If you’re looking for the post about Vegas, it’s the one below. This one is dedicated to something a little less frivilous.

I wasn’t sure how I would cross off #62. Be recognized for a journalism-related achievement from my list. I had even thought about leaving it on there until the bitter end as motivation to go out and achieve something worth recognizing. But winning a Jack Webster Student Journalism Award fit this goal best for several reasons.

First, it’s something that I’m proud of because second, it’s an honour. Third, I originally created my list as a list of eclectic, adventurous, and significant celebrations for all kinds of achievements: This definitely is one of those. Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, the award was journalism-related, and not for actual journalism.

So what did I write about?

My essay was short and to-the-point, like most of my essays are when I’m up against a pushy deadline, and constrained to a tight word count. In 500 words, I wrote about my view on the place of journalism in the world, my aspirations, and my reasons for getting into journalism in the first place. In my opinion, the reasons behind why anyone chooses any career – or any path for that matter – is very telling. Being allowed to know why anyone does anything is fascinating to me.

When I re-read my reasons, it all seems to make sense. I can trace back how I got to where am I by selecting certain “significant” events, by pointing to people who have encouraged me, events that influenced me.

But at the end of the day, I’m not so sure those are the case. What I mean, is that looking back I can choose to include what I think got me into journalism in the first place. In reality, if some small, seemingly irrelevant, non-journalism-related, circumstantial detail was changed, I may not be in my final year, studying journalism, and in love with the idea of telling stories and embarking on a career path that allows me to learn for a job.

There are, however, a few “milestones” (for lack of a better term), that definitely had an impact.

One of them was my discovery of Christiane Amanpour.

When I share this story with people, 80 per cent of the time I get a response that has to do with how she and I have similar hairstyles. If success in journalism was based on hair, I must be on the right track.

We share at least one other thing in common though, and that is a positive belief in the potential of journalism.

I won’t post my essay: When I went searching for past award recipients’ essays online in an attempt to dissuade myself from entering a competition that sees a number of high-caliber entries by more qualified entrants than I, I couldn’t find a single thing. I won’t break the tradition of secrecy by making it easier for next year’s essayists. They will just have to be original. I will give you the first three lines.

Christiane Amanpour once stated that: “Good journalism, good television, can make the world a better place.” And I believe that to be true. 

The key, however, is that journalism itself should not set out to make the world a better place. Rather, journalism that discusses ideas, explains concepts, and provides accountability for actions, has the great potential to make our world a better place by informing populations and educating minds.

Thank you to the Jack Webster Foundation for seeing something true in my writing, and for a fantastic evening; Thank you to one of my instructors for flat-out telling me to apply.

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I’ve written about this before: How I often struggle with defining the purpose of my blog, and on deciding where to draw the line that determines what is “appropriate” to blog about. Given my desire to go into media where, let’s face it, nothing is ever really private, I generally hesitate sending anything personal into the blogosphere, and out into the world.

It’s not like I have thousands of followers: I’d be thrilled to have a dozen regulars, actually. But still, my future self would rue my present self, if future self became known by something silly present self said.

With all of this in mind, I’ve decided to just go right on ahead and blog about my trip to Vegas. Going there for my 21st birthday was, after all, on my bucket list.

It was a point of contention when exactly the last time I visited Sin City was. Some time between 1999-2003. Needless to say, it was a very different Vegas than the one I experienced this past weekend.

In the spirit of my trip, I will leave a lot of what happened in Vegas, in Vegas. (This is mostly because leaving out a few things makes my trip sound much more mysterious and intriguing.) For the sake of being educational, I have chosen to make a list of everything I learned while away.

LIST OF THINGS I LEARNED IN VEGAS THAT I WOULD HAVE BEEN OKAY NOT LEARNING:

1. I have a tendency to pronounce typical all-American-sounding names with a Middle Eastern accent.

2. Video poker is not your friend.

3. Free shots given to you from a kind gentleman on the street that smell like paint-thinner, don’t necessarily taste like paint-thinner.

