Have you got a bucket list?

resolutionsIt’s almost the end of the year, and time for that making resolutions conversation. Personally, I am not a resolution person, instead I am someone that has a bucket list. Resolutions to me are a set of rules to improve behaviour. I would like to think we consider this all year round. Bucket lists however exist to remind us there is still so much to do. A list can be added to. A list can be ticked off, even slowly, and it can be as short, or as long, as you like.

Goals are not part of my bucket list, at least not directly. For those not familiar with the idiom, Keith Cronin says that it is “a list of things you want to accomplish before you kick the bucket. (And for those of you not familiar with what “kick the bucket” means, it’s a reference to an ancient – and anatomically challenging – romantic ritual involving a large bucket, three pairs of oversized steel-toed boots, 12 gallons of tapioca pudding, and 23 well-trained river-dancers, preferably double-jointed. Honest.)” Still confused about the meaning? Read on.

Whilst I enjoyed Keith’s humorous approach, in simpler terms, a bucket list is a compilation of items that we want to experience just once before we die. Where the boots, tapioca and dancers come into it, I really don’t know. I do know I created a bucket list years ago. I kept it simple and under different categories – travel, attending the performances of people I consider icons (subjective here, remember that), play an instrument, and get published. Bucket lists tend to be selfish. Selfish is good because it pushes us into doing.

frank-sinatra-3525676__340Early in December I talked about my vision for my writing future. My original wish on my bucket list was to be published. I was, years ago, in a magazine, a newspaper, and a poem in a newsletter. I ticked that one off a long time ago, but the seed had been planted, and the push into more is happening as we speak.

I wanted to teach overseas, travel and learn Italian (it’s not enough to grow up speaking it). I ticked these off and discovered teaching English as a Second Language was where my passion lay, and secondly, travel would be the inspiration for my romance series The Unexpected Series (sorry about the word series repetition). Can you see what I mean about selfish? We do things and they lead to other things that ironically are beneficial in unexpected ways. Teaching in Italy was a heritage bonus.

A bucket list is whimsical, close to the heart. I wanted to see Sinatra, Cher and Barbara Streisand in concert. I paid a small fortune to see Frank. I cried at his first note, heck I cried when the orchestra started playing the introduction. Tick. Big tick. Selfish tick.

IMG_0799After a night out with my daughter in Melbourne in October this year, I took a shower before bed. My phone rang. My daughter proceeded to harass me to hurry so I could check who called. Curious but not worried I took my time. If it was family and urgent, they would try her phone. The strange harassment continued through the door, until I finally came out of the bathroom. I should have known something was up. I took the phone, looked at it and became incoherently incoherent. OMG was repeated at least a thousand times. There on my phone were two tickets to see Cher at the Rod Laver Stadium. Another tick, a huge tick and unexpected. The concert was fantastic, my daughter was and is, simply the best. Hmmm, a Tina Turner song and it turns out I saw her in concert and in real life at an airport. I can give me another tick. I like concerts.

But wait, there is more. I began wondering if the making of a bucket list seeps subconsciously into our minds and subtly guides us towards our desires. Or is it the other way around? I checked through my bucket list. What about playing an instrument? I had a flutter of a recollection. In 1998, while in Italy studying Italian, I took a tour. Staying in the Lake Como district in a fancy hotel (discount prices for winter) I found myself in a discussion about a group called The Gypsy Kings, a little too obscure for people in Australia at the time, and for me, to ever have imagined seeing.lake-3815230__340Having gotten friendly with our tour guide Anna- a fellow Gypsy Kings fan – and the muse for one of my characters in Unexpected Obsession, I found out the group were performing privately for an English Insurance Company, at our hotel. Anna and I did what any insane fan would do, we crashed the festivities and drank expensive champagne, too much of it because I jumped on stage as only a middle-aged groupie can, threw myself at the lead guitarist who valiantly tried to keep on playing. He stopped once to call me crazy because I had started plucking the strings, thereby preventing him from doing his job. Like I cared, I was playing a guitar and on stage. There’s my instrument. Hey, it’s my blog and I say it counts. Huge, huge tick.

