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.

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

Unique Boulder

We had family visiting from Minnesota this past week. With all the snow Minnesota has had this spring, my husband and I thought we would treat them to new sites. And the sites don’t get any better–or crazier–than Boulder, Colorado. In fact, Boulder is like it’s own little state. Comments like “Only in Boulder,” “That’s something you’d see in Boulder,” “Of course that happened—it’s Boulder!” And the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder is the cream of the crop.

However, that being said, Boulder is the best place to escape. It’s in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and home to University of Colorado Boulder, so it’s populated with full-of-life college students. It’s home to people who are comfortable being themselves, free from the chains of what society expects us to be. It’s a city that celebrates art and all walks of life, embracing human uniqueness, and holds no discrimination. It’s pure human freedom.

Below is a sampling. The gardening along the Pearl Street Mall was breathtaking, and the rest of the photos–well, there aren’t even words to explain. The pictures say it all.

Enjoy!

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And here’s a little shot of beauty with which to end.  And in the end, I’m all too happy to get home, where I’m free to be me. There’s nowhere like the quiet beauty of home.

And now it’s back off to Camp NaNo to finish up my writing goal.

Have a beautiful week!

Being different gives the world color.  Nelsan Ellis

Job, Career, or Life Mission

Living Your Best Life

Do your days consist of a job, a career, or a life mission? Or are you one of the lucky ones who have combined all three?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary describes “job” as:

1. a: a regular remunerative position
b: a specific duty, role, or function
c: something that has to be done or an undertaking requiring unusual exertion

It describes a “career” as:

1. a field for or pursuit of consecutive progressive achievement especially in public, professional, or business life

2. a profession for which one trains and which is undertaken as a permanent calling

Life Mission isn’t defined in the dictionary but, to me, is by far the most important. Rachel Dresdale wrote an article, How Your Life’s Mission Statement Will Guide You To Greater Work-Life Balance, in which she states:

A personal mission statement can act as your “north star” throughout the twists and turns of life.

The good news is, your job and/or your career can align with your life’s mission, but first you must take some time to know what that mission looks like. Once you’ve figured that out, write it down and post it somewhere that you will see it often. Often as in every day.

Helping other people and being of service to those in need is top of my list. My “job,” what I do every day, is help victims of crime. My “career,” what I went to school for and for which I got my degree, is a paralegal. As a paralegal, I help victims see justice at the lowest, often most painful times of their lives. Knowing I’m helping them, serving the greater good of the community by helping convict the “bad guys,” makes me one happy camper. Not to mention fulfilled, because it serves my life mission. It also explains why I’ve stayed employed at the DA’s office longer than any other “Job” I’ve ever had.

Add to that my avocation, defined by Merriam-Webster as:

1: a subordinate occupation pursued in addition to one’s vocation especially for enjoyment.

My avocation is writing. When I’m not spending time with family or necessary obligations, evenings and weekends are spent pursuing my avocation. Writing is what fills my energy and mental tank, and gives me another avenue in which to serve, but this time by entertaining people. My avocation aligns with my life’s mission, which isn’t surprising since avocations are driven by passion and passion drives our life mission.

My challenge to you is to take the time needed to come up with your life mission. If your job and/or career don’t align with that mission, maybe it’s time to change. We spend so much time at our day job, and if you’re not doing what is important to you, you’re not living your best life possible. And living your best life is the best gift you can give yourself and everyone else in your life.

Your Monday morning thoughts set the tone for your whole week. See yourself getting stronger, and living a fulfilling, happier & healthier life. 
― Germany Kent

Carpe Diem

Living with Intention

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Life is often lived in such a rush, as if we’re racing to get somewhere, that so many blessings go unnoticed. The only place we will get by racing through the day is one step closer to the end. I don’t know about you, but I want to experience all that I’m given, tasting and savoring every morsel of the day, every sip as if it’s the finest, most luscious cup of coffee (perhaps wine for those of you who partake).

I want to feel the cool breeze through my hair and the raindrops splash against my cheeks.

I want to feel that lingering stretch in each muscle upon awakening in the morning, right after I’ve lifted my spirit to my God and given Him my day to orchestrate as He will.

I want to feel the sweat bead on my forehead as I feel the invigoration of a good workout.

I want to hear the birdsong of early morning, the doves calling out peacefully.

I want to hear the crunch of the leaves beneath my feet as I drink in the beauty of the fall colors.

I want to hear the crackle of the fire in the fireplace and feel its warmth on a cold evening, snuggled beneath a fleece blanket and cup of herbal tea or sea salt caramel hot cocoa.

I want to feel my lungs expand with each breath, as my heart expands with gratitude for that breath.

I want to feel the arms of my husband circle around me unexpectedly as I stand at the kitchen counter preparing dinner, his lips warm on my neck.

I want to savor that first sip of coffee each morning as I revel in the stillness of morning, when all the world around me is peacefully asleep.

I want to feel the miracle of truly living each moment of each day.

I want to take nothing for granted, but swell with gratitude for each gift given, no matter how insignificant it may seem.

And for all this, I don’t have to do anything. I simply have to be. A human being rather than a human doing.

“Live with intention.
Walk to the edge.
Listen Hard.
Practice wellness.
Play with abandon.
Laugh.
Choose with no regret.
Appreciate your friends.
Continue to learn.
Do what you love.
Live as if this is all there is.”

