40Gal Bucket List

A list of life's 'to-do's' before turning 50 … our journey of gettin' stuff done

What’s the Skinpact? By Dr. Katie Rodan 

Derm RF - Rodan + Fields

katie rodan header what's the skinpact

The correlation between how we feel about our appearance and our confidence level is well documented. The fact that 80% of us feel dissatisfied with the reflection facing us in the mirror is simply unacceptable.

I have seen first-hand the difference that intelligent skincare and great skin can make in a person’s life, and I know that over-the-counter medicines can create visible change—and even transform skin.  That’s why, in this month that celebrates our independence as a country, I am encouraging you to take a note from our forefathers and liberate yourself from your “skinsecurities”, declare your Skindependence and become your own dermatologist of sorts.

To help empower you on this journey, Dr. Fields and I have taken our combined 50-plus years of experience as practicing dermatologists and created the exclusive Rodan + Fields® Solution Tool, a comprehensive instrument that delivers customized skincare recommendations in minutes, based on your unique…

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March: Work & Passion


Since the majority of our time is dedicated to our work, it is imperative to find joy in what you do.  I sometimes struggle with this and often have to remind myself of the positives rather than dwelling on the negatives of my job.  This helps me get through the moments of hating my job and leaves me feeling happy, or at least content.  Another way to counter any negative feelings we have about our jobs is to actively pursue our passions.  Pursuing my passion is another focus of this month as I want to continue to develop my business, my passion,  I started.  So let the month begin (OK I know, it’s already Mar 5) and focus on Work & Passion:

So this month I have decided to focus on 5 Specific Goals:

  1. Enjoy the Fun of Failure: I have started my own business and it is doing quite well, but I know it can be better.  I have asked myself what is holding me back? And the answer is simple:  Fear of Failure.  So to counter that I decided to embrace all those mistakes I am afraid of.  Take them in, thank them, and remind myself that every failure puts me one step closer to success.
  2. Brand Me: Because social media is so integrated in our work lives, I want to make sure my “ brand” looks like … me.  I want to update and make current all my sites (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube)  to help increase exposure of myself and of my business.
  3. Give my Blog a Hug:  I have had this blog for over 4 years now and somehow is it still not part of my daily life.  I think about it, I talk about it, but I don’t do anything for it.  This blog has become a personal diary, yet I haven’t given it my lovin’.  What does that say about me?  This month I want to work on my blog, make it look and feel more like me, and give it a big hug!
  4. Efficacy: the power to produce a desired result or effect:  I just love this word.  It’s a funny      word, at least to me, and it really doesn’t roll off the tongue, at least not my tongue.  It’s a word that      seems to be popping up everywhere I go, so I took that as a sign that I should focus on my personal efficacy and believe in my power to get my desired result.  That’ll work.
  5. Separate Work & Passion: Wait?  Why separate?  Well, I currently have 2 jobs: 1 that pays the bills and the other that is my passion.  I am finding that because I work from home, my work and passion tend to get all mixed together which leaves my passion feeling like work which then leads me to not wanting to pursue my passion.   I want to separate the two for now so that  one day my work and my passion will be one and the same.

Ok let’s go …imagesCAEE00B5

Happiness Project: February Review

February has ended and it time to review how I did with Month 2 of My Happiness Project. Let’s see:

