Posts Tagged With: Bucket List

 
 

Kicking the Bucket List

Friday Letter to My Kids – May 2018.

Dear J, J, L and L,

Surprise! I don’t have an actual bucket list.

two green pails on ground

Photo by hitesh choudhary on Pexels.com

Hopes and dreams, definitely. Mostly the sort left unspoken. Something about saying a wish out loud takes away its power, I suppose. Call me superstitious, or weird.

There has been this one very strong desire. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been much I personally could do to make that happen. That’s an ongoing theme in my life. But in this case the wish, the dream, the desire, was truly out of my control. All I could do was watch, for the most part.

Of Seeds and Seedlings

I planted a few seeds here and there and waited to see what would happen. I did what was in my power to help those seeds grow, watering, weeding, a bit of fertilizer.

From when you were little, I let you know that I thought going to college and getting a degree was really, really, really important. As you got older, and as life unfolded the raggedy, unpredictable way life does, the importance of a college education became even clearer and stronger in my mind. Without nagging, I hope, I reminded you from time to time how critical that was.

Implicit in that was that you’d get decent grades in high school and graduate. I celebrated those high school graduations with pride and tears.

Just a A Few Years Later… In the Eternal Scheme of Things

And now, nineteen years after the first of you graduated from high school, all four of you have Bachelor’s Degrees.

That one sentence doesn’t say enough. It makes it sound magical and simple, which I know it wasn’t. Those degrees you’ve earned have arrived after tears, and heartache, sweat, late nights, all-nighters, dozens of different occupations, roommates, spouses, children, worry, debt, stops, starts, u-turns, illnesses, battles, winding roads, weddings, a divorce, unexpected detours, and plenty of life’s storms. Each one of you pushed through whatever obstacles came your way and you kept trying, kept working, kept keeping on.

I’ll bet you never knew you were making one of my dreams come true.

FullSizeRender-17The degree isn’t simply for me to brag about, or for you to have some piece of paper to hang on the wall. The college degree has always been about the doors it can open for you, the opportunities it can make available and the freedom it can potentially provide. It can save you from a lifetime of back-breaking physical work. It can give you peace of mind and a fallback position. That’s what I really wanted for you. Now that you have those degrees, your own dreams are more within reach.

This is the Part Where Words Fall Short

I’m so happy for each of you, and so incredibly proud of you.

Now my only dream for you is that you find happiness and joy in whatever lies ahead. I’m pretty sure you’ll do just fine.

All my love,

Mom

photo-23 copy 5

Bluebird of Happymess

““`

“Life is a one time offer, use it well.”

 

 

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Categories: Celebration, Happiness, parenting, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Black Inner Tubes and Snowy Hills: Or How I Survived Childhood Winters and Lived then to Learn to Ski

“Skiing combines outdoor fun with knocking down trees with your face.”  ~Dave Barry

Photo by MHBowden

Photo by MHBowden

I grew up practically on a mountain, with snow five feet deep in our front yard every winter. (Except for that one inversion year when nothing but fog accumulated.) On the other side of the mountain lived a ski resort. A tiny one, but a place to ski nonetheless. The closest I ever came to skiing as a child or a teen involved black rubber inner tubes, defective ones apparently, because they always inflated lopsided.

Have you ever ridden an inner tube down the side of a mountain on the snow? If not, I have just given you a perfect bucket list item. You might want to save it as the very last item on your bucket list, though, as possibility of severe injury seems rather high.

On an inner tube you have absolutely no control over where you go, how fast you go or if/when you stop. (Why does it feel like I just described life? Hmmm.) The most likely outcome involves bodies splayed across the snow or wedged against objects or perched atop bushes and rocks with the inner tube still rocketing off into the distance another half mile or so. (Life metaphor again? Weird.)

Death Spiral

Photo by Iain Laurence

Photo by Iain Laurence

The advantage of having to hike so far to retrieve the inner tube comes in the contemplative time one has to reconsider the wisdom of perching atop the tube once more for another possibly life threatening ride to infinity and beyond. Unfortunately, screams of joy and terror, (which sound eerily alike to a youngster) push all logic and sanity out of ones frozen head and you find yourself yelling “COWABUNGA” as you leap on  the tube and launch yourself once more into a death spiral of epic proportions.

