I never really thought about a bucket list, I mean a serious bucket list, before the poo hit the propeller. The idea of kicking, hitting, clobbering, beating, striking, punching, booting or in any way assailing a bucket in my near future was not something I considered, not even for a microsecond. However, after nearly cashing in my chips, that dope feeling of REALLY being alive has become vital to me. I’ve always been somewhat adventurous ~ enjoying mountain climbing and great white shark cage diving, but now I have a voracity for experiencing all I can.
I don’t really like to call it a bucket list. I loathe the pressure of having to get this done by the time I expire. It puts the emphasis on the end, and I’d rather be focused on the now, kicking my new life’s butt today and everyday!
There are some adrenaline inducing items on my Buttkick List and some entries that are rewarding in a more tranquil way. Below is my ever-evolving menu of items I’ve taken pleasure in checking off since my health comeback and items I still plan on crushing. I continually add new items and would appreciate any buttkicking ideas 🙂 I would have missed all of this fun if not for my lifesaving brother and his magic marrow!
Since 2014 ~ When my immune system was getting stronger and I was well enough to get out there and live again, I fired up my list. In no particular order:
√ 1. Join Travelers’ Century Club – This is an international society whose members have visited 100 or more countries. I checked this box with a visit to Mauritius, a tiny island nation in the Indian Ocean.
√ 2. Drive a fast car around a track – I took a lesson, then did 6 laps around the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in this Lamborghini Gallardo.
√ 3. Skydive – This is something I never thought I’d have the balls to do. Just imagining it made me sweat with fear, but after my transplant I knew I had to do it. I asked several friends to join me, but I only got 2 takers: Debbie and Jared. It was the biggest rush EVER! When the airplane door slid up, my heart was beating outside my body, my hands were wringing wet, I was shaking and I may have peed a little. The 120mph free fall was shockingly crazy! Skydive Elsinore was the spot.
4. Get pilot’s license
√ 5. Snowshoe – Gorgeous Banff, Canada was where I froze my ass off while snowshoeing with Todd and Mychaela.
√ 6. Swim with whale sharks – It was so thrilling to be in the water right next to this gentle giant (about 35 feet long – picture a school bus) at Isla Mujeres, Mexico.
7. Hike to Machu Picchu
√ 8. Get a tattoo (note to my family: it will be tiny and tasteful, I promise) – To celebrate my 5th transplanniversary, I got a tattoo of a tiny gift box around my PICC line scar (where my brother’s marrow entered my body). The bow on top is a cursive L, for Leason.
√ 9. Scuba dive the Bay of Pigs, Cuba – This wall dive was outrageously beautiful. The best coral on the planet, because there is no industry or tourist pressure in the area. Giant, vibrant and diverse like no other! Of course, my GoPro wasn’t working, so no dive snaps. We had lunch post dive at a woman’s home not far from the water, where she offered us deer, fish, turtle and alligator, all caught and cooked by her. She also had a live band for just Todd and me. Awesome lady, awesome experience!
10. Publish a book
11. Participate in an international road rally
√ 12. Ice skate outside on naturally frozen water – I made one successful (didn’t fall on my ass) lap around this rink in Seoul, Korea.
√ 13. Visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece, Fallingwater – I finally got the chance to see this beautiful piece of art in person. My father was a client and student of FLW, and Mr. Wright played a major influence in my dad’s life, thus mine 🙂 The in depth tour allowed Todd and me to spend time in each room, inhaling the brilliance. The sound of the waterfall that the house is built over can be heard from every room. All furniture, art and housewares remain in original 1937 condition.
√ 14. Make a cool pattern on a giant lawn with a ride-on mower – Driving down a country lane in Western New York, we came around a corner and there was a woman mowing her lawn with a ride-on mower. Todd says, “You gotta go ask her if you can try it!” I was like, “She’ll think I’m a freak.” He turns the rental car around and pulls up into her driveway. I get out and start walking across her huge lawn, waving at her. She stops the mower and I tell her about my Buttkick List. She says, “Jump on!”
√ 15. Attend the Indy 500 – I was there at the 99th running of this iconic race with my family and my parents. It was extra special because our friend, John obtained pit and garage passes for all of us! It was incredible to be on the track with these powerful pieces of art.
√ 16. Mush a dog sled – My entire extended family took 5 sleds out for a ride in Canmore, Alberta, Canada. We went right by the set of The Revenant while it was being filmed. We loved the dogs!
17. Lower 48 road trip
√ 18. Host a Be The Match donor drive – I’ve done a few of these now, including this one at the Pi Beta Phi house at USC before a football game. My son Rex, who has donated his stem cells to save a life, helped me, along with my friends Jae and Sam. Perhaps another life will be saved by one of our swabbers!
