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Wanting and Dreaming and Achieving

It’s funny, to look back on the things we want. How many desperately desired dolls and toys and clothes and electronics clutter landfills around the world? The sincerity of our cravings need not be doubted, but time has a way of changing the things for which we yearn. It changes us.

I recently glanced back on my Living List — bullet-pointed things I wanted to acquire or achieve. I formally created the list a decade ago, on a now-deleted personal blog, and I carried it over when I created this space. But then, the List drifted onto a back burner as the momentum of time drew my attention. And now, as summer hits its stride, I find myself with time to pause and reflect, and shine the spotlight on my desires.

Maybe I should have expected what would happen upon doing that but, nonetheless, I was surprise — my List requires substantial re-working. I am not who I was; I want not what I wanted.

Perhaps it’s time you took a few moments to revisit your own wants and dreams and goals, too?

Below are my edits, using my 3+ year old version as foundation. Peruse it for your pleasure.


  • Take a hip hop class. note: still haven’t done this.
  • Visit the ocean every weekend for a monthnote: no longer valid, as I don’t live in a coastal city and, surprisingly, I’m relieved to release that expectation.
  • Go apple pickingnote: no longer of interest — I think this desire stemmed from a need to be closer to nature, more intimately involved with my food and the process of sprouting and growing; in Paris, I feel far closer to foods’ origins, whether it be due to my increased attendance at farmers’ markets or the daily perfume of freshly baked bread wafting through the streets.
  • Learn Italian and live in Italy for a yearnote: this one cracks me up — I ended up in France and re-learning French (my high school classes and 1 year in college, 30 year ago, were equivalent to a pinch of salt in your favorite cake recipe — only helpful in a very tangential way) rather than selecting Italy, when I had the choice 18 months ago. Perhaps I’ll revisit a desire to spend extensive time in Italy, later in life, but, for now, the selection of Italy is a hold-over, based on the faded, aggressive romanticism of a 20-something. At 40-something, France fulfills the underlying yearning of this bullet.
  • Visit Bhutan. note: still haven’t done this, but now more people know where it is and have gone there themselves.
  • Visit Indianote: it’s not that I don’t want to go here — simply that it’s no longer a yearning.
  • Swim with dolphins. note: my higher self wishes I would delete this one for all the reported negative ecological impacts such behavior creates but… it’s still a dream, damnit, so it stays.
  • Skydive. COMPLETED. note: won’t do it again — thanks, unfixable inner ear wonkiness — but so worth experiencing free fall!
  • Bungey jump. note: I have yet to convince anyone to do this with me, and I want it to be a shared experience.
  • Take a hot air balloon ridenote: theoretically, I’d still love to do this but that inner ear thing I discovered while sky-diving, plus a newly acquired fear of heights, means this is being released — not a tragedy.
  • Learn to swing from a flying trapezenote: I took the first step toward this by learning trampolining and beginning trampoline aerials but here’s the thing… trampolining kicked my ass and suddenly the idea of having my arms ripped from my sockets while trying to ignore that newly acquired fear of heights really lost its appeal.
  • Do a back bend from a standing position. note: this desire could more accurately be written as “get out of bed in the morning without creaking” but I’ll remain ambitious;
  • Become debt-free. note: after almost 20 years, I was less than a year away from this goal, but then shit happened so the chipping away continues.
  • Go on a safari. note: YES!
  • Visit the mountain gorillas in Rwanda. note: this is dependent upon a curtailing of poaching and civil war…fingers crossed.
  • Attend a gallery exhibition of my art photographs. note: re-inspired to get this going!
  • Learn SCUBA and dive at Great Barrier Reef. note: this is dependent upon massive policy changes regarding environmental protections since scientists just recently announced the Reef is dead or dying — insane and tragic!
  • Learn to read Arabicnote: I’ll keep this one on the back burner, along with visiting India.
