A Grateful Backward Glance, Part II

by gigigriffis

Last week, I spent some time listing out the things I’ve done in my life. The things that take my breath away. The things I’m so grateful for.

Today I thought I’d continue that reverse bucket list. Continue looking back, fostering gratitude, and enjoying what I’ve accomplished rather than constantly looking forward to the next thing. Attempt to slow down and savor the life I’ve already led while still feeling deliciously excited about things to come.

And, so, here’s the rest of my reverse bucket list, a grateful backward glance:

Have a business meeting at the Louvre

louvrePhoto by Konstantinos Dafalias.

The skinny: This winter, I had the wonderful and unexpected opportunity to meet with a colleague while in Paris. She suggested we meet at the Louvre. I readily agreed.

Volunteer with at-risk kids in the Bronx

bronxPhoto by Chris Goldberg.
The skinny: In 2003 and 2004, I spent several weeks volunteering in the Bronx (and getting some much-needed perspective on life).

Live in New York City

New York - F Train

The skinny: After a series of unfortunate events (including my most profound experience with gender discrimination), I decided to pack my bags, leave Pennsylvania (where I was living at the time) behind, and move to New York. I lived there for a little less than a year and a half.

Hike part of the Appalachian Trail


The skinny: My college campus was just a short drive away from the Appalachian Trail, which made it easy to hike chunks of it over the weekends.

Bike from San Francisco to Sausalito

The skinny: When I was living in New York and trying to figure out my next move, I took a short vacation to San Francisco, where I rented a bike and took a ride out to the decidedly pretty town of Sausalito.

Eat real Schnitzel

Photo by Chris Zielecki.
The skinny: Contrary to what the Sound of Music might tell you, you never eat Schnitzel with noodles. (Or at least not in Austria.)

Attend a local food festival in the Italian countryside

Rosy Tuscany

The skinny: On my first trip to Italy, I accidentally stumbled upon a countryside food festival. Every night that week I headed out to the giant white tent on the outskirts of town for local wine and fresh-made pasta, pizza, and tapas. All for just a few euros.

Get kissed on a mountaintop

Photo by Anna Jarske.
The skinny: Switzerland, 2012.

See the Coliseum


The skinny: On my first day in Rome in 2007, I immediately made a beeline for the Coliseum, where I sat on the lawn as the sun set, enjoying the fact that I was finally in Italy—a place I’d been daydreaming about for months.

Attend an opera in Verona’s well-preserved coliseum

Photo by Kevin Poh.
The skinny: In Verona, Italy, the setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, one of the best preserved Roman Coliseums is now an opera house. I bought tickets to Aida and watched the opera under a light sprinkling of rain.

Walk the Cinque Terre trail

walking the Cinque Terre trail

The skinny: The Cinque Terre trail stretches between five Italian cliffside towns and it’s pretty darn beautiful.

Make and eat pizza in Italy

The skinny: This winter, I took a food tour in Rome, which included making and eating a pizza in an Italian pizzeria.

Hike and camp in the Swiss Alps

The skinny: My first hiking experience in the Alps was with one of my best friends. My second was with a darling, romantic Swiss man who kissed me on top of the mountain.

Hike in the Black Forest

Black Forest

The skinny: I spent a lot of my time in Germany last summer hiking the lush-yet-spooky Black Forest, one of Luna’s favorite places in the world.

Try real German sausage and pretzels

Red rote

The skinny: German food is amazing. That’s all there is to say.

Drink Belgian beer in Belgium

The skinny: I managed to try three or four different Belgian brews (recommended by my Belgian friends) last summer in Ghent, Belgium.

Hike the Water of Leith Walkway (Edinburgh)

Water of Leith
The skinny: When I gave up my permanent address and took off around the world, my first stop was Edinburgh, Scotland. One of my favorite memories there? Walking the Water of Leith Walkway—a nature walk that passes through the city and beyond.

Attend a traditional Ceilidh

The skinny: A Ceilidh is a traditional Scottish dance party. Like many other old fashioned dances, these group dances are called by a caller and they often repeat (so it’s not too hard to catch on).

Zip line through the jungle

Zip lining

The skinny: This Spring, I joined a new friend in Mexico for a jungle zip line adventure.

Travel the world with my dog


The skinny: If you count Scotland and England separately (and I do, as the cultures feel quite different), Luna has now been to 10 countries.

So here’s where I’ll pause and express my gratitude. I’ve had a lot of opportunities, wonderful chance encounters, and happy accidents, as well as some hard-fought successes.

Today, I’m grateful.

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Beverly Elaine August 12, 2013 - 5:11 am

Oh, love this post! I absolutely love taking time out to take stock of all the fantastic things in my life right down to the fact I have a clean pillow to sleep on. I think it’s a wonderful way to cheer my heart, get my head right, and open myself up to more wonderful things that cross my path. Just super! And, what a wonderful list you have! Yay you!

gigigriffis August 12, 2013 - 5:21 am

Thanks! :)

Ali August 12, 2013 - 9:14 am

Love part 2 :-) Also, I love that your sausage picture has something from Freiburg in the background.

I obviously haven’t seen Sound of Music in ages because, schnitzel and noodles? What?! So wrong!

gigigriffis August 12, 2013 - 10:01 am

I know, right! Schnitzel with noodles…who came up with that?

lee August 12, 2013 - 12:22 pm

always amazed at your accomplishments….have been trying to focus on what I am good at instead of what i cant do….. keeps you on the path to the next adventure
and some of us have a sense of urgency to experience things…. there is a place out there just waiting for me

gigigriffis August 12, 2013 - 9:34 pm


Paula Liebe August 13, 2013 - 9:02 am

Great piece! Inspiring! My voice coach was part of the Opera House of Verona.

gigigriffis August 13, 2013 - 2:08 pm

Thanks! That’s awesome – your coach must have been amazing.


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