dream list


Support Small Businesses and Shop Local

Did you know there are over 28 million small businesses in the United States?

I've found small businesses to be more personable and are what help make a community great. Many small businesses are also involved in philanthropic initiatives in their communities

If you are in Northwest Indiana, I love Extra Mile Fitness Company for my running shoes and Aster + Gray for a gift or home items.

Also local to NWI but available online is my favorite face cream Pelle by Lauren and homemade soaps by BUN’s Soapbox.

I not only love all these products but I made new friends with the owners.

Today if you are out and about, stop and support a local small business! You never know, you may make a new friend!



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About the Author:

Stephanie Jones and her husband, Mike, live in Northwest, IN and enjoy lake life and travel. Stephanie is the author of The Giving Challenge-40 Days to a More Generous Life (on sale NOW!), a speaker, life success coach, and a daily giver. Stephanie empowers people to change their life through giving.

You can contact Stephanie by email at Stephanie@GivingGal.com

Do you love Facebook memories? I love them. They are a reminder of things I've done over the past years, places I've been and friends I've connected with or met. Over the past couple of days, these two memories popped up.


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Wow! I couldn't believe it had been six years since my mom and I tackled a big dream list item. I'll be honest; the Susan G. Komen 3-Day had never been on my list until a good friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. One will do crazy things when they feel helpless. I swear this walk gets sign-ups on sheer emotion because no sane person would sign up to walk 60 miles in three days. I paid my $70 bucks and committed to raising money. OH MY GOSH...what had I done?

Thinking back to the walk reminded me of a comment I received from fellow blogger Melinda Todd about my recent blog discussing my dream list. She commented on this blog saying, "Easier said than done, especially if you have money to live out your bucket list."

She was right. 100% right. A bucket list is easier talked about. That's why so many people do a lot of talking but never take any action. That is why people have regrets. I love that Melinda brought to my attention something I didn't address. My blog made it sound like my friend passed away and BAM! I was living my list. But that was not the reality at all.

I think back to the 3-Day and I prepped and trained, hours upon hours. The training was not easy. The walk was grueling. We basically walked back to back 4880683424_fd7160ff1a_zmarathons in two days with little sleep. I knew it wasn't easy because participants were getting picked up, left and right by a van that would take them to the next checkpoint or to the campsite. I was amazed at how people didn't walk the entire 60 miles. Why? Because it wasn't easy. It was hard, both mentally and physically. It was HOT! Hello, it was August in the Midwest. So, I want to be clear, living your dreams is not easy, but that is why I think being able to check something off the list is so enjoyable. It is about the journey, the challenges, the people you meet, the experiences along the way and the finishing.

Melinda also brought up another great point about the cost of a dream list. Yes, your dream list can be expensive, especially exotic or foreign travel. Your dream list shouldn't be based on a dollar amount and whether or not you can currently afford the item. If you look at my list, you'll see there is a range of items from free to thousands of dollars in cost. Nothing is too little or big for your dream list. Some of my favorite list items were free or under $100.

Here are a couple examples of free or cheap items on my list I’ve checked off:

  1. I met Coach K (Duke's basketball coach) while volunteering at the Nike basketball camp. FREE!
  2. I volunteered 100 hours in one year. FREE
  3. I learned to can. I used veggies from my garden and my friend gave me the jars. FREE
  4. I planted a garden. The only cost was the starter plants, but in the long run, it saved me money.
  5. I swam a mile at the local YMCA. I think I paid $35 for six lessons.

Here a couple items still on my dream list that are inexpensive:

  1. Host my own radio show
  2. Read 53 books in one year
  3. Cook a new meal every week for a year
  4. Be an extra in a movie
  5. Knit a scarf

It made me sad the other day when one of my coaching clients mentioned he had never learned to set goals and the power of writing them down. I guess it's a good thing he has a good coach (wink, wink) who is teaching him how to DREAM BIG, write down those dreams and then build a plan to pursue and live out those dreams.

Theodore Roosevelt once said, "Do what you can, with what you have, where you."

I think Roosevelt was right. No matter where you are in life, no matter your age, gender, race or income level, you always have the ability to dream, to write those dreams down and pursue them. You might have to work hard, and that's okay. You might not be able to afford some things on your list, right now, but that's okay. Your dream list isn't about the cost of the dream, the list is about you living your life to the fullest and leaving this earth with no regrets. And hopefully, along the way, you will bless others and inspire them to live their list.

