My Mighty Life list or 30 things to do before I go

Watching the sun rise over Uluru, Australia January 2004. Yes, I look like a beekeeper (if you’ve been to Australia you’ll understand all about the damned flies). I don’t care, it was amazing!
This week I’ve been busy creating a bucket list, a list of 30 life ambitions I want to achieve before I go. If I only had a year left, what would I want to do, see or feel before I leave this earth. It sounds morbid but I’ve found creating my Mighty life list a very joyous process. First there was satisfaction when I realised I could tick some items of my list (night swimming in the pitch black Brighton sea in February, watching the sun rise over Uluru). Secondly it also reminded me of how much my bucket list had changed over the years (and I am sure will change radically in the future).
When I was five I wanted Majesty, the unicorn My Little Pony with every fibre of my being. But that never happened *sad face*. (Strangely enough none of the items on my bucket list are to do with possessions. Spoiler!)
Look at her shiny blue mane
When I was thirteen, I wanted to get sick (nothing serious but something good and contagious) so I never had to go to school ever, ever again. But that never happened, which was kind of a good thing.
When I was 17 I wanted was to get great A level results so I could get the hell out of my tiny hometown and go to Brighton. That happened and living in Brighton was as awesome as I thought it would be. But I’ve found it harder to leave my tiny hometown behind than I expected.
When I was 21 I wanted to go to Australia. That happened and I got to tick off many things from my bucket list. I’ve swam in a waterfall in the middle of the rainforest, I rode an elephant bareback, holding hands HWSNBN and I slept outside in the outback under a carpet of unfamiliar stars so bright they blinded us.
Now I’m in my late (*ahem* almost terminal) twenties I’m started thinking about what makes me happy and what makes me unhappy. Don’t get me wrong, life is really good for me at the moment. But lately I’ve felt like I’m in limbo. I’m not a student but come autumn I will be back at University (for the first time in eight years, eeek). After seven looooong years technically I’m no longer not a girlfriend but I’m not yet a *gulp* wife (don’t even get me started on the word ‘fiance’ . It just sounds weird. I like it not.) And I don’t have long to adjust because next year I’ll be a married (double eeek). In a year and two months I’ll be thirty, with all that entails .  If I’m lucky in the not too distant future, I’ll graduate, possibly change career, buy a house and eventually have babies (triple eeek).
All good, all exciting but at the moment I feel like I’m stuck in this in between place. I’m somebody who is all about the destination and not the journey. I want to be there, yesterday and anything longer makes me grind my teeth. But there is an opposing voice that is telling me to appreciate what I have because soon everything will change. This push and pull between the future and the present enough to make anybody want to retreat to a fainting lounge with a battered copy of the sweet valley high books. But a more *ahem* adult reaction might be to take stock of what I want out of my life. So I made a list.

Another list?

Yes, I’m a list-a-holic I need help! But seriously, lists are so helpful for me in boiling things down to the essentials. Inspired by Mighty Girl‘s Mighty Life List where she lists the 100 things she wants to do before she goes, I’ve created a list. Bear in mind this list is a work in progress. I’ve only listed 30 things to start, which I will add to as I come up with new ideas.
What this list isn’t is a list of things I should do (exercise, eat my greens, do my homework). It’s all the things I want to do some big (go to Cuba) some small (learn front crawl). I’ve tried to make this list as joyous as possible and fill it with ideas that make my heart sing. So here it is, forever preserved in the amber of the internets, my bucket list by Rowan aged 28 and three-quarters.

My Mighty Life List or 30 things to do before I go.

1. Listen to 1,000 new songs.

I love music. But I tend to listen to same twenty songs over and over and over again. I need to expand my musical horizons. I’ll be starting out with the Mighty Life List song list. But I need your help. If you have any recommendations for new or obscure music (anything instrumental would be good) head over to the comments and tell me about it.

