40Gal Bucket List

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

Archive for the category “Write a Blog for a Year”

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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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!


My Happiness Project

happiness project

The more I researched The Happiness Project, the more I realized I am already in the middle of my very own Happiness Project: My 40Gal Bucket List.   To me, they are very similar:  create a focus, work towards a goal, and joy follows.  The biggest difference is that The Happiness Project focuses on various areas of your life (home, marriage, money) and then create measurable action items to accomplish with the hopes that they will become a habit, where as a Bucket List is just that, a list of ‘to-do’s’ which will often be checked off never to re-visit again.  Both ‘projects’ I think are very beneficial. Obviously the Bucket List is something I cherish and it has brought me happiness, but what about the other ‘stuff’ I should to work on? Like home, marriage, money? With this said, I decided to embark on a yearlong Happiness Project to focus on various areas of my life.  As I begin to map out the year I can already see how My 40Gal Bucket List could easily be integrated into this monthly project; however, I believe The Happiness Project will bring new challenges that will enriched my life and bring me more happiness.

So we begin.  Below is the list of each month’s focus or theme for 2014.  I will not dig deep into each now, but will decide the nitty-gritty when I am approaching that month. Each month’s focus will have various measurable goals which I will work on daily to meet.  I have and will continue to use the books:  The Happiness Project and Happier in the Home by Gretchen Rubin, as well as her blog: http://gretchenrubin.com/ to guide me through the process.  I am excited about where My Happiness Project will lead me … let the journey begin!

  • January: Time & Energy
  • February: Love & Marriage
  • March: Work & Passion
  • April:  Play & Leisure
  • May:  Family Near & Far
  • June:  Spirituality & Eternity
  • July:  Friends & Friendship
  • August:  Self Design
  • September:  Home & Neighborhood
  • October:  Money & Possessions
  • November:  Thanks & Gratitude
  • December:  Balance

Happy New Year!


I have decided New Year’s Day is my favorite holiday, my favorite time of the year. There is something so fresh, so promising, so exciting about January 1. I just love that hopeful feeling.

I always prep for the big day; the week before I clean and organize to feel ‘ready’ for that special day of January 1. The week after (like today) I scramble to get everything moving according to plan. Some years it works out smoothly, other years, not so much. This year, I started over a week early cleaning out closets, throwing away old … everything, and planning what my focus of 2014 would be. “Focus” meaning my New Year’s Resolutions. Yes, I’m that person, one who writes down a list of things I want to “resolve”. Over the years I have kept some resolutions, but, of course, many are forgotten or ignored by mid-January. In 2001, I made the resolution to not eat French fries and I didn’t eat French fries for the entire year. The next year I gave up potatoes altogether. It was my thing. This resolution created a new habit, a healthier habit, but that fell to the wayside in 2010 when we went to Paris. Once I opened the flood gates for ‘les pommes frites’, it hard to close them back. Potatoes have been a part of my diet since.

This year I am trying a different tactic with my resolutions. I am sharing them. Not just with my best friend, but with all my friends, including you. I have decided to post my list. That way you can hold me accountable.

So the list:

  • Use the Lose It! App every day – yep instead of a wt loss goal, I am committing to using this app.
  • Cook/Plan dinner 7 days a week – no more ordering pizza because we have nothing to eat!
  • No French Fries (pot/sweet pot) – Let’s just do this again, shall we?
  • No coke/soda for the year – Did this before, can do it again.
  • Throwback/Flashback Thursday on FB: Why? I have been researching my ancestry and I should be sharing what I have found, and well, it will also force me to start scanning old photos
  • Check 12 items off Bucket List – I only have 365 weeks left until I turn 50 – I need to get some of my fun stuff checked off!
  • Blog 1/wk – Yes, you will see me more often!
  • 1/month new Austin Restaurant – Resolutions should also be FUN!
  • Happiness Project – I am committing to the yearlong Happiness Project – want to join me?
  • 10,000 steps/day – Need to get walking again – In Austin it doesn’t come as easy as in NYC.

As you can see, I have committed to blogging 1/wk and to tackle at least 12 items on my Bucket List. So I should be here way more often than I have been, which I hope you find exciting ;-). I have also added a project, The Happiness Project. This is something I have always wanted to do and I think it is a good time to start. I will be blogging about that as well 

I have now stated to the world my 2014 New Year’s Resolutions. I believe it is a simple, achievable and even fun list, so there shouldn’t be any excuses. I’m getting that overwhelming feeling of hope again, ahh … feels so good! 2014 will be an amazing year!

