Excerpt from SELF magazine: Joan Smalls

The October issue of SELF magazine came in the mail yesterday (this is one of my free subscriptions that I won in some drawing or another). There was an article by Jancee Dunn called “Strong is Beautiful” and featured supermodel Joan Smalls. The thing that really grabbed my interest (apart from the title) was that it opened with a story of a bucket list and closed with a fantastic quote on dreaming big.

Here are a few excerpts from this article.

Just five years ago, Joan Smalls was a struggling model–living at her aunt’s apartment in Queens, New York, taking the bus to catalog shoots and making homesick calls to her family in Puerto Rico. Things were not looking too good. One day, Smalls decided to motivate herself by filling a notebook page with a list of goals. They were big and highly specific. Model for Chanel. Get photographed by an iconic photographer like Mario Testino. Wear angel wings at the Victoria’s Secret fashion show.

These aims might seem a tad unrealistic–but only to those who have not witnessed Smalls’s unstoppable drive. Five years later, she has done all of those things, even adding in a few surreal bonus items (star in Beyoncé video, have Kanye West rap about you).

The article goes on to talk about how she pushed past “scoliosis in bother her lower and upper spinal column” and rejections from modeling competitions, to complete college in two years (instead of four) and land her first couture modeling job. Then, several pages later, this is how it ends:

She hopes to travel more in the next year. It’s one of the many items on–yes–her new list of goals. Some are small: Learn Thai kickboxing. Most, unsurprisingly, are large. She plans to act and would like to eventually expand into business, along the lines of Heidi Klum and Tyra Banks. “That’s part of the whole grand scheme,” she says. She wants to be a force for diversity in fashion. And taking inspiration from her mom, who worked in a school all her life, she would like to do more charity work, possibly for kids.

Smalls sits back with a smile. “I know, I’m a dreamer,” she says. “But I think it’s amazing to have high hopes.”

I’m always so happy for people when they meet their goals! I hope she always stays a dreamer and continues making progress on her list (and making new lists as she finishes them). Read the rest of her inspiring story in the October issue of SELF magazine.

Interview with Jessica from Turquoise Compass

Photo courtesy of Jessica from Turquoise Compass - Used with permission

Photo courtesy of Jessica from Turquoise Compass – Used with permission

When Jessica sent me her interview responses, she was kind enough to also send a bio, so I’ll let her introduce herself in her own words:

Jessica from Turquoise Compass is a teacher at heart, but her true passion is traveling (especially to turquoise beaches), adventure, and trying new things. She has been to 32 countries and she is ready to see more. She has completed hundreds of items on her bucket list and encourages others to live life to the fullest, while taking advantage of every opportunity that comes.

Name and blog:
Jessica from Turquoise Compass

Fun fact about you:
My mother raised me and my two brothers all on her own.

Funner fact:
I went skydiving for my 31st birthday.

Funnest fact:
I once hitch hiked in Mexico with some Mexican truck drivers—the longest 12 hours of my life…that’s another story.

What do you think has been essential to your success as a bucket list blogger?
Believing that it is never too late to dream a new dream and that anything is possible.

What was something that surprised you about blogging?
The amazing blogging community—I never imagined being welcomed and supported (especially in the beginning) by a group of strangers.

Who or what inspires you?
My mother inspires me, along with my own personal drive to achieve more out of life.

What is your all-time favorite bucket list item (of yours or someone else’s)?

If you had to describe your blog in 6 words or less, what would you say?
Travel, Teach, Take, Try, Transmit, Turquoise

If you weren’t doing anything related to your bucket list, what would you be doing in your free time?
Teaching and learning.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
“When diverse worlds come together, beauty is inevitable”
-Erin Gruwell from the Freedom Writers

Thanks, Jessica, for sharing your time and thoughts with us!
Want to keep reading? You can read more about Jessica and her adventures on her blog Turquoise Compass, which also has links to all of her social media accounts.

