Following my MAP

After my stupendous announcement of turning my GAP year into my MAP year, I seem to have taken a few unexpected turns. Moving Ahead Purposefully was my goal and in some ways, I have been, however, if I’m honest I’ve pulled into a few rest-stops on the way. Not the ones that give you a free cuppa and Kit Kat to energise you. No, I think I’ve been napping behind the wheel under a shady tree.

My new business venture of being a Bucket List Coach is really exciting and I believe whole-heartedly that it is a great program that will benefit many people. Simultaneously it has opened a door to vulnerability. 

During my walk through the mountains of Italy I received many messages from people about how “brave” I was, how they admired that I “could do it alone”. This surprised me and I was totally overwhelmed by these expressions of admiration and support. Enter this new adventure – Bucket List Coach. As I purposefully printed on the back of my business card my personal goal “To take 1000 people on the Bucket List Life Plan adventure” little did I realise what a huge task I had set myself. I have been feeling as alone as I ever did during my GAP year on a mountain in torrential rain with a wet smudged map and no idea if I would reach my destination. Turns out this MAP year might be more challenging and life changing.

Enter my favourite TED talker and academic, Brene Brown presenting on vulnerability, and highlighting the reality that it is not a weakness, in fact, it is the “most accurate measure of courage… and the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.” So here I am laying it on the line for those of you who have taken interest in this journey. Tomorrow night I will present my GAP year story and why having a Bucket List changed that year for me. Truly, a Bucket List isn’t about rushing to get things done before you die, it’s about living now no matter how vulnerable you may feel.

I had better embrace my vulnerability!

PS – I got my Vespa this week… it was on my Bucket List!

Focus and Flexibility

Imagine if you will a game of tug-of-war. In this imaginary game of strength one end of the rope is held by a group completely focused on the line over which they intend to drag those holding onto the other end. Their opponents on the other hand are a somewhat more flexible group, enjoying the game but also seeing lots of other opportunities for fun going on around them. I wonder who might win this fight?

I am finding the tug-of-war between focus and flexibility a real challenge as my MAP year begins and right now I feel more like the rope than one of those at either end. I desire an arrow point focus on building my new business as a Bucket List coach, at the same time remembering the perspective gained from my GAP year that having the freedom to take advantage of opportunities, trying new things and being true to the upgraded self that emerged over that time needs to be a part of what lies ahead.

May I digress slightly?

Whilst writing I have been asked by a delightful lady and gentleman what the brand of my shirt is and, of course I don’t have a clue. So while they are both looking down the back of my neck for the label and searching for their glasses they comment on the number of people who work on their laptops at cafes. I told them that I am more ‘focused’ when I am away from the house and that I enjoy the ‘flexibility‘ of being able to work anywhere. Then they told me that they still work but get that over with in the mornings and they are free to do as they wish except this was followed by a word that terrifies me… “we have a ‘routine'”. After spending a year specifically trying to avoid routine, the word triggers some fear and resentment. Am I going to backtrack into routine? Do I need to have a routine? In my mind routine doesn’t guarantee focus and it is definitely in opposition to flexibility! Arrgghhh…

Moving on…

I typed those original two words into my personal brain accessory (Google) and wouldn’t you know, there are numerous Scholarly Articles (unlike my blog) on this topic and a load of opinions on the very same challenge… apparently I wasn’t the first to identify the tension between the two. One article that captured my attention is linked below as it introduced a word that resonated and one I feel very comfortable with (more than I do that word routine) and that is ‘awareness’. The ability to stop and survey what is going on around me and being cognisant of the bigger picture. Too focused and I may miss what’s important, being too flexible I may miss what is needed. I confess this balance sounds sensible and is a skill I will need to practice.

So it would seem that I need to move ahead with focus, flexibility and awareness. And perhaps a tincture of routine. Wish me luck!

As far as that imagined tug-of-war game at the start of this blog, I believe it will be a draw or even a failure. If one is too focused on the line they won’t see the tactics of the other team, and if one is too flexible and distracted they won’t be keeping their eye on the line. They both need to be more aware.

Feel free to have a read – 





Embracing Vanilla Nice

If your eyes are better than mine you might notice that the name on the card attached to these flowers is Vanilla Nice. That’s my family rapper name. I know, it doesn’t really conjure up a look like Dr Dre, Jay Z or Snoop Dog, and for a long time I’ve thought it sounded weak and a bit pathetic – but no more! I’m embracing Vanilla – after all it is it’s own flavour just as legitimate as salted caramel. It may not be as bright as choc chip peppermint but it’s my favourite and I love it.

