The film entitled “The Bucket List” made that term popular. Characters masterfully played by Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freedom as terminally ill roommates in one of the plethora of hospitals owned by Nicholson’s character, made them unlikely friends as they were from opposite sides of the tracks. Nicholson observes a crumpled, discarded legal pad sheet of paper on the floor, discovering a list of Freeman’s goals before he kicks the bucket. Nicholson has the bucks needed for the bucket, and becomes inspired to add to Freeman’s list, which Nicholson declares “extremely weak.” It’s a terrific movie. Long before this flick, I began such a list when I was fourteen. I now call it my bucket list, a term I stole from that movie.

Click to learn more about Kim's Bucket List trip to New York City, and why she's constantly updating her Bucket List. 

Kim skating at Rockefeller Center as part of her NYC bucket list

Its early version listed such items as learn to type.... clearly in the twentieth century before computers that nearly every two-year-old can keyboard now...get a driver’s license, graduate from college, and loftier goals including own a convertible, visit all fifty states, all seven continents, and learn to ski. My bucket list rule is that you don’t have to master each item...just do them. Hence my skiing ability, and my husband would add my driving skills in the same category. 

Kim at the Cursed Child, a play that takes place 20 years after the completion of the original Harry Potter books

Everyone’s list is unique to them, or even not doing something. One of the secrets is actually writing them. One teen I know had the goal of never drinking a drop of alcohol until she was twenty-one. She reviewed her list frequently and did refrain until she reached that age. One person may aspire to have children. I aspired to avoid that, but the grandmother of the man I married had a philosophy that “when man makes plans, God laughs.” He gave me two stepchildren who came into my life when they were four and eight, so I amended my list to “avoid giving birth and potty training.” I did the former, but helped with the latter when my stepson gave me another thing obviously not on my list: two granddaughters. The list has been updated many times and recently once again to include taking them on a Disney Cruise, and teaching them to roller skate. The first attempt at a skating lesson didn’t go well, but thankfully on their part, not mine. And for the record, I don’t think rink sound systems should play “O Holy Night” with the lyric “Fall on your knees.” 

Dancing with the Salvation Army bell ringers - will Kim be choreographing our next flash mob?!

Some things have to be adapted or deleted. Examples on my list: Being on the Johnny Carson show. I was ...sort of...but that’s another story. I’ve deleted owning a monkey, which seemed like a fun idea when I started my list. Attending a Michael Jackson concert never happened, and clearly never will. That’s why you have to act on your list as soon as possible, and be prepared to open a door when opportunity knocks upon it. Sometimes I make a game of it. I strove to have one hundred and one items on my list because somewhere along the way I was urged to always do one more whatever (sit-up, sentence, minute of practice, etc.) than was required or expected. An example of the way I have fun with it, is to prove that opportunity often does knock within a short time when something is top of mind. Here’s an example. One afternoon I was privately reviewing my list and asked my stepdaughter, then age nine, to choose a number between whatever number it was that had not yet been completed, and one-hundred-one. Her randomly chosen number corresponded with “visit every state.” I still needed South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, and Delaware, but I didn’t share that with her. Within about three days her mother announced she was moving from Seattle to New Jersey, and I asked how she was getting her car there. She responded, “I haven’t figured out that part yet,” and I immediately offered to drive it, taking her little girl on a road trip that included those four states. Opportunity knocked and answered.

Touring the NYC Public Library

A week ago I embarked on a five bucket list journey to New York City. This takes planning because tickets must be purchased far in advance. I’d been to New York several times, but not during the holiday season, unless you count Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1992 (before it became little more than promotion of Broadway shows.) I completed four of the five in three days, and did a whole bunch of other things too. Some of these items were even on my original adolescent list: Ice skate at Rockefeller Center, see the Radio City Music Hall Holiday Spectacular featuring the Rockettes, get a hard hat tour of Ellis Island including its hospital now being restored since abandonment in 1954, tour the New York City Public Library to see the original Winnie the Pooh stuffed animals and re-enact the scene from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” I didn’t get to visit Freedom Tower, but did ride past. In addition I saw the extraordinarily high energy production “Ain’t Too Proud,” the story of The Temptations; back to back Part I and II of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” which is the most expensive non-musical Broadway production in history and takes place twenty years after the books end; danced with Salvation Army bell ringers; ate lunch at Sardi’s, saw the new “Vessel” climbing sculpture overlooking the Hudson, ate chestnuts roasting on an open fire, and several other fun things. I ate very healthy, drank no alcohol, and walked rapidly like a New Yorker for miles and miles every day. Did I lose one ounce? No! That’s the most difficult bucket list item of all.

Here are my best pieces of advice when forming your bucket list, in opposite order of importance, with the latter being of utmost importance: 1. Make your goals a reach, but not impossible. 2. Instead of crossing them off, highlight them with bold face, or a highlighter pen, asterisk, or some other way that gives you an endorphin as you view your accomplishments. 3. Look at your birth certificate and realistically calculate how long before you’ll most likely kick the bucket, because we all will. If you don’t do your listed items now, when will you? Some of them will take planning and preparation. 4. Acquire the things no one can steal—things like memories, health, education, adventures, love, integrity, and faith. 

Eating fire-roasted chestnuts

If anyone knows how I can get a short ride in a rumble seat, that’s been on my list for decades, and I want to do it before I can’t climb in and out!