  • Learn how to surf. COMPLETED. note: kinda. If getting onto my feet, once, in a continuous movement toward belly-flopping, counts — one of the most physically challenging activities I have ever tried, and I really only ever wanted to do it so I could date a surfer dude and hang out with dolphins, neither of which was achieved during my weekend in almost-drowning hell.
  • Take a leap on a trampoline. COMPLETED. note: as mentioned above in relation to flying on a trapeze, I did this — fun, scary, challenging — might do it again but the yearning is gone.
  • Visit Yosemitenote: this is where I acquired my fear of heights, thanks to my impulsive decision to follow a 7-year-old monkey-child across a minuscule ledge — I suffered ridicule from the adorable little man for the remainder of our wilderness adventure but also witnessed some of the most stunning natural wonders the United States has to offer.
  • Stomp grapes at a winery. note: this remains but I’m guessing it will eventually get removed due to a general appreciation for imbibing their fermented juices.
  • Drive a race carnote: I no longer drive, so I’m no longer constantly stuck in traffic and dreaming for a way out.
  • Treat my family to a surprise, all-expenses-paid vacationnote: my family has a lot of healing to do, and this isn’t the way to do it.
  • Ride a zip line through the top canopy of a rain forest. note: YES!
  • Visit Petra, Jordan. note: this is dependent upon increased stability in the Middle East and keeping explosives-happy terrorists as far away from the region as possible.
  • Take a bicycle tour of Holland. note: YES!
  • Participate in a beach clean upnote: I don’t need an organized event in conjunction with some non-profit to accomplish this — I just clean up the beach when I visit. Crazy, non?
  • Organize an annual girlfriends’ weekend retreatCOMPLETED note: if it counts to have someone else do the actual organizing the first year and then simply taking on the repetition of the event.
  • Take a gondola ride in Venice, Italy. note: YES!
  • Purchase a Mona Kuhn photographnote: I don’t currently have my own furniture so I no longer envision the right photo or the right wall, but a passion for photography… that, I’ll always have!
  • Learn how to change a tirenote: I no longer own a car.
  • Acquire a Movado museum watchnote: when I first arrived in Paris, my run-of-the-mill watch broke, in an irreparable fashion, and I considered splurging on that dream watch from my childhood but, upon looking at it, I realized it was no longer special or meaningful to me. What was meaningful was deliberating choosing a new watch that reflected my new-found freedom in Paris — feminine and streamlined and beautiful and well-made, without breaking the bank — thank you, Skagen.
  • Create limited edition partnerships w/ select jewelry, stationery, home décor and lifestyle brands. note: this is a unformed whim, but I keep it here just in case all it needs is a little more room to develop into something more oncrete and actionable.
  • Fly a kite. COMPLETED. note: it’s kinda anti-climatic.
  • Create a retreat for members of the w/e. communitynote: oh, lordy…my business goals have morphed and transmuted and reformed so many times but for now, at least, I know that this idea feels like it belongs in the 101 pile and I no longer want to follow any 101 guides for what to offer whomever is listening.
  • Have a song written for and about me. note: YES! Fully embracing my romantic side!
  • Ride an elephant and a camel. note: YES!
  • Take a self-defense classCOMPLETED note: don’t fuck with me — I can send your nose through your face.
  • Skinny dip in the ocean. note: caveat — not at a public beach.
  • Meet the Dalai Lamanote: He’s a cool-seeming dude but I’ve realized I have nothing to say to him so it would be kinda pointless to meet him.
  • Do a boudoir photo session. note: I think every woman should do this, for themselves.
  • Take a road trip with my niece and nephew. note: I really hope this can happen someday, though they have still to get a little older.
  • See the Northern Lights, the Southern Lights, penguins and polar bears. note: YES! Before climate destroys visibility and increases extinctions, please!
  • Watch the sun rise and set every day for a week. note: I have yet to be able to do this for 7 straight days, on both ends of each day — it’s a fun challenge.
  • Finish the scrapbook of my trip to ChinaCOMPLETED note: the scrapbook was completed more than a decade after the trip, and now it sits in a box in the back of a friend’s garage — what does that reflect about the meaning of mementos, I wonder?
