This year, many of my fellow GenX friends are celebrating a milestone birthday, and it’s been super interesting to see how each one has decided to commemorate half a century here on Earth.  We’ve all been talking about our bucket list items, and as we compare notes, I realize that it is these shared dreams and aspirations that truly inspire us and deepen our bonds of friendship.

At this age, no one really cares what we all do for work, as long as it makes us happy and allows us to cover our basic needs.  Those that never married or had kids (which is at least 20% of the population) can now relate more with those of us that are recent empty nesters, who are enjoying a new-found freedom that simply wasn’t possible for almost two decades.  Despite the fact that these are incredibly uncertain times, there is almost a fundamental need among us to find a way to make the most of the time that remains available to us.

Here are my top 30 activities for you to consider adding to your bucket-list:

  1. Tour North America and Europe, including France, Spain and Italy
  2. Visit Iceland, and make sure to do the Golden Circle tour as well as stop at the Blue Lagoon
  3. Take a helicopter tour, particularly over Iguazu Falls in Brazil or the volcanoes in Hawaii
  4. Go horseback riding out west
  5. Try camping, or maybe glamping
  6. Go white water rafting
  7.  Stay at a ski resort and try skiing, snowboarding or snowtubing
  8. Ride a hot air balloon
  9. Take a long train ride, especially through the Rocky Mountains
  10. Visit Vancouver, including Victoria and ride a seaplane over the glaciers in Western Canada
  11. Try ziplining
  12. Play golf at a really nice private course
  13. Go scuba diving
  14. Get great seats and see your favorite band in a live concert
  15. Take a flying trapeze class
  16. Go skydiving, or try the indoor version at Ifly
  17. Visit Las Vegas and Hoover Dam
  18. Try rock-climbing
  19. See a Broadway show and tour NYC, especially during the holidays
  20. Take a cruise to Alaska and see the glaciers or the fjords in Norway
  21. Visit Disney and/or Universal Studios
  22. Go to the Caribbean and swim or kayak in the pale blue waters
  23. Explore some ancient Aztec or Mayan ruins in Mexico or Central America
  24. Tour a nice winery (Napa Valley is next on my list)
  25. Enjoy the great outdoors by hiking or biking through some of our national parks
  26. Fly first-class, and go to a famous Michelin star restaurant
  27. In addition to boating, try water skiing and ride the waves on a jet ski
  28. Tour the monuments of Washington, DC at night, and see the cherry blossoms
  29. Take a cooking class with a professional chef
  30. Get excellent seats to a game with your favorite professional football, baseball, soccer, basketball or hockey team

Having visited half the U.S. and over 28 countries, I have certainly made the most of the past three decades (since high school) working through this bucket list, with each item as a built-in reward after some major ordeal.  The reality is that it takes a lot of mental gymnastics to face incredible challenges and overcome difficult times.  Each new adventure has provided me hope along the way and given me a sense of purpose.  During many dark times, it is the memories of these experiences that allowed me to believe in a better tomorrow, because overall I think there are far more good people here than bad, and beauty is everywhere if we just take a moment to appreciate our surroundings.

These days, with so much uncertainty in the world the risk of becoming unhinged is quite real.  While few may be willing to publicly share the specific ingredients of the shit-sandwich life makes them swallow, the fact is none of us are getting through this pandemic without suffering tremendous loss and personal setbacks, and it is a daily chore (and choice) to reset and maintain a positive outlook.  In that vein, I encourage you to engage in activities that will help you counter-balance the negative crap that life will continue to throw our way.

Use your bucket list to help you move forward and find balance in your life.  The world we live in is full of beauty and wonder, it’s simply up to you to find it and make the most of it in during your journey here.  To all those that have made mine so full of rich experiences, I am eternally grateful for your friendship, generosity and grace.

By Regina A. DeMeo