What Makes Your Heart Beat?

Dave and the boys, Salt Lake City, Utah
Dave and the boys, Salt Lake City, Utah

Last week the best thing happened. After writing about bucket lists, people started talking to me about their own bucket lists. I am inspired and love what they had to say. I was touched and inspired to do the same when my friend Alicen stated that she would like to take “a long trip around the world doing humanitarian aid and living like locals.” I completely relaxed when my friend Tammy said, “I want a year at a Buddhist monastery.” Namaste, Tammy! And I giggle-snorted when my friend Denise wrote, “add to my list the Annual Running of the Reindeer in Alaska. Registration is now open. Shall we do it?” Yes, we shall.

It was my friend Robert’s words that literally took my breath away. Somehow  those words took my crazy awesome bucket list and gave it beautiful purpose. Thank you for that, Robert! Here is what he wrote:

“To sail the Caribbean for a year on a 40-45′ sailboat is what makes my heart beat everyday.”

At that moment, I believe my own heart skipped a beat, and yes, I think it also sang.

Me and Easy E, Collier France
Me and Easy E, Collier France

Fast forward to Saturday. As some folks now, Dave, the boys, and I decided to bed down in the more affordable Salt Lake City for the summer. We gypsies needed a little break. We also realize that bedding down here means Dave is commuting (once again) to San Francisco weekly. As cool as this summer respite has been, in our first-world-problems sort of way, we are still feeling unsettled and uncertain. As a result, I am sure you can imagine that Dave’s weekly family reengagement is not always smooth. And this additional task of weekly family reconfiguring sometimes feels like our breaking point.

Kyle, Salt Lake City, Utah
Kyle, Salt Lake City, Utah

Last week was one of those humpty-dumpty moments. Even though my bucket was feeling, well, very bucket-list full, Dave and I were a little out of sorts. We both knew it was time to pick up our pieces, reconfigure and reset.  So we did what we do and we went on a walk. While the boys slaved away Cinderella-ing their chores, Dave and I made our way to our local Starbucks. I ordered. Walked over to Dave, who was sitting in a super comfy chair. A tall, clumsy bar stool was the only chair next to him. Instead of breaking, I readjusted,

“Hey, Dave, come sit at this table with me so we can sit together.”

Happily he moved. And we sat long enough so I could drink my first drink, and then get a refill of my green-tea-unsweetened-no-water-light(ish)-ice. Of course we talked about our current and long limbo. We both agreed that this not-knowing-stuff is becoming a broken record and has been going on well beyond any reasonable expectation. We vented, running through a list of what we missed while we were apart. I talked about school. Dave talked work.

Dave and I, Collier,  France
Dave and I, Collier, France

And then out of nowhere I thought of Robert’s words:

“What makes your heart beat?”

Tears filled my most frustrated eyes, and thought that maybe those words might help break my mind of our current in-between. At that I looked across the tiny table into Dave’s kind, blue eyes and said,

“You know what I would really like to do? I would like to live overseas. Thinking about living in another country makes my heart beat. As frustrated as I am with all of this not knowing, thinking about living in another country is what gives me breath. Right now I need that.”

With thoughts of beating hearts and overseas-living-dreams, we let the vents go and let the excitement fill the air.

Dave and the boys, Carcassonne, France
Dave and the boys, Carcassonne, France

The next day as Dave and I were walking again, we landed once again on the topic of uncertainty.

“Hey, you totally connected, didn’t you?” I asked, and then connected. “You know what it is like to dream about something so much that it is what keeps you going?”
“Yes.” Dave said. Of course we both agreed that fact that our kids keep us going is just a given.
“You really would live overseas, because you know the idea of it makes my heart beat.”
“I would,” Dave responded.

Salt Lake City, Utah
Salt Lake City, Utah

Our full circle moment came this evening. Dave is back in San Francisco so Kyle offered to go on a walk with me.  Tonight we took a different path. We walked and talked about tomorrow. He has his very first behind the wheel experience at driving school. I cannot believe my oldest son is about to drive. Wow! Pray for us!

“Mom, yes, I am both nervous and excited.” Kyle expressed.
“You will do great. I know you will.” I responded.
“I want to get enough sleep so I am ready.”
“You will.” I responded.

