Writing your life wish list...

Porch love...in Massachusetts.

Every now and again someone very kindly tags me to tell me a little bit about myself. With three days until the big move and a wandering mind as I pack, I thought I would share this post from a while back. To those of you who have read it before...I thank you from the bottom of my heart for still staying tuned to Collage of Life.

As for the photo above...it is where I will be on Sunday (Massachusetts, USA)... I can't wait to sit on that porch, take in that heady salty fresh air, slide into a kayak and reflect...I am nearly there. 


Have you ever tried speed writing a life wish list?  Just start with 'I wish...'.and then quickly write the first things that come to mind? 

This is an exercise from the book, The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. I purchased the book in 1997, the year I turned 40 and proceeded to write a wish list of 50 things I wanted to accomplish in my lifetime. Once done, I put the list away and simply forgot about it. I seem to recall that this was the idea behind the exercise. 

Many years later, in a different country and in very different circumstances, I came upon the forgotten list. What I discovered was insightful and intriguing. Without realising it, I was slowly getting thru my life list. Every once and a while I have an urge to look at the list again. It usually around the time when something significant in our life has happened or is about to happen. I always wonder if I foresaw it in my list.

I should preface this with describing my lifestyle in 1997. It is very different to my life today. We were living in Connecticut. My life revolved around my family, my children's schools, our country club and my gardening club. My children were 8, 6 and 4 years of age and I had recently stopped working to spend more time with them. We lived in a house we loved (here) and I thought we would spend the rest of our days in it. With that in mind, I created my life list. Here are the first ten items on my list, just as they appeared on the original list...

1. Learn to cook great meals with little headache
2. Make exercise and healthy eating a lifestyle.
3. Learn to speak Spanish.
4. Find a talent that I am very good at, not average!
5. Plant a spectacular garden around our property.
6. Travel back to Australia
7. Travel to London, visit countryside, explore and study English gardens.
8. Go to Africa!
9. See our house completely furnished in a style that we both agree on.
10. Throw a big memorable party.

I often wonder if I am looking into a crystal ball.  Since writing this list, we managed to move back to Australia, we have lived a short distance from London, we did go to Africa, we eventually decorated a house that we both agreed on. Mr. H. hosted a big memorable surprise birthday party on my 40th but....
I still get a headache when I try to cook great meals and I am still trying to make exercise and healthy eating a lifestyle. I am trading Spanish for Vietnamese and as for the gardens, it is a matter of opinion. :)

A few others on my list that I have managed to tick off.

14. Make a significant contribution (volunteer) to the children's school.
17. Expose our children to as much as possible to broaden their horizons.
20. Spend a day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC by myself.
21. Take an interior design course.
22. Win a prize for a flower arrangement or landscape design in my garden club.
23. Travel to China.
33. Renovate our house to fit our expectations of what it could be.

There are a number of things on my life list that I no longer have an interest in doing...learning to play golf, take up long distance running and becoming a great tennis player. I think that was the country club talking. :)

Every now and again, I start a new list, with the same format. Write the list quickly, let the top of mind thoughts come first, date it and put it away. Honestly, it has been one of the most productive exercises that I have ever done. I encourage my children to do the same and to make it a life long writing exercise. Today, as I packed away our belongings, I found it again. I still have lots to do, places to go, people to see....and sooner or later I hope to complete #1 and # 2! I still believe that you are never too old to learn. 

How about you, do you have a life wish list? If you want to try this, grab paper and pen, find a quiet spot, focus and write...good luck!

I am sharing in the hopes that a few of you 
might enjoy the exercise as well. :) 

PS...my son asked if Vietnam was on my original list.
Off to find the list!

Happy Writing!


  1. How lovely to come across your list and discover that you have accomplished many of your goals. My list is, I suppose, in my head and ever changing - perhaps I should write it down and then look back in years to come. I can understand why you can't wait to get to the porch - so peaceful.

  2. Saw a PBS production of To The Lighthouse in the 80's. Lead me to the book which I've read many times since.

    Hunted down the video decades later. Without knowing, I have made that my life. The interiors, friends......... Was in tears watching.

    XO T

    1. Tara..that has to be one of my all time favourite books. I have not seen the video and am now intrigued. Thank you for sharing... :)

  3. Jeanne, "The Artist Way" is an amazing book. I go back and read all of it or part of it once a year. I have a couple of her other books as well. The exercises get the creative juices going. I actually agreed to moderate a group wanting to use the book for a study. It was the third time for me to go completely through it and I found I was also the student. I still try to do my morning pages.

    I have been thinking of you and your move. I wish you the best and I look forward to hearing all about your adventures. Bonnie

    1. Thank you Bonnie! An adventure it will certainly be! :)

  4. Amazing! I have twice done The Artists Way and now I am determined to find those lists! I had forgotten all about them...

    Dear Jeanne, here you go!!! I am so thrilled for you and will be sending lots of love and strength to you in the days ahead...within the blink of an eye you will be on that porch relaxing until your shoulders drop. You can do it!


