07 April 2013

The bucket list.

In 2008, when my brother was treated for cancer, I saw the film The Bucket List. 
This film is about two guys in their 60s, who are both getting cancer treatments, but whose backgrounds and outlook on life couldn’t be any more different. They get to share a room in hospital, and start compiling a bucket list with things they want to do or achieve before they die. The film shows their fun, adventures, amazement and experiences, during their shared journey to tick off and cherish all good things in life. Obviously, after having watched that film, I thought about my life, and also compiled my own bucket list.
Nearly 5 years later, I’ve been able to tick off a few things, but I’ve also added some new ones. It remains a list in progress, and knowing that my health could be a game changer, I’ve started giving priority to the physical ones first J.

1.     Visit all 7 continents

Well, this is the biggest one. Basically it asks me to conquer the world by travelling. So far, I’ve managed Europe, North America, Asia. Still to do: South America, Antarctica, Australia and Africa.

2.     Take guitar lessons

I love guitar music, and I would love to be able to play guitar. When I was young, we had these campfires where people played guitars to accompany us singing. Loved it. Just think of that Hotel California intro.

3.     Pay for ‘suspended’ coffees

A few weeks ago, I learnt about this Italian habit on Facebook. I should do this in my home city too.

4.     Go sailing 

I managed this twice already. Last year, I went on a great sailing weekend in the Netherlands with a group of friends. And later in the year, I went sailing in Montenegro. Wish I could go again!

5.     Walk the Camino de Santiago de Compostela

This is a long pilgrimage walk from the French border into the Spanish town of Santiago de Compostela. This would definitely count as one of my physical ‘once in a lifetime’ achievements.

6.     Watch an Olympic Game

Last year, the Olympic Games were in London. Very close, but I didn’t manage going there because of work. I would love to experience the Olympic Games, not by watching TV, but by attending a game.

7.     Go on a winter holiday 

Yes! I did that in January 2012. It was a beautiful sunny winter holiday in the Italian Dolomites. A first time to go on long winter hikes in knee-deep snow. And my hips and knees didn’t even kill me. I tried it in 2013 again, but this time my knees didn’t agree with me any more.

8.     Watch the New York skyline  from the Empire State building

In 2010, I visited New York, but watched the magnificent skyline from Rockefeller Centre. So I did see the Empire State building, but didn’t stand on top of it yet.

9.     See the Northern Lights out of an igloo

The Northern Lights. This crazy Igloo village. Do I need to say more?

10.  Write a book

I already took a writing course in 2012, so I will write a book. And perhaps publish it. That is, when it’s good enough.

11.  Drive the ‘1’ and ‘101’ Pacific Coast Highway

Would love to drive through California along the coast. In a convertible. With Phantom Planet singing along: ‘We've been on the run, driving in the sun. Looking out for number one. California here we come.’

12.  Floating in the Dead Sea

Reading a magazine while floating in the saltiest sea of the world. And my skin would love the salt in that water.

13.  Go island hopping in Greece 

What else would you wish for a holiday when you can have blue seas, postcard islands, white houses, ancient history and sun combined in one country? Best thing, you can discover them by boat. Santorini, Milos, Mykonos, Skyros, Corfu. All islands waiting to be discovered.

14.  Volunteer with a charity to fight cancer 

In June 2013 I will spend 8 days volunteering in France, on a major Dutch charity event ‘Alped’Huzes'. Thousands of people will cycle, walk or run up the mountain Alpe d’Huez up to six times to raise money for cancer research, and I will help by volunteering. I don’t know yet what I will be doing there, but I’m sure it will be fun, and special to push my limits together with thousands of other people to fight cancer.

15.  Speak French fluently

Je voudrais parler Français sans fautes. I might have to lock myself up in a monastery to achieve that, but would love to learn the most beautiful language in the world.

16.  Learn the Russian alphabet 

Yes, done that! I already wanted to do that when I was a student. I even spent a month in Saint Petersburg to learn Russian. Loved the city, the language and my professor.

17.  Leave a valuable contribution to the world as a patient with a rheumatic disease 

It wasn’t my choice to get Ankylosing Spondylitis. But now I have it, I might as well do something with it. Make life better for other (young) people who have, or don’t yet know they have ankylosing spondylitis. Raising awareness, show them, politicians and decision-makers that you can have a good life with this disease but that you need some help. Being an example as an ambitious chronic patient. That would be amazing.

