Charles Fort and Kinsale

Where do you call home?

Sometimes memories hit you in the strangest ways! You open an email with a link to the West Cork Times and voila – now you are homesick for Kinsale! I first travelled to Kinsale in 2008. Since then I travel there at least once a year to see my father who has retired to the small Irish village. It is now one of the few places I can happily call home!

Check out this awesome video from the West Cork Times:

I can’t wait to go to Kinsale!

Are you like me and many places you call home?

How to plan your packing for 3 months

How to plan your packing for a 3 month summer holiday - carikubeblog.wordpress.comBeing an international teacher means when it is holiday time I want to get out and see the world! This is a wonderful way to live. But when the term dates are changed, and I end up with three extra weeks holiday over the summer – two things happen:

  1. My colleagues and I become the most hated teachers’ on the planet, thanks to extra long summer vacation.
  2. I panic about how to pack for a three month holiday!

Three months is a long time – last summer I had 110 days and had to pack for a scuba volunteer project in a summer climate and winter with my mother. This summer I plan to travel around the UK and see some parts of Europe I haven’t seen yet (More on that in a later post). With the additional problem of taking some books back to the UK, as well as having to take my laptop, kindle and Ipad in my checked in baggage – the problem increased.  Even less space in my suitcase!

How do you pack for a long holiday?

My sister laughs at me, but I start with Pinterest – I have a board called Packing, that I pin all sorts of packing hacks, tips and methods. Recently, I have developed an interest in capsule wardrobes, I like the idea of a smaller wardrobe that makes more outfits. This will allow me to spend more money on travelling and fun stuff! Check out my Pinterest Board called Fashion for more details and ideas about capsule wardrobes.

My sister laughs at the way I start packing, I use a pencil and my Bullet Journal. This means I can pack anywhere even while on the bus waiting for the bank to open. I find that this method helps refine my thinking of which items I need – I can then pull out what is necessary and then add things I feel are necessary.  Or things I just have to take with me!

Steps to my slim line packing method:

  1. List the basics for clothes
  2. List extras that you might need to buy (this helps if you have limited space)
  3. List basics for toiletries (thanks to Boots and Superdrug I can pick up anything bulky like shampoo and conditioner!)
  4. List basics for makeup
  5. Once the basics are listed – lay everything out on the bed (this helps with colour coding and making sure everything matches).
  6. Pack it all – if it fits great! If it doesn’t – sorry high tops will have to only take the Converse!

My lists help me visualise what I might need and gives me an idea of what the basics are! Once, the items are out on the bed I can see what I have and add or remove items depending on my needs.


So how do you pack for a long holiday? Let me know your tips and tricks!


Essentials for Carry On Travel

the essential items for carry on travel - carikubeblog.wordpress.comAs a frequent traveller, hand luggage is the bane of my existence. So many issues, so many ways to pack!

  • Too much, not enough?!
  • How long is the flight?
  • Long haul, 5-6 hours, 1-2 hours?
  • Will you be working/ blogging/ writing?

What to take?

While looking at packing pins on Pinterest, and travel blogs on packing there are a lot of options and suggestions. But there are also many different types of hand luggage/ carry on’s. For example, when I travel to Ireland to see my dad, I only take hand luggage (and a handbag) as the airlines charge for checked in luggage. However, when I travel for holidays or longer periods I usually take a suitcase/ backpack (depending on the type of travel) and hand luggage… and a handbag/ day pack. Usually with my Kindle, tablet (for games) and laptop (for masters assignments). While I do have Microsoft 365 and can open my documents anywhere – as long as there is the internet – I prefer my laptop to be with me as I can find a good spot (cafes, hotel rooms/ lobbies), connect and work away.

New rules and regulations introduced by the UK and US governments. 

OH NO… now my three essential pieces of tech are banned!

In March the following items: large phones, external hard drives, laptops and tablets were banned from the cabin on flights to the UK from Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Tunisia. Living in Saudi Arabia, this affects me particularly this summer when I have planned a 3 month holiday based in my home country (UK).

Yikes – now what?

Firstly, I need to rethink my hand luggage from the “kitchen sink” to “essentials only”. Secondly, I finally get to write a packing post after reading them for years! So I reviewed my favourite Packing Pins and compared them to the stuff I take with me regularly – the aim is to travel super light! I have not travelled without my Kindle since I bought it in 2010 (yes, the same one)! I love having lots of book choices in the palm of my hand. June 3rd will be the first time I have not had it in my hand luggage. I really hope the airline has good movies!

