Life List | chicago foodie girl


Life List

When Alissa from Clever Compass asked if I would be interested in participating in The Life List Project, I immediately said yes (well, technically, I typed yes, as the interaction took place via facebook). I am a fanatical list maker - I have multiple to-do lists (both paper lists & special categorized lists on my phone) for work and home, lists of goals to accomplish, lists of various recipes to make & restaurants to visit, a travel list, and even a list of lists to make (I am such a stereotypical J!). I guess you could say that many of Pinterest boards are also to-do lists (travel, cook, drink, buy). Thankfully, I'm not just a list maker; I'm also a list follower. I am one of those task-oriented, goal-driven people. I derive great satisfaction from the entire process - so, it should come as no surprise that the idea of a lift list greatly appeals to me... and that I actually already have several . :-)

In the interest of time and space, I'm only going to list a short selection of my life list: my long and constantly expanding travel goals and the seven specific non-travel goals I would like to accomplish in 2013.

In theory, I want to travel the world, but realistically, there are some places I don't really want to waste my time/money/energy visiting (however, I probably wouldn't turn down a free trip to most of those places). While my travel wishlist is enormous and ever-changing (I have a bad case of wanderlust!), there are a few absolutes that I would like to make happen:

Seattle: In my mind, Seattle is one of the coolest cities ever. It was even on my shortlist of places to move to post-college. While in Seattle, I specifically want to visit Pike Place Market & the gum wall and do several hikes in the surrounding parks & mountains. I'd also like to eat and drink my way through the city, but that's no different from any other place I want to visit (yes, I do have a few restaurants in mind and yes, I am loving this season of Top Chef!). Considering I know several people who live there, this shouldn't be all that difficult!

Niagara Falls: As with any good Michigander, I've been to Canada multiple times, but I've never made it to the Falls. I'd like to visit the Canadian side to see where my parents spent their honeymoon and several subsequent trips. Ideally, I'd like to go during autumn so that I can also drive and hike through the miles of gorgeous foliage.

Paris: I imagine spending spring days filled with French cheeses, croissants, bisque, baguettes, visits to Le Pont des Arts, The Louvre & Eiffel Tower, walks along the Champs-Élysées, and picnics by the Seine.

Italy: I want to road trip along the Almalfi coast, eat pasta, pizza, gelato & mussels, wander around the tiny Italian villages, ogle the beautiful people in Milan, explore the palazzi in Venice and the ruins in Rome.

Also on my list: Vegas (girls weekend), Japan (cherry blossom festival), Greece (Santorini), New Orleans (Mardi Gras!), Ireland, Redwood National Park, New Zealand, a ride in a hot air balloon (California?), a tropical cruise, NYE in Time's Square (I've been to NYC, but not for NYE), and snorkeling (Bahamas? Jamaica?). I also really want to return to both London (hell, I want to move there!) and San Francisco.

*Even more travel goals here!

Life List Goals for 2013
Besides knocking out a travel goal or two, I have identified seven specific goals from my life list that I plan to accomplish this year. As I mentioned, I am a task-oriented person and I tend to do my best when I break down my big lists into smaller ones. I usually choose 3-10 goals from my life list to target each year (my #1 goal for last year was to find a new/awesome job - I totally knocked that one out of the park!). Yes, I suppose you can call them new year's resolutions, but I don't always implement them at the beginning of the year (it all depends on what they are/time needed/how motivated I feel). 

  • Run a 5K. I've done numerous 5Ks & 10Ks over the years, but I've always walked/partially jogged them. I want to finally fully run a complete 5K. I'm not particularly interested in doing anything more than a 5K because I don't love running (yet... maybe never?). So why am I determined to run a 5K if I don't like running? Well, mostly because I want to challenge myself. It's something I've always wanted to do - once I've accomplished it, I can step away from running if I still hate it. It also fits into my overall fitness goal and will push me into sticking with my gym schedule (I love kickboxing, but I can no longer make my normal weekday classes because of my commute - it's time for me to step outside of my comfort zone and try something new) and into wearing my Fitbit every day.
  • Publish, publish, publish! I'd like to get at least one published piece out this year, whether it be a journal article or creative writing piece. I know that this may extend into 2014 (depending on deadlines/publishing times), but I want to at least put out some serious submissions.
  • Take a photo every day for a year. I enjoy taking photos and love having a record of both big and small moments from each year. As an added perk, I hope that taking photos each day will improve my photography skills.
  • Create my professional website/portfolio. I've created several versions of my website over the years, but I've scrapped them all. I want to finally finish a site that I'm not embarrassed to share. 
  • Snowshoe. Again, this is something I've wanted to do for years (unlike running, it's something I believe I'll actually enjoy, as I love hiking). I've had plans with various friends that have all fallen through - this year, it's actually going to happen (perhaps I can recruit Diana to help me complete this goal?!).
  • Save more money. This is one of my ongoing goals. I've implemented various methods during previous years that I will continue with and I'd like to add in one new method this year - the 52 Week Money Challenge. It's not something that is complicated to follow and really, I can handle it.
  • Find a happy work/life balance. Again, this is one of my ongoing goals. I was a bit of a mess during my first semester at my new job (I gained back 25 of the 60lbs I had lost in 2010 and was constantly exhausted & sick). While I love the school, there were a lot of lifestyle adjustments I needed to make (some of which I still need to address). I need to find a way to happily balance my commute, grading load, gym time, sleep, Mario time, and friend time. Honestly, this shouldn't be too difficult as I'm in such a good place mentally (I have many fabulous colleagues, great students, loving and supportive partner/friends) - it's mostly about getting myself on a schedule and sticking with it. I realized something very important about myself last semester - while I'm open to change, I kind of fall apart when my normal schedule faces a huge shift (again, I am such a J person!). It's time to forge a happy new normal!