  1. Say Hello & Goodbye with the 6 sec Hug: Our daily hello and goodbye always included us standing together where we hugged and kissed.  It made these  moments very special and after only a few days this challenge because a habit – I think because it made me feel so good. This new habit has made a difference and even set a positive, happy tone for the day for me and in the evening for both of us.
  2. Share Gratitude: I have really enjoyed this challenge and have enjoyed even more reading back on what about my husband and marriage I am grateful for.  From entries such as “the way he holds my hand”, to “I love his bald head” make me smile.  I will continue this  so every time my husband does something small or big that makes him light up even more in my eyes, I will document it.  By focusing on what he does      that makes me grateful versus what he does to really tick me off has really made me happier.
  3. No TV in the Bedroom: This one was a little more difficult since we often have dates in bed watching      movies or our favorite TV shows.  So admittedly the TV did stay on a few times, but for the most part, it was off  ;-).
  4. Walk and Fall in Love: This past month we have been out and about a lot more often and was able to “walk and talk” and really enjoy ourselves, and we did walk about our neighborhood a few times which was nice. I think once Spring truly  springs well continue walking and chatting and connecting.
  5. Be Present: I believe I was much better as putting away the phone and being present when my husband  and I were together but it was tough. Often I put my phone away out of reach, but I did find myself a few times (maybe a few times too many) announcing when I was jumping on the phone as if I was asking permission – and I’m not sure if I was seeking permission from my husband or myself.  I think this will continue to be a challenge, but I will continue to work on being present.

Overall, I think my February focus on Love and Marriage really benefitted me and our marriage, and I can honestly say I am happy in my marriage.  There is an old saying: “Happy Wife = Happy Life” but it’s always the husband saying it which puts the burden on him.  I challenge all wives to take control of their own happiness.  It will benefit you, your husband and your marriage.



Love Shack


Gingerbread houses are soooo 2 months ago, but because gingerbread is one of my husband’s favorite treats, I decided to give him a Love Shack he will never forget for Valentine’s Day.


It was a big hit and a check off my Bucket List (although secretly I want to make one from scratch one day too – this was a kit from Trader Joes).  Now I just need to get that song out of my head!


Bagpipes, Burns and Haggis

I love when a Bucket List item goes above and beyond my expectations. It’s happened a few times. Once when checking Indiana off my list and instead of just visiting Indiana, I walked into a Civil War reenactment! And just last week, when I just wanted a taste of Scotland at The Highlands, a NYC Scottish Restaurant, I instead got a full Scottish experience: bagpipes, poetry, whisky, kilts and Scots included.

I had never tasted Scottish food and in fact, I am not sure how to even describe Scottish food, but when I saw that OpenTable had an open table for a special event called a Burns Supper at The Highlands I booked a reservation. It was a prix fixe meal and event celebrating Robert Burns, a man I never knew I knew.

robert burnsSo Robert Burns? He is known as the national poet of Scotland and turned 258 on January 25. To a little ole American girl like me, he’s the guy who wrote “Auld Lang Syne.” Ah, yes, I know him! A Burns Supper celebrates the life and works of Robert Burns on his birthday and is a yearly event in Scotland and Ireland and has been since the end of the 18th century. The Burns Supper consists of readings of his poetry, bagpipe entertainment, a traditional Scottish meal, and toast to the Lassies.

poetry readingBefore our meal was served by our Scottish waiter/host in kilt we first were read a traditional Scottish Grace and then we were entertained by the most serious of musicians, a bagpiper. He marched up and down the tiny aisle expressionless and winded, which I suppose is the point. He was impressive.


The menu was outlined for us, which was perfect since I had no clue what I would have ordered. In fact, even after reading the menu, I still had no clue what I was about to eat. Really, what is Haggis?


Our food finally arrived …

Course 1: Smoked Salmon

Course 1: Smoked Salmon

The Smoked Salmon came first.  I could taste the freshness, but I just don’t like salmon.  Second was the Cullen Skink which is a soup, a  very hearty soup, perfect for the cold winter’s day.  Tasted like a creamy potato soup.  The main meal of Haggis with Neeps and Tatties finally arrived.  Neeps and Tatties are Turnips and Potatoes – easy enough and delicious!  Now on to the Haggis.  Why did we ask, I do not know, but once we understood what we were eating we proceeded with caution.  This how Wikipedia describes haggis:  “savory pudding containing sheep’s pluck (heart, liver and lungs); minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally encased in the animal’s stomach and simmered for approximately three hours.”  Our waiter pretty much described it the same way; however, ours was made with lamb liver and they now cook it differently since FDA banned cooking haggis in the “casing of the animal’s stomach” in the 1990’s.  