Ideally, I would love to travel with a minimal handbag and no hand luggage – which so far never works out because of all my electronics.  This trip I am going to try to carry only a handbag once I am checked in!Small and neat bag I wish I could use for hang luggage

But knowing my luck, I will be taking a bigger handbag!The bag I actually travel Radley -


Baby Wipes (or equivalent) – for cleaning/ refreshing during the flight, most flights hand out refresher towels now so this depends on space and how far I have to travel after the flight!

Gum/ Mints – I don’t snack in general so I don’t travel with snacks but mints/ gum help with ear popping and fresh breath on shorter flights (for longer ones I take a travel sized toothbrush and paste).

Ear plugs and an Eye mask – essential when trying to chill or sleep, particularly when babies are around – on shorter flights I choose movies to watch and usually back to back as there are no cinemas in Saudi so I like to take advantage particularly if they have left the cinema circuit already!

Hand sanitizer/ wipes – for extra cleanliness, I like having them on hand for spills or to clean up coffee stains.

Hair brush, ties, clips – my straight hair tends to become static, during flights and it is easier to stick it in a ponytail or braid when sleeping, having an extra tie and clips helps if I fancy a change. The brush helps me feel awake and presentable on arrival!

Jewellery bag – I always carry my dive watch and jewellery for the vacation in my hand luggage as I do not want to loose it or have it stolen.

Journal and pens – For checking travel plans, keeping numbers, journaling,  post planning or creative writing, heck I even make notes of things to get in duty-free before I leave the airport – a very important thing when visiting people, last minute gifts are great! I like coloured pens and have a set of 4 BIC coloured pens that fit in my travel wallet – just in case!

Knickers – a change of underwear, in a zip lock bag which is great for keeping them fresh and storing the dirty pair. Additionally, a small bag won’t get tangled with anything else and jump out and surprise you as you dig for your passport!

Makeup – Eyeliner, mascara, lipstick to freshen up on arrival as I don’t like travelling in makeup – okay maybe a touch of eyeliner! While waiting for baggage, a quick trip to the bathroom to add a touch of glam helps to make me look less tired!

Moisturisers – Lip, face, hands, spray, eye drops to keep me moisturised and fresh.

Painkillers – Just in case but essential if I get a headache or when I travel with someone and they get a headache!

Perfume – I like to keep a mini size on hand for freshening up, I only wear deodorant before flying so keeping a mini in my bag helps on the other side particularly after difficult flights – it sort of clears the air for me!

Phone, charging bank and earphones – just in case the movies work before they had out the airline’s earphones, also good for audio books and music since no Kindle or iPad for reading! My charging bank fits in the palm of my hand and means I don’t need to carry my charger

Sunglasses & Glasses – Sunny’s are a must when landing in the day, sensitive eyes and all that! The glasses are in case I get tired – for example on a 3:50 am flight, watching or reading can make my eyes even more tired.

Travel Wallet – Passport, tickets, visas, money (multiple currencies), pens, credit cards and other paperwork things I might need before my final destination.


How to Pack a Carry On or Carry On Necessities for the Pampered Traveler 

What to pack in an Airplane Tote? 

Travel Tuesday Carry-On Essentials

My Carry-on flight Essentials 


4 Great Ways to Make Coffee!

4 Great Ways to Make Coffee #greatcoffeemaking

How do you make coffee? I love coffee – particularly in the morning! Strangely, it’s not about the caffeine, I will happily drink a decaf coffee as long as it is good coffee and made well. Part of my morning routine revolves around the making and drinking of a good coffee. Here are some of my favourite coffee techniques!

Continue reading “4 Great Ways to Make Coffee!”

Bullet Journal – one year later

It came to my attention that I starting using a Bullet Journal, this time last year! That is pretty amazing by my standards!

You may ask what is a Bullet Journal, the best place to find out is the man who created it! Ryder Carroll, at, that’s where I started! There are so many sites that will show you how to set up a Bullet Journal (Bujo), pretty soon you will be searching Instagram, Pinterest, Google+ and then you will get depressed and say “well I can’t make mine that pretty, so why bother!”

