What’s on your list?
You know, the list of things you want to do, the places you want to go, the moments you want to make along the way—what’s on your list? Some call it a bucket list, but I called mine an adventure list.
So, what’s on your list?
I made my first list on my 49th birthday, with the 50 things I wanted to do before I entered my 50s. A decent number of checkmarks found their way to the page. I got my first tattoo, learned about 20 small towns in Texas, made a Torta Chilena from scratch (it’s a lovely Guatemalan dessert that I learned is much better when St. Martin Bakery makes it), sang karaoke in a dive bar (Total Eclipse of the Heart is a crowd-favorite, by the way), launched a business, got accepted to grad school, picked berries and wrote poetry and travelled internationally for ministry and for fun (boy, did THAT one become a reality).
I never finished Rosetta Stone, never got to crash a large, prestigious event, and Texas A&M changed conferences before I could attend an OU/A&M game decked out from head to toe in both school colors just to embarrass my family.
I wrote a new list seven years ago. Two more tattoos, a trip to India, and writing actual books were on it, along with a lot of life experience things (like seeing my grandson graduate high school and being with someone I loved as they stepped into eternity). It was lot shorter than the “50 before 50” list, and I’ve done a few things on it. In fact, I traveled to India for the third time this summer, I have indeed gotten two more tattoos, I gave the pint a good (but unsuccessful) try, and if you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know about the devotionals that have been published and the book that comes out next summer.
But when I penned this one, I was hesitant to make it very long.
You see, my mom passed away at the age of 62, and my dad passed away at 67.
I wrote an article once about the decades of our lives, about the fire of the 20s, the pressure of the 30s, the grace that arrives in the 40s. And then, there are the 50s. I said, “The 50s will quietly find their way into tender places in our soul – and give us new ways to breathe and live. We’ll turn a corner to see that the tick-tick-tick is not a clock at all, but rather a metronome, carefully offering cadence for the days that have passed and the days yet to come. If we lean in and listen, we’ll hear a new whisper that says, ‘Life is just beginning upon beginning and story upon story. Savor them all and let them sink deep within you.’”
Grace holds us close and talks to us about our 20s and 30s and 40s—about the passion still there and the legacy that awaits. There is ache and there is hope.
But the 50s will not last. And there’s something better.
I wrote in that article that I believe with all my heart that there will be something better. I still do.
Today, I am 60.
I would love to see the 70s or 80s. Yet, the tick-tick-tick of that internal metronome is a countdown clock to my soul, reminding me of familial mortality. My grandson once asked me, “When do you think you’ll go to heaven, GiGi?” I answered, “That’s a really great question. I don’t know yet.” “Tomorrow is OK. You can wait until tomorrow,” he said, smiling.
I don’t know much about the 60s but this one thing I know. Legacy will be there, waiting.
63 beats the odds. 68 resets the pace.
I am 60, and I will add life to my list.
I no longer want to look at the 60s as the decade that made me an orphan. I want to see them in all their glory. I want to rewrite the article I wrote about the decades and tell the world about the years that drink like the finest wine. That is indeed something better.
Before I rewrite the article, I’m rewriting the list. Yes, I’ve got the original 30 things that were on it seven years ago. I’ve added another 20. And I will keep adding. Because I’m going bravely into the 60s. And I want to fill them to the brim with life. Real, raw, unvarnished, growing older and bolder by the day life that reveals its beauty and reminds the generations that follow to embrace the years without fear and to remember that one woman really can change the world.
Let’s go boldly into each decade. Legacy awaits us. We’re in this together, you know.
Here’s my adventure list. What would you add to it? And what’s on yours? Share it, please.
NOW UP TO 57.