√ 19. Get close to red hot lava – Mychaela and I were in Granada, Nicaragua, near the Masaya volcano. We hired a driver to take us to the rim, where we peered over the edge at the liquid hot “magma,” as Dr. Evil would call it.
20. Attend the Winter Olympics
√ 21. Flyboard – It was tough to get the hang of this, but really fun trying to master flyboarding in Bermuda.
√ 22. Dive a wreck – I have been on several wrecks since my Buttkick List was a ‘thing,’ but this one in the British Virgin Islands was especially well preserved.
23. Attend a red carpet event in a dress I design
24. Cross country ski
25. Parler couramment en français
√ 26. Bobsled down an Olympic track – After being forced to watch a video that basically says there’s a decent chance you won’t survive, I signed up to sled down the Park City, UT track. The last thing I remember my coach telling me is, “Remember to breathe!” I finally remembered about half way down and 37 arm bruises in. 60 mph and 3 Gs literally took my breath away.
27. Observe polar bears in the wild
28. Attend a Rolling Stones concert
29. Watch a monster surf competition in person
√ 30. Learn falconry – I met this falcon in the United Arab Emirates desert, as I learned about one of the oldest traditions of the region. The fastest animal on (or above) earth can fly at speeds over 200 mph. Isanely impressive!
31. Attend an opera at the Met
32. Witness turtles hatching or laying eggs on a beach
33. Watch the Trojans crush the leprechauns in South Bend, IN
√ 34. Ice climb – Todd, Mychaela, Rex and I climbed a frozen waterfall near Banff, Canada. Then I went back for more in a glacier hole in Iceland.
35. Dive with hammerheads
36. Complete the tennis grand slam tour by attending the Aussie Open Tennis Championships in Melbourne
37. Attend a film festival to watch a film I produce
√ 38. Swim with dolphins – Bermuda was a beautiful place to get in the water with these incredible beings.
√ 39. Ride a segway – Todd and I went offroading through the vineyards in Stellenbosch, South Africa.
40. Visit space
41. Sit on a jury
42. Play a song on an instrument
√ 43. Learn how to curl – Despite popular belief, curling IS a sport, and it’s REALLY difficult! For my 51st birthday, I had about 25 friends and family members join me for a private curling lesson in Fountain Valley, CA. We were hoping someone would show exceptional unknown talent and be tapped for the US Olympic team, but alas, we all kinda sucked.
44. Complete my family tree
√ 45. Stomp grapes – We celebrated Todd and Mychaela’s birthdays in Napa Valley, CA, and were lucky to be there for harvest and take our turn in a barrel, stomping some grapes at Grgich Hills Wine Estate. Squishy!
√ 46. Visit an ice bar – It was cheesy, I’ll admit it, but fun to experience a bar made of ice in a 5 degree ice locker. The only beverages available were those that do not freeze. I had a vodka “iceberg” cocktail. Todd and I visited this ice bar in Queenstown, New Zealand.
√ 47. Attend a sumo championship in Japan – Todd and I were so lucky to be in Tokyo when the final rounds of the national championships were being contested. We witnessed the first Japanese-born wrestler win the title since 2006. We loved learning about this ancient sport through the English radio in our ears.
48. Set a world record
49. Visit Easter Island
√ 50. Bungy jump – This terrified me more than skydiving, because I couldn’t imagine actually throwing myself off a ledge, but when the opportunity presented itself in New Zealand, the home of the world’s first commercial bungy jump, I knew I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself for pussying out if I didn’t do it. F-ing RAD!
√ 51. Learn to knit – My friends, Jae and Kristin accompanied me to a local knit shop to learn the art of knitting 🙂
√ 52. Visit the top floor of the Burj al Khalifa, the world’s tallest building – We took a minute long express elevator ride to the top floor, where we walked out onto a glass observation deck and looked down on all of the Dubai sky scrapers so far below us. It stands 163 floors and over 2,700 feet tall.
53. Attend the World Cup
54. Crowd surf
√ 55. Ride in a glider – I joined the Taupo Gliding Club in Taupo, New Zealand, then had one of their pilots, Gordon, take me up for a ride. We had a cool vintage Piper tow us up to 5,000 feet, then we released the tow and silently soared over Lake Taupo, Huka Falls, and deer in a gorgeous forest. Gordon let me take the controls and do several banked turns. Silent fun!
√ 56. Find treasure – I free dove a 2 day old wreck at a depth of only 20′ in the British Virgin Islands and recovered many treasures, including kitchen wares, books, knick knacks (I really like that phrase) and lots of miscellaneous sh*t I mean treasure.