2. Helihike Franz Josef glaciar.

In 2004, after less than a year together HWSNBN and I travelled the world together. Our favourite place was Franz Josef in New Zealand, a tiny town on the south island famous for one thing: its glacier. To get to the ice so clear it’s blue it takes almost a whole day of hiking and then you have to turn and come right back down. Unless you’re lazy like we are and take a helicopter to the snow line and climb the glacier from there. Unfortunately when we were in Franz Josef the weather was bad, as in dinosaurs emerging from the fog bad. We spent days in Franz Josef with a friend where we gorged ourself on pizza and chocolate cake, venison rissotto (mine was with mushrooms) while we waited for the fog to clear. We waited and we waited and we waited but we never did climb that damn glacier. But one day I’m going back and I’m going to climb that glacier.

Franz Josef and the fog descending

3. Do two lengths back to back in front crawl.

I love to swim, but really I’ve mastered variations on two strokes: breaststroke and backstroke. Which I rock by the way. However my front crawl is horrific and my butterfly stroke, shameful. My dad’s been teaching front crawl which I can do, I just haven’t mastered the breathing thing yet. My aim to swim two lengths of an Olympic sized swimming pool without stopping.

4.Take a photo a day for 30 days.

Like a small-scale version of the 365 project

5. Go to Cuba.

Have you ever seen the Cherry Orchard? If you haven’t it’s about three sisters living a dull provincial existence whose permanent refrain is ‘Next year we will go to Moscow.’ Well Cuba is HWSNBN and my equivalent of Moscow. But not next year but next, next year we will go to Cuba. Fact.
ETA: In June 2013 we went to Cuba on our honeymoon. And it was every bit as wonderful as we imagined.

6. Host a party when the cherry trees bloom.

The cherry blossoms blooming always brings me such joy. Partly because they are pretty. Partly because of what is symbolises, the end of winter and the bringing of spring. In Japan when the cherry blossoms bloom they hold parties where they drink lots of saké. I want to host a celebration party too.

7. Set foot on all 7 continents.

Just because. Four down, three to go (Africa, South America (yay Cuba two in one deal), and Antarctica, simple right?). ETA: only one now Antarctica as we visited Egypt in August 2012 for our minimoon and Cuba in June 2013 for our honeymoon.

8. Do two pull ups.

Don’t laugh, my arms are as strong as wet spaghetti.

9. Meditate every day for one week.

Once I’ve meditated I always feel better. It’s the actually doing it part I fall down at.

Buddha at Buddhafield festival

10. Read every book on this list.

I’m a book geek and I’ve only read 64 of these books. Shame on me.

11. Plant flowers in a public space.

Along the verges in Brighton somebody has scattered wildflower seeds. They make me happy ever time I pass, and I want to pass this on.

12. Sleep in a treehouse.

Treehouses are cool
Just because, OK.

13. Leave a geocache.

Maybe not one with a ring inside but something like it 🙂
14. Throw a dinner party.
I love come dine with me. I love food.  I was born to host dinner parties. 70’s wear and fondue sets optional.
ETA: December 2013 I hosted a dinner party and made everybody play the most offensive card game ever. It was fun and also a bit stressful. Being a 1950’s hostess was no cakewalk, y’all.

15. Make 100 lovely things.

I’ve written before about my love, OK addiction to pinterest. But I’m not content to just look I want to start making some of the beautiful things I see. Making things whether it’s bread or fascinators makes me happy.

16. Take passport go to Gatwick go on the next flight I see.

Everytime my train passes through Gatwick I’ve wanted to do this. However it goes against all of my control freak instincts (and budgetary constraints)

17. Hike the Inca trail.

One of my friends trekked the Inca trail on her honeymoon and it looks incredible. I want to go.

18. View the northern lights.

19. Start a group.

I am undecided between whether I want to start a young adult reading book group or a happiness project group. But I know I want to start a group.

20. Go on a night dive with the Manta Rays in Hawaii.

I love the way they swoop and swirl in the water.

21. Grow a vegetable patch.

I have a black thumb, everything I try and grow dies. But over the last two years I’m slowly turning it around. Last year I grew from scratch a herb garden. This year I’m branching out to strawberries too, next year the world mwhahahaha

22. Attend a silent retreat.

I’ve attended many retreats (daughter of a yoga teacher), but never as an adult and never a silent one

23. Fly a kite.

HSWNB and I attended a kite festival and it was beautiful.

