Eve in the Schoenbrunn Orangery listening to Mozart, the small town of Murren in the Swiss Alps in the Fall, and Koh Samui for Thai New Year.

    Enjoy Heather! As much as I miss America – I can tell you that I have throughly enjoyed each and every one of our adventures and absolutely love the travel that we are doing.

    I’ve been taking notes of where you’ve been in Australia and am planning our Christmas trip this year. I’m really looking forward to seeing you.


    • Heather says:

      I haven’t been writing about Sydney…have been waiting til I’m “living” there to write it. I’ve stayed 3 weeks there already though. If I can help with anything, let me know! Email me the dates you guys will be here and where all you plan on traveling :-) I expect to be in Sydney for the most part starting at the end of August.

      I love your suggestions! Although I’d really like to go to New Zealand and SE Asia between Oz and going home (provided there is money), I’m very tempted to return to Europe and visit my friends in Istanbul, Germany, and London. We shall see.

      Must get better at commenting on your blog. You always make me smile :-) Would love to see all of the places you have. Would really love to have a location independent job!

  7. Sally says:

    You are a brave woman! Skydiving and Zumba! I really don’t think I could manage either of those…

  8. Judith says:


    You are welcome in our home anytime, anywhere. We will be here in Dubai until at least mid January 2011. So if we are here you can stay.


  9. Debra Williamson says:

    Heather, I went to Wilson with your Dad & like to think of myself as a friend of your parents. :-) I just wanted you to know how much I enjoy reading your blog. I loved my journey thru Australia & hope to go again some day. My favorite had to be Kangaroo Island but it was all fantastic. Take care & most of all enjoy!

  10. Jayne says:

    Hi Heather, I love the Bucket list idea. Whenever I read someone else’s it reminds me of something I have done which I could have included and things I haven’t done which I should – how could I forget having children?! Thank you so much for sharing! :)

  11. Elle says:

    Wow you’ve rocked your bucket list. Good for you! You’ve experienced so amazing things so far, I’m jealous! Good luck achieving the rest of your goals.

  12. Gale Davis says:


    I am a little late in sending you Christmas greetings, nevertheless, I do wish you joy, good health, and the benefit of spontaneous laughter with good friends.

    In reading over your bucket list, I noticed that you wanted to learn sign language. I first became acquainted with sign language at a church we attended when living in my home state (Louisiana). There were several people who were deaf who attended. They only signed the songs, but I fell in love with it and started to take classes. The church I attend in Charlottesville (Maple Grove) signs both the songs and the sermon at their second service. It is a beautiful language, but like any other foreign language you have to use it frequently to stay fluent.

    We had a light snow here on Christmas Day and a little snow today. The trees are so majestic with their white blankets. Pretty soon ACAC will be bulging with new people coming in with their gift certificates. They had an incredible offer of 6 weeks for $99.00 so I expect to see a lot of new faces. I broke down and rented a locker for the winter to keep my weighted vest in. I hated to spend the money, but it is a nice luxy not to carry so much stuff in. Anyway, I hope you are enjoying each and every moment of your travel journey. Am sending you best wishes for a very Happy New Year.


  13. gautami says:


    This is Gautami from Mumbai(India). i read ur bucket list. it is interesting. i loved the fact that it has different sections(nt just travelling).I am working on my list too..thanks for the help.Btw whenever u visit let me know(will surely enjoy holi…u might not see ur face after all the colours on ur face)

    • Heather says:

      I’m looking forward to having bright colors on me from head to toe….just need to protect my eyes O:-)

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