√ 57. Take a Thai kick boxing (Muay Thai) class – Todd and I entered the ring in Thailand and learned how to punch and kick like champions.
√ 58. Blow glass – My mom, Mychaela and I learned the art of glass blowing at a studio in Crawford, CO. We each made a masterpiece that we proudly display in our homes.
√ 59. Go truffle hunting – While in Provence, we spent a morning hunting for summer truffles with Monsieur Robert and his expert truffle hunting dog, Kita. We found a total of 6 truffles, and enjoyed a phenomenal dinner that evening using our treasure!
√ 60. Soak in Iceland’s Blue Lagoon – On a recent adventure in Iceland, Todd and I, along with my college buddies Karen and Sharon and their husbands Scott and Craig, spent an afternoon at the Blue Lagoon. It was more awesome than we thought it would be, with 100+ degree vivid blue water steaming in the frigid air, a swim up beverage bar, a swim up facial mask bar and in-water massages. What’s not to love?
√ 61. Slingshot – What is slingshot, you ask? Attach one end of a ski rope to the top of a 100′ mast, the other end to a ski boat, with a handle in the middle. Hold on to the handle as the boat hits it, and you are shot up into the air as far as you dare to hold on. The British Virgin Islands is the perfect spot to slingshot!
62. Swim in every ocean – √Pacific Ocean √Atlantic Ocean √Indian Ocean √Caribbean Sea √Mediterranean Sea √Dead Sea √Arabian Sea √Sea of Cortez √Gulf of Mexico √South China Sea √Philippine Sea √Java Sea √Bay of Bengal √Red Sea √Bay of Biscay √Persian Gulf √Aegean Ocean
√ 63. Rock climb – While on Koh Yao Noi, Thailand, Todd and I decided to try rock climbing for the first time. Our guide’s name was Dude and it was rad.
64. Thank Tom Petty in person for a lifetime of fave tunes – I was devastated upon hearing that TP had passed away in early October 2017. He will always be my favorite. Thank you, Tom!
√ 65. Join a pick-up game – While in India, we came across a group of great kids playing cricket in the street. We stopped our tuk tuk and jumped out. Todd taught the kids how to play volleyball, and I took my turn with the bat.
√ 66. Try hookah – I hate smoking, but this was different. Very sweet taste and kinda moist. And it didn’t make me choke and gag.
67. Visit Papua New Guinea
√ 68. Catch a fish with a fly– I’ve done lots of fishing in my day, but never fly fished. I loved the tranquility of being on a little Colorado creek, and watching my fish take the fly as it floated by. I did some more fly fishing in New Zealand and landed a 24″, 5lb rainbow on the Hinemaiaia Stream, near Taupo.
√ 69. See the snow monkeys of Japan – Todd and I took a train from Tokyo to the tiny village of Yudanaka, near Nagano, and then hiked through the most gorgeous forest in the snow (it was f*cking freeeeezing) to see the famous monkeys bathing in the natural hot springs.
70. Save a life
√ 71. Visit an active archaeological dig – While rafting down the Gunnison River in Colorado, we pulled over to the shore and hiked up to this dig. The archaeologists were uncovering lots of artifacts and clues to human life that were thousands of years old.
√ 72. Step foot in North Korea – I’ve wanted to do this, just because it’s such a forbidden and mysterious place. Todd and I traveled to the DMZ from Seoul, then to the Joint Security Area, where we entered the UN buildings, crossed over the line, and stood in North Korea.
73. Read the top 100 books ever written
√ 74. Conquer my fear of reptiles – During a recent trip to Orlando, FL, I gathered my courage and visited Gatorland, an alligator farm that also houses many other reptiles. They offered an ‘Alligator Wrestling’ experience, so I figured that was a great way to start to work through my distress. I then found an area that provided a baby alligator and a python to hold. I had never touched a snake before, due to my extreme paranoia. After making it through both of these reptilian terrifications, I declare my fear conquered – sorta.
√ 75. Earn my Advanced Level Open Water scuba certification – After passing the required land based courses and exams, I completed 5 advanced dives in Maui, including navigation, scooter and deep (100’+) dives.
76. Observe gorillas in the wild
√ 77. Visit the Berry Pomeroy Castle in Southern England, home of my ancestors – One of my most awe-inspiring days was spent exploring the 600 year old castle that was built by my Pomeroy ancestors in Devon, England. The land was given to my great (x 38) grandfather, Ralf de la Pommerai, in 1066 as a reward for serving as William the Conqueror’s chief of staff and assisting in defeating the Saxons at the Battle of Hastings to put William on the throne. Being there with my entire family made it extra special.
