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What's on My Bucket List?

Updated on December 15, 2022
JoanieMRuppel54 profile image

A bit of a personal diatribe but an interesting one, I hope!

My twin grands and me celebrating the Opening Ceremonies of the 2016 Rio Olympics.
My twin grands and me celebrating the Opening Ceremonies of the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Bucket List and Autobiography of Me!

Since the release of the movie The Bucket List starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, people have been making bucket lists for their lives. Up until now, I had a virtual bucket list, just hopes and dreams that I wished would come true. One night after a particularly long week, I realized I've had many hopes and dreams come true already. A bucket list of accomplishments! So I decided to share with you that dreams that have been fulfilled and the ones yet to come true. The fulfilled dreams are in chronological order since that is how a life goes. I hope to move all the dreams up to the top of the article one day!

Dreams That Came True!

Own A Monte Carlo

The Monte Carlo became a favorite for me when the guy I was dating in high school owned one. Something about those long curves and V8 engine just appealed to me (as did the person driving it!). I decided then and there that one day I was going to have one of my own. Fortunately for me, my older brother is a car aficionado and he found me one after I started working and had an income. It was a 1973 baby blue with a white top, drove like a dream. Unfortunately, I was in a car accident in that vehicle and it was totaled. Had to say goodbye to that dream but it sure was fun while I was living it. Read on to see if I ever got another one....

Photo courtesy creative commons Mr.choppers

Go To The Olympics

Our family was a lower middle class family in the suburbs of Chicago where my mom and dad were both blue-collar workers. We always had food on the table, clothes on our back, a stable and warm home environment but beyond that, we created good old-fashioned fun with what we had in our neighborhood. A traditional pastime was to enjoy weekly Sunday visits with friends and family. I never knew or complained about being without a lot of money so for that, I thank my parents immensely. They did a wonderful job raising us on weekly paychecks.

As a result, I learned to work hard and save accordingly. One of the things I did with my $150/week paycheck was to save $5 in a "Christmas Club" to spend in December and another $5 weekly to put towards $25 savings bonds, because one day I wanted to go to the Olympics. My "cousin" (you know the kind of people that are as close as family but are not blood relatives?) was an Olympic speed skater and in the late 70's early 80's I decided I was going to attend these Games after following her in them for 12 years.

It just so happens on some of those Sunday visits mentioned above, we would travel the 25 miles or so to Northbrook, Illinois, Speed skating Capital of the World. That is where my "cousin" lived. I remember one cold winter day after we arrived at their house, she said she and her friend (another future Olympian) were going to teach me to skate. I went with them but whenever I tell this story I also say I wish would have listened better when they were teaching me. Who knew then they were going to be Olympians!

I have attended three Olympiads all in the United States: 1984 Los Angeles; 1996 Atlanta with our family; and 2002 Salt Lake City. In Los Angeles is where I got my olympic pin collection started.

If you've never been to an Olympics you need to come. Put it on the bucket list because you can never fully understand what's happening here unless you've been.

— Cris Collinsworth, commentator at Sochi Winter Olympic Games, 2014
Our Last Family Picture
Our Last Family Picture

Get Married and Have Children

Since I grew up around all aunts and uncles who were married, it was a natural thought for me to get married. When I started my career as a secretary, it was within a large department full of male engineers. I was pretty happy to see a girl face at the end of the day but all those males did come in handy as I fell in love with one of those engineers!

The best advantage we had in being married was that we were raised in very similar circumstances and with very similar set of standards for ourselves that we wanted to pass on to the children we hoped to have.

We married in 1980 and had 5 children over a span of 20 years. We remain a very close family even though my husband passed away a few years ago. You can click here to read our family's story. We continue to keep him alive in our hearts and, well there's good news as you scroll down....

Oh, and the way I met my husband? He drove a Monte Carlo!

Become A Community Volunteer

In the first year we were married, my husband began work on his MSEE through classes at work. He had to do homework and since it was just he and I at home, I decided that I should use his study time being productive in the community.

