Tag Archives: Random Acts of Kindness

2017 Bucket List Year in Review

2017 Year in Review.png

I’ve never really made New Year’s resolutions, but every year, I do make a list. It has the bucket list items I accomplished during the previous year (2017), and a subset of items to work on for the current year (2018), as a way of both reviewing and looking ahead.

In 2017, I went to Alaska on a cruise, completing two things on my bucket list (I’ll add links as I write the posts).

I also made a little progress on two long-term list items:

And… I did a few more things that were bucket-list worthy but not actually on my bucket list (added to the retrospective list), but for the first time since 2003 (when I started my list) I didn’t add any new items.

I’m kind of disappointed in myself, both in my progress and in how little I made new dreams. I feel like this has been a year where I didn’t really focus a lot on personal goals and I think I felt it. (It’s kind of like a closed-in, stuck feeling.)

Also, I didn’t really spend as much time on the blog as I wanted to, but I think these things were pretty cool (and after writing this list I now see why I didn’t have as much time to blog!):

Most popular post:
This year, the most popular post on the entire blog was “Writing letters to strangers” (in case you want to feel warm fuzzies: based on search terms, it seems a bunch of people suddenly wanted to know how to write encouraging letters to perfect strangers!)

Fewer, but higher quality posts:
Overall, I wanted to write fewer posts, but focus on making them more interesting and/or more useful. I’m particularly proud of the one about me facing my fear of spiders.

Couldn’t do it without help:
I’m so grateful for all the support! Some posts were possible with the help of groups like the Woodland Park Zoo (read: Tarantulas feel like puppies) and the Western Montana tourism board (read: I wrote off an entire area as “not for me” but I was wrong). Other posts, like the interviews and the 4 Steps to Accomplishing Your Goals series were made possible by people willing to share their stories with me (and you). And of course, a blog without readers is really just an online journal. So thank you for reading!

Writing in other places:
This year I had the opportunity to write or be featured in several blogs and online magazines, both for professional and bucket list/travel related writing. Here are some of my favorites:
Learning to Love the Lobster Roll in Boston – Lyf&Spice
What To Expect When Going To A Plant-Based Burger Joint – Seattle Greenlaker
7 Tips for the Best Stargazing – All Mom Does

Facebook group:
I enjoyed seeing the growth and camaraderie in The Goal List Community, a group of people who love travel and goal accomplishment. We had discussions, did the Intentional Life 5-Day Challenge, made a crazy round-the-world itinerary, and even had a virtual coffee date! I’m excited to see where we go in 2018 and beyond. Join us today!

The 2018 Bucket List Subset

In the past, I’ve chosen a subset list of 10 items for goals I want to give myself a little extra pressure to finish before the year’s over. But this year, I want to choose just two, not because those are the only two I’ll do this year, but because they seem doable given all the other (non-bucket list) things I’m planning on doing.

So, here’s the (very short!) subset bucket list for 2018:

  • Plan a plus one event
  • Complete a photo project

What’s on your bucket list this year? Let me know in the comments!

Join The Goal List Community, a free Facebook group for those who love bucket listing, travel, and goal achievement, and want to support and be supported in their goals and adventures. As mentioned, we do lots of cool things throughout the year!


Donating blood for the first time

Donate Blood.jpg

Sometimes the things on my list are there because I think it would be a good experience, and other times they’re on there for other reasons, like wanting to face a fear or doing something to make someone’s day better. Donating blood was on there for all of these reasons. I know some of you want to donate and just haven’t gotten comfortable with the idea yet, so maybe my story can help. This is how my experience went.

I’ve never liked needles. While I don’t need to face this fear very often, it does contribute to my decision to not get a tattoo, not to have my ears pierced, and to postpone blood donation (despite being a list item) for a very long time. There have been so many opportunities to donate blood, even when I was in high school, but I’ve never done it because I was so uncomfortable with the idea.

I’m afraid of it. I’m worried that it will hurt, that I’ll faint, and that the nurses will think I’m being silly or dramatic.

On the other hand, I know it’s an important way to help people in need, that the nurses are probably very understanding and kind and won’t think I’m being silly, and that they’ve been doing it a lot and are prepared for nervous wrecks like me. And the more I learn in class about how important blood transfusions are in saving someone’s life, and see it in our case studies, I can’t help but feel that now is the time to face this fear.

Somehow I find out (maybe from a poster?) that there’s going to be a mobile blood drive at my university about a week and a half from now. It suddenly feels very important to do at this time despite my fear, but maybe it’s because it’s been a while since I did something on the list and I’m feeling a bit trapped with school. In my mind, I commit to signing up.

