Monday, January 30, 2012

My Bucket List

“There's no limit to how much you'll know, depending how far beyond zebra you go.”
                                                                                                                  ― Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss makes my head happy. Honestly he scratches an itch I never knew I had. Like when a truly talented singer hits that note just right? Or when my husband rubs my very sore shoulders in just the right spot. Or when a joke is made that is both clever and perfect. Or when a great invention comes out, like putting built in zippers on a bag of chips or Oreo cookies (why didn't I think of that?).  Dr. Seuss does that to my brain every time I read his books. As far as kids picture books are concerned, his are by far my favorite. The more difficult to read the better.  I need to purchase "Fox in Socks" because we have probably borrowed it from the library more times then I have fingers to count. I love the challenge!

But seriously, that quote up there? It makes me go "Ha!" because in just a few small words he has far out-witted and out-worded even my grandest attempts.

A while back I decided I needed a bucket list. A list of things I want to accomplish, places I want to go, people I want to meet and metaphorical mountains I intend to conquer before I die. I have been researching "bucket list" on google ever since then. And I will admit I am getting very frustrated with it. You see, I want a list, but so many regular bucket list items are things like: "complete a triathlon" or "learn an instrument" or "read all the classics." Now, all of these things are all well and good - but somehow as much as I would like to become a better person. That is not it.

So...what should my list look like? My wonderful husband has a friend, his wife has a bucket list of things she wants to do and she shows her husband 5 entries a year. He chooses one of those 5 and they complete one thing a year. I like that, I'll admit I wish had thought of it first. Last year this couple went on a tour of the US taking only Amtrack. Awesome, I like this person just hearing that story!

Of course, if I were to do something like that there would be one real problem. You see, I don't want to just show my husband a few at a time, though I can see how that would be fun. I want to be able to add his to my own and we can pick something to do together.

A few days ago I saw a bucket list entry, no idea who wrote it, that said "I want to be kissed under a waterfall." I like that. That scratches the itch too. Though for me, it might more be "I want to be kissed up at the top of a big tree." or "I want to be kissed on a ship in the ocean."

Perhaps I should have a sub-list that details all the locations I wish to be kissed?

In that case my husband will have to come a long. After all, any ol' kiss wont do. Can you imagine? "Excuse me sir, I have a bucket list you see, I wish to be kissed under a waterfall and you happen to be here and, from what I can see, you possess a sturdy pair of lips. Can I perhaps borrow them for one moment so I can mark this task as completed?"

No, that won't work. The husband will have to join me. That's good. I like him.

So where does one start in compiling this list? Is it a bad thing that I have waited until not quite 30 to start it? Isn't this something that is supposed to be started at the cusp of adulthood, so one can have "fall in love" right there at the top?

Perhaps I should have a list that details all the things that would have been on my bucket list had I started it at 16. But since I waited this long to start it, they have already been finished.

Well, I wouldn't say I am finished falling in love. I have just found the person already. I have fallen into, around and beside. I still have to fall upside-down and perhaps in-between. Love is such a complicated process. You are never done falling after all, at least I don't want to be.

Well, let us start with the things I know I will do:

1. Raise three daughters to be amazing woman.

Ok, that sounded rather stagnate. Not that I don't want to raise my daughters to be wonderful woman, it just seems rather obvious.

New rule. I have just decided I cannot write anything obvious on my list. This has to be all things no one would know just because they had a 3 minute conversation with me in line at Target. Let us try this again:

1. I want to write a "Ha" book.

What is a "Ha" book you ask? Oh goodness, weren't you listening? I said it up there somewhere, don't you remember? I tell my girls that part of obeying is listening and remembering. "I didn't hear you" or "I forgot" are not acceptable excuses for not following through. Of course, I have had entire conversations with my husband where apparently I have answered questions and responded to comments and then promptly forgotten them. (I do it with friends too at times, to my utmost embarrassment.) But in my defense, he does it to me too...I suppose we are all still learning to listen and remember. Oh goodness this list will never be finished if I can't stop writing commentary! Another good one from Dr. Seuss?

“So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.”

Of course coming from Dr. Seuss I will argue that this is not really fair. I really think it is rather a pot vs.kettle competition personally. I doubt any other writer has made up more words, with the exception of Shakespeare of course - though I would guess that the Dr. himself would argue that he needed every one of those words, and more. Which is why he had to create so many, to fill the empty spots.

Alright, so let us try this again.

