August 18, 2019

50 before 50 bucket list - Malta sunset taken from a cruise

This is my 50 before 50 bucket list. This post might be remembered by long time readers as it was pinned as a page for the longest time. It’s not one of those l can’t die without doing this list. It’s more like things l would like to do by the time l hit that milestone age.  It all started during my high school years in Boston. I had a list of places l wanted to visit and things l wanted to learn or do including visiting the most popular destinations. Like every girl l knew, I had my little notebook that l jotted things in. As the saying goes, I am a day late (make that five years!) and a dollar short. Read all about the progress.

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50 Before 50 Bucket List:

I turned 55 just recently and that is what made me dig up this list. I wanted to see what else l had accomplished. I must admit, l have been lucky in life as l have managed to do quite a bit of these, but it was planned luck.

I was able to visit some of my favourite places after college. I was single, making good money and knew l wanted to be child free. It was by design you could say. Some of these things l have done, some l have not, but look forward to doing. Some l’m pretty sure are never going to happen (like swimming!). I will update the list as l think of more things l would like to do ( I was at about 27 done when originally written). Either way, it’s fun to look at my list and cross off the ones done!

50 by 50 : Here Goes

1) Be Jessie’s girl (told you it was old!) 

Who didn’t love Rick Springfield and that song? While l never got to be Jessie’s girl, I did attend every concert he did in Boston. I remember once we found out he was staying at one of the posh hotels in Prudential center and my friends and l stalked him. I still remember my polka dot dress (the off shoulder ones popular back then) and wearing cream coloured high heels that killed my feet. We made it to his floor (getting off the elevator at a lower floor and climbing the stairs for the rest), but we were foiled by the bodyguards!

Black female 80's outfit walking in hallway

Walking the runway sometime in the 80’s. Where was l going? I would guess a Billy Idol concert, not Rick Springfield :-).

2) Sing on stage with Billy Idol

Never happened! I loved and still love Billy Idol. I went to every single concert in Boston, and all the close-by areas like Maine, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. I died my hair blonde, well yellow! Now l am still paying the price :-). Haha! Later on in life I did meet him at least twice and he was super nice. In my profession, I met pretty much everybody, everybody! HIPPA privacy rules prevents me from naming names though.

3) Learn to ride a motorcycle

Done! It was a gift to myself for my 30th, and l rode for 10 years before selling my motorcycles. I had a Suzuki 450, a Kawasaki Vulcan and a Suzuki Intruder 1400. It was fun riding around the streets of L.A and Calabasas and running into folks like Arnuld and Jay Leno amongst other riders. Stopping at Paradise Cove for food with friends and thinking of Beach Blanket Bingo and always humming “another pleasant valley Sunday” under my helmet.

woman on motorcycle in the 90's

Arriving to work where l will swap that shirt for a white jacket..not! I got away with not wearing a lab coat for years and years :-).


4) Visit France

Done quite a few times and hope to do it again for sure. Paris is always fun. I still have the fondest memory of visiting Versailles with a complete stranger and discovering the postcard she mailed me years later, visiting Marseille which was amazing and made me happy that we ignored the warning from others.

2 black women in the Monet's garden

Me and my best friend in Monet’s Garden many, many moons ago. Still my all time favorite travel experience as l love his art. We certainly had a lot of adventures through the years.

5) Visit Spain

Haha! We know how that has turned out! My first visit to Madrid was like yikes 35 years ago by my lonesome, way before the internet and l didn’t speak a word of Spanish, it was just me and my guide book. I remember my day trip to Toledo and meeting two old ladies who were visiting from Kansas or Arkansas (can’t remember which) and were so thrilled to have ditched their boring husbands to take their once in a lifetime trip. Now, we live in Valencia so close to Madrid. We have lived in Seville and Malaga also. It’s hard to believe because l certainly never pictured living here back then. Having purchased our flat here, we are staying here for a while.

6) Visit Portugal

Done! We absolutely love Portugal. We have visited the Algarve region, had a totally horrendous day trying to visit Sintra when we visited Lisbon and we both agree that Porto is hands down our favourite part of the country and we can’t wait to revisit.

woman in FC Porto stadium seat

Woohoo! On a tour of the FC Porto stadium. Loved it!!!

