Summer Bucket List 2014

Happy Sun by Nemo via Pixabay

Public Domain photo via Pixabay

It’s already a third of the way through summer, so I’m a little behind in getting this post out, but I’ve been working on this list for a month already, so no time lost there.

Summer bucket lists have always seemed unnecessary and somehow kind of ugly. I think it’s because summer is my least favorite season and I already have a bucket list for my life as well as a subset list for each calendar year. Plus, 3 months seems like a short deadline for the traditionally 25 summer bucket list items. Because of this, I’ve never made one until now.

What changed? I saw a video by Alfie at PointlessBlog. The stand-out thing about his list was that it was similar to mine in the physical way it was structured. He has a journal with one item on each page, with space to add pictures about the item as he completes them. Mine is two per (larger journal) page, with space to write about each one. Until now, everyone who has heard about my list says “wow, that’s a great idea” but no one has had a similarly looking list. So the familiarity of it struck me and got me excited about giving the summer bucket list a try.

I’ve picked 25 things, some from my existing list and some new items just for the summer. Using the same key as the full list: bold = completed; linked = link to the post about it; * = in progress; (hidden) = duh, read why I hide some.

Summer Bucket List 2014

  1. Stay in a hostel
  2. Give flowers to a stranger
  3. Look out the top floor of a downtown skyscraper
  4. Write 100 thank you notes in 100 days*
  5. Eat a grasshopper
  6. Build a bottle rocket
  7. Ride on a motorcycle
  8. (hidden)
  9. Go see a drive-in movie
  10. (hidden)
  11. Get at least 1 list item sponsored (interested? Contact me)
  12. (hidden)
  13. Learn a magic trick
  14. Learn to use my sewing machine*
  15. Learn to flip/twirl a pen
  16. Pay for a stranger’s groceries
  17. (hidden)
  18. Leave motivational Post It notes in random places
  19. (hidden)
  20. Reread my favorite book*
  21. Make a YouTube video*
  22. Walk around ___ [a lake near me]
  23. (hidden)
  24. Learn a new piano song
  25. Write 3 posts for each of my 4 blogs*

Are you working on a summer bucket list? Let me know how it’s going, and if I can help in any way.

Resource: Alfie’s video, as mentioned earlier. Watch with patience, he gets a bit distracted.

Sign up: Dream big, move forward, inspire others, pass it on. Get new posts by email, FOR FREE!! Live vicariously through my adventures, and get started on your own. Each post has at least one resource to help you accomplish things on your bucket list.

Vote: I’ve entered the Big Blog Exchange competition – winning bloggers exchange places with a blogger from another country. I’d love your support, it only takes 5 min to vote for me.

Please vote for me in the Big Blog Exchange!

Vote for Shelly Najjar for the Big Blog Exchange 2014

Click to vote

Blogging is a huge part of my life, and my Goal List (bucket list) is even bigger. I have entered using this blog and I need your help to win. The winning bloggers get to trade places with a blogger in another country for 10 days.

My hope for this is to learn more about people, cultures, and what we value by talking with people around the world about their dreams for their lives, and by meeting people living out their dreams and inspiring others to do the same.

Voting is a two step process.

  1. Go to and click Vote for Me
  2. Enter email, then wait for the email to arrive and then confirm vote. If you don’t confirm, it doesn’t count.

Voting continues through September 3. “Fourteen bloggers are selected from the top 100 list, and two are wildcards, hand-picked by the jury based on their content and motivation, regardless of votes.” To get to the finalist lists you have to have the most votes out of your region of countries. Please share with your friends so they can vote too. -Thanks!

Interview with Christine Barba from Project Light to Life

Christine from Project Light to Life ( during her first Segway ride. Read the interview to find out what made this list item memorable. Photo used with permission

Christine from Project Light to Life during her first Segway ride
Read the interview to find out what made this list item memorable
Photo used with permission

It is incredibly inspiring to talk about bucket lists with other people, and with the Internet, the list of people you are able to meet is endless. Christine Barba writes a blog called Project Light to Life which is full of interesting stories, multiple bucket lists, and an outward focus where she does “one kind act for someone else/help someone cross off an item from his or her bucket list each time I cross off several accomplishments on my list.” Below are some of Christine’s stories and insights about blogging and bucket listing.

