In the beginning of 2010 I made my first “bucket list.” It was an assignment from my mentor Heidi. I winced at first, having considered this practice hokey, but agreed to the homework. I was to list everything I would do if time, energy or money were no object.

I considered the list as I made my way through the week. Having a BMW or Mercedes, in the world I grew up in, was a measure of success, of having “arrived.” It seemed the apex of adulthood to me. Now an actual adult, I saw them around Seattle and occasionally felt pangs of jealousy, of dissatisfaction with one-Subaru household and the limitations of our financial situation. It was as if a BMW signified completion, and lack of one was just that, a lack. I always assumed that I wanted one, and that it would feel great.

When I finally sat down to write my list, it contained things like “plant a vegetable garden” and “take all of Rod Stryker’s yoga trainings” on it. I wanted to “travel to France, India, Italy and Sedona” and “live at an ashram for a month.” When I dug down into my deepest truest desires, most of what I wished for was experiences, both ordinary and extraordinary. They were things that took time, and energy, and sometimes money, but mostly they were enriching rather than requiring riches.

I completed my list and turned it in to Heidi. The next time I spied a spiffy BMW driving down Madison towards the lake, I noticed my wholly different reaction to it. I realized that the only material item on this “do anything” list was an electric car. No Mercedes, no BMW, just a more energy efficient alternative to our family car. It was a pretty big deal for me to see that the desire for a fancy car was a ghost that had long ago taken up residence in my brain. It was such a relief to kick it out and make room for more meaningful goals.

Since I wrote that list I have experienced a couple of the items. My family spent a Thanksgiving in Sedona. We now eat vegetables and berries from our bountiful garden. I am regularly writing. And as you read this, my family and I are traveling in France.

But most of all, I have crossed an invisible line of limitation that I had placed around my existence. I have become more interested in what I CAN do than what I haven’t done. When regret pops into my head, or jealousy, a voice quickly remembers “let’s put that on the list!”
Have you ever taken the time to write your own “bucket list?” Just do it! You’ll have a tangible record of what is important to you, what you want to put your energy into, and how you can live the live you desire, now.

Posted by: Anne Phyfe Palmer

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