A Bucket List Life

#5. Visit A Farm & Feed Sheep

Apr
24

Most people don’t have the opportunity to experience a real farm. This is what I set out to do with this next bucket list item. The experience that many people have with farm animals is contained to either the petting zoo or the state fair. I wanted something more than that. I wanted to see a real farm in action. I wanted to feed the sheep and talk to a real farmer.

If one doesn’t know a farmer, this task can be difficult to orchestrate. While petting zoos are common, I wanted to visit a real farm. This is where I turned to Google and found Local Harvest. This is a great website that allows you to search for local farms either by state or by zip code. When you’re looking to visit a farm, there are a few things that you should keep in mind.

Protocol for visiting a farm:

– Call the farm ahead of time.

It’s important that the farmer know that you’re coming to visit. Farmers are very busy, so you need to find a time that works for both of you. It’s not a good idea to just drop by. Remember that the farm is both a business as well as a home.

– Park in certain areas.

Ask the farmer where you should park.

– Wear appropriate clothing.

Make sure that you dress for the weather as well as for the terrain when you visit the farm. You will probably get dirty, so wear clothes that you don’t mind getting mud or manure on. Also, closed-toed and comfortable shoes are a must.

– Follow the farmer’s instructions at all times.

Animals can be dangerous and unpredictable. Make sure that you follow all of the instructions of the farmers when you approach any animals at the farm. The farmer knows his or her animals best and can best instruct you on how to approach as well as feed them.

I kept all these things in mind when I arrived at the farm that day. I wanted to make sure to have the best experience possible and not alienate the farmer in the meantime. Thankfully, it was a warm spring day as I pulled in. The farm was as you would imagine. The red barn was across the street from the house. Behind the barn, I could see large fields dotted with white and I knew that I’d spotted the sheep.

Louie gave me a tour as soon as I got there. We first walked to the shed behind the house where he kept his equipment before crossing the street to the barn. Not only did he keep sheep, he also had cows, chickens and pigs. He was a true farmer at heart, his blue overalls hung off his frame and while I hoped it was gum, it may have been tobacco that he chewed as we went along.

While feeding the sheep was my main goal, he told me a few things about sheep as we walked into the pasture past the barn. I was glad I wore shoes that I didn’t care about getting dirty because it had rained the day before and the field was muddy.

Sheep facts:

– Sheep mostly eat clover, grass and forbs.

Sheep aren’t usually fed by hand, but instead graze the fields of the farm. They tend to be pretty picky eaters, but will adapt to what food grows in their environment.

– Grass is not their favorite.

Since Louie knew that I wanted to feed the sheep while I was there, he stopped to pick some larger leafed plants. He explained that the sheep preferred these plants over grass, if possible.

– Sheep are pickier than cows.

The sheep will eat the more nutritious plants in the pasture first before eating other plants. Cows are much less picky.

– Sheep will graze up to seven hours a day.

Sheep prefer eating when it’s cooler. They will graze early in the morning and late in the afternoon. They don’t usually eat after darkness has fallen. They also prefer to stay in groups when eating.

As we approached the flock of sheep, I paused. I had expected to feed the sheep through a fence, but they were far out in the field. Louie took me right over to them and I took a deep breath. He handed me the leafy greens and took me over to one of the sheep that had picked its head up as we approached.

Louie told me to just reach toward him with the food and wait for him to come to me. I did as he instructed and the sheep pulled the greens from my hand. I pulled back quickly before smiling. The day at the farm is an experience I will never forget.

#4. Skydive From A Great Height

Apr
14

I am afraid of heights. Wait. No longer am I afraid of heights. Asking someone who is scared to climb a ladder to go skydiving may seem ridiculous, and it is. Let me share with you how going skydiving ended up on my bucket list, as it may bring hope to one person who reads this. My skydiving trip in Texas was more than just a bucket list item, it was a monumental shift in my perception of life.

I have been plagued by unreasonable fears as far back as I can remember. Growing up, I would be scared to meet new people in school. I felt as if I did not fit in, and it did not matter what group of people I was with. I was fearful of success, failure, being in a relationship, not being in a relationship, and always concerned about what other people thought of me. This is just a sampling of the fears that haunted me through childhood well into my adult years.

