Life List Year 2: 250 New Experiences

After a whirlwind 160 new experiences in 2013-14, I've upped the ante for my 2014-15 Life List and set a goal of having 250 new experiences. I'm 2 days into the new year with no new experiences. I suppose it's time to get to work.

A couple of people have asked me why it's important for me to continue on this journey. I rocked my goal last year, they say. Why do I need to do it again and why do I have to have a specific number of new experiences I want to have in the year? The only answer that I can come up with is that by definition, I'm not repeating anything. These are all new experiences. I put a specific numerical goal on it again because I worry that if I don't put some sort of definition to it, I'll just lollygag around and my Bucket List will once again become a Someday List.

In case you've forgotten, here are my "rules" for the Life List journey:

  1. New Experience is defined as an experience that is entirely new to me or one that I have not had for at least 10 years. Why 10 years? It's approximately 1/4 of my life and if I haven't done something in 10 years, it's probably quite different from my memory and my experience today will be different than it was then.
  2. Research says that happiness is achieved by accumulating experiences not stuff, so my New Experiences are to be action-oriented and not about obtaining things. Sometimes an experience may include obtaining a tangible item though. For example, in 2013-14, I purchased a Jawbone UP24 that keeps me consciously aware of my physical activity and sleep (a new experience), so I counted that purchase as a new experience (#153 to be exact).
  3. New Experiences can happen in bundles and one new experience can have new experiences within it. For example, the first set of new experiences (# 2-7, 71, and 72 to be specific) last year all happened when I traveled to Nashville. Yes, everything I did there was new because I'd never been there before, but because I counted the trip as one experience and each of the things I did while there as separate experiences, I could go back and have additional new experiences.

My journey. My rules. You can have your own rules for your journey.

To make things easier for me this year, I've grouped my list of potential new experiences into buckets. See what I did there? Buckets on a Bucket List! Those buckets are Adventure, Arts & Entertainment, Community & Volunteerism, Foodie Joy, Health and Fitness, Personal & Professional Development, Silly, Travel, and Writing, Photography, & Crafts.

I've also created a dedicated blog page, called Life List Year 2, to keep track of all my new experiences. Bookmark it to keep up with the latest. As I did this past year, I'll often share the details of my experiences on Little Merry Sunshine, tweet, and post to Instagram and Facebook. I'll use the hashtag #LifeListYear2.

Without further ado, here's my new Life List for 2014-15 as it stands today:


  1. Take a Lake Geneva Postal Boat Tour
  2. Stomp grapes
  3. Attend Red Bull Flugtag Chicago
  4. Go sailing
  5. Tour Wrigley Field
  6. Attend Sirens of the Deep Mermaid Camp at Weeki Wachee State Park
  7. See the Northern Lights. (#89 from 2013-14 List). Scheduled for August 2014.
  8. Ride a mechanical bull (#18 from 2013-14 List).
  9. Sing karaoke (#19 from 2013-14 List).
  10. Attend Chicago's Gay Pride Parade on June 29, 2014.
  11. Learn to shoot a gun.
  12. "Earn" 5 Girl Scout badges from my 1980 Girl Scout Badges and Signs and 1977 Junior Badges and Signs handbooks and buy the badges on Ebay. Each badge will count as a separate new experience.
  13. Spend an hour in a floatation tank.
  14. Spend the night on the beach. Scheduled for August 2014.

Arts & Entertainment

  1. Attend the Tornado and Severe Storm seminar at Femilab (#228 from 2013-14 List).
  2. Attend an On the Map House Concert at BB's (#219 from 2013-14 List).
  3. Attend a baseball game at Milwaukee's Miller Park (#20 from 2013-14 List).
  4. Attend a concert in Millennium Park (#17 from 2013-14 List).
  5. Attend a White Sox baseball game at US Cellular Field.
  6. See a movie at the Cherry Bowl Drive-InScheduled for August 2014.
  7. Attend a taping of Wait Wait Don't Tell Me (#1 from 2013-14 List).
  8. Visit the Museum of Science & Industry (#30 from 2013-14 List).
  9. Visit the Museum of Contemporary Art (#31 from 2013-14 List).
  10. Visit the National Museum of Mexican Art (#32 from 2013-14 List).
  11. Visit the Adler Planetarium (#33 from 2013-14 List).
  12. Visit the DuSable Museum of African American Art (#34 from 2013-14 List).
  13. Visit the Field Museum of Natural History (#35 from 2013-14 List).
  14. Visit the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum (#36 from 2013-14 List).
  15. Attend the Blue Man Group (#43 from 2013-14 List).
  16. See The Sound of Music at the Lyric Opera.
  17. Visit Chicago's Chinatown (#45 from 2013-14 List).
  18. Attend The Thrilling Adventure & Supernatural Suspense HourScheduled for April 26, 2014 with Alan, Jen, and Christopher.
  19. Tour the Chicago Board of Trade (#188 from 2013-14 List).
  20. Visit the Chicago Cultural Center (#127 from 2013-14 List).
  21. Go to the Green Mill (#115 from 2013-14 List).
  22. Visit the Pullman District in Chicago.
  23. Go on the Devil in the White City Chicago Architecture Foundation Tour.
  24. Watch every episode of How I Met Your Mother (I only started watching in the final season).
  25. Visit the historic Keith House.
  26. Attend a performance of Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind (#105 from 2013-14 List).
  27. Tour the House Museum in Rolling Meadows (#204 from 2013-14 List).
  28. See a show at Second City.
  29. Attend a Roller Derby.

