My Life List.

October 20, 2011

A Life List is like a bucket list, but more lifey. You may have heard of them. I’ve never officially put mine out there, although I’ve had one in the works for a while. Over the last years, I’ve done year lists every year, but have always put off publishing a Life List. I don’t know why. Perhaps it seemed too scary, or permanent, or impermanent. It’s hard to say. But now that I’m 40 (and doing two events a year based on Life Lists), I’m committing. So here we go.

Let’s do this.

1. Make a life list.

2. Keep a jar of sharpened pencils on my desk. Always.

3. Have a gigantic sale to get rid of all the stuff I don’t use.

4. Grow a pumpkin patch.

5. Learn to throw pottery.

6. Walk across the Brooklyn bridge.

7. Learn how to make tortillas from scratch.

8. Go real camping with someone who knows how to real camp. And just follow directions and/or stand around while that person does all the hard parts.

9.  Knit a blue hat.

10. Make apple cider. Or some sort of hooch.

11. Have Harry teach me how to play chess.

12. Own super-fancy, awesome-to-sleep-on sheets.

13. Work at a restaurant, waiting tables.

14. Work retail.

15. Have a cool pair of glasses for every day of the week.

16. Go to the Oprah show. Wear fun shoes.

17. Make a pinata.

18. Make pickles.

19.  Learn how to can things. In Mason jars.

20. Learn how to whistle loud, like I’m hailing a cab.

21. Make pasta from scratch

22. Make a quilt.

23. Fix up my great grandmother’s house and make it like I want it. (Fix it up, make it pretty, keep it tidy.)

24. Take Harry to Disney World.

25. Have fancy dinners at these 10 restaurants in the US: Alinea, Per Se, Daniel, Le Bernardin, Chez Panisse, Blue Hill Stone Barns. Uchiko, Clio, Canlis, French Laundry.

26. Go to Denmark. Visit the original Lego Land. Eat at Noma.

27. See Italy: Rome. Venice. Florence. Milan. Cinque Terra. Capri. Sorrento. San Gimignano. Portofino. Assisi.

28. Stay at the Le Sirenuse spa in Positano.

29. Eat at Osteria Francescana in Modena.

30. Visit Australia. See Sydney, Kata Tjuta,and a koala.

31. Spend a couple of nights on Mont St. Michel in France. (I’ve been, but I want to stay there for a few overnights.)

32. Visit Santorini

33. Visit the Parthenon.

34.  Visit Iguazu Falls.

35. Visit Dollywood.

36. See Cuba.

37. Stay in a glass igloo in Kakslauttanen, Finland + see an Aurora Borealis

38. Visit all 58 National Parks in the US: Acadia, American Samoa, Arches, Badlands, Big Bend, Biscayne, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Carlsbad Caverns, Channel Islands, Congaree, Crater Lake, Cuyahoga Valley, Death Valley, Denali, Dry Tortugas, Everglades, Gates of the Arctic, Glacier, Glacier Bay, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Great Basin, Great Sand Dunes, Great Smoky Mountains, Guadalupe Mountains, Haleakala, Hawaii Volcanoes, Hot Springs, Isle Royale, Joshua Tree, Katmai, Kenai Fjords, Kings Canyon, Kobuk Valley, Lake Clark, Lassen Volcanic, Mammoth Cave, Mesa Verde, Mount Rainier, North Cascades, Olympic, Petrified Forest, Redwood, Rocky Mountain, Saguaro, Sequoia, Shenandoah, Theodore Roosevelt, Virgin Islands, Voyageurs, Wind Cave, Wrangell Saint Elias, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Zion (Thanks for the inspiration, Leslie!)

39. Explore 25 major cities outside North America as an adult: London,  Paris, Cairo, Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro, Beijing, Kyoto, Madrid, Nairobi, Istanbul, Cape Town, Amsterdam, Athens, Zurich, Edinburgh, Bangkok, Rome, Reykjavik, Mexico City, Seoul, Mumbai, Moscow, Buenos Aires, Berlin, Dubai.

