Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Bucket List

I remember the day in the mid-90s that I decided to make my first official Bucket List.

In the mid-90s I was working at a genetics research company in Seattle. A women I worked with, Vicky, was always one of the funnest people to be around. She was always smiling, and worked hard, and was the type of person you want to work with as she made you laugh. Everyone liked sassy-Vicky.

I remember that one Friday she came by my research bench, and I asked her how her day was going. She laughed and said she had been a real klutz that day, knocking things over. I laughed and replied that I had days like that. I went home, enjoyed my weekend, and the following Monday when I arrived at work a coworker asked me if I had "heard" about Vicky. They told me that she went home this weekend, and apparently her motor control got worse and worse, and they took her to the hospital, and after scans and exams determined she had a brain tumor.

I was shocked. I couldn't believe it. I worked in medical research. I knew what that meant. Brain tumors are fatal. But how could this vibrant, active, outgoing, fun-loving 30-something aerobics instructor have a brain tumor? It was inconceivable to me at the time.

Vicky approached her medical treatments with a fortitude and strength that was inspiring. I went to visit her after one treatment. As we sat and talked, she sighed, and said, "I had always wanted to go to Hawaii. Now it is too late."

That was a moment of impact for me. When I left her place I could not stop thinking about that. Because I didn't like my job and I wasn't doing anything I had dreamed I might do someday. I was surviving, not living.

One should never ignore a moment of impact. They must be acknowledged, and bowed to, and followed. They help us live the life we were meant to, if we can muster the courage to make the changes necessary. We have to live today, not tomorrow.

When I got home I wrote my first Bucket List, only in the mid-90s it wasn't called that yet.

You can read what I put on it at this link: 

What did that list lead to? I quit my job, went back to school to change careers,  moved abroad, traveled where I had dreamed of traveling to. I did it all. For me, it changed my life. I am where I am now due to it, and I love where I am now. Thank you Vicky for that courage.

At first, when I first started that entire process, some called me 'crazy' and said I was being 'unrealistic'. For example, people told me I was crazy to pop off to S America alone for a 3-month backpacking trip. I was told I would get mugged, raped, abducted, and murdered. I didn't. It was fine. I had a great time. Others told me I should stick with my 'stable' job in BioTech research, since it was a good income. But I was miserable there, and I sucked at it. Why would I stay?

Don't listen to people! Follow your dreams! And if your friends just won't support you, and they really bring you down, then do what I did: dump those friends and get new ones that support you. If your family won't support you, just ignore them, and take a break from them until they realize they have to accept you as who you are. Follow your dreams!

Let me say this, loud and clear: CUT TOXIC PEOPLE FROM YOUR LIFE. Cut 'em! Life is way too short to have jerks in your life. They will only bring you down, and hold you back. Cut. them. out. !

This said, one should also know when to change a dream or goal, or when one isn't relevant anymore because we have changed and our priorities have changed. See this link for a nice article on the 'Fuck-It' list:

In June 2012, when I graduated from my Doctoral program, I had finally completed everything on my first Bucket List. What an accomplishment. What a sense of euphoria!

When I realized I had completed it all, I had this strange sensation... what now? It had been 12+ years of change to do it all, and, now, I was done. Where do I go from here?

Read my new Bucket List at this link: 

And, here are some adventures I've already done, so I won't need to put them on my bucket list: 
  • Obtained my diving certification.
  • Climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro (with food poisoning no less)
  • Safari in the Serengeti
  • Diving in Zanzibar
  • Drove in Kenya (you cannot imagine what a feat that was!!!)
  • Road trip in Baja Mexico
  • Ate dried grasshoppers in Oaxaca Mexico
  • Swam in a long bat cave in Panama
  • Swam with fresh-water dolphins on the Amazon-basic of Ecuador.
  • Ate live ants in Ecuador.
  • Climbed to Machu Piccu (Peru) from Aguas Calientes
  • Horseback trip to the Andes
  • Canal trip in the S of France on the Canal du Midi
  • Horseback trip in the Andes Mountains
  • Wine tasting in Italy
  • Wine tasting in France (several regions)
  • Visited the Paris Sewers
  • Pubcrawl in Paris
  • Pubcrawl in Brussels
  • Trekking in the Pyrenees Mountains
  • Road trip in SE Ireland
  • Diving in the Caribbean
  • Hiking in the Alps
  • Hiking in the Pyrenees
  • Camping with the Maasai 
  • Horseback trip to the Pyramids in Egypt
  • Mopeding in Thailand
  • Meditated in a temple in Thailand
  • Visited the Sagrada Familia (coolest architectural project in our century!)
  • Desert camped in the Middle East.
  • Diving in Oman. 
  • Kayaking in the Florida Keys. 

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