#AtoZChallenge | N is for New Experiences and moving my bucket list virtual.

I’ve posted a few annual bucket lists to this blog in the past. However, I didn’t for 2020. I needed to step back and think about what my goals were around my bucket list as typically we’d only cross a few entries off each year. That didn’t make me happy. I’m the kind of person who gets giddy when she finishes a to-do list.

Maybe that was the problem. Had I set them up to be just another thing to cross off?

I’ve read the headlines telling us it is better to invest in experiences rather than things. That it will bring us more joy. I don’t need to be convinced. I definitely would pick an experience over a purchase any day.

Why do new experiences bring bliss into my life? Below are five reasons that I love new experiences:

People. Typically, new experiences involve other people. After years of believing myself to be an introvert, I read Quiet by Susan Cain and realized I’m actually a shy extrovert. Being around other people gives me energy. Often new experiences are something that I do with other people which makes it that much sweeter.

Planning. With the financial stress of two girls in college, big trips and adventurous vacations were on the back burner for a bit. We told ourselves we’d celebrate once they graduated. I made it through three and a half years and balked. Even with the wonderful smaller vacations we managed to take, it wasn’t the same. If I’m not planning a big trip, I’m not happy. The excitement of deciding what we’ll do, researching and planning out our days, is so much fun. I live the experience a thousand times before I actually get to do it.

Learning. I recently took the VIA Character Strengths Survey and the results were that my greatest strength is my love of learning. I would agree. I read primarily non-fiction, am obsessed with documentaries and have taken so many craft classes that I’m not sure there are any left in Maine for me to try. I think I’ll have to move onto cooking classes next. I love to learn. New experiences bring the opportunity for new learning.

Memories. I remember the things I did and the places I went much more than the things that I bought. Pictures of previous adventures surround me. As I glance to my right, I see the view from the top of Skellig Michael in Ireland and across the architectural marvel that is Machu Picchu in Peru. I can go back to those moments in an instant and remember the exhilaration and joy of being there.

Beauty. Obviously, not all experiences carry the same weight, but for those exceptional ones that can take your breath away, it is wonderfully amazing.

While I was gaining deeper insight into why new experiences bring me bliss, the world came to a screeching halt as the COVID-19 virus reached pandemic levels. With our new world normal of sheltering in place and social distancing, I decided to revamp my bucket list and go virtual, at least for now.

Here are a few virtual experiences I’ll be trying as we stay home and work to flatten the curve:

  1. Learn more about Happiness. I decided to take advantage of the wealth of free online courses that many colleges now offer. I’m in the process of taking The Science of Well-Being, offered by Yale through Coursera. It takes both a scientific and practical approach to happiness. The first time I brought my oldest daughter to elementary school for orientation, I got teary eyed. It wasn’t because I was sad that she was growing up, but because I was so excited for all the new experiences she was going to have as she went through her school years. I’ve always loved school and learning, so taking an academic approach to exploring bliss sounds like fun to me.
  2. Revisit our Honeymoon. As I packed for our honeymoon to the South of France and Italy, I envisioned myself as Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday (1953) and brought plenty of flowing summer dresses to fit the part . I never quite matched her casual, effortless beauty but I did get to wander the streets of Italy and it was Florence that won my heart. It was a beautiful, art-filled city that easily lived up to their reputation as the birthplace of the Renaissance. With so many museums and other sites offering virtual tours, I can now walk through the halls of the Uffizi again. Here’s a short virtual tour of the museum: Explore the Uffizi Galleries. This link is to a longer, thirty four minute virtual walking tour that takes you around the city: Florence, Italy Short Walking Tour.
  3. Stay Active. This is probably one of the hardest areas to focus on right now, especially as many of the trails I typically hike are closed due to the pandemic. Other than walking the dog, I’m not moving my body too much these days. The My Peak Challenge website is offering a free 30-Day Social Distancing Challenge with activities you can do from home to keep moving. Nice, concise lessons on how to keep active each day.
  4. Catch a Theatrical Show. We looked into getting tickets to see Hugh Jackman in the Music Man when it comes to Broadway this fall but sadly at $450 each for the matinee we couldn’t justify the purchase. My girlfriend texted me the link to filmed on stage. Now that Broadway’s lights have dimmed temporarily, they are offering opportunities to watch many of the shows via streaming. The available list changes regularly. While I may catch a show or two, since I already own the video of Hugh Jackman’s London performance of Oklahoma, I think I’ll be playing that on repeat for now. I’ve always been a fan of those Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals.
  5. Join a Book Club. I’ve wanted to join a book club for a few years and there seem to be quite a few options for virtual clubs catering to different interests. I’m going to give The Reddit Book Club a try. It helps that their April book selection, “Devil in the White City” is a book I already own and have been meaning to read. It’s a win-win situation.
  6. Listen to some Ted Talks. There are some riveting Ted Talks out there. I’ve listened to many in the past, most recently The Power of Vulnerability by Brené Brown which was fantastic. Given my blissful theme this year, I’m going to check out some of the Ted Talks under their “What makes you happy?” topic heading. There are so many interesting ones listed. I’m looking forward to listening to a few.
  7. Enjoy some virtual stops along the Maine Beer Trail. We have been working our way through the Maine Beer Trail for the last few years now.  The Maine Brewers Association puts out a beer trail map which lists all the craft breweries in Maine. You earn prizes by getting stamps in your map for each brewery that you visit. While our visits have been put on hold for now, the Maine Brew Bus is offering virtual tours with local craft brewers on their Instagram page. Previous virtual visits are available on their website.