18.  See out of space rocket science in Houston 

Did that! In 2010 I went to Houston Space Center. Was impressed by what I saw and learnt about rocket science and technology. Can’t believe people went in space in the 1960s without the help of modern computers. Those rockets. Major step for mankind. I was impressed.

19.  Learn to sing 

Nearly 10 years ago, I sang in a choir. It’s so nice when you hear all these voices around you coming together in music. Would love to learn how to sing properly, and use my voice and breath correctly. And when my singing has improved, I might combine it with playing guitar.

20.  Travel from Denver to San Francisco by California Zephyr

I love train journeys, and the way in which countries and landscapes change. It’s old-fashioned travelling, and relatively slow, but it’s amazing to read a book, meet people and enjoy the views. The Caliphornia Zephyr takes you right through the Rocky Mountains up to San Francisco, and is a great way for me to discover more of the US.

21.  Take a sabbatical leave from work

Yes, will be doing that! From 19th of July, I’ll be escaping work for about 6 months. Can’t wait!!!

22.  Visit Stonehenge 

Been there, done that. I expected lots of it, however didn’t like it that much.

23.  Dance the Scottisch Céilidh 

Done that! That was the first thing I could tick off my bucket list in 2008. It was a very special moment. It was only 3 weeks after I started Humira that I danced Céilidh in Scotland, and it was the first dance after a long time of pain and not being able to walk. So much fun.

24.  Spend a holiday without a smartphone, ipad, and other technological gadgets

My grandparents have passed away before smartphones and ipads even came into existence. I wonder what they would think when they would read this on my bucket list.. Crazy. Technology and communications have made such an impact on my day-to-day life that I can’t even think back what life was back in the days without them. In that respect, it would be best to try that out on a holiday in the middle of nowhere.

25.  Walk on the Grand Canyon Skywalk
I’m afraid of heights. But as I want to visit the Grand Canyon, this would be the opportunity to beat my fear of heights by looking down (and over) the Grand Canyon. I think.

26.  Go on an African safari

See the big 5, wildlife and the beautiful African nature.

27.  See the Les Misérables musical

‘On my own’ is such a beautiful song. I saw the Dutch musical, but this song was sung in Dutch. I would love to hear this song in a theatre on Broadway, or London’s West end. 

28.  Bake my own signature cake

I would love to create and make a cake with my favourite ingredients: dark chocolate and fruit.

29.  Get back on the international career ladder 

I miss working in an intercultural environment; miss speaking foreign languages and miss travelling. I would love it so much to work in an international environment again.

30.  Get a date online 

As it’s 2013 and lots of friends have met online, so why shouldn't I 
try that out too? Update: been there, done that - just a date. 

31.  Go to a Coldplay concert

Coldplay has caused many goose bumps over the years with their songs. ‘Fix you’, ‘Death and all his friends’, ‘Clocks’, and my all time favourite ‘The Scientist’ – they are great songs. I would love to see them live, as soon as they go back on the road again.

32.  Design and make my own dress

I bought a sewing machine in 2012, and have started sewing. I’m now learning sewing by doing, but my ultimate goal is that I can design and make my own dresses. Doesn’t matter how weird my back will be shaped; I’ll be able to create my dress to cover it. Update: I made one for my little niece :)  

33.  Climb the Eiffel tower

I’ve lived in Paris for 3 months in 2005, but I’ve never been up the Eiffel tower. If my hips are letting me, I’ll be climbing the Eiffel tower on my first Paris trip. If not, I’ll take an elevator, to enjoy the view.

34.  See an opera in the old amphitheatre in Verona 

Done that! Aida was the opera I saw in Verona. It was open air, beautiful summer weather and the amphitheatre takes you back to Roman times. It’s amazing how clearly you can hear the music and the singing. The acoustics and experience are magnificent.

35.  Start my own business

That is my biggest dream. Be my own boss, taking my own decisions, and lead a working life by what’s best for me, making the world better, and how I can fulfil my dream.

36.  Spend time in San Fran and make a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge 

San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge have been on my wish list for a long time. Spending time in San Francisco, with all its creative buzz, culture and nice coffee places, will be included in my next US trip.

37.  Do another study 

If I want to go back to school, either an MBA or art school would be my first choice. When I would listen to my head, an MBA would create the best chances for an international career. When I would listen to my heart, I would go to art school, as that was already my wish when I was 16.