Ignore that thought and do it!

There are many reasons to start a Bujo, I needed to combine my day planner, travel planner, journal, multiple notebooks full of to-do lists and I am not very good at keeping these on my phone or tablet. I came across it trying to find a planning tool to help my crazy lists! The Bujo is cool! I also like that it is a work in progress, adaptable to you and what you need.

My first Bujo

The biggest thing for most people, initially, is what book to use? Some sites recommend a moleskin, some the Leuchtturm1917, as you can see I used whatever I had available! My first bujo was the journal I was about half way through, so instead of buying a new one I just folded the page and off I went! I would say that using any notebook can lead to some paper related issues! For example, my first had really thin paper that bled through if I used anything more than a roller ball or pencil crayons! One thing I wish I had in both my first and my current – are page numbers, I am forever forgetting to number my pages then I number them wrong and have to cross things out!

My current Bujo

My second bujo was one of two journals I won at a raffle, better quality paper, but they have a Mitsubishi Logo – easy solve – I covered it was a printed image and some sticky back plastic left over from school! I later added lace stickers because I had them and they looked pretty! Again the paper is not ideal for felt pens but it will take gel pens! Which opened up a whole new colour fantasy for me.  I have one more of these red journals then I get to use a fancier one that was a present from my wonderful mum! SO paper weight and quality is something to think about if you are shopping for a journal see Living Between the Lines for other hints!

What to include? This is totally up to you and entirely depends on what you need! But standard items are a yearly planner, monthly planner, weekly and or daily spreads.


For the yearly spread, I need simple, with space around it to make notes and use colours for long term planning e.g. of my masters’ modules! It can be any style, I started with a hand-drawn version over several pages – it didn’t work for me so when the year ended I found a nice one and printed it off. I realised that I was spending ages trying to find one on the web so next year I will stick to the yearly calendar that school will give me in September – that will have all the important dates on it! Yes, I am talking about school holidays!


Again for the monthly I started with a linear spread but that left only one line for each day and sometimes you need more space! So I changed to a simple box month and used stickers and colours to jazz it up! This also meant I could create a monthly calendar with Sunday to Monday as my work week during term time and change the week during the long summer holidays!

Weekly style 1

Some people use weeklies and dailies, I don’t! It doesn’t work for me, so what I use it a weekly spread, and then if I need space for journal writing I write it on the next page! To the left, you can see my first weekly spread. It includes my weekly todo’s, deadlines, notes, meal planning, a neat quote for inspiration and a tracker – more about those later! I used washi tape to attach everything and coloured pens, this added colour to my life and a bit of meditation while setting the week up on a Saturday night – the first day of my week is Sunday!

Weekly style 2

Later, I realised I was running out of time, so I changed my spread to the one on the right. While still a two-page spread, the week is only on one page! I used post-it notes for actual note taking which is great because as a teacher I have lots of post-its but it does make it hard to see your weekly plans! So this will be changing – when the term is over!

To track or not to track? I was using daily trackers to track things like sleep, water intake, chores, homework, university work, socialising and TV/hobby time. In January I bought myself a Fitbit, which I love but the app now tracks all the things that are important, my TV is broken and my weekly schedule tracks my university homework! So that is no longer on my page. I never liked the full page trackers. They seemed so time-consuming – my opinion! I do have a monthly money tracker page and an IOU tracking page, which I enter into my index so I can track things over the year!

imageThe Index! I started as I think everyone does, leaving two pages at the front for the index – help me to find all my stuff! But I read an interesting article  (will insert a link when I remember
about putting it at the back – light bulb! Then you never run out of pages! Not that I have actually run out of index pages, but I have started adding more collections to my Bujo and I have started using my Bujo for blog planning and creative writing planning – two things that most assuredly will add pages to my index fast!

Below are a few page ideas that I used that are cool – I will reuse most of them but I watch too many TV series for the Series Tracker to work well, particularly as I find new series every week.

A few pages to check out! Sublime Reflection, Page Flutter, Boho Berry, Creative Savings, Life Hacker, Lazy Genius Collection


SS Thistlegorm

IMG_6158Being a scuba diver is wonderful if you live near places you can dive! I have lived near and far from good sites! I have been diving for 21 years – yup I said that! I learnt to dive when I was 15 to read about that check out Where it all Began! I have dived from several countries including South Africa, Mozambique, Saudi Arabia and Cyprus.

