The Bucket List

Well happy summer, Chicago! We know this means there are now so many fun things to do in Chicago. Whether you’re in Chicago or not, life may feel busier when summer shows up.

Mine does. I’ve got plenty to do these days and I was ready to dive into packing up last week. Then I got sick. Ever get sick when you have a lot to do? Does it ever seem the worst possible timing?

Trust there is a higher purpose. Life makes us detour sometimes. Take them. Despite our impulsive conditioned reactions, it is easier to go with the flow instead of fight and resist. Life doesn’t go as planned sometimes. Accepting this is the ultimate peacebearer. Side note: acceptance is often difficult before it is peaceful.

I’ve learned a lot in life and one important lesson is to listen to our bodies. The body speaks to us. It holds memories and wisdom. It takes courage to listen and to do what it needs. I spent last week napping instead of packing. I felt overwhelmed and lousy from being under the weather. A friend offered to bring me soup. It made me want to call this whole adventure off (again).

This is because leaving people you love is not easy or all that fun to do. And it is during times like these that we become acutely aware of the people in our lives and how important they are.

Knowing there are many people I hold dear in my life in Chicago made me reconsider taking this adventure. Why ever would I leave all the people I love in a city I love and a life I love during the best time of the year to go wander somewhat aimlessly in a foreign country trusting only my damn intuition as the guide?

Then a friend randomly called. An encouraging and brave friend who recently moved from the US to Korea. After we talked, I knew with certainty I needed to go, even though it is difficult to leave. Letting go is an often challenging process. And life is a series of opportunities to practice letting go. I realized I needed to let go of the life I love not because I’m running away from love but because I’m running right into it. In myself. Loving ourselves is a marathon, not a sprint, but not even a damn race. Regardless, I’ve decided to win. I’m taking and making this adventure into the unknown for myself. A journey to a country where I was born that is foreign to me despite it holding parts of me and my ancestors. And many scars. A journey some may not understand.

Have you ever stopped yourself from doing something you wanted to do because you were afraid? Or because it is difficult? Or because it requires you to change and stretch outside your comfort zone? I have. Embarking on that new career path, taking that trip to Italy, striking up a conversation with someone new, taking that acting class, starting your band, or your podcast, or your baking/interior design/music business, asking someone out, texting that friend back, letting go of the city/job/relationship that no longer grows you. Speaking up for what you want. Telling someone how you feel honestly. Receiving help with navigating your life — and body, thoughts, emotions, relationships, career in healthy ways. Saying no. Saying yes. I could go on and on here.

Doing these things will have moments of difficulty and fear! We can do these things anyway. We can do things that change us. Things that grow us. Or we can take the easy route and be stagnant and safe. Is the easy route really easier though? Or does it leave us unfulfilled, frustrated and longing for more out of life?

I certainly live boldly and often unconventionally now but I wasn’t consistently doing this in all areas of my life just a couple of years ago. I had a long bucket list of stuff I wanted to do. Later. So often we say we’ll do it later. When we’re better. When we have more money. When we have more time. When we’re more worthy. We find excuses. Lots of them. Excuses are fears. And these fears grow when we feed them.

You are worthy right now.

“I’ll do it later” was my reliable friend for over a decade. I looked around and realized my life was set up to not actually do many of the things I wanted to do. “Later” was really “I’m really great at coming up with excuses as to why I am not doing what I want to do so I’m just going to keep making up more excuses every year to push it off another year and call that my plan of doing it later.” This lifestyle often resulted in frustration and was was not nearly as peaceful and free as the life I live today is.

“One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now.” ―Paulo Coelho

So I’m doing it. Because life is now, dammit. Later is not guaranteed. Take one step. Even a little step. Know it’s not going to be easy at times. Do it anyway. Breathe. Know there will be people who support you. Keep them close. Know there will be some who do not. Do it anyway. Breathe again. It is not about them. This is your life.

My ever favorite movie Fight Club is also a highly spiritual one and in it is this great quote:

“This is your life. And it’s ending one minute at a time.” -Fight Club

It is said that life is short but life is long. Too long to spend it unfulfilled. Too long to have regret at the end of your life! Letting go of my little pup Dolly Lama reminded me of this in a profound and obviously life changing way. Mortality is powerful.

These days I am actively engaged in my Chicago bucket list. And it’s difficult but I’m doing it anyway. Are you attending to your own bucket list or taking life for granted? I’m saying yes to every dinner invitation I can with people I love (my favorite pizza at Stella Barra is tonight!), enjoying final sessions with Chicago clients and prepping for this adventure. And giving myself lots of time for meditation. I’ve been doing this mostly at the Skokie Lagoons, pictured below. (I highly recommend a visit to Skokie Lagoons!)

Time for solitude, meditation, whatever you want to call it, is so important because there’s plenty of temptations to become overwhelmed in life. For me, looking at a map of Korea — which I can’t yet read — is quite different than the Chicago map I’ve been looking at for over five years. Time for solitude is the best medicine. It’s the lifeboat when you’re on the Titanic. It keeps you calm and strong when you feel like you’re sinking. Or drowning. Interestingly, time for solitude is often the first thing we cut out when life gets full, chaotic and stressful. These are the times we need it the most. So get on the lifeboat! Make some time for yourself. Or sink and watch yourself drown.

Life is short but life is long. Someday it will end. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. Start your bucket list now. Live your life. The best damn life you can image. I’m right here with you.

Let’s go.