Eye flags at the kite fair

24. Go vegan for a month.

I don’t talk about it much on the blog, because I don’t want to preach to anybody, but I’m a lifelong vegetarian. I’ve never eaten meat and I gave up eating fish when I was ten. But although I’ve always toyed with the idea I’ve never tried veganism. As a vegetarian I’m finding it increasing hard to justify consuming milk and other animal products given the intensive and often cruel farming practises involved. I know this will be really difficult, particularly as HWSNBN is a coeliac (meat all the way), but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.
ETA: done January 2014 for Veganuary. It was hard, I missed cheese.

25. Go star watching.

Just so I can talk like Patrick Moore from the Sky at Night.
ETA: Done, we went starwatching last autumn at the University and it was amazing.

26. Edit a video.

I am working on top secret project for a special event. All will be revealed soon.

27. Throw a surprise birthday party.

This may be difficult given I am very bad at keeping secrets but it sounds like fun

28. Straddle a border.

Hur, hur, hur

29. Swing out over the river on a rope.


30. Watch the fireflies.

Cos they’re purdy.
So, that’s my life list. Think I’m missing a trick? Done one of the above and think it’s not all that? Head over to the comments and tell me about it.


  1. Karen Lee
    July 26, 2011 / 7:53 pm

    The Inca Trail was very AMAZING. So many lovely things of this list Row x

    • treefin82
      July 27, 2011 / 11:31 am

      It looked like the experience of a lifetime! I also love that you guys did something a bit different from the typical beach honeymoon

  2. July 26, 2011 / 10:10 pm

    Hi rowan. please tell me what HWSNBN means? not knowing is driving me a bit mad. thanks 🙂

      • treefin82
        July 27, 2011 / 11:33 am

        Sorry Chris, should have defined the acronym, as google said HWSNBN = He Who Shall Not Be Named, which he likes because he thinks it makes him sound cool like Voldemort 🙂

  3. Beth
    July 28, 2011 / 11:23 am

    In order (don’t worry, I’m not responding to them all):
    1. Send me your address and I’ll burn you more cds of obscure and baffling music than you could ever find time to listen to.
    2. If you go back to Franz Joseph and the conditions are favourable I’d darn well better get an invitation.
    6. Awesome. That is all.
    21. Courgettes. I have two courgette plants and they grow out of control even if you TRY to kill them. I’m not kidding. One plant would be enough to keep a family of four in veg for a season. As it is I’m getting sick of the little blighters. I’ve started baking cakes with them in just to avoid having to sling them on the compost heap. If you want to get on the vegetable growing bandwagon I highly recommend them. Radishes and spring onions are also insanely easy to raise for beginners like us.
    24. Grow courgettes. By the time they are fruiting you’ll be vegan by proxy because you quite simply won’t have room in the kitchen for anything else. (I’d also like to point out that you have eaten meat, in NZ you ordered quiche that had bacon in it. To be fair, though, you were violently sick as soon as it was pointed out to you. Thankfully HWSNBN valiantly and selflessly scoffed the rest of it before you got back so that you wouldn’t have to look at the offending item.)
    Brought to you by the UK Courgette Marketing Board.

    • treefin82
      July 28, 2011 / 6:51 pm

      1. Oooh yes please, this is why I luv you! I’ve seen you iPod playlists, this task was built for your input 🙂 Will text my address to you.
      2. Definitely, we need to go up that bloomin’ glacier. Just realised it’s been seven years since we were in NZ, can you believe that? Is it wrong to fly all the way over the other side of the world for a) moar chocolate cake b) helihiking? Because if it is I don’t want to be right…
      21. Courgette pusher… I heart courgettes, and I might love them even more if they can survive my blundering gardening. I will given them and spring onions a go. Courgette cake, nice or wrong?
      24. I had blocked that from my mind. Haha HSWNBN is such a gentleman, ‘my girlfriend is distressed. Eat the evidence, better now