40. Find a local charity to support and volunteer my time.

41. Attend a Seder.

42. See the Marfa lights.

43. Sponsor someone for Women for Women International.

44.  Visit the Rosslyn Chapel.

45. Write a story set around a chapel, church, or a cathedral.

46. Stay in a convent for a week.

47. Sign over a full paycheck to the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

48. Have my own office.

49. Get another degree.

50. Live in New York City.

51. Work at a cute retail shop in New York City. But probably not a clothes shop.

52. Visit Fallingwater.

53. Go on a sleigh ride in the snow.

54. Record an original song.

55. Produce a reading tour of bloggers.

56. Throw a party in someone’s grand estate.

57. Run a 5K.

58. Run a 10K.

59. Run a Half Marathon.

60. Drink tea in China.

61. Drink bourbon in Kentucky.

62. Drink vodka in Russia.

63. Drink scotch in Scotland.

64. Drink whiskey in Ireland.

65. Drink beer in Germany. At Oktoberfest.

66. Drink champagne in France. In Champagne.

67. Drink a caipirinha in Brazil. In Rio.

68. Drink sake in Japan.

69. Drink ouzo in Greece.

70. Be able to make a stable of things really well…basically, have specialty items: Homemade bread, pancakes (or waffles or some related breakfast item), a soup, a sandwich, a green salad, a meal salad,  a cookie, a savory pie, a sweet pie, a cake, an Indian dish, a Mexican dish, fried chicken, black-eyed peas, fried green tomatoes, salsa, gingerbread, an appetizer, a casserole, an old-fashioned drink.

71.  Make yearbooks for Harry.

72. Have a mantle in my house. Line it with photos of my favorite people. Decorate it each holiday/season.

73. Make Christmas stockings.

74. Host a Holiday dinner for 25 people (or more).

75. Only give homemade gifts one Christmas (but they have to be good).

76. Start a meditation practice of some kind.

77. Own a lake house. I use the word house loosely.

78. Own an Eames chair.

79. Own an old truck.

80. Host a BINGO party.

81. Host a costume party.

82. Throw a dinner party by the San Marcos river.

83. Grow a vegetable garden.

84. Make a scarecrow.

85. Spend Christmas somewhere where it’s snowing.

86. Be someone’s fairy godmother.

87. Read a book series with Harry.

88. Play Scrabble with Harry.

89. Make hot cross buns with Harry.

90. Be independently wealthy. Just enough so that money isn’t a worry.

91. Live in the Lake District of England for a time.

92. Celebrate Harry’s graduation from high school and college.

93. Go on some sort of pilgrimage.

94. Experience zero gravity.

95. Go to an official film premiere and after party. With some kind of super awesome VIP tickets. Because somehow I contributed to the writing, development, or production of this film. Not on-screen stuff. Just life experience stuff.

96. Sell a company.

97. Start a scholarship for a happy reason.

98. Start a writer’s grant.

99. See my son grow to be a man.

100. Celebrate something every day.

*Photo is from Apollinas. Citrus Cake with Lemon Curd Filling and Orange Lemon Icing. I want that to be my cake in #70.

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  • Reply mark @ yelling near you October 20, 2011 at 10:45 am

    I must say you’ve compiled quite the impressive list. I see a lot of things on there that I want to do as well.

  • Reply Autumn Van Weir October 20, 2011 at 11:04 am

    I can’t even rememember how many of these hit home! This was a great idea and I really enjoyed it! I don’t have a list…I better get going.

  • Reply gina October 20, 2011 at 11:11 am

    Great idea. I think we all could do with one of these.
    My facetious comment: you can probably cross off “learn to throw pottery” – I think it is an innate ability in most people…

  • Laura Harrison Mayes
    Reply Laura October 20, 2011 at 11:18 am

    Gina, really? It seems like it would be hard to do. I have no idea. But it looks hard. Maybe I should change it to “Throw pottery to create something relatively functional.” Or something.

  • Reply Helen Jane October 20, 2011 at 11:22 am

    If you need a pardner in crime, I have the following on MY list:
    Bourbon in Kentucky.
    Make a quilt.
    Celebrate something every day.

    Pardner. Heh.

  • Reply Melanie October 20, 2011 at 11:25 am

    I am madly in love with life lists. I was recently inspired to write my own and make it public too. Something about reading them just feels good.

  • Laura Harrison Mayes
    Reply Laura October 20, 2011 at 11:45 am

    HJ, you probably gave me those ideas. I’ve read so many Life Lists over the past 3 years, they’re all in my subconscious somewhere. Let’s do it. Let’s go to Kentucky!

  • Reply Yogi October 20, 2011 at 11:49 am

    Well, let me help you with #3: Don’t sell it, just start putting it out on the end of the driveway (or functional equivalent), with the word “free” in several local languages.

    When you’re don’t with that, you can freecycle the rest or craigslist it.

