When Bucket Lists Go A Different Direction

Bucket List Ideas. Making It Happen For Others.



When stepping out of the comfort zone in business, personal life, or otherwise–open doors don’t always look like what maybe you first thought they would. I am case in point.

As a recently published author, I’m still learning about all the things that go with that. Recently I got an inquiry after someone saw an article in the local paper about the book launch of Life Before The Lottery: Living Beyond The Bucket and wanted to connect. During a meeting I accepted a speaking opportunity to work with an organization to engage their staff employees and clients in a training on goal setting, with my role to help create some type of inspirational wa-lah in regards to morale and work/life balance. As we talked about the upcoming program and the details involved, I got really excited and couldn’t stop smiling. I decided long ago that my vision of success when writing this book would be to receive opportunities and feedback of others taking their own lists and seeing them come to life. Not book sales, not reviews, not best-seller lists…I wanted to see real results and hear real stories involving real lives.

In just a few short weeks, I will see this exact thing.

Is this about working with the school systems and doing a writing and goal setting program with our youth and young adults like I had envisioned while writing and creating the chapters for the book? While I am currently enlisted in such opportunities and those plans are in the works and elements of that are lining up, the answer is no.

The 90+ people I will be engaging with are lovely hearts in an industry that I unfortunately had no clue I would be given an opportunity to connect with and were not in line with my original intention for this book. Nursing home staff. Think CNA’s, RN’s, program directors, admin clerks, etc.

I am so excited to be asked to partner with a local Veteran’s Center and be a part of the newly enacted “Make-A-Wish” program that is exactly that…finding ways to fulfill dreams of those that may have thought or been told that their time is up and their opportunity over. As we were going over in the meeting of what this looks like, I was so tickled at the beauty and simplicity of bringing this to life.

Going through the notes, I’m touched at the precious desires of these seasoned hearts and excited and honored to be a part of making them a reality. Real lives. Real people. Real Dreams. So what’s on their list? One gentleman wanted to be on the radio. One phone call to the local radio station and he’s now scheduled to be the next interview for a commercial for the nursing home. Another man wanted to go home and have lunch with his family. Turns out, his home is literally two blocks from the facility. Done. Another woman ever so gently listed she wanted to hold a baby. Sweet. Never been in a plane? With the area ripe with little commuter pilots and several local airstrips, coupled with a doctor’s medical clearance and a nice volunteer, I believe we’ll see a very doable experience worth creating.

Yet another dear heart has always desired to teach a crochet class–specifically, to teach a man how to crochet. (I’m still laughing as we sat around the table and talked about who the guinea pig on staff would be to take one for the team and make this wish come true!) Several have always wanted to ride in a limo. Check. And the story that cracks me up most of all is of a gentleman who always wanted to go hunting with a metal detector. It turns out  that one of the staff members just happened to have one lying in the garage, hid some coins and treasures on property, and the rest is history.

Looking ahead, plans are in place to photograph these make-a-wish moments and frame them to be hung outside the patient’s room next to their list….to be given to the families as gifts later down the road after their loved ones make their “final exit” from the nursing home. As one who has a loved one facing that chapter and is in that season of life, this part touches my heart. Someday I might be the one receiving a picture in a frame with a smiling face and a date on the back.

Never in a million years did I ever envision my 30×30 list, any of my writing, or my career taking me in this direction. Not exactly the demographic in mind when jumping through the publishing hoops 8 months ago. Admittedly, I initially saw myself working with young hearts with lots of life and crazy fun adventures to line up and begin focusing on. Bucket lists for those far from the bucket. Yet the doors of opportunity that have opened up are taking me on an entirely different path and unknown adventure. For now, this is where the path leads. From author to wish-maker.

I can honestly say I am honored, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Wishes Made

Wishes Made


Ashlee Bratton is a professional photographer, freelance writer, and entertaining speaker with a bachelor’s degree in speech communication and master’s degree in business administration.

Along with completing 29 of the 30 things on her 30×30 list, her writing contributions include numerous publications such as Vail’s EAT magazine, creating a 56 page Visitor Guide for a mountain ski town, blogging and guest blogging, being featured in multiple newspapers and e-zines, and various other projects.

Currently, she keeps her camera in hand in Southern Colorado, is a complete and total foodie, and takes plane rides for fun. She likes things that go.


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