So when I traveled to Sharm El Sheikh for a week long holiday, you can bet I went scuba diving. While there are many beautiful dives spots in the Egyptian side of the Red Sea, my favourite was the SS Thistlegorm, which is reached by a four hour boat ride down the coast – yes four hours! It’s actually a scenic ride, with breakfast along the way, and beautiful views of the coast.

A brief history of the SS Thistlegorm, she was a British Merchant Navy armed freighter, built in 1940 in Sunderland. She was equipped with a 4.7 inch anti- aircraft gun and was, at the time she sank, installing a heavy caliber machine gun. The SS Thistlegorm sailed four voyages before she sank near Ras Mohammed in 1941. She was carrying motorcycles, bren guns, rifles, wellingtons, ammunition, radios and equipment, and aircraft parts for the Allied forces in Egypt. Strapped to her deck were several rail wagon bound for the Egyptian National Railway.

The German forces suspected a ship in the area to be carrying Allied troops to Egypt, so they sent out the Luftwaffe to find and destroy the ship. Two bombs were dropped on the SS Thistlegorm, blowing the rail waggons off the deck and sinking her. Four soldiers and five Royal Navy Gun Crew lost their lives, while the HMS Carlisle rescued the rest of the crew.  Most of the cargo remained on the ship. The wreck of the SS Thistlegorm was discovered in the 1950’s by Jacques Cousteau and is now a top ten dive site!

Diving the SS Thistlegorm was fantastic, the visibility was excellent – it was cold, 21 degree Celsius. But it was unbelievable. The wreck is haunting, almost forgotten like the cargo strewn around it. The damaged section is distinct, and there are many ammunition shells scattered around. It was hard to figure out what to look at first! Figuring out what these random feet like things were was a strange experience because once your brain connects that the feet remain of boots, you can’t unsee them. It was mind altering! I enjoyed playing spot the ammo or the welly while trying to figure out which guns or rifles lay in the muck! And by muck I mean algae! The coral was mostly soft corals, zoanthids, hydroids and Gorgonian whips. Ideal for me to brush up on my Benthic knowledge. The outside of the wreck was awesome; the inside was more so. Finning through small cargo doors and port windows were easy, losing a fin in the dark – not so much fun! But it was easily found, and the dive continued. I was surprised how much there was to see inside the ship. I knew the cargo was still mostly intact, but there was a lot of it in the small ship. Fascinating, sadly, as with all dives they kept ending! Am starting to wish I had gills! So much ocean to see!

If the SS Thistlegorm is not on your list of MUST SEE dive sites, then grab a pen and add it now!

Nudibranch – the way to a perfect dive!

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The Zenobia

Travelling to a new place is always exciting!

Especially if I can dive! Sometimes this is a happy accident and sometimes it most definitely not!


When a friend suggested travelling to Cyprus I was excited:

  1. I have never been there, and I have several friends who have!
  2. The Zenobia

So off to Cyprus we went!

We choose a local dive company for our Zenobian Adventure! Dive In is a corporation based in Larnaca, is has branch all over Cyprus but of our needs was perfect – just down the road from our hotel! My sister and I were going to set out early and meet everyone after our diving!

It was weird to be diving without my own gear and in a 5 mm suit and jacket. I definitely missed my back Inflator BCD! Everything was a bit stiff. Rolling of the boat was fun, just like back in South Africa and Mozambique.

Oh my gosh! When we hit the water!!!!!

IT WAS COLD! At first anyway, I got used to it! The visibility was excellent, and there were loads of Jacks, Barracuda all around us as we descended. The wreck was enormous and serene – sort of Titanicy!

A little history about the Zenobia: In 1980 the cargo ship Zenobia was travelling to Greece when a problem with her ballast tanks was discovered this was rectified in Greece and she continued on her journey. Unfortunately, the problem returned, and she entered Larnaca Harbour in June 1980 badly listing. The problem could not be solved, so the Zenobia was towed out of the harbour and left at anchor. The Zenobia capsized on June 7 and sank with her cargo worth about £200 million which was never salvaged. Legend says that this cause behind the sinking of the Zenobia was never investigated and no insurance money ever collected!