As I grew older, and discovered that all areas of my life were suffering as a result of my self-centered perceptions, I knew I needed help. Being defiant and stubborn to some extent, I rebelled at first. “I got this” was a common theme that ran through my head. Then, circumstances landed me at my “rock bottom”. I had a breakdown, and landed under the care of a “mentor”. My friend, and mentor, requests to remain anonymous.

Turns out that I am not as unique as I originally thought I was. My mentor went through exactly what I had, and was, experiencing. When am I going to talk about my skydiving experience? Hang on, we are almost there!

What this individual did for me was life altering. It opened me up to share my life story with someone else, an individual who understood what it was like to be me. My mentor made it clear that in order for me to get over my fear problem I was going to have to take some drastic actions. Here comes the skydiving part!

I was asked to make a list of all my fears, past and current, that I could think of. It was a long list. One by one we went through them, determining which ones were reasonable, which ones were unreasonable. A quick example would be my fear of becoming obese. My mentor explained that this was unreasonable, because it was in my control to eat healthy and exercise.

For all of my unreasonable fears, including my fear of heights, I was asked to come up with an action plan to overcome each one. I suggested that I begin overcoming my fear of heights by climbing a ladder. My mentor laughed, and asked this question – “Don’t you fly commercially every now and then?”.

I could not escape this. Yes, I fly frequently. So, I put next to my fear of heights skydiving. That’s how this came about. How I came up with skydiving is anyone’s guess.

I sat on this, skydiving, for several years as I crossed off many of the easier fears on my list. When I came up with the bucket list idea a while back, I knew skydiving would go on there. I honestly have been looking forward to it, probably getting it over with more than the actual event itself!

With a business trip looming in Texas, I had the idea of going online and seeing if there were any skydiving lessons available in the area my business had me. I would be in Austin for a week, so I started my search.

Low and behold the first place that came up on my Google search was Texas Skydiving. Located 45 minutes from Austin, I could not use distance as an excuse. Hours of operation are 9am to 6pm Monday-Friday, and daylight to sundown on the weekends. As luck would have it, I knew we would be done early on Thursday and Friday was a free day. My flight did not leave until Saturday. So, I called Texas Skydiving.

I need to back up a little. Before I called, I did a quick check of reviews on them. I know that some companies hire people to post fake reviews, and I can spot them quickly (I have some marketing experience). There was no indication of anything suspicious. In fact, people raved about the service!

The person who answered the phone was so reassuring. I made my reservation for the Friday I was free after my business trip, and my palms started to sweat the minute I hung up the phone. I immediately called back, and the friendly voice on the other end chuckled and asked “Change your mind already?”. Seems this is common in the skydiving world, people have a quick change of heart. I thought of my mentor, and how fear used to rule my life.

“I’m doing this” I yelled through the phone, and the lady on the other end simply replied “You will not regret it”. She was right.

As I awoke on the Friday morning of my “leap of faith” I felt a calmness over me. I went through my morning at the hotel, usual breakfast, and dressed for the occasion. They told me that I needed to wear athletic clothing, such as if I were going to play frisbee or tennis. All I would need was my body properly clothed and payment.

As I drove to the facility, I found myself becoming increasingly excited. How could this be? Once again the words of my mentor flowed through my mind, as he would say that fear is “false evidence appearing real”.

I pulled my rental car into the lot and looked around. A professional operation is what I saw. I was greeted by the lady who fielded my first call, and my return call when I was going to back out. She smiled and said that she was glad I followed through. How reassuring, that she remembered me!

My reservation was for a tandem jump. This means that an instructor would be with me from start to finish, as I was not up for a solo try right out of the gate! The overall time commitment was minimal, approximately 2 hours from start to finish was my experience.

The time was now for training. I was shown basic and emergency procedures. These covered every aspect of the jump. Following the procedure training, I was given a thorough explanation of the equipment and how it works.

I can’t say for certain how long those sessions lasted, it seemed as if it was in the blink of an eye. Certainly, adrenaline had something to do with my lapse in time. Without my realizing it, maneuvers were discussed by my tandem instructor. Wait! We are getting on the plane already!