Name and Blog:
Christine Barba from Project Light to Life

Fun fact about you:
I tend to root for the underdog when it comes to favorites, television characters, etc. Since I was three years old, my favorite animal has been a pig — though this choice may also have something to do with the fact that when I was three, I simply copied my mom’s favorite animal. My favorite character on Spongebob Squarepants has always been Squidward; while I still love Spongebob and Patrick, I’ll bet Squidward’s had a lot to deal with having Spongebob as a neighbor and he’s simply misunderstood!

Funner fact:
I played a tree in a play once. To be fair though, it was Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, so a lot of us were trees!

Funnest fact:
When going on my first Segway tour last summer, my scooter went over a rock on the beach, I flew into the air, and landed on my face. A local from St. Martin ran over to me and shouted, “Woah! I used to work for the Segway Place and I’ve never seen anything like that before. Man you really went flying!” then gave me a high five, before a nice mother from Ireland ran over and said, “Oh my goodness, you gave me a heart attack.”

What do you think has been essential to your success as a bucket list blogger?
A few things: continuing to stick to my list, which gives me additional momentum to pursue the next goal, getting inspired by other bucket list bloggers’ sites or by authors with similar projects, and, I’m going to sound cliché here, but this one is essential, receiving kind comments, emails, or messages from friends, family members, readers, etc, who encourage me to continue this project.

What was something that surprised you about blogging?
How many amazingly cool (I sound a bit juvenile here, but those are the first words that come to mind) people I met as a result of blogging and crossing items off my bucket lists. I have not only connected with a lot of inspiring people via email, but also, have met some amazing people in person as I continue to pursue new activities, travels, etc. I owe many of these encounters to starting this blog!

Who or what inspires you?
So much! My parents, my grandparents, and my family have always inspired me. In addition, I am a bit obsessed with other bucket list bloggers or authors who take on similar projects: Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, Noelle Hancock’s My Year with Eleanor, the film Pay it Forward, the documentary Craigslist Joe, and Annette White’s blog “Bucket List Journey” have all inspired me to start or continue my project in some way. When I started thinking about beginning a bucket list blog, I looked into whether people had already done something similar and came across Annette’s blog, which motivated me to make my own blog.

What is your all-time favorite bucket list item (of yours or someone else’s)?
I often get asked this question and because I’m one of the most indecisive people ever, find it difficult to come up with an answer. But after thinking about it more, I have to say crossing Australia off my travel bucket list (though I am reluctant to use the term ‘crossing off,’ as I hope to return there!)

If you had to describe your blog in 6 words or less, what would you say?
A bucket list blog, exploring happiness.

If you weren’t doing anything related to your bucket list, what would you be doing in your free time?
It’s likely I’d be spending time with friends and family, reading, writing, going to the beach, drinking coffee, or being clumsy and indecisive.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
There has been a lot! But one piece of advice that comes to mind is something I remember my mother telling me at the end of last year that she said my grandmother also once told her: “This too shall pass.” In other words, if you are feeling sad about something right now, you won’t feel this way forever! You just have to keep pushing through. And she was right :) I think this advice goes along with some great advice we received from my professor in my interpersonal communication class this year, which is that emotions are like the weather. We should not block them out, but simply observe them as they come and realize that, like the weather, what we see as “negative” emotions such as sadness or anger will go away just as rain eventually does. Although he also reminded us that no emotions are “negative,” since they all come to teach us something.

Another favorite piece of advice is an Eleanor Roosevelt quote I discovered thanks to Noelle Hancock’s My Year with Eleanor, which is “Do one thing every day that scares you.”

Finally, I love George Eliot’s comment, “It is never too late to be what you might have been.”

Thank you to Christine for taking the time to share your thoughts, stories, and advice with us! You can read more of her bucket list blog at Project Light to Life, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Want more interviews like this? Leave a comment and let me know who you would like to see featured, and be sure to subscribe to stay updated on all the latest posts!

Climb to the top of a rock wall (2008, 2010)

Goal Accomplished! Climb to the top of a rock wall

Climbing the rock wall at night, 2010.
I’m standing at the top on the right.