Listed as a top 10 dive site, the Zenobia wreck lays about 2 km from Larnaca Harbour. It is laying on its side, at its deepest it sits at 42 meters and 16 meters at its shallowest. Divers are taken around the outside to see the ships and the propeller – which is always cool. The inside of the Zenobia is awesome, although I did need to get my orientation correct! The is something very strange about looking to the side and looking into a toilet bowl at head height! I felt very disoriented when I stared at things, and they came into focus on their sides – looking at a truck and thinking

What on earth?

Then realising that it was a truck on its side. Very weird!

But it was fascinating swimming through the accommodation section and checking out the red carpet on which you can still see the stripes!

I had never seen trucks underwater before, so it was incredible to see they lined up and strapped in, just laying there covered in algae and coral. I did love spotting the BLACK SPONGE OF DOOM! There was loads of macro algae and flat/ tube worms. Being in the Mediterranean was very different to being in the Red Sea although it was funny to see the guide get super excited about a lionfish! My sister and I just swam by – I mean we see loads back home! It wasn’t until later that a marine biologist friend told me that lionfish are not native to the Mediterranean and that they have been sneaking in through the Suez Canal! Next time I will remember to take a fully charged camera!

All in all this was an amazing set of dives, I definitely recommend it to anyone who is going to be in the area!

I wonder where I will dive next!

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Letter to Steve

Dear Steve,

Yes, this is an actual letter! Well sort of, it’s the letter I have been meaning to write for ages!

Just before I set off on my Eastern European Extravaganza tour, I was concerned about all the eating and drinking that would be happening (I love food) over a six week period where staying in shape is tricky.After searching the infinite web, I landed on a site called

After searching the unlimited internet, I landed on a site called Nerd Fitness – I was intrigued! Yes, I am a nerd – I do like Zombies Run and have a complicated relationship with fitness. Of course, I was going to be interested. Gym bunnies and I just don’t think the same way.

Nerd Fitness has made some changes over the last few years, but its mission hasn’t changed only been focused. The first post I actually read – you can surf the site for ages looking for different things – was Do Something You Suck At.

That was back in June 2014, yes I have been following NF for a while.

The post was cool – the main picture was of Lego figures, and everyone loves Lego! It was simply about the new things that you (Steve Kamb) had tried out that week. It resonated. When had been the last time I had tried anything just for fun? One post leads to another and as I was actually searching for ways to stay fit while travelling I discovered a post called How to Stay in Shape while Travelling.  Which details your efforts to stay healthy while travelling. There were some key points and some interesting ideas. The fact that the post included pictures of you before your trip and after – you got bigger! Wow! I was impressed.

Three things I took away from your post:

  1. Stay active – walk where you can, work out where can
  2. Keep a routine – important for both fitness and sight seeing!
  3. Eat well – make the right choices, including salads and vegetables.

While you were travelling, you were using body weight exercises, and pull ups! I used walking and jogging – I love a fast walk around a park! If I could rent a bicycle, I did! I don’t like gyms and struggle to work out on my own I definitely prepare team sports!

Food – well it was an interesting journey for me because I love food, but after reading your tips on travelling and food, I found I was making better choices. Choosing high protein meals and although nothing in this universe will make me give up pasta or great bread, I did start eating fewer carbs. Or should I say more vegetables and fruit? I was choosing vegetables instead of rice or potatoes, and I loved it.

There is an option to sign up and pay for extra things – and this has changed a lot over the last few years – more towards a gaming platform to inspire and encourage people to get involved and be part of something bigger. The Nerd Fitness Academy includes mindset, meals and fitness modules with workout routines. The courses are self-paced which is great. I love that you even have a Nerd Fitness Yoga section too (also new in the last 2 years). I haven’t signed up for either yet partly because I want to do both but I also am getting what I need from the blog posts and free resources. Although every time I check out NF Yoga, I am tempted! Due mostly to the fact that there is no yoga near where I live! I think the blog is excellent and the tips and ideas are great – which I incorporate into my life (See Blink and you will miss it post), I love the body weight exercises although I do struggle with some of them – so I reduce those I need to and increase the ones I can. I am signed up to the Rebellion and even have my own password but I am only just starting to get into using it!

