Saturday, December 30, 2017

My Reverse Bucket List

As 2018 drifts toward us on warm and surprisingly gentle winds (believe me, no winter here in Western Colorado...shocking!), I can think of no better time to compile my "Reverse Bucket List".  In researching for Blue Collar Homeschool I came across this article at Fast Company about Reverse Bucket Lists, and I had never heard of such a thing!  I let the tab set open for two weeks on my laptop, pondering the idea each time, and realizing this was something I needed to do.  You see, Bucket Lists are great, and I agree wholeheartedly that creating goals helps us achieve them.  But sometimes, those goals become idols in our lives and can mock us as we fixate on all we have yet to do, rather than all we have accomplished or achieved.  So the Reverse Bucket List lifts up all you have accomplished, it celebrates it, which helps move you from a sense of lack to a sense of abundance.

I try to live walking in gratitude, though like all of us I fail miserably sometimes.  This blog is the story of our family, sure, and it details ELEVEN years of our life together.  Holy Moly!!  But recently I realized what it really has been is my gratitude journal, and my personal sounding board.  It is my altar where I lay my burdens, and it is my sanctuary where afterward I find peace.  In my younger years I never would have imagined writing as much as I do now.  It was not something I enjoyed at all, nor have I ever taken a writing course.  Writing was not an aspiration, and of course, it isn't really any big thing that I do...there is no budding novel, no manuscript buried in a drawer.  However, it has become a constant in my life, sort of a companion of mine.

So this Reverse Bucket List idea stuck, and I will share it here with my companions (and my virtual companions as well!) I also found this blog post helpful as I considered exactly what a Reverse Bucket List might contain. I am sure it will be scintillating ::she says in a voice dripping with sarcasm::

Cindy's Reverse Bucket List - 2017 - 51 Years Old

1.  Graduated high school - In my family and extended family this is a rare achievement.

2.  I am sober and always have been - Again, a rare achievement in my family and though many might not find this to be celebratory, trust me, once you have had a front row seat to the destruction caused by addiction, you thank God daily that you didn't fall into that trap.  Odds were against this for me, and I am incredibly grateful for living a sober life.

3.  Adoption - My teenage understanding of my life path was made a reality.

4.  Education - Despite not attending college, I consider myself to be well educated due to my own endeavors because I am curious about everything and read everything I can get my hands on.

5.  Happy Home and Marriage - Peace reigns, laughter lights up our lives, I could never have imagined how beautiful family life can be.  Being married for 31 years to my high school sweetheart when everyone thought we were doomed is also something I am proud of.  

6.  Faith Life - Pursued and developed a faith life that fits me perfectly, that feels authentic, and enriches my life immeasurably.

7.  Kindness - I am kind, pretty much all the time.  When faced with uncomfortable situations or hostility is directed toward me, I am kind.  That matters deeply to me.

8.  Travel - Many of the sites I dreamed of visiting have been checked off my list!  For someone who had never had a single vacation in my life until my honeymoon, this feels like really making something happen.  I still have much I'd love to see, and maybe I will be blessed to be able to do so, but I am thrilled with all I have seen thus far, and never thought I'd really be able to.

9.  Teaching - When I was young and through my early high school years, I thought I was headed for a career teaching deaf children.  I had taken sign language and enjoyed it, and that was my game plan.  Life came along and sort of caused that plan to drift away.  However, every single job I have been on, I have trained and taught others, and enjoyed that aspect of my work, regardless of what field I was working in.  Homeschooling was not on my radar, and to put it bluntly was one of those, "Oh NO WAY!" sort of things...until we had few options.  I learned, I grew, I gained skills, and I love it. 

I have homeschooled in one of the single most challenging, difficult, and  unique circumstances that anyone could ever jump into with no experience, and the kids have flourished.  I have taught two all the English they know, got Kenny reading fluently and at a definite high school graduate level when he wasn't reading at 12 years old, self-diagnosed and pursued an official diagnosis for every single disability the kids have that no one else could figure out.  I have graduated one of our kids, and will graduate four more, with three who very seriously might have dropped out well before 12th grade if we hadn't made this choice because they would have been too far behind.  Our kids are civic minded, politically savvy, well read in general for a standard high schooler, write decently, and will never get caught offering foolish answers on TV if stopped on the street and asked basic questions about American history or our government.

Most importantly, we did it together :-)  We still love one another, perhaps even more so, despite how hard it all is!

10. I have been a strong partner to Dominick as he started businesses.

11.  Say "Yes" regularly when I feel God has asked something of me, even when I vehemently disagree! Hahaha!  I am unafraid to go against the grain, to make big changes even if they make no sense to others, and to live totally outside the box.  I only hope there is much more in store for me to shake my head over and say "Yes" to!

12.  Silly things include:  I have been a licensed pest control applicator, termite inspector, and agricultural pest control adviser.  I have been a licensed insurance agent in property and casualty, and health/life.  I have owned and managed a restaurant seasonally for five years.  I have been an international customer service agent for a company that manufactured antibodies for medical research.  I have am a lay minister.  I have been a part-time janitor, newspaper distributor, drug store sales clerk, pharmacy tech, and self-taught bookkeeper.  I have created blogs and facebook groups and crafted wooden puzzles for sale and been mentioned in Reader's Digest by name twice, been featured on Kiplinger's magazine for Matt's adoption, can make a "taco tongue" and "flip" a pile of quarters off my elbow into my cupped hand like a pro, played the clarinet from second grade through high school graduation, and was one of the first 100,000 users of America Online and I begged Dominick for us to buy stock in it as I saw the future of the internet there, but he declined, and I have never let him live that one down ;-)

It is funny how awkward this was to write, and yet I initially felt it was an interesting exercise in self-evaluation.  I realized as I was writing that the very thing it was supposed to make me grateful...was something I was struggling with.  Why?  Because looking at my List, there are none of the typical brag worthy accomplishments.  No college to name, no GPA to post, no big name career or job to point toward. I even went back and added #12 because in looking at others' Lists, it seemed I had left out the sort of things most name.  That was because I really don't have those things to share.  In looking for examples I found lists like this, and this.  I am none of what they shared.

Upon reflection, my Reverse Bucket List isn't about what I've done, but as I re-read it, I see it is more about who I am and what I value.  To some, it might seem vague, to me much of it is all I ever dreamed of as a child.  Now, some would look at this list and say those dreams were not very big, that I didn't have much to strive for so of course I accomplished it.

That's OK, maybe they aren't big dreams, but when I look around me I see plenty of people for whom some of what I have is sadly far, far out of reach.  I know I haven't set the world on fire, but maybe at the very least, I haven't started any fires that needed to be put out, either.  And so as awkward as this process was, I learned one thing, and that was important...

My Bucket runneth over, indeed. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Cindy,

While waiting for a train in New York City a few days ago, I met a young woman who seemed to "have it all." Multiple advanced degrees, fancy NY apartment and fancy work clothes, a high powered job in a law firm. And she was miserable. I talked with her for a long time, and hope that will help her as she considers redirecting her life. What she really loves is art and helping people. She does have faith, and I pray that will give her the courage to make changes in her life.

I think you are right on about what is important in life. As you like to say, "love wins." If we know God's love, and share that love with others, then I think that its all that matters when we come to the end of our days here on earth.

Love and Happy New Year to all of you!!!

Peggy (pretty cold here in Virginia this New Year's morning!)