Personal Bucket List

Get a tattoo at 30
Learn to drive stick shift
Learn how to give myself an actual sense of style and purchase good quality clothes to match that style
Write an "Ah" book. Or at least a book with "Ah" moments

Learn a Martial Art

Learn to knit
Learn to sew
Perform in Evita

Live somewhere for a year that has a real Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall.
See the Northern Lights
Have tea in England
Have wine in France
Go to a zoo in Australia
Swim in the ocean in New Zealand
Use chopsticks in China
Go on a cruise to an exotic place
Visit a rainforest in S. America
Go on a mission trip to Africa
Go somewhere for a week where I don't know anyone and spend it entirely meeting new people.
Throw a surprise party
Be given a surprise party
Make a list of all the parties I want to have (a tea party, a waffle party, a soda  party, a wine party,                   a chocolate party, etc) and plan them all out.
Meet my sponsor child
Get at least 3 more sponsor kids and meet them
Finish college
Get a masters
Pay off my house
Pay off all student loans
Have $100,000.00 in the bank so I can do lots of secret acts of kindness
Start doing at least one secret act of kindness per month, with an eventual goal of one per week once                 my children are bigger.
Own, love and train a big dog
Go to a garden and walk everywhere barefoot
Create a garden paradise in my backyard
Grow enough veggies to not have to buy any for a year, can what I can to be used in winter
Make my own clothes
Wear a different hat everyday for a week
Buy more hats
Catch a firefly
Count the stars
See a play in New York
Sleep in a hammock
Live on a boat for a year
Take my kids to Disney world for a week
Take my kids to Europe
Take my kids to New Zealand
Take my kids camping
Go on a road trip across the US as a family for the summer
Eat ice cream in bed
Do nothing and but read and eat chocolate and drink tea for an entire day
Learn how to give a massage
learn how to be a personal trainer
Help someone achieve a healthy lifestyle and meet their weightless goals
Go on an Art Musium trip around the world
Learn to paint
Learn to appreicaite real Art
Find out how the Ship gets in the bottle
Send a message in a bottle
Find a bottle with a message
Go on an "antique store" vacation up the west coast where I have to spend $100 on something completely       useless.
Own an unusual pet
Gamble away $100 in Las Vegas
Go for a drive and don't come back for a week, no planning allowed
Get a junky classic sports car and fix it up myself
Go backpacking and catch fish for dinner

See alligators in the wild
Spend a day in the mountains alone with God
Learn to sculpt
Learn to grow orchids
Make my own candles
Live completely "unplugged" for a week
Raise my own chickens
Raise my own bee's
Learn to make beer
Grow a bonsai tree
Become a wine connoisseur
Become a beer connoisseur
Become organized
Get rid of junk
Learn to live very simple
Become a better listener
Sleep in a castle
Run in a field of flowers
Celebrate my 50th Wedding Anniversary surrounded by kids and grandkids
Write a letter to each of my children telling them what I want them to know about my life and the lessons I've   learned.

Oh goodness! I an certain there is more. And I will write it down as it comes to me, but for now the present is calling. The future can wait a bit longer.

“How did it get so late so soon? It's night before it's afternoon. December is here before it's June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?”  -Sir Seuss

Monday, January 16, 2012


I can't find it. I looked through the entire book twice.

Perhaps it is in my imagination? Google doesn't know it either. And google knows everything! Ok, not everything. Google has failed me before, I think google has actually failed me on this very poem before.

From the best of my memory it goes like this, written by my dear friend Vicky:

I've made myself vulnerable, I've let myself care
I've opened my firmly closed heart.
My safety is gone, it's no longer there
My protection is falling apart.
Nobody promised our hearts would be safe,
Our bodies protected from harm.
A second goes by, all we think that we have,
Yet hope will endour through the storm.    -Madeleine L'Engle (A Ring of Endless Light?)

Who knows, maybe I am wrong and made the peom up myself! I highly doubt that though. Perhaps it is just in a different book, or I missed it. Twice.

I think I first read this book when I was about 10. That would mean that my sister was 12. No, I must have been younger, because I do not think my little brother was 2 yet. My first memory of it was my sister sitting in a dark living room, rocking my baby brother and crying. I remember her saying she was glad he had woken so that she could hold him.  My sister and I did some of the getting up with him when he was small, since my mom had my baby sister and couldn't handle getting up with 2 (he didn't sleep through the night until age 4). Of course, I suppose that would mean he was over 2, so my first estimation may be closer to the truth after all. Ah well, the exact age is not important.

I first read the book with apprehension. I did not want to succumb to emotions as my sister had, seeing outward emotion as a weakness far below my current state of self-control (I know, I know). So I read it ready to criticize. Now I will say that I now know my sister is very wise in choosing the books that draw her. For instance, it was she that first loved Peter Pan. I was merely following her lead and discovered in doing so a genius far beyond what I ever expected. So it was with A Ring of Endless Light - though I read it now and find the writing style clumsy, perhaps it just ads to the charm of the story.