I’m already a little nervous when I think about having to pick a day that works for my schedule, because it seems so official, and I don’t want to cancel an official thing (yes, I’m committed, but still feeling like I might chicken out and uncommit!). I go online and sign up anyway.

There. It’s official. I’m donating blood next week and I’m terrified.

I spend a lot of the week thinking about what will happen (there’s going to be a mix up and I’ll donate so much I won’t have any left and I’ll die!) and researching what to do as a first time blood donor (eat first, don’t eat first, wear comfortable clothes with short sleeves, but be warm, no cold…). It’s all conflicting information and I’m so nervous I can’t think about who’s most credible to ask (that would be whatever blood donation organization you’ve signed up with, and/or the Red Cross).

The day is finally here. My donation is in the morning, and then I have an afternoon class. I pack a PBJ sandwich and water for after–should I survive this ordeal–and nervously show up for my appointment.

The check-in person can tell I’m nervous. But just in case, I also tell them that I’m nervous and that it’s my first time donating. And that I’ve had problems fainting before, even when I’m not donating blood. They smile and thank me for donating, then tell me that I should tell all this information to the nurse who takes my blood and she can help make it the best blood donation experience possible.

So I go to the nurse, and explain it all over again, and she assures me they’ll take good care of me. Then she asks what I ate recently, saying that based on her experience with patients, it’s going to be easier for me to have something in my stomach than to donate on an empty stomach – because some people feel nauseated if they don’t eat anything. Great! A new problem to worry about. Since the last time I ate was breakfast, she makes me leave the donation area, to the “canteen area” to eat my PBJ and some juice (now I’m also concerned I’m going to be hungry during class since I’ve eaten my lunch so early).

Once my stomach is “distracted by the food” as the nurse says with a smile, she tells me to lie down on the stretcher. Then she asks if I’m comfortable, sees my face and changes it to “Are you okay?” I repeat that it’s my first time and I’m prone to fainting. She goes to get an ice pack to put behind my neck, and says she’ll use the smallest needle, will stop the donation after the minimum requirement of blood donated, and will require me to stay lying down for a longer period of time after the donation – all of which should help to prevent me from fainting.

After a quick, “Are you ready?” she starts the collection process. My progress is slow. After a few minutes they come by and tell me to open and close my fist to speed it up. Being nervous (stress constricts blood flow to the arms and legs) and a little dehydrated makes this process take FOREVER. They finally stop it and I ask if there’s enough. The nurse makes a face but says, “Yeah, pretty much.” I hope this all wasn’t for nothing. They let me choose the color of the elastic medical wrap they use to hold the cotton ball (green, of course!) and I flash back to memories of being in the doctor’s office and getting a special character bandage (it really helps me feel better).

Because I’ve been a drama queen about the fainting concern, I’m instructed to stay lying down with the ice pack for a few minutes. Then when they tell me to sit up and see how I’m doing, I feel a little dizzy (“You look kind of pale,” the nurse says) and I have to lie down for another 10 minutes. While I feel validated about the fainting concern, I’m also feeling pretty embarrassed. Every other blood donor is over to the canteen area in 15 min. I’ve been there for over half an hour already.

Eventually they let me sit up (where I have to wait again) and then I’m finally released to the canteen area where I’m told to eat at least one snack and drink some juice. The nurse also tells me to get a big cheeseburger for lunch or dinner (something with fat, carbohydrates, protein, and iron to help with the new blood cell production) and to drink lots of water for the next few days (and, she adds, if I want to donate again I should drink more water the few days before donating so the collection goes faster).

Released after my snack and juice (and chatting with the canteen volunteer), I go to class and, I have to admit, enjoy the brief “good for you” moment that my classmates give me when they notice the bandage that declares I’m a blood donor.

So… would I do it again? Probably. Right away? Probably not.

While it was something on my Goal List, and I was very motivated to do it, repeating it will still require a little courage. If you want to do it, be sure to read about the requirements and tips for blood donation, and let the nurse know that it’s your first time and about any concerns you have. They’re very helpful!

If you have donated blood (one-time or on a regular basis), share your story in the comments. If you want to donate but haven’t, what’s stopping you?

Have you signed up for the 31 Days of Everyday Adventure challenge? Practice getting out of your comfort zone with small steps in this challenge.

Writing letters to strangers

Strangers are friends

Sending and receiving letters and cards is fun. There’s something special about holding the card instead of viewing an email or text. They make me smile. If I got a random letter from a stranger, I think I’d be happy. It reminds me of pen pals from when I was little.

I love making people happy. So, when Christine Barba from Project Light to Life (who did an interview on this site, check it out) wrote about anonymously mailing letters of encouragement to strangers, I got really excited and added “Send a letter to a stranger” to my own list.

Find out what I did