Saved by my ‘To-Do’ List

To Do List

I read once that a Sunday New York Times has more information in it than what an average person from the 16th century learned in a lifetime. It’s no wonder why we are so overwhelmed. We live in a world of so much. So much to do, see, read, learn, hear, think, taste, smell … the list can go on and on. It’s so overwhelming that what happens is you end up doing nothing of significance and then wonder where the time went? This can happen in your day, year and in your lifetime.

That is why I create lists.  My daily ‘to-do’ and my life ‘to-do’ aka Bucket List all help me become less overwhelmed and more productive.

But what happens when creating your ‘to-do’ becomes another task that overwhelms you?  That is what I have been feeling for the last few days.  Overwhelmed and stuck because I have so much floating in my head right now that I don’t know where to begin. 

What is the answer?  I have struggled with this and it just dawned on me about an 2 hours ago that I need to just do it.  I know so … Nike commercial, but so very true.  I just need to stop thinking in circles and start doing.  Just write the damn list already and move forward.

So after a day, or 3, I finally got out of my head and wrote down my day and week’s ‘to-do’ list, and I even reviewed my bucket list to see what I need to work on next.  I feel much better already.  My sanity was saved by my ‘to-do’ list!  And now, let’s start checking things off!

Xin Chao Vietnam!

I’m in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam for work right now and decided it was a good time to learn a few more “hello’s” for my bucket list challenge of learning how to say hello in 40 different languages. 

So around the Orient we will go …

First stop: Vietnam:  Xin Chao (sin chow)!  This has come in handy while I’m here :-) 

On my way here I stopped in Hong Kong where I was able to greet my Starbucks cashier in Cantonese with Lei Ho!  If I would go to China, I would speak Mandarin and say Ni Hao!  In Japan, it’s Konichiwa and in Korea, it’s Annyong Ha Shinmikka (An-YOH HASHim-ni-kah).  If I headed to Taiwan, I would say Li HO BO!  Finally if I would go to the Philippines I would speak Tagalog (not tag-a-long as I have been saying) and say MABU-HAV!

So Hello to the Orient!

PS.  I just learned another way to casually greet someone in Vietnam is by flashing what we call the “peace’ sign: middle and index fingers making a ‘V’ … groovy, right? 

So Hello Vietnam and to you …

Peace out!

Almost Gettin’ High in Ohio

We woke up bright and early on Sunday morning to tackle the great state of Indiana, but we had a slight detour on our agenda. 

As mentioned before we had encountered and overly friendly waitress at Bob Evans.  She informed us of the Hot Air Balloon Festival going on nearby.  Quickly we did our research and changed the plan for the morning of our ‘Indiana’ day.    The festival was only minutes from where Melissa lived (she was the one kind enough to join me to tackle this item on my list) but still about 45 minutes from the hotel we stayed at in Cincinnati.   At the festival tethered rides were offered from 6:45am-9:00 am – Perfect! 

After a long night drinking beer it was a bit difficult getting up at 6:30am, but we managed to get up, dressed, and check out.  We even got a little something to eat and still we arrived at the balloon festival with time to spare at 8:30am.   We quickly paid our $10 and waited in line anxious to experience the 3 minute, mini adventure that lied ahead.  By 9:15 we were second in line and getting a little excited.  Then our balloon busted!  They informed us that they would not be taking any more riders  but we could get our money back.  WTF!!!  We were waiting for about 45 minutes and … really?!?!  UGHHHH!!!! 

And I could have slept in.

Four Seasons (Le Quattro Stagioni)

The piece I have chosen as one of my top 10 classical musical pieces of all time is specifically called Four Seasons (Le Quattro Stagioni) Concerto for Violin in E Major, RV 269, Op. 8:1, “Spring”: I. Allegro.  It was composed by Antonio Vivaldi in 1723.

Take a listen.  Doesn’t it sounds familiar and doesn’t it make you feel you are walking through the Four Season hotel?   I have visions of floral upholstered furniture, hand painted oil portraits of very cute, yet expressionless children on the wall, large vases (pronounced VAAAAses) with fresh, multi-colored flowers on a large wooden round table under a huge crystal chandelier, and of course, off white marble, shiny floors.  Did you envision the same thing?

Hello World

Welcome to 40 Gal!  Visit often to see my progress in completing my 40 Gallon Bucket list before December 28, 2010, the day I turn 40.

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