Course 2: Cullen Skink

Course 2: Cullen Skink

Well now, I supposed that’s good news. So what did it taste like?  To be honest, I liked it.  It was a little greasy, and the lamb taste, which I do not like lamb, was hidden by all the spices they use.  It was good and if I didn’t know what it was before I ate it, I probably would have enjoyed it more.  It reminded my of my Mom’s eggplant dressing she makes for Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving makes me happy, so I suppose Haggis makes me happy too.  So, it’s not as scary and disgusting as it sounds.  I recommend you try.  Finally dessert, my favorite course!  The Cranachan was a very light and refreshing dessert of raspberries and cream.  And the Salted Dark Chocolate Bark which is not picture, but you know what it looks like, right?  Oh delicious, but really, it’s chocolate.  Yum!

Course 3: Haggis with Neeps and Tatties

Course 3: Haggis with Neeps and Tatties

Course 4: Cranachan

Course 4: Cranachan

The dinner was exception and the experience was more than I could have ever imagined.  To learn about  Robert Burns and to participate in a Burns Supper is to experience Scotland. 

To conclude the evening and the Burns Supper (and this post) we were entertained with the familiar, “Auld Lang Syne.”

Should Old Acquaintance be forgot,
and never thought upon;
The flames of Love extinguished,
and fully past and gone:
Is thy sweet Heart now grown so cold,
that loving Breast of thine;
That thou canst never once reflect
On Old long syne.


On Old long syne my Jo,On Old long syne,That thou canst never once reflect,On Old long syne.

February: Love & Marriage

love and marriage

With Valentine’s Day 2 weeks away, February is the perfect month to focus on love and marriage.  I feel very lucky and blessed as my marriage is strong and healthy, but of course, like all couples, we have our challenges.  And after 2 ½ years of marriage, we are drawing near to the time when we could start taking each other for granted.  I don’t think we are there just yet and I hope this month’s Happiness Project of focusing on Love & Marriage will help us maintain our strong bond.

So this month I have decided to focus on 5 Daily Goals:

  1. Say Hello & Goodbye with the 6 sec Hug: This one is so simple and from what I read it can really make a difference in any relationship. My husband is the love of my life and I am genuinely happy when he gets home and a little sad when he leaves, so why don’t I greet him and send him off to tackle his day with a big hug and kiss to let him know how I feel?  It would make him feel happy, and I bet it will make me feel happy too.  Oh and the 6 sec hug?  “It’s the minimum time necessary to promote the flow of oxytocin and serotonin, mood-boosting chemicals that promote bonding.” This I learned from The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.
  2. Share Gratitude: Remembering daily what you are grateful for is definitly a key to happiness.  I have started my very own Gratitude journal/app so I can remind myself of the sunsets, snow days and kind strangers that made my day special, but what about reminding myself daily what I am grateful for in my marriage? What impact would this have my relationship and on my happiness?
  3. No TV in the Bedroom: TV in the bedroom means no intimacy. TV must be turned off.
  4. Walk and Fall in Love:  When my husband and I were ‘courting’ we would walk and talk for hours, it was during these walks that I fell in love with my him.  That is how we got to really know each other and I really enjoyed that one-on-one time; I know he enjoyed it too. Long walks to nowhere is a bit more difficult now in Austin rather than back in NYC, but we do have a neighborhood behind us that we can stroll in the evenings   at least once a week.  I hope my husband is up for the walk!
  5. Be Present:  I learned from reading The Happiness Project that men and women view intimacy differently.  “Women’s idea of an intimate moment is a face-to-face conversation, while men feel close when they work or play sitting alongside someone.” Hummm, well this could explains why my husband will often give me a look, or ask if something is wrong when I am on my phone at the same time we are watching a TV show together. He views this time together as intimacy, where I feel like it is just watching TV.  Ah!Ha! So when we sit together and watch Ghost Adventures or The Daily Show this is quality time.  I need to respect these moments, put the phone away and be present.