For that extra measure of danger we often careened in the dark, which added a sense of insanity to an already thrilling adventure. Surprisingly I and my siblings survived many winters participating in this sport.  Oddly, tubing hasn’t risen to the stature of an Olympic event yet. I suppose scoring could present a problem. Highest points for furthest launch from a tube? Extra points for landing in a tree? Bonus points for spinning more than ten times on the way down? It ought to rank in the X-games at least.

Back on Topic Now

But I meant to speak of skiing. My first time. Oddly enough riding an inner tube and using a set of skis and poles have frighteningly similar outcomes, especially those first few times down the hill.

Having slippery sticks attached to cement encased feet does not provide one with a sense of security or control. Neither, surprisingly, does having sharp pointy objects in either hand lend a sense of comfort or assurance. In fact, I wondered at first if MSH had grown tired of marriage after only four months of “bliss” and had found an easy way to dispose of me, à la Robert Redford in a mafia. Whoops, there she goes off a cliff. “I told her not to go down that black diamond run, but she insisted.”

Nah. MSH just wanted to share something he loved with the love of his life. Little did he know what an adventure he’d signed up for. (Life metaphor again?)

Evil Trees

Much like tubing down a snow-covered hill, my most vivid memory of my first day skiing involved a people-eating tree and my limbs hopelessly entangled in the branches of said tree. One leg pointed north while the other leg seemed wedged more south-southeast. Meanwhile one ski pointed down. The other ski had somehow become one with the snow. The poles, miraculously, didn’t shishkabob me, for which I was ever so thankful.

I tried my best to untangle and disengage to no avail. MSH “helped” by explaining which leg to move where, which didn’t help at all since I’d lost most feeling in my legs and couldn’t identify left from right. If I recall correctly I threw my poles his general direction along with a few select words, which I won’t share here. He finally helped by physically moving one of the skis. Once both legs aimed approximately in the same direction, after five minutes of struggle I managed to reach an upright position.

I think I threw a tantrum after that. Or maybe during that. In no uncertain terms, I let MSH know how unimpressed I felt with this sport of skiing. I also may have mentioned that I’d never, ever participate in such nonsense again.

Chocolate Saves the Day

Photo by By Baileypalblue

Photo by By Baileypalblue

Of course, after some hot chocolate in the lodge, and watching people shoosh and swoosh effortlessly for an hour, and getting bored beyond reason I found myself attempting to hitch a ride on a lift, all skiwampus, with my pride firmly buried in a snowdrift.

I eventually, somewhat mastered the art of something beyond the pie wedge style of beginners. I’m happy to report that as a family we enjoyed some great times on the mountains in the snow over the years.

To this day my son (who learned to ski with no effort whatsoever at age three) still puts himself to sleep at night by imagining snowboarding down his favorite ski run at his favorite resort. He says it’s the most relaxing thing he can think of, as natural as walking but way more fun.

It’s been a few years (a decade?) since I last threatened my poor knees with such reckless behavior as skiing. All for the best I’m sure. I’m satisfied to have the occasional falling dream and waking to memories of my youth careening down the side of a mountain on a black inner tube.

Ah. Those were the days.