What are the low-cost items on your list? Are you pursuing them? If not, why? As a certified life coach, I love helping and empowering people to pursue and live their dreams. If I can help you in any way, send me an email at Stephanie@GivingGal.com or comment below.



About the Author:


Stephanie Jones and her husband, Mike, live in Northwest, IN and enjoy lake life and travel. Stephanie is a writer, speaker, life coach, daily giver and soon to be an author of The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Lifer (pre-order now!). She challenges people to be bold in their actions, accomplish and live their big dreams, and bless others daily through giving.

You can contact Stephanie by email at stephanie@GivingGal.com


In an instant, our lives can change on a dime. A horrific car crash, a divorce filing, or a sudden job loss. I usually think of “in an instant” as a bad thing. Like eight years ago today, in an instant, my college friend Leslie, was gone after a brave battle with cancer. She was 32 years old. Even though we hadn’t spoken since graduation, I followed her journey through her blog. Each post brought tears, and sometimes sobs, and prayers for Leslie’s healing and comfort her family.

But in an instant, Leslie’s death changed my entire life. Yes, I have lost friends in the past, but for some reason, her death hit me hard. Like a ton of bricks. Maybe it was because she was my age. We went to same the college. We were both married. Our lives looked similar. Her death came at a time when I was transitioning from being a police officer to starting a career in the corporate world. Months after her death I would become a workaholic, making a lot of money and wondering why the money wasn’t making me happy. I was living the same day, every day. Working long hours both weekdays and weekends. Was this what I was meant to do? To be? To work to make money?

Leslie’s death started me questioning everything in my life. What the heck was I doing? How was I living my days? I started thinking, knowing, that in an instant, it could all end. It could all end and what would I have done?

Years earlier I had created my dream list. Things I wanted to do. People I wanted to meet. Places I wanted to go and things I wanted to learn. It was saved in a file on my desk. I only opened it when I had something to add, rarely, if ever, checking anything off. Leslie’s death challenged me to live my list. To be intentional about each day.

My husband and I had a come to Jesus meeting August 2008. It was a heated discussion in our kitchen, I remember it like it was yesterday. I remember yelling, “what the hell are we doing with our lives?” I wasn’t angry, I was scared. Scared that the day would come and I would have a ton of regrets. The day would come and I wouldn’t be able to do all the things I wanted to do. The things that had been sitting trapped in an excel file on my desk.

Shortly after that discussion, we decided to take our first step to living our lives. We started planning our dream vacation to Hawaii. It had been five years sinceUntitled design (1) we’d been on vacation because we were always “too busy.”

The trip was amazing. I learned to surf. We got up at 2:30a.m. to drive up a mountain to see the sunrise above the clouds and then biked 20 miles down. I thought I was going to die, but I did it. I was living! I took my first helicopter ride and I swam with dolphins. Did I mention a dolphin pooped in my hand? But I didn’t care. I…was… LIVING!

Since Leslie’s death, here are some of the cool things I have experience (click here for full list):

  • Saw Duke win a NCAA National Championship…LIVE
  • Learned to kayak and now do so almost every weekend
  • Ran a marathon with my mom
  • Planted a garden and learned to make and can my own salsa
  • Learned to knit (but I need to finish a scarf)
  • Took ice skating lessons
  • Swam with sharks
  • Sat in the audience at an Oprah Show
  • Walked 60 miles in three days, raising funds for cancer
  • Took my dad to see Washington D.C. during police week

I think of Leslie almost every day. Every July 26th, her name pops up on my calendar. It’s a day for me to be thankful for her journey changing my life, to remember her family and make sure I’m living the life she can’t.

Friends, right now your life can change in an instant. From here on out you can choose to live a different life. If there is something you are struggling with or going through, don’t let it steal your happiness…your joy. What are your priorities? If you don’t know, sit down and make a list. Do you have a bucket list? If so, are you living it? If not, write out your list and keep adding to it. Then pick one and make a plan to live it!

I’ll end with one of my favorite quotes by Eleanor Roosevelt, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”



About the Author:


Stephanie Jones and her husband, Mike, live in Northwest, IN and enjoy lake life and travel. Stephanie is a writer, speaker, life coach, daily giver and soon to be an author of The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Lifer (pre-order now!). She challenges people to be bold in their actions, accomplish and live their big dreams, and bless others daily through giving.

You can contact Stephanie by email at stephanie@GivingGal.com.