The pilot announced, which I had already been told, that we were going to 10,000 feet. My instructor sat right next to me. We attached equipment as the plane rose in elevation. Without my realizing it, the time had come to jump and I was not even perspiring!

A simple countdown, and we were floating through the air! The initial jump was a bit concerning for me, then quickly my instructor quieted my nerves. We were in a freefall for 45 seconds, and it was during this time that I felt as if I was at one with the world. My perceptions of life changed forever.

As the chute opened, we glided to the ground. I knew from the training that this would last approximately 5 minutes. I was afraid of heights. Yet, during this gliding period with the chute out, I did not want to come to land. I hoped it would last longer.

We landed safely in the designated drop zone. I immediately hugged my instructor as if we were long lost best friends. I cried tears of joy. A lifetime of pent up frustration, fear, and self-centeredness evaporated.

I opted to go with the “hand-cam”, which was worn by my instructor. I now have pictures to prove I did this! One guess as to the first person I emailed copies of these to. Of course, my mentor.
I thanked the staff, each and every one, from the bottom of my heart for this life changing experience. I think I over welcomed my stay to some extent, as they probably tired of hearing me say thank you repeatedly.

Ever since this experience, I have found a new freedom. My perception of life is no longer one driven by fear. Decisions that I make today are not rooted in the possibility of worst case scenario, instead, they are full of hope.

I have developed, as a result of marking off my bucket list skydiving, an energy and passion for life that I did not imagine was possible. My relationships are stronger. I am better at my job than ever before. Most importantly, I love life like never before. A simple suggestion from my mentor has evolved into a life changing experience.

#3. Visit NYC And See The Sights

Apr
04

New York City has been on my mind as far back as I can recall. Countless movies and television programming that I have watched through the years has been produced in “The Big Apple”. Being a fan of David Letterman, I would watch in awe and intrigue as the cameras would roll out onto the streets of New York City during his late night show.

Visiting New York City was one of the first items to go on my bucket list. I could not list all the sights that I envisioned taking in if I wanted to, only because I wanted to see and experience it all! While the “tourist” in me certainly wanted to see the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, and where Letterman’s show was taped; I was more excited to take in the atmosphere as a whole. The people are what drove me to wanting to come.

New York City, and the state of New York, have gotten a bad rap by many people as I have grown up. I have heard countless times how “rude” and “dangerous” people are in NYC. I intuitively knew this was not the case. I was determined to find out for myself and prove these naysayers wrong. That is exactly what I did! They could not have been farther from the truth.

My flight arrived at LaGuardia with no delays. Laguardia was bustling with activity, and with the views of the city as we flew in my heart raced with excitement. I had arrived! I determined early on in the planning stages of this trip that I wanted to experience cab rides and the public transist. Once my trip concluded I had traveled via bus, subway, train, ferry, and cabs.

I had my reservations for lodging at the Crowne Plaza Times Square Manhattan. Having read up on the suggestions on where to stay on a first trip to the Big Apple, the consensus was Times Square. I was not disappointed in the least. My first observation was the lights. This area stays well light all through the night. The majority of us have watched the ball drop from here on New Year’s Eve, so I had to check out One Times Square, which is the building the ball drops from.

Being an unapologetic people watcher, I was thrilled to find a “pedestrian only” zone which is fully equipped with tables and chairs. I kicked back and took it all in on my first night in NYC. What I was not prepared for was all the costumed characters running around. I observed how people would stop to have their pictures taken with them, characters dressed from various genres of music, movies, comics, and “your guess is as good as mine” costumes!

I was determined to visit each of the 5 boroughs (Brooklyn, The Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island, and Queens). I set out to do just that, knowing that my time was limited. So, I dedicated 1 day to each. I planned this vacation well in advance, setting aside 7 days including travel. It worked out to perfection.

Given the cost of my airline tickets and the hotel stay in Times Square, I recognized that I would not be in a financial position to partake in all the activities that my heart desired. So, I set out to explore Brooklyn, and the other 4 boroughs, on a budget. I was willing to sacrifice in this regard to stay in Time Square at a well-reviewed hotel.

