Major story time. (And tips.)
15 things on my Lifetime bucket list I had already done before I started this blog.
I barely took any photos and I didn’t take any notes because life isn’t perfect, and that’s the way I like it. Sometimes things just happened. Opportunity arose and I didn’t want to put it off just because I was going to dedicate a whole blog for it one day.
That would have been stupid.
1. Learn at least one foreign language.
Lithuanian is my mother tongue. English is my first foreign language. As every Lithuanian kid, I started learning English when I was 7. But here’s a story that proves I was a strange child.
By 11, I didn’t really have any hobbies. All I liked to do was play with toys and watch cartoons, occasionally writing songs about fruits and vegetables (because I didn’t understand why all songs at the time had to be about love and relationships) with my sister. So my Mom eventually told me, “You can’t just do nothing. You’ll have to choose some kind of activity. So think about it and let me know.” I wasn’t happy with the ultimatum.
What she really meant was, take a few months to think about what you want to do. And she meant fun leisure activities that normal children usually choose at this age, like painting classes, sports, and dancing.
I came back two days later and told her, “Okay, I thought about it and I want to take English classes.” Again, I was 11.
My Mom and everybody else she told that story to were worried about my choice because learning a new language is hard work. You have lists of words to learn, essays to write, and grammar to nail. It’s not typically a fun activity.
Either way, I signed up for a twice-a-week after-school class, and I absolutely fell in love with it. I had so much fun. I liked my tutor and the other kids in the group.
I ended up taking the class for another 6 years until I turned 17. The final few years I was good enough to quit, but I stayed simply because I enjoyed it. It was my painting, sports, and dancing.
Tip For Your Bucket List: You don’t need to spend half your life learning a new language. I’m also learning French at the moment and, in my experience, the best, fastest and least boring/repetitive way to learn is by:
- Reading books and online lifestyle magazines (start with easy, beginner level ones, such as children’s books)
- Switching your computer language to your target one
- Playing computer and video games (e.g. Sims)
- Listening to catchy songs
- Watching movies and TV shows with subtitles on
2. Learn to accept a compliment.
Nailed it. No “but’s” and self-deprecating excuses. Just a “thanks.”
Tip For Your Bucket List: You don’t have to believe it, just end the uncomfortable moment.
3. Learn to say yes when I want to say no…
… to activities I’m curious about but also worried or afraid.
I’ve done that several times in the past, but this year I made it my New Year’s resolution to say yes more often to things I want. One great example: I always hated jogging but, after all these years avoiding it, I got curious about whether my opinion has changed. So I signed up for a 5K marathon. I didn’t run it eventually (for different reasons), but I did enjoy training for it, and I will definitely run the next one. Or not.
Tip For Your Bucket List: Just say yes and see what happens. You can always quit — it’s your life.
4. Canoe down a river.
This one I did every summer back in Lithuania for 7 years, from 9 to 16 years old. We would go canoeing with my family and my dad’s co-workers. The first year the trip was two-nights long, but the contemporary world eventually got to us and the final year we didn’t stay overnight at all.
I miss it so much. Sitting in a canoe on a quiet, narrow river, shadowed by surrounding trees. Warm summer’s day, gentle breeze. Far away from any civilization: you couldn’t hear the cars or people, or the usual noise of city life. No houses around, just trees. No people, just swans and ducks and other birds. Sometimes snakes.
Whenever I feel my anxiety creeping up, I imagine what it felt like to sit in that canoe, in absolute freedom, and I relax.
These trips defined my teenage years and taught me a lot. I bet they’re part of the reason why I I’m so in tune with nature now.
Tip For Your Bucket List: If you want to try out canoeing/kayaking, don’t do it in the city just because it’s closer. Find a canoe rental place that can advice you on the best routes in the country, based on your skill level and preferred difficulty.
Also, for the full experience, aim to camp outside for at least one night.
(Photos below are from 2006.)
5. Learn to play at least one instrument.
When I was 15, I spent most of my savings to buy a guitar and taught myself how to play it. I didn’t become an expert but I was good enough for me.
Unfortunately, I stopped playing it at 17 because of my modern life and modern psychological issues.
Now I’m ready to reconnect with it. I just need to figure out how to transport it from Lithuania to the UK at the lowest price possible.
Tip For Your Bucket List: All you really need to cross this one off is a musical instrument and internet connection. There are plenty of people online who teach others how to play any weird instrument you can think of.
6. Learn to cook tasty food.
Nailed it. Being vegan surely helps. I just put together my favorite veggies, fruits and nuts on my favorite base, such as rice, and I’ve got myself one pretty-ass meal that also tastes good and is highly nutritious.
Tip For Your Bucket List: Have fun with it. Pushing it won’t help.
7. At least once make a complete fool of myself.
Nailed it. Over and over again.
Tip For Your Bucket List: Have a gin and tonic.
8. Satisfy a whim of mine.
Done that so many times. Life’s too short to put anything off. Want it? Go get it.
Tip For Your Bucket List: Shia LaBeouf was right — JUST DO IT!
