Run #4 – Paris, France

My last (and only) time in Paris was a bummer because my knee was taking orders from my knee surgeon to take the summer off from running. I couldn’t get it out of my head that I never got a chance to run in Paris, and felt a redo opportunity would have to present itself at some point.

Lucky for me, that “some point” was this week. Though the first couple of days I was still shaking off some jet lag, yesterday morning I woke up and hit the road at 8:30am (a.k.a: the crack of dawn for the French). During mid-day, the sidewalks and bridges are clogged up with pedestrians and rogue bikers, but in the morning there are relatively few people out in the most touristy areas. I randomly chose to run up and down the Seine, along the paved paths rather than the uneven stone sidewalks on the street level.

Along my route, I saw many other runners (sadly none of them women), commuters, and the occasional fisherman.


See? No people.

It was also a nice time to catch Notre Dame before it the tourist rush filled the square.


See? Just a few people.

As I knew we would be walking the rest of the day, three miles was plenty, and just enough to get me started for a day of eating all of the things.


Today we took the train to Barcelona so you can pretty much guess what Run #5 will be. Lord knows I need to exercise off egregious amount of food we are eating.

The 2017 Calendar

Haven’t made a bucket list for the year, but wish you had? January isn’t even over. Why not just grab a napkin, set a time for 5 minutes, and jot down a bunch of things you’d like to learn, see, try, or challenge yourself on? I usually start with a big list of around 35-40 items and trim it down to 20-25. The first step really is just putting the pen to the paper.

Once you’ve gotten that far, then what? (Hint: ball up the napkin and toss it out isn’t the answer).

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about setting goals, it’s that you’ve got to have a pretty specific plan to achieve them, no matter how big or small they are. Every year I set 20+ goals and so I sketch out a calendar of when I hope to check each goal off. I can’t leave them all hanging and expect to do them in December – that’s just irresponsible.

Except that today as I sat down to make my 2017 bucket list calendar, I realized that I don’t think I ever made one for 2016 – which might explain why last year was my least successful year (the three jobs and a nightmare boss might have had something to do with it, too). I think I got a little cocky last year and thought, I’ve done this enough that I don’t need a calendar…it’s in my head. It’s not that goals got forgotten exactly, but without a plan, I didn’t set staggered deadlines.

January of 2016 was an ugly time. When I think back to my daily life, a big grey cloud was hanging over me. Of course, it didn’t take long for me to find a better working environment, but that cloud muddled my enthusiasm for my personal life, too. This year, I have zero excuses. Everything is coming up Deacon lately, and I’m ready to attack my loftiest bucket list yet.

Here’s my calendar:


The colors represent loose categories.
Orange = exercise/fitness
Blue = food & drink
Red = buying or selling
Green = all the crazy-pants miscellaneous

Notice that burpees come up twice, mostly because I feel like June might be too busy, or maybe I would rather do some birthday burpees in September. Collecting shark teeth on Topsail Island and getting a tattoo with a former student are also not listed because they require some planning with other people.


Sometimes putting things on paper (or publishing it on a blog) is a little scary; the thing you wrote becomes official. My first step was to publish my 2017 list, and now that list is calendared out and it’s time to start rolling for real.

Why I Won’t Say “No”

Right now, I’m doing that thing that everyone is doing this time of year: microanalysis of all the things I did wrong in 2016 and thinking about how to get myself right. Eating better, exercising more, saving money…how many of you packed a healthy lunch from home today? Hmmmmm??? Yeah, I thought so.

When it comes to my bucket list, I have a firm rule that doing less of something has no place on my goal list. I’ve been googling “Bucket Lists” for final inspiration and so many of them say, “No sugar for 30 days,” or “Only cash for 30 days” or “No phone for a day” and on and on. Sure, I get it; these are definitely habits that can improve one’s quality of life. Frankly, I’m on that no sugar kick right now (although going without my phone sounds like torture) – no judgment on cutting out cupcakes.

However, for me a bucket list is about doing more, not less. (Even years back when this blog was about couponing, my goal was to indulge more on less money).

The idea behind my goals is that it pushes me to try, learn, or see something new; to challenge myself to something fun or nearly impossible. To say, “This year, I’m going to deprive myself of a lot of things and it’s going to be awesome” sounds ridiculous -right? You can’t break a habit without replacing it with something more worthwhile – it just doesn’t work.

Don’t believe me? Read this book.


I’m not trying to bag on anyone’s healthy lifestyle goals, I’m just saying that it’s likely that you’ll be miserable on day six because you haven’t had a cheeseburger or you’re sore from your new spin class or you already screwed up and bought pair of designer shoes. HOWEVER, you can deflect that misery if you also create for a goal that coincides with something you’re truly looking forward to.

I feel like we say no to things all day (at least I do). It’s reallyREALLY hard to have willpower when you’re constantly thinking about the things you can’t have or can’t do. Where is the fun in that? I don’t know about you, but I’m not here to say I didn’t do things in life; I’m here to do all the things.

Well, maybe not everything. I have no interest in learning the bagpipes. You get what I mean.

Today I spent some time looking at my goals from years past, and I can see a real evolution – they are getting bigger, more wordly, more weird (ok, they’ve always been weird).

So if you’re reading, I suggest that while you go easy on the chocolate, you also think about what you can do to enrich your life. It might make those heroin-like sugar withdrawal symptoms less painful.

(Also, if you’re kicking the sugar, I found this graphic that you can try. From experience, it won’t help you at all. You will still feel like you want to crawl in a hole and die at the end of the week. Stick with it – you’ll feel stronger in the end).


Tomorrow – I’ll publish my 2017 list. Probably.