The Brooklyn Bridge was the central focus of my day in Brooklyn. Countless movies that I love have scenes produced with this bridge. I set out to walk it. Wow! First off, I knew I was out of shape, and this walk confirmed the obvious. The cables, as they spiderweb across, make for panoramic views coupled with the river and the skylines. This walk was free across the bridge, and was the highlight of my day in Brooklyn.

The Bronx. Yankee Stadium was a must visit for me, no exceptions! Taking the train in, as we approached the stadium years of memories of Yankee baseball flooded my mind. Moisture filled my eyes as I thought about how special this day had become. The tour included a visit to the Yankees Museum, Press Box (what a sight!), Monument Park, and the Warning Track. I almost drained my phones battery with all the pictures I took.

If a place is good enough for Babe Ruth, it’s good enough for me. I’ll cap off my Bronx visit with a quick tidbit on the Yankee Tavern. The walls are decorated with Yankee memorabilia, and this restaurant/bar filled my hope for Yankee baseball and the legions of fans all across the world. A true delight.

Manhattan. Where do I begin? With one day dedicated to this borough, bearing in mind that my hotel was located in this area, I had my sights set on a couple locations. It would be necessary for me to check out Central Park and Little Italy.

Central Park is a spacious, “Am I in NYC?” greenery that pleases the outdoors itch in me. Partly due to my ignorance, I had no idea that there are bodies of water within this world famous park. I spent half my day just lounging about Central Park, letting my senses take in this oasis within the busy metropolitan city.

If there was any disappointments on my trip to NYC, Little Italy would be it. My disappointment was in the size of Little Italy, as I expected (that was my mistake, having expectations) it to be much larger. It is only a couple square blocks in size. Whatever disappointment I had in size was quickly evaporated under the aroma from Vincent’s of Little Italy.

This well established (opened in 1904) Italian restaurant sent my taste buds “to the moon and back”. With 3 variations in tomato sauce to choose from and a hearty menu, I did not want the meal to end.

The memories that I will cherish the most from my time in Staten Island may come as a surprise to some. The ferry ride from Manhattan to Staten Island, while it is short in distance and time travelled, is unparalleled in views. The Statue of Liberty comes into full view. The Manhattan skyline beckons the riders as the ferry cruises along. Then, there is the New York Harbor, an experience that all the senses appreciate.

I had no idea that NYC had beaches! Staten Island is where they are found. I discovered a bevy of museums and maritime attractions throughout. Spending the day walking and observing, I could not help but think to myself that NYC offers visitors and residents alike a slice of the world. There is little that one can not do and experience in this hub of activity known as “The Big Apple”.

Being a lifelong baseball fan, while in Queens I had to check out where the New York Mets call home. A side note about my affinity for sports. I don’t have to see a live sporting event to appreciate the atmosphere of a stadium or ballpark. When I visited North Carolina a couple years ago, I made it a point to check out Cameron Indoor Stadium, where the Duke Blue Devils play basketball. My experience in Durham was eerily similar to the ones in The Bronx and Queens. No teams and fans had to be present for me to appreciate what I was seeing.

One of my mentors was born and raised on Long Island, so I felt a responsibility to him to spend some time there. I was taken aback by the prevalence of art all throughout. Many of the old manufacturing buildings from the late 19th century to early 20th century have been transformed into art galleries and museums. Delightful cafes line the streets. Loved every moment in Queens.

In retrospect, I realize now that a week should be dedicated to each borough. Even with a week, I still would be unable to experience even remotely close what I want out of NYC. This trip was on my bucket list for a reason, I had a desire to see “The Big Apple”. What happened as a result of my spending a week here is my desire to spend time in NYC and each of it’s 5 boroughs has grown stronger.

I want to conclude this with an important observation that bears repeating. The majority of my life I have heard how dangerous NYC is. Not once in my travels did I feel threatened. I have heard over and over how rude New Yorkers are. I was overwhelmed with kindness during my stay. If given the opportunity to live in this city, I would not hesitate to call it home. The varieties in cultures impressed me the most, how each individual, regardless of any language barriers, were able to live and work in total harmony.