1. Write a list of adventures and share it with others, so when I am feeling less than brave about living every ounce of life to the fullest, I can be reminded that every day I’m alive is an opportunity to be a song of praise to my King. 2. Sit on chilly metal bleachers on blustery spring mornings and cheer my grandson on as he puts on shin guards, long socks, and cleats and joins his team in a great game of soccer, blabbering far too much about how the moment reminds me of blustery spring mornings watching his dad do the same thing. 3. Raise an honorable amount of money to impact ministry led by women for women. Maybe it’s through the sale of books, or maybe it’s donations provided at speaking engagements. Maybe it’s a GoFundMe at some point. But whatever it is, please Lord—let it be honorable. 4. Go on a 3-day road trip with my best friend. There will be no particular destination in mind, and we’ll savor local fare in small towns, drive along back country roads, find misfit treasures, and be amazed by the beauty of God’s precious imagination. Yes, we’ll use a map. That way our husbands will feel better about our departure. 5. Finish what I started and get my master’s degree – even if nothing comes of it. It’s one of those “personal dream” things that I carry in my heart. 6. Spend an extended season in a foreign land, caring for the discarded. 7. Run three half-marathons in a single year so I can get one of those cool Rock & Roll Marathon Series Heavy Medal awards. While I would love to get the “Rock Star” award, I’m thinking 5 in a year might be the end of my toenails. 8. Gently hold the hand of someone as they say “hello” to eternity. I think it would be an honor. 9. Go on a really great vacation with my family. The destination really doesn’t matter. Family does. 10. Learn to fry. My mom could fry the best chicken, the best sweet potato pies. Frying terrifies me. 11. Put on a tutu and dance and twirl with my little lady. We will record it and we will watch it over and over again—even when she’s trading in her tutu for a veil and gown. 12. Learn to say “I love you” in fifty languages. 13. Take road trips simply to thank people who have made a difference in my life. I may not be able to do it all in one single drive, and that’s OK. And perhaps there will be others with me on the journey. But one of the trips will be just me. 14. Brave up and skydive. It was on the original list, but a day as a clumsy trapeze artist terrified me enough to remove it. It’s back. I’m not going to lay claim to the method by which I do it, but there will be skydiving. 15. Write a bible study. Scratch that. Write two. Real bible studies with questions and space for contemplation and “now that you know” encouragement to walk in wisdom. 16. Camp out under the stars during a meteor shower. Even for a single night. 17. Spend a day picking fresh veggies and fruit in a garden, then put on an apron and learn how to can from someone who has done it for years and has stories to tell about its goodness. 18. Publish the books about the Stories of One and Me in Them. The books that will prayerfully inspire someone to let their heart be filled with faith and move their feet to action by caring for those in the margins. Interesting note: One Woman Can Change the World: Reclaiming Your God-Designed Influence and Impact Right Where You Are is like putting these two books in a bowl and mixing up the best and most hearty bread ever. 19. Have a picnic. An honest-to-goodness fried chicken picnic (hence the need to learn to fry), with lawn darts and Frisbee and naps on quilts. With at least 10 friends. Teach every single one of them the magical beauty of laying on sweet soft grass and staring up into the blue and the clouds until you feel your body let go and want to fly away. 20. Watch my grandson laugh about how awkward mortarboards are to wear – and then stare in the mirror with a little bit of “wow” when he sees himself in one and realizes its meaning. 21. Hike rim to rim in the Grand Canyon with my son. 22. Drink a pint in a pub in a small town in Ireland while chatting about nothing in particular with the locals. Just because. I don’t really like beer, but it seems like something that just needs to be done. 23. Skinnydip. No more explanation required. 24. Be part of the story of complete rescue of one girl. Even just one. 25. Journey to India to serve orphans. There’s always been a tug to travel there. I’ve been told it will be an assault on all my senses. I am ready to be assaulted. 26. Reach into the sky and catch the sunrise with my husband on Lake Travis. That’s right – sunRISE. Where we can see new mercies sparkle in the growing light. 27. Crash a large, prestigious event. Perhaps I’ll try out a fancy accent and pretend to be a princess. I think everyone should keep a little make-believe in their reality. 