Who else do you want to see interviewed? If you have an inspiring person in mind, please let me know using the contact form or comments below.

Eat a grasshopper (2014)

Note: if the title makes you squeamish, maybe you should check out another post (like Give flowers to a stranger). This post contains detailed descriptions of what it was like to eat grasshoppers.

Exploring the Market in Oaxaca - Photo Credit: William Neuheisel (william.neuheisel) via Flickr, Used unmodified under CC BY 2.0 license

Photo Credit: William Neuheisel via Flickr, Used unmodified under CC BY 2.0 license

Grasshoppers don’t taste like chicken. They taste more like tea leaves.

Ever since my grandma told me they used to eat grasshoppers growing up (only the brown ones, not the green ones, place in empty Coke bottles and roast in hot ashes), it’s been on my bucket list to experience for myself.

Last night, my brother and I went to Poquitos, a local Mexican restaurant that serves chapulines, toasted grasshoppers seasoned with chile, lime, and salt. It cost $2 for half a cup of small grasshoppers (each about 1 inch long).

They smelled like dried chile peppers because of the seasoning, so nothing exciting to report there, and the sight was not surprising if you’ve ever seen pictures of bugs prepared for eating (like the picture I chose for this post). Still, if you have problems with your food being recognizable as a once-living creature, the visual aspect may be a little more difficult to handle. (It’s not like they were looking back at us — or if they were, they were too small to really tell — so even if you’re the kind of person who can’t eat a fish with the head on, you can probably still try a grasshopper).

I thought the weirdest part would be the feeling of the legs in my mouth, but most of the legs had fallen off. Of the grasshoppers that had the legs still attached, I could feel them a little, but it wasn’t creepy at all, just a little prickly.

The texture was different from what I expected. I thought it would be crunchy-hard on the outside and softer/gooey on the inside. Instead, the main part of the exoskeleton ranged from soft-crisp (like nori) to slightly crunchy (like popcorn husk), the legs were crunchy-hard (like the outside candy shell of an M&M or a pin bone from a small fish — basically it felt like what I expected the exoskeleton to be like), and the inside was soft, a little chewy, but not gushy or gooey.

Apart from the taste from the seasoning, the bug itself tastes like tea leaves. My favorite part of the chapulines ended up being the legs, both for texture and taste. They taste much less leafy to me than the bodies did, and have a more satisfying crunch.

Overall, based on taste, I’d say they’re not on my favorite foods list, but I’d have no problem eating them if they were served to me. I’ll definitely try bugs again, but I’d like to try them at different places and compare their taste and texture. My brother tells me there’s an Indian restaurant nearby that serves crickets, so perhaps that’s next…

Have you eaten insects?

Resource: Interested in eating bugs? Here’s a guide to help you choose which insect you might like best.

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I’m not a winner… but it was fun

The winners for the Big Blog Exchange were announced on Tuesday and unfortunately I didn’t make the list this year. Thanks for all your support and encouragement over the past few months. It’s been a fun experience, I learned a lot, and I plan on entering again next year!

If you want to see the winners list and the exchanges, they are listed here on the competition’s blog.

I’d love to keep seeing you around here on The Goal List, which will continue with 2-3 posts/week with stories, inspiration, and resources for achieving your goals and reaching your dreams.

Until next week,

In defense of the bucket list: A response to the New Yorker post

The New Yorker published a post yesterday called “Kicking the Bucket List” which begins by talking about the increasing popularity of the bucket list in today’s culture, and progresses into a discussion on the significance and potential societal dangers of pursuing a bucket list.

I like her post, but I disagree with the point she makes at the end. I’ll write about it below, and you can join in the conversation in the comments, after you read the full original post.