#2. Spend A Day Playing Paintball

Mar
26

This particular Saturday was one I had eagerly anticipated the week prior. I awoke earlier than normal and filled up on a protein rich breakfast, as I knew it was going to be a day of physical and mental exertion. I must admit that I am not the healthiest of eaters, and this Saturday morning was no exception. I loaded up on a couple eggs, home fries, turkey bacon, and wheat toast. No, I did not gulp the eggs like Rocky Balboa! I took my vitamin and mineral supplements with breakfast like I do daily and jumped in the shower.

The clothes I picked for this Saturday we’re older, ones that I would not mind getting dirty and covered in paint. It was suggested to wear camouflage clothing, of which I had none. So, I stopped by a thrift store and purchased some. Bear in mind I had no intentions of getting hit, yet I knew I would at the least get dirty. Being that this was my first foray into the paintball world, the only experience I had to use as my guide was what a few of my pals suggested and what I read online. Excited? You bet I was. Nervous? You bet I was! This nervous energy would soon subside to the adrenaline rush I would experience.

We had a reservation at the Field of Fire in Newhall, and the clock was approaching that hour quickly. I jumped in my SUV and headed out to pick up 3 of my pals that were going. In total 16 of us planned this adventure well in advance. The total collection of 16, including me, know each other well as we went to High School together. Each of us consider ourselves fortunate in that we have stayed in contact and made it a point to get together a couple times a year. In past years we have gone hiking (not my cup of tea!), numerous banzai runs to Vegas (what happens there stays there!), and tried our luck at picking the horses at Santa Anita.

The paintball idea came from a couple of my friends who tried it years back and fell in love with it. Fans of movies that revolve around military missions, it seemed to some of us that they were living vicariously through the actors and actresses on screen. Myself a fan of this genre of movies, I relished the opportunity to take on the “terrorists” this Saturday as I channeled my inner Bradley Cooper.

Our venue is located just outside of our hometown, Los Angeles, so travel was not going to be a challenge outside of typical LA traffic. Try getting 16 people on the same page to make a trip to Vegas! Better yet try finding the one or two who always come up missing when departure time arrives! I’m happy to report I have not been one of the “missing in action”, yet.

Our reservation was for a 4 hour block of time, so for those in our party who are parents this time block was easier for them to schedule than an overnight trip. Being a single man myself, I am more of the “free spirit” type. All 16 of us planned to meet at the Field of Fire, and I can happily report that every one of us made it early. 4 of us volunteered to drive in vehicles that can host 3 others, so the logistics were relatively simple. Everyone was up and ready to do battle.

Each of us met in the parking lot and ensured we had the proper attire. We all were fully clothed (which is necessary for when the inevitable hit occurs) with a wide range of headgear present ranging from beanies to baseball caps. A few of us had bandanas to cover our necks, and everyone had fingerless gloves to ensure we could pull the trigger flawlessly. This was war after all!

We quickly realized upon entering the facility that some of us were not properly prepared for the attacks from the enemy. The helpful associate mentioned how bruising could occur, so we needed extra padding. Protective clothing was available for rental, and several of us jumped at the opportunity to protect ourselves better.

As part of the package reservation, each of us was equipped with a protective mask, gun, air refills, and 500 paintballs. The excitement was building! My nervous energy was quickly leaving me as the helpful staff knew exactly what to say and do to quiet our jittery nerves over the unknown.

As each of us slipped on the gear, it felt as if we were part of a military mission on foreign soil! I can say with all certainty that I felt a shift in my persona as I put the mask on, almost as if I were going from my typical “free spirit” self to the second coming of a Green Beret! I knew at this moment that I was in love with the sport of paintball. I have played golf and have yet to take on the likeness of Tiger Woods. I love to fish yet struggle with the necessary patience. This, on the other hand, transformed me instantly and I knew this was the release I needed from the frustrations of daily life.

Each of us then received our paintball gun, and it was time to get serious. Of importance to note is that this is my experience, as each individual comes to his or her own conclusions. Not everyone in our group fell in love with this sport, I certainly did. With our gear on for safety, the helpful staff offering each of us the wisdom necessary to have a safe and fun experience, and our guns in hand we were ready!

We all agreed at the beginning to partake in the original form of paintball, leaving the other option of speedball for those better experienced and equipped. Before we headed into battle the staff showed us the varieties of games that would unfold.