7) Live in Europe

Done! Who freaking knew this would happen! It was a pipe dream. You see the movies and you dream. Who knew years down the line l was going to meet a Roman and actually think seriously about it. Some of you know what triggered the hard look at moving. Our first stop was Malta and we enjoyed it very much, and now we are living in Spain. I still tell Federico l want my “Under the Tuscan sky” experience!

8) Visit Berlin

I don’t even know how this was on the list. I can only imagine that it had to do with Hogan’s Heroes or my former obsession with the amazing singer Nina Hagen. l had to see the wall after it came down l guess. We enjoyed the city. Learning history is so much more fun now, better than reading books.

9) Visit Prague

I’m guessing this one made it there at some point because l read so much about that city being a place l had to visit..blah..blah..blah. I have done, and l know it pisses off people, but l didn’t really like Prague. It is a very pretty city, no arguments, but it just didn’t jell for me like it did Federico. Do l hate Prague? No, not even in my first impression, but l found it Meh! I much preferred our day trip to Cesky Krumlov and l would go back just to revisit the Museum Tekniki which was the most amazing place.


10) Write a book

Done. My dream since l was a little girl has always been to be an author. I can not tell you how l used to devour Enid Blyton and James Hadley Chase books. This progressed to Harold Robbins and Sidney Sheldon to name a few. In my head, I was the next Jackie Collins. My first novel was a gay romance novel in 2012. I have written two extremely short novellas, one the new platform Amazon 15 min read and one a 30 min read. I have written a short get your shit together self help book and have just recently completed a moving and settling how to book for Spain with a focus on Valencia.

11) Learn Yoga

It has not happened, not unless you count a couple of classes with Nintendo Wii :-). It’s one of those things l just keep putting off. Maybe someday! My gym does offer the classes, so it’s not like l don’t have access to it. I just prefer Zumba and Body Combat classes.

12) Learn to cook Thai food

Does watching Chasing the Yum count? I have made a couple of things, like pad thai with peanuts but nothing to get excited about so l still would love to learn.

13) Visit Japan

Done! I remember very well how this started. Growing up, my dad was a huge fan of wrestling, all forms, including Japanese Sumo wrestling. He had been fortunate to attend some in japan and it was a bonding experience for us to sit and watch his many VHS tapes of wrestling. I always wanted to visit since then. Ironic that when we eventually visited Tokyo and Kyoto, I didn’t once think of catching a match. It needs to be rectified.

14) Watch the Lakers play

Done! I had many chances when l lived in Los Angeles. In the good old days, one of the biggest drug distribution companies used to give us complimentary tickets to the Lakers home games. Fifth row behind the Lakers bench, I always joked that l could spit and hit Shaq or Kobe’s head! Best part was we always got four or six tickets so my co pharmacist and l were able to take our technicians on a rotating basis.


15) Watch the Celtics play

Done! I lived in Boston for ten years and got to see them play a few times with my brother who is still a die hard Celtics fan while l changed allegiance to the Lakers after moving and he never did, even after moving to Houston.

16) See Paul Simon in concert

Done. I got into trouble with my older sisters as l didn’t tell them where l was off to and came home super late because he was playing at a suburb of Boston and l got lost on the way back. I got a few smacks on the head from each one of them!

17) Visit Brussels

I will admit to having a crush on Jean Claude Van-Damme as a youngster! He always did van damage in his van epic movies! That split too, and no, he hasn’t lost it as witnessed below. We loved Brussels by the way, and Ghent was amazing. I still love the muscles from Brussels!

18) Visit Switzerland

I keep this one on here from a long time ago, but truthfully don’t care much now. I’ve been on a layover, but l have no urge to visit for some reason.

19) Volunteer

I have done some volunteering from time to time, and it’s always a good feeling. We did do some volunteer duties on our travel deep Dominican Republic cruise. I would love to do more though. I am working on it.

20) Learn Graphic Design

Done! I ended up going to Graphic Design school while we lived in Malta. I enjoyed it but unfortunately never attempted to use it to secure jobs. Glad l did it, and still use that sort of forgotten skill every so often.

