The Bucket List

Bucket List Post

How many of you have a bucket list? The movie, The Bucket List, with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson is one of my all-time favorites. It’s a 2007 movie in which two terminally ill men (Freeman and Nicholson) set out to accomplish a list of things they want to experience before they “kick the bucket.” I guess I took that movie to heart. Why wait until we’re dying to experience life? Each day we’re all one day closer to the end of our days. And at the risk of being cliché, not one of us is guaranteed tomorrow. That shouldn’t be a depressing or distressing thought, but rather one that inspires you to truly live.

I recently reviewed my bucket list and realized how few of them I’ve accomplished, much less remembered. I updated it, removing things that no longer held interest, adding some items that have piqued my interest over the past couple of years.

And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years – Abraham Lincoln

Some of them I’m especially passionate about, namely:

  • Ride on a train,
  • Travel the New England coastline,
  • Perform a random act of kindness every day for a month,
  • Get to know 10 people from different countries.

While I’m an advocate for kindness by everyone, toward everyone, I’ll admit I’m not consistent in consciously looking for ways in which to practice acts of kindness. Work keeps me busy and preoccupied, life gets in the way, the lure of the television set and electronics, and…well, practicing acts of kindness gets placed on the back burner. Until I review my bucket list and remember.

Riding on a train and traveling the New England coastline are dreams that require minimal planning to make come true and are affordable. So there really is no excuse. Except, as with random acts of kindness, life happens and they become a “someday” item on the agenda, if I remember them at all.

And getting to know 10 people from different countries? That one I’m especially passionate about. Not simply meet, but with whom to share life. And, yet…yup, you guessed it…without the reminder, the effort falls to the wayside. So making an effort to meet and get to know people outside of the those that I stumble upon as I go through each day doesn’t happen.

My dream is to prove that love can cross any boundary, physical or otherwise. Nothing can stop love except unloving people. And this past year, with so many issues demonstrating anything but love, it’s especially important. There’s so much hatred, judgement, and intolerance in the world today, that it’s frightening. I want to be part of the movement to bring back love, compassion, kindness, and acceptance. It occurred to me this past weekend that while criminals in our country are considered innocent until proven guilty, those from other countries and nationalities or different race and religion than our own are often not afforded the same benefit. Instead they’re forced to prove their innocence. Where’s the fairness and justice in that? Why have we as a nation gone so far astray by separating “us” and “them.” Why can’t it just be “we?” “All” innocent first.

It’s all about Love. Acceptance. Kindness. Compassion.

I have three sponsor kiddos through Compassion International who I treasure, all three from different countries in Africa: Burkina Faso, Tanzania, and Togo. That’s a start. And I’ll be printing my bucket list and keeping it handy to view frequently, reminding me in the midst of the chaos and busyness of life, what’s truly important.

LoveAcceptanceCompassionKindness

When we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in ourselves. William Arthur Ward

The Lost Art of Letter Writing

Letters

Does anyone else miss the days of pen to paper letter writing? Technology has made things so fast and easy, that it seems the personal touch of actually writing has become obsolete. Not only is writing electronically faster, but when you make a mistake it’s easy to hit the backspace or delete key and with no indication whatsoever of any error, you’re back on your way to creating the message. When you make a mistake when handwriting a letter, unless you scribble out the error, leaving it look less than beautiful, or you use the tacky, sticky white-out method, still leaving proof of an error, the only way to be error free when handwriting is to start over. And over. And over.

But there’s something about putting pen to paper that makes a message more personal and intimate. Choosing the stationery or notebook, the style and color of ink, feeling your hand move on the page, even the smell of the paper. And speaking of the smell of the paper, did I mention the extra personal touch of a spritz of scent on the paper before sending it on its way?

When I write, whether it be novels, poetry, or even writing practice, typing on the computer and writing by hand produces a significantly different outcome, which I’ve come to learn there’s a reason for: How you write affects the way your brain processes information.

One of the items on my bucket list is to become friends with people from ten different countries. In my pursuit to make that happen, I began looking at different websites that assist with finding pen pals. When I looked over the lists, a large number of those potential pen pals are looking to exchange letters specifically via email. I have to admit, I bypassed those.