While it is a fitness site, Ned Fitness is so much more – it’s about regular people, getting advice and support on fitness, get stronger and living better lives filled with adventure and courage to find happiness. It incorporates geeky references and movie trivia, and I love the lego pictures and the Superhero work out’s (even though they are super tough!).

After I got back from my Eastern European Extravaganza I started on the Paleo Diet Food plan and focused on adding more vegetables and I slimmed down nearly 5 kilogrammes! As a teacher, I walk constantly, so incorporating more activity in my life has been tricky but using the hints and ideas from Nerd Fitness I am maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I am now 36 years old and looking to the future I want to be more! Yes, more of everything! Doing my masters and working full time and trying to include the fun things I enjoy is tricky but so far it is working all thanks to you, Steve! You and Nerd Fitness!

I am now 36 years old and looking to the future I want to be more! Yes, more of everything! Doing my masters and working full time and trying to include the fun things I enjoy is tricky but so far it is working all thanks to you, Steve! You and Nerd Fitness! I even started going to the gym with some friends and it was so much fun – sadly our busy lives and extra tutoring for saving scuppered that about two months but I am refocusing and respawning in order to ensure I continue to be healthy and get a bit fitter!

Thankfully NF has taught me that it’s 100% okay to fail as long as you brush of your failure and try again!

So I want to say a huge thank you to you, Steve and Nerd Fitness for helping me along my journey to lead a stronger and more adventurous life!

Many thanks,


PS. To anyone reading this post please leave a comment and check out the links embeded in this post – and if you haven’t already check out Nerd Fitness!

Rule #1

Blink and you will miss it!

Life is the biggest distraction – suddenly it’s two years later!

As a child we often get told not to wish to be grown up, at least my mum did. Now at nearly 37 years of age, I realised that like most things – mother knew best!

I was checking out my creative writing folder on one of my backup USB’s and “wow” – in some cases I have worked on any of my stories in YEARS and YEARS! Even my most planned piece was last updated in 2012, and others since 2002. So what was I doing creatively?


  • 2014 I documented my travels through this blog.
  • Attempted to learn the violin
  • Scuba diving
  • Traveled
  • Marine research volunteer in Madagascar
  • Traveled

Okay, okay, I did lots of travelling while living in the Land of Sand. I also started my Masters.

So I have done a lot, but I miss my creative writing, and I do miss it a lot. I feel that I blink and days or weeks disappear.

So April 11, 2017, is going to be my:

Respawning Day

Yes, just like in the games I love so much and rarely get to play, I am respawning from where I died… reloading a previous save! I feel no shame in re-spawning, it’s much more forward thinking than you realise. So you can’t kill the last dragon because you are (a) not strong enough, (b) you didn’t collect the Staff of Ages. Why spend hours grinding and getting frustrated? Respawn, reload, fix the problem! It works in Dragon Age and Mass Effect! So a big thank you must go to Steve Kamb of Nerd Fitness who first introduced me to the idea that respawning in life is good! (More on my love and admiration for Steve and NF in the future.)

Where will this year take you?

So it’s January, time to write a new list! Where do you start? 

I like to start at the end seems rather silly but it’s a good place to start. Start at the end of last year! 

What did you do? How much did you do? Where did you go? What have you crossed off your big list of life already? 

From there I choose a few things that I’d like to try and do, generally something for fitness, health, travel and something for broadening the mind. 

So this year my something to exercise is to play squash more, to dive more, to try more dive places around Jeddah. For health I want to try continue eating better less carbs more vegetables, and maybe learn how to cook a new soup. So that’s health and fitness! Next up travel!

I definitely want to go to Dubai this year for a weekend or maybe a week! after being subtly manipulated by my mother into a trip to Jordan, I guess Jordan is the place.

To broaden my mind, well based on last years learning to play the violin, this year I’m actually going to learn something to play a piece on the violin something simple but beautiful. 

There are several other aspects of life today I try to improve as well.  standard ones like to be more sociable, say yes to more things, try new restaurants, try different food, things like that. 

Making the choice to do something and being specific about it is the hardest part of making a list of things to do for the new year. As the weeks go on your plans will finalize and change as you might be inspired to change your plans. Just because you put something on your list and you don’t achieve it doesn’t mean you haven’t done anything. It just gives you a place to start. 

As every traveller knows it is not the destination it is the journey!