21) Grow my hair

It ain’t gonna happen :o(( !!!. Between the dye jobs of long ago and the shaving it off while my sister was in chemo and it never growing back, it’s not meant to be. I have fully embraced it now, and gone the extra step of not dyeing the grey anymore! What a relief. I still don’t love it, love it. I do however, wish it would grow every second like my armpit hair seems to do :-), but c’est la vie!

50 before 50 bucket list woman posing with statue bronze in Madrid

Feeling good at 55 with my grey hair admirer in Madrid. I certainly stand out :-)

22) Crash a wedding

I’ve gone to ones where l wasn’t technically invited, plus really Nigerian weddings don’t count because we are all one big family who knows someone who knows someone etc… etc… I would love to crash an American one because people always seem to be so uptight and food is provided for the sole number of invited guests, no loosy goosy till they all get drunk :-), at least that’s what l see.

23) Go on an African Safari

Done! This has been on my list for what seems like a million years. My uncle used to live in Kenya for years, many moons ago and my siblings all got to visit and go on safari. I was always in a rush to finish school and went to summer school and just never made it. We did finally go on a safari and we loved it.

24) Make unique beaded jewelry

Done. Self taught. I did it for like three years and my late sister, who was really into flamboyant dressing was my litmus test. I sold it on the net and would sell it to Nigerians when l visited home. After she passed away, my passion for that died with her.

25) Write my Dad’s life story

I would so love to write my dad’s life story because it is so inspiring. I have written a little bit about him before. At various stages, I have written one or two chapters then discarded it.  The truth is that it hurts like a motha! I think about him and l start crying. His death was huge for me, and l still can’t bring myself to get over it twenty something years later.

26) Live in Italy and learn Italian

The learn part was added over 13 years ago when l met Federico. Still hasn’t happened. It is a work in progress. I can understand more now and know the cuss words, but l am kind of too lazy to learn it, plus priorities..and the fact that Google Translate is handy when l have to chat with his family. He does not want to move back to Italy to live, and l’m okay with that.

Florence skyline

Florence skyline, one of my favourite cities.

27) Learn Spanish

Something else in progress. I am interacting more with Spanish people when l walk the dogs, at the gym and some intercambio which basically means 10 min Spanish before switching to English. I have to do better. My comprehension is so much better than speaking.

28) Learn HTML

Not gonna happen! I think l put this one years ago when l had made my first website circa 2005 or something. I understand it a bit better, but it’s still gibberish.

29) Learn S.E.O

Actually learning that now. We’ll see how it goes, but it keeps the little grey cells engaged.

30) Learn to play the piano

Not gonna happen. I remember one of my older sisters wanted to learn the piano when she was about 10, and l must have been 6 then. She got her wish and took lessons. I asked and was denied, but did get my aquarium which was my other wish.

31) Actually use kickboxing moves learned as a kick boxer

Like on a thief, knocking him out with a right hook, not just practicing on a bag. Probably not going to happen as l don’t want to get mugged, but l will hurt anyone who attempts to hurt me first. I am certainly not a kick boxer, just someone who will fight dirty to save my life :-).

32) Visit London

black girl posing with Buckingham palace guard

It was 1979 and l would gladly have my afro back :-). This dress was completely out of style. As the last girl of six, I was the last one for it to be handed down to but l wore it with pride.

Done, done, done done,done, done, again ..and too many more done to count, but l love it and l would do it again.

33) Visit Thailand

This was from the Jean Claude days as well. A lot of his movies were shot in Bangkok and it was great when we finally got to visit Bangkok many, many years later. I came to appreciate it for the food.

34) Visit Taiwan

Came about from one of my older sisters. She travelled there often on business and speaks highly of it, but now that l’m a bit older, I am ambivalent about visiting. It just doesn’t sound as inviting to me as it used to.

35) Visit Budapest

We visited Budapest  twice and we loved it. Here’s a place that l believe deserves all the hype. I would gladly go back, even though l am hearing some not very nice things about the government and creeping fascism which makes me really sad. We visited the museum of terror while there and it’s looking as if we are regressing also, just like the States.

