Most people of a certain age have a bucket list, and I have been chipping away at mine since my last birthday. Several of my girlfriends have very ambitious lists, such as climbing Mount Everest, swimming with sharks, jumping out of a plane … um, no thanks. Kudos to my gal pals, but for me it’s all about baby steps.
The boldest thing I did in 2021 was wearing an actual bathing suit in public for the first time in a decade. I ditched the old swim shorts and tees for a bright orange one-piece and felt invigorated after jumping into the Atlantic.
I am not too keen on trying new things — a problem I blame on years of anxiety. But going into lockdown during the early days of the pandemic was a stark reminder of how short life can be, and I knew it was time to embrace change.
However, I shook my head when my daughter and her family asked if I wanted to join them on a cruise (something I had never done before). “In a word, TITANIC.”
“Mom, there are no icebergs in the Bahamas!”
“Yeah, but what about the Devil’s Triangle?”
My daughter knew I was making excuses to avoid trying something new. For years, she had witnessed my reluctance — the invites I had ignored to ski in Montana and ride in the Goodyear Blimp.
The cruise offer got me thinking: What happened to 21-year-old me who rode a motorcycle down to the shore to catch the sunrise? Or the girl who rode horseback along a narrow mountain ledge, and pitched a tent in the middle of nowhere with nothing but a sleeping bag, water and a bag of Cheetos? What happened to the spontaneous woman who hopped on stage to belt out a Pat Benatar tune in a crowded London pub?
Back then, I tried anything on a dare because I had confidence, but years of crippling anxiety had prevented me from exploring new opportunities.
Knowing that I needed to shed my fear like an old snakeskin, I agreed to the cruise and had one of the most amazing experiences of my life — including swimming with dolphins.
My bucket list for 2022 probably sounds tame to others, but for me, it is a huge step out of my comfort zone. It’s time. I turn 63 in a month. Here we go!
After seeing so many videos of friends doing this on social media, I want to give it a whirl. When I was a kid, Mom's clothesline that stretched between two trees made an impromptu zip line. It was fun — but not nearly as exciting as it would be down a mountain slope or over a ravine.
- Swim with stingrays
I’m fascinated by stingrays, and after sharing the ocean with dolphins this is the next logical step. Having a stingray eat out of my hand and gracefully glide underwater around my legs? Yes, please.
- Travel in an RV
I have never ridden in an RV, let alone driven one. During lockdown, when everyone was renting RVs, I felt a twinge of envy. My biggest concern during road trips has always been when (and where) the next restroom break would be. In an RV, I don’t need to worry about that. If I have to pee at 1 a.m. while we are driving down I-95, I won’t need to stop at a questionable gas station that looks like it’s straight out of an episode of The Twilight Zone.
- Hike the Grand Canyon
When I was a cranky teenager, my parents took me to the Grand Canyon. I pouted in the back seat of the car, annoyed that I had to put down my Tiger Beat magazine to look at a bunch of rocks. Today I would love a second chance to explore the canyon and see that breathtaking view again.
- Take a painting class
My mother was an amazing artist, creating magic on the canvas with her paintbrush. She taught me how to sketch and said I had an eye for it, but I lost interest after a while as a kid. Lately, I have found myself drawing landscapes and animals. Mom passed away several years ago, and I can’t think of a better way to honor her than to take up a watercolor class.
- Study with a great Italian chef
I love to cook, but flying … not so much. I haven’t set foot on a plane in 18 years. And, while my heart jumps just at the thought of it, I’m ready — or at least, I think I am. So, I’ll start by taking a cooking class in “Rome” at Disney’s EPCOT theme park nearby (I live in Florida). That will whet my appetite for taking a longer journey to Italy, where I will perfect my marinara, Alfredo and other sauces to go with my homemade pasta.
- Learn to play chess
I thought chess was only for brainiacs — not people like me who have little patience to complete a 100-piece puzzle. My husband has been itching to teach me, but I’ve shied away from the challenge. After binge-watching The Queen’s Gambit, though, I think it will be fun to learn how to put my husband’s king in check.
I plan on owning 2022 before it ends because I refuse to let fear get in my way. Hope this inspires you to get brave too. So, bring on the hiking boots, stingrays, zip lines and flights. I am ready to paint this waning year with a palate of vibrant watercolors while watching the world unfold through the windows of an RV.