You’ve heard of the Bucket List idea: a list of things to do before you die. But have you heard of its more optimistic cousin, the Fill-The-Bucket list?
Maggie over at Northern Expenditure and Desirae at Half Banked recently laid out the things they’re grateful for having done in their own Fill-The-Bucket lists. They’ve both done some amazing things (running a half marathon? Wow! I don’t even know if I could do a 5K).
This got me to thinking: I’ve done a lot of cool things too, but I’m always so busy trying to move ahead that I rarely stop to look back and appreciate what I’ve already done. And with just a few months left in my twenties, it’s time to look back and look at all the really cool awesome shit I’ve done.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in all my years, it’s that things can sometimes be expensive. Sure, I’d like to go to Burning Man and spend a week pretending I’m a bat, but I’m currently a bit limited in the finances department. So, with each of these items, I’m including the cost and what I learned from each experience.
Related: The One-Minute Gratitude Journal
- 1 What’s On My Fill-The-Bucket List
What’s On My Fill-The-Bucket List
Participate in National Spelling Bee
I’m letting my nerd flag fly high with this one. From the time I learned to read as a kid until now, I’ve probably never been more than an arm’s reach away from a book.
I read anything and everything as a kid. It didn’t matter what it was about—Pocahontas, carpentry, varieties of Guinea pigs—it was all the same.
As a result of all this reading, I could spell better than most adults by the time I was in middle school. Eventually, in the 8th grade, I kept winning at enough levels of local spelling bees that I even got a chance to go to the National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.
Free. Actually, I even got a $100 scholarship and a gigantic dictionary that weighs enough to classify as a melee weapon.
What I learned:
Persistence through boring things can lead to good rewards. My study strategy was to go through the Merriam Webster Dictionary and write each word down 10 times.
I think I might be obsessive-compulsive.
Race in the Iditarod
Back in high school, I got into the sport of sprint dogsled racing. I loved it. I was never really great at it, but I was good enough to know I wanted to be a professional dogsled racer when I was all grown up.
So, two weeks after I graduated high school, I moved to Alaska and worked as a dog handler in a long-distance racing kennel to learn the ropes of distance mushing. Luckily for me, it was my childhood dream to race in the Iditarod, and this kennel also happened to run every year in this race.
Okay, I’m admit I’m stretching this one a bit. Officially, I raced the first 25 miles of the race, through downtown Anchorage, before ducking out.
This is because the Iditarod does a ceremonial start right in the middle of Anchorage. The dogs are usually well-rested and fired up by that point, and the real mushers carry a passenger who bought a seat on their sled for the ceremonial start.
To protect these high-dollar investments, the musher always has a second dogsled hooked up with a handler riding along just in case shit hits the fan in front of thousands of people and they need a hand.
Not that I didn’t almost tip the sled over going out of the starting chute while ESPN was watching. I didn’t do that at all..
Free for this race. In reality, I probably spent thousands of dollars in the year I lived out at the kennel as a dog handler. But back then, I didn’t pay attention to money—at all.
What I learned:
It’s an amazing thing to be able to follow your childhood dream. But, for me at least, true satisfaction comes in helping people and the world out in some way. With dogsledding, I was just running around in the woods with dogs. I wasn’t really helping anyone. I’d still love to have a dog team, but I’d also need to do something to help people as well.
As an undergrad, I also had the opportunity to take a year of language courses for my degree. I chose French. As anyone who has ever taken a language course at a school knows, you only learn enough to speak like a spastic three-year-old, and I was no exception.
After a few years, though, and decided I wanted to get serious about learning it again. I wasn’t in a spot where I could pick up with college courses again, so I did the next best thing: I took private lessons online through Skype from a tutor who was actually a genuine, born-and-raised French woman. (Salut, Léa!)
Again, not sure on specifics. Surely it’s been in the thousands of dollars though, especially with the college course I took as an undergrad.
What I learned:
If you want to open your mind, change your patterns of thinking. To change your patterns of thinking, you quite literally need to restructure everything and learn new words, phrases, and ways of saying things. This is one of my top things to be thankful for.
Related post: How To Learn a Language On A Budget
Get my master’s degree
There have been a number of people in my life who for whatever reason used to put me down and say hurtful things to me, especially when I was young. This set up thought patterns that dominated my teens and early 20s, and I spent much of this time battling some serious self-esteem issues.
I think it’s one of the reasons I’ve gone on to do so much today. I’m still sort of trapped in the mindset where I need to prove all those people—and myself—wrong. I am actually worth a damn, and I’ll prove it to you!
But let’s get off the therapy couch.
I did really well in my undergrad program. So well, in fact, that I knew that was what I wanted to do for a living. I went on to grad school, despite several hesitations. I knew it’d force me to go way outside my comfort zone.
Instead, I overcame a crippling fear of public speaking—something that’d been holding me back ever since I was a little girl. But in the end, I grew more as a person than I ever thought I would, and I’ll never regret the decision to go to grad school.
Related post: How I Made Over $75,000 By Getting My Master’s Degree
$3,000. I received tuition waivers and scholarships to cover all my tuition, and all I had to pay was about $1,000 a year in books and fees.
What I learned:
Digestion alters isotopic signatures of food going into and out of bodies. Betula nana contains very little digestible protein, and only right at the beginning of the growing season. I could go on and on and write a book about it all.
Sort of like this…
What’s On Your Fill-The-Bucket List?
Everyone needs to take some time out every once in a while to think about what they’re grateful for. Instead of always focusing on the bad stuff happening to me all the time (and believe me, there’s a lot of it), it makes me happier to remember that hells yeah, I’ve had a pretty awesome life so far.
I leave you with a parting bit of homework: Set a timer for 15 minutes and just make a list of all the things you’re grateful for. You can even include silly things like a functioning home heater, shoelaces that don’t come undone very often, or tie-dyed underpants (what?).
What things can you come up with?
What’s on your fill-the-bucket list? Leave a comment below!