    My DW and I have been doing this for the past couple of years, and we are blissfully less cluttered than we were. Which is not to say that we are not still cluttered….

    Love your site, and esp. helping unbury the dog. Which is an awesome thing to help someone with.

  • Reply Pam October 20, 2011 at 11:59 am

    Oh! I crossed the Brooklyn Bridge off my list at BlogHer ’10! So worth it and fun.

  • Reply gina October 20, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    I guess my joke failed. 🙁
    “throw pottery”

    • Laura Harrison Mayes
      Reply Laura October 20, 2011 at 12:16 pm

      Oh Gina. You’re clever. I’m tired. I totally missed that.

      How about this. I make some pottery thing, and then we throw it against a wall! Actually, that sounds waaaay more fun. (You are an inspiration! Look at you go!)

  • Reply gina October 20, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    No worries.
    I think that sounds like a blast!

  • Reply Reticula October 20, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    OK, something strange is going on and you’ve just become a part of it. Let me start by saying I write on my blog about connections–all kinds of connections. Miss Serendipity and me….we’re just like this. So very early Wednesday morning I wrote something in a post about my non-existent bucket list and how I add things to it after Miss Serendipity has led me to them. After I posted it, I looked for new blog posts on Google reader and found only one. The blogger wrote about a bucket list contest and shared her bucket list. And now today, here is your bucket list.

    I think I need to get off my ass and write a bucket list or a life list or any other kinds of list other than the guilt list I usually have laying in front of me. So do you and Miss Serendipity work together often?

  • Reply Annie October 20, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    that’s definitely quite an impressive list you’ve got! I’ve been working on my bucket list for the last couple of months on this really cool website: – makes it very easy to organise and share ideas with friends, and you get to keep all your travel tips in one place. But definitely worth a look!

  • Reply Tamera October 20, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    Pickles were on my list, too. I didn’t follow the directions as well as I could have the first time and ended up with fungi spears. The second time I ended up with the most delicious pickles I’ve ever tasted.

  • Reply V October 20, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    Canning, pickles, and other preserving stuff are on my list too. I’ve been trying to read preserving-focused blogs to get myself psyched up. Well Preserved ( – be forewarned that he’s on a bit of a random hunting tangent right now) and Food in Jars ( – she’s actually coming to Austin in November for a meet up with the lady from Confituras, should be tasty) have both been good reads. Food in Jars is especially good for calming “if you screw up this way, you can fix it by doing xyz” posts.

    I’m amused to see Iguazu on your list. This picture was on my living room wall for my whole childhood: Growing up, that view of Iguazu always felt like my personal private waterfall.

  • Reply Isabel @AlphaMom October 20, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    oooh. Love it.

    Let’s go have some fun together:

    See Italy: Venice. Florence. Cinque Terra. Portofino.
    Learn to make fried green tomatoes

    I’ll walk across the Brooklyn bridge with you and then take you for pizza!

  • Reply Lise October 21, 2011 at 7:17 am

    That’s an awfully long list. I heard on a decoration show once – if you’re going to display a collection, 5 is a collection; any more is just too much. That’s my attitude – 5 is enough. Just pick 5 great things for your life list.

    • Laura Harrison Mayes
      Reply Laura October 21, 2011 at 7:38 am

      Lise, I like that. For me, the fun part about it was dreaming up 100. It was harder to come up with things after about 20, but then it became a fun exercise to push myself further…to realize all the things I’d like to do.

      I can see now my thought process…

      1-24: Very practical, doable.
      25-39: Dreamy dream travel and fancy dinner dreams
      40-59: Body, mind, spirit, life hopes/dreams/goals
      60-69: Drinking world tour of justice
      70-89: Home and family
      90-100: Big reach, potentially impactful, or important dreamy dream goals

      I so didn’t organize that. It just sorta came out that way. And could I pick 5? Yes. 5 to focus on at a time. (It’s interesting you say that, because picking just 5 to goal-out for a year is a tenant of Camp Mighty and Mighty Summit.) But could I only pick 5 to do ever? Nope. Will I do all of them? Most probably not. And that’s completely fine with me. But it was a good exercise for me to know what I’d like to do…to think about what cities I’d like to see…even if I don’t see them. Just to have intentions out there is pretty fun.

  • Reply barchbo October 21, 2011 at 9:00 am

    Fabulous! I love your list and look forward to its chronicles. Will Harry teach me how to play chess, too? I really want to learn…

    I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge last year – 5 months pregnant. I would like to try it NOT 5 months pregnant. And with some champagne at the finish.