  4. July 28, 2011 / 5:40 pm

    Hi Rowan – you just friended me on GoodReads (I’m guessing from Kind of Mess?) and it looks like we have very similar reading styles, so I’m looking forward to perusing your books 🙂 It’s fun having book friends halfway around the world!
    Love your list! For #3 – as a recovering competitive swimmer, I can tell you that the key to breathing instead of drinking the pool during front crawl is rolling your whole body up on the side you’re trying to breathe on. So, if you’re breathing on your right, start rotating your right shoulder and right hip up toward the surface about midway through your right hand pull. Your head needs to turn a little more to the right, but it won’t be as difficult with the rest of your body helping out. There are a few drills you can do to teach your body the motion, but I think I’ve probably given enough unsolicited advice so let me know if you want those 🙂

    • treefin82
      July 28, 2011 / 6:56 pm

      Hi Meghan, Great to hear from you. Yes it was via Alyssa’s blog, she’s hilarious. Def looking forward to seeing what your reading book recommendations, even if my to-be-read pile is growing out of control.!
      Big thanks for the swimming tips. I’ve been finding it really hard to get into a rhythm as I have to keep stopping before I inhale the pool 🙂 Will def try rolling my body to the right, great advice. Yes please send over any drills, I need all the help I can get. Next up after this the butterfly, but think I may need to build my upper body strength up a bit first 🙂

      • August 1, 2011 / 9:30 pm

        There are two I’d recommend. If you don’t mind feeling a bit like an idiot, (and getting pretty dizzy) the first is called corkscrew. Alternate front crawl strokes with backstrokes, turning around in one direction (like a corkscrew) for an entire length. So, if you take the first front crawl stroke with your right arm, then roll your left shoulder up toward the surface, all the way onto your back as you take a backstroke with your left hand. Once you get to the opposite wall, switch directions (start with a front crawl stroke with your left hand, rotate to your left, then take a backstroke with you right hand). This will help you get used to rotating your whole body with each stroke (although it’s clearly greatly exaggerated, and fun 🙂
        The second drill I’d recommend is to kick on your side. When you push off the wall, turn onto your left side. Place your left arm just under the surface of the water, pointing straight at the other end of the pool. Press your left arm up against your head, just behind your left ear, with your palm facing down. Rotate your face so that your mouth and nose are just out of the water and you can breathe easily. Place your right arm straight down your side and press it to your hip. Kick to the middle of the pool, take a stroke with your right arm and switch sides. When you take the stroke, make sure to rotate your face and body straight down – try not to lift your face up and out of the water. This drill puts you in the correct body position for breathing during front crawl. Once you get better at it, you can reduce the amount of kicking and increase the amount of strokes you take. For example – 10 kicks on your left side, 1 stroke, 10 kicks on your right. 7 kicks on your left side, 3 strokes, 7 kicks on your right, etc.
        Wow, this is so much easier to show in person than to explain in writing! Have fun 🙂 Oh, and butterfly is pretty much about brute strength. Upper body and abs, abs, abs!
        I’m so excited to have some new internet friends. What a cool thing to be able to talk with someone halfway around the world, whom I never would have connected with if it weren’t for blogs. Technology is kinda crazy…

        • treefin82
          August 23, 2011 / 3:23 pm

          Thanks so much for the tips. Sorry it’s taken so long to respond. Because the weather has been unnaturally fair over here I’ve been mostly swimming in the sea, which is blissful. I love powering out as far as I can go and then just floating. But sea swimming is not so great for improving my breathing in particularly as the waves mess me up everytime 🙂 But I finally went to the indoor pool a couple of times this week. The corkscrew in particular was so helpful. (Although I did get some odd looks. But I don’t care.) You’re right though you do feel very dizzy afterwards. I am sure I looked a little drunk as I lurched from the pool 🙂
          I’m off to France on holiday next week and I will have (count em’) three pools at my disposal and lots of time to practice my strokes. Maybe if the pools are empty I might attempt the butterfly? Will keep you posted.
          Isn’t technology marvellous? As you said it’s so amazing to connect with somebody over the other side of the world. Hope you’re having a great summer too xxx

    • treefin82
      August 23, 2011 / 3:08 pm

      Thanks Anna! I know what you mean, there is something about a list that allows you to distill your thinking xxx Rowan
      PS. I love, love, LOVE your blog! /endfangirling 🙂

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