barbra-streisand-62838_960_720I have been within touching distance of Gregory Peck, Roy Orbison and Hugh Jackman so hang on, Barbra Streisand, I might make it to you yet. Listing our desires in that bucket list sets us up to make them, and so much more happen. Damn it. I should have put writing a best-seller on that list. Is it too late to add it on? What do you want in life? What’s on your bucket list? Can they work together to help you achieve your dreams? Let me know. Don’t worry if I am busy, I’m just adding to my bucket list. I have a few years left and I don’t want to waste them.

See you next time,


P.S. My other two children need to get a move on to move up in the favourite child list or they might miss out. (I don’t have much but they don’t know that).

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Resolutions or just plain common sense


With the advent of the festive season, and the arrival of yet another new year the word happy is banded about often.  In a recent read I discovered that one of the top Google searches was the following statement – how to be happy.   My immediate thought was that I wasn’t alone in pondering this and I breathed a sigh of relief.  Then the word resolution popped up in the next piece of text I read.  I decided this was a sign pointing me to my next post – a resolution to be happy.

Years ago a single present, something simple and small for a birthday was everything.  Christmas shared with family concentrated on eating together, being together as the reason to celebrate. Yet these days we all seemed to have moved to a new planet, one called Not Enough, and Christmas becomes a torture of shopping for things with a view to blowing budgets into the never never.  It’s not just during the festive season. We are consumers first, people second in the mistaken belief that things can make us happy. Alicia Hill  in an article for Thrive Global says:

We consume more food, entertainment, and information than any other generation in the history of the world, yet we still aren’t happy. We never have enough.

I have stressed over Christmas this year more so than any other for many reasons but mostly because I don’t have the means to give the things I would like to give to the people I love. I can’t even be with them because my family is spread in three different directions and in this country it means an awful lot of kilometres. It doesn’t matter though because they know what matters most – the surety of being loved no matter the distance. Why then do I worry about presents, the giving of things?

How can I not when I am inundated with Christmas shopping panic all around me?  To gain a better understanding I needed to step away and when I did I found my stress came because I was comparing myself and my situation to others.  Interestingly a significant portion of those others, when pushed revealed they too worried because of what they imagined or knew others were doing.  I realised then that comparisons are deadly and are a prime factor in undermining happiness. Appreciating what we have and not how much of it we have would eliminate so much angst, primarily the problem of not enough.

Concentrating on doing rather than having is the key to happiness. Someone offered to take me out for a coffee the other day when they recognised just by the sound of my voice that something was wrong. I couldn’t stop smiling at the fact that there are people out there that listen, really listen and then pay it forward by offering of themselves, of their time.

Sometimes I feel embarrassed to offer help when I can see that person is so much better at things than I am.  But there is always something we can do. Helping to clean up after a meal can be enough.  Recognising they need can be enough. I can’t think of a better wish for everyone for the festive season than for them to have someone listen to and do for them.  My one simple and only resolution is to be one of those people, the one that notices, that cares and I know it is a hard one to maintain in this busy world.

Resolution or common sense?  Being happy is a choice. A new shiny toy is a band-aid and only skims the surface of our lives but like everyone else I can use a band-aid at times but being happy, truly, deeply happy is a personal choice.  It is one that understands the heavy price of maintenance.

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My band-aid is my new business cards courtesy of a wonderful young man I am privileged to know (sean.mcbain@outlook.com) who gives his help so willingly that it makes me smile with happiness. I wish everyone lots of band-aid joys but most of all I wish you the choice of happiness over the next few weeks and well into the New Year and all of those to come.

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With best wishes and appreciative thanks for following me this year, and my sincerest hope to see you in 2018.