The following 4 hours of paintball was exhilarating and nothing like what I expected. All the fears that I had leading up to this experience, well, needless to say a waste of energy. Paintball is not dangerous as long as each participating individual takes a few safety measures. The paintball guns that we were given to use are closely regulated in relation to their “power”, thereby ensuring the participants are in much less danger of injury.

We had a referee, ensuring that each one of us was following the rules and not letting the heat of the moment take over. Come to find out it is commonplace for paintball enthusiasts to get into heated exchanges on the “battlefield”. While my group of friends are highly competitive, we all behaved responsibly on the fields of play. For days afterwards we traded jabs at each other via text messaging, all in good fun.

The actual 4 hours consisted of simulated battlefields, with various structures throughout to take cover and find the enemies. Imagine, if you will, a mix of an old western and a deserted city in the middle east. That was what I expected, and I was not disappointed. So, what was it like to be hit by a paintball? What was it like to hit someone else?

With the proper protective clothing and gear on, it was a blast! The best way I know to describe what it was like to be hit is by taking a rubber band and snapping it on your arm. Once the juices got flowing, I hardly noticed any hits after the initial one. Pulling the paintball gun trigger and hitting one of the enemies is a delightful experience! To see the paint splatter on them signifying a hit provides a sense of accomplishment and a desire to hit more.

The amount of exercise that I got from this 4 hours is what surprised me the most. I would recommend stretching the morning of your first paintball experience as I used muscles that had been dormant for some time.

This first foray into paintball was so much fun that I am already saving up for my first paintball gun. I have been reading online about paintball essentials, and am in communication with a couple of my friends who are hooked as well.

In the days, and morning leading up to my first paintball experience I was nervous and excited. Today, I can’t wait to go at it again. It is as fulfilling a way to spend half a day as I have found yet. Angry at your boss? Here is a way to exert some of that frustration in a healthy way! My last reflection is this as I feel it is important to repeat. Paintball is not as dangerous as some online bloggers and chat room folks would have you believe. In a well regulated, safe environment such as Field of Fire, there is nothing to worry about. Outside of a small bruise or two that’s it! And as I have found out, those small bruises are a symbol of honor in the paintball community!

#1. Set Up a Web Blog

Mar
13

Well, here it goes. I am letting the world in on my life. Easy now, as I have no intentions of sharing every personal detail of my daily activities. I cringe at the notion that there may be some people out there who will refresh this page every hour to get the latest scoop on what I am having for lunch followed by my dinner plans.

I am sharing my bucket list with the world and how I am able, hopefully, to achieve this list one by one. Life is short. One of the few certainties that each individual has is limited time to live life to its fullest. So, this will be my way of sharing how each of us can have some fun with our limited time.

I have always wanted to do this, start a blog that is. The creative freedom that each of us has with the internet at our disposal has intrigued me since my first stroke of a keyboard at a desktop computer. So, welcome to my little portion of the world! How is it that I was able to accomplish this first bucket list item?

What is a Blog?

The first point that needs to be discussed is a general definition of what a blog is. Believe me when I say this, not many people understand the overall scope of blogging! Truth is, I did not have a true appreciation for it either. A blog is a personal web page or website that is regularly updated by an individual or a small group of people. Blogs are usually written in an informal manner. The “freshest” updates are always at the front, or top if you will, of the page.

What are my blog options?

There is a wide assortment of free options available for bloggers to choose from to post their material. Here are a few of the ones that I considered:

Owned by Google, Blogger was the first choice I considered. While I loved it’s simplicity and how quick I could get my blog started and online, I decided against using it for a couple reasons. Most importantly for me was that I would not have a custom domain name. The lack of theme options, coupled with the creative constraints that I would have steered me in another direction.

I also considered Weebly, which advertises and is reviewed as being a free service with some premium options available for a cost. While I knew going in that the chances of my achieving this first bucket list item for free from the start were small, I was open minded to paying a fee. Once I dug in a little deeper, I steered away from Weebly due to some of the costs, lack of themes, and limited plugins.

