Tara's Life Menu

Photo Credit: Gary Offenbacher on Monhegan Island, Maine

This September, I completed a course called Path Finder. The creator and leader of this web-based course, Karen Walrond is someone I was lucky enough to meet at the Erma Bombeck Writer's Conference this April when I ended up in her limo from the airport, like a thorny goat-head on the pants leg of some real writer's life. I was lucky enough to have a couple of meals with Karen and then to sit in on her presentation, and I had been looking forward ever since then for the chance to do her course. Why? Karen sheds joy like most of shed skin cells. It's a pick-me-up just to sit with her; I couldn't imagine what might be imparted in five weeks of active engagement. There was a lot worth doing in  Path Finder that I won't describe here. Do the course. It cost me $75 and I got an email every day with instructions. When I got stuck, Karen emailed with me to get me straightened out. It was well worth the expenditure of cash and time. And I even made a pretty cool collage.

One of the last major efforts we undertook in the five weeks was the construction of a Life List, or Life Menu. This is intended to be a list of things I would like to do in my life. It is, however not a Bucket List, because it has no sense of urgency. Neither does it carry the morbid sensation of sand slipping through my fingers while someone yells at me "Seize the God damned day, damn it! Run!" I am calling mine a Life Menu, even though this strikes me as slightly pretentious-sounding, because I have a disempowering relationship to lists. Lists are sort of a dominatrix before which I scrape, squeaking excuses about exhaustion and pain. In the presence of lists, I am good or I am bad. I make lots of lists. I may as well fit myself for a dog collar.

My Life Menu was a lot of work to make and it is both personal and long. I don't necessarily expect you to read all of it. Scan, if you wish. Grab onto items that amuse you. If you have a lead on something I want to do, please send suggestions or tips on resources or "You go, girl"s as appropriate. If you're inspired, create your own. This is a working document, and I hope I will add and subtract from it regularly. I hope to cross things out as they happen. If something comes close to fitting the bill, I'm counting it!

And here it is...Some are silly, some are fun, some are to change the world. Some seem impossible, some I could do tomorrow if I bothered to take a step to the left. Some seem redundant, but they all mean something different to me.

