Sunday, February 10, 2013

I Never Promised you a Bucket List

In my last post I promised to share a bit more about my “50 by 50” list.  A list of 50 things to do before my 50th birthday.  I borrowed the idea from my best friend, who borrowed from another…feel free to borrow this idea for yourselves.  Most people have heard of a “Bucket List” by now.  I had given thought to a bucket list, but never gotten around to it.  I think the problem, for a procrastinator like myself, is that I don’t know when I am going to ‘kick the bucket’ and so I might put off things on my bucket list for years!  I know that is the exact opposite effect it is supposed to have.  But in order for it to work in the other direction, for me to feel a sense of urgency or ‘time is running out’, well…then I would have to ponder my death.  This is something I enjoy doing about as much as getting a root canal. 
Ah, but the “50 by 50” list!  It’s brilliant!  The simple name gives me a cozy feeling that I will in fact live to be at least 50 years old. I realize it may not be true, but let’s stay focused on the positive way that this list works on my twisted logic.  Because it makes me feel certain that I shall reach 50, you can guarantee I’ll be making a “60 by 60” list when I am 49!  And because I am weirdly competitive with myself (reference “Take the Noodle”) I had 49 items listed within a month of hearing about the idea and I have been working through them for the last two years (saving that last spot for something really good that may come along). I have 7 years left, but have already crossed off eight items from my list and am currently making progress on a few more.  In fact, as I type this line, I am one step closer to item #39 “Establish a blog for one year”. 

I have talked about writing a blog for years now.  I added it to my list.  I told another friend about it while we were hiking up to High Rock this summer (that hike is not on my list, but it should be!).  I told her I already had the name and the site set up.  She showed up at my house a few days later with a T-shirt just for me.  For justonlyjudy.  With a picture of a typewriter and the name of my blog site on it.  I wrote my first post that month!
Share your list with others.  Inspire each other.  On my list is #34 “Go on an Alaska Cruise with mom and sis”.  If they each put it on their lists, we are much more likely to get there.  When I shared this with them, my sister had the brilliant idea to set up a joint ‘cruise savings’ account.  I am not a good money manager so this obvious step would not have occurred to me, I would have just kept waiting to win one of those random sweepstakes I fill out every few months.  One year later we are just over $1000 closer to Alaska.  Item #16 “Visit Grand Canyon” was completely inspired by my best friend who had it on her list when we talked.  She has since crossed that one off.
Be flexible with your list. Item #17 “Snowboard Again” was crossed off in July of 2012.  It did not, in fact, snow in July.  Rather I found the magic of sandboarding at the Oregon Dunes National Park in Florence, Oregon.  It was exactly what I wanted from snowboarding…adrenaline, speed (okay it’s all relative), a serious workout, practice at balance, proving I can tumble and get back up!  But without all that I did not like about snowboarding…expense, cold, too much ‘stuff’, cold, scary high chair lifts that give me vertigo and did I mention the cold?

Other things that I have crossed off in the last two years include #6 “Emmons Glacier hike with Andrew”.  A hike that I had taken 5-year old Andrew on many years ago.  His little legs had moved so slowly.  This time my little legs moved so slowly, while he carried my pack and came up with the brilliant idea of re-chilling my cooling packs in the glacial runoff.  I am a very lucky mom. #33 “Learn to shoot a gun” turned in to trapshooting lessons for Hunter and I.  I discovered that my arms are very, very weak. 
Read your list often and keep your eyes open for opportunities. #11 “Trip to Missouri with Hunter” kept nagging at me as I made plans for the boys and I to attend a family reunion in Indiana this last summer.  With a little creative planning we were able to fly into St. Louis, rent a car, and visit Plato and Ft. Leonard Wood where Hunter was born.  Where Andrew spent summers catching toads, turtles, cicadas and lizards. And we spent winters waiting for the temperature to get above the ‘minuses’ so that Andrew could go out and play in the snow and pull the little bundled Hunter around on a sled. 

Our road trip gave Hunter a taste of the muggy heat, the rural ‘out the back gate’ neighborhood we lived in and he got to put his feet in Paddy Creek.  We had the most fantastic, even in the moments when all was going wrong, Midwest road trip.  Just me and my two young men.  Andrew was able to drive the rental car, Hunter was able to navigate and I was able to let go of being in charge all the time.
Item #35 “Sing in public” was crossed off early when a chance at Rockaroake presented itself.  If it had not been on the list I would not have set foot on that stage. 
There are big things like take my boys to Italy or Ireland.  Small things like host Sunday brunch as often as possible.  Practical things like make a will. Meaningful things like do something ‘big’ to honor my father’s memory. Silly things like learn to tap dance.
Give yourself room to change your mind.  Cross something off it doesn’t appeal to you. For instance I must have been feeling spunky when I added #14 “Do another sprint tri-athalon”!  For now I have put several questions marks around it and am reserving the right to substitute.
My list is in no particular order or priority. I try to read it once a week, to keep these things in my conscious, to encourage myself to live with more intention for the things that I really want to do.  To be ready when an opportunity presents. What’s that?  You say you have some old tap shoes you don’t need anymore?


  1. Absolutely my favorite blog so far..I love you auntie and you will always be more to us than just only judy..:-)

  2. This blog inspired me. I have't written a list yet. As a fellow procrastinator, you will appreciate that. I do try to sieze the moment when something unusual presents itself, recognizing that it may only come around once. And since I am now approaching the end of the fifties, my list will need seventy items. That is a long list. Do you get to roll over your unfinished items onto the next list?

  3. Excellent- a 70 by 70 list- fun! I haven't had to ponder the roll-over option yet, but I say that you can if you want to. I also allow for substitutions as needed. I found it helpful to sit with my mom and sister and talk about our lists together, other people have surprisingly great ideas that I like to 'borrow'!