Fill-the-Bucket List

Maggie Banks over at Northern Expenditure (who gets points already for naming her blog after one of my favorite shows while growing up) had a great idea when she turned 30 in 2016: a fill-the-bucket list. As she put it, 

“Life is full of opportunities, changes, and unpredictability and it’s all about experiences and filling your bucket so that by the end of your life, your bucket is full. Instead of making a list of things you would like to see happen in your life, a fill-the-bucket list focuses on the opportunities you have had and the things you’ve taken a chance and done.”

Genius. While I think I’ll still work on drafting a list of the changes I’d like to work on as I enter my 4th decade, Maggie’s idea shifts the focus and promotes gratitude for what is and has been. Here’s a first few bucket-filling things

I got a PhD.

As you know, this wasn’t an easy process, but few things showed me how tenacious I am or could be like finishing that sucker when about half of my cohort decided it wasn’t for them and left altogether.

I biked down a volcano in Hawaii.

We started by watching the sun rise at the top, and then rode the switchbacks down. Sure, I took a header as we came to a stop, but as someone who’s only sort of physically adventurous, this was both exciting, terrifying, and ultimately beyond amazing.

Sunrise over Haleakala, Maui
Sunrise over Haleakala, Maui
Just recently I started taking kickboxing/self-defense classes.

It’s so much fun. I hate doing cardio in most forms but this? I really like it. I hope I stick with it.

As a 3a of sorts, I once took a bellydancing class. I was in my mid-20s and it was me with a bunch of much older ladies from my Boston neighborhood. It was a hoot and I had no idea until then of the ways one could move their torso muscles.

We spent a week in Italy in 2008.
Italian countryside
The view from where we stayed in Italy.

What was particularly special about this was that a) it was our first trip to Europe and b) my uncle lived there. Not only did that make the trip less pricey but it also meant we got to stay in a village and meet all these people and be part of their community, ever so briefly. That was almost as good as seeing Roman ruins.

I think this is a good start. 40’s now around the corner.

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39: When Grandma Stopped Counting Birthdays

39: When Grandma Stopped Counting BirthdaysA week ago Sunday I had a birthday. I wasn’t one of *the* major milestone birthdays but it was close: I hit the age my grandmother was when she decided to stop counting. I’d like to say that her reasons were good ones–that age is but a number, or because women are castigated for aging. But instead, grandma decided that after this age was Old, and she wasn’t going to be Old. She never told us her actual age no matter how often we asked, nor what year she was born so that we might do the math. She only changed her mind when she was eligible to retire, at which point 65 was a thrill.

For the record, I’ve only just turned 39.

I was born when grandma was 43, which meant that she told us she was 39 for about twenty years.

I am glad I don’t feel obliged to lie about my age, in jest or otherwise. It’s striking to me that grandma felt my age now was old for her–that it was the end of her youth. Being blessed with a young face, perhaps I feel inured against such thinking. Perhaps I’m in denial that I’m not as young as I once was. But when I look back at my near-40 years (shocking though that number is) and I take stock, I’ve done a lot of things without feeling like those are the only things I’ll ever do.

I’ve also done a lot that makes me happy, and I’m not sure she ever felt or feels that way. I don’t know that she ever felt that she could choices for happiness alone. I’m happy in my marriage. I’ve pursued my own dreams–she never talked much about having them, nevermind pursuing them. I don’t have kids, and it’s ok to make that choice now if that’s what one wants. My grandma is a tough nut and not always easy to get along with. I suspect she sees herself as a victim from time to time, even if it’s truly of her own unwillingness to do otherwise.

So I am very ok with 39. I am not Old.

39 isn’t the end of my youth, even if I’m not exactly young. I like to think I’m just gently aged, wiser for my time here. I don’t have bitterness at the past that might encourage me to feel my youth was wasted. I don’t care too much about the cultural imagery of youth that might see me older.

But that’s not to say that I don’t have aging anxieties. I realize I’m a little anxious about being considered not-young, whether in my own head or otherwise. I know it’s irrational, and that the alternative is awful. But it’s a thing that looms somewhere in the back of my head and surfaces at weird times. For me, I think it’s more about feeling relevant–and that’s not a concept actually attached to age but how one is in the world.

Speaking of relevancy: coming up soon is a post on the hideous plan Betsy DeVos has for Title IX, my thoughts on HRC’s book What Happened (my copy just arrived!), and a discussion of my “side hustle.”

 

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