2013 Bucket List: Get the Funk Out

Naturally, my bucket list is held in an ice bucket.

At the beginning of 2012, I decided to create a bucket list of things to accomplish for the year. Looking at the original blog post, I actually didn’t do so bad:

Start an international cooking club
Did I do it? YES! It was a hit, and I had a blast experimenting with different dishes – Kalua pork, ribollita, pots de creme, chicken molé … unfortunately, since we are in the process of moving, I had to discontinue my participation. My husband is currently recruiting Bay Area people to take part once I move up there, so hopefully we can start it up again.
What did I learn?
1. It’s okay to screw something up.  I totally messed up my garlic aioli. It was inedible. Surprisingly, I was okay with this; I had a back-up plan (gruyere sauce), and failing is a necessary part of experimentation.
2. A good party, even a food-oriented party, is about the people. Pretty design and delicious food is great, but the most important thing to do is to make sure everyone is relaxed and having a good time.  We had a ton of laughs with our friends over good food and wine.

Do a DIY/Repurposing project
Did I do it? Yeah, no. Bless all of you who have the patience and ability to do this sort of thing. I pretty much lost interest in this task within a month or two.

Make 100 hats for the homeless
Did I do it? Not really. I’ve made about 30 or so. It’s not bad, but it’s not 100.
What did I learn? Doing something – anything is valuable. And hands get all crampy when you’re knitting or crocheting constantly.

Do one thing I’ve been afraid or resistant to do
Did I do it? Yes! After a few chicken moments, I stepped out of my comfort zone a few times. I got braces – something I’ve always needed, but was hesitant to do. I’m an adult – it felt weird doing it at my age.  The cost is also astronomical, as most plans don’t cover adult orthodontia. I’m super self-conscious about them, but hopefully it will pay off when I’m done with them next February. I also submitted a few articles to various places – something I was afraid to do for a while.
What did I learn? I am an overthinker. Sometimes, overthinkers need to just cannonball into the damn pool rather than stand at the edge for 20 minutes.

Learn all three movements to “Moonlight Sonata”
Did I do it? I got the first one down…
What did I learn?
1. Don’t commit to all three movements until you have looked at the sheet music. Because the third movement? Holy shit.
2. After years away from the piano, I discovered that I still have that tendency to meander away from practicing to create my own music.
3. I’m okay with that.

Run a race and hike a mountain
*Eats a piece of leftover port wine cheeseball*

Get my blog to average 100 visitors a day for a week
Did I do it? YES! Thanks to Jezebel and my beloved OK Go.
What did I learn? Quick story time: Just before OK Go retweeted and Facebooked my creativity post, I was dealt a pretty crushing blow at work. I expressed interest in an internal job I would have been FREAKING AWESOME in, and they gave me the “we’re looking for someone with more experience” line. Without even bothering to look at my resume. This was pretty crushing because my instincts (correctly) told me this position would have been my only real chance to have a long term role in the company. See, I’m in middle management and my company was absorbed by a larger company the year prior. What does that mean? Ginormous target on my back. Despite my ninja-style ass-kicking abilities on a number of projects, ultimately I was nothing more than a name to be crossed off.
I was pretty crestfallen and cried in a bathroom stall for several minutes. I returned to my desk, unsure of how I could get through the day without letting on how upset I was. No one wants to cry at work. There, I discovered the retweet and Facebook post. No, it didn’t change my life, but it got me through the day with a smile on my face. I knew it wouldn’t mean fame or riches or anything ridiculous like that, but seeing the warm responses from all involved reminded me that there’s a lot more to me than being a manager or a data analyst.  I deserve better than bullshit (so do you).  I need to keep reminding myself of that, even now.

What’s Next?
You will notice the title for this is “Get the Funk Out.” You will also notice that my posting schedule is all over the place.  I’ve got a lot going on in my life and in my brain. Rather than being Supergirl and doing it all whilst rocking that sex-ay red and blue unitard, Asshole Brain decided to be depressed, non-productive and unable to string a bunch of sentences together. Seriously, I feel like I’m getting dumber by the day. Damn you, Asshole Brain. So for 2013? I’m keeping it simple:

1. Get out of this funk. Especially by the end of March when my job is done. It’s a blessing I’m going to have the ability to take a little time off and I don’t want to waste it sleeping until 11am and watching The Doctors and shit. I have no idea how I’m going to do this, but I have to. If I want to have success outside of the 9 to 5, office drone BS, I absolutely have to get out of this and make the most of my time off.