At the end of the post, Rebecca Mead (the author) says the following:

As popularly conceived, however, the bucket list is far from being a reckoning with the weight of love in extremis, or an ethical or moral accounting. More often, it partakes of a commodification of cultural experience, in which every expedition made, and every artwork encountered, is reduced to an item on a checklist to be got through, rather than being worthy of repeated or extended engagement. Dropping by Stonehenge for ten minutes and then announcing you’ve crossed it off your bucket list suggests that seeing Stonehenge—or beholding the Taj Mahal, or visiting the Louvre, or observing a pride of lions slumbering under a tree in the Maasai Mara—is something that, having been done, can be considered done with.

This is the YOLO-ization of cultural experience, whereby the pursuit of fleeting novelty is granted greater value than a patient dedication to an enduring attention—an attention which might ultimately enlarge the self, and not just pad one’s experiential résumé. The notion of the bucket list legitimizes this diminished conception of the value of repeated exposure to art and culture. Rather, it privileges a restless consumption, a hungry appetite for the new. I’ve seen Stonehenge. Next?

What if, instead, we compiled a different kind of list, not of goals to be crossed out but of touchstones to be sought out over and over, with our understanding deepening as we draw nearer to death? These places, experiences, or cultural objects might be those we can only revisit in remembrance—we may never get back to the Louvre—but that doesn’t mean we’re done with them. The greatest artistic and cultural works, like an unaccountable sun rising between ancient stones, are indelible, with the power to induce enduring wonder if we stand still long enough to see.

I acknowledge that this is a struggle for me. I can get frustrated when waiting for something to happen on my list, and it’s hard for me to accept when I don’t get a chance to do something when I planned to do. Still, I don’t want to rush through just checking things off the list. Part of the memory comes from reading my little summaries I write after I do each list item, so in that way I “revisit in remembrance.” More of the experience also comes from the planning process, which can sometimes last longer than the event itself.

My list has a mix of short and long-term goals, and even though (as with the example of graduate school) I didn’t always have the “patient dedication to an enduring attention” that Rebecca talks about, I also think that most of my short and long-term goals “ultimately enlarge the self, and not just pad one’s experiential résumé.” The key is that I actively think about what I’m learning from my experiences, regardless of the amount of time it takes for me to do them. My “patient dedication to an enduring attention” is seen in my dedication to my blogs and to my list overall.

Rebecca writes, “The notion of the bucket list legitimizes this diminished conception of the value of repeated exposure to art and culture. Rather, it privileges a restless consumption, a hungry appetite for the new.” My restlessness doesn’t come from being exposed to the same “art and culture” as before; in fact, I often want to return to look at and think about things I’ve experienced before. My restlessness comes from feeling like I want and need to make a difference in people’s lives, and feeling like I’m not doing that. My bucket list and this blog often help me feel like in some small way I am making a difference by inspiring people to make progress in following their dreams.

The last paragraph suggests “a different kind of list, not of goals to be crossed out but of touchstones to be sought out over and over, with our understanding deepening as we draw nearer to death.” I suggest that it is not the bucket list itself, but rather the approach to the list that matters.

Savor the process, planning, accomplishment, and remembering. If Rebecca is right, and we are obsessed with the YOLO (You Only Live Once) attitude, why would we want to rush through life without reflection? Let’s continue our lists, but don’t ever consider them done.

Agree? Disagree? Let’s continue this discussion in the comments below.

Interview with Lyndsay Cabildo from Discount Travel Blogger

Lyndsay Cabildo (discounttravelblogger.com) - Photo used with permission

Lyndsay Cabildo – Photo used with permission

Lynday Cabildo is a travel blogger specializing in budget travel and solo female travel. On her blog, Discount Travel Blogger, she inspires people “not to delay the dream of seeing the world” by sharing tips on saving money while travelling. Today she shares her travel inspiration, bucket list philosophy, and the best advice she’s ever received.

Name and blog:
Lyndsay Cabildo from Discount Travel Blogger

Fun fact about you:
I am was a timid girl growing up, but I become my different self when I’m on the stage singing.

