A Lovely Life List

This isn’t a bucket list. These aren’t things I need to cross off before I die. Will I ever accomplish everything here? Probably not, but that’s not the goal. This list exists simply as a collection of things I would like to do in my lifetime. If writing them down helps me focus, and in turn helps me achieve some of them, the list has served its purpose.

A life list should never make you feel guilty for not accomplishing something! It should serve as a compass, opening you up to experiences that you may have discounted otherwise. I started this list in 2010, inspired by Maggie. My hope is that by sharing this publicly, I will hold myself accountable and achieve more than I would otherwise. I tend to do well with public lists.

I come back and edit this post as I cross things off, and I fully expect this list to change as time goes on.



Just Plain Fun

  • Make a dollhouse for Eleanor
  • Finish a paint-by-numbers painting
  • Wear a ridiculous hat to an event
  • Dress up with friends for a showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show
  • Experience weightlessness
  • Beat the classic Super Mario Bros. game
  • Learn how to solve a Rubik’s cube
  • Wear a sequined dress to a party
  • Have the Thriller dance in my repertoire




  • Only wear lovely undergarments
  • Ruthlessly edit my closet down to only my favorite things
  • Find my perfect shade of lipstick
  • Sew a dress for myself that I would actually wear
  • Wear perfume regularly again


Professional / Career

  • Publish a book
  • Be a keynote speaker
  • Have a monthly column in a magazine
  • Start a charitable creative movement (like a chain letter but more fulfilling)
  • Do/create something worthy of being nominated as a MacArthur Fellow
  • Meet Martha Stewart
  • Meet Jonathan Adler
  • Redesign Making it Lovely
  • Sell my designs through a nationwide store
  • Art direct a photo shoot
  • Name paint colors
  • Design wallpaper
  • Judge a design competition
  • Create a proper portfolio for myself
  • Decorate someone else’s home from top to bottom
  • Make enough money to support my family
  • Make an appearance in five forms of media (book, magazine, television, radio, internet)
  • Have my home featured in a Domino-like magazine or book


  • Take a photo every day for a year
  • Start a family tradition
  • Choose a good cookbook and cook every recipe in it
  • Give only handmade gifts for a year

137 Responses to “A Lovely Life List”

  1. Nat @ Dear Little House November 8, 2011 at 1:02 am #

    Some great things to aspire to! I was thinking about making a list like this… ironically, it is on my ToDo list!

  2. Ija November 8, 2011 at 6:23 am #

    hi, nicole!! what a long list!! very inspiring!

  3. Karin Sullivan November 8, 2011 at 7:26 am #

    Nicole, I saw the item about playing guitar; my friend Midge has started a music school here in south Oak Park, and we’re looking for one more woman to do group beginner’s guitar lessons. (I’m going to do it.) Only $15 an hour! It’s a bunch of Irving/former Irving moms–a good way to get connected wiht a great community! C’mon, you know you want to sign up. :-)

  4. Bethany November 8, 2011 at 8:20 am #

    Wow, what a great list of things to look forward to in your life. Even if you don’t do them all, they all sound awesome.

    One that stuck out to me was teaching a craft to a group of kids. I work at a free summer camp run by a charitable organization. I usually plan and teach the craft program and it’s a lot of fun! If you’d like to teach crafts, there is probably a summer camp or after-school program for at-risk kids in your area that would welcome a volunteer to come in and teach a craft now and then. It’s a lot of fun, the kids enjoy it, and you can cross something off your list. :)

  5. Rosie November 8, 2011 at 8:46 am #

    I love this! You are going to inspire me to do the same.

  6. Andrea @ Strawberry-Chic November 8, 2011 at 9:47 am #

    What a great idea, I agree, making lists like these help you focus your goals even if you never do get to finish everything!

    by the way, love the idea of taking a picture a day for 1 year, it would make a great photo album!

  7. Christina W. November 8, 2011 at 2:33 pm #

    I finally got over my fear of karaoke a few years ago and went with a huge group of ladies. We drank ridiculous fruity drinks and laughed and I dragged them all onstage to sing Love Shack with me haha.

