On the way to school this morning, my 13-year-old son reminded me that the world is going to end Dec. 21. Of course he was kidding, but we decided it might be a good idea to plan a party for Dec. 20 just in case. I don’t know about you, but if the Mayans (or the folks who misinterpreted when their calendar ends) were correct, I have a lot to do in the next 38 days. The good news is we can at least scratch Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa shopping off our lists, right?
Here’s my challenge to you: Write a list of the top 10 things you wish you could change about or accomplish for yourself before you die. I’m not talking about skydiving or mountain climbing here. Let’s call it a bucket list for the psyche.
- Let go of past hurts. I can forgive, but I have a lot of trouble with the forgetting part. Dwelling on things doesn’t hurt anyone but me … and my husband, who gets stuck listening to me obsess.
- Love and be proud of my body. I’ve spent 45 years on this one so far, and I haven’t made much progress. I’d like to learn to look in the mirror and at photographs of myself and see the good parts instead of the bad. (Disclaimer: I don’t voice my body image issues in front of my daughter. It’s not healthy for me to force my saddle — I mean, emotional — baggage on her, and I recognize that.)
- Quit being an easy target. I wear my heart on my sleeve and always have. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing, but I never learned how to fight back verbally or physically. Melting into a pool of emotional mush doesn’t work out so well. Take my word for it.
- Stop yelling at my kids. Strangely, this correlates with No. 3. My kids don’t listen the first three or four times I say something because they don’t take me seriously. Until I yell, that is. Then they get upset with me for raising my voice and shout back. Then I yell louder. It’s a vicious, and headache inducing, circle, and I hate it.
- Be a better friend. I have let so many relationships fade over the past 13 or so years. I know it’s a copout to blame it on having kids, but I do, at least to a certain extent. At the end of a crazy, busy day, the last thing I want to do is pick up the phone or even compose an email. I want quiet, peace. And as a result of my lack of effort, I’ve lost track of a lot of people I truly love and miss.
- Call my sister more. This goes back to No. 5 and the fact that I despise talking on the phone. But that’s a lame excuse. Our parents are both gone and it’s just us (and our wayward brother; see No. 7). My sister lives alone, and I know she would love to hear from the kids and me more.
- Reconnect with my brother. He’s a lost soul who has been in and out of trouble over the years. He has issues I don’t feel comfortable sharing publicly without his permission. But he was always good to me, and I love and miss him like crazy.
- Listen more. To my husband, to my kids, to my friends. But most of all to myself. If I listened to my inner voice a little more often, I think No. 1 would be much less of a problem. I tend to overlook bad first instincts about a person, thinking that everyone deserves a chance. Maybe some people don’t, or I just need to learn to give up sooner.
- Let people in. I’ve experienced a lot of loss in my life. I hate when people leave me, so I put up walls to keep them out in the first place. I guess that’s why No. 1 is such a problem. When I actually do let someone in and he or she hurts me, I’m emotionally devastated and I can’t let it go. Ugh. This is the thing that drives me the craziest about myself, but I think it’s also one of the hardest to fix. I for sure haven’t had much luck in the past four-and-a-half decades.
- Seize the day. It’s been a tough year (death, job loss, etc.). I lost my positive mojo and confidence somewhere along the way, and I need to find it. After all, the clock is ticking.
So what’s on your psyche’s bucket list?