Thursday, January 22, 2015

Kicking the Bucket List

In the last couple of years, I’ve been keeping a bucket list. No doubt that all started on a gloomy day when I’d heard some bad news about a friend and it hit me that I might not have forever to get things done.  Time to pick up the pace!  What hadn’t I done? Where hadn’t I been? Get at it! Of course, the list was endless.  

There was a time when my goal was: write a book. That changed to get published.  And then, stay published.  I didn’t have any idea that when I was able to finally achieve those things (and a few more) that dozens of new ones would spring up to take their place.  Can’t a girl have a break?  I found my bucket list started to loom, taking away from the joy in everyday life.

Many people seem to have fifty things on their lists. When they cross one off (say, perch on the edge of a live volcano or zipline between New York skyscrapers), they still have 49 breathing down their necks.  Climb a mountain! Learn Mandarin!  Swim with the sharks! Where’s the fun in that?

I’ve decided to dump that list! Yes. I’m tipping over the bucket (not the same as kicking it).  There are things I’d like to do, sure.  I’ll take vacations, but I don’t want to feel that my vacations are tightly scheduled or scripted or there’s pressure to keep up with someone else’s idea of a good time. But there are not many things that I want to HAVE to do.

Looking back, I realize how many of the activities I take for granted would have seemed like impossible dreams many years back. After many years of juggling jobs, education, family and writing, I now work at home.  I have just one job and it’s one that I love.

Maybe I need a reverse bucket list to appreciate what I love about my life.   Something like this:
Writing the type of mysteries I like to read

Being married to a man who loves to books

Enjoying a supportive family
Spoiling beloved dogs

Getting to feed the birds

Having fun with my friends (all readers and many are writers too!)

Collaborating with my daughter

 Reading what I want, when I want to

Having a bit of time to ‘play’ in the kitchen

Knitting up a storm.

Puttering in the garden or fiddling with flowers

I could go on, but you get the picture. There may not be visits to Buckingham Palace or Dubai, Porches or a weekend place on the French Riviera, but I wouldn't change things for the world. Well, possibly winter.

Full disclosure: I left out the piles of crumpled paper, the early rejections, the heart-stopping deadlines, the fallen souffles and the chair legs gnawed by the beloved pets or any differences of opinion about the book collector mysteries. Forget all that.

 I don’t want to trade my life for pie in the sky.  There are only two things that I really have on my current ‘Must Do’ list and that’s to get a good shot of the gorgeous pair of cardinals that flit shyly though our backyard every week and to finish the current Work in Progress When I get them done, I’ll share the news with you.,

What about you? To ratchet up that bucket list or relax and live in the moment?  There’s no right answer but I’d like to know what works in your life and what makes you feel lucky and grateful.  


Lynda Turpin said...

I don't have a bucket list. I just take things one day at a time. But I like the idea of a reverse bucket list - listing the things I have ALREADY accomplished that made me happy.

Gram said...

I like your non-bucket list and have many of the same things on mine i.e. reading what I want to read (not what I have to read for work). Retirement is wonderful.

mary kennedy said...

MJ, I love the same things you do! And I love the idea of a "non-bucket" list--excellent!

Teresa said...

I love the idea of a reverse bucket list....posted one on my blog last February.

Zena Weldon said...

Years ago someone asked me why I smiled all week. The answer was easy after surviving treatment for a lethal disease and becoming well - "I woke up this morning." Since that time, I believe that lists of possibilities may be helpful, and, not always having a list allows me to notice what's available each day. Sometimes what's available is a surprise which takes me into a new discovery and sometimes what's available is to notice the ordinary as extraordinary with wonder and gratitude. Every day I wake up is Life. Smiling, Zena

Lynn Delage said...

I could make a long bucket list but the only way I can do most of the things I would list is to win the lottery since I am retired on a small fixed income. So, I simply try to count the blessings I have which include my daughter, my 4 grandchildren and many friends who have done so much to help me through the last few very trying years.

Mary Jane Maffini said...

Lynda, there will be a LOT on your list because you do so much for animals and you are such a great friend to so many.



Mary Jane Maffini said...

Reading what you want is right up there. We always love our families and pets, but we don't always get to read what we want. A huge benefit of not having that day job. Writers apparently don't retire, we just eventually keel over at the keyboard. Wink!



Mary Jane Maffini said...

Thanks, Mary! But you have way more beautiful birds to love!


MJ/VA (trying not to be jealous)

Mary Jane Maffini said...

So glad you woke up that morning and every one since. Your comment made me smile! Thanks for your wonderful attitude.



Mary Jane Maffini said...

Lynn, what you have is worth more than any lottery! Thanks for coming by. We're each lucky in our own way and really lucky when we know it.



Mary Jane Maffini said...

Thanks, Teresa! I'm on my way over now. Hugs! MJ/VA

Anonymous said...

I love to travel so I still have a trip to Australia and New Zealand on my bucket list (both my sibs have already been to Oz) but I don't stress about it. One of the trips not on any bucket list was going to Africa but when my sister lived in Togo, West Africa, for several years, I went to visit her and we went to Kenya for a safari. Even though I ended up getting malaria (those darn pesky mosquitoes), I loved seeing the animals up close and personal in their native settings. And seeing the people cope without running water, having to filter all water, unpaved roads, schools where the kids sat on the ground, etc, I really came home with a great appreciation for what we take for granted. Cordella

Annette N said...

Thanks ---- a good reminder that simply surviving in life and being able to enjoy certain things are all blessings. To be honest, never had a bucket list simply a list of wishes. Now, thank you to Zena, Lynn and Mary Jane for putting it all in perspective.

Mary Jane Maffini said...

Beautifully said, Cordella. We are incredibly fortunate with water, food, education and safe communities. Thank you for your perspective. Your trip sounds amazing and eye-opening.



Mary Jane Maffini said...

Annette, you said it! Surviving and enjoying. Since I wrote this yesterday, I have found out that two friends are going through very bad times. We are lucky when the times are good and everyone's well.