Dream BIG

“Luck is the residue of design.”
― John Milton

I work with kids and am constantly amazed with their ideas and insight. Recently, I assigned a small book group of middle-schoolers to write an multi-paragraph essay (painful I know) giving details, goals and plans about their BIG dream in life. After I gave the assignment, a few of the students looked at me like I had five heads, others looked in pain, and some were ready to share right then. A week later the students shared dreams with the group. I have to admit, I was a bit nervous that we would be hearing the usual clichés: marine biologist or professional sports of every kind. Boy did I underestimate our youth. Just to name a few of the students’ dreams: visit 100 National Parks, travel the continents helping others, own a ranch in Montana, open and chef in a restaurant that serves only healthy food, achieve the occupation of an artist, a stealth bomber jet pilot, horse trainer, and own a farm in Wyoming.

Talk about getting outside, being, doing, working, and enjoying life to the fullest. I left encouraged, energized, and hopeful.

People often create a “Bucket List” of things they want to do before life is over. Backpacker Magazine calls this list a “Life List”. Whatever you call it, the first step is Dreaming BIG, then starts the work, planning. There are books, blogs, check list templates, and motivational speakers readily available to aid in the planning. My life experience has taught me that most of the time –
No Planning Equals No Get Outside.

I like to revisit and revise my “What to Do” list each fall. Fall is a great time to visit your list or start one. Summer is over, the holidays have not hit yet, and change is in the air. I keep my list in Evernote because the list is constantly morphing into new and different things and changing priorities. Many of my biggest or simplest ideas have come from a brief encounter with a stranger on the trail or from a magazine article I glanced at while waiting in a line. If I don’t write it down, most likely the idea will get lost or forgotten.

Readers, I would LOVE to hear your ideas in the comments below, what are your dreams you would you like to experience, accomplish, travel to, and plan? How do you get motivated, organized, and keep track to make your “Life List” come true?

Photos often help me to get the creative juices flowing, here are a few of my favorites to think BIG.

Helen Lake
Great Western Divide
Mount Brewer
Mesa Arch
Mount Rainier

Bryce Canyon National Park


  1. I dreamed Big and planned and spent a month in Solitude in an National Forest this spring. Didn’t see another soul for 30 days. It was amazing.

    As for Yosemite, if you want to get away from the crowds consider heading up to Lake Eleanor and leaving from there (you have to drive 45 minutes outside the park north of the Big Oak Flats entrance towards Cherry Lake. Up there check out Lake Vernon, Tilden, Laurel Lake then loop over to Stanislaus National Forest to Snow Lake and Bigelow Lake, down to Huckleberry Lake, Kibbie Lake and out.

    Dani @ ONNO Organic Clothing

    • Solitude for 30 days in a beautiful place. Now that has to be the most unique and difficult to accomplish dream yet. Hey and now I have a new BIG backpacking trip to plan. That part of Yosemite I have not explored. Thank you for your detailed itinerary.

  2. Great pictures. I especially liked the photo of Helen Lake.
    Major items on my to-do list:
    – take a permaculture class and turn my yard into a mini farm.
    – hike the PCT…then maybe the CDT another year
    – share the beauty of nature and environmental issues/solutions with others. This is ongoing. In addition to sharing stories and photos, one day I hope to become a Venture Crew leader or a volunteer with Big City Mountaineers.

    • Just think this summer you will be passing right by Helen Lake. I love your list. Creating, giving, leading, doing, and future goal setting. Thank you. You are inspirational.

  3. I loved, loved, loved your photos. You are such an inspiration that no wonder your students had wonderful dreams and aspirations for the future. I hope someday to get over the fear of camping alone. I love backpacking and cannot go (because my fear of being alone at night) unless my husband is with me. I’d be able to do so much if I could just do it alone. Maybe next summer… However this fall, I hope to continue exploring areas of Yosemite that I haven’t yet visited and take up snow shoeing this winter.

    • Hello Janet,
      So where exactly in Yosemite are you planning on exploring? I am always looking for ideas. The solo thing…it is sometimes creepy at night. For myself I would never attempt it unless it was on a well traveled trail, like the PCT. I just figure that if I hurt myself I would simply sprawl my body over the trail until someone came along. Not that comforting, but it is a strategy I am banking on. 🙂

      • I don’t have specific plans for my exploration in Yosemite, but usually stay in the valley during wintertime because of the road closures, so I’ll probably do the same this year; and skiing at Badger.

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