Do you have a bucket list – basically a list of things you want to do before you die? Seems most people have a list which they shove in a drawer never to be seen again. I like to think of myself as a woman who takes life by the hand and shakes a tail feather or two the moment the feeling strikes me. By that reasoning, I shouldn’t have a bucket list because I’m doing everything I want as I want to, right? Wrong.

Recently I realised that I did have a bucket list quietly building inside me, but for some reason I was ignoring it. Were these desires too fantastical? Were they too unachievable? Then the ugly gremlin within my sub conscious shouted, “You don’t deserve them!” I thought, “No. Yes. Wait a minute! What?!” and the striking punch in my gut at these thoughts confirmed my worst suspicions. Buried deep down, I didn’t think I was worthy enough to aspire to some of these dreams. Worst of all, I was fearful of what would happen if I aimed for them and failed.

Oh, the stench of fear of failure…and this was only in relation to my fantasies. How pathetic I thought. If I’m afraid to dream, what fears am I hiding away in relation to my waking life? Am I living my life to its full? Am I being true to myself? “STOOOOOOOOOP!”

The beautiful Northern Lights. Copyright Gulli Vals

As coincidence would have it, at just the moment I was having my existential meltdown, my email pinged with an offer for a 4 day trip to Iceland. I had never told anyone else that I secretly desired, desperately, to see the Northern Lights. I wondered for a fleeting moment if the travel agent marketeers had found a way to put some kind of electronic monitoring device into my brain. How did they know that I would be sitting at my desk at exactly that moment, debating if my life had value because I hadn’t accepted my bucket list? I ignored my normal skepticism for unsolicited internet offers and thought, “fuck it, I’m doing this.” Immediately, my heart was buzzing. Within about 5 clicks of my mouse I had taken control of dreams and taken my life back. I had to look at the receipt a dozen times before I was able to accept that I officially now had a bucket list. It might have only one item on it, but I have a dream and damn it, I’m going to do it.

The time for the trip finally came. As I started packing the day before the flight, I assumed it was a form of self-sabotage that I was leaving for one of the coldest parts of the world without having given thought to the fact that I don’t own a winter coat; no boots; not even a hat. I cobbled some stuff together and off we flew. And with every moment we inched closer to the Icelandic shores I started to get keyed up. The idea that I was actually living out the first item on my bucket list felt ridiculously exciting. Once we landed and were driving through the lava fields, I wanted to shout, “Look at me mom, no hands!” as I did when I first learned how to ride the big girl’s bicycle.

The first thing we did was take a coach trip beyond the limits of Reykjavik to see the Northern Lights. Within 45 minutes it started; at first a little tease of green streaks of light and then, BA BOOM, the most amazing demonstration of nature and beauty I have ever seen. There isn’t a photograph in the world that can do justice to the magnificence of this natural miracle. The lights came and went, changed colour then direction and shimmered as if dancing to an orchestra only they could hear. IT WAS FREAKING AMAZING!!!!!!! My bucket list

The rest of our Icelandic holiday was incredible and after each unfamiliar experience, I felt more alive than ever before. I realized this is the benefit of having a bucket list and the importance of working to achieve some, if not all, the items on your list. I thought I was a happy, carpe diem kinda gal before. Now I am ecstatic and so excited to enjoy even the most mundane moments of my day. What a surprising by-product.

Today, I sat down and embraced my bucket list: big dreams and little wins. There are things on this list that I hadn’t dared to whisper to myself let alone anyone else. It isn’t too long and as I glance through it my stomach feels like butterflies of excitement and anticipation. Based on this, I know that NOW I am living my life to its full. No more fear, no more self-doubt. I did it once. I will do it again and again. How liberating!! Achieving some of these bucket list dreams makes the idea of mastering some of my every day personal and professional goals even more accessible. I can’t wait to get started and kick some serious ass. Whoop, whoop!

Give yourself a treat and start your own bucket list now. A quick internet search of ‘bucket list’ will give you pages of ideas to inspire and shape your own list. There are sites to visit to help give you some guidance on how to create a list of your own too. This one’s pretty good, but do whatever comes naturally to you. Dream, live and enjoy.