As for the word NICE, well there’s a much maligned word. Over the centuries the word nice has meant everything from lewd to coy to kind. Preface it with the word too and you  instantly give it a sarcastic connotation. Again, I’m going forward with pride, after all isn’t the opposite nasty and who wants to be that?

If you’ve been following my GAP YEAR you will notice that I have moved forward now to my MAP YEAR – and again MAP is an acronym for something. Moving Ahead Purposefully. If there is one thing I have learned over the past year it is that there is no point sitting around and wishing, you have to get yourself up and create your life. I have now experienced how the simple act of vocalising “I’m going to…” moves you forward to do things you would never have imagined possible.

Here’s the thing… everything doesn’t have to be big but it does need to be done on purpose. In a recent Bucket List Life Plan course I ran, one of the participants made a decision to purposely smile at someone every day. This one thing doesn’t cost anything and it may just change the trajectory of someone’s day for the better. What is really great though is the purposeful decision to do it.

I am never going to stop grabbing onto opportunities that just pop up, or hitching a ride on someone else’s dream or goal if they give me the chance, but I am going to make sure that I always have something purposeful to do. This MAP year will be a great test of my resolve and I hope to be able to tell you about it along the way.

I don’t need a rapper name like Snickerdoodle Stunning (yes Snickerdoodle is an ice-cream flavour) to be living a fulfilled and purposeful life. Vanilla Nice can give anything a red hot go if she sets her mind to it and so can you.

It’s Nearly Midnight

As the clock ticks its way to the end of my GAP year I want to thank everyone who has followed my ups and downs, adventures and ponderings. Your support and encouragement has been amazing, inspiring and humbling. Whether I’ve driven you crazy with my stories or inspired you in some way it’s been a pleasure to travel this road with you.

But wait… there’s more! You’ll have to wait until 2019 to find out what it is.

I hope you will stick around to see what happens next. Goodnight and thank you all.


Walk at your own pace

Time has passed so quickly since I arrived home from Italy and yet the trip seems a lifetime ago. I know I’ve already discussed the subject of time earlier in my blogging year, and it continues to be a seriously a tricky beast. I have regaled my adventure many times over in the past weeks, relishing the chance to tell funny and tragic tales to the exhaustion of my family. So why has it taken me so long to write again?  Could be I fear boring people to death although I believe it is something more than just that.

I recently met with a friend of the family who took a similar walk and after 15 years he still loves to chat about it. It’s obvious that he has thought a lot about the outcomes for himself but it was one particular thing he said over our cuppa that resonated and has remained with me. It was that an adventure like this has three stages – the excitement of the planning, the reality of the walk and the reflection on your return. I had no trouble sharing the first two on this blog but it would seem that I have struggled to put into words my reflections since I returned.

There were some very practical things that will no doubt influence me for years to come, particularly when I go back to complete the walk from Assisi to Rome. Don’t know when but I will!  Along the way there were many now obvious lessons such as drink plenty of water, always hike with two walking sticks, drink more water, don’t necessarily believe the author of the book you are following, take your rest days as planned, drink lots of water, always pack your clothes in the wet pack even if the sun is shining in the morning, a needle and thread is the answer to blisters, stretch more and yes, drink drink drink that water.  The most important lesson though was to always walk at your own pace.

Walking at my own pace meant that I was most often walking alone. There were people on the same trail in front and behind me, but rarely within eye or earshot. There were those who marched past me and occasionally those that I overtook. As I arrived in each village they would all be there, some having arrived well ahead, all showered and having a beer and those who had just made it and collapsed into a chair at the same bar to recover before they searched for a bed. What was so wonderful was that every time you saw a familiar face there was a smile, a well done and an unspoken understanding that the day had been hard and no matter how long it took, how hot it was, how high the climb we had all arrived at the same place. There was ongoing gentle advice and encouragement. Never once was there a sense of competition or a look of criticism for perhaps not being the greatest hiker. Just a sincere well done, you made it.

So finally I have stopped to reflect and it is that I will continue to walk at my own pace. Whatever you or others are doing, don’t try to outrun people or criticise those who can’t keep up. It isn’t going to help anyone. Some of us will be faster, better prepared and experienced and some of us just won’t. We are all travelling the same road with different abilities and loads to carry. As long as we all keep learning as we travel along, we will arrive at the same place just at a different time.

A simple well done, you made it, might just be the thing that will turn a bad day into a great one.







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