9. Spend a whole day in bed, reading a really good novel.
The Hunger Games is one of my favorite books. It’s the cleverest contemporary book for young adults.
Things I love about The Hunger Games:
- It always reminds me of what’s really important in life: food, water, family, and friends. Not money and material things. Not how many likes your ten thousandth selfie receives, or whether you’re in a relationship or not.
- The values in it: family, freedom, compassion, courage, independence, standing up for what you believe in.
- I see a lot of myself in Katniss. She’s a fighter, a survivor. She’s intelligent, independent, and she’s got her priorities straight.
- I love how Suzanne Collins managed to round up the whole story that span over three books. First of all, every book contains an arena, yet it doesn’t get boring: regular annual arena; one that was meant to kill Katniss; and finally, the Capitol that was booby-trapped like an arena. Secondly, the whole story started because all Katniss wanted was to keep Prim alive, but at the end of the third book she died anyway.
- The main message behind the story: war doesn’t solve problems. It causes them.
- And, of course, the creative and action-filled story itself.
I’ve read the trilogy 7 times already. One of the first ones was when I stayed in bed for a day, completely immersed in the Panem world.
There’s no better feeling than escaping the boring reality for 24 hours and having adventures wherever and whenever you want.
Tip For Your Bucket List: Allow yourself a lazy day in. You deserve it. You have my blessing.
10. Sing in front of an audience.
I took singing classes for two years when I was 15-16. That included some performances on stage.
Tip For Your Bucket List: Drunk karaoke is always a good option.
11. Donate money to charity.
I think the first time I donated a proper amount was when I decided to give the collected points I had on my The Body Shop loyalty card to an animal charity, instead of spending it on myself.
Now I love shopping at second-hand charity shops, and I try not to support corporate stores that don’t contribute to any good cause. Giving money to someone or something is exactly the same as saying “I support this,” so I’m much more careful about what I spend my money on.
Last week, I bought £18 ($23) worth of clothes, and the money went to British Red Cross and British Heart Foundation.
Tip For Your Bucket List: Next time you’re looking for a unique gift, hit the charity shops. You might just discover something you wouldn’t have otherwise. For me, it’s always true with books. I think destiny plays a role in this.
12. Exercise and eat healthy for 3 months straight.
“Exercise” and “healthy” are two very broad concepts. Walking is just as much of an exercise as Pilates is. Eating mostly nutritious food and making sure you get enough of the right nutrients, while sometimes still allowing yourself a pizza and a glass (or four) of gin and tonic, is still healthy eating. So I’ve definitely achieved it. Especially since I became vegan 1.5 years ago, and started doing Pilates and Yoga much more often.
I was also always, always late to class back when I was still in school and university, so I had to speed-walk every morning. That counts too.
Tip For Your Bucket List: Figure out why you’re doing it. Crossing it off your list should not be the goal. It has to be something fun and related to a very important thing in your life. For me, it helps to remember that I am my own brand. I am the face of my business and my career.
13. Learn to play checkers or chess.
I can play both but prefer chess because it’s more complicated.
I once won a game of chess against my uncle. The key is to not know what you’re doing.
Tip For Your Bucket List: Don’t add it to your list if you’re not even a little bit interested. The rules of chess are tricky, and the game itself takes a long time to complete. I’m talking hours here.
14. Go snowboarding.
I have tried it in an inside snow arena. I did not like it at all.
It was terrifying. I hated the feeling of picking up speed as I went down, particularly when the only way to slow down or stop completely is to turn sideways. And the board is so heavy!
Tip For Your Bucket List: Snow arenas are definitely the cheapest way to try out snowboarding. I’d suggest first getting on a skateboard to see what it feels like to basically have only one foot to keep your balance.
15. Nida, Lithuania.
(That doesn’t mean I’ve never been anywhere else. I’ve been to Poland, Germany, Lichtenstein, Switzerland, Italy, Ireland, Monaco, and France. But none of these are in my bucket list.)
I used to go to Nida every summer for I-don’t-know-how-many years. More than 10, for sure.
Things I love most about Nida:
- There’s not many people, so it’s nice and quiet. It’s not crowded as it is at most beach resorts.
- There’s not many cars. Everybody walks, bikes, or goes on foot.
- The nature. This is another thing I remember when my anxiety is particularly bad: the smell of pine trees in the still, hot August air as we pass the woods to get to the beach.
- Depending on where you stay, you might not have full access to TV and internet. Which is perfect.
- Having a day trip biking through the woods, from one end of the Curonian Spit to the other.
- Historical architecture.
- Did I mention that it’s small and quiet?
- Also, it’s small and quiet.
Tip For Your Bucket List: Definitely recommend Nida to those who are sick of tourist attraction sights crowded with tourists. Best time to go: August, that’s when it’s warmest and barely rains. Food: it’s a little tough for vegans if you want to eat out and particularly eat something more than French fries. Must-see: Parnidis Dune that lies on the Lithuania-Kaliningrad border and is uninhabited. (Except for some wild foxes.)
If you want to come up with your own unique bucket list ideas: Unique bucket list ideas: how to.
If you don’t know how to start working on your massive bucket list: Annette’s 5 tips.