A list item born from regret, I added this after realizing I regretted not reaching the top of a rock wall on my 8th grade trip at a family fun center. I felt like the climbing holds were too far apart, and even with the staff member telling me which limb to put on which hold, and my mom saying that I was almost to the top, I gave up. I was scared that I would fall off, and it seemed like such a far distance to fall (even with the safety harness and rope).

Learning to climb

When I got to college, I found out that the campus had a bouldering wall (a shorter wall with horizontal paths) and a climbing wall (taller wall with vertical paths and overhangs), and promised myself that no matter how scared I was, I would reach the top of at least one of them.

After a short orientation, they told me it was free to climb whenever the wall was open. The person who gave me the orientation also helped me learn to climb, teaching me to push with my legs, keep my hips close to the wall, and know how to switch feet on even the tiniest holds. I learned that my climbing experience in 8th grade would have greatly benefited from an orientation beyond “Ring the bell when you get to the top. This rope will catch you if you fall.”

We didn’t even use ropes when I climbed the bouldering wall in college, because you are not likely to seriously injure yourself from a fall off that wall. The ropes (belaying) were used on the climbing wall only and would have required more training and a second person (to hold the rope). Instead, I learned to be a spotter for another climber and how to slow their fall (not catch them) if they slipped off the bouldering wall. I also learned how to fall off the wall with the least injuries (in case I was climbing without a spotter and started to feel myself slipping).

After the safety lessons, my teacher talked me to the top of the bouldering wall and encouraged me to follow the horizontal routes along the wall as well.

Accomplishing the goal

Because the bouldering wall was short, I felt like my experience climbing didn’t match the picture in my head about this goal. Luckily, when I attended a friend’s wedding, I had an opportunity to redo this goal.

The reception was held at a community center building, and the park it was next to had two climbing rocks. The rocks were also not that tall (about 10-12 feet), but they were much more difficult than my bouldering wall experience, since this time, we were climbing in the dark (it was after the reception ended), and there was no one coaching me.

Partway up, I realized that I had picked the harder side of the rock, and when I was almost at the top, I injured my hip. I pretended that I was okay, because I was embarrassed, and because I have bad hips that get hurt often, so I figured it was manageable. We goofed around on the top for a while and then everyone headed back down to the ground.

The rock seemed really tall then. The holds were miles apart, and at angles that my hurting body couldn’t reach. People started asking if I was okay. The ground was suddenly very far away and I flashed back to 8th grade, convinced I was going to fall off, this time without a safety rope.

I finally gave up the charade, figuring I’d already embarrassed myself the most I could, apart from falling, which would have been more embarrassing than asking for help. Someone came over and put their hands up so I could step in them, and then helped me off the rock. I mumbled excuses mixed with thank yous, and hoped that the open bar at the wedding reception meant that I would be the only one to remember this part of the night.

Have you gone rock climbing? What was your experience like?


If you’re new to climbing, here’s an article that explains the basics: Getting Started Rock Climbing

Also, in this TED talk, Matthew Childs shares 9 lessons he learned from climbing, which are applicable to life in general. My favorite is “Fear sucks. It means you’re not focusing on what you’re doing, you’re focusing on the consequences of failing at what you’re doing.” I wish I had heard this before I tried climbing. Thinking of it that way might have given me more confidence to complete that rock wall in 8th grade.

Getting Stuck in the Negatives (and How to Get Unstuck) – [TEDxUCDavis video]

My goal of writing 100 thank you notes in 100 days is still in progress, and I feel like I am extra sensitive to the topic of complaining/gratitude/how-is-my-attitude topics. When I found this TedxUCDavis talk by Alison Ledgerwood, I had to share it.

Alison says our brains seem programmed to focus on the negative in situations, and provides us with suggestions of how to overcome this (spoiler alert: think about the positives). It’s worth taking the 10 minutes to hear what she has to say, focus on the positive things in our lives, and be grateful for them.

What is something good that happened in your life today? Let me know in the comments section.

Cardboard cutout travels the world with daughter’s help just reported a story about Jinna Yang, who is travelling around the world with a cardboard cutout of her father, who died in 2012. She wants to honor him and the sacrifices he made for their family.

The story quoted Jinna as saying: “This is exactly what I wanted. I wanted people to hear who my father was, and to see it in my father’s home language and to know my grandmother can read this story, it just brought everything full circle.”

Read the full story here: Woman, 25, takes life-size cutout of her late father around the world