  • Witness a meteor shower. note: I’ve done this accidentally, but never purposefully — this desire is about being purposeful in witnessing the sky’s magic.
  • Spend a week on the beaches of Thailand. note: YES!
  • Go inner tube sleddingnote: if I happen across an inner tube, near some snow, I’ll still do it, but it’s no longer “a thing.”
  • Go to a costume ball, in costume. note: There’s a party at Versailles, wouldn’t you know!
  • Attend Paris Fashion Weeknote: I live in Paris now, for goodness sake — every day is like Fashion Week.
  • Gallop a horse along the beach. note: this is a hold out from the undue influence of romance novels, but its grip is still strong.
  • Hold a quarterly dinner party / game night for a full yearnote: I made it half a year, when it still mattered — it’s no longer symbolic.
  • Visit Kam, Tibet. note: I’m not sure if the Kam I glimpsed in the eyes of Tibetans I met while in Lhasa 15 years ago still exists, but I hope it does as that is the Kam I still want to visit.
  • Go to a Bjork concert in Iceland. note: I’m going to modify this to… GO TO ICELAND. period.
  • Finish reading Casanova’s autobiographynote: there are too many other books that actually hold my attention.
  • Relearn how to hula hoopCOMPLETED note: it’s all about the hoop’s balance!
  • See the stars from the Sahara. note: YES!
  • Dance naked in the rain. note: this will be a tribute, when it happens, but I’m in no rush.
  • See pink dolphins while traveling down the Amazon River.
  • Volunteer at a Nepalese shelter for child prostitutes.
  • Visit the thermal heat vents.
  • Learn to water ski.
  • Swim in a lake.
  • Achieve dual citizenship. note: YES! Five years and counting…
  • Sleep in a castle.
  • Spend an entire summer staying in a cottage at the beach.
  • Have a photo of mine published in National Geographic Magazine.
  • Work with Brene Brown, Susannah Conway, Michele Obama.
  • Attend Wimbledon and snack on strawberries with clotted cream.
  • Publish a coffee table book about coffee.
  • Attend a “So You Think You Can Dance” and a “Voice” tapingnote: in Paris, books have replaced reality TV shows in importance…thank god.
  • Wear a bikini, regularly and proudly, for a whole summerCOMPLETED note: this didn’t happen the way I expected it to — I thought the fulfillment of this would come after a massive loss of weight and toning of muscles — instead, it came about with a simple shift in perspective and a departure from Los Angeles — who’d a thunk it?
  • Create a lucrative, fulfilling passive income stream.
  • Make the traditional family Christmas breakfast for my own family.
  • Take a helicopter ride.
  • Take a glass blowing class.
  • Have an article published in Sun magazine.
  • Give a TED talk.
  • Produce my Street Treasures project.
  • Paint a canvas series.
  • Give away a million dollarsnote: this goal was tied to an idea that I had to have a certain amount of money in order to give more generously — I now know that to be a crap idea.
  • Write for film and television, and get my work producedCOMPLETED
  • Join the Screen Actors GuildCOMPLETED
  • Fall truly, madly, deeply in love with a man with whom I grow old.
  • Purchase land.
  • Achieve independence from diabetes medication.
  • Publish a work of fiction.
  • See my art hung on the walls of the Guggenheimnote: I read this and think of the kid who says they want to live on Mars — it may work for Elon Musk but for me there are no roots to this desire and I’ve outgrown the need to create sugar-spun fantasies — I prefer to dream about things for which I have the seeds, even if they have yet to be planted.
  • Serve as an artist-in-residence at the Rome Academy.

If you have made it this far, congratulations — I’m in awe of your fortitude and willingness to witness my navel-gazing. And for this, I give you a reward: the lessons I’ve learned during this reworking of my list, which may help you create or reformulate your own…

  1. I minimized the list; I no longer need to list every tiny desire but rather wish to concentrate on some big goals.
  2. I’ve maintained a mix of goals that are not too outrageous sprinkled among those which may be far more challenging to achieve. Otherwise, I set myself up to believe that achieving my desires is “impossible.”
  3. Often, the articulated want masks a deeper one; the subsequent fulfillment can often look different from the original description or expectation.
  4. Being changeable is not the same as being fickle. Rather, it is being human; being human is beautiful.

Best of luck as you (re)draw up your own lists!

In purpose + play,



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