Now, for those of you that have not read it before **spoiler alert**, there is a very central theme to the story. Death. The book starts with a funeral, it watches a man on his deathbed, it converses with Vicky, the granddaughter of the dying man primarily about death, a main character within the story talks of how he wants to take his own life and there are 2 unexpected death within the story, one significant to our culture and one that is not. Yet, the book ends with the dolphins singing and the baby birds flying.**end spoiler** Perhaps it could be argued that the book is about valuing life. But is that not always the message of death?

Now, when I put it that way I wonder if I should have read this at 10 years old. But honestly, it is not a sad book.

Alright. I titled this post 2011 and that would suggest a "look back at the year" type of subject and I promise you, I am getting there.

My first real memory of death  (real, meaning I was old enough to understand) was when my mom had a miscarriage at 19 weeks. That was also the first time I had ever seen my dad cry. I remember my sister crying, my brother asking over and over why my sister was crying. My mom telling us we had to push on her stomach now to make it flatten out again and burying the baby bib I had sown with a round cookie tin that held the body of my baby brother under the almond tree in the backyard. I was 7. Funny the parts we remember.

My second real experience with death was when my best friends lost their baby brother Michael. He had a heart condition and was not strong enough to hold on, even after he was given a new heart. I was 10.

When I read that book I was still in the throws of these experiences. I think that looking at it all from a philosophical point of view was helpful for me. You see, most people first experience death with a grandparent or older relative. Someone that is more or less ready, someone that has gotten a chance to live life. For me? It was the babies and that brought with it a sense of wrongness. Death made me angry. My goldfish died? Angry. My beloved cat passed away? Angry. Sure I shed tears, but I remember working hard to shed tears at the tiny service we had for Michael. Because that is what everyone else was doing. But I didn't honestly feel like crying, I felt like stamping my foot and yelling in anger. My world had betrayed me. My God had betrayed me.

In the summer of 2011 I found myself, what it felt like, surrounded by death. A beloved uncle, my husbands grandma, my best friends baby. All were, what felt like moments away from Cóiste Bodhar. We didn't know, all we could do was pray. In the end, this time it was the oldest that lived. For that I am thankful, but for the others....

You know, I will admit there is some anger left. I am angry that kids lost their dad, that a wife lost her beloved. I am angry that I lost my uncle whom I loved so very much. I am angry that a mom and dad are left with empty arms, I am angry that I will never get to meet baby Gabriel in this life. These things feel wrong. But mostly, mostly I am just sad. You see, 2011 felt in a lot of ways like it was all about loss. My ears ring in a empty way when I think back on the year. Does that make sense? 

But you see, at the end of the story...the dolphins are singing, the baby birds flew - at the end I have my beautiful baby girl Kaylee and I feel so very very blessed.

There is another poem in the book.  This one google can find:

I saw Eternity the other night,
Like a great ring of pure and endless light,
All calm, as it was bright;
And round beneath it, Time in hours, days, years,
Driv'n by the spheres
Like a vast shadow mov'd; in which the world
And all her train were hurl'd.
The doting lover in his quaintest strain
Did there complain;
Near him, his lute, his fancy, and his flights,
Wit's sour delights,
With gloves, and knots, the silly snares of pleasure,
Yet his dear treasure
All scatter'd lay, while he his eyes did pour
Upon a flow'r.

There are several verses, you can look them up if you like. But somehow when I read that I feel peace. This is all so much bigger then me.

2012? Well, I want to be more organized. I want to see my big girls grow bigger and my baby become a big girl. I want to grow ever closer to my husband and I want God's joy to bubble from me uncontrolled and messy. I want to be silent, I want to be bold. I want to speak less and listen better. I want to learn to love the lonely silence. I want to love loudly and laugh at being clumsy. I want to make sure all those that are important to me know it. I want to pray more and become less scared of meeting new people. I want to give up anger and embrace sorrow, for from that grows healing. We have all of eternity before us, and it is a beauty!
Yet some, who all this while did weep and sing,
And sing, and weep, soar'd up into the ring;
But most would use no wing.
O fools (said I) thus to prefer dark night
Before true light,
To live in grots and caves, and hate the day
Because it shews the way,
The way, which from this dead and dark abode
Leads up to God,
A way where you might tread the sun, and be
More bright than he.
But as I did their madness so discuss
One whisper'd thus,
"This ring the Bridegroom did for none provide,
But for his bride." 
- Henry Vaughan