If you already know my "story"... then I apologize in advance for repeating it in this post. But for the rest of you that don't know...
In the spring of 2013, my mother (who was also my very best friend) was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. She hadn't been feeling well for about six months or so, and had even lost a lot of weight, but she thought she was just having GI issues and attributed both to that. Needless to say, the diagnosis hit all of us hard but she actually did very well with the chemotherapy treatments in the beginning, not getting very tired or nauseous at all. As the months went on, we did see her body get smaller and weaker (most likely from the cancer and the toxic chemotherapy treatments... but I digress), but we all still hoped for the best. In fact, my mother was still making plans (as she should) to move to a condo at the beach, to get the VW Beetle Convertible that she always wanted and for us to celebrate Thanksgiving that year at the beach. But she unfortunately did not live to even see Thanksgiving. She passed away almost exactly six months from her diagnosis, on September 7, 2013.
Obviously, it turned my whole world upside down. If you've lost a parent, you know what I mean. Not that any loss isn't devastating, but there's something about your parent... your caretaker... your tether to this world (and this case, my BFF) passing away... that just makes everything feel weird. But thankfully, with God's help, instead of launching into a downward spiral of depression and grief, her experience had a different effect on me.
It opened up my eyes.
I've described it before to others as being "let in on a secret" or "having the blinders taken off." It was like all of the sudden, I realized that I (along with most of the population) had been doing this life thing all wrong. I had been working jobs that I didn't like (and that didn't make use of my God-given abilities), I was in financial debt, I worried about everything under the sun, and although I wasn't much into the latest electronic gadget or the trendiest new shoes... I still, like everyone else, thought I was supposed to have a car loan, a giant mortgage and everything else that we adults are supposed to do.
I realized that I had basically been doing what my mom had been doing... putting off my life until later. Making plans in my head but not doing anything about them in real life. Staying in jobs or relationships for too long out of anxiety or exhaustion. Avoiding taking chances because of fear. Basically, going through the motions of my life every day instead of really LIVING it.
But watching my mother literally run out of time to make any of her dreams happen, made me realize I needed to make a change. Reading her journals that talked about holding back in life because of fear, made me realize I didn't want to end up the same way.
So I set out to make my life the best it could be, not only for me, but for my mother too.
That's where the "F.a.s.t. Life" came from. I wanted to make my life simplified (and tiny!), yet fabulous and abundant! I wanted to have LESS so I could do MORE.
I knew I would never look back one day and say, "Gosh, I really wish I had bought that new iPad when I had the chance." But it was quite possible that I could say, "I really wish I had traveled more when I had the chance" or "I wish I hadn't been so scared to try new things."
So I decided to make marking things off my bucket list not only a reality, but also a priority.
Because no matter how many tricks your mind tries to play on you, the truth of matter is this. You never know how much time you have left. My mom certainly didn't. I don't either. And neither do you.
But I'm not saying that to depress you. I'm saying that to INSPIRE you!
Why do we all wait until we're diagnosed with an illness or facing death in the eye to really start living? Shouldn't that be what we've been doing all along??
Yes, we have jobs and kids and responsibilities. I know. But that doesn't mean we have to abandon our dreams or stop living.
It's about finding a balance. Making your dreams a PRIORITY and finding a way to work them in, even if it's only one small thing every year.
Ok, so you wanna know how to start? Well, lucky for you, I've included some handy tips right here. And don't worry if you don't have a paper and pen handy or suffer from a bad memory, I've made a pretty downloadable cheatsheet that you can save and print below. You're welcome! :)
1. Make a list.
Might seem like a pretty obvious one, but some of us have never even taken the time to dream or think about what we'd like to do! So if you haven't already done it, take the time to make a list. You don't have to call it your "bucket list" if that sounds corny to you. I actually started my "Life To-Do List" as I call it, back when I was 19, before The Bucket List movie ever even came out.
If you have trouble coming up with things to do, try asking yourself some of these questions:
- What did you enjoy doing as a child?
- What about in high school, college or as a young adult?
- Did you play sports? A musical instrument? Dance? Cook for your friends/family?
- What skills or talents have you observed in others that you wish you had?
- Where have you always wanted to travel?
- What causes or needs are you passionate about?
- If you won the lottery tomorrow, where is the first place you'd want to go/first thing you'd want to do?
2. Make a plan.
If you're like most of us, you probably think you don't have the time to mark things off your bucket list. You barely have time to get your housework done as it is. But that's why you have to make marking off your bucket list (or accomplishing your dreams) a priority. Just like you would with anything else in your life, you need to budget the money and factor in the time to make your dreams happen.
- What could you give up financially that would allow you to mark off some items or at least save up to mark them off? Buying a Starbucks coffee every day? Eating out 3x a week? In the end... would you rather have the lattes or the satisfaction of knowing you've achieved something you've always wanted to do?
- What could you cut out of your schedule that would afford you the time to take that class you've always wanted to take? Or learn to play that instrument? Two to three hours of TV watching every night? Unnecessary shopping trips?
No matter what your schedule or budget is, you can always find a way to work in your dreams. Even if it's only a very small "adventure" once a year. It's better than nothing!
3. Ask everyone you know!
One of the best things you can do to get moving on your bucket list is to start talking about it. Start mentioning it to your friends, your family members, your coworkers. Heck, you can even mention it to the clerk at the grocery store if you want! The point is, you never know who may have the connection/network/equipment/skills that you need to make one of your list items happen.
For example, when I started talking about the items on my bucket list, I realized that I had a friend whose husband brewed his own beer, a friend with a contact at a horseback riding farm and another who could teach me to shoot a gun (all items on my list). I also on a whim, contacted the owner of a local dance studio to see if she might know someone who could teach me the dance from Thriller (another list item) and sure enough, she had an instructor who's taught it several times! You seriously never know until you ask.
4. Work it in whenever/wherever you can.
This is kind of just an extension of #2... but it's important to always keep your bucket list in mind wherever you go, because you don't know when an opportunity may pop up. I've had "swim with dolphins" on my list for YEARS but hadn't taken any steps toward making it happen. However, last fall, I found myself on an impromptu cruise with a friend who had just gotten out of a bad relationship and needed a little "girl time." Realizing I may have an opportunity to mark something off my list while on the trip, I checked out the available "excursions." Sure enough, there were several dolphin experiences available at one of the ports. So my friend and I signed up, and I finally got to do this...
5. Grab a friend.
Life is always better with a friend, so why not invite a friend to accomplish your list items with you? You may inspire them to try something new or you may find out (like I did), that they've been wanting to do some of the same things for a long time too! Plus, knowing that someone else will be with you is often all you need to get over the fear, anxiety or procrastination that's been holding you back.
So... What are you waiting for? Get out there and start your bucket list living!
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