I am ready for February to focus on my marriage and my husband.  Let the lovin’ begin!

Happiness Project: January Review

January is coming to a close and it’s time for me to recap how I did with Month 1 of My Happiness Project.  Let’s see:

  1. Set the Day’s Schedule Daily: I think this particular goal was achieved due to a tiny little app I found while searching on iTunes: Any.Do. This app made my daily checklist easy to write, read, and check off!  And any recurring ‘to-do’s are already set on my calendar!  What a great find!


  1. Move Move Move!: I started going back to my favorite form of exercise: spin class and committed to 10,000 steps a day.  I am proud to say that I have been to spin class enough times that my special area no longer hurts and I did 10,000 step every day in the month of January except once while I was at a convention – by the time I realized that I did not meet my goal it was already passed midnight :-(  Oh well. But I walked 10,000 steps every other day of the month! Also, I found another handy app to help motivate me to move:  GymPact.  The way GymPact works is you set your goal and give it a dollar amount that you promise to pay if you don’t meet that goal.  At the week’s end, if you met your goal you pay nothing into the pot, but others on the app that did not meet their goal will have to pay. That money is then divvied up to all of the app users that accomplished their goal. I committed to working out 3 days a week and I did it every week this month! Money really does motivate! Try it out!


  1. Turn off the TV: I have been much better with this, but I still think there is improvement.  Over this last month I have turned the TV off after the Today Show and until I am done working, but then it is back on.  I think once it’s not 20 degrees out, maybe it won’t be as tempting, but for now, I’m enjoying re-runs of Friends on TBS.
  2. Don’t put off tomorrow what I can check off my ‘To-do’ list today: I did this … for the most part.  I mean, there are some items that I can just do tomorrow.  Ok, Ok, need to continue to work on this one.
  3. Clean my space: Clear my mind: I’ve been pretty good at this, but once my routine changes (like traveling for 2 weeks) I tend to get off track and need a few days to get back. Like today.  I still have a suitcase to unpack.  Damn, Ok need to work on this one too!

So my challenge of focusing on managing my time better and getting my energy back up is complete, but these action items will have to continue or really what’s the point? I do think it was helpful to have these typical New Year’s Resolutions disguised as a Happiness Project, because it felt less like I was trying to change something and more like I was trying to gain something – more happiness.  So did it work?  Well, while I may not have completed each task to the level I consider a success, I am proud of myself for trying and not quitting, and even now sharing this with you.  So that in itself has made me happier. Check!


Happiness at Home

One of the reasons I decided to do my very own Happiness Project was because the author, Gretchen Rubin was coming to Austin to talk about her new book Happiness at Home. So last night, I finally got to see the brains behind the mission at Book People here in Austin, TX.

I had never been to one of those bookstore events before, probably because I am not much of a reader. I wish I was, I want to be, but I’m not, and after “reading” aka listening to The Happiness Project on my iphone while commuting to and from work when I was in NYC, I embraced one of Gretchen’s Secrets of Adulthood: What’s fun for other people may not be fun for you–and vice versa (and I will add) and that is OK. I just don’t like to read; it’s not fun for me. I like to skim through books, I like to own books, especially pretty ones, and to be clear I have read many books, I just don’t like it. I like to write, I like to watch, I like to talk, but reading, well, it puts me to sleep, and I like to sleep. So, knowing that famous author or picking up that NYT bestseller is just not me; therefore, neither has been listening to authors speak at bookstores, until now.