  8. Nikki November 8, 2011 at 4:03 pm #

    This is so inspiring! I’ve been reading Maggie for years and when I’m not totally intimidated by you two and all you’ve accomplished, I’m pushing myself forward to do more. I recently shared my blog (velvetunderfoot) with a much wider group of friends on facebook, opening myself up in a bigger way (like you’ve done here). So in a way, you’re already mentoring someone.

  9. Tina November 8, 2011 at 4:03 pm #

    This was such an inspiration post. We’ve crossed off a couple of the same things. I’ve been to Falling Water and it is amazing. The thing I love most about it was that he designed it when he was 68.

  10. Andrea @ Our Little Gems November 8, 2011 at 4:35 pm #

    it was because of YOU that I wrote a life last early this year. i remember reading your post from your Maggie getaway and then clicked over to her life list and before i knew it, the ideas were swimming around my head. i agree, making it public does make it accountable, but i also think the universe will conspire to make things happen. one of my items was to visit the Great Wall… lo and behold, i got an unexpected paid opportunity to go just last month. thank you for all of your inspiration!

  11. Maria November 8, 2011 at 7:03 pm #

    I love lists- and after seeing this my mind is spinning with things to put on mine!

  12. Kate November 8, 2011 at 8:07 pm #

    So inspiring. I’m going to sit down and make my own list!

  13. Kristín November 10, 2011 at 5:44 pm #

    Such a lovely post – really inspiring.

    I can help you with the conversation in french:

    “Salut Nicole, ça va?
    – Oui, ça va bien! Et tu – ça va?
    ça va :) Bonne soirée!”

    Hello Nicole, how are you?
    – Yes, I’m good, and you – good?
    Very good, have a nice evening!

    “ça va” and a smile can get you a long way :)

  14. Brittany Lauren November 13, 2011 at 6:53 pm #

    Great way to break down your list – so inspiring! Love your family list, very sweet. My husband and I started a travel list a few years ago before we start to have kids and its fun marking off the ones you accomplish!

  15. Andrea November 13, 2011 at 10:23 pm #

    Nicole!!! You can mentor me in your awesomeness any time. ;)

  16. Terese November 16, 2011 at 10:53 am #

    wonderful list…so inspiring!

  17. Yari November 18, 2011 at 2:46 am #

    ” A life list should never make you feel guilty for not accomplishing something! It should serve as a compass, opening you up to experiences that you may have discounted otherwise”
    Thank you Thank you thank you for sharing this, I needed to read this today! I am new to your blog and I love it! I will borrow your line and definitely start my own life list ^_^ just for fun this time no pressure! ^_^

  18. Gail November 18, 2011 at 9:09 am #

    This is just an idea, but if you want to cross TWO of your life item list ideas off in 2012, the Indiana State Fair (in Indy) is one of the best in the country AND I’d love to take your family photos for you there!!!! :) Photos at the fair are ALWAYS the cutest!!!!

  19. Nick Klaus November 20, 2011 at 2:53 am #

    I also have learning the thriller dance in my list of things I want to do. I adapted your 30 before 30 list into a 25 before 25. Then I put 38 things on it. I still have a couple years, so a running head start couldn’t hurt.

  20. Mona November 21, 2011 at 3:08 pm #

    Hi Nicole,

    I noticed “mentor someone” on your life list. I am very new to blogging, and I hope I am off to a fairly good start.

    If you have any advice for me – inspirations for posts, how is my writing, how to get more readers/advertiseres etc., I would appreciate it!

    And you could scratch off mentoring!!www.urbancurator@wordpress.com

  21. Mona November 21, 2011 at 3:11 pm #

    oops – that is http://urbancurator.wordpress.com – see I told you I’m new!

