The Life List

The power of writing down goals and the impact it can have on the course of your life is incredible. I created my first “Life List” as a teenager, and besides a few minor technical edits (mostly because I didn’t understand geography very well), I haven’t changed it in the slightest. Even though some of it might be less relevant now, or a little embarrassing, this list is the main reason I have been motivated to write and document my adventures for the last decade and a half. I continue to keep this list public to keep me accountable.

What’s on your list?

People (1-10), Places (11-50) and Things (51-100), highlighted=done

  1. Meet the Queen of England (Canada). Reflecting on this item in 2023, my original post stated: I have seen her in her birthday parade in London at Buckingham Palace, and have seen her on Parliament Hill on Canada Day 2010, but Liz and I haven’t officially met. I have also seen Charles and Camilla, as well as Kate and William in Ottawa. I have actually met-met Meghan Markle.
  2. Meet the Prime Minister of Canada. I worked in the House of Commons during the first year of Stephen Harper’s tenure and thus, saw him quite frequently in various capacities. I also met and had some nice chats with Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin during the same year.
  3. Meet the President of the United States. Individual pending.
  4. Meet the Governor General. In addition to having tea at her house (Rideau Hall), I have also met Michaëlle Jean at the Governor General’s Gala in 2006 and 2010. I met David Johnston at Rideau Hall, and Adrienne Clarkson at a poetry event.
  5. Have dinner with a famous actor or actress,. I’ve met a few random people but none that I would consider someone that fulfills the requirement of my list. Celebrity chefs though, I have indeed.
  6. Meet and/or cook with a celebrity chef. I feel super grateful and lucky to have been able to do this so many times, and to realize that a lot of the best chefs are not celebrities (and vice versa).
  7. Become friends with a fashion editor. I am not sure why this was so important to me when I was younger, but it is not something I really care about anymore.
  8. Have a legitimately funny conversation with a comedian I love. I mean, this happened…in a way, but I am still figuring out how to best categorize the interaction.
  9. Gain diplomatic status through self or through association.
  10. Meet the Dalai Lama. I met the Dalai Lama in the Rotunda of Parliament Hill in the Fall of 2007.
  11. Step foot on every continent. So far, Africa (2009), Europe (2008) Asia (born there), North America (live here) and South America (2011). Caribbean and Middle East have also been taken care of, so I just need to get my butt down to Australia and New Zealand.
  12. Step foot in every province and territory in Canada Cross country tour in 2001 from Vancouver to PEI, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, and Ontario. Went to Alberta for the first time in 1996. Went to Newfoundland for the first time in 2015. 
  13. Tour the entire island of Taiwan. I toured the entire entire Island of Taiwan in both 2012 and 2022.
  14. Live in a different country for a year. Lyon, France in 2008.
  15. Go to Venice before it sinks for good. June 2009.
  16. Buy Hello Kitty technology in Japan. I have only been in the Tokyo and Osaka airport a few times and have stepped foot in Tokyo for all of one day. Trust that I have purchased many a Hello Kitty item in Korea, Taiwan, China and even Canada.
  17. Live in Australia (Swim in the Great Barrier Reef*) and/or New Zealand (Lord of the Rings site) for awhile
  18. Float in the Dead Sea.
  19. Take a photo with a large turtle in the Galapagos. I got to Ecuador, just didn’t get to the Islands.
  20. See the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)* In Tromsø, Norway, November 2019. So much more incredible than I could have ever imagined!
  21. Sail the Mediterranean.  So close: I was invited by a friend to sit on the veranda of the Venetian Yacht Club and took a gondola from Point A to Point B in Venice but never went in a sailboat.
  22. Go to the hot springs in Iceland. So far, I have been to the Reykjavik International Airport twice, but have not actually stepped foot into this Nordic country.
  23. Go to an IKEA in Sweden. The closest I’ve gotten is IKEA in Norway.
  24. Go to Québec and ask “Où est la dep?” This was a high school French goal that my friend Alanna and I always held. “La dep” is short for “dépanneur”, which is a corner store.
