Saturday, January 2, 2016

Two Kinds of People

bucketList
It seems to me there are two kinds of people. The ones who make resolutions, lists, plans, bucket lists and the ones who don't.

I'm the former. CS is the latter. Every year I start asking him, around December 30, if he's started his list. Knowing he hasn't. Knowing he'll say - 'resolutions are pointless. If you need to change something, change it. That day. Don't wait til January 1. Just do it.'
Yes, I live with a living, breathing engineer Nike commercial.

blame attribute it to my mother, who made a list of resolutions every single year. She'd start on them in mid-December, then post them above the kitchen sink where she'd see them on a daily basis. I picked up her list-making habit, and it became a thing we shared. Every year, in late December, we'd talk about our resolutions. This year I didn't ask her. I now share this tradition with my oldest daughter, a firm list maker. 

Year to year, my resolutions, at least partially, reflect items on my Bucket List, made in 2010. Here's what I wrote:

Bev's Bucket List
#1 Learn to play piano swim laps for exercise. (One is about as hard as the other, I'm finding.)

#2 Learn to speak Spanish or Spanglish. (Either goes in Texas.)

#3 Knit a sweater.

#4 Ocean trip with my mom and girls.

#5 Get family photos scrapbooked! (I'd rather swim with sharks.)

#6 Write a memoir / book.

#7 Go on a mission trip.

#8 Learn to dance badly.

#9 See the Grand Canyon with CS.

10. Visit NYC with CS.

#11. Go to the Rosebowl with CS.

#12. Go to Europe with CS.

So far I've checked off #7, going to Guatemala a few years ago. It just about killed me and my back, but I did it, with CS.

#1 - I'm swimming at least three days a week, having taken private swim lessons to improve my stroke. There's hope.

#3 - I've knit a sweater, for a baby.  It counts.

#4 - I'm going to the Caribbean with my two girls in February. (Insert squeal here.)

#12 - CS and I had a trip to Europe booked for May of this year to celebrate our 35th anniversary, but cancelled it and bought an antique camper instead. I don't know if we'll ever go to Europe - maybe. A camper trip across Canada may be our equivalent. I know, not the same, but maybe a better fit for us. Bucket Lists are subject to occasional modifying.

Yesterday CS watched the Rosebowl with me, and we talked about #11 again. I think it's the perfect trip - fly to California in January, sit and watch the parade, go to the float building afterwards and see all the beautiful floats (yes, he is very excited about that as most males would be), then go to the game and see our team win. Stay a few days, enjoying the sunshine before heading back home.

Lists, goals, plans - they give me a target to shoot for, and although I may never accomplish it all, I'll hit more than if I didn't plan at all. I never took my mother to the ocean, and it's likely not possible anymore. I did take her on road trips, for about four years in a row, to her hometown, to find her grandparents old home and her grandmother's gravesite, to eat BBQ and watermelon in a cabin - just the two of us, to see the Babe Zaharias statue because it seemed vitally important to her; to ride the Maid of the Mist boats at Niagara Falls. I treasure every one of these memories we made, but I would have loved to see her wade in the ocean, pick up shells on the beach. So I'll do it with my daughters, while I can, while they can.

That brings me to #6 and my plans, hopes, goals, dreams for 2016. My mother wanted to write her entire adult life. Having very little formal education, she passed her GED on the first try, went on to get a degree in Psychology, and her LPN license. She took writing classes, met with a writer's group and had some of her articles published in the local newspaper. For most of her adult life she had the dream, goal to write The Book. She even gave it a title, On Thin Ice. It began with a scene of her ice skating on a pond, as a young bride of 15 years old, and my father letting her know it was time to grow up and be a woman. Ice skating was for children and she was no longer one. 

Now that she's in a memory care unit I am struck by the scraps of paper I brought home with me, after cleaning out her little one room apartment. Those scraps of paper represent her life-long dream that will never be realized. It wouldn't have mattered if she ever did anything with The Book, but I wish she'd gotten it out of her and onto paper. Knowing what it would say, knowing the light it would have put my father in, knowing maybe nobody but her should have ever read it. As she got older, and had the time to write, I'd ask her how The Book was coming along. She'd tell me she was struggling. Now that she had enough time it was hard to make herself sit down and write. I didn't realize then that she was in the throes of dementia that had a tighter grip on her day by day. When I cleaned out her last apartment, hanging over the kitchen sink was a scrap of paper. It said, "Judy, when will you write The Book?" I took it down and saved it. Her post on her blog, from 2009, was a letter to me about writing The Book. 

On Thin Ice will never be written. I will never read her story, and now she can't tell it to me. I've gone through about half of her papers, and have been amazed to learn secrets she never shared, stories she never told. Writing The Book was her bucket list, all rolled into one.
My family story is not tidy. It's as story of survival, with 34 moves, too many marriages and divorces to count, deaths, affairs, tragic scenes, but it also has memories of hop scotch, melting snails on sidewalks, skipping down the street to Daydream Believer, overcoming big odds, and redemption. I've felt the tug to write The Book for years, and putting my mother in a memory care unit this past summer continued the story. If I'd written it twenty-five years ago, one might have covered it. I may be up to three now.

I read Better Than Before, by Gretchen Rubin, in November of this year, and came across a passage about NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month, held in November of every year since 1999, started by Chris Baty. His book, No Plot No Problem intrigued me, so I ordered it, and decided to take CS's Nike approach, and just do it. This year. This January. 50,000 pages of rough draft, unedited, that nobody ever gets to read. Not CS. Not my kids. Not my friends. Just me. That gives me tremendous freedom to write the truth, and write poorly. Editing will be later this year, likely several rounds of it. I don't know if there are any other books inside  me or not, but once this one gets out of the way I'll find out. It looms so large I can't see around it. It's the writing wall I see, and needs to be done. I started yesterday, hitting the writing goal of 1,667 words, and will be back at it today. I told CS, back in early December, what my plans were, and we ordered me a new desk chair. I printed out the 500+ page manual for my Scrivener program, and obviously need to read the first few chapters, after accidentally deleting a few pages yesterday.

I chose DARE as my word of the year, and wrote down plans around the acronym, Do/Discard, Achieve, Relationally, and Educate / Explore. There are items after each item, but behind Achieve is 'The House on Emile'. This year I'm going to be the kind of person who writes The Book.

So, which are you? Did you make a list of resolutions for 2016? Have you ever written down a Bucket List? If not, I'd suggest you rent the movie (or buy it, it's very fun!), and get to it. Time's a'wasting! Know what you're shooting for, don't worry if your aim isn't perfect, the beauty is in the doing.

I'll update here, now and then, as to my progress. How hard it is, or isn't. Permission to do anything badly makes it a lot easier, doesn't it? What are you planning to do badly this year? Because that's better than not at all.

For the record, I still cannot dance to save my life, and have no plans for remedying that in 2016. Chicken dance with the grandkids and a slow shuffle with CS are as good as it gets for me. Some things have to wait.

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