  22. Saa January 1, 2012 at 5:56 pm #

    Hi Nicole. Happy New Year! I have been so inspired by this post that I have decided to take the plunge and set one up for myself…
    Below is the link to the blog I set up for my list
    It is still very much a work in progress…


    Thank you so much, as I wouldn’t have done this other wise
    Take care and hope 2012 brings you lots of new adventures

  23. Dani Cruz January 3, 2012 at 11:10 am #

    I made my own, and even mentioned your blog :) such a shame google translator it’s so weird:


    beautiful things like ‘natural birth’ turns to ‘having a baby vaginally’ hahahah

  24. Erin @ The Great Indoors January 21, 2012 at 2:32 pm #

    Someday I’ll have the courage to make my own life list and publish it. For now, though, I’ll just live vicariously through yours. :-)

  25. Renee DiCarlo May 31, 2012 at 9:29 pm #

    If you make it to Fallingwater, make sure you also visit Kentuck Knob (it’s 7 miles away). It’s a beautiful, livable Frank Lloyd Wright home with a rather impressive collection of artwork!

    • Kimberly June 3, 2012 at 9:54 pm #

      I second that! We went to Fallingwater & Kentuck Knob on our honeymoon & both were inspiring & amazing!

  26. Rachael June 5, 2012 at 8:07 pm #

    That is an inspiring list! I must make one of my own and before life passes by!

  27. Karin September 25, 2012 at 7:24 pm #

    Nicole, you’re life list is such an amazing idea. Truly inspiring. There’re so many things we want to do, that sometimes we even forget.
    Congratulations for your beautiful blog!

  28. Nancy Rosso September 30, 2012 at 11:32 pm #

    I’ve been reading your blog for years, it has been a great resource for creative inspiration. I know we’re complete strangers but I’m certain if we ever met, we’d be the best of friends. Thanks for “Making” the internet more “Lovely”!

  29. Jenn October 1, 2012 at 8:43 am #

    Guitar Center across the country is doing free ukelele lessons every Saturday in October- just sayin’!

  30. Tiffany Grant-Riley October 12, 2012 at 1:58 pm #

    Eh hem…you can cross ‘meet Martha Stewart’ off your list now ;)

  31. Jenni (Museum Diary) October 12, 2012 at 2:28 pm #

    What a great list, so many inspiring ideas. Since I blog about museums, it made me smile to see the Art Institute of Chicago up there. I noticed you also had it on your ’30 before 30′ list (though I’ve not been to that particular museum yet myself, as I have never been to Chicago). My little boy is not quite 2 and he has already been to over 20 museums in 4 different countries :-)
    Best wishes & #museumlove, Jenni (via BYW)

  32. Melissa Corre December 30, 2012 at 2:27 am #

    Hi Nicole, this list is truly inspirational, I am definitely going to start my own. I like how you talk about the guilt sometimes associated with not completing a list, I’ve definitely been there before and it’s not a good feeling to have nothing to cross out! I will definitely create my new list with an open mind and gentle understanding that I may not meet every goal. The fun is in dreaming, right? :) Thanks for being lovely.

  33. Misty Dawn December 31, 2012 at 8:28 pm #

    I just posted my Life List today (in honor of the new year). Believe it, I’ve had it as a draft on my blog for months… I was afraid people my laugh at some of my items. Guess maybe I should add “get over my insecurities” to my list, huh? haha

  34. Raul January 2, 2013 at 2:57 am #

    I really like it whenever people come together and share
    thoughts. Great blog, continue the good work!

  35. Holly April 29, 2013 at 9:12 am #

    Just re-reading your list as I start thinking about how to have a non-celebration celebration for my 50th. Lots of great ideas, and I’m thrilled to realize there are a bunch I’ve already done (Rocky Horror Picture Show, renovate an old house top to bottom, have a house with an exterior as cute as the interior, see Paris from the Eiffel Tower.) But there is still so much more!

  36. Lorinda April 19, 2014 at 6:45 am #

    this is so inspiring and I am motivated to do my own life list! I just hope I’m brave enough to make public because I think it really puts things into perspective and helps you achieve more of the goals. Thanks for sharing :) x

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