As you know, I have been mulling over a 2014 Bucket List for the last month. I want to set my intention for the New Year, so that I expect and accept abundance from the Universe. But I find myself wary of “asking for too much.” You know the old fear of “setting my expectations too high only to feel disappointment in the end:” disappointment in the limitations of my physical body, financial resources, time, energy . . .
But I also know from experience that if I don’t open myself up to the possibility of achieving greatness, I will never achieve greatness. If I don’t trust in my mind, body and spirit to reach beyond the familiar into the stellar, how do I expect the Universe (or God) to? That by setting my intention and sending it on the wings of my new year’s prayers, I am sending a clear message to God and the Universe that I believe in myself. That I believe in my hopes and my dreams.
So I decided to attack this personal assignment with gusto! – To choose some goals that my deepest heart desires, reaching just beyond my comfort zone, to where life truly begins.
In the midst of this contemplative meditation, I was gifted resources by my monthly Soul Matters group. This month is “Living a Life of Character,” the goal being to shift our perspective from a flaw-focused view of “You should be better this year” (IE- fix your imperfections, change those bad habits) to one of building character from a perspective of joy. I love that!
One of the suggested videos for viewing is a TED talk called “Rethinking Your Bucket List:”
Hospice counselor, Kathleen Taylor, discusses the shift of perspective that happens at the end of life (and can also be mimicked by those undergoing severe/life-changing illness). That we, as humans, experience three phases in our life on the path to discovering our authentic selves: Youth = fearless, we set our course for life; Middle = we start to question that course; and End = we find answers about that course.
A renowned study discovered that the #1 regret of the dying is: “I wish I had the courage to live life true to myself and not the life that others expected of me.”
Dying (and chronic illness) teaches us that it is never too late to shed what is false and become who we are truly meant to be (authentic self). She challenges us to think of it in reverse; “that it is never too soon to shed what is false and. . .”
Kathleen suggests we reverse the existential question, “What am I supposed to be doing with my life” into “Who am I being with me life?” If you are living a life of authentic character, you can let go of the confines of what you should be doing, because doing flows naturally from being. As Elizabeth Gilbert says, “God shows up in us, as us.”
Unfortunately, this spiritual revelation usually doesn’t occur until the time of death. When people have no time or strength left to be anything other than they truly are, they become their authentic self. Psychologists have studied and identified a developmental stage of growth that actually occurs at the end of life: people “find a deeper sense of self and finally awaken to the preciousness of time.”
Haven’t you ever encountered an ill person who is completely open and honest; who doesn’t fear changing their mind; who freely apologizes and forgives; who expresses love wherever and whenever; and who finds joy, even in the smallest of moments?
Kathleen Taylor states that as the body slows down, perspective shifts, and the person’s mind, heart and soul actually expands. Neil Sulanger, wrote as his ALS progressed, “As I diminished, I grew. As I lost so much, I finally started to find myself.”
I have experienced this; when I was teetering on the edge of death. I’ve just forgotten. But my own experience combined with this spiritual exercise has reminded me that we all have the capacity to find ourselves. So, my Bucket List is going to be a combination of the traditional (physical acts) and the existential (character trait). I am going to focus on who I uniquely am and celebrating that… finding joy in all the ways I can and will contribute to the world.
My list includes ways I will nurture my creativity and curiosity; ways I will expand my knowledge of myself and the world; activities that will change my perspective and challenge my bravery; opportunities to expand my capacity to love and be loved; ways to be a leader and to promote justice; prospects for forgiveness and humility; and many moments for transcendence: to appreciate beauty, foster hope, and increase my spirituality.
I am including my list with the caveat that it is not static; my list is not set in stone. I am keeping it open and flexible for the abundance of opportunities that are sure to come my way this year, as long as I keep my heart open to receiving them!
Please share your bucket list experiences too!!
MY 2014 BUCKET LIST:
- Trip to Arizona (get health evaluation at clinic and visit healing-energy sites)
- Get my driver’s license
- Take Hubby on surprise getaway (like he has so often done for me!)
- Take 2 art courses: one to hone existing skills (advanced drawing or painting) and one in a “new” medium (stained glass or silver work)
- Return to Cape Cod for vacation
- Rent a speed boat
- Hang-glide or para-glide
- Bond with my sister-in-laws
- Take my nephew on an Auntie-Nephew adventure (as yet to be defined!)
- Try Paleo diet and document dietary intake/symptoms
- Go deep-woods yurting
- Learn Reiki
- Go on trip to Lily Dale (spiritualist center) with my girlfriends
- Get my art featured in a coffee shop, restaurant or gallery
- Engage in volunteer activities with young children
- Write blog entries at least 3x/wk. so by end of year have enough for a book, if want
- Start a Gratitude Jar filled with moments of joy, hope, beauty and love that I will review at the end of year
- 18. Love widely, listen deeply, encourage others, value self, embrace joy, spread love & light, embody hope, express creatively, laugh with abandon, forgive from a deep-well of kindness, practice compassion, and be the gift as much as I see the gift of this world.