by Cara Marsi

Several years ago there was a movie called Bucket List starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. I’d not heard the term “bucket list” before, but as it turned out I had my own bucket list, only I called it “things I want to do before I die,” or TIWTDBID.

I’ve had this list for over fifteen years. It’s on a small slip of paper, now dog-eared, that I carry in my purse. I decided a while ago that I had to set goals for myself, things I wanted to do before I ended up in that nursing home. They say you regret what you didn’t do, not what you did. I wanted to have as few regrets as possible when I’m sitting in my rocker in that home. With one exception, I completed everything on my list. Through the years I crossed off a few items because they were no longer so important.

Let me share what is on my TIWTDBID list: go to England(did that); go back to Italy (did that); see Grand Canyon again (did that); publish book (did that); finish painting and renovating house (this will never happen and I’ve crossed it off the list);see Navajo lands (did this - spent four glorious days touring Arizona and Utah, all the while on the Navajo reservation); retire from full time work (done); rent a house at the Jersey shore (crossed off list. I love the shore and the ocean, but there are so many other places I want to see); drive the California coast (done); go back to Maine - this is the only item I haven’t completed. However, my werewolf paranormal romance, “Cursed Mates,” from Noble Romance Publishing, is set in Maine, so I sort of went back.

Now I’ve got to make a new list. Maine will be number one on that list. Number two will be to take another trip to California and see things we missed the first time. Something else that will be on the new list: visit Australia again. Seeing Australia wasn’t on my original list. I’d always wanted to go there, but never thought I would. However, a surprise multi-national family reunion in late 2001 brought me to Australia. I never knew until then that a huge branch of my family went to Australia from Italy. Now I want to go back and see more of this amazing country. So it goes on the list.

What other items will be on my new list? I’m not totally sure yet. I’ll have to use a fresh sheet of paper, but I’ll save that little dog-eared list I’ve carried for years. As I get older, the list shrinks, but the important thing is that I have a list. Another item on the new list will be to contract for more books and short stories. I’ve published four books and ten short stories. I would love to sell to a publisher who will put my books on bookshelves, but with the popularity of ereaders, especially the Kindle, having books in mortar and brick stores doesn’t seem all that important any more.

You’ll notice that most items on my list have to do with travel. I love to travel. During the past fifteen years, I’ve also been to other places that weren’t on my list. Hopefully, I’ll do lots more traveling. I’m sure there are those who have more exciting things on their list, like jumping from airplanes or bungee jumping, or taking a boat ride along the Amazon. It doesn’t matter what’s on your list. The important thing is to have goals and write them down, then work to accomplish them.

As in anything in life, stretch your imagination, but be realistic too. And don’t beat yourself up over the things you didn’t accomplish. There are times when you have to accept that some things aren’t going to happen. Like the song says, “you have to know when to hold them and when to fold them.” I crossed off the Jersey shore house without regret. We may not have completely renovated the house we live in, but some things have been done, and it’s a beautiful old house, a little worse for wear in spots, but someday we’ll sell it and someone else can finish what we started. And I’m okay with that.

So, what’s my point? I have several: think about what you really want to do before you’re in that nursing home, then write it all down. Don’t wait till you’re too old to do what you want. You may never get the chance. (I don’t mean this to be a downer, but good planning never hurts). Do it now. You may have to revise your goals as you go along, and that’s okay. Some goals, upon completion, may disappoint, like not seeing as much of California as I’d hoped. That’s okay too. I’ll go back there. Like the other song goes, “dream the impossible dream.” Know what you want to do and forge ahead. These are all good life lessons too.

What’s on your bucket list?


  1. It is a daunting task to try and think of everything you absolutely want to do before you die. I think that it changes with age and priorities. Right now I just want to travel and write and take photos and eat. I often go on trips which I am just now starting to blog about. Traveling is my passion but I often don't think of it as a bucket list, rather a let's go anywhere and everywhere attitude.
    I am trying to plan something big for next summer and I am stuck. I want to go to France, but then also Germany, Spain, Morocco, South Africa, Switzerland etc. I am leaning towards doing a culinary tour of America - New Orleans, Savannah, New York, Denver, Seattle etc.
    I think I'll end up doing whatever strikes me as fun next summer - who knows it might end up being Thailand or India or Peru! But I definitely want to go to as many places as I can to be able to tell as many stories as I can when I get to that retirement home!
    Great Post!

  2. There are so many things I want to do, but I think at the top are owning my own home, traveling more and getting print published. I've done a lot of traveling and I recently moved to a new continent and starting from scratch, but I do believe that change is good because it puts goals in perspective. Great post!

  3. Awesome Post Cara! I absolutely love your list. I hope you get to everything again. You should photograph it and post it on your website! :D

    I have a goals list too - but I don't carry it around - it's tacked up on my wall in my home office - where i can see it while i work.

  4. Murissa, thanks for posting. It sounds like you've done a lot of traveling already. Is that you in front of the Coliseum? I like your plans for next summer. I'd love to go on a river cruise in France. I see your blogspot address. Very interesting.

    Angela, thanks for posting. Moving to a new continent is really cool. It must be exciting. Think of all the new things there are to see.

    Joanna, thanks for posting. Good idea to post my list on my website. I never thought of that. Somehow carrying it with me seemed to make my list close and let me focus on it.

  5. Top of my list is to get published, followed by a trip to the ocean. I keep putting the ocean trip off. I wanted to spend some time on the beach before I went deaf - one last hurrah to hear the waves. Never happened, I'm gearing up the courage to take the trip and experience it with the silence. (Hugs)Indigo

  6. Indigo, thanks for posting. I hope you get to the ocean soon. It's majestic just to look at. I hope you get published soon too.


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