Not Ready to Kick the Bucket List ... (Yet!)

The Mountain Farmgirl is updating her Bucket List, and invites you to do the same. What items have you already checked off? What no longer holds your interest? What are your current biggest goals? She’ll show you hers if you show us yours! Join Cathi in Part 2 of her latest blog, “Not Ready to Kick the Bucket” List…. (Yet!)

I’m not sure I ever wrote my childhood  'Bucket Lists' down, which is a real shame because they would be so revealing about who I was a different ages.  But then  I never would have referred to them as that if I had.  ‘Bucket List’ as a term describing life ambitions and goals, started (for me anyway), with the wonderful movie of that same name. My husband had the foresight to do this as an exercise with our kids ages ago, and someday when they resurface from the piles of memorabilia we’ve got stored away, they will be like finding buried treasure!

My childhood ‘lists’ were more ingrained ambitions than items to be crossed off a list. They were things like ‘being a writer’, and from the 2nd grade I would spend hours making ‘newspapers’ for my family to read, and writing short stories. Nothing grandiose like in Little Women, but still I’d love to see one of them today, though I fear none survived!   “Green, gold and amber, a strip of fading sky glowed in trail of the setting sun …”   Yuck!!  That was my feeble attempt at an early age to sound grown up and accomplished … and I still remember that opening line of a story I wrote in 4th grade!

Another biggie for me was to be an archaeologist.  From the time my mother first took me to the Museum of Natural History in New York City when I was 7, I was hooked!  Those dinosaurs, the fossils, the Indian wing, the mummies … I couldn’t get enough of it. I read Gods, Graves and Scholars at a ridiculously young age, a dry old book I found on the subject, but not even THAT deterred me.  In fact, I wrote a long letter to the author, and spent endless weeks waiting for the mailman to bring a response that sadly never came.  But I was not to be discouraged from my goal until my high school Guidance Counselor, Mrs. Mullis, told me that archaeology was incompatible with being a wife and having a family, and that I should focus on something else … and unbelievably, that was the end of it!!  Poof! Horrors!! How I could have let a dream go that easily, I cannot fathom from my current vantage point. What a crime that was when I think of it, and shame on me for giving up so easily.  But that is neither here nor there; I went on to have other dazzling experiences, and if I really want to be an archaeologist, I could do that even NOW. My old friend Patty Elizabeth MacBrier Shaner, (what a fabulous name!),  who was in her upper 80s three decades ago when I met her, had met some archaeologists somewhere when she was 85.  She had just returned from an overseas mission in Thailand with the Peace Corps and drove down to Belize with these archaeologists in her “Pumpkin”, a bright orange VW van, to be part of an extensive dig.  See? … there’s hope for the buried Archaeologist in me yet if she wants to be unearthed!


Here are a few other things that were on my list that I’ve already checked off:
1. Travel by Hot air balloon – I did this twice, in fact; once with my parents and once with my husband. It’s strange how calm it is up there … no wind because you’re going at the same speed!
2. Do an Outward Bound – I did the month long course in North Carolina in 1978.  It was a very intense experience of hiking, canoeing and mountaineering. What an experience.
3. Go to College – two in fact.  One year at Gddard College in Vermont, one at Alfred University in NYS until all the money I’d saved ran out. I’ve been homeschooling my way through college and “advanced degrees” ever since … and have learned more, too!
4. Own my own Restaurant – This I did by the age of 25 … an adorable whole foods restaurant in an art gallery, housed in an awesome post and beam barn. It was owned by renowned artist Louis Mendez  , although I didn’t know at the time how famous he actually was! It would definitely have intimidated me.
5. Live off the Grid in a Nearing-type lifestyle – I got interested in this in 10th grade, when a book called Living the Good Life by Helen and Scott Nearing actually flew off the shelf  in a bookstore to literally hit me in the head … and boy did it make an impression (in more ways than one!!).  I was never the same again!!  I lived in a tipi twice in my life, each for almost a year, and even gave birth to one of my kids in one. We’ve built off-grid homes, been nearly self-sufficient, and hope to be back there again in the near future!

6. Marriage and Kids – Ahh, yes! Married to my high school sweetheart whom I met at the age of 15, dated for 7 years, married for 36 years, and we’ve had 5 children! I write this on Mother’s Day and yes, this was a wonderful item on my Bucket List!

7. Homeschool through High School - Yup ... did that with all my kids!

8. Published Writer - This has been a long dream of mine, and although there are many articles and several books in various stages of completion (both on paper as well in my head), I am proud to be a writer for Mary Jane with my Mountain Farmgirl blog and new Homeschool blog as well.  I also write for our local NH newspaper.  When our children were younger, our family took on the editorship of the New York State chess magazine called Empire Chess. I wrote Editorials for each issue, as well as some articles. I am proud to say that I won two National Journalism awards for “Most Improved Magazine” and “Best Human Interest Story”. This was a dream come true for me.
9. Own a New England Inn – Yes, we’re living the life of Bob Newhart up here in New Hampshire, although my husband and I have to also fill the roles of Daryl and Daryl from time to time … as well as many others.  It is an excellent lifestyle and a fabulous way to make a living. So in this case, I’m still living the dream! (Now if only he doesn’t wake up with a different wife in the last episode ... I'll be good!)
10. Learn to play the dulcimer, recorder, ukulele and guitar. I have many instruments and have learned how to play them so that I can have fun with them.  I wish I was more proficient, of course, but they have given me great enjoyment.
There were many other goals I accomplished but these were a few of the highlights.