— Mary Anne Radmacher

Carpe Diem

Seize the Day

Seize the Day

When I was on my morning run today, it occurred to me how much of life is spent waiting for something to get here. Whether that something is:

  • Vacation.
  • A loved one coming for a visit.
  • Payday.
  • A movie you’ve been waiting to come out on the big screen.
  • The good part of a book you’re reading.
  • Summer (Winter, Fall, Spring).
  • Cleaning to be done.
  • The rain to be over (or the thunderstorm to come, for those who enjoy cozying up with a good book and a cup of tea while the thunder cracks, the rain pounds on the roof, and lightning bolts illuminate the sky).
  • The wedding day (conference, reunion, anniversary, holiday, etc) to arrive.
  • The weekend alone to do whatever your heart desires.

And so on and so on…

While waiting, however, one’s focus is on the event waited for, and so much living is missed during that waiting. All that time up to the moment is lived mindlessly, tasks performed without a second thought, or if thought be given, it’s often rife with anticipation of getting it done so we can get to it.

Days and years go by so quickly, that if we aren’t truly living every moment we’re given, it only results in speeding by even faster. The view outside of the window we’re looking through blurs as we’re focused on what’s not even here. And truly, do we even know it will get here? Tomorrow is not guaranteed, but only the here and now is. What we hold in our hands at this very moment, what we are experiencing right here, right now, is all we really have. Do we want to waste that precious time and experience for what may not come?

We are always getting ready to live but never living.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

These thought have crossed my mind before, and I have had good intentions of changing. I tell myself, “from now on I’m going to…”

But then life happens, I fall into the old habitual rut of mindless living, I forget to appreciate the here and now, and I forget to truly live in this moment. Exactly where I am with what I have right now.

I’ve heard it said that it takes two weeks of consistently doing something to make it a habit. What if…

Each morning upon rising, I tell myself that this day, just this one day, I’m going to pay attention to each moment I’m living. I’m going to truly live, just this one day. And what if I do that consistently for two weeks? After all, “One Day at a Time” are not only words of wisdom for maintaining sobriety, but a guide for life in general.

Afterall, in the scheme of things, each event we wait for is only a miniscule of time in our lives, provided we live a full life.  If that event in time actually arrives at all. And when I do come to pass, I want to know, and I want others to know, I’ve lived each God-given day to the fullest, experiencing everything possible there is to experience, whether it’s:

  • My hands in warm soapy bubbles, washing away any stress as I wash the dishes.
  • The feel of a snowflake melting on my eyelashes, or on the tip of my tongue.
  • The scent of a fragrant oil, carrying me back to a favorite memory, as scents have a way of doing –  it’s free transportation that allows me to live favorite moments more than once through memories.
  • The exhilaration of running in the rain or feeling the warmth of the sun caressing my shoulders.
  • Appreciating the stillness and beautiful silence of early morning before the rush of traffic and chatter become the majority of the day.
  • The satisfaction that being of service can bring, whether that service is keeping a clean house for my family, preparing good, healthy nourishment for them, or making a difference in the life of another, no matter what that looks like.
  • Truly feeling the presence of God, hearing His still, small voice, that can only be heard in silence, and in the here and now.

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future; concentrate the mind on the present moment.” -Buddha

I will begin day one in the morning when my eyes open to see the first light of daybreak. But why wait until then? Right now, right here, I have a book to read, words to write, prayers to say…life to really fully live.

 Seize the Day. (Click for an awesome music video.)

Carpe diem.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Y”is for…

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Practicing yoga has woven its way through various aspects of this life I live. The parallels are multiple in number, and I believe it’s more than mere coincidence that it’s called “practicing” yoga. It’s a discipline that allows an opportunity to practice becoming better–at yoga and at living life.

Each stretch and pose, as uncomfortable and awkward as it may feel at first, carries me just a little further to becoming better the next time. It’s about stretching beyond my comfort zone to accomplish what I couldn’t just a moment before. It has shown me how to take the uncomfortable, make it comfortable, and move forward.

Yoga teaches me to show up even when I don’t feel like it.  In fact, especially then, because it leaves me with an immense sense of satisfaction and accomplishment when I’m enjoying those last cool down stretches.

That act of showing up regardless of what I feel like doing, reinforces how important it is to show up in life every moment of every day, not allowing feelings to dictate how I live that day. Negative feelings can be overcome by simply showing up, whether we feel like it or not, to live a life of purpose. It’s about pushing past letting feelings control you and using that power within you to control your feelings.

It carries over into my writing life, my running life, being-a-wife/mother/friend-life…and life in general.

Showing up at my desk even when I don’t feel like writing produces written words and pages, along with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when I’m done with my scheduled time, rather than feelings of wish-I-would have’s and regret when I neglect to show up, producing nothing, opening up the door to negative feelings.

Showing up when my husband/kids/friends need my time, even when I feel I don’t have the time, reminds me to set my “self” aside and put others needs before my wants, reminding me life is about relationship and being available to and loving others.

Yoga shows me it’s about the journey of mastering a pose, progressing a little further each time I practice, rather than being able to immediately conquer and perfect it. That making progress through hard work is key to growth–physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Yoga teaches me to focus on the importance of each breath as I breathe slow, even breaths through holding each pose, uncomfortable as it may be, teaching me to keep my focus on the matter at hand, anxiety at bay. Not thinking about the next pose, the next hour, or the next day. Just the here and now.  And that leaves space for nothing other than peace.

Yoga

Namaste.