Thursday, November 22, 2012

Bucket List

It's Thanksgiving, 2012.  I'm at home, making my jello salad layer by layer, and am, by tradition, running late.  Will it have all 10 layers?  Maybe, maybe not.  I had full intentions of getting an early start last night, but Larry and Iris called me at 7:00 saying they had an extra ticket to an ice hockey game, so I went with them.  Time well-spent.

My mortality has been harder to ignore lately.  What with doctors prescribing things like compression stockings (honestly!) and tut-tutting about my blood pressure, and adding to my prescription list ad nauseum, I have realized I may not, in fact, live forever. At least not in mortality.  Don't get me wrong; I still plan on living until I'm 84 (the age at which I decided all of my grandchildren would be at least 12), and death itself is not really even on the agenda then (heard of twinkling?).  However, in the interest of full disclosure, there is this survey I took yesterday on my personal life span that is haunting me a bit.  Because of recent good habits--exercising and losing weight--and my life long abstinence of drugs and alcohol,  my biological age came back at 48, a full ten years younger than I am.  My life span number was 98!  Wahoo.  Way older than 84. Unfortunately, my age of feeling healthy and acting healthy was 58.  Dang.  Does that mean ten years from the 48 number or does that mean right now?  Well, who knows?  But it sobered me.  (It should sober my caregivers for the last 40 years of my life; btw, great program on NPR yesterday about the value of multi-generations living under one roof!)  So, in the interest of realism, I have decided to at least make a bucket list.  Things I want to do before I die:

1.  Read all of the Newbery Medal books.
2.  Finish Trick and maybe a couple of others.
3.  Visit Scotland again.  At least once.
4.  Go on a mission.
Hmmm . . . This is harder than I thought. That's all I can think off right off the top of my head. Surely there are more.
4.  Read a lot more books.  Duh.  
5.  Oh, I know--finish all the scrapbooks I've started.  Well, there's ten years.
6.  Have a flower garden from April to September that I'm proud of.
Seriously.  Have I no sense of adventure?  Most of this stuff I can do while I'm sitting up in bed at the nursing home.  Okay, I'm being realistic.  Maybe I'll think big, but I have no intention of getting to do all these things.
6.  Visit Africa and China.
7.  Publish a children's book and become sort of famous.
8.  Visit every single Temple.
9.  Wear a size 10.
10. Get married.  Haha!

Mostly all I want to do is be as happy as I am right this minute!  If I can make a difference with the students I teach, pay my bills and see or talk to one of my children or grandchildren almost every day, I'll have a very nice life.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Happy Birthday To Me

When I was a teenager, I used to write in a journal quite regularly.  Often, I would light several candles in my room at the same time and listen to melancholy music.  I wrote special entries two times a year.  Inventories.  One was on New Year's Eve and the other was on my birthday.  Sadly, but perhaps wisely, I threw out those journals, filled with teenage angst as they were.  In later years, I wrote in journals and continued, for a while at least, the yearly inventories.  Unfortunately, they devolved into really sad accounts of everything I was failing at.  They would always end with goal setting.  Lose weight.  Read my scriptures more.  Be nicer.  Keep the house cleaner.  I stopped writing in my journal.

Still, it is in my nature to write.  I've attempted comebacks from time to time.  Vacation journals.  Spiritual thoughts journals.  Scripture memorizing journals.  Food and weight loss journals.  And most entries start the same way--"It's been so long!  I can't believe I haven't written in so many months!"  Then blogging came along.  I decided to write essays to satisfy the life long dream of writing; my thinking being that if I wrote semi-public blogs, it would inspire me to edit and re-write and thus improve a talent.  I blog less often than I write in my journals.

It is less than an hour before my 58th birthday.  Inventory time.  I'm still trying to lose weight, still not reading my scriptures as often as I could, I'm still not nice to everyone all the time, and I will never have a house to which I'm comfortable having company visit unannounced.  I have not fulfilled my goal in writing fiction for children. Well, that's not true.  I've written plenty, but never worked hard enough to be published.  I'm a decent teacher, my students know I love them and most of my co-workers like me.  Not all of them.  I'm single, wish I were married but can't imagine how that could ever happen.  I have four children and six grandchildren on whom I am too dependent for love and approval, but are unquestionably the greatest joys in my life.

I sound as though I am filled with middle aged angst.  Perhaps I am.

Oddly, one thing saved me as a teenager when failure and discouragement weighed me down, and it still saves me today.  Forty some years ago, I had a deep knowledge of a Heavenly Father and Savior who loved me.  I knew that no matter how imperfect I was, they would always love me. And despite my other failings, I pray often, and am subsequently blessed and comforted. 

So, when I lose 5 pounds and then eat banana bread muffins all day and gain it back, when I waste time watching TV instead of writing or cleaning or exercising, even when I am unforgiving or cause offense, I can honestly say that it's a wonderful life.  I will get up in the morning, feeling a little older, and spend time with friends, talk to family on the phone, and count my many, many blessings.