Monday, August 27, 2012

Life's To Do List

One of the reasons that I like to read memoir, non-fiction type books, is the same reason that I am a social person that likes to get to know people. Other people teach us, put into words, what sometimes we, ourselves, cannot.

In this mind frame, on my reading list for a few years now is a book called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. A friend of mine had the book on his coffee table so I asked to borrow it and decided I would begin reading it at the beginning of the summer. Interesting side note: Books take much longer to finish, once you have a baby.

In her "May" chapter, about finding more fun, she puts into words a realization that I realized was true for me too. She says, "...being Gretchen and accepting my true likes and dislikes brings me a kind of sadness. I will never visit a jazz club at midnight, hang out in artists' studios, jet off to Paris for the weekend, or pack up to go fly-fishing on a spring dawn. I won't be admired for my chic warddrobe or be appointed a a high government office...It makes me sad for two reasons. First, it makes me sad to realize my limitations. The world offers so much!" And this is the realization that struck the proverbial chord.

I am not the adventuring type. So as much as I might like to be an amazing beach-bodied, sun-bronzed surfer, I am far too afraid of the ocean and all things moving around in it to be one. I know the beauty and awe that is held within the mysteries of nature, and as much as I might like the occasional leisurely hike, I will never hike the Appalachian Trail - although, the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela (#116) looks a little more my speed with stopping at Hostel type sleeping accommodations and drinking wine and cappuccinos along the journey. I am not much of a risk taker so I may wage a friendly bet but would never "let it ride" in Vegas or jump off a cliff in one of those squirrel suits. Although I could be convinced (and at one point have) to paraglide off a mountain in Switzerland. Go figure. I guess we're all not as one-sided as we'd have ourselves believe.

The world has so much beauty and so many adventures that even if we both quit our jobs (well, we're half way there) and money was of no matter (anyone looking to fill a Fairy Godmother position - I'm taking applications.) we would still never be able to see, do, experience, love, and live all there is to see, do, experience, love and live.

This sadness was strengthened when Mike and I took our nephew, Derek, on a ride at Epcot called "Soarin." The ride is a simulated hang glider tour of California. We flew over the Golden Gate Bridge and Lake Tahoe. We flew over the trees of Yosemite National Park and smelled Pine Trees, we surfed in Malibu, smelled the sweet scent of oranges in the groves of Camarillo. And this is just California. I left  the ride holding Derek's hand, bouncing with excitement and saying to him, "Derek. There's so much to see in this world. DON'T YOU WANT TO SEE IT ALLLLLL?" He responded as only Derek would, "No."


I forget that this is a big kid problem. Little kids don't sit around thinking, "Gee I wish I could be a cowboy." They simply put on some gauchos and call themselves a cowboy and suddenly they are. It's when we get older and closer to death that we start thinking about all there is left to do, all there is left that you want to do. It's not that I feel sorry for myself and our current life... far from it. And it's not that I am a glass half empty person. In fact, this realization has freed me to some level. I know that there are many things that I might not be able to do in this lifetime...

...but there are so many things that I can.

And aspiring to do as many of these things as I can is half the fun.

Years ago, at least 10 years ago, I started a Life's To Do List. Before the phrase "Bucket List" was coined and Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman were jumping out of planes, I had a simply named "Life's To Do List." In fact, I deeply dislike when I tell people about my list and they say, "Oh. A bucket list? Cool." No. It is a To Do List.

I used this list to plan out my adventures, to buy birthday presents, take vacations, even keep track of milestones in my life. Why not stop off in Nashville, Music City, and go dancing to live music on the way to Memphis to walk on Beale Street (#101- "walking with my feet 10 feet off of Beale")?  And how about celebrating a friend's birthday by completing #50 and swing on a trapeze? Instead of going to South Beach again (although I do love South Beach), why not check off #51 and stay at The Ice Hotel in Quebec (there are also ones in Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland and to be clear - I would stay at either one of these Fairy Godmother.) or see the Pyramids of Giza (#32), or visit Germany for Oktoberfest (#76)? Get married (#1), have children (#2), get a dog / Adopt a pet (#12 / #55), live abroad (#114)... ✓, ✓, ✓, .

I have accepted that I might never be able to do allllllllllllll of the many things I want to do. Usually there is either not enough time or not enough money and now with a child in the mix - there is not enough of either. But attempting to cross off the many experiences on my To Do List is the hardest part of the battle.

So, I urge you to think about the kind of person that you are. What experiences are just not you? Kite surfing in Cabarete or exploring the off-beat nightlife of a new city on your bike? Good news - you don't have to be that person. What are the things that you have always wanted to do? And what's stopping you from doing them? Maybe some things remain unchecked (like my #78 surf). That's ok - your Life's To Do List should change. And as it changes you will have plenty more experiences to strive for. So what ever number you are starting with, whether it's something small like planting a tree (#42), something open to interpretation (#33 Make a Difference ), something silly (#21 Ride on a firetruck) or something big (#65 See all 7 Wonders of the Natural World) - whichever experience you check off your list first - just start checking.

Go for that sleigh ride (#74 ).

Write that novel (#45) and publish that book (#28 ).

Learn to tango (#85) ... ✓.

Some s off my Life's To Do List

#24 Rent a house with friends (in this case a ski house)


#26 Go to Cuba

#50 Swing on a Trapeze

#35 See an Opera


  1. Amazing Jen. I love this...You're writing is great and I can't wait to pick up your first book! ;-)

    1. thank you so much for your vote of confidence!


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