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Here’s Why Your Bucket List Is So Long

Photograph by Bryanne Salazar

One year ago, I made a declaration. OK, I made a Facebook post, but still — my status was as declarative as it gets. In it I said: "What would happen if today, right now, I made a vow to take my family on a trip to Asia next summer?"

It was sort of an experiment. All my life, I've wanted to travel abroad. More specifically, I've wanted to go to India.

My love of curry, humanity, culture, history, anthropology, world religion — and, if I'm absolutely honest — anklets and luxurious, colorful fabrics, all contributed to this semi-erotic fantasy of India, a place that became more mythical in my mind than real.

India comprised the entirety of my bucket list. I know, I lack imagination. But it was my list, and my dream, and I let it sit on the back burner for 18 long years.

An old woman once told me (actually, she ordered me) to follow my dreams. Her husband died a few years before and she was spending the rest of her retirement taking trips abroad to see the world. When I told her I was envious of her travels, she grabbed my hands, looked me directly in the eyes and said, "Stop waiting around. If you keep making excuses, you'll never go. My husband and I were supposed to travel together. Then he died. We shouldn't have waited. Don't wait for the right time, it will never happen. Just go."

Her words stuck with me, but at the time, they weren't enough to overcome my massive excuses that included things such as debt, time and opportunity.

My sons are 15 and 17, and already have one foot out the door. I'm losing time, influence, and my ability to make an impact in their lives ... I realized the best gift I could give my sons before they left home as adults would be to see the world.

Then, last year, reality hit. My sons are 15 and 17, and already have one foot out the door. I'm losing time, influence and my ability to make an impact in their lives.

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Two ideas coalesced into one, and I realized the best gift I could give my sons before they left home as adults would be to see the world and open their eyes to how vast and unique our planet truly is.

My oldest son has long had an affinity for all things Japanese: Japanese pop music, lychee-flavored soda, melon candy, mochi ice cream, sushi, anime and (like most teenage boys) samurai swords. Getting him excited to travel wouldn't be hard if I could tie in his favorite country with our trip.

I started doing the math. We could fly to Japan to see Tokyo, then catch a flight to New Delhi, see the northern part of India, then fly home, all in about three weeks' time. It would take a lot of planning, saving and overcoming obstacles (do you know how many vaccines you need to travel to Asia?) but maybe, just maybe, I could make it happen.

So it was a declaration. An idea. I believe in that whole "power of intention" stuff and that if we speak our desires aloud, we can place ourselves on the path to achieving them.

A week later, I sent an outlined email to my husband, who was on deployment at the time, explaining what I wanted and seeing if it was possible. His response: Yes.

Then, I made a list. The 101 things we needed to accomplish before we could go: passports, doctors, visas, money, military clearance, schedules, travel arrangements, pet sitters and more.

I've spawned something in my children that words alone cannot grow: determination. I've shown them how a wish can turn into an idea that can later become a plan, and with enough resolve, a reality.

One by one, I tackled the list. Now, a year later — we are just a few weeks away from the adventure of a lifetime: a week in Tokyo and two weeks in India. Be still my heart.

My sons are actually excited about this journey, too. What started as an idea, as my dream, has become our dream.

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More importantly, I've spawned something in my children that words alone cannot grow: determination. I've shown them how a wish can turn into an idea that can later become a plan, and with enough resolve, a reality.

You know the coolest part? My bucket list has since grown. In fact, I don't even call it a bucket list. I hate that phrase. It was coined to signify "kicking the bucket" as in dying. Why do we need a list of dreams before we die when we can make a list of dreams that make us feel alive?

So, here is what's on my living list. As soon as you finish reading this, you should write down yours. Then, make it happen. Don't wait for the right time because it will never come. Teach your children and yourself how to make living — right now — an amazing adventure.

My Living List:

1. Explore ancient caves.

2. Write and publish a book.

3. Swim in every ocean.

4. Spend a month in Mexico retracing my Latina roots.

5. Taste Indian food in India, Mexican food in Mexico, Ethiopian food in Ethiopia and Moroccan food in Morocco.

6. Go to a Korean day spa (in the nude).

7. Dance at my grandchildren's weddings.

8. Milk goats with my husband and make goat cheese.

9. Build a tiny eco-friendly home for our retirement.

10. Have a year-round garden.

Explore More: travel , advice, mamá a mamá, familia, Latina Mom
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