These are just a couple of the options I considered. Truth be told, I spent untold hours researching all the available options I could lay my eyes on. I looked at Tumblr, and decided against it quickly seeing how it did not offer a domain name and posts are typically much less than 1,000 words and geared more towards meme’s and gifs. Ultimately, I was ok with paying for a service that would offer me a domain name and hosting service. It’s my life I am putting out there after all!

And the Winner is WordPress!

WordPress takes the cake when it comes to personalization. Close to 77 million blogs are on the web currently using the WordPress platform. For me, the key to WordPress is it’s plugins and themes. These two features combined have given me the creative license to personalize my blog as I see fit.

I should break it down a little simpler. The themes allow the user to have a layout that is structured. The plugins offer functions which enhance my website experience, and they are practical. So, I decided on WordPress.

If all I wanted was a blog, I could have gone many numerous other paths, as I hinted at in previous paragraphs. I wanted my own domain name, my little piece of the web. Additionally, I wanted as much freedom as possible to design my site and personalize it to my liking. This is where I will take you on a little tour of sorts through the WordPress plugins world followed by an overview of choosing a theme from themeforest.net. First, however, comes the important decision of choosing a host.

Yes, hosting requires some money. I was delighted with how inexpensive this looked to be once I started investigating the available options. My needs are not the same as Amazon (no kidding!) yet I wanted to have some level of peace of mind knowing my site would be hosted safely and not prone to excessive downtime.

Type into Google search “cheap wordpress hosting companies” and you will see for yourself how many options are available! Where do I begin? This wasn’t so difficult after all. My needs are simple, I am not taking on Target or Wal Mart, so I narrowed down my choices based on my simple needs. Once I found an inexpensive host which also provided a domain name service and solid uptime percentages, I took the plunge. The time was drawing near!

This plugin business had me confused and scared at the beginning. Just the word plugin is scary in and of itself! I was overreacting, which is one of my character flaws. Plugins are my friend as they help me with the functionality of my site as well as provide me with a way to add a host of new features. The best part about these is that they are free!

I will not bore any of my readers with all the technical jargon that I have come to understand as it relates to plugins. You will notice that I have steered away from it to the best of my ability to this point, like when I was reviewing options for blogs and hosting services. I will share this, once I got my WordPress downloaded (which was a snap since my hosting service had a 1-click installation!) I was amazed at how many tutorials are available online to assist with the plugins. Trust me, if I can navigate them, so can you!

Make My Blog Look Good

When it came time for me to decide on a theme for my site, I looked through the WordPress offerings. I have a close friend who suggested themeforest.net, so I gave it a look. Oh my gosh! There was over 8,800 themes to choose from! Now, bear in mind that these are not free. I was ok with this, and still am. I wanted a unique layout to my site, something that was different from all the free theme options that I saw. For people like me, who are only interested in personal blogging, themeforest.net has numerous themes specifically for this purpose.

I should summarize how this blog came to life, as I have a tendency to get excited and go off on tangents. I am passionate about writing, as I am fulfilling my bucket list! This all started with an idea, to create my own blog. I then needed to decide on which platform to use, and came to love WordPress. Next up was a hosting service, and I found one that allowed me to install WordPress in 1-click (most hosting service providers offer this easy installation with WordPress nowadays). The hosting service also provided me with a domain name service, and my domain name was available, www.abucketlistlife.com, where you are now! I played around with the plugins I wanted and needed, and found a theme at themeforest.net.

I can’t express in words just how much fun setting up my site has been. What I originally thought was going to be a grind has turned out to be one of the funnest exercises of my life. I have been challenged intellectually, been fearful, and walked through it to what you see today! I spent countless hours on Google search trying to decide if this blog idea was worth the time and stress. What happened? It has not required near the amount of time I expected and there has been very little stress! That’s the essence of my bucket list blog, don’t let fear hold you back from living life to its fullest!

Onto the next one

I am so happy you have spent the time you have with me on my site! Hopefully you are intrigued as to what is next. My bucket list includes a trip to Japan, taking dance lessons with friends (yes I have two left feet!), and engaging in a day of paintball. There is more, as I don’t want to let all my ideas out of the bag just yet. Hopefully you will bookmark my site and take on this bucket list with me! Better yet, may I inspire you to stop dreaming and start living!