Live the Life you Love

Get started on realizing your bucket list and making memorable life-stories. 12 prompts to motivate you.

Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it! I say. Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows.

Pope Paul VI

So you say you’ve never had a bucket list? You sure? Think back to when you were a child and fill in the blank:

“When I grow up, I want to _____.”

There was the first item on you bucket list. Have you followed through on it yet?

If not, what are you waiting for?

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posters created by Photo credit: Charles D. Waterman.



The Bucket List

“One day, you will wake up and there wouldn’t be anymore time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now.” – Paulo Coelho

A living, breathing alligator right next to me. O-M-G, I could hardly believe it! If I stretched out my hand I could’ve almost touched it – no cage, no protective glass, just the low metal side of the flimsy-looking air-boat we sat in.

Alligator in Florida Everglades

First the eye – large, oily black, sleepy looking; then a square snout and light colored ridges on a leathery back melting into the dark, green-scummed water.

As soon as we got back on terra firma, I flipped open my phone (yeah, flip phones were still in vogue) and was yapping away to my brother. “We’ve been chasing gators!” I squealed.

Hours later, still on an adrenaline high, the world was a wonderfully exciting place. Even now so many years later, I smile at the memory of that one-hour adventure in the Florida Everglades.

Looking out over the grand Canyon. I had no idea it could ever have been so vast!

So many other thrilling memories; gazing over the vastness of The Grand Canyon;  skydiving in Tennessee (so what if it was indoors?); walking on a glacier in Alaska (it was the middle of July); pressing my nose up to the view window of a submarine trying to get a clear view of the colored coral reefs off the shores of Barbados; looking down on my neighborhood from the passenger seat of a helicopter; riding on the back of a camel (Okay, I admit it was at a zoo but who cares – a camel is a camel, right); sailing in a hot air balloon over the September cornfields of Southern Indiana; petting baby alligators in Alabama; and the list goes on.

My view from the hot-air balloon.

So what is a bucket list? Most people define it as an agenda of things they want to do before they die – “kick the bucket.” Then they set about concocting an exhaustive list.

I suggest a more flexible approach.

My Bucket List

There is always a full reservoir of possible experiences for my bucket list floating around in my head (yeah I know, pretty big head). Depending on my status (mainly medical and financial) I focus in on 3 experiences at any one time – experiences that make sense for my current version of me. (It wouldn’t have made sense for me to visit the Empire State building the year I had toe-surgery). Once I cross that item off my short list, I slot another one from the reservoir into place.

Guidelines for a pressure-free bucket list

1.  Keep it short. “100 things to do before I die.” Whoa! Way too intimidating for me.

The real purpose of a bucket list (as I see it) is to remind yourself to live, not just exist. You certainly don’t want your reminders to devolve into yet another to-do-list you feel obligated to complete – a mad rush to finish things so you can cross them off. Where’s the fun in that?

A 3-item list is all I am willing to handle at any one time. You choose your magic number.

The purpose of a bucket list is to push you to live a story worth writing about. To push your limits & do things with your life that you only dreamed of.   

Joel Runyon

2. Verbalize your list. A life coach might insist that you write your list down – put it on paper, because doing that helps you commit to it. I believe the important thing is to verbalize it – put it in words and share it with someone meaningful. I keep a mental list – an image of a sheet of notepaper with my list written on it (I can never lose or misplace it).

For umpteen years I had been promising to write a memoir. For umpteen years it had been in my bucket list reservoir. Last year I said it out loud, shared it with my close friends – no turning back now. I made the commitment, slid it into slot number 2 of my short list and got started. It is now a tangible goal I am excited about.

3. Keep it flexible. Life changes . . . and changes . . . and changes. Can  you imagine being stuck with a bucket list entry you made before the divorce? I suppose you could rent a spouse for the occasion but that would be a whole different story. You should feel free to alter your list as you need to. After all, It’s your life and your list.

But don’t forget always to ask yourself, if the experience/activity is something you really want to do or something you think you should want to do? Your mother’s “what if all your friends jumped off a bridge” question.

I never even saw one tail- far less the whale

4. Keep an open mind. Suppose you are all booked and psyched up for your whale-watching tour . . . but someone forgets to tell the whales you were coming!!! What then?

Don’t go into your experience with tunnel vision. You may miss out on what could have been a real adventure. If the whales stood you up find a hotter date!

And sometimes, one experience may lead way to another that you had not even considered for your list. Go ahead. Add it to your reservoir. Or if it is something that makes you slap your hands to your face and go “ooh, ooh, ooh,” then it goes straight to your short list. Like my opportunity to pet baby alligators.

5. Set deadlines.  “When I retire,” doesn’t count. Neither does “one -of-these days”, or “once I find a good husband/wife.”

I just love celebrating my birthdays.

For me, every birthday is cause for a major celebration so I like to work with my birthdays. A deadline for a bucket list experience may be “before my 55th birthday.” I may even get specific enough to set a deadline of “before the end of the year,” or “this summer”

Deadlines keep you motivated but I think you should keep them soft. That simply means that you can change your deadline if you must – lessens the pressure.


Does your bucket list experience end once you’ve crossed it off the list? Hell no!!! Its only just begun! You get to relive it for as long as your memory of it remains alive – endless hours of happy memories.

A Reverse bucket list

Yep, I keep one of those too – in photographs. Every time you scan your reverse bucket list you get a whiff of the awe and excitement you felt during the actual experience.

A bucket list is a list of the  memorable things you would like to do. A reverse bucket list is simply a list of the indelible things you have already done.

And I bet there would be things on your reverse bucket list that were never even on your original list – the spontaneous events. Sometimes they make you smile the biggest.