Book People was packed with happiness hopefuls.  We got there only minutes before Gretchen Rubin came out.  She finally appeared and started chatting up.  She spoke an hour on happiness and gave some interesting tidbits on what she has learned through her studies, many of which are in her book.  She then answered questions ranging from personal (“Do your daughters read as much as you?”) to happiness specific (“How do I get my significant other’s buy-in to my Happiness Project?”) from the audience. What was clear is that everyone there was seeking the secret to happiness from the author.  Even I was curious and hopeful that she would have some magic words that would up my happiness meter.  And maybe she did, or maybe just the act of showing up, meeting friends, and opening my mind to new ways of approaching life put a smile on my face.  Either way, I left feeling … happy.

My Birthday Bucket List Surprise


It was a cold December night and I was instructed to wear something comfortable and to make hot chocolate for our evening adventure. He wouldn’t tell me where we were going which made my birthday even more exciting! So all bundled up in the car we drove up to what looked like an abandoned parking lot near the old airport in Austin when all of a sudden a small sign came into sight. We were at the Blue Starlight Drive-In! Yeah! I love getting Bucket List surprises!

open screen

We drove straight to the blown up screen that was plopped in the middle of the parking lot. We were in the front row and immediately latched on the portable speaker to the window so we could hear the movie. We had blankets, hot chocolate, snacks and each other. It was the perfect Birthday date.

snacksBefore the movie, we enjoyed old commercials that were shown at drive-ins “back in the day” promoting the smallest portions of French fries, popcorn and soda. There was nothing supersized that is for sure! After watching cartoon characters dance around with nostalgic refreshments for about 10 minutes, we decided to venture out into the dark cold to the refreshment stand/camper that was not far away where we found 1950 portions of hot dogs, popcorn and soda waiting for us. So authentic and perfect! Just how I had imagined! Well, except the port-a-potties that were near-by. I didn’t imagine that I would have to pee in the dark confines of a plastic mobile (and stinky) toilet. But ya gotta do what ya gotta do!


Back in the car and all bundled up the movie finally started: Best in Show. Great movie! And for the double feature, we also watched Waiting for Guffman, not as good in my opinion, but still funny. It was time to head home. The surrounding cars lights started popping on and people drove off (well except for 2 cars that need jumper cables – oops) we followed.

This was definitely one of the most fun birthdays I have ever had and a Bucket List item was checked off! Thank you my love!

January: Time & Energy

clockLast year my time and energy were on a roller coaster of ups and downs that my mind was constantly spinning.  I tried on several occasions to get focused, but so many wrenches were thrown into my plan that I would give up leaving my energy depleted and time lost.  This January I have decided to focus on managing my time better and getting my energy back up.  It’s the perfect way to start the year!

To help manage my time and to increase my energy I have decided to focus on 6 Daily Goals:

  1. Set the Day’s Schedule Daily:   I work for home which can be a blessing and a curse.  I can create my own schedule, but that can also lead to wasting time on unnecessary activities.  So to gain back my time, I need to plan my day so I can get what needs to be accomplished done.  I like ‘to-do’ list, I like schedules, but I also have to be willing to be flexible when my time planned gets changed.  To better manage my time I need to prep my day’s tasked daily.
  2. Move Move Move!:   I need to make exercise a part of my daily routine, included in my daily schedule and make it a priority.  This will help increase my energy and give me the lift I need to tackle the day.
  3. Turn off the TV:   Huge time waster.  I just need to turn the darn thing off!  My goal is to turn if off during ‘work’ hours :-)
  4. Don’t put off tomorrow what I can check off my ‘To-do’ list today:   I can be a procrastinator.  I just need to tackle every item on my ‘to-do’ and move on already.
  5. Clean my space: Clear my mind:   I am much more productive when my work and home spaces are clean and organized.  I have already gotten into the habit of making my bed daily.  Now I want to focus on picking up my work at the end of the day and cleaning the kitchen before going to bed.  Ahh … I know how good it will feel!

These 6 Goals are to help me focus, to set my schedule and to get more energized. Each will requires some work as I tend to get scattered about and then I ‘don’t have time’ to do anything, but I am ready to tackle January!

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