Monday, June 23, 2008

The List of All Lists

It started innocently enough.

I mentioned to my darling husband how I admired his pursuit of his hobby (he plays poker), and how I'd love to have a thing like that in my life.

I'd love to have the kind of hobby/activity/passion/interest/focus he has and I'm sure I could -- if I only knew what it might be.

We started talking, and I started dreaming out loud.

There are things I like, I love, I enjoy. There are things I've wanted to try but never have. There are things I'm not doing, but I could and should.

I started making lists - big lists.

I started with things I want to try and to do. Then I thought about the values we have as individuals, as parents and as a family, and am working actively on incorporating those values into my daily choices. I'm feeling that fulfillment isn't about being busy or having things, but about experiencing my life aligned with the things I believe are Important (with a capital I). I'm not going to share here a discussion of my values, though I'm sure if you read me, you see a lot of them anyway.

I am a work in progress.

We happened to have our talk over drinks in the afternoon on the rooftop of a hotel in downtown Los Angeles. The hotel is conveniently adjacent to the stunning Los Angeles Central Library, one of my very favorite places in the city, if not the world.

In my browsing, I found and borrowed Jill Smolinski's The Next Thing on My List -- the cover, title and description grabbed me, and I was not disappointed. I won't tell the story (read it yourself, it's good), but it tells the tale of the changes in a person following a life list.

A what? (I'll make it easy: read this article in the New York Times. Or check another great list from Maggie Mason at Mighty Girl.)

I wasn't thinking so much of creating a life list -- I wanted to get some ideas written down to keep my life in action, always moving forward.

It started as a list of 40 things to do before I turn 40, but as I wrote, I realized that some of these things are too important to rush. A bigger list begat the beginnings of my big list, and when I began sharing the list with my husband, it grew bigger, wilder, farther reaching.

  1. publish an article in a national magazine
  2. learn to dance
  3. perform in a ballet recital
  4. learn Hebrew before both children are fluent
  5. finish Ellie's baby book
  6. achieve perfect vision
  7. (an elective plastic surgery I'm hoping insurance might cover but I'm not going to describe here)
  8. fix my shoulder
  9. teach Jake and Ellie (possibly also Rafe) to ski
  10. rent vacation home in Santa Ynez
  11. go to Catalina Island
  12. rent a home in France and travel through France & Italy
  13. visit Lake Como, Florence, Rome
  14. write a will
  15. have the flexible and fulfilling career of my dreams
  16. launch my business, be wildly successful
  17. learn to tell a good joke
  18. get back to my pre-Ellie weight (for real! I mean it this time! no, seriously.)
  19. catch up on writing kids' birthday letters
  20. learn to take amazing photographs
  21. go to Disneyworld
  22. take flight in a hot air balloon
  23. see Mount Rushmore
  24. take kids to Israel (hopefully with their grandparents); hike Masada again
  25. go to the Oscars (or a real Hollywood Oscar party)
  26. take an extensive food and wine tour through Napa Valley
  27. dine at the French Laundry
  28. teach someone (not related to me) how to read
  29. take a gondola ride in Venice
  30. buy Murano glass in Venice
  31. ride a donkey to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
  32. attempt to surf (where the water is warm)
  33. take a cross country road trip
  34. attend Jazz Fest in New Orleans again
  35. become a bat mitzvah
  36. go on safari
  37. see the pyramids
  38. sail through the Greek Isles
  39. summer in the Hamptons or Cape Cod or Nantucket
  40. have an occasion to wear a ball gown
  41. make a new recipe every week
  42. try a new restaurant every month
  43. take an annual girl's weekend - with friends or alone
  44. sit with Ivy Brown on her stoop, drinking Abita beer, eating some kind of Kosher/Cajun fusion
  45. ride horseback on a beach at sunset
  46. own a luxury car without door dings or goldfish crumbs
  47. see the American Idols in person
  48. enjoy the view from the top of the Eiffel Tower
  49. live life without cancer, heart disease or diabetes
  50. maintain a kitchen adjacent herb garden
  51. commission a piece of art
  52. walk along the Great Wall of China
  53. London: changing of the guards, crown jewels, tea, Harrods
  54. whitewater rafting on the Colorado River
  55. send our children to college without incurring debt
  56. send our children to the best colleges for them
  57. make challah from scratch
  58. take a glacier cruise in Alaska
  59. go to the Olympics
  60. create or buy our dream home
It is a beginning and is exhilarating to dream in this scale.

I have a short list of a few local dance schools and need to coordinate my schedule for adult beginner ballet; I am more than half way through ordering the photos to complete Ellie's baby book (mind you, she'll be four in October and might finish it herself if I don't hurry).

Though I may be mostly dropping off kids at camp and running to work, people, I am going places!

What's on your list? Really. I'd love to know.


Sass E-mum said...

Your post has made me revisit a life list I wrote a year ago. It's not on such a broad scale as yours - I don't have 'live life free of cancer etc', though I love the thought that it's completely within my control! Here's four of them;

1. do two charity runs by August 2008 and raise £200 for charity - well, I've done one and raised £145. Pat on the back, might never have got around to that if I hadn't written it down.

2. be fit and sexy. Ha ha. I wrote that down! Funny thing is though, I am fitter and Recaro continues to think I'm sexy. Big tick.

3. Keeping in touch friends... better than I usually do, but could still do better yet.

4. Live debt free. Ahem. I'm working on that one.

MamaNeena said...

I need to ponder this one for a bit, but I think I may just create my own list.

Jen M. said...

Our lists would have a lot of overlaps. I need to write mine out and see how many.

Off the top of my head?

Paris and London with my girls

Live long enough to hold every single grandchild in my arms

Stay healthy and die old

Write a book that gets published (the writing part is easy the other, not so much)

See each of my children graduate from college and fall in love with their soul mate

Attend every kind of church there is

Learn to control my anxiety and fear that something will happen to a loved one

Swim in a warm sea with my children playing near me and my husband in a hammock waiting with a cold drink

auntie b said...

Love the list, especially the mix of big and small, relatively easy to accomplish and shooting for the moon.

You know I've been lucky enough to cross a bunch of stuff off my list in the last few years, but I have a new item that is very mundane and appears to be impossible for me:

* Finally find a job where my boss is not a complete whacko


I will be diligently working on that one in the near future....

Mrs. Schmitty said...

What a great list! Very inspiring.

Working mum said...

Finish the house!

When I've done that I'll make a list!

Tally O said...

Karen - this list is inspiring and wonderful! Somehow, I a not surprised that we share many wishes in common: 7, 15, 16, 22, 27, 31, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 42, 43, 49, 55, 56, 58, 60

I'm working on 5

I've done: 10, 11, 24, 26, 33, 39, 48, 52, 53, 57, and 59

no. 4 is no fair, since I already know Hebrew.

I'll make you an offer: To work together on any or all of the numbers we have in common. In the next 12 months. Are you game?

Ann(ie) said...

What a very cool list! I need to put mine down on paper, too b/c I've just got many similar goals swimmin around in my head. I'd love to teach my family how to ski as Ben gets older and I'd love to attend an Oscar type bash one day, too!! The goldfish cracker/sippy cup laden car is my future for a while I think. *sigh* A banana was hurled onto my back seat yesterday, too. neat.

Liz said...

I will work on my list tonight and let you know when I'm done. I loved reading through your list. Very inspiring!