I began to look at my own letter-writing habits and realized when I write letters to my sponsor kiddos in Togo, Tanzania, and Burkina Faso, I write them on the computer, sending pictures electronically as well, because it’s faster and easier. But when I receive their handwritten letters, seeing each curve and individual style of their handwriting in their handwritten letters, it brings me a sense of closeness to them, and pride when I see the progress they’ve made in their handwriting skills. I treasure those letters. Not to mention the thrill of seeing a letter in the mailbox. Oh the joy! 🙂 Perhaps it’s time to send them good old-fashioned handwritten letters in return.

In an age like ours, which is not given to letter-writing, we forget what an important part it used to play in people’s lives.”  ~Anatole Broyard

What are your preferences?

Writing pen to paper or email?

Actual books or electronic readers?

Electronics–friend or foe?

Receiving handwritten letters via snail mail or email?

Carpe Diem

Wrapping up 2014

rearview mirror

It’s hard to believe that in just two short days we’ll be viewing 2014 and all of its cherished memories and experiences through the rear view mirror. While there are numerous quotes about the dangers of, and time wasted from, looking in the rear view mirror, I’m of the belief that it has its time and place. As long as we don’t keep our focus there for a prolonged period of time, lest we crash into our future rather than enter gracefully, looking back to review our successes and highlights of the year can serve us well. For that matter, remembering the not-so-happy moments aren’t a bad thing either. It reminds us that things can–and do–get better and the most important thing is to learn the lesson and find the golden nugget in the heap of mud. I used to tell my kids when they were growing up, “Always know where it is you want to go and have a plan to get there, but never, ever, forget where you came from.”

Here are my top take-aways from 2014–and I still have two more full days to fully live  in 2014… 🙂

  • I crossed off a major item from my Bucket List–one that has been on it for 30+ years…I published a book, The Inheritance.

 

The Inheritance

  • My son got married and bought his first house. So many memories I’ll cherish forever, especially the mother-son dance to the song Watercolor Ponies. For any of you with sons, it’s guaranteed to bring tears to your eyes and a smile to your lips.

photo (7)

  • Hours upon hours of running, biking, and spending time in the great outdoors, the wind on my back, the sun on my face, my spirit lifted high.

MN 2013 061

  • Priceless time spent with family–my husband, my sons, my granddaughter–how blessed am I!
  • Completing two first drafts of a cozy mystery series.
  • The first time hearing my granddaughter say “Grammy!” with so much enthusiasm. Oh, the sweetness!
  • Connecting with so many other writers in this blogging community who I am proud to call my friends.
  • The loss of Maya Angelou that reminds me to always be grateful and to truly live life to the fullest. Her spirit will live on forever.
  • The tragic loss of Robin Williams and Philip Seymour Hoffman, both a heart-breaking, yet critical reminder of the importance of taking whatever steps necessary to cultivate my sober life.
  • Adopting the phrase “Carpe diem” as my mantra, because it sums up so much in so few words.

Seize the day, my friends, and I’ll see you in 2015.

Have a happy and blessed journey into the New Year.

Carpe Diem

 

 

Bucket List

bucket list

It’s never too late to start. Anything. And everything.

Start to achieve dreams.

Start to really live.

Start to love more.

Start to let go and forgive.

And to start that bucket list that has up until now only been a passing thought. Maybe passing through a few times.

I’ve thought about what my bucket list might include–if I had started one. However, if it wasn’t in writing it was simply that, a passing thought. And passing thoughts typically don’t result in action.

So I’m starting a bucket list, and when something to add passes through my mind, that, too, will be written on the list. Something concrete is more likely to be achieved than something floating aimlessly around one’s mind.

My Bucket List includes:
1.)   Travel to Scotland and Ireland

2.)   Learn how to play the piano

3.)   Become friends with ten people from different countries

4.)   Publish a novel, self-publish and traditional

5.)   Perform a random act of kindness every day for a month

6.)   Ride in a hot air balloon

7.)   Ride on a train (preferably not hobo style)

8.)   Pray for a stranger every day for a month

9.)   Take part in a silence retreat

10.) Travel to Ireland

11.)  Learn to flyfish

12.) Go deep-sea fishing

13.) Visit my Compassion sponsored kids in Africa

14.) Make a conscious effort to live life to the fullest–every day.

I would love to read what would be on the bucket list of those reading this.

Peace.