Why does this bring me bliss? The planning, enjoying and remembering of new experiences all add bliss to my life in different ways. While more traditional bucket list items are on hold for now, there are still many opportunities to find bliss through virtual and at home experiences. There is always something new to try.

Do you have any new adventures planned for 2020? How have you been keeping busy during the pandemic?

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I’m participating in a Blogging A-Z Challenge for April 2020. I will be posting new content every day this month except most Sundays. Each post is associated with a letter of the alphabet, starting with A and ending with Z. My theme for the challenge is Bliss. To read more of my A to Z posts from this year, click HERE.

26 thoughts on “#AtoZChallenge | N is for New Experiences and moving my bucket list virtual.

  1. lindamaycurry says:

    My plans for 2020 involved two weeks in a Sicily and a yacht in Croatia. I still weep when I look at my folder of flights, accommodation and boat trips. The planning was so much fun. Cancelling was not. Then my husband had a mini stroke and an operation. While he is improving he has lost confidence and long haul flights are out of the question even after Covid-19 is a bad memory. However we are thinking that when this is all over we will visit some places closer to home. In the meantime we are getting our garden under control and managing to take walks in the deserted university grounds and Botanic Gardens which are near our home. With time to examine everything closely we are seeing more than we ever did before. We can get lost in the gardens and avoid the odd person who ventures out. At the moment it is fine to stay in our postcode to exercise so I am working on increasing my husband’s steps each day. My bucket list is to see him healthy and happy again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Weekends in Maine says:

      I am so sorry to hear about your husbands stroke. That is incredibly stressful. I am glad that you are still able to visit the Botanic Gardens and walk in your neighborhood. I hope that he is healthy and happy again soon.

      Sorry to hear about your trip too. It must have been difficult to cancel all those wonderful plans. We have a trip scheduled for September. I’m hoping we can still go but it’s definitely unknown at this point.


  2. Mikaela D'Eigh says:

    What a great idea! Love this list – will have to do some for myself! This pandemic has given me new insight into what’s important and what I want to do wants it’s all over. I’ve been meaning to check out some free online courses but hadn’t done it yet – will add that to my To Do List today!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Arti says:

    I like your revamped bucket list. But if your central theme has always been experiences over possessions then you were always going to be on the right path in my book.
    Love the fact that you’ve polished off all the craft classes available in your area:) That’s a super creative human being–enjoy and be safe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Weekends in Maine says:

      Yes, I’ve always valued experiences over things. They are so much more rewarding. Now with the virtual move to online experiences – maybe I can find a few more craft classes to add to my list too!


  4. ourcrossings says:

    This is such a perfect and inspiring list! We had to cancel our well curated road trip adventures to the Scottish Highlands where we were planning to explore the Isle of Skye and visit friends in Edinburgh. At the moment, we are taking each day as it comes and don’t feel like planning any trips, in case we have to cancel again; that would shutter my heart. Thanks for sharing and inspiring 😀 Aiva

    Liked by 1 person

  5. mollyscanopy says:

    These are great! Now that we have to dip our bucket in the home well, may as well try to enjoy it. I am bookmarking this for after A to Z Challenge when my blogging will be less intense. Wish I’d know about the 30-day social distancing challenge before. But there’s always May, since NY’s governor has extended our pause another month. I have been walking in-home — 1-3 miles a day — and looking at an online book club. Thanks for the additional ideas!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. slfinnell says:

    I’m gonna check out that action challenge. I live on a walking trail but everyone and their brother is on it and I’m just not seeing the distancing observed like there should be. Gardening is on hold til warmer weather too so thank ya! Lots of ideas for the choosing in your post. Good one!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Shilpa Garg says:

    Love the ideas you have shared. There’s a lot you can learn and do while staying indoors. The ideas of listening to TedTalks, joining a book club and doing online courses are great! All the very best to you, have a great time learning and enjoying, as you stay home and flatten the curve! Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. dyannedillon says:

    I’m with you, I’d rather have experiences than gifts. When we take a trip, and most of ours are just long weekends, I make a big deal of finding interesting, off the beaten path, things to do.
    I would LOVE to see Hugh Jackman in The Music Man. Love classic musicals! Up until the Covid 19 debacle, I was trying to win the Hamilton lottery any time the tour was within a reasonable driving distance to me.
    I’d like to go back to where we honeymooned some day. We went to Carmel and had such a lovely time!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Weekends in Maine says:

      Experiences stay with us so much longer than things. Long weekends are wonderful. We do a lot of those too. Finding off the beaten path stuff to do is the best. I’m always looking for things like that when we travel too.


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