I received a charm bracelet last Christmas. Three tiny trinkets representing things I enjoy most in life hang from the bracelet chain. “Flip-flops for your itchy backpacker’s feet. Turtle for your love for nature. Heart for friendship,” my friend wrote. To complete the picture, let us imagine that a fourth trimming was added–a fried chicken leg–to depict another great love–food.
The little thing’s charm must be working, for it made me excited enough to set goals and plans for these symbols, something I have never done at the start of the year.
Here are what I have in mind for these teeny bits of silver.
Flip-flops and Turtles
1. Volunteer. Incidentally, it looks like my first travel for this year would be to a pawikan (marine turtle) conservation site in Bataan. It’s volunteer work by helping a community-based group watch over just-hatched sea turtles. The goal is to do this before going home in February.
2. Volunteer again. I have to volunteer somewhere again before the year ends. It can be going back to Enca Farm or checking out another organic farm in Ifugao. Perhaps an unheard of opportunity will arise within the year. I will be there to grab it.
3. Apo Reef. Be surrounded by the second largest reef system in the world. The flights have been booked for March. I have to send out the itinerary before January 15 for my travel buddies’ approval.
4. Intro or Fun Dive. Do this in Pandan Island on the way to checking out Apo Reef.
5. Donsol. Go back to the gentle giants of the sea in April.
6. Pahiyas Festival. Finally! I get to see this famous festival in Lucban, Quezon. I am lucky it still falls on a weekend since I will have a job by May.
7. Sibuyan Island. Scientists consider this the Galapagos Island of the Philippines due to animal and plant species that are unique to the island. They say some have not even been discovered yet. Okay, I do not plan on being the one to unearth them. I simply want to set foot in a place that has been isolated from any part of the country since its birth.
8. Romblon. Well, since I am in Sibuyan anyway, I might as well check out this nearby province famous for its marbles.
9. Sagada. Go back to this laid-back mountain getaway and explore its cave systems. Trek to Mt. Kiltepan again and buy a pack of that delicious Arabica coffee from Bana’s.
10. Any mountain. Join a hiking trip to the top of a mountain. I am saying “yes” to one of those Facebook invites.
11. Travel alone in at least one of the above.
Fried Chicken Leg
12. Eat right. I really need to start making the right food choices again and say good-bye to my usual fare lately–fries, instant noodles, chocolate and yes, fried chicken. The plan is to replace two meals with oatmeal, readily available in my apartment, and fruits until my waistline hits 28 inches. It stands at 32 inches now. Four inches off my waist? It would be fun to see how soon I can make that go away.
13. Get moving. Go back to my daily core exercise that is highly effective in treating my lower back pain. Add walking into the picture to drive those four inches away sooner than later.
14. Learn to swim. This is the year I get swimming right, that is, with my arms moving with my legs in a well coordinated manner and me breathing now and then so I do not sink to the bottom of the pool, or sea. Time to pay that swimming school a visit.
15. Reconnect and maintain friendships. Go out regularly while spending minimally. Invite friends to some of my travels.
16. Reconnect with family. Reconcile with my sister. Text my brothers more frequently. Call my parents at least once a month.
17. Reconnect with CS. If a traveler sends me a message to meet up, I will be unreasonable and show up.
I will include five other goals that keep my own heart alive and will ensure the realization of the other plans.
18. Write, and keep on writing. Hence, the new blog. I will have one entry per week and will jot down all thoughts worth noting in my ‘Bon Voyage’ notebook.
19. Read, and keep on reading. Put down those historical romance more often and read the great novels I bought from a friend at excellent prices. Read the non-fiction books accumulating dust in my place. Then, buy and read the following:
a. A book on the history of the Philippines, preferably in Tagalog
b. The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Sir Ken Robinson
c. Cartoon History of the Modern World by Larry Gonick
d. The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
20. Clean my apartment. My last attempt to do this was in 2009. Embarrassing. When this goal is done, another aim is to maintain those gleaming surfaces every week. There should not be a goal like this in 2012.
21. Save. Apply for that automatic monthly save-up scheme.
22. Get part-time work. This can be writing online, transcribing and translating for the networks or being a voice talent. Any job other than the main source.
There I have it! Twenty-two To Dos for 2011. That charm bracelet sure is working its magic.
I am contemplating making this post private. But I have a feeling these plans have a better chance of coming true if I hit “Public”. That way, anyone can offer encouragement, or call my attention when I slack off.
In any case, no one is reading anyway:)