Don’t just like this post.

While I appreciate the “like” on the previous post, it is not as valuable to me as feedback (in the form of answering a simple multiple choice question).

I know you’re busy. We all have things we want to do. In a few weeks, I’m going to begin a service to help you accomplish your goals.

Your feedback on exactly what to create will make this the most useful to you. I have some ideas based on the conversations I’ve had with people online and face to face, but I need your help.

You get to help choose what the new service will be.

Thanks for the help. Stay tuned for the official announcement of this new service!

I’m creating a new service. Tell me which one you want to participate in

In a few weeks, I’m going to begin a service to help you accomplish your goals.

I would like your feedback on exactly what to create. I have some ideas based on the conversations I’ve had with people online and face to face, but I need your help.

You get to help choose what the new service will be.

Will you help me with a quick survey?

Tell me which service you would most like to try. I’ve selected three ideas but you can write in another idea if there’s something else on your mind.

Click here for the survey (it’s only 1 question)

Thanks for the help. Stay tuned for the official announcement of this new service!

Everyone Has a Story: Kim Midori Hee

Photo courtesy of Kim Midori He - Used with permission

Photo courtesy of Kim Midori Hee
Used with permission

Today’s mini-interview is with Kim Midori Hee, who describes herself on her blog as “most definitely not a Pinterest perfect mom.” She invites people to join her in experiencing the “transformative grace” that takes a “life [that] is filled with giggles, tears, screams, messes, incomplete projects, a garage that looks like a tornado ransacked it, exhaustion, and blessings beyond words,” and ensures “that nothing is ever truly wasted, not even the shards of our lives.” Below, Kim shares how an unexpected illness gave her new dreams, and talks about her key to joy.

(If you’re interested in being interviewed for this blog or have someone in mind for me to interview, please let me know or leave a note in the comments section.)

Name and website:
Kim Midori Hee, who blogs at Invited by Grace

What is your dream for your life?
The dreams for my life have changed over the years.  At one point, I wanted to be a teacher, a songwriter, an author, a mom who is able to stay hip, young, active and still greet her kids with freshly baked cookies after school.

But then enter in real life. The unexpected happened.  I went through an illness that truly broke me physically and emotionally. I nearly lost all hope. My hopes of being that perfect mom and ideal wife fell apart. But God met me in the storm. He gave me so much grace and healing, and rekindled in my heart a passion for the hurting. It’s with this new perspective that I try to live each day. My dream now is to share the hope of Christ with others and encourage them to find grace in their storms, too.

What is one thing on your bucket list?
I think it would be a fun adventure to take a summer to drive across the country with my husband and three young kids.  So much togetherness in a confined space (with kids ages 4-10) along with an overall tendency towards car/motion sickness and a need for someone to use the bathroom every hour, however, may make for some interesting times – but it’s a way to get a feel for our diverse country and create some great, lasting memories! :-)

I don’t share this often, but I’d also like to go on a short-term missions trip as a family one day. I’d like to lend a hand in running a meal ministry or simply digging holes if that is what’s needed. I don’t always feel like I have a lot to offer, but I know that I’d like us to step out of our comfort zone for a while, see a bigger picture of the world, and do what little we can to pour into those who have so much less. I have a feeling though, they will be the ones pouring into us.

The best advice I ever received was something written by author/blogger Ann Voskamp:
“Thanksgiving always precedes a miracle.”

We just finished celebrating Thanksgiving, and I’m reminded of the power of gratitude. One of the keys to joy is thankfulness.  The moment I can see the blessings in what I do have, is the moment I can be free from always wanting that one thing more in order to find happiness.  I’ve heard it said so perfectly – joy is not around us, it’s in us. An attitude of joy is a true gift to the heart – one of the things we need to hold us secure in life’s storms.  I am learning to find joy in Christ alone and in remembering to be thankful for the thousand little miracles that happen in my life every single day.

Thanks Kim, for sharing your time and stories with us. Readers, you can check out her blog about faith, motherhood, and wellness at

Will you consider joining with me in supporting children’s literacy, providing curriculum kits to schools worldwide, and teaching healthy self-expression through storytelling? My goal is to raise $1000 for National Novel Writing Month, a non-profit involved in all these things. Learn more at my fundraising page. Deadline is Dec 19, all funds go directly to the organization (not to me) and are tax-deductible.

Liebster Award x 3 = ?

Liebster AwardOver the past five weeks, three bloggers have made my heart happy by nominating me for a blogging award called the Liebster Award. All three of the people were nominated and accepted this award themselves, and as part of the terms of the award, passed it along to some of the blogs they feel also deserve the award.

So, first: sincere thank you to Safiani Mahat (from Do What You Love), Kim (from Invited by Grace), and Melissa (from The Intentional Expat) who nominated me for this award.

Second: the award comes with terms. Unfortunately, since this is something born and continued on the Internet, the rules can vary, and each of these three bloggers followed slightly different rules. The general concept is the same, however. As copied from Kim’s blog: “Liebster is a German word that means dearest, lovely, endearing. The award is usually given to relatively new, up and coming bloggers, and is a way to let others know about them.”