√ 78. Try beekeeping – Todd and I were staying at Carmel Valley Ranch in Carmel, CA, and we were excited to see that they offered a beekeeping class. Sign us up!
79. Witness my son, Rex meet the patient he saved by donating his stem cells
√ 80. See Shetland ponies in Shetland – It’s every little girl’s dream to have a pony, especially a Shetland pony. I was in awe of the cuteness.
√ 81. Ride on an airboat in the Everglades – Cruising over the grass and lilypads of the Everglades while watching baby alligators swim beside us and big mamas guarding their nests was a thrill!
√ 82. Run a 5K in 5 different states before I turn 55 – (I hate running) – √CO √MN √PA √NV √CA With only 2 weeks to spare, I completed my races in less pathetic times each time. Not sure if I’ll continue trying to improve, because I learned I still really hate running 🙂
√ 83. Try geocaching – While visiting Ojai, CA, Todd and I grabbed some GPSs and hiked the hills in search of treasure. We found 8 caches, and were rewarded with this token from a well-known cacher.
84. See the Northern Lights
√ 85. Deliver the 1,000,000th toothbrush for Global Grins – My husband, Todd and I founded a non-profit called Global Grins. We deliver toothbrushes around the world to people in need. We were thrilled to reach our goal of one million toothbrushes delivered!
√ 86. Attend a Cubs game at Wrigley Field – Loved the tradition, the lore, the hotdogs and the neighborhood of Wrigley.
√ 87. Go zorbing – I know, WTF is zorbing, right? It was invented in Rotorua, New Zealand, and you get inside a large plastic ball filled with warm water, then roll down a hill. I did the zig zag course. It’s like being in a washing machine. Not that I know what it’s like being in a washing machine, but this must be close.
√ 88. Win a javelin medal – I decided that I wanted to start competing in something, so Todd got me a javelin for Christmas and found a fantastic coach.
89. Earn a master’s degree
√ 90. Volunteer at the Special Olympics – Rex and I were honored to volunteer for a week at the Los Angeles Special Olympic Games in the summer of 2015. We met hundreds of athletes from all over the world who were there to compete!
√ 91. Brew my own beer – My son, Rex and I brewed two varieties and named them YOLT Jolt Stout (a coffee stout) and Bill’s Bench Blonde (after our favorite bench at the beach). It took quite a while to get it just right, but the result is fantastic, especially the stout!
√ 92. Rappel down the side of a building – I was given the opportunity to rappel down 16 stories of the Irvine Co building at Newport Center, CA in support of the great organization, Shatterproof, and I jumped on it! Adrenaline was pumping, especially going over the edge!
√ 93. Send care packages to deployed soldiers – I hosted a care package prep party for some friends, where we each donated one of the requested items for all, then got together to fill the boxes with all the goodies. Fifty boxes were sent to soldiers serving in the Middle East.
√ 94. Go tequila tasting in Tequila, Mexico – Todd and I celebrated our 30th anniversary in Mexico, including a visit to the town of Tequila, where we tasted and toured 🙂
√ 95. Cliff dive/jump – The opportunity presented itself on Siargao Island in the Philippines, so I jumped on it 🙂
96. Throw a dart at a map, then plan a trip where it lands
√ 97. Try aerial yoga – I loved this class I attended in Thailand – it brought back memories of my gymnastics days.
√ 98. Throw a ceramic piece on the wheel – My friend and incredible supporter, Mary, is a master potter, and she invited me into her studio for a lesson on the wheel.
√ 99. Run with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain – My son, Rex and I ran Pamplona’s famous Calle Estafeta ahead of six 1500 pound bulls. Heart rate was jacked – no bull!
100. Swim with humpback whales
√ 101. Attend an air show – Todd and I went to the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar’s Air Show, starring the Blue Angels. Impressive and proud are huge understatements!
√ 102. Backpack/hike in nature – Ansel Adams Wilderness Park is a gorgeous, pristine place to hike and camp! I was lucky to spend 4 days on the trail with Todd, my bronor, Leason, his wife, Kesha and friends.
√ 103. Try Kobe beef in Kobe – Todd and I were in Kobe, Japan while sailing on the spring 2016 Semester at Sea voyage, and we thought, “When in
Rome Kobe…” so we found this cool spot and gave it a try. Phenom, but intensely rich!