  1. Collect an anthology of prose about plants and gardening as metaphors.
  2. Have someone design a Team Ambiguity logo and slap it on my blog.
  3. Own a velvet coat, dress, stockings, gloves and/or hat from Victorian Trading Company.
  4. Own a mermaid skirt.
  5. Write a collection of character sketches.
  6. Go backpacking.
  7. Go on a spiritual journey into nature.
  8. Create beautiful and intricate fairy houses in a beautiful place. 
  9. Celebrate every equinox and solstice of a year with my family.
  10. Spend a weekend with an open-minded Christian having a heart-to-heart conversation about faith that leads to understanding for both of us.
  11. Eat at that fancy hotel/restaurant on downtown Santa Fe with the beautiful dining room, whose name escapes me.
  12. See Bill Maher, John Stewart or Stephen Colbert live.
  13. Walk part of the Appalachian Trail.
  14. Harvest berries from my own yard.
  15. Hide in a weeping mulberry tree.
  16. Give a jar of home-raise honey as a gift.
  17. Take voice lessons.
  18. Go on a special trip with just my mom.
  19. Decoupage a piece of furniture.
  20. Study the botany of common vegetables in my gardens. Why do they do what they do?
  21. Brush an angora rabbit for its wool.
  22. Work a spinning wheel.
  23. Learn to identify all the common plants in my area.
  24. Co-author a writing project with my mom.
  25. Go to a TED Talk with friends from church.
  26. Earn a permaculture design certificate.
  27. Do a genealogy project (maybe with one of my kids, with a cousin or with my mom?)
  28. Take a goat cheese-making class with Mikalh.
  29. Learn to make my own yogurt. (tried 9/12; so far unsuccessful)
  30. Do a Landmark course with one of my kids.
  31. Travel to France with all of my kids and Mike.
  32. Visit the Lil'Wat Nation with Mikalh and Mike, so Mikalh can meet his extended family.
  33. Teach at least one of my kids how to garden and raise their own food.
  34. Go to Maine again with my family and all my cousins for a re-union.
  35. Write and deliver a sermon together with Mike.
  36. Work on the re-design my blog with my dad, so I have an excuse to talk to him.
  37. Spend a special weekend or vacation with Amy away from my family.
  38. Spend time in Northern California with Rowan. 
  39. Take Devin to a rock concert.
  40. Bottle feed a baby goat with Mikalh.
  41. Make chocolate fondue for my kids.
  42. Have a farm/harvest party at my house with kids.
  43. Make a scarecrow.
  44. Plant a new set of bulbs in my yard every year until the whole yard is an explosion of bulbs all spring long that stops passersby in their tracks.
  45. Make crabapple jelly with Mikalh from our tree's crabapples.
  46. Make a garlic braid from homegrown garlic.
  47. Sleep in a canopy bed.
  48. Eat off of silver service.
  49. Visit a real castle.
  50. Go to Salisbury Plain.
  51. Celebrate "Talk Like a Pirate Day" all day.
  52. Swim with dolphins.
  53. Go to the rainforest and talk to monkeys.
  54. Visit Africa and see an elephant in the wild.
  55. Go on a puffin tour in Maine.
  56. Travel across the country and stop in the Northwest, the Heartland, the Deep South and New York City.
  57. Go shopping on Fourth Avenue in Tucson with Rowan and Devin.
  58. Learn how to paint.
  59. Learn how to do a handcraft.
  60. Wear a ball dress.
  61. Teach creative writing to learning disabled kids (doing this, but would love to run a short class just for this)
  62. Be there for someone who is questioning their faith, so they know it can be OK either way it turns out.
  63. Leave $20 for a great server.
  64. Help each of my children achieve a wild dream before they're 21.
  65. Pay for a favorite relative to join us next time we are in Maine.
  66. Send flowers to a friend who is sad (but isn't mourning a death).
  67. For one year, send cards for all my good friends' birthdays.
  68. Help plant a permaculture garden to feed a family/families in need.
  69. Teach teenagers to garden.
  70. Make a difference for a teenager suffering from depression, addiction or abuse.
  71. Become a resource for a child aging out of the foster care system.
  72. Raise my own edible mushrooms.
  73. Write about sustainability from a "faith in ambiguity" perspective.
  74. Own a cottage in Maine.
  75. Turn our home into a working suburban homestead.
  76. Put solar energy on our house.
  77. Write a New York Times bestseller.
  78. Spend a month abroad.
  79. Learn to play an instrument.
  80. Spend a night or two on Monhegan Island, Maine so I have time to explore all the trails.
  81. See Cirque de Soleil.
  82. Sleep in an Airstream trailer.
  83. Eat fresh-caught trout.
  84. Meet Glennon Melton.
  85. Attend church in the building where my grandfather used to preach. (He died before I was born.)
  86. Listen a really good gospel choir live (haven't since I was a kid).
  87. Grow a butterfly garden.
  88. Decorate my garden with junk art I make myself.
  89. Take my kids to ComicCon.
  90. Grow bananas. (Doing this! In my kitchen. For reals. Except there are no bananas yet.)
  91. Learn to make a pie crust.
  92. Learn all the rules of grammar that I know intuitively and can never explain.
  93. Make homemade tamales.
  94. Set up an Underground Railroad for unwanted house spiders.
  95. Grow my own pumpkin.
  96. Work in a soup kitchen with my kid/s.
  97. Go to a costume party that isn't for kids.
  98. Meet Tangled Lou in person.
  99. Write a collection of letters to my grandmother.
  100. See Zozobra burn.


  1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Tara! it was lovely meeting you, as well. I love this list. I may have to modify my own!


    1. Thanks, Karen. I used yours for inspiration, to tell you the truth because initially I had too many goal-type things on there—the kind of things that would be disappointing NOT to complete. I read yours and took all those off and lightened it up. Now it feels like play to me, which is how I wanted it to feel.

  2. Awesome list. I love reading what other people want to do and/or have on their lists; always makes me reconsider my own (I worry that mine is superficial).

    Good luck with everything.

    1. Thanks. It's funny. I actually had to work to make mine superficial enough because I gravitate to weighty and cumbersome goals that wouldn't feel fun to do.

  3. I love this and will now have to shamelessly copy you and write my own Menu. I bet if we actually achieved #98, we could knock out a lot of the other ones together. Like the mermaid skirt, for instance.

    1. That sounds inspiring! I bet I could for sure get a mermaid skirt in Seattle. In Los Alamos, New Mexico—no mermaid skirt. It's a huge disappointment. have this fantasy that someday I'll fly or drive out there or vice versa and we'll have this lovely visit that won't be ruined by your realizing I relentlessly bite my cuticles.

  4. I am absolutely and shamelessly going to copycat you and make a Beth Menu. I loved so many entries on your menu, by the way, and have done a few of them.


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Faith in Ambiguity by Tara Adams is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License