The rules (in general) are

  • thank the person who gave it to you
  • write a certain number of random facts about yourself
  • answer the certain number of questions the nominating blogger asked you
  • nominate that same certain number of bloggers with less than 200 followers
  • ask them that certain number of questions for them to answer when they accept the award

And here is what happened: two sets of rules included the random facts, but the other one did not; and each of the three bloggers had a different number for the “certain number” (Kim’s had 5, Melissa had 10, and Saf’s had 11).

So, here is what I am choosing to do: I will choose to use the number 5, because (completely subjectively), while 10 seems to be the most common when I have seen the award on blogs in the past, it just seems like too much about me. I will include 5 random facts, and instead of answering all the questions from all three of the nominations, I will choose 1-2 from each blogger for a total of 5 questions.

5 Random Facts

  1. Winter is my favorite season, and I really love snow.
  2. Despite the previous fact, I do not know how to ski, have only been snowboarding once, and the one time I tried to wear snowshoes, I still sunk into the snow when I tried to walk.
  3. Outside of P.E./gym class, I have never played on a sports team (it’s on my list).
  4. If I could have a superpower, I’d choose the ability to fly or to breathe underwater. Or both, if that was possible.
  5. I don’t like the taste of coffee, but it smells delicious.

5 Questions from the Nominating Bloggers

  1. If there was no risk of failure, what one thing would you try? (asked by Melissa) – I would start a business. Or breathe underwater (see above fact about superpower choices).
  2. Describe love in two words (asked by Saf) - Jesus Christ. I really don’t know how else to summarize the fact that love is a choice, a verb, and an emotion. He represented it perfectly, unconditionally, and completely.
  3. Which sports do you enjoy watching? (asked by Saf) – figure skating, baseball, Olympic gymnastics, but baseball is really the only one where I know some of the rules. The other two just look amazingly beautiful and strong, and I enjoy watching them, but would have no idea which competitors are better from a technical perspective.
  4. Why do you blog? (asked by Kim) – I have four blogs, and the reason is different for each, but I blog here on The Goal List because I love writing about my bucket list, encouraging others to accomplish things on their own bucket lists, reading about other people’s adventures, and sharing all that with the online community. I hope that I can make a difference in people’s lives through my blog and my list. Also, if I stop writing, I get grumpy. Blogging helps me write consistently.
  5. What would a perfect day look like for you? (asked by Kim) – I’m not sure what the exact activities would be, but it would include waking up from a good night’s sleep (but not sleeping in), doing something on my list, helping someone, creating or writing something significant, doing something productive, eating good food, spending time with family, doing something active, and either watching a movie or a play or reading a good book. And then of course, somehow not being too tired after all that!

5 Blog Nominations/Recommendations for You to Read

5 Questions for Them to Answer

In addition to sharing 5 random facts about themselves, plus choosing 5 nominees, and writing 5 questions for their own nominees to answer, my blogger nominees should answer…

  1. If you were going to rename your blog, what would the new name be and why?
  2. What is your best mistake?
  3. What is a dream you have for your life?
  4. What is the best advice you ever received?
  5. What is a time you felt brave?

Thanks again to Saf, Kim, and Melissa for the nominations, and thank you to my nominees for blogging brilliantly.

Readers: How would you have answered the 5 questions I asked my nominees, or the 5 the other bloggers asked me? Share your answers in the comments.

Interview with Le and David from Wise Monkeys Abroad

Le and David (Wise Monkeys Abroad), after walking 800 km on the Camino de Santiago, and arriving in Santiago de Compostela - Photo provided by Le and David, used with permission

Le and David, after walking 800 km on the Camino de Santiago, and arriving in Santiago de Compostela – Photo provided by the couple, used with permission

Le and David are a couple from Australia who describe themselves on their blog as “neither budget or luxury travellers – we like to consider ourselves as comfortable and modest travellers, just doing what we love.” They have full-time jobs and fit in travel (both internationally and within Australia) when they can, going on multiple trips each year, and visiting many of the places on the UNESCO Heritage List, which they call their “unofficial bucket list.”

They now also have an “official travel bucket list” and a “retrospective bucket list,” which is “the list of things that we’ve done that we are so happy we did. The stuff on this list is not necessarily something we would have put on a ‘bucket list’ in the first place but has turned out to be worthy of being on a list of some sort.” Below, they share some of their lives with us, including how a childhood lesson applies to everything in life.

Names and blog:
Le and David from Wise Monkeys Abroad

Fun fact about you:
We collect 3 wise monkeys abroad (we’ve found at least half of them overseas) and have about 40 sets.

Funner fact:
As fate would have it, every year we are always travelling for our anniversary. We were going away around that time of year even before we got married but it has become almost a tradition since. One year, we didn’t think it was possible that we could go away, as we had only been away in April and were going again in December but the hands of fate made sure that we did travel for our anniversary. Since then, we have made it a certainty that we travel for our anniversary :)

Funnest fact:
We love games –  all types. Board games and computer games. We love arcade games and retro-style games. We love darts, air-hockey and table tennis. We even went as far as trying to rearrange our 2-bedroom apartment so we could fit in a table tennis table and a dedicated “games” room.

