I am heading off to Camp Mighty in a few weeks, and in preparation I'm working on my life list.
I realized something as I scrolled through the list I made last year - some items within reason, some completely preposterous (which is sort of the point - go big or go home for chrissakes). I realized that it was all well and good to make a list of stuff I wanted to do - but a lot of those items were coming from a place inside myself of disappointment. Disappointment in my life choices, my accomplishments (or lack thereof), my success...... And then I got mad. I got really mad. Maggie probably wasn't expecting that to be one of the results of making a life list, but I went ahead and got mad at myself anyway. I don't know what yardstick I was using to measure my success, but at some point it became firmly lodged in my ass.
In related news, I need a new pair of pliers.
So I sat back and thought a lot about my life now, how awesome it is, and my dreams, hopes and goals for the future.
I am almost - not quite, but almost - at the age where I have to accept that I probably won't be seen on Broadway, and I'm never going to be crowned Miss America, and I might not ever be the editor of a glossy fashion magazine, and I should probably give up the dream of being CEO of a small start-up that goes public and makes me a millionaire. I'm not planning on graduating from college, or going to law school, or medical school, or business school. I will not be an international spy. I strongly doubt I will ever have my own private jet. Europe is damn expensive, and I honestly don't want to run unless someone is chasing me - and I would collapse and/or call 911 way before we hit the 5k mark. So I am going to re-think my approach to Life Listing. And life.
I am going to be the little guy, doing good deeds and trying to be the best I can be.
And learning to be okay with it.
There is nothing wrong with being me, as I am today. Don't freak out if you don't get to play tambourine onstage with Pearl Jam.
And once I had come to terms with my very own self (And actually, that process is still ongoing. The yardstick I'm wrestling? Splinters.) I could go ahead and take a fresh, honest look at my life list. There was stuff on there I didn't really want. Not really. And it turns out there was some stuff missing that I wanted so much I was actually afraid to say it out loud.
So the life list got tossed. I am starting from scratch, and it all begins with acknowledging where I am right this very minute. In the course of, well, charting my course, it has become apparent to me that dreaming big is fantastic, but being able to accept where you are - not just accept it, but make the most of it, celebrate it, revel in it, and be proud of it - is just as important.
And so I would like to announce that I am very proud of the following:
I am proud that I live in Hawaii. I live on the island of Maui, in the state of Hawaii, in the middle of the PacificfuckingOcean. Me. I do that. And so right there? That is my starting point. At the age of 26 my husband and I sold almost everything we owned and packed our remaining belongings and our newborn, and moved from coastal New England to an island in the middle of the ocean 7000 miles from our family where we knew 3 people.
We didn't have jobs lined up, but we believed in ourselves and in this place. We never thought about the possibility that it might not work out, and here we are 11 years later. My finest accomplishment is choosing my life here. I made a choice, with my husband, together, and then we just did it. No, wait. We didn't just do it - we knocked it out of the park. So really, everything else on my life list is cake.
But wait, there's more.
I am proud to (finally) have a clawfoot tub. I always wanted one, I found a classic cast iron tub - brand new - on eBay and talked them into shipping it to Hawaii, and my friends Trouble and Johnny helped us get it in the house using a skateboard and the promise of beer.
I am proud to have (actually) sold our second car after years of debate, even though we have very limited public transportation here in our little town. I love getting up at 5:30 and being greeted by my husband and a hot mug of tea, and driving him to the vanpool. I am proud that we are saving money, and proud that we have been able to make it work, even though it is frequently inconvenient .
I am proud to (still) be a homeowner. Let's just forget about the mortgage, for a moment. I am proud that we may be broke, but at least we have kept and greatly improved our house in the past 7 years. It wasn't easy.
I am (mostly) proud of my writing. It may not be a paying gig at the moment, but I am proud of myself for sitting down at least once a week to blog. I am almost done with a first draft of my book, which is also a huge accomplishment for me, depressed ADD procrastinator that I am.
I am (incredibly) proud of my friends. They choose to be associated with me (unlike my family, who just have to make the best of it). I am surrounded by people who love me as I am, forgive me my mistakes, are honest with me when I need to hear it straight, and support my dreams and aspirations for the person I want to be. And they are super cool people in their own right - they make me proud every single day. Case in point: Thanksgiving. And this isn't even the whole crowd. This is later in the evening. And I have no idea who that guy is on the left. I think he's Duane's cousin, or something. Anyway, it doesn't matter. I fucking love that guy, whoever the hell he is.
I am (so very) proud to have a strong marriage and loving home life. I've been divorced. I know the feeling of watching someone walk away for the last time, and the sinking pit-of-my-stomach "I will be alone forever" worry that can consume you. It turns out that love absolutely means having to say you are sorry from time to time. Go figure. I'll bet that line is responsible for a whole bunch of disillusioned divorcees. So I do a lot of apologizing, and I don't know why Sam continues to humor me, but he has, and he says he will forevermore. I totally love this guy. I feel the same way about my kids. I put up with them and they put up with me and we all accept each others faults and apologies, and show up each day to do it over again. It's good stuff. I am hoping we make it through the teen years unscathed.
And I am proud of the items I accomplished and crossed off my old life list. That's right, it's my "old life list" now. I change life lists like I buy new underwear. Once a year, when it starts looking kind of worn and gray and stretched out, I toss it out and start fresh.
Oh what a feeling.
So I encourage you - whether you are attending Camp Mighty in person or in spirit - to make a list. 10 items, 100 items, or any number in-between. Remember, there are no rules. But start by loving where you are at right now, and finding the good that already surrounds you. Watch out for splinters.
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