 My new list with short-term goals is long, but here are a few of the top choices:
1. Become a certified Weaving a Life Instructor ( By the time you read this I will be officially certified!

2. Go to the Book Arts Summer program, part of the University of Southern Maine, to continue my studies of bookbinding and calligraphy.  This will be taking place in July 2013.

3. Attend the Stone Coast Writers Conference through the University of Southern Maine. I will attend this next summer (20140.

4. Buy a Mini-Cooper
5. Hike Hadrian’s Wall with my daughter (an approximately 10-day trek across Scotland).
6. Teach workshops  of relevance to women who are starting out in life, as well as those on the second half of their journeys as they discover new directions and purpose.


7. Create a large stained glass window for our Lodge above the entrance way.
8. Brush up on my Spanish
9. Learn how to dance (nope … never learned how!)
10. Get another hive of  bees; sell honey


11. Make my children each a Hope Chest and put in all the special treasures of their growing up.
12. Sell my hand-bound books and journals at local galleries
13. Become more proficient at yoga


Retirement will be coming in the next 5 or so years, and when that happens, there will be much more available time than there is now. While I will always have a little place to call home in this part of New Hampshire which I love so well, here are a few bigger things on my medium-to-long range Bucket List:

1. Retire to our peninsula on the Maine Coast, where we will build another off-the-grid home, have extensive gardens and live off the land.


2. Write our Books
3. Become a Homeschool speaker at conferences
4. Hike the Appalachian Trail.
5. Walk the Camino de Santiago in France and Spain, a 500-mile pilgrimage.

6. Build a Tiny House studio on wheels.
7. Learn a new language.
8. Learn how to play the piano and harp


And this is just the tip of the iceberg … the things that just rolled off my tongue at the drop of a hat as I sat here over the last five minutes!  Wow! With so much at my fingertips, I agree with my mother that it is just about impossible to “be bored”! At the soon-to-be-age of 59 later this week, I will obviously need a few more lifetimes at my disposal to get all these things checked off! And while I’m at it, good health, too. The main thing is that it is healthy to have hope, to have things to look forward to. And as grandiose as some of these things are for me, perhaps I forgot to mention the most important of all, which I can start right now no matter how long I may live: To be a good listener, help those in need, be a great friend, and to always be kind.

What’s on your list, Farmgirls … and what do you consider to be the most important item of all? Until next time,
Mountain Bounty, Mountain Blessings,
From Cathi
The Mountain Farmgirl





By: Diane
On: 05/13/2013 07:43:57
I am very interested in how you are homeschooling yourself through college. Could you expound upon that?
By: diane
On: 05/13/2013 07:58:43
Hi Cathi -

Well you certainly have accomplished a bunch of your bucket list items, and still have a pretty good list to go! I was just wondering about the Weaving A Life site. I had to go there as soon as you mentioned it and I would love to look into this craft more. Looks very relaxing and I need this in my life! How did you find out if this was given in your state? I live in Wappingers Falls, New York and as we have so many talented and creative individuals in my community, I was hoping that some taught this. Wished you lived closer so I could have you as a teacher! Congrats on this accomplishment! I also want to start Spinning wool this year. I just met someone who recommended a teacher to me and hope to start in another month or so. I am so excited to learn this new craft. Good Luck with your Bucket List!
By: Diane
On: 05/13/2013 20:17:34
I am wondering about how you are homeschooling yourself and if you could share that here. Thank you
By: Marcie
On: 05/14/2013 05:56:34
Hi Cathi,
You should add archaeology back to your list. You don't have to become an archaeologist, you can become a volunteer on digs, whevever they are. Once you learn how to do things with archaeologists, trust me, good volunteers are needed out in the pits and fields. My husband and I took the advice of a friend from long ago who said, 'step out of the box', learn to do the things that you enjoy and get your name associated with those things and when there's a dig nearby, make a contact and see if you can work on the site. We still have all of our own equipment and we worked with some 'big names' down in TX. Another for us was learning about nature. We are both certified master naturalists, because we wanted to learn about all of nature. I can birdwatch by sight and sound - fascinating.

There are so many things yet to learn, but I love the road we have traveled and things we have learned over our 30 years together and would not change a thing.

One thing about learning archaeology is that one can start a pit in your own backyard and unearth whatever history lies beneath the soil one scrape at a time. You never know what treasures you may find. I love doing that.

A lesson in life is to always keep an open mind and to learn something new everyday.
By: Louise Marie
On: 05/27/2013 14:11:00
You are an amazing woman!

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Cathi Belcher

Cathi Belcher,
an old-fashioned farmgirl with a pioneer spirit, lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. As a “lifelong learner” in the “Live-Free-or-Die” state, she fiercely values self-reliance, independence, freedom, and fresh mountain air. Married to her childhood sweetheart of 40+ years (a few of them “uphill climbs”), she’s had plenty of time to reinvent herself. From museum curator, restaurant owner, homeschool mom/conference speaker, to post-and-beam house builder and entrepreneur, she’s also a multi-media artist, with an obsession for off-grid living and alternative housing. Cathi owns and operates a 32-room mountain lodge. Her specialty has evolved to include “hermit hospitality” at her rustic cabin in the mountains, where she offers weekend workshops of special interest to women.

“Mountains speak to my soul, and farming is an important part of my heritage. I want to pass on my love of these things to others through my writing. Living in the mountains has its own particular challenges, but I delight in turning them into opportunities from which we can all learn and grow.”

Column content copyright © 2010– Cathi Belcher. All rights reserved.

Mountain Bounty

“Keep close to Nature’s heart ... and break clear away once in awhile to climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods, to wash your spirit clean.”
– John Muir