    1. I am on the porch, writing this Heather...the shoulders are dropping. :)

  5. I have the book "The artists Way by julia Cameron. I have to admit, that i was half way through it. When someone asked if they could borrow it.. I read your blog now, and i have been looking frantically for the book again.
    I often jot down things that are on my mind.
    I believe, that before we jot them down, we have already told ourselves that that is what we would like to do, and our mind is then set. Hopefully many of us can follow through.
    I have been lucky so far, and been able to many of the things i wished to do.
    I love cooking, not washing dishes.
    There are a few places i would like to visit. dont know if I have time.. it fly's by.
    lovely post Jeanne.. I love the way you write.
    Enjoy your time in US of A, before you move to Vietnam. (thats a place i would like to visit)
    kind regards val

  6. Bonjour Jeanne. I have not commented here often until now, but have been following your posts for a while. I am glad I stopped by today. What a wonderful, thought-provoking story. I have never read "The Artist's Way" but it sounds as if I may want to add it to my reading list this summer. As for writing that list... You have inspired me to do so over the next few weeks. My family and I are about to go sailing around the San Juan and Gulf Islands (one of the perks of living in the Pacific Northwest,) and there will be plenty of time to ponder when the wind dies down :-) Merci. Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

  7. Beautiful list! I've always been hesitant to create a "bucket list" like this, I guess because I don't want to feel like I failed if I neglected to get them done. But I love the way you approach it, as a continuous exercise, that you revisit from time to time, and make adjustments as appropriate or desired. It's more about focusing you on what's important. Love it!

  8. I love it Jeanne. I think there is something to writing it down. I've accomplished much that I've wanted to, have many more goals to go, and am always changing as it goes. But I've never written it down. Intriguing thoughts are running rampant right now. I am inspired.

  9. Thanks so much for sharing this. As we approach a major life change I've found myself wondering, "what do I do now?" I think a list like this would help me sort that out. xx

  10. At 55, I have achieved many of the things that were on my wish list 10 years ago. I feel like most other things I get, at this point, are icing on the cake. (I'm by no means done.) But its fun to read others' lists.

  11. Oh Jeanne, you come up with such wonderful ideas. This is definitely something I need to do. I sure love the look of that porch. I always dream that one day I will have a house with a porch. Maybe someday :)

  12. Great post may just have to give this a try.

  13. Love this post Jeanne, just as I love all your posts.

    I write a Life: To Do list every year. I deliberately do an ambitious one. Unfortunately, there are always ones that fall by the wayside (I still can't cook very well!), but I manage to knock off most of them. It's a great exercise, and I encourage everyone to do it. It just helps you define what you want to achieve in life, rather than leaving those dreams and desires to rattle around the back of the brain where they're likely to be forgotten about!

    Hope the move is going well. Thinking of you!

  14. You just sent me off to my bookshelves where I found my copy of the Artists Way at Work
    oh heavens I haven't read it for years and now I am about to leave my beloved Tour and take the book to bed!!!!!

  15. I have not read the book, but you have inspired me to do so. I can only imagine what I would have had on my list long ago...hmmmmm..

  16. Oh Jeanne, how lovely to read your fine list and to see how those things that were important have stayed close to the same conceptual center in most cases. I, too, began in the early 90's practicing Morning Pages and following the text of the "Artist's Way" about every three years, doing the exercises as well as doing the practice of morning pages. I have never gone back and read those lists yet know that I will be doing that soon, encouraged by your visit to those historical writings shared with us today.
    My journey with the Morning Pages has been always an experience of opening new doors and sometimes I have walked through those doors and found magic and other times I have been more tentative and the aha moments came in little dribbles.
    Every day that I read your thoughts on the blog become special days for me; something in your style of writing opens windows and doors for me.. much like writing the Morning Pages does... and each thread you share delights me so very much.
    Thank you for making your life journey and wanderings a written story that invites us all along with you.


  17. Hello Jeanne

    I am so delighted to hear you are USA bound and the porch looks divine. You deserve a rest and pampering.

    I have a list I write at the beginning of each year and, like you said, it is amazing how many items gets ticked off. My friend always says "if you start it, it will get finished". Your list also brought to mind a mission I attended decades ago. The subject was Worry and how to live a happier life. We were all asked to write down a list of the items that weighed heavily on our hearts. The Priest then gave us each a brown paper bag. He called it a "God Bag" In it we put our list of worries and he suggested we lock the bag away in the back of a closet. He said not to keep bothering God by asking him how he is doing with our list but to believe and trust that God is looking after us. He suggested we visit the bag in a year and read the list. Yes, you guessed it, after a year most of the worries had disappeared.

    Enjoy your remaining days in the U.K.

    Helen xxx

  18. Hi Jeanne - I am off to buy the Book - thank you! I have just posted my Capture the Colour blog - with your nomination at the bottom - good luck and happy travels. xx

  19. What a great idea. I'm going to do this right now. I love writing lists and I love thinking about my goals for the future. Thank you for posting this. It's inspired me in a moment where I was needing to feel inspired.
    Much love x x

  20. Oh my goodness! I hadn't read your post when I wrote mine today! I am just not up to life lists. Yours seems to be working really well for you.

  21. Hello Jeanne

    At your suggestion I posted on "The God Bag" today and referenced this post of yours.

    As you fly through the clouds, sending you good wishes

  22. Kudos to Richard Bach's books, and to you for the subtle inviting sunset photos..nice long porch, too.....

  23. Hi Jeanne, I've been meaning to grab a cup of cofffee and catch up on your posts. I like this one. I wish I would take the time to write a list, but I think I'd worry about someday running across it, only to discover that I hadn't checked enough off. I prefer to write retroactive lists. They make me feel better. Basically I think of all the things I'm glad I did and write them down. Then I feel like quite the success. Ha. Also. I wish I knew the story of your mother. Is she an artist? Have I missed a post about her?
    Leslie (aka Gwen Moss blog)

  24. I have a list of medium-term goals, I haven't tried doing it for my whole life! :-)


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Can I just say....that I so enjoy what YOU have to say. If you would like to write to me directly, I would love to hear from you... jeannecollageoflife@gmail.com

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