Monday 10 February 2014

Bucket List

I had a bucket list long before I had cancer. In fact, I had a bucket list long before they were called bucket lists. I wrote mine around the turn of the century (I've always wanted to say that) and back then we called them goals. About 80% of my list is travel related and most of the rest is a list of concerts I want to see. Throw in the odd 'publish a book' and 'run for an elected office' and I think it's a pretty well-rounded list.

Months, and sometimes years, have gone by between checking in with the list so when I looked at it last fall I was pleased with the number of things I have been able to accomplish. Since then I've checked off a few more items. Terry and I spent 10 amazing days on Vancouver Island in September and in November my best friends and I saw Garth Brooks in concert in Las Vegas. It must be stated that the latter item was all about Garth Brooks. Yes, it was a bonus to have a girls' weekend in Las Vegas but had he been playing in Moose Jaw that's where we would have been going.

I take nothing away from the joy of crossing so much off my list, but some of the most wonderful things that have occurred over the last few months have been surprises and experiences that occurred based solely on impromptu decisions. Just after Christmas a group of women, who at one time were colleagues and now are friends, travelled to Walkerton to treat me to a spa morning followed by a leisurely lunch. The day was full of laughter and great conversation. A few weeks earlier I was told to just keep that day open and I did, no questions asked. Well, a couple questions were asked. I did need to make sure that I would be physically able to partake in what the day held but other than that I just went for it.

More recently I made plans to spend the night in London at my youngest daughter's place and she invited me to come along with her to a university psychology class. I consider myself a lifelong learner and so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to sit in an environment of higher learning and take it all in. I left there wishing I could do the next week's assignment. (So did my daughter by the way.)

I'm well aware that these unexpected events likely would not have occurred had my cancer not returned. Not that the intentions wouldn't have been there but the motivation to make these things happen has increased in the people who love and care about me, due to my prognosis. And I'm okay with that. I told the ladies over that surprise lunch that nothing says you're dying like people coming together to do something nice for you. I realize that might make some people cringe but it made them laugh and that's why they're my friends. And the invite to attend my daughter's night class? This was from the girl who never wanted me to come on one field trip all through elementary and high school. I know it's different now that we're both adults but I also know it was really important to her to make this happen for me.

The lesson I take away from all this is that while it's great to have goals and bucket lists, it's even better to just open myself up to the possibilities of things I can't even imagine to write on a list. I have always been a planner--"the organizer". I make things happen for other people. Things don't happen to me unless I make them happen. Slowly I've started to change that. I've learned to say yes a lot more and I've learned to say no a lot more. I no longer do things that will take up energy I don't have, but I also agree to do more things that are out of my comfort zone. I somewhat regret that it took my cancer recurrence to bring about this change because despite what the song says it's not easy to live like you are dying when you are actually dying. The pain of the disease makes it difficult to run with the bulls and the fatigue from the medication makes it hard to jump off the couch let alone an airplane.

For the most part though I don't have regrets about the way I lived my life bc (before cancer). My former control freak self was responsible for a lot of great things that have happened to me. It enabled me to have the career, home and family I now have. It's the reason why so many things have already been crossed off my bucket list since I wrote it over 14 years ago.

My priority now is making time to spend with my family. That was always important to me but now that influences almost every decision I make. Which is why, even though I will remain open to the unexpected and the unplanned, there is one item on my bucket list that I am so thrilled about being able to soon cross off. Terry and I are heading to a sunny destination soon with all four of our kids and their partners. A family vacation of this magnitude is something we've never been able to pull off and it's a dream come true for me. Even though it has been on that list of mine for many years I was starting to doubt whether it would come to be. Luckily, my children didn't.

For the last several months they have been scheming and planning this trip and finally told me about it just before Christmas. True, it will be different from the kind of trip I envisioned when I first wrote it down. I may have to watch them play beach volleyball from my lounger instead of joining them. I may have to call it a night long before the disco closes. And, I may have to do mango shooters instead of tequila ones, but the bottom line is we will all be together creating memories that will last everyone's lifetime.

Sometimes you have to plan and organize to make wishes come true and sometimes you just have to hand that bucket list over to fate. It's very cool when it comes as a complete surprise to be able to check something off your list.

Until next time......carry on.


  1. I hope your bucket comes back full of eternal memories from your trip!

  2. You are surrounded by amazing family and friends. Your upcoming trip sounds absolutely wonderful! Wishing you good energy and great pain management so that you can make the most of your time in the sun!