Sunday, September 15, 2013

Revisit Your 'List'

As our fall days of mist and gray snuck up on me this past week, I found myself visiting the Daily Good website more often, in an effort to chase away the seasonal blues. It was there that I stumbled upon this great TEdx talk on KarmaTube, "Rethinking the Bucket List"

Kathleen Taylor has worked for over 20 years as a hospice and end-of-life counselor. She has sat with patients and with their grieving family and friends. She makes a bold point about a commonality that she saw among people facing the end of their lives. They no longer had the capacity for bullshit. She encourages listeners to find their ‘true, authentic self’ now. Do not wait until the end of your days to stop the bullshit. She does say it much more eloquently than that, so I encourage you to check out the link above.

Taylor ecourages us to re-think the notion of ‘bucket lists’. Several months ago I wrote about my “50 by 50 list”. You can read about it here.   Make a “Bucket List” or a “50 by 50”, “Ten things for 2014”, “Weekly Wellness”, “Daily Do’s”…the name matters less than the intention behind it. There should be no room for bullshit on your list. Does your list reflect your genuine self? If you truly want to climb Mt. Everest, then by all means put it on the list. But if what really feeds your soul and heart is time spent with your grandchildren, puttering in your garden, lunches with friends, short walks on the beach, then put those things on the list and leave Mt. Everest to others. It’s a bit over-hiked anyway.

I remember reading an article by Martha Beck that posed the question, “How to find your authentic self?” One of the tricks shared in the article was that if you feel unfilled in your daily work and life, if you feel you have lost touch with your true and genuine self, think back on what you enjoyed as a child.  In other words, how did you spend your days before you had the capacity for bullshit? How can you put more of that in your life now?

 I did have that thought in mind when I made my list. Judy, the kid who loved weekends at Gramma and Grampa’s house, big crazy family meals, lots of cousins, friends and laughter. Eventually the children were chased outside and oh, how we loved the woods! I cannot count the number of ‘games’ we played in our little patch of Northwest forest. Summers in Indiana, we were sent out to check Grampa Wink’s garden, for cucumbers, radishes and peppers that may need picking. That love of the outdoors and the feeling of adventures waiting is very much a part of who I am and what I love. And it led me to four items already crossed off the list and at least ten to go. Some of them, like my front porch herb garden, require regular attention and provide a satisfaction similar to Grampa Wink's garden years ago. Some day maybe vegetables, but for now chives, peppermint, cilantro and oregano keep me happy!
Indiana- 2012 Family Reunion

When I wrote my post back in February I had crossed eight items off my list. I am amazed to find that seven months later I have crossed off a total of seventeen items. They are not the big ones, like taking my boys to Ireland or visiting the Grand Canyon. Rather they are the ones that allow me to live more authentically and offer the best ‘me’ that I can to the world, and to my family and friends. In fact nine of the items checked off directly involve loved ones.

Summer of 2012!
Many things on my list are not ‘one and done’ sort of items. Consider items that cause you to continue living and doing what you really want rather than one-time events to check off. For instance, # 36 “Be a proper Auntie” will never be done, and in fact a new little one to love arrived just last week! My #46, “Host brunch as often as possible”, is an ongoing attempt to create a sense of love and family for whoever joins us. Some friends that I had lost contact with were added to my list, to reconnect and stay connected. I mention special trips and hikes with my sons in my previous post. The overall effect of working through my list has surprised me; it makes my inner child very happy. Family, food and wilderness may not be your cup of tea. I simply offer it as an example.

Whatever sort of list you choose to make, the important thing is to take the time to think about what you really want out of this life. What do you want to receive and what do you want to give? What makes you happy and brings you joy? Who do you want in your life? Yes, who makes you happy and brings you joy? If you aren’t sure, ask your inner child. What would you have answered when you were six years old?

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