38.  Meet a former prisoner of a Nazi concentration camp 

I met a Hungarian lady in the Jewish synagogue in Budapest in 2002, who was imprisoned in Auschwitz in the Second World War. She told very openly about her experiences there and showed us her arm with a tattooed number. It was only later when I realised the impact of her life experiences, and I’m very grateful to her sharing them with me.

39.  Dance tango in Buenos Aires

Dutch people are not known for dancing talents, neither am I. Nevertheless, I love dancing and watching people dance. The tango is one of the most passionate dances, and I just love how people forget about the world while they concentrate on their dance partner. If there’s one place to learn tango (or alternatively, see other people dance) it must be Buenos Aires.

40.  Walk on the Great Wall of China

The longest wall in the world, and it has a lot of stairs. Normally not my cup of tea, but it must be amazing to literally walk back in history by walking up the stairs of the Great Wall.

41.  Relax in the Blue Lagoon in Iceland √ Well, Secret Lagoon :)

This looks like such a magic place! I love thermal baths and spa therapies, but this definitely is icing on the cake.

42.  Have the best burger in the world

According to the Guardian, I need to go to New York for that, and more specifically to Little Owl to try their cheeseburger with bacon.

43.  Forgive and let go.

This is a difficult one for me. Get a closure on all grievances, hurt and unhappiness. It might be one of the most important in this list, and have the greatest effect on my life.

44.  Listen to fado in an old café in Lisbon

Fado was introduced during my Portuguese lessons. Fado has beautiful melodies and is sung melancholically. Listening to Fado in Tasca do Chico in Lisbon, while drinking a glass of wine would be very nice.

45.  Have a room with a sea view 

Yes! During my late summer holiday in Ischia in 2012 I had a room with a view on the sea, including beautiful sunsets. Ending the day on my balcony with a book while the sun was going down, remains my favourite memory of that holiday.

46.  Go on a yoga retreat

To start getting back into yoga, I would love to do a yoga retreat in a warm country. Or perhaps go on a yoga holiday to Bali, and combine yoga with a visit to Indonesia?

47.  Eat currywurst after a night out dancing in Berlin 

Going out in Berlin is already fun, but finishing it off with a currywurst under the metro tracks of Eberswalder Strasse is yet another fun memory of a great time in Berlin.

48.  Watch the cherry blossoms in Japan

I love spring, but every time when I see what spring in Japan looks like.. Wow.

49.  Find the love of my life

Perhaps this should be very high on my list, but well. Would be great to meet someone that special that you know you want to share your life with him.

50.  Have dinner in the dark 
Done that. Eating in the dark without being able to see anything. It all comes down to your taste buds, your feelings and hearing. I was so tired after 3 hours, but a great experience.

51.  Become an influential advocate 

By the time that I’m very, very old and looking back on my life, I wish I’m proud because I’ve used my persuasion, enthusiasm and passion to engage people for a good cause. It might be health, a better world, or even a great product, but I hope I’ve made a difference to people and their lives.

52.  Visit the Hermitage in St Petersburg, Russia 
Done that! Beautiful building, beautiful city and amazing collection.

53.  Lose 5 kilos, reach and maintain a healthy weight of 60 kilos 

Working on it J.

54.  Walk around in the finished Sagrada Familia in Barcelona 

Been in the Sagrada Familia in 1999, when I was 13 years old. Couldn’t climb up the church towers because of my hips and knees, and remember the elevator ride up. I’m curious to see how the church will look, once it’s finished!

55.  Try oysters 

I tried oysters last year in the Netherlands, with squeezed lemons. It wasn’t my thing.

56.  Get married

Once I’ve found the love of my life (number 49) than I would love to get married to him J.

57.  Sleep in a castle

Waking up in an old room, and looking out of the windows of an old castle high up on a mountain. That would be a fairytale. Like for example in this German castle hotel in Baden Baden.

58.  Visit the Jeita caves in Lebanon 

In 2008, I visited a friend in Lebanon and visited the Jeita caves. So beautiful! Can recommend it to everyone. No wonder it was a finalist in the worldwide New 7 Wonders of Nature competition.

59.  Read Tolstoy’s War and Peace

I put this on the list in 2009, and I bought the book in 2011. Next step is to actually read it.