There is nothing quite like that list of all the wonderful places you’ve visited (you don’t have to be a world traveler. I am sure there are wonderful places right there in your hometown) and the exciting things you’ve done (jumping out of a plane at 12,000 feet is not compulsory) to remind you of how wonderful and blessed your life has been and to encourage you to keep on making beautiful memories.

Now Your Turn

What have you crossed off your bucket list recently?



Dedicated to Terri

Live Life to the Fullest

How long do you have to wait before you begin to enjoy your life and live it to the fullest? 12 affirmations to get you started.

I knew Lindsay would be there when I arrived. She always was; either behind her desk in the reception area or in the consult room helping Dr. J with a procedure. Wherever she was, once those bells on the door jangled, she’d sing out, “I’ll be with you in a moment.”

Over the years Lindsay became a friend and I looked forward to seeing her and catching up. The fact that I was there for another dreaded dental appointment became a distant secondary event.

Enjoy the journey of life for it is as much about how you get where you are going as it is where you go.

There will always be opportunities to take joy in life and with an open mind, we learn to find them.

We have the control to make every day a special day, regardless of whatever else may be going on.

Here are 12 reminders to keep you on the joyful track.

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posters created by Photo credit: Charles D. Waterman.

Living in 3D: A Beginner’s Guide

3 simple practices that could add depth to your life.

I was smiling because the sun was shining on my toes . . . and it felt so good! That’s the truth. There was nothing else to smile about – not that I can remember – only the bright sunlight and the warmth on my toes sticking out from under the blankets.

Maybe I should start at the beginning of the story.

So I was in the critical care unit at the hospital – one of those fish-bowl like cubicles with the curtain partially drawn. Just thirty minutes earlier, Nurse Terrie had piled on a third blanket because my toes were so cold. (Actually, my toes are always cold but I didn’t bother her with that confession. I was just glad for the temporary warmth of another blanket.) Continue reading “Living in 3D: A Beginner’s Guide”

Petals of Love

10 compelling affirmations that inspire a healthy self-love.

When I look in the mirror and the only one there is me, every freckle on my face is where its supposed to be, and I know my creator didn’t make no mistakes on me, my feet, my thighs, my lips, my eyes – I’m loving what I see.

Because I Am A Queen – India Arie.

Loving yourselves is being thankful for what God made. Not loving yourself is an offense to God since we are his most precious creation.

I found that if I looked at it this way, self-love became more of a duty than an indulgence.

Regardless,there will be times when we find ourselves slipping back into old habits and need encouragement – gentle reminders of our duty to love ourselves.

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Be Your Valentine

Does your name top your valentine list? Should it? Learning to love yourself.

Valentine’s Day wasn’t going to sneak up on me again this year. I was determined.

So a couple weeks ago I started making my “list” –  names of all the people I really love. My intention (get this), was to send each person on my list a personal note, handwritten of course, in my most elaborate script; penned with my one-of-a-kind handcrafted glass quill, on rolled parchment paper (specially ordered).

But wait! There’s more! I would stamp each note with an appropriately colored rose – red, pink, white or yellow.

Sounds so romantic doesn’t it? Real fairy-tale stuff. Well that was my intention – until I found myself broadsided.

Continue reading “Be Your Valentine”

A Garden of Hope and Healing

A collection of quotes to embrace and inspire.

Life is a tough deal. You don’t get a rehearsal and there’re no do-overs; there’s no personalized instructional manual, you get only one chance and you never know when the game is going to end.

That is why we have to take what we have ‘here and now’, and make it count for everything, whatever the situation. Hope is the key.

“Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear the hardship of today.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh.

“Once you choose hope, anything is possible.” ~ Christopher Reeves.

And that means healing is always possible. Sometimes you just need to tweak your perspective – change your glasses.

“Healing doesn’t mean that the damage never existed. It means the damage no longer controls our lives.” ~ unknown.

And yes, healing takes courage, but “we all have courage, even when we have to dig a little to find it.” ~ Tori Amos.

So when the going gets tough, remember “you were given this life because you’re strong enough to live it.” ~ unknown.

So have HOPE.

“Hold On, Pain Ends.”

“Have Only Positive Expectations.”

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Pink Blanket

Wrap yourself in warm, healing thoughts.

I bet you’re wondering why there’d been no new posts since November 2016. Well, the truth is, I went home for the holidays . . . to my homeland Barbados. You know, The Great “There’s-no-place-like-home-for-the-holidays” Migration.

I went home for the holidays: Grantley Adams International Airport, Barbados

Okay, that’s not be the complete truth – even though I think it would have been a darn good excuse. But it wasn’t the tedious preparations for the trip that distracted me. Continue reading “Pink Blanket”

Don’t Be Afraid

12 bible verses to remind you that you’re not alone when the going gets tough.

When I found out my mother was dying of cancer I was terrified. For 26 years she had watched over me when I was sick (and that was a lot of the time) and encouraged, not with words but a silent expectation that I would do what was necessary to get back on my feet, brush myself off and carry on without complaint. The thought of trying to do it without her made me weak in the knees – literally shaking in my shoes.

Then I wondered, does she know she’s dying? And if not, how do I tell her?

“Julie, am I going to die?” Continue reading “Don’t Be Afraid”


If ever there was an instructional manual for life, this prose poem takes one of the top places.

An inspired timepiece with an ageless message – Lindsay Planer.

With all that has happened this week, I feel a major boost is in order. You know a good old ‘shot in the arm’ to balance things out a bit. Oh! I almost forgot, you may not know about everything that has happened.

Well, let me fill you in. A new president was elected, my rose bush lost its last flower, I had to make my way to the ER – all last Tuesday. And guess what? They kept me – at the ER, I mean – said they were unwilling to part with my smile. I fell for it. Continue reading “Desiderata”