28. Take a cooking class with my husband, but not in the town in which we live. Make it Santa Fe or Wine Country, or maybe Italy or Spain. 29. Sit quietly at the top of a mountain and be overwhelmed by the beauty below. Overcoming my strange not-always-there-but-when-it-is-it’s-sad fear of heights isn’t necessary. I just want to get there and observe. And be awestruck. 30. Read a Greek-Hebrew study Bible from start to finish, so that every story is filled with new layers of amazing to top the layers God has already placed in my heart. 31. Introduce my family to my “family” in Guatemala – minister alongside them, journey with me to see friends old and new. 32. See the Northern Lights, and then swim in the Blue Lagoon for good measure. 33. Make good on the promise to take ballroom dance classes with my husband. Yes, the promise is written on a scroll in a shadow box given to him so many wedding anniversaries ago. 34. Write about the overwhelming splendor of where God lives, and have others illustrate it with photography and artwork. His neighborhood is beautiful and restorative. Writing about it brings joy. 35. Learn to make chapati, kurtoskalacs, and papanasi, knowing every bite will remind me that the other side of this globe has some really beautiful moments just waiting to happen. 36. Travel to Big Bend to hike and experience excellent food, ending with the Marfa Lights. 37. Build a huge sandcastle on a sparkling beach near crystalline water – with a tower and a moat and a place to sit and pretend to be royalty. We will bring a crown and name our littles the King and Queen. 38. Find something to do with the thing that’s in me that sees story in everything. That thing that reframes every image, that thing that hears and tastes and smells and feels a sunset or feet on orange clay. I don’t know what to do with that. But there is something to be done. Maybe I need someone to help me with it. 39. Get that second tattoo. Yes, the second one. The one that says “selah.” The one that reminds me to deliberately breathe, to take in each and every moment as a gift. 40. Get that third tattoo. The one that says “felix culpa.” The one that celebrates even the most horrific pieces of my life – the violation of all things innocent and right. “Happy fault.” Brokenness is meant for redemption. 41. Write love letters to those who mean the most to me. Hand-written ones, complete with unapologetic misspellings and a smudge or two. Messy ones. Because love is messy and life is messy. And messy can be divine. 42. Take a pilgrimage on the Camino, allowing myself to simply enjoy the steps taken. Listen to stories along the way, drink wine with strangers, and dance in the streets at least once for good measure. 43. Attend Saint Frances Day at the St. John the Divine in New York City, just to be enamored by the animal parade. 44. Take the articles I’ve written for leadership publications and transform them into an e-book so the lessons learned may be shared with even more people. 45. Figure out the secret family recipe for Garlic Noodles from Crustacean in Beverly Hills, and then make those noodles for a special dinner party for six. Yes, just six. That way, we can all see each other at the table as we feast. 46. Experience New Year’s Eve someplace where the skies are completely illuminated by fireworks. Paris, London, Guatemala City…I don’t mind. 47. Stand in line for Franklin Barbecue. Maybe I should rephrase that. Get up early enough to stand in line to actually EAT Franklin Barbecue. 48. Eat at a restaurant featured on Chef’s Table. I’m not picky. Any one will do just fine. 49. Realize a dream from so very long ago, where I am sitting on the edge of a table or chair on a stage, speaking to an audience. I can only see a few faces. They are women. I’m dressed in a white suit. And I choose to sit so I can lean in. What I’m sharing, I don’t know. Where this is, I don’t know. But the moment felt real then. And it still does now. 50. Be brave enough to write the book about the friendship of grief. She is not unkind. 51. Spend a glorious week with my sister, Debra. We will cook and talk and catch up on the life lived before we knew each other, and we will do it all with grace and quiet and hope. 52. Master 20 full push-ups. I can do this. I can do this. 53. Dance and sing at an Elton John concert. I’ve seen him once, and it was amazing. It’s a most worthy thing to add to the list. 54. Serve on a mission trip at the invitation of a friend. I’m usually the one doing the inviting, so I can’t wait to see where this takes me. 55. Conquer the Monkey Stretch in Pilates. I can’t even describe it. I just do it. And I want to do it well. 56. Celebrate the sunrise on a New England beach in off-season. And enjoy seafood with locals while I’m there. 57. Dance and splash in a fountain in a public square. Toss a few coins over my shoulder for good measure.
So, now I want to know. What’s on your list?