36) Visit the Great Wall of China

Another one l’m ambivalent about. Looking at this list again after so many years, I have noticed two things about myself. Asia as a destination is not very desirable to me. Distance plays a big factor. If l could sort of zap myself to places like China and Vietnam and eat to my heart’s content, I would be happy. Desire to see the wall or rice fields? not so much. I would visit Japan and Thailand again, but l am hard pressed to think of other places l have a burning desire to see. The other thing l notice is that l am quite content to revisit places l like. Country counting and all that crap, I don’t care about.

37) Learn how to crochet

I know how to knit, not greatly but okay. I have always wanted to learn how to crochet. I have a friend here who has given me a lesson or two, but we need to work harder at it because l suck! She is teaching two of us and the other lady is so much better than me… I need to catch up.

38) Become more social

I know reading this blog it’s hard for people to imagine that l am one of a kind. I have had the same group of tight knit friends for over 30 years, very small circle which suits me fine. Having moved away from the U.S and traveling so much, it has been hard to make new friends and it became a priority once we decided to settle in Valencia. Readers of our newsletter (I know l don’t write enough :-) ) know that along with two friends, we had started a Foodies group in the city. We meet once a month for lunch to try a new restaurant. This has been great for meeting people and establishing friendships with other immigrants from all over. We have smaller meet ups thanks to this, like the crochet, the intercambio, the Scrabble, that l keep busy enough. Sometimes, I even drag Federico to these lunches :-).

people at Chinese lunch in Valencia Spain

Some of th new and old friends at our last luncheon. We actually filled the restaurant which was pretty cool and very much fun!

39) Get healthy, wealthy and wise!

That is definitely ongoing. Health wise, they gym has been a great help and l love my Zumba and other fitness classes. I definitely miss my gym and the people l met there, but hopefully will see them again outside of they gym once summer winds down and life returns to normal. Wealth? Not really much l can do since we can not work )and don’t want to). I have been honest with you about trying to make a few dollars off this blog, the reason for the ads that you have begun to see.

The one thing l did not know when l first started blogging was all the things that went along with the hosting which is cheap enough. The true cost is actually way, way, way higher. It would be nice to even out rather than all the money just flowing out. We definitely appreciate your using our links to find hotels or AirBnB accommodations,  buy travel insurance or find the latest novel. Hopefully, the literal cents here and there will add up.

40) Visit Egypt

What a wonderful trip that turned out to be. Once again, we put aside our fears and concerns and ventured to the motherland. Nowadays, I feel safer going back there than visiting some western first world countries which is a sad commentary, but there you have it.

woman with head scarf selfie with Sphinx

Selfie with the Sphinx. I’m getting better at taking those..not! :-). Boy, the wind storm was insane.

41) Go to Hollywood

It was, and still is a dream for most people. To visit Hollywood at least once in their lifetime. Not only did l visit while in school, I decided to move there from Boston at the age of 24 and lived there for the next twenty years. I was so proud of myself. I almost gave up a few times because of loneliness in the beginning but l stuck it out and made wonderful friends who have become family. I also met Federico there :-).


50) Retire early – the biggest accomplishment on my 50 by 50 list!

Done! This dream came true. I did it six and half years ago by working for 29 years, 11 months and 2 weeks, not that l’m counting of course :-). Blogging has helped keep me busy among other things. We are taking our next bite of life! Get it? Haha! The other spaces will get filled up as we take more bites out of life. I did it at 48.5 years!!!

My 50 before 50 bucket list is still very much a work in progress. It’s been a fun ride so far and l hope it keeps on in that vein. Sure, it might become a 50 before 60 or a 60 before 60! For me, the journey is what counts.

As to why there are still empty spaces, easy. I’ve got a whole lot of living to do! :-). Watch the mens faces!!

Hopefully it won’t be another five years before l revisit this page. Then l will have to increase to 60 by 60!

50 by 50 bucket list #50by50 #50before50 #lifestyletips #lifegoals #expatlife #travel

How about you? Did you ever make a list? Anything on there that you were proud to check off? or is it just sitting somewhere collecting dust?