4. Denny’s will almost always trip to skimp you out of your Hobbit trading cards. Don’t let them.

5. Even if you try to run away from somebody chasing you up a crowded escalator, if they really want to, they will catch up to you. And then you’ll come off as rude. So always so ‘Hi’ to Paulo from Harlem. Even if the price tag is still on his hat and he’s in desperate need of a belt, he’s actually really nice.

5. Chickens can eat oyster shells. (But you probably don’t want to.)

6. Successfully convincing your mom to go to a hookah bar with you is one of the funniest and most awesome birthday presents you can get. Unfortunately, you can only ask for this once in a lifetime.

7. The Passion Pit is probably not somewhere you’d like to hang out.

8. When Victor leaves the Blackjack table, you should also probably leave. His replacement is too good at Blackjack for you.

9. One of the best decisions you can make is to run away from the dejected-looking balding Elvis. He’s not like Paulo from Harlem.

10. A contraption has been invented that ensures your guitar strings stay in tune. It’s quite expensive and has a difficult-to-remember name.

11. The pina coladas at Bellagio are much tastier, but the ones at Mirage are so much stronger.

12. Sometimes when you think you’re calling Langley, you’re actually calling the Caribbean.

The rest, my friends, remains in Vegas.

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My classes for the semester have finally ended, and I’m now left with a couple of weeks to reflect on another scholastic year gone by, and to decompress before heading into a summer of full-time work.

I’ll put it bluntly: The second half of my third year in university was not a four-month period that saw my finest work.

With that off of my chest, it’s easier for me to say that it was, however, a time of growth and productivity in other areas of my life. In fact, I feel like four years have flown by since January and I’m now in 2016, wondering why I ever was the way I was, and wanted the things I used to want.

I should have learned a very important  lesson from all of this: That spreading yourself too thin is an inevitable consequence of an inability to say no.

But when it’s all said and done, I’d rather be plagued by an inability to say no, than a debilitating fear to say yes.

So as summer approaches, and the sun slowly works at melting away the stress still lingering from past deadlines and due dates, I’m looking forward to another “four years” of adventures between this semester, and the beginning of a new one next fall. (Which, by the way, marks the beginning of my fourth and final year in university.)

My goals for this next little while? My fabulous piano teacher always used to say: ‘If you don’t have your health, you have nothing.’ And after having had to take several mental health days this semester, I have finally realized that it’s time to accept this as a law of nature, and adopt his wise words as a rule by which to live my day-to-day life.

I’m looking to long and relaxing days spent at the beach, mornings started with pilates and yoga, and a lot of writing done because I actually want to write. I’m hoping to rediscover my former love of cooking, and to listen to more live music. Reading, lots and lots of reading, is on my page-long to-do list, which is, for once, filled with things I actually want to do.

Call it a summer of want, call it a summer of rehabilitation. But I’ve got a bucket list of things to see and do, and only so many weeks to do them. So I’m calling this, the summer of George Hayley.

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“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” — Robert Brault

It’s been a while since I’ve crossed anything off of my 10-year bucket list. We get so busy, caught up in working towards the big goals in our lives, that the little things seem to slip through the cracks of our day-to-day lives.

So Thursday, I smartened up, and crossed off one of those little things.

#66 Ride a motorcycle

It was a small ride, but a first ride. Armed with my more-fashionable-than-protective leather boots and jacket, a slightly oversized helmet, borrowed gloves, and a healthy dose of fear, a took a short ride in the afternoon sunshine.

And it was so much fun.

Harley rode a Harley, and now has 17 items down, with 84 left to go.

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#90 Milk a cow

Today I completed one of the more unique items on my 10-year list with a trip to North Vancouver’s Maplewood Farm.

When I wrote my list close to a year-and-a-half ago, I had no idea how I was going to pull this one off: Not only did I need to find someone who would let me milk their cow, but if eating pork and undercooked bacon creeps me out, how on earth did I expect to get up-close and personal with a bloated udder?

