Last year, senior Kelsey Merritt attempted to break a Guinness World Record by assembling a team of volunteers to create the world’s largest mural painted entirely by bare feet—measuring 26,787 square feet—on the Kent State Commons during Homecoming 2017. She’s still waiting to hear back from the organization.
The effort was item number 116, “Be part of a world record,” on her bucket list, which started with 25 items required for a high school project. “I loved the dreaming, planning and doing that went into each goal,” she says, so she kept on adding to her list. It has now grown to over 400 items, with 184 and counting crossed off.
“The list is more than reaching certain goals before ‘kicking the bucket,’ but is a way to live your best life now,” she writes on her blog, It’s List Girl, which she hopes will persuade others to join her in dreaming big.
“Making a bucket list is a way to knock out the typical 9-to-5 lifestyle and find what really lights your heart on fire. Dreaming means connecting with other dreamers and learning from one another. If we all took the time to go after our dreams without any fear, can you imagine how beautiful this place would be?”
A study abroad trip to India last year helped her cross off several more items on her list—including “Ride an elephant,” “Visit the Taj Mahal” and “Get a henna tattoo” among the 27 she completed in 2017 (see list below).
However, at the Taj Mahal she noticed the grounds were littered with the paper booties everyone was required to place over their shoes when entering the temple. There were no trash cans for visitors to dispose of the booties after leaving, so many just ripped them off and left them behind.
Kelsey Merritt was stunned to see piles of trash covering a wonder of the world, so she and the group she was with picked it up and disposed of it elsewhere. “I’m certain the piles accumulated once again after we left, but my heart felt lighter,” she says. “And the Taj Mahal isn’t the only place covered in trash—it’s everywhere!”
She travels because it’s her passion, but she feels guilty about her carbon footprint. Now she’s vowed to pick up trash everywhere she goes.
“In one year, we have 365 days to make a difference,” she notes in an end-of-year-review blog post. “Each day we can make the decision to be our best selves and, in turn, we make the world around us that much better.
“I plan to make 2018 my year of intention. As I graduate from college and turn another chapter in my life, I want to take the lessons from 2017 and act on them. I want to wake up each day and ask, ‘How am I going to give my best today?’”
Kelsey Merritt, BS ’18, graduated in May with a major in fashion merchandising and a double minor in marketing and sustainability. To learn more, visit www.itslistgirl.com.
“Each day we can make the decision to be our best selves and, in turn, we make the world around us that much better.”
—Kelsey Merritt, BS ’18
Bucket List Items Kelsey Merritt Completed in 2017
- Tried aerial yoga
- Kayaked the Colorado River
- Flew a trapeze
- Soaked in a natural hot spring
- Learned to surf
- Drank from a coconut
- Rode an elephant
- Went to the Taj Mahal
- Went whitewater rafting
- Was on a podcast
- Went on a mission trip
- Climbed a volcano
- Gave a perfect speech
- Went backpacking
- Slept in a hammock
- Rock climbed outside
- Witnessed a solar eclipse
- Had a star named after me
- Extracted honey from a beehive
- Attempted to break a world record
- Read the entire Bible
- Jumped off a pier
- Rode in a rickshaw
- Swam in bioluminescent water
- Got a henna tattoo
- Attended a Muay Thai fight
- Cooked a traditional dish from another country
The Big Dream Gathering