Photo by Dbenbenn

Photo by Dbenbenn

~~~

There are really only three things to learn in skiing:  how to put on your skis, how to slide downhill, and how to walk along the hospital corridor.  ~Lord Mancroft

Categories: Fun, Humor, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

A Bit of Perspective on Kissing and Other Stuff

It’s that time of year where half the world seems to lose all perspective.

christmas 2007

A Disco Christmas? (Photo credit: paparutzi)

Chatting with my best friend the other day about Erma Bombeck’s list of things she would have done differently in life prompted her own short list of things she would have done if she had more time.

“These are not a list of regrets,” she was quick to assure me. “I have no regrets!” She gave me that look that said she was seriously completely honest about that statement. “No regrets!”

That’s true. She has used these past few nauseated chemofied pain-managed years making sure there would be no regrets that she had control over.

But there is this short list of ‘would have if she could have’ that I wrote down as we talked, with her permission of course.

  • Kiss her husband more often for at least six seconds each time
  • Pull her kids out of school for whatever, more often
  • Travel more
  • Jump on the trampoline when the kids asked instead of “later”
  • Ride bikes with the kids more
  • Teach more life skills that come in handy like “let the dryer do the ironing” and such.
  • Read bedtime stories more regularly
  • Be more gracious and nicer to her husband
  • Attend temple more often
  • Never ever start drinking soda
  • Adopt a Chinese baby since her husband speaks Chinese and could help keep their culture
  • Yell Less
  • Exercise more consistently
Gift!

Gift! (Photo credit: allie™)

I noticed the “more” she wished for wasn’t something that could be put in a package, wrapped up and tied with a bow then slid under a Christmas Tree. The “more” wasn’t something she could send someone on an errand last-minute to take care of.

I sure hope I’m making the big things the big things and not getting it backward.

It’s so easy to let the minor things take over and get major league treatment. Meanwhile The Really Important People and events end up forgotten, rolling and banging around in the cargo area.

I’m pretty sure my list would be full of BIG regrets. Not something like this “woulda been nice if” list.

Lipstick Kiss

Maybe I ought to start doing something about my regret list now, while I have time. At least, I think I have time.

We never know, do we?

Pucker up MSH, I’m headed your way.

Categories: Cancer, Death, Family | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Before I Kick the Bucket

Bucket List, Schmucket List.

I’m probably one of three people on the planet who doesn’t have a bucket list.

So shoot me.

I’ve tried to make a list. I’ve started one. There’s one thing on it. I look at it and smirk. The smirk morphs into a self-deprecating laugh, which then mutates into a sinister shoulder devil.

The shoulder devil proceeds to tell me what a loser I am. The little dude whispers that I am what my life hands me. He murmurs things about obligations, commitments, real life and being self-less. I know, not your usual shoulder devil by any stretch. This one comes from the ranks of the Discouragement Platoon. He uses whatever he can get his hot little hands on.

He’s been quite effective so far in keeping me from even considering possibilities. Everything I can think of sounds unrealistic, undoable, pie-in-the-sky silly to me.

I don’t even start the list, I think of it in terms of questions and this shoulder devil smacks them down.

  • Write a novel? Right…that’s funny. When would you have time for that and who would read it anyway?
  • Hike the Grand Canyon? Are you kidding me? You’re seriously considering hauling this body down and back out of the biggest hole on the planet? Don’t you get out of breath going up a couple of flights of stairs?
  • Explore Alaska? Sure, right after you scrape together the rent money and sweep up what’s left over.
  • Build a cabin in the mountains? Silly girl, perks like that are for the beautiful, smart, adventurous people.
  • Eat at a five-star restaurant? Um, aren’t you the meatloaf and pot roast queen?
  • See the Statue of Liberty in person? Remember you don’t like crowds, big cities, the east coast?
  • Go on a week-long mountain bike trip? That’s really funny, have you seen what you look like on a bike? 

Sand bucket on the beach of Punta del Este, Ur...

Okay. So maybe I shouldn’t aim so high. Maybe my bucket list could take on a more realistic, more achievable, more down-to-earth feel.

For instance?

Like, oh, I don’t know.

A bucket list by definition is usually big important stuff, right?

So I’m stumped.

I could try looking at it a different way. What if I had less than a year to live? Then what would be on my list. My shoulder devil growls a low deep gurgle of aggravation and simmers himself into a poof of steam, disappearing for a while.

Phew.

  • See my other two daughters get married. Enjoy that look of bliss on their faces. Throw a big party for each of them.
  • See my granddaughter whose arrival is due in 3 months.
  • Tell my kids that I love them more than life itself.
  • Spend time with the other two Grands. Lights in my life!
  • Make sure MSH knows I cherish him. Thank him for the wild ride we’ve been on together. It would have been horrific without him.
  • Hug my Mom and Dad and try to infuse eternal gratitude into the hug.
  • Hang out with my siblings, chatting, laughing, reliving the good old days.
  • Apologize. Mend fences.
  • Write down everything I can get out of my head and on to paper about who I was, who I am, what I learned.
  • Laugh a bunch.

That would do it. It’s what’s really the big stuff. The big stuff that matters in the long run, in the short run, and while running out of breath.

Maybe I should get started.

That other stuff, may or may not happen. Whatever.

But the big, important stuff, I need to get ‘er done.

Categories: Death, Family, Humor, Relationships, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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