Funner fact:
I love reading about metaphysics, philosophy, and universal mysteries.

Funnest fact:
I understand more languages than I can speak. ( I speak 3 languages fluently, 4 others in beginners level.)

What do you think has been essential to your success as a travel blogger?
Connections are good, but watch out for people who are not getting the best out of you. Avoid politics, just do your own thing.

What was something that surprised you about blogging?
It surprised me how many people were inspired by it, and how my goal of encouraging my friends not to delay the dream of seeing the world is slowly happening. It is a very powerful tool that we bloggers should know how to use it responsibly.

If you had to describe your blog in 6 words or less, what would you say?
Journal. Budget Travel Tips. Easy Going.

Who or what inspires you?
You mean, to travel? I don’t know, maybe my father. I used to asked him questions how is it like out there at the places he went to for work? How is it like riding an airplane? But I remember, every time I watch TV or movies from the other side of the world, I always think “how is it like to be out there?” or “How do they live there?”. I think it’s natural for us to be curious, it’s just that, I know we are all different and I wanted to understand how and why we are different.

What is your all-time favorite bucket list item (of yours or someone else’s)?
Well, I don’t really have a bucket list. I just wanted to see beautiful places and if time permits me, I go where I feel like going at that time. I just want to live like life is worth living without money’s worth.

If you weren’t doing anything related to travel, what would you be doing in your free time?
I should be singing. That is really what I wanted to do.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
My grandfather once said to me after returning from a failed mission in Italy, “Next time you do something again, make sure that you really want to do it…” because at that time, I did what I did because I have to do it and that made me fail.

Thanks, Lyndsay, for sharing your time and thoughts with us!
Want to keep reading? You can read more about Lyndsay and her tips for budget travel on her blog, Discount Travel Blogger.

Who else do you want to see interviewed? If you have an inspiring person in mind, please let me know using the contact form or comments below.

Track your travel progress [Resource]

Make yours @ BigHugeLabs.com

Basic free travel map, not able to be saved, but it is embeddable using HTML code. You can choose your own colors, and choose whether you want a USA map, select continents, or a world map. Make yours @ BigHugeLabs.com

Traveling to various places, states, countries (or even to visit all countries or all states within a country) are on most people’s bucket lists. Travel maps are a fun way to show where you’ve been and where you want to go.

There are many options, including the classic paper maps and pins version, less traditional tattoo map, and online versions to share on blogs or social media.

There are many sites to create your travel map, with varying degrees of detail. Some include multiple colors for the amount of time you’ve spent and how thoroughly you’ve seen the state/country, and others are more basic with only one option to check whether you’ve been there or not and no choices in display colors.

I’m including a few examples below, just based on Google searching and learning about them from travel bloggers.

TravBuddy allows you to save the map to your account, so you can go back and add more locations later, a big advantage compared to other free sites that require you to re-enter all your locations each time. It also shows what percent of the countries in the world you’ve visited.

Google Maps is another option I’ve seen bloggers use, especially for those who want to be very specific about where they’ve been (cities or geographical features vs. countries, for example). However, I find Google Maps is more useful to plan trips than to show where I’ve been.

Travellerspoint seems interesting because you can add photos and blog posts and link them to specific places on the map, and again, it looks specific to cities vs. coloring in larger areas. I probably wouldn’t use it, because I already have this blog, and (based only on looking at the front page) the blog posts you can attach to the map are those written on their site, not on outside sites. (If you’re familiar with this site, please let me know if I’m wrong!)

Mappable Travel Score I’m unsure if this one can be saved, but at first glance, it’s pretty interesting. The creator made an interactive map divided into cells that you click on to indicate that you visited it (so instead of clicking countries first, you click cells, and then it asks you to specify which countries you visited out of those that exist in the cells you select). The data is used to calculate what percentage of the world you’ve visited. Seems more complicated than TravBuddy.

Do you use a travel map to keep track of where you’ve been? Share below!