Community & Volunteerism

  1. Take the Food Stamp Challenge for one week and document it here.
  2. Perform a wedding (Anyone know anyone getting married who needs clergy?).
  3. Host a Navy Sailor for Thanksgiving (#76 from 2013-14 List).
  4. Provide an entire Christmas for a family in need (gifts, meal, and some decorations).
  5. Help 5 people have new experiences from their lists. If I haven't done the new experiences I assist others have, they will count as separate new experiences here.
  6. Loan someone money on Kiva.
  7. Become a Girl Scout Life Member.
  8. Serve meals in a soup kitchen (#41 from 2013-14 List).
  9. Make and pass out 100 sandwiches to homeless people (#118 from 2013-14 List).
  10. Attend the 2014 Great Lakes Naval Station July 4th FestivalScheduled for July 3-4, 2014.

Foodie Joy

  1. Attend the 2014 Chicago Dinner in White (learn about the 2013 Dinner in White)
  2. Take the Chicago Chocolate Tour
  3. Try Cincinnati Skyline Chili
  4. Try Bacon on a Stick at the White Sox game.
  5. Have High Tea at the Drake (#39 from 2013-14 List).
  6. Have tea at Russian Tea Time.
  7. Dine at the HobNob Supper Club in Racine, Wisconsin (#60 from 2013-14 List).
  8. Make quinoa.
  9. Take the Metra to a new town just to have dinner.
  10. Learn to can.
  11. Learn to pour a perfect Guinness beer (#206 from 2013-14 List).
  12. Have dinner at Uncommon Ground (#203 from 2013-14 List).
  13. Visit Ikea and have a famous Ikea meatball (#182 from 2013-14 List).
  14. Have dinner at Carnivale (#123 from 2013-14 List).
  15. Drink a tropical drink out of a pineapple or coconut.
  16. Try a Cronut.
  17. Have dinner at Girl and the Goat.
  18. Make toasted coconut butter.
  19. Make homemade marshmallow Peeps.
  20. Make homemade marshmallows.

Health & Fitness

  1. Visit and hike Green Point Dunes Nature Preserve. Scheduled for August 2014.
  2. Try Paddle Boarding. Scheduled for August 2014.
  3. Practice mindfulness and meditation for 30 days in a row, working up to 45 minutes of mindful meditation daily.
  4. Weigh 150 and have less than 20% body fat.
  5. Run the Bacon Chase 5K on June 7, 2014 (#22 from 2013-14 List).
  6. Bike the Drive.
  7. Bike around Upper Herring Lake.  Scheduled for August 2014.
  8. Climb Baldy the "back way" from M-22 Scheduled for August 2014.
  9. Swim one mile without stopping (#10 from 2013-14 List).
  10. Take a golf lesson (#23 from 2013-14 List).
  11. Give up Diet Coke and all soda for one week (#37 from 2013-14 List).
  12. Drink a minimum of 64 ounces of water for one week (#38 from 2013-14 List).
  13. Take a class at the Chicago Trapeze School (#64 from 2013-14 List).
  14. Workout every day for a week (#80 from 2013-14 List).
  15. Enjoy a full spa day - mani/pedi, facial, massage, and who knows what else (#24 from 2013-14 List).
  16. Do a polar plunge (#28 from 2013-14 List).
  17. Hike the Des Plaines River Trail from Northbrook to Independence Grove in Libertyville.
  18. Hike or bike the Robert McClory Bike Path.
  19. Hike or bike the Green Bay Trail.
  20. Take a hot yoga class. (#205 from 2013-14 List).
  21. Make a snow angel (#179 from 2013-14 List).
  22. Walk 10,000 steps each day for a week (#178 from 2013-14 List).
  23. Walk 10,000 steps each day for a month.
  24. Earn a Jawbone UP badge for walking 1 million steps; that's an average of 10,000 steps for 100 days (#197 from 2013-14 List).
  25. Sleep 8 hours nightly for a week (#177 from 2013-14 List).
  26. Earn a Jawbone UP badge for sleeping 1,000 hours.
  27. Earn a Jawbone UP badge for sleeping 2,000 hours.
  28. Go cross country skiing (#174 from 2013-14 List).
  29. Go dancing (#168 from 2013-14 List).
  30. Go sledding (#167 from 2013-14 List).
  31. Go ice skating at Lincoln Park Zoo (#157 from 2013-14 List).
  32. Get a mammagram (#142 from 2013-14 List).
  33. Complete the Plank Pose Challenge (Read the blog post; #125 from 2013-14 List).
  34. Ice skate a Millennium Park (#102 from 2013-14 List).
  35. Reach the top of a rock climbing wall (#99 from 2013-14 List).
  36. Eat organic for one week (#93 from 2013-14 List).
  37. Work out daily for a month.
  38. Go kayaking on the Chicago River.
  39. Walk the entire Chicago Pedway.
  40. Ride a segway.
  41. Ride a bike along the Chicago Lakefront.
  42. Ride a swing tower ride.
  43. Achieve both my step and sleep goals on the same day (10,000 steps and 8 hours of sleep).
  44. Hike the 38 Lake County Forest Preserve that I did not hike as part of the 2013-14 List.
  45. Try ear candling.

