03 January 2012

a glowing anchor

I haven't written on this blog in a long time because my little jewelry business has definitely gotten neglected! Well not just that, but I haven't felt this is the right venue to express some of the other aspects of my life. I frequently write about my life, but I rarely share these excerpts as they are somehow too personal for this outlet. But I came across something that I realized I wanted to share, I needed to share -- an idea that helps to focus on what's important through life. It's not unheard of. Everyone's heard of the bucket list, right? I think there's even a website. But I had never visualized it like this before, perhaps because I thought it was for people in their 70s staring Death in the eye. But it's far from it because, well, you need a lifetime to accomplish it.

I was reading a book, The Pink Magnolia Club, by Geralyn Dawson and it gave me a revelation. One of the characters had created a "Life List" when she was twelve after her mother passed away from metastatic breast cancer. She refined the list over the years until she was 21, upon which she decided she would no longer add, change, or delete any more items, just cross them off. She bought an expensive gold pen and from then on would celebrate each item when accomplished with a dramatic ceremony involving a check mark and a bottle of fine wine. Her goals ranged from teaching someone to read to riding all the roller coasters in Texas to doing something "deliciously wicked." There were 32 goals in all, same as the age her mother died and the very age required to achieve all items.

It got me thinking. I have never had such goals verbalized before. Sure I dream. I think about what I want to do and vacations I want to go on, but rarely do I follow through because of work or because of medical bills or because small vacations and home improvement projects keep trumping those goals far more important. For whatever reason the monumental stuff doesn't seem to happen. And it makes me think that I am somehow wasting my life, floating through it. I feel rigid in my actions, scared and unable to move. Scared of what? I don't know. Life. Rejection. The doing. Hard work. Preoccupation. Whatever the reason, I feel cold, frozen, and floating above it all. Snow that never gets to fall.

ut then something started to warm me. I happened to read the article, 30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself, and it thawed my heart a little bit to the neglect I have been inflicting on myself. I was hooked with the first line, "Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending." Almost every statement slapped me across my face, shouted at me to wake up, shook me to not die from frostbite, yanked me from the dreamless cloud I was floating on. And I grew more aware of the limitations I was allowing myself to cling to.

And then another source of heat found me. I came across an article on the regrets of the dying. A nurse in palliative care noticed a pattern in the patients she cared for. They all seemed to have the same regrets in life and this affected me deeply to my core, as I'm sure it would most people. But to me this was the eye-opening, jaw-dropping, thought-provoking thaw to my soul: that people wanted more out of life than what they allowed themselves to have. And so the following regrets were noted:
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

With these revelations I have come to recognize the need for goals, to create my own life list. Life really is too short. My life is flashing before my eyes and I feel as if I am wasting it instead of living it. I need a breakthrough, a pattern changer. So many others live their own goals, crossing them off one by one. I thought I was too until I simply wasn't. Many people have already done what I have only dreamed of. But that doesn't matter. In the beginning of this new year that has already been promised to hope and the anticipation of things to come, I attempt the beginning of my life list. I am sure it will be edited over the years, but today I declare it mine, alive and warm to the touch. The birth of a glowing anchor, grounding me to the very life I crave. My requirements: (1) at least one goal must be achieved each year, (2) goals can be interpreted as the occasion presents, and (3) no more edits after the age of 40, only check marks.

My Life List
1. I will take in all the colors of an Indonesian coral reef.
Stephen Frink, Getty Images
2. I will give my time to others in need.
3. I will feel the spray of the Colorado River as I raft through the Grand Canyon.
4. I will squint out over the mountainside on a hike in Montana.
5. I will adopt a dog from a kill shelter.
6. I will fish for salmon along an Alaskan river and eat it fresh over an open fire.
Humbolt State University
7. I will hike all the parks in Austin and appreciate the simple beauty in my own back yard.
8. I will zip-line through a tropical rainforest.
9. I will learn every last bird in North America.
Harlequin Ducks/Howard Eskin/Focus on Nature Tours
10. I will swim with a diving iguana in the Galapagos.
11. I will go into a food coma eating too many tapas in a Barcelona bar.
Barcelona Travel Guide
12. I will do something deliciously wicked (yes, it's borrowed, but worth it).
13. I will find Orion and his dogs in a diamond sky before drifting off to sleep in Big Bend.
14. I will kiss the one I love under a waterfall in Hawai'i.
15. I will stick my feet in the wet sand and glimpse the wild horses of the Outer Banks.
Outer Banks Vacations
16. I will take in a lost child and help him find himself.
17. I will learn to cook classic French food like my fellow tall lady, Ms. Julia Child.
18. I will create jewelry again with love abounding, with pride and grace.
19. I will write a book with reckless abandon.
20. I will become a federal wildlife biologist.
21. I will have children in my life (plurality noted).
22. I will own riverfront property and extend an open invitation for rope-swinging.
23. I will take my parents on a vacation they deserve.
24. I will build a house for someone who needs it.
25. I will reconnect with old friends and even new friends, one by precious one.
26. I will mistake a manatee for a mermaid while paddling through a Keys' mangrove.
27. I will sip scotch on the greens of St. Andrews and cheer my husband as he shoots par!
28. I will hear my voice echo while rafting on an subterranean river in New Zealand.
29. I will wink at a lion while on safari in Africa.
30. I will tell my family and friends how much they mean to me, over and over again.
31. I will play an entire 18-hole round of golf with my husband.
32. I will stroll through the lavender fields of the Provençal countryside.

I am sharing this to hold my feet to the fire. I'm sharing this because I don't want to be the one to say ANY of those regrets when Death comes to shake my hand. I'm sharing this for others to consider this concept. Thirty-two goals for my 32 years here on earth. It seems like a hearty and monumental task, one that will take lifetime to achieve. So at the beginning of this journey my husband and I have decided to take a two-week trip to Scotland and Spain this spring for our 10-year anniversary. And I'm looking forward to checking them off!


  1. What a fun list! I have also wanted to go river rafting in the Grand Canyon. Your Scotland and Spain trip sounds awesome! Definitely blog about that afterwards. :-)