  • Reply Cindy October 21, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    I love reading other peoples lists and finding the things that are the same or similar to stuff on my list. I wrote my list with out reading other’s first, then went back and started reading what other people had put on their lists. It just helped to re-enforce the idea of the list.

    #97 is my favorite. People always start scholarships for sad reasons. I like that you want to flip that.

  • Reply Laura October 21, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Combine two things by staying in an Italian convent: I had an austere but comfortable room 1 block from Piazza Navona for less than $100 US a night!

  • Reply MondoMOM October 22, 2011 at 8:42 am

    I’d love to run a marathon too!
    I’d also love to start a scholarship for positive reasons!

  • Reply DogsDontPurr October 22, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    Wow…when I was reading through your list, I froze when I saw Canlis on your list of restaurants. Oh…the memories. I grew up in Seattle, and yes, it was the epitome of fine dining. There are legends about it. Way back in the day, I even got an account there (how this was possible, I don’t even know…I was living at poverty level at the time.) They have one of the best Lady’s Rooms I’ve ever been in (I actually snuck several men friends in there to take pictures.) I once parked at the far end of the Aurora bridge and walked across it to meet someone for drinks there. I once went there wearing nearly nothing just an hour after returning from Vegas (it was snowing and we drove there in my Jeep!) I had escargot there. Good times.

    I could go on and on. It was the height of glamour and decadence back in the day.

    Sadly, now…not so much. The Geisha girl/Kimono waitresses are long gone. When they remodeled and changed up the menu…it was just different. The formality and dress code left. Even their new sign seemed crooked.

    Granted, I haven’t been there in 10 years, so they may have turned things back around. But my feel was that their era of greatness has come and gone. I was surprised to see it listed among the mind blowing other restaurants you want to try.

    But nostalgia is a fickle thing. I hope that if you do make it there, it will be as fabulous as it once was back in the day.

  • Reply Andrea Howe October 23, 2011 at 1:18 am

    So I’ve got a question. Is it cheating to put a few things on my list that I have already done? Things that I had always wanted to do and finally did it in the last year, like find a charity to work at each week?

  • Reply Annette | Bucket List Journey October 24, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    What an impressive list! I have always wanted to learn how to can stuff too.

  • Laura Harrison Mayes
    Reply Laura October 25, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    Laura, Monastery Stays is brilliant! Thank you!

    DogsDontPurr, I’m not sure why I’ve always wanted to go to Canlis, but it’s always been on my list. So I feel like I can’t take it off. Even if it turns into a Denny’s. I have to go.

    Andrea Howe, Totally not cheating. It’s your list. You’re the boss.

  • Reply melanie October 25, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    I made that cake!! It was delicious. And the citrus fruit on it was glorious and not hard to do. So fun. I need to rework my list, thanks for the inspiration!

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  • Reply Emily October 28, 2011 at 9:02 am

    Thank you for this! My blog partner has created a Life List and you guys are just so inspiring! You were one of my blog fav’s of the week @ !
    Best of luck!

  • Reply Andrea October 28, 2011 at 11:18 am

    I love your life list. I also have a life list that I’m pretty excited about, but as I read yours, I was thinking of all the new things that I want to add. I guess I’ll just to have hurry up and finish my 100 and start on the next 100. 🙂 Great ideas!!!

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    You are hilarious!

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  • Reply Ami D January 3, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    Just stumbled into your blog from a link via the wonderful Bloggess. If you are still working on the list, we make pickles from scratch in July each summer with my Nanna who knows all about the process. You could come on down to TN and cross off Dollywood, pickles and Mason jars in one fatal swoop/fabulous trip.

  • Reply Cubicle Rebel January 14, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    The citrus cake with lemon curd filling & blood oranges layered on top…My knees quiver. This is a really nice blog!

  • Reply Nat January 19, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    This is an amazing idea. Feel like making a list of my own. Just reading yours makes me dream a little more. 🙂

  • Reply Victoria January 26, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    I live in western WI and I know how to camp, grow pumpkins and can in real Mason jars. If you’re ever in our neck of the woods, look me up. As long as you’re not a crazy serial killer. I don’t go camping with them. 🙂

  • Reply Bailey February 12, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    Love your list, I’ve been loving looking at others peoples Life Lists. I especially love #75.
    This is my List, it still needs some touching up to do, its only like a week old (:

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