When I was 20 years old, I sat down and created a list called “The Things I Want to Do Before I Die.”  Many years later, someone called this sort of thing a “bucket list.”  It is a two-page list of everything I wanted to accomplish and experience, and every place I wanted to go.  When I created it, I asked myself, “when I’m 80 years old and I look back on my life, what would an interesting, accomplished life look like?”  It has simple things on it like, “visit Hawaii,” “pat a dolphin,” or “get something substantial published.”  It has more difficult things on it, like “meet Oprah Winfrey.”  It has a number of things I inexplicably wanted to do at the time, but no longer have any desire to do: “Shoot and kill a deer,” “Join the RNC.”  It excludes things that I was afraid to do but have done anyway, like go Skydiving.  Every so often I take it out and peruse it.  I never delete anything from this list because I think one of the lessons to be learned is that our goals and desires change over the years.  While certain hopes and dreams are solid as rock, others are fluid and constantly changing.  A happy life isn’t a rigid life, but a flexible one.

Regardless, I love checking things off of the list.  Sometimes the accomplishments were even more valuable than I imagined (visiting Italy), and other times they are less thrilling than I expected them to be.  “Have a credit on a CD.”  Done.  It was a minor credit. It wasn’t the accomplishment I thought it would be.   As a whole however, it has been a wonderful experience living with this list for so many years.

With this in mind, I’m going to take a different approach to 2012.  Like many, I typically create a list of resolutions every year that are nothing more than corrections on my shortcomings – I want to live healthier, floss more and be a kinder person.  These are simple resolutions and they will continue to be in my mind for 2012, but this year I’d like to create accomplishments.  The “Things to Do Before I Die” list is a macro list; I’m creating a micro list for 2012.  Below is my list, and a little background as to why each accomplishment is on the list:

Start an international cooking club

As you can probably tell, I really like food.  I also enjoy cooking, but I don’t give myself the time to really experiment with new recipes.  A couple of months ago, I asked on Facebook if any of my friends would like to start an international cooking club, where we would meet once a month and focus on a particular region for food.  I received a very positive response, which tells me I have potential members! The next step is to get the ball rolling and send the invitations out.  Plus, if I start a cooking club I’ll likely be able to knock “make a difficult dish” off my lifetime bucket list.

Do a DIY/repurposing project

This sounds like a really simple task, but I am awful at hobbies and projects.  I typically get all gung-ho at a concept, spend a shitload of money on supplies, and wind up sobbing with a clump of glue and wires and a crumpled up pamphlet of instructions beside me.  The project then sits in the Valley of Lost Hobbies (aka my home office) until I finally admit defeat and throw it away three years later.  I am going to read Lifehacker this year, find a project that looks like fun and is reasonably simple, and damn it, I’m going to do it.

Make 100 hats and/or blankets for the homeless

Believe it or not, southern Arizona can get really cold in the winter. This past year, one of the organizations in town offering services to the homeless requested warm clothing, hats and blankets to distribute through the winter.  I was able to give them 8 hats.  This past year, I spent a day volunteering for a soup kitchen, and when I drove up to the building a few hours before they opened, there were a lot of people lined up on the street looking for a warm meal; way more than 8 hats are needed to help a part of our community in Arizona.  I’d love to make even more hats than 100, I just don’t know if that’s possible.  We’ll see.

Do one thing I’ve been afraid or resistant to do

I’m much better about it at this point in my life, but I have issues with social anxiety and bringing attention to myself.  This blog is a little quiet piece of therapy, but I’d like to step out more.  I’m not sure what this thing will be – maybe I’ll finally have the guts to post one of my songs online.  Maybe I’ll gain the confidence to try playing craps (the crowd at the table and the rules of engagement with getting and cashing out chips is intimidating).  Maybe I’ll take up ballroom dancing.  Maybe I’ll do all three.  I’m not sure.

Learn all three movements to “Moonlight Sonata”

This is a big one.  The quick and simple story of Anne-Marie and piano playing: I am entirely self-taught, and growing up I was severely lacking in discipline.  I was a wiz at theory, but my performance ability was semi-pathetic.  I didn’t have the discipline to learn a full piece.  I didn’t bother to study proper fingering on the piano.  I was above average when learning by ear and used it as a crutch when attempting to sight-read on the piano.  When I got to college level, I was so far behind my peers in the area of performance it became a humiliating experience worthy of its own blog entry.  I developed stage fright as a weird offshoot of chronic depression and anxiety, yet I somehow managed to get through my juries.  I felt like a hack, and I felt like everyone knew it.  The thing I loved became a mutated monster that made me angry with myself, and I pushed it out of my life for years.

It’s made its way back in my life, and even though I am all too aware I once knew a lot more than I do now, I’m feeling an intrinsic satisfaction that I haven’t felt since I was little and secretive about my love of playing.  I want to learn a full piece, and I want to learn how to play it properly.  Why not “Moonlight Sonata?” It’s a beautiful piece and was my dad’s favorite.

Run a race and hike a mountain

When I was healthier, I enjoyed running and hiking.  It would be nice to get back to a point where I can do them again.  “Hiking a Mountain” is also on my lifetime bucket list.

Find a way to get my blog to average 100 visitors a day for a week

Time has been the greatest challenge I’ve had with this blog.  The most important thing is for me to do my best to be a good writer and storyteller with every entry.  I want to do more than that – I want you, the reader to enjoy what I write so much, you want to share it with people.  I want to write something that is such quality that I want you to look forward to reading every entry I put out.  Maybe it’s because I’m a performer at heart, but I enjoy the thought of creating something and having people enjoy it.  I’m going to gradually roll out changes to make this site better.  I want to entertain you every single week of 2012.

I guess that sounds a little like a resolution.

Is there anything you want to accomplish in 2012? Do you want to learn to play an instrument or learn to watercolor? Do you want to create an app for your iPhone? Do you want to take tap dancing lessons, or learn calculus? I want to hear about it!