By Carrie Vittitoe

A middle school geography course influenced Myrna McGimsey’s bucket list choices. 

Creating and maintaining a bucket list is both a sad and exhilarating endeavor. While it serves as a stark reminder that your time on Earth is limited, it is also a joyful encouragement to make and take opportunities to have fun.

Bucket lists are as varied as the individuals who make them. Some people’s lists are mostly about self-care: eating better, exercising more, or achieving a fitness goal such as running a marathon. Others may have activity bucket lists that include scuba diving, taking a helicopter flight, or riding in a hot air balloon. Book lovers may have literary bucket lists that involve reading certain novels, and baseball enthusiasts may have bucket lists that require a home game at every Major League Baseball stadium.

Some people get a taste for travel in their youth, whether in school or through family trips, and never lose the desire to see new places and meet new people. Myrna McGimsey of Lyndon learned about both Spain and Vancouver in a middle school geography class, and now as an adult, these locations made it onto her bucket list.

Hurstbourne resident Elizabeth Jeffries travels a great deal for her career as a certified speaking professional, executive coach, and author. She has visited every state in the U.S., 34 countries, and five continents and says, “Travel is the best way to get an education. It opens your eyes to the hugeness of the world and yet how similar we all are.”

There are other people whose bucket lists blend a childhood love with a desire to stay in one place. Tricia Burke of the Highlands loved swimming, playing in the ocean, and visiting Lake Michigan when she attended school at St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana. Over time she developed an interest in canoeing and kayaking. Her lifelong enjoyment of water helped propel her to make owning a lake house a bucket list item. Tricia and her husband, George Van Arsdale, purchased their lake house in Meade County in 2009. Their Doe Valley home is an hour from Louisville and provides a quiet respite from their busy lives.

Mortality is a trigger that can make longtime bucket list dreams become realities. Robin Sewell of Georgetown, Indiana, lost two sisters to cancer and says, “Now that I’m hitting my 60s, losing two sisters in their 60s is really making me look at things differently.” Robin says her mother, who died earlier this year, always told her, “Do it now. Do it now,” rather than put off the things she wanted to do.

Bucket list dreams need to remain flexible. Sometimes world events or personal life events can impact whether and when a bucket list item is accomplished. Although Myrna had a long-held desire to see Spain, the Basque conflict in the region made her hesitant to visit until a permanent ceasefire was struck in 2011. Many people find that raising families makes it impossible to find the time and money to travel, and often they have to forego their bucket list until their children are educated and out of the house.

For those who wish to travel, the exchange value of the dollar in other countries might mean it is more economical to visit places that aren’t at the top of the list. And some individuals may find that their spouse doesn’t share the same bucket list interests. Although fulfilling a bucket list can take saving, sacrificing, negotiating, and planning, achieving that long-awaited dream is, without a doubt, worth it.