Volunteering at the local hospital emergency room was a great way to sooth my interest in the medical field. My college degree was in the secretarial field - a far cry from the emergency room. But this first volunteer job lead to a life-long service in many areas in the community. The one that lasted the longest was an 18-year stint at the local nursing home where I sang and played the piano for residents one hour a week. I actually raised 4 of my kids doing that and I believe it has lead to their being active in aspects of community service.

Today my volunteer work continues in our church and our school. My time is more limited being an only parent so I look forward to the future when I can be active again on the community level.

If you have been SAYING you want to do this, don't delay any longer. Our country was built on volunteerism and we should continue this legacy if we are able.

Photo courtesy creative commons Stilfehler

Work A Job That You Love

I have been blessed to have two jobs that I have loved. In fact, let me just say it right now. If you are not doing something you love, well, you better change your mindset or your career.

I started out as a secretary at Motorola headquarters in Schaumburg, Illinois. After transferring to Texas and having small children, I was a secretary at our local child care center office. This lead to my second career which I still do today.

I "teach" early childhood music to 1-4 year olds. Actually, we are singing and playing but they are learning and I am teaching! I can go into those classes with many burdens on my mind and my heart and in no less than 2 minutes with those kiddos, they are forgotten and I am gifted some of the sweetest voices, smiles, and hugs there are on this earth!

So many times I hear people talking smack about their jobs. It is a tough world but if you are in a situation where you are not happy with the work you do, and you have the ways and means to change it, please take another look at yourself and your family and make changes to improve your life and those around you, too.

Visit Greece - The Home of My Ancestors

I am a second generation American from the lineage of both my grandparents home land of Greece. I was blessed to visit my homeland in the summer of 2007. We went on an island sailboat cruise and it was like living a dream. The Aegean Sea was the most beautiful color blue as far as the eye could see. The highlight for me was visiting the Parthenon; standing amongst such history and being transported to how it was built and the millions of people who have walked the marble walks is really very difficult to put into words.

Recently the Parthenon fell to the number 2 most popular sites in the world but to me, it will always be number 1!

I would love to return to Greece some day and go to the town where my grandparents lived. I would also like to visit Olympia, home of the ancient Olympics.

A Photographic Journey of Greece

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Approaching SantoriniMy favorite view from a mountain top cafe in SantoriniA home built into the mountain side, again in SantoriniBeach in Rhodes with the castle of the Knights of St. John in the background
Approaching Santorini
Approaching Santorini
My favorite view from a mountain top cafe in Santorini
My favorite view from a mountain top cafe in Santorini
A home built into the mountain side, again in Santorini
A home built into the mountain side, again in Santorini
Beach in Rhodes with the castle of the Knights of St. John in the background
Beach in Rhodes with the castle of the Knights of St. John in the background

Experience The Statue of Liberty - "Give me your tired, your poor..."

Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty

Experience is the key word here because as my eyes caught the first glimpse of this iconic American symbol, I got goosebumps and tears in my eyes. I could not imagine what this view meant to those thousands of immigrants arriving on our shores so many decades ago.

On our summer vacation in 2013 we drove from Indiana to Massachusetts. Our first stop was Liberty State Park in Jersey City, NJ. From this vantage point you can view Lady Liberty from what seems a closer distance than the New York side of this area.

We choose to ride the ferry to get a more up close and personal view and we were glad we did! Although you can disembark from the ferry and go in and around the statue, we chose to stay on the ferry due to time constraints but the photos we got were amazing!

Cross this one off my list! #feelingmoreAmericanthanever

Become A Grandmother

"My children's children"

One of the blessings we received when we were wed was by the priest. He called us very close to within his earshot only and blessed us saying, "May you live to see your children's children." I have never forgotten that moment and in October of 2013 it came true! My oldest daughter had her first child. I went to help her just days after the birth. Those 5 days were bliss to me; as we lived each hour out, it was everything I thought it would be. I helped her with the baby, cleaned, cooked, relaxed with the baby in my arms and was happy to be a part of thoughts and hopes I have had for a long time.

The miracle of life never ceases to amaze me. When you think long and hard about this very new person right in front of you and how it came to be, you cannot do anything but be in awe of our God and His creations.