2. Start posting my music online. I have a goal of doing the RPM Challenge next month. If I can’t make that happen, I still need to post something. I’m writing a decent amount of music right now and there is one song in particular I am really proud of. I don’t expect anything to come of it, I just feel like I need to put it out there and hope people who would like this sort of music can find me and enjoy my stuff.

3. And um, I guess I need to figure out what the hell happened to my Amazon Affiliates link? When did that happen?

So, that’s my 2013. Easy, right?

A 2012 Bucket List Update: Thank You

[Note: While looking for possible images to post with this, coming across "gondola accidents" and "ski lift fall" did not reduce my gondola-anxiety in the slightest.  Thank you Google, for making scaring the shit out of myself one easy click away...]

After my 2012 bucket list post, I had an epiphany that started with an imaginary gondola.  Chris and I booked a trip to Colorado in January because we wanted to learn how to snowboard and/or ski.  By the time we arrived, I put a lot of obstacles in my way – I didn’t book or reserve anything that week.  I didn’t look into pricing.  I didn’t do any cardio, balance or flexibility exercises leading up to the trip to prepare myself.  When we got there, I had a nice array of valid excuses to select from.  Even though all those excuses were waiting for me, I kept thinking about the damn gondola.  I pictured myself having a hard time hopping off and getting out of the way, and all the imaginary angry ski bunnies in my mind were mad and inconvenienced.  The imaginary gorgeous athletic ski instructor (who looks remarkably like James Marsden) grumbled and sighed, as he did some crazy maneuver to get me out of the way before the next gondola smacked me in the back of the head, or before I caused someone else to have an accident.  Some people have anxiety over the very real fear of breaking bones while skiing; my anxiety is about inconveniencing people.  The cast of characters in my little imaginary world consists of every asshole I have ever come across in my life, when reality shows me that there are at least 100 amazing people to each asshole.  Why is that?

Needless to say, we backed out.  Sure, lift tickets were $110 a piece, and a private lesson was a whopping $500, and sure, I still had fun and the poor husband came down with Mongolian Death Worm anyway, but it ate away at me.  I knew this was my “do something you’re afraid of” moment, and I let it pass by.  I made a promise to myself years ago that I would not let my life be dictated by fear, and yet here I was, avoiding things.

Since then, every hesitation I’ve had nagged at me.  It never occurred to me that so many little things have been avoided because of some level of fear.  I had to confront each of them to make up for my not-a-ski trip.  In the time since, I attended a great webinar despite having a mini-panic attack when it was suggested there would be audience participation, I finally got desperately-needed braces, and the biggest of all, I decided to express my opinion on something and submitted it to one of my favorite web sites for publishing.  It got published, and I was blown away by the positive response to it – in 24 hours, it was read by over 40,000 people on Jezebel, and my own web site saw visitors from 35 countries and 47 states (evidently Idaho isn’t big on Whitney Houston).  Most of the comments were positive, and almost all of the comments against it were more constructive and thoughtful than truly negative.  As a result of this particular confrontation with fear, I’ve met one of my other goals for the year and hit a lifetime bucket list goal – I definitely averaged over 100 visitors a day for a week on my site, and I got something published that had mass-reach.

I definitely need to thank all of you for helping me reach these goals – not only from the support and encouragement I received when I first brought this web site online, but by the recent number of tweets, emails, and facebook shares.  As I write this, I realize how much I have to learn as a writer, because I cannot find the right words to express my gratitude or how much I’ve appreciated the comments and kind words.  I really want to do good by you, the reader, and I’m going to bring my best to you every damn week.

As I suggested in my previous bucket list post, with each accomplishment or failure on my list, I have something to take away from the experience.  My takeaway feels a bit unexpected – I learned this week if I really want to succeed as a writer, I need to write fearlessly.  I can live with chickening out on skiing (for now – I AM going to learn to ski or snowboard), but I will not accept chickening out on my writing.  The truth is, no matter how much I people-please in my life, I will never be good at this if I people-please as a writer.

I’ll continue telling stories and being an overall goof, but there’s even more I can do here.  I’m not going to ever force it or become something akin to an internet ambulance-chaser to gain views, but if I’ve got something of value to say, I’m not going to be afraid to say it.

And I’ve got ideas.  Stay tuned…

A Bucket List for 2012

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!