Maybe it was my eagerness to hide my city-girl image, maybe it was how Farmer Courtney made the process look much easier than it actually was. Either way, at about 1:15 p.m., I gave a milking demonstration to four young kids and their respective parents.

By the end, we had filled a pale with close to five litres of fresh milk. And by we, I mean Farmer Courtney. (Although, I maybe managed to milk three ounces out of Lima, two of which ended up on my suede shoes.)

But I had a blast, and that’s all that matters.

I’d like to thank Maplewood Farm for indulging my random desire to milk a cow. There’s a first for everything, and now I know who to call if I decide to put “milk a goat” on my next 10-year list.

And a special thanks to Farmer Courtney, in some of the photos below, and who gave me a lovely souvenir, photo to come.

I am now 16 down, with 85 to go.

(Enjoy the photos, the video will be posted soon.)

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I woke up relatively early today, in my own bed, after having grown accustomed to living three hours ahead on the East Coast.

Now that it’s all over, it feels like the trip passed in the blink of an eye, and yet I can’t figure out how we managed to cram so much site-seeing, touring, walking and eating into a six-day trip.

Since my last post, us three wannabe New Yorkers took the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, where my great-grandmother landed after weeks of travelling across the Atlantic. We visited the Top of the Rock, which is almost 70 stories above 30 Rockefeller, home to NBC studios. And as timing goes, about an hour after photographing the beautiful panoramic view, Virginia was hit by the magnitude 5.8 earthquake.

We happened to be on an NBC tour at the time, where we saw the set for Monday Night Football, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and Saturday Night Live. It wasn’t until a reporter informed our guide that we couldn’t view the NBC news studios – because they were busy producing “breaking news” – that we knew what had happened.

Our broadway play for the trip was How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. It was absolutely phenomenal. Everything from the set to the talent to Daniel Radcliffe was spectacular.

We literally ran through the Museum of Natural History an hour before closing in search of their dinosaur exhibit. The Ben Stiller movie Night at the Museum was filmed there, and in one of the scenes, the dinosaur skeleton comes to life, as do the other displays. Most kids would remember the scene where an Easter Island statue wants gum, or something like that. Either way, my sister clearly remembered, and so we sprinted through exhibits and dodged security guards clearing out the building for closing until we got our photo.

We saw Brooklyn, briefly, and walked the Brooklyn bridge. We trained to Coney Island to ride the wooden Cyclone roller coaster, and eat a hotdog at Nathan’s.

In my previous post, I mentioned how much I love the Met. Well, my favourite part of that museum was the section of modern art and famous paintings, and I soon discovered that MoMA is essentially a full gallery of my favourite floor of the Met.

We also visited the World Trade Centre site, where a memorial garden is being built. We saw Wall Street, City Hall, UpTown, MidTown and DownTown.

The stories are endless, and the three of us can’t wait to get back.

In the mean time, I’m turning to my 10-year list to see what else I can cross off.

This past week, I’ve accomplished #2 and #26, which are travelling to New York and turning my cell phone off for a week.

As an aside, I’d like to address the latter of the two, and the comments stating that it doesn’t count if I go on vacation for a week and leave my phone at home.

First, this was not a vacation. It was a chaotic site-seeing tour where we ran around the island of Manhattan until we could no longer use our feet. Vacations are for relaxing.

Second, I suffered from not being able to use my phone, and for several reasons: I couldn’t tweet what I was seeing, I couldn’t tweet breaking news about the East Coast’s first earthquake of such a magnitude in decades, I couldn’t call home to say we were fine (because the earthquake was barely felt in New York), I couldn’t text my loved ones, I couldn’t text those whom I don’t love but like a lot, I couldn’t choose to not text those that I dislike, etc, etc.

Long story short: Once upon a time… It COUNTS! … The end.

I have now knocked off 15 items on my list, and have a mere 86 to go.

Tweet me!

@HayleyWoodin

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