What do you think has been essential to your success as travel bloggers?
We would like to think that we are successful but when we compare ourselves to other blogs out there, we are definitely “infants” still. But if we were to comment on our growth, we think it’s because of our relationship with our readers. We like to engage with them. We ensure that we make the time for everyone who interacts with us on the blog as well as on social media. We see everyone as friends and truly love that we can connect with so many different people. We value every one of our readers and want to ensure we stay grounded because the reality is, we are all the same. We are all throwing ourselves out into the blogging world and hope that what we share reaches someone :)

Our mission has and always will be: to enjoy blogging. The minute it becomes a chore, we know that we have stopped enjoying it! We want to do it because we want to, not because we have to. And we hope that it shows when we blog :)

What was something that surprised you about blogging?
The amount of friends we have made all over the globe. Everyone in the blogging world is so friendly and supportive.

If you had to describe your blog in 6 words or less, what would you say?
Showcases our passion for travel.

Who or what inspires you?
This is a no-brainer. Each other! We inspire one another all the time. Everything from reinforcing the importance of being good people, through to where we want to go next, to what we want to write on the blog. The Camino [de Santiago] also really helped us to peel back some of the layers of our lives and really see us and what surrounds us in a different light.

What is your all-time favorite bucket list item (of yours or someone else’s)?
It would have to be a toss-up between visiting Egypt and seeing the Northern Lights.

If you aren’t doing anything related to travel, what do you do during your free time?
Reading, watching TV series on DVDs, music, spend time with the family.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Look both ways before crossing the road – the basic lesson we receive as children when crossing the road, can be extrapolated to everything we do in life because tunnel vision doesn’t allow you to see the bigger picture. And ironically, that piece of advice doesn’t help when crossing roads in countries like Vietnam or Italy :)

Thanks, Le and David, for sharing your time and some of your life experience with us!

Want to keep reading? You can learn more about Le and David, and read stories from their travels on their blog, and on Twitter and Facebook.

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.

Will you consider joining with me in supporting children’s literacy, providing curriculum kits to schools worldwide, and teaching healthy self-expression through storytelling? My goal is to raise $1000 for National Novel Writing Month, a non-profit involved in all these things. Learn more at my fundraising page.

Goal Accomplished! Win NaNoWriMo (2014)

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month = November) is not a contest. There is no limit to how many people can win. The organization sponsoring the event calls anyone a winner if they complete the goal of writing 50,000 words (about the length of The Great Gatsby) of an original novel during the month of November.

So why would anyone want to “win” this event?

Winning NaNoWriMo means I’ve made significant progress toward writing a story I’ve had in my head for years, and have not been able to write in any meaningful way. It’s a shared event within the amateur and professional writing community worldwide, and that makes it fun to take part in whether you meet your goal or not. Which is why this is my fifth year participating. This year, however, I finally completed this goal that I attempted four other times, and had previously failed. Each time I’d made more progress than the previous year, but I’d never actually completed my goal until now (and this time I finished before Thanksgiving, 4 days early!). This is also one of the goals on my list that could not be done in one day (such as slurp an oyster), so it took more planning and dedication to accomplish, and that makes the success so much more satisfying.

NaNoWriMo is supposed to teach you the discipline of writing daily, of building that habit of putting your words on paper (or on screen if you use the computer), and getting your story out there. The emphasis is quantity over quality for the first draft, because it is easier to edit when you actually have written some words to edit.

It helped me get about halfway on my story, and without this push to get a certain number of words done by the end of the month, I would be editing as I wrote, and would have hardly written a third of what I have now. However, just as I did with the 100 thank you notes in 100 days, I had a hard time doing the daily quota, daily. Instead, I would skip some days, then catch up on others. It’s a work pattern I am working to break. I would really like to get more disciplined on things like this, so that I get in the habit of making daily progress toward my goals.

My NaNoWriMo 2014 Stats - Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

My NaNoWriMo 2014 Stats – Screen shot courtesy of National Novel Writing Month, modified to add green line intersecting goal and actual word counts

I feel very happy that I completed this goal this year, the first year I was truly determined to do it (first year out of school). It makes me feel like I accomplished a huge task, something I am definitely glad I had on my list. And who knows? Maybe it will become one of the three books I want to publish…

Have you learned the discipline of making daily progress on your goals? Leave a comment and let me know if you have any tips.

Resource: Do you need that extra help getting motivated to write? An application called Write or Die gives you rewards (positive reinforcement), consequences (like showing creepy spiders for not writing quickly enough), and stimuli (like annoying sounds). It also has the Kamikaze option, which will erase previously written words if you stop writing. It is available free on the web, or as a paid version for Windows, Mac and Linux.

I’m still raising money for the organization who sponsors this event, to send curriculum kits to schools and support literacy efforts. Please join me in donating at least $1 to help children and adults reach their literacy goals. Donations accepted until December 19, 2014.