  25. Stay a night in the Ice Hotel.
  26. Visit a real castle. My favourite castles would be in Carcassone, France and in Istanbul, Turkey, both visited in 2009. I also lived beside the “castle” that is Casa Loma for quite some time.
  27. Explore a rainforest. In Mindo, Ecuador 2011. Technically a “Cloud Forest”, but I did go tubing and zip-lining! It was amazing.
  28. Act out a scene from the musical Mamma Mia! in Greece. So far, I’ve seen it on Broadway, which was great, but hardly the same thing.
  29. Go across the Golden Gate Bridge*. Winter 2010, on a family vacation to San Francisco. Ever since the days of Full House, it’s always been something I’ve wanted to do.
  30. Stand on the Brooklyn Bridge. First time on a New York City trip in 2009 and have stood on and below it a few time since.
  31. Climb the Great Wall of China. Climbed it twice, once in 2006 and once in 2011. 
  32. See the Haja Sophia in Istanbul*. May 2009. 
  33. Visit the Great Pyramids.
  34. Take a camel through the Sahara Desert. Morocco 2009. This is actually one of the things on my list that I laughed at because I never thought I would actually do, but thought would be cool to put down. I still sometimes can’t believe I have done this. It’s as uncomfortable as it looks, but what an experience!
  35. Visit three religious homelands in Jerusalem.
  36. Backpack through Europe. During my year abroad in France.
  37. See La Pietà in the Vatican. Ever since my Grade 8 teacher showed us what the Vatican was, I have been intrigued. La Pietà was on my list because he had specifically snuck a picture of it back in the 80’s and was very proud of it. Update: October 2017, I saw Michaelangelo’s last Pietà in Milan. A little less detailed.
  38. Visit the Headquarters of the United Nations. Both in New York City (2007 and 2009) and Geneva (2009).
  39. Go skiing in the Alps. To be honest, I’m not really vested in the skiing part. It’s more the après-ski that interests me. 
  40. Walk into the Colosseum in Rome. June 2009. Along with many jumping shots.
  41. Visit the Taj Mahal.
  42. Frolic through Stonehenge.
  43. Go up the CN Tower in Toronto. October 2017 was the first time.
  44. Climb Machu Picchu. Coming up soon!
  45. Try tapas in Spain. May 2009.
  46. Watch a Shakespearean play (preferably in England). I went to the Globe Theatre in London in 2009, but didn’t get to see a play. My first proper Shakespeare play was King Lear at the Stratford Festival in 2014.
  47. Stand under a real waterfall. The first time: The Philippines 2009.
  48. Stand under the Eiffel Tower. December 2008.
  49. Go to every single Disneyland and Disney World in existence. So far: Disneyland California (1993 and 2003), Disney’s California Adventure (2007), DisneyWorld Florida (2005), Disneyland Paris (2009) and Disneyland Hong Kong (2014). 
  50. Be in two places (of time or spatial jurisdiction) at once.  Technically, I have been in two time zones at once, three times. Once, was when I was on the Nevada/Arizona border for the Hoover Dam. Then, I was on the Prime Meridian in London. And on the Equator in Ecuador. That’s not bad. Maybe one day, time and space.
  51. Start my own charity. I have done many projects through my work with Rotary International, but I still have so many ideas to be realized. 
  52. Swim with dolphins.
  53. Become knowledgeable about wine I have come much further than my high school years, and now frequently go to wine events. However, I have also learned that the more you learn, the more difficult it gets. I will check this off one random day.
  54. Visit a vineyard. Beaujolais Valley vineyards in France, the Napa Valley in California, as well as Niagara-on-the-Lake, Prince Edward County, and Norfolk County, all in Ontario.
  55. Host my own talk show or cooking show, or at least be a guest correspondent.  This one is partially complete, as I have been a guest on a show, and have been offered to potentially do a show of my own. 
  56. Watch The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Finally after a million years of coercion by friends (mostly Brad), I watched it. And…it was even stranger than I imagined. 
  57. Watch the Nutcracker Ballet live. December 2010 at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.
  58. Explore a cave. The most notable was definitely visiting the cenotes and the Rio Secreto in Mexico in 2022.
  59. Go white water rafting. Outaouais River, Ottawa June 2007; Exploits River, Newfoundland, August 2014; Voss, Norway, 2020.