Witness the Chicago Cubs Win The World Series

This dream just turned into a reality! The CHICAGO CUBS WERE THE 2016 WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS!

In a dramatic Game 7 win over the Cleveland Indians, the Cubs pulled out the needed victory to claim this title. Sports journalists all over the country and calling this the "perfect" World Series due to several facts, one being the length of drought for both teams in winning a Major League Baseball crown.

Growing up in Chicago you acquire an allegiance for your sports teams. My parents grew up on the North Side of Chicago and inherited the allegiance of cheering for the Cubs from their parents. I grew to love baseball through my dad. I remember lazy summer afternoons when he would get home from work and we would sit and watch the latter part of the game, scoring as we went along. In 1945, my dad was serving overseas when the Cubs were last in the World Series so he only got to listen to the games from his station in Europe and a little radio. I thought for sure he would get to see this happen in his life time (85 good years) but I was wrong. After he passed in 2003, it was my legacy to see this dream through and thank God, I did!

The youth and strength of the 2016 team, combined with the magical managing of Joe Madden, a great coaching staff, owners, and general manager, has given millions of people in Chicago, the State of Illinois, the Midwest, and fans all over the country the thrill of a lifetime.

Before we won I made up this rhyme in honor of beloved long-time Cub Ernie Banks, who would give us a rhyme at the beginning of each year to instill hope for the club that particular year.


Since is has been one hundred and eight years since the last time the Cubs won the World Series, we can now add:


Dreams to Come True

Conduct or Play In The Symphony

The closest I've gotten to fulfilling this one was acting like Mickey Mouse in the Sorcerer's Apprentice interactive role-playing game at Disney world. Wow, what a thrill! And It was just an animated version of making those magical things move. One of the reasons Disney equals magic!

I will settle for playing the chimes or some percussion instrument with the symphony but if I had enough money to win an auction to direct the symphony, well, I'd take that too!

Since I am a musician, this dream isn't far fetched, but I'm not sure how to make it happen. My philosophy in life is to always have something to look forward to or hope for so I like where I'm sitting on this one.

Be In The Huddle of an NCAA or Pro Football Game

It's All About Dreaming Big!

First of all, I'm only 4'11 and weigh about a hundred pounds so the visual you get here should be entertaining enough!

I Love College football so my first choice would to be in the huddle of the TCU Horned Frogs offense. As a season ticket holder I understand their offense and possibly I could add a good play or two! Come on Coach Dykes, what do you say?

My second choice would be in the huddle of the Chicago Bears defense. As a Chicago fan you well know how few and far between we get to celebrate winning it all, but there is something about the words CHICAGO BEARS DEFENSE that scares a lot of people. Remember the 1985 Super Bowl winning Bears? Many argue that they were the best defense EVER and I agree.

It would answer so many questions I have about what REALLY happens when those 11 guys are standing in a circle talking about the next play. I think it would add to my football savvy too, don't you?

Travel The States and Abroad

We have a game in our family of keeping track of the number of states we have been in. Currently I sit at having been in 42 states and 7 countries. So where else would I like to go?

Here are the eight states I am missing: Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, North Dakota (a little heavy on the Northwest wouldn't you say?), and Vermont.

In terms of countries, I have been to Canada, Mexico, Greece, Great Britain, Germany, France, Switzerland, and Czech Republic.

Photo free to use courtesy GNU General Public License

Live In a Working Lighthouse

Not so far fetched as there are several lighthouses you can live and work in or, stay in like a hotel. Can you even imagine the sound of the waves right at the foot of the house? Some of these are islands and you can only get to them by boat.

This just takes some planning and hard work but it would be an unmatched experience that I would love to have!

Nobska Point Lighthouse, Falmouth, MA Coast Guard Station
Nobska Point Lighthouse, Falmouth, MA Coast Guard Station

Be A Witness to a Flash Mob!

Spontaneous music is such a gift to my soul. Our family often breaks out into song or a percussion event and it puts a smile on everyone's face. It often leads to one after another! This would culminate for me to be in the audience of a flash mob, I don't care where it is, I just want it to happen!

USAF Band Holiday Flash Mob

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2013 Joanie Ruppel


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