√ 104. Take a trip solo – I took off for a few days with myself and me to a wonderful spot in San Diego. We mostly stayed in our room to get a huge chunk of writing done, but we made it out a few times to visit the spa. Our neck and shoulders got very sore from sitting at the desk for hours on end and needed some attention 🙂
105. Drag race
√ 106. Volunteer for a week in a foreign country – Mychaela and I spent a week in Costa Rica, volunteering each day at a medical clinic in the small town of Alajuelita. We filled prescriptions, assisted the doctor, took vitals, removed lice and scheduled patients. Very rewarding time!
√ 107. Go canyoning – I got an intro to canyoning while wading waist deep in a 34 degree stream through a very dark cave in the highlands of Iceland. Can’t wait for more!
√ 108. Sail on MS The World – I was so lucky to be a guest on the largest privately owned residential yacht in the world. It has every amenity you could imagine, but instead of cabins, it’s comprised of privately owned residences.
109. Attend a NASCAR race
√ 110. Learn the game of golf – This one will never be complete, but I’ve started with a lesson and then my first round in the Philippines.
√ 111. Attend The Masters in Augusta, GA – I am a huge sports fan, and I consider The Masters one of the most iconic sports events on the planet. It surpassed my expectations as an absolutely awesome experience!
√ 112. Attend a concert at Red Rocks, CO – A trip to Denver magically coincided with my favorite band playing at this outrageously awesome venue, so this was a no-brainer (in more ways than one, considering the ample amount of newly legalized smokables FROM OTHER CONCERT GOERS clouding my brain as I rocked with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.)
113. Ashboard down a volcano
√ 114. Attend a show at the Grand Ole Opry – My daughter, Mychaela and I went on a weekend trip to Nashville, including this iconic show. What a slice of Americana!
115. Experience Burning Man
√ 116. Visit Dracula’s castle in Transylvania – Todd and I took a trip to Eastern Europe, including a Halloween visit to Bran Castle, one-time home to the famous count!
√ 117. Swim with the pigs at Big Major Cay in the Exumas, Bahamas – I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for swine, and I was stoked to have a chance to jump in the water with these famous piggies!
118. Do the splits again, after 40+ years
√ 119. Do some painting en plein air – Todd surprised me with some painting lessons from artists I admire, so Erin and I met at the beach on a beautiful day and painted Emerald Bay’s south end.
120. Circumnavigate Mont Blanc on foot
√ 121. Visit Giant’s Causeway – This is an incredible natural landscape on Northern Ireland’s coast. The day we visited, it was closed to to the highest winds ever recorded in Ireland, but we went around the barriers and were able to have the place to ourselves.
122. Experience paintball
√ 123. Smoke my own cigar – I’ve always liked the smell of cigars, and I’ve had puffs here and there, but this time I enjoyed the full experience: cutting, lighting and smoking my own.
124. Enter a frog jumping contest
125. Herd livestock on horseback
√ 126. Participate in a paddle-out – The third annual paddle-out to honor the life of my friend, Will, was on a beautiful day in Emerald Bay!
127. Attend the Westminster Dog Show
√ 128. Milk a cow – While visiting a cultural center in Costa Rica, Mychaela and I came across a traditional cheese making operation, complete with cows in the yard that visitors were allowed to milk 🙂
√ 129. Ride a mechanical bull – This was how I chose to celebrate my 55th birthday. It was really hard to stay on that thing!
130. Watch all the ‘Best Picture’ Oscar winners
√ 131. Operate a giant Caterpillar tractor – I found the opportunity in Las Vegas to not only operate an excavator, but to crush a car with it! Yes, please! I spray painted ‘Aplastic Anemia,’ ‘Shulman’s Syndrome,’ and ‘YOLT’ on the pick up truck before I wreaked havoc with it.
132. Sponsor a child’s wish for Make a Wish Foundation
√ 133. Sample the goods at the Guinness factory in Dublin – I’ve always enjoyed a great stout – the stoutier the better. Tasting at the Guinness factory was a must for me 🙂
√ 134. Host my Pi Phi sorority sisters for a reunion – 35 USC Pi Phi angels from 35 years ago descended upon my home for a fun afternoon of memories, laughter, songs and secret sh*t 🙂
135. Win a ribbon at the county fair
√ 136. Take in the incredible fairy chimney landscape of Cappodocia, Turkey by hot air balloon – I’d seen amazing photos of this landscape, but to see it in person, from a balloon was beyond breathtaking!
√ 137. Test drive a Tesla – I got behind the wheel of my bro-in-law’s Model X and loved it! The falcon wing doors are so cool!
√ 138. Sail (actually sail) the Greek islands – A group of friends chartered a catamaran in Greece for a week. We had a blast as we island hopped through the Aegean, getting sailing lessons from our captain, Yiannis.