Tag Archives: Bucket lists

Tips For Adulthood: Five Things To Do Before You Die

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

Over on Middle-Age Cranky, Howard Baldwin has a great post entitled Oh, The Places You’ll Go. In it, he lists all the places he’s always wanted to visit but which for various reasons – political strife, travel restrictions, inertia – have remained “off limits.” And now, as he settles into middle age, he wonders if he’ll ever actually make it to any of them.

I loved this post because it reminds us that as we get older, we start to fashion our proverbial “bucket lists” –  a list of all the things we want to do before we  die. I’m not talking here about the small stuff – e.g. losing five pounds, finally visiting Great Aunt Sally on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I’m talking about those bigger, more daunting challenges that we set for ourselves because they speak to some deep-seated desire or personal quest.

We all have those lists, whether formalized or not. One of my friends wants to run a marathon on all seven continents. (I think he’s up to four or five by now.) Another has sworn that she’ll open her own coffee import/export business.

These Wednesday posts are meant to serve as advice, but obviously, every person’s bucket list will be different. So the advice here is really to create your own list and then figure out how you can begin moving towards realizing some of your goals.

I’ll go first:

1. Read the bible. Yeah, I realize that this might sound kind of pedantic. But the fact is, while I’ve read assorted sections of the bible – and attended religious education classes for something like 12 years – I don’t really feel like I have a very good handle on the Good Book in its entirety. So I’d actually like to sit down and read it – start to finish – and see what I make of it. (And yes, I do know that I could just use David Plotz’ book as crib notes, but that feels like cheating.)

2. Perform In Community Theater. Coming from someone who has openly admitted her fondness for Show Tunes and her abiding love of Glee!, this particular goal shouldn’t be all that much of a surprise. But this is one of those elusive goals that keeps getting away from me. I took a drama class a few years back and one of my classmates now performs at various small venues around London. He’s kept his day job (as a banker) but he has clearly made drama a priority in his life. And every time he invites me to one of his performances, I feel simultaneously happy for him that he’s pursued this goal…and envious.

3. Take a safari. I’m not a big animal lover. But the idea of taking a Safari through Africa and seeing all those animals out in the wild has always captured my imagination. Who knows? Perhaps I’m just secretly hoping that a monkey will take a photograph of me.

4. Learn a new language. I love languages. I majored in Spanish and French in college. But I’d love to really challenge myself and learn a really difficult language, like Arabic or Chinese, as an adult. Or even Finnish. And then go spend a lot of time in a country that speaks that language. Oh to be 21 again.

5. Learn to Drive In the U.K. Enough said.

What’s crazy about this list is that – with the possible exception of the Safari – these are all eminently doable. And yet, I still haven’t managed to get any of them done. Which I suspect may be true for others as well.

So spill it. What’s on your bucket list? Tap Dancing? Machu Picchu? Cordon Bleu?

Do tell.

 

Image: 2011.01.01 Bible by Gerard’s World via Flickr under a Creative Commons license

Tips For Adulthood: Five Things Worth Doing In London (Part 1)

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

I was having coffee with a friend the other day who may be leaving London soon to return to the States. Like me, she’s an American who’s been living here for several years. As we chatted about what it might mean to “Go Back” (capital G, capital B), she told me that when she mentioned this to a friend, he immediately asked: “Do you have a bucket list?”

A bucket list – according to the Urban Dictionary – is a list of things you need to do before you die. Presumably, this man wanted to know if my friend had a list of things she wanted to do in London before she departed. She responded that a. she doesn’t “do” lists of any sort (right on, sister!) and b. she’s made a point of already seeing everything she wants to see in London.

I know what she means. While I can’t profess to hate lists, my family has also made a point of really “doing” London during the four years that we’ve lived here. Precisely because we were never quite sure how long we’d stay, my husband and I always approached each year as if it were our last and tried to make the most out of our fair city.

Since I’m told that expats know best when it comes to travel tips, here are my suggestions for five things worth doing in London. (This week’s list focuses on some “obvious” places to see; next week will focus on the less obvious):

1. The Tower of London – Yes, it’s touristy as all get-out, but this historic castle on the North bank of the River Thames is a real gem. It’s loaded with…um…gems, but also armour, torture chambers and even its very own collection of ravens. Extra-special, supercalifragilisticexpealidotious tip? Go to the Ceremony of the Keys which is held every night after dark when the castle is locked up, and has been going on for 700 years. If you’ve read Hilary Mantel’s spectacular, Booker-prize winning Wolf Hall you will be dying to see this place up close.

2. Houses of Parliament – Don’t just go look at them, take a guided tour of them. We’ve done this twice, once when the kids were very little and more recently, when we could actually listen to what the tour guide had to say. These hallowed chambers of British government are chock full of history. And it’s very cool to meld that visual history with the live history that still goes on in the House of Commons and House of Lords to this very day. (After our most recent tour I promptly sent our M.P. a request to watch Prime Minister’s Questions live.)

3. Borough Market – London is famous for its outdoor food markets, and this is the largest of them all. Located just a stone’s throw from London Bridge, Borough Market is positively bustling every Thursday-Saturday with food, people and activity. I’m not much of a gourmand, but I love walking around and seeing the hares hanging upside down in the butchers’ stalls alongside the jars of English jam. It’s a fundamentally social experience.

4. British Museum – Yeah, yeah, I know. This is obvious. With items ranging from the Elgin Marbles (shhh…don’t tell Greece!) to the Rosetta Stone, the British Museum is one of the famous museums in the world. But what I think a lot of people don’t appreciate is how great this museum is for kids. If you wander into the small library that’s tucked away in a far corner on the first floor, you’ll find that you can take out back-packs for children ages 5-11 that will engage them with exhibits on Ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt and many more. And kids over 8 can become a Young Friend of the Museum, which qualifies them to spend an overnight there. (Warning to parents contemplating this activity: get an air mattress. Trust me.)

5. BBC Proms – If you visit London during July- September – and definitely if you live here – you’ll want to take in the BBC Proms. This series of concerts at the Royal Albert Hall features leading international performers of classical, jazz, choral and world music.  There are even Family proms. And for those who don’t want to shell out a lot for tickets, you can queue the day of any performance (get there early!) and see it for 5 pounds, as long as you’re willing to stand!

*****

Speaking of London, I recently came across this list of 10 Things Not To Do In London. I agree with all of them, except for the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, which I do think is worth seeing, once.

Image: Changing of the Horse Guards – Buckingham Palace by Popov2007 via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

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