Personal & Professional Development

  1. Increase my savings account my at least three months of expenses (#13 from 2013-14 List).
  2. Become CPR certified.
  3. Get a new job.
  4. Take an Ivy League class online (#25 from 2013-14 List).
  5. Get my personal email to #InboxZero (#66 from 2013-14 List).
  6. Open and stock my Etsy store, which is named Vintage Frances (#69 from 2013-14 List).
  7. Complete the 100 Happy Days Challenge I began on February 17, 2014. Read the blog post. (#189 from 2013-14 List).
  8. Take an IQ test.
  9. Apply for membership in Mensa (#173 from 2013-14 List).
  10. Become a notary public (#132 from 2013-14 List).
  11. Attend another religion's religious holiday celebration (e.g., Passover seder) (#104 from 2013-14 List).
  12. Complete my household decluttering project (#101 from 2013-14 List).
  13. Work with professional stylist Sally McGraw of Already Pretty fame to take my personal style to the next level.
  14. Ask 5 people to each teach me something new. Each new thing will count as a separate new experience.
  15. Set calendar reminders to do monthly self-reviews at work and in life in general. Ask myself what am I doing well, what could be improved, what should I start doing, and what should I stop doing.
  16. Increase my income.
  17. Completely diversify my retirement portfolio with a financial advisor.
  18. Attend church at the First Presbyterian Church of Lake Forest (#140 from 2013-14 List).
  19. Attend church at Glencoe Union Church (#139 from 2013-14 List).
  20. Decorate my new office space with pretty and functional accessories.
  21. Really master the 40 Financial Things You Should Know by 40 list.


  1. Visit the Fashion Outlets of Chicago Mall in Rosemont.
  2. Meet Captain Jim Lovell (#84 from 2013-14 List).
  3. Make snow from boiling water (#183 from 2013-14 List).
  4. Send a message in a bottle out into Lake Michigan or an ocean (#181 from 2013-14 List).  Scheduled for August 2014.
  5. Bury a time capsule (#180 from 2013-14 List).
  6. Blow bubbles
  7. Build a snowman
  8. Participate in a snowball fight
  9. Build a sandcastle. Scheduled for August 2014.
  10. Have a fish pedicure.
  11. Set a dandelion on fire.


  1. Visit New Orleans, LA
  2. Volunteer to decorate the White House for Christmas
  3. Visit Cincinnati
  4. Visit Washington D.C.
  5. Stay in a tree house.
  6. Take a spur of the moment weekend trip to an unknown city using airline miles for my birthday.
  7. Take a day trip to Galena, Illinois. (#49 from 2013-14 List).
  8. Ride an entire Metra line from start to finish.
  9. Be an Amtrak Resident (Application submitted March 30, 2014; #200 from 2013-14 List).
  10. Stay at a bed and breakfast.

Writing, Photography, & Crafts

  1. Write a book about my 2013-14 100 New Experiences
  2. Participate in #FMSPhotoADay Challenge for 30 days and post the photos on Instagram.
  3. Take a pottery class.
  4. Participate in Ragdale's Summer Retreat, July 18-20, 2014.
  5. Re-read Little Women (#47 from 2013-14 List).
  6. Re-read the Little House on the Prairie books. (#47 from 2013-14 List).
  7. Re-read the Anne of Green Gables books (#47 from 2013-14 List).
  8. Take a painting class (#170 from 2013-14 List).
  9. Take flute lessons (#70 from 2013-14 List).
  10. Write and mail 52 snail mail letters of gratitude.
  11. Mail out all Christmas and Holiday cards on the day after Thanksgiving.
  12. Read The Feminine Mystique (#145 from 2013-14 List).
  13. Build a futon (#138 from 2013-14 List).
  14. Learn to knit (#122 from 2013-14 List).
  15. Make curtains for my guest room/office (#119 from 2013-14 List).
  16. Complete an A to Z photography project. Document on Instagram or Pinterest.
  17. Paint the backsplash in my kitchen.
  18. Finish reupholstering my dining room chairs. I started this in May 2013.

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    Jessica Gardner

    A native of Chicago's Northwest Suburbs and resident of the North Shore, Little Merry Sunshine comes by her name honestly. The story goes that as a child, she was always so happy that she even slept with a smile on her face. Her mom nicknamed her Little Merry Sunshine. It stuck, along with her insatiable desire to focus on the good in the world and to leave it a little better than she found it. She does this by sharing her passions and dreams, what inspires her, and maybe you too, and furthering the discussion about how we can listen to our better angels. You can reach her at LittleMerrySunshineCN[at]WowWay[dot]com.

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