A recent blog post on Positively Positive invited me to come up with a birthday bucket list. First, Happy Birthday to Me! I’m immensely grateful when my birthdays arrive. I don’t have a problem with getting older. I feel blessed to increase the number of my years on this earth. I’ve already lived to be 8 years older than my mom was when she died, and 20 years longer than my husband! The temptation is there sometimes to wallow in a bit of survivor’s guilt, pine away about all they could have/would have enjoyed had they lived.... Like grand babies, retirement, and years of tender love and attention, but I don’t have the time to act martyr like or feel guilty about much of anything anymore. Guilt free...one of the blessings of learning and practicing being kind is more important than being right, doing the next right thing is lots easier than manipulating truth, and applying the Golden Rule as much as possible. The reward is, I don’t have anything to feel guilty about! Besides, my mom and husband were fine examples of living their bucket lists, fully.
It’s a good thing for me to glance back briefly and reflect on the changes that can happen in just one year. I'm always amazed. I’ve done that again this year. As wide open as I am these days about so much of my life, some of those changes feel real personal and private, and I intend to hold them close to my heart, at least for awhile. Initially, upon investigation, it didn't appear there were many, but further reflection reinforced the truth. I recognized the movements forward this past year or so (and it’s all been in that direction whether I recognized it immediately or not) were incremental, cumulative, rather than big gang-buster, fireworks stuff; the kind of events I've always measured a banner year by. Like traveling to foreign lands, climbing mountains, jumping out of planes, hopping on Prince Charming’s white horse, hitting a jackpot, or achieving a little fame. It seems I've always measured my progress and the quality of excitement in my life by all of that BIG stuff. Or BIG dramas and changes. Like the year I was downsized from a 17 year career, saw my daughter graduate from College AND get married within months... and lost my husband. My nest was not only empty, my tree was stripped bare and the nest got knocked to the ground to be stomped on by squirrels. That was a dramatic year. Maybe when you've lived a life of major flux, which appears to be the majority of my story, it’s hard to recognize you’re still evolving unless you're in state of constant euphoria or chaos.
I guess, that in itself is a change for me! My measuring stick is a pocket ruler now rather than a yardstick. I've begun to learn about accepting baby steps as progress, most recently in my attempts to drop the 20 pounds I have been trying to shake for the past 6-7 years. I finally joined Weight Watchers, and unlike times in the past when I wanted to drop a few pounds and it rapidly melted off, the scales now, while reflecting a decline almost every single week, has drifted down in the teensiest of movement - 1/2 pound here, 1/4 of a pound there. Nonetheless, it's predominately been on the decline, ounce by ounce. I am getting smaller. Incrementally, over a course of time, it adds up to some big accomplishment.
So, this year, rather than paste up a dream board that looks like a season from the Great Race, or design a bucket list from the perspective of a starry eyed 20 year old with few life experiences, I’ve kept it simpler. This has nothing to do with the fire that still burns in my spirit, the spot where my dreams reside, or lowering my standards. This is a simple recognition, that sometimes, it's the baby steps that get us there, and they do add up. That consistent acceptance and acknowledgement that there is an order to things and it's all good, even if it feels a little boring, like a hot, lazy, summer. These are some of things I would like to shoot for in this next birth year. They're just on the list... I'm not a failure if I find myself with an unchecked bucket list item, next year.
Ready...stepping out there, leisurely and gently...
- Reteach myself French so I can whisper beautiful sentiments to those I love, including myself.
- Downsize. My Bucket List. My belongings. My lifestyle. My expectations; especially of others.
- Stir up those creative juices... tune up the sewing machine. Have my friends teach me to knit, again... Make a fun pillow for each one of my little girls to snuggle, giggle, and cry in! Paint a piece of furniture a fun color.
- Design my own recovery/support cards. Who better to understand what others need to hear?
- Go on a spiritual retreat. Omega Institute? Yes! (Uh-Oh. Here we go again, big bucket list item) Perhaps. Or, at a local church.
- Treat myself to a pedicure or facial more often. Forgo the cheese and crackers, and use the money saved for a massage.
- Write. Write. Write. Every day. For myself or for publication. Just do it.. Every day.
- Practice Yoga... often. Five minutes or an hour, doesn't matter.
- Nap. Delicious afternoon respites cuddling with a loved one... Or a body pillow.
- Cook. Host mini parties to celebrate everything, a new haircut, a new moon, life.
- Hand out a whole lot more hugs, kisses and love you’s.
There’s more. But, it’s a secret. I’ll tell you on my next birthday!
La vie est bon!
"There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you, yourself have altered." - Nelson Mandela