The majority of the goals I've targeted for this year required an early start and I'm happy to say that I am very much on track. So far, I've gone to all of my regular fun classes at the gym, I've started Project 365 on Facebook, followed the money challenge, and figured out a tentative sleep/gym schedule for once the new semester starts (next week - yikes!). I'm also kicking around some travel plans for spring break (I usually spend most of the break holed up with stacks of essays and the DVR). I feel good the year and I'm excited about the possibility of finally crossing off some of the big items from my life list.

What's on your list? Do you have anything specific you'd like to accomplish in 2013? Please link up below or leave a comment. I'd love to hear what's on your list! :-)

**If you are a company or blogger and think you can help me check something off my list, please email me at chicagofoodiegil {at} Gmail {dot} com.



  1. Great list! I'd love to catch a fish with you in Seattle. I also have quite a few friends there. And I'd love to do Niagra too.

  2. I love the idea of a picture a day. That could be a fun challenge - even if we did it for only a week or a month. Hmmm.....

  3. I love your list, Starr!! I'm a list lover too. You probably already have the app Trello -- if you don't, get it. Get it NOW! You can make lists, there's a "doing" column, and you can connect other people to the lists... it's all kinds of awesome. Also, sorry to hear about the weight gain after a significant loss. I also struggled with that this year!! ARG! Stupid 2012! I'm trying... failing so far... but I refuse to beat myself up over it. Onward & upward. We did it once, we can totally kick ass & do it again, right?!


  4. My must do list for 2013 consists of some pretty exciting things including..
    1. Raise my GPA to a 3.7 2. Get my drivers licenses 3. Retain my job throughout the entire year 4. Join a club at school 5. Return to England to visit 6. Get a savings account 7. Move to a nicer apartment 8. Get much needed dental work done 9. Go and visit my parents ♥

  5. hey you! just saw your post on project life list. how cool! i'm doing it too. i will try to connect with you on the site. yay!

  6. My list for just 2013:

    *resume monthly date night with my hubby
    *take one vacation w/hubby but no kids
    *remain in remission!
    *Do or say one thing per day that has meaning
    *start practicing piano again

  7. Great list! I am doing a photo a day too, hoping to be more aware of everything around me daily instead of just going through the motions waiting for Friday. :)

  8. Fantastic list, Starr! I love hearing where people want to travel. I like your goal to take a picture every day. I've been doing a photo a day thing on Instagram for a while (just on my phone for now) and I love looking back at all the pictures of my "ordinary" days.
    Here's hoping you reach all your goals! Can't wait to read about the journey.

  9. I love this post. I think I thought I commented, but I don't see it - so forgive me if this is a double and feel free to approve them both. ;>

    I love the travel plans, and a hot air balloon is on my list, too. Also - the 5K. For certain.

    Ireland is beautiful. I'd love to go back and get my husband there. So pretty!

  10. @Alissa: I *so* want to do that! However, I don't want to be the one who totally misses the fish & has to watch it crash to the floor. :-P

    @judi: Definitely! It's really not as hard as people think - it's just about capturing the everyday moments. So far, I'd say about half of my photos were intentional shots I took with my camera and the other half are random iPhone snaps.

    @Seeking Solace: YES!!! :-)

    @Kelli: I haven't lost anything so far this year, but I haven't gained anything either (unlike the steady gain I had during the last 4 months of 2012). I'm counting that as my first victory.

    @Anna Bella: Good luck! You've already had a great start to the year!

    @Sara: YES!!

    @Deb K: That sounds like a fantastic list! I'm also thinking about picking up either a new instrument (I'll start a new class) or going back to playing the clarinet (probably during the fall semester).

    @Jacky: It has actually been a lot of fun so far. I love having a record of something that happened each day, even if it's silly/unremarkable.

    @Jen L.: Thanks! I'm all about the travel lists, too. There are so many fantastic places out there... I want to see them all!

    @Andrea B.: We should have a giant Life List bloggers hot air balloon meet-up! :-)

  11. Love your list! All of the excellent life lists I've found on this blog hop have inspired me to pencil in a few Hot Air Balloon festivals to attend this year.

    Thanks for the inspiration and I hope that you will visit me, Jan from Unique Baby Gear Ideas!

  12. I love your 52 Week Money Challenge idea! I'm going to try it too!

  13. When you get to Seattle, you HAVE to take Bill Speidel's Underground Seattle tour. It's a truly unique look at a truly unique city. (I especially love the part about the "accidental suicides.") Also, take a good walk Green Lake to get some exercise, and then negate the good by eating at one of the many coffee houses and pastry shops in the area. I would also recommend a visit to my old stomping grounds, the neighborhood of Fremont. Grown-up hippie at its best! You can see the Fremont Troll, Lenin, a Rocket and the Center of the Universe all within a few blocks of each other.

  14. @Allie-Kat: Oooh, that all sounds fantastic! Thanks for the suggestions!


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