  60. Ride a bike through a forest. Quite a few times in 2023.
  61. Attend a ball/gala. Much to the probable surprise of high school Annie, way too many times to count.
  62. Attend a fashion show. My first was F.A.T. (Fashion Art Toronto) in 2010, second was Ottawa Fashion Week in February 2011, and a few random events after that.
  63. Work with a fashion magazine.
  64. Milk a cow. So far, I have only had the honour of milking a goat.
  65. Reach my ideal fitness goals. This one is really interesting to reflect on each year, as my understanding of the words “ideal” and “fitness” continue to evolve.
  66. Actually see a beaver. First time was in February 2007 at the Biodôme in Montréal, but I have seen a few beaver dams since I started backcountry portaging.
  67. Get into the House of Commons Page Program. August 2006-2007 was a life changing year for me.
  68. Go on a road trip with friends. Many done, many more to go.
  69. Work in retail for awhile to know what it’s like. Summer 2007. I learned a lot about how not to clean glass shelving!
  70. Get into law school. Graduated from law school in 2014.
  71. Donate my hair to a cancer patient. September 2007.
  72. Plant my own rose garden. My balcony herb garden is not quite there.
  73. Cultivate a library.
  74. Eat crocodile or alligator. Alligator. New Orleans, May 2011. Tastes like chicken.
  75. Win a public speaking competition. I won a law school trial advocacy competition in a way, but I am still holding out for others.
  76. Learn to play guitar. I am now campfire-level guitar ready.
  77. Live in a big city and then in the country. I’ve got half of that down and a few suburbs.
  78. Make my own perfume.
  79. Run a half-marathon. This isn’t really the biggest deal, but it would be nice.
  80. Paint a mural. Assisted on a mural at Carleton University. Helped to paint part of a mural for Philadelphia in August 2017. Want to do a proper one in San Francisco ideally.
  81. Dance in the rain.
  82. Ride in a hot air balloon. I’ve been to a hot air balloon festival even, and still didn’t do it yet.
  83. Cut the ribbon at a ceremonial ribbon cutting. September 2011, selected to open the Osgoode Hall Law School Bistro. Next time, I hope a red carpet and a proper outfit is involved!
  84. Start a clothing line/make my own clothes. Let’s just say the few items I’ve created are not exactly runway ready. I still don’t really know how to use a sewing machine.
  85. Own an island, or at least an island home.
  86. Learn to fence.
  87. Learn how to do some Latin dancing. Got my start in Ecuador, gotta keep working at it!
  88. Ride a motorcycle (myself), preferably own a Vespa.
  89. See a Broadway Musical (on Broadway). Hairspray (2007), Avenue Q (2009), Mamma Mia! (2010), Annie (2013), and Wicked (2014). Other Broadway productions seen not-on-Broadway: Chorus Line, Matilda, Dear Evan Hansen (2019), Singing in the Rain (2022), Cursed Child, Hamilton (2023).
  90. Be fluent in five languages. So far, I am more or less fluent in English, French and Mandarin Chinese, and I know enough Spanish for emergencies. You can speak to me about food in Italian, Taiwanese or Norwegian and I’ll do my best.
  91. Be flexible enough to touch my toes in a full forward bend in yoga/do a teddy bear stand I’ve been working on the teddy bear stand since 1995.
  92. Build an igloo. We did it (2022).
  93. Start a blog. Well, this one is obvious.
  94. Help build a house for someone else.
  95. Develop and grow a brand. Chu on This grew out of this Life List item!
  96. Learn how to surf and scuba dive. As an adult, I realize now that these are two very different feats, and I have accomplished neither. The furthest I’ve gotten is snorkeling in the Bahamas, 2019.
  97. Buy stocks. It’s happening as we speak.
  98. Write (and publish) a book. Coming eventually!
  99. Have a full spa day. My favourites are the Papa Llacta in Ecuador, the Tang Spa in Taipei, and Le Scandinave in Blue Mountain. I originally added this item to my list when I met two awesome new friends (Katie and Jill) and we thought it would be a really cool grown up girl thing to do. I definitely did not imagine that ten years later, I would be opening a spa of my own (now closed).
  100. Become Governor General of Canada.

This Life List was originally created in February 2005, modified slightly in October 2008, and edited for clarity and relevance in Fall 2011. I review and check off things annually. Last updated: July 2023.

* indicates items that have been declared “Wonders of the World”.