“Three grand essentials to happiness
in this life
are something to do,
something to love
and something to hope for.”
My birthday rivals New Year’s Day for reflection, planning and resolutions. It always seems like a milestone. Some years I look back on what I have, or on what I’ve accomplished. Other years, I look to the future.
This year, having just turned 63 years old, my plan was to come up with sixty-three things I would yet like to do in my life.
That may be too many. My sister Brenda reminded me right away that I’m already too busy, and stressed out because of it. As usual, she’s right. Beyond that, my resources (and my years!) are limited; why set myself up for disappointment?
My thought is this: it is better to look ahead to things yet to do, than to look around and think, “is this it??” One of the saddest songs, in my opinion, is the one that says, “Life goes on…long after the thrill of living is gone…”
I’ve had moments where that seemed true of my life…maybe even whole, sad days…but that is not my life! I won’t have it!
Sometimes, it is a matter of noticing and taking pleasure in little things, or finding the joy in necessary tasks. Often, it means making a conscious effort to appreciate the many wonderful things in my life. Today, it involves setting down a list of aspirations for the rest of my life. It’s good to have goals, right?
My list begins with six items of importance, compiled by Nancy Roman and published on her blog (notquiteold.wordpress.com). It is the list she ticks off in the evening, to determine if she’s truly had a good day. She calls it the Good-Day-Do-Good Checklist. Every day:
- Do something good for my Home.
- Do something good for my Body
- Do something good for my Mind
- Do something good for Work
- Do something good for Someone Else
- Do something for Sheer Pleasure
Brilliant, isn’t it? A simple guide for making each day a good one. I wish the next 57 aspirations were as simple…but if I employ the first six, everything else may come easier.
- Get organized
- Finish reading James Joyce’s Ulysses
- Learn to dance
- Complete the “Native American Moons” collagraph series
- Form a daily drawing habit
- Form a daily exercise habit
- Make twelve paintings in the “Subverting the Calendar” series
- Finish one year’s worth of daily collages
- Write every day
- Learn (well, actually relearn) Spanish
- Become more social
- Pay off my mortgage
- Build a wood-fire kiln
- And a studio space to work in clay
- Get a little boat to keep on Fox Lake
- Get a bicycle…and use it
- Become better at writing letters (I write good letters, but not often)
- Visit art galleries in major cities. The Museum of Modern Art, the Louvre and the San Fransisco Art Institute come to mind
- See the Pyramids
- Visit New England in the fall
- Travel across Canada by train
- See Ireland
- Have my work in a Chicago gallery
- Keep chickens
- Learn to identify the constellations
- Get pine floors in my house
- Have new light fixtures installed
- Woodwork finished throughout the house
- Outlet covers on all outlets
- New windows (that open!) for kitchen and dining room
- A big round (soft, too, suggests my little dog!) rug for the office space
- A soaking tub
- Get my garden spot cleared
- Build raised beds
- Repair the fence
- Get rid of the old shed, that the tree fell on, that is now overgrown with wild roses
- Support myself with my art
- Support myself with my writing
- Support myself comfortably
- Find opportunities to teach
- Decorate for the changing seasons and holidays
- Share meals more often
- Find opportunities to play cards and games with others
- Reconnect with my dear friend, Huey Chu
- Take a trip with my daughters…a cruise, maybe?
- Take a riverboat cruise down the Mississippi River
- See a Broadway show
- Do the Mackinaw Bridge Walk on Labor Day
- See the desert…perhaps New Mexico
- See London
- And Paris
- And Pompeii
- Reread, in order, all of the books by Louise Erdrich
- And the first two books by Maxine Hong Kingston (The Woman Warrior and China Men)
- And finish the many books I have started, even though some have taken a very scary, sad or boring turn, just so that I can move on
- Then read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
- And apply it!
And that comes full circle, bringing me right back to my two #1 goals: “Do something good for my home” and “Get organized.”
So, that is 63 aspirations. With my penchant for procrastination, distraction and forgetfulness, that should keep me busy for the rest of my life!