Our conversation carried on as we moved further down the path. Up ahead, and there on a sidewalk was a piece of dark orange chalk sitting next to the painted words:

“This is a community project.  What makes you happy? Maybe it will inspire others?”

I wrote two words: my sons and travel. Kyle wrote one: Frisbee.

Salt Lake City, Utah
Salt Lake City, Utah

Yes, I am definitely inspired.  And yes, life can seem limbo-y, and bucket lists can feel unfilled, but we all find ways of moving along.

My questions to you:

What makes you happy?
What makes your heart beat?


Speaking of bucket lists

Here are some tips on making your own bucket list.

Here is an interesting article about the complications brought on by bucket lists.

Good luck!

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If a dying dog and a little boy have a bucket lists, maybe I should too.

Honestly, it never occurred to me to have one, a bucket list, that is.

Me Yesterday doing homework pre-bucket list
Me Yesterday doing homework pre-bucket list

A few days ago across my Instagram feed I read that a friend’s young son crossed two items off of his bucket list: riding an elephant and zip-lining through the Panamanian jungle. I must admit, I am impressed. Then earlier today, while skimming my newsfeed, the following headline caught my eye:  “Woman adopts dying dog, treats him to bucket list.” Really? A dog gets a bucket list? As part of his doggy bucket list, Chester (that is his name), the fourteen-year-old hospice dog, received extra treats, oatmeal baths, and a photo shoot. Go Chester! Of course he has a Facebook Page, from where I gleaned much of this information, and also learned that Chester passed away a few hours ago. R.I.P., beloved dog!

Kyle and I, Oahu on our first visit to Hawaii
Kyle and I, Oahu on our first visit to Hawaii

I have spent the entire day perched in front of my laptop reading and then analyzing early twentieth century literature (um yes, B-O-R-I-N-G)! I wrote three critical analysis essays, and appropriately MLA-cited all of them.  I think I may just have nodded off telling you this. Anyway, because I am taking an online course, my teacher (Dr. Professor) emailed me (I have yet to meet him). He stated that because I am doing proficiently in his class, he will not be giving me much feedback and that he will be leaving me alone. ALONE? Let me tell you that being left alone with authors such as Tennessee Williams, T.S. Eliot and Willa Cather can do. Reading their sad, bleak stories, plays or poems, after sad, bleak story, play or poem can flip one’s sad and melancholy switch!  My switch is definitely flipped. My mind is filled with thoughts like the old farmer who drops dead alone at his farm and the most hopeless and dysfunctional Glass-Menagerie family. My head is spinning and my brain is all a-fluster.

Moments ago I decided to take a break and take the boys to dinner. They ate. I bought a salad. And as we walked home, Kyle reached out, grabbed my hand and asked,

“Mom is something wrong?”

“Nope. Just homework brain.” I said and continued, “my brain is in the zone, the super focused homework zone. And if I leave it, it is really hard to find it again.” We all laughed and continued walking. They get it.  And I think Kyle and I are as determined as I am for me to graduate. As a mother, I want to finish this goal once and for all. I need to show them that they can accomplish anything too (rule the world).


Wait a minute.

Hold on!

Doesn’t graduating from college qualify as a bucket list item? OMG, I have been bucket-listing and I didn’t even know it.

Us, Costa Rica
Us, Costa Rica

I was curious. What is a bucket list? And really, I thought bucket lists were for humans, more specifically, humans who are currently terminal (dying). We all saw the movie, right?  And the movie’s IMDB synopsis clearly supports as much: “Two terminally ill men escape from a cancer ward and head off on a road trip with a wish list of to-dos before they die.” I actually thought bucket lists began as the things you want to accomplish when you are close to death (terminal). I am happy to report that the idea of a bucket list has morphed its way through our cultural lexicon. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a bucket list is “a list of things that a person hopes to experience or achieve during his or her lifetime.” Fantastic!

There is absolutely nothing out of the ordinary about dying dogs or adventurous young boys making a list of their own. (Ok. In truth, I am still confused about the dog.)

The Dolomites, Italy
The Dolomites, Italy
Easy E in the Dolomites, Italy, December 2013. I promise we will go back to ski!
Easy E in the Dolomites, Italy, December 2013. I promise we will go back to ski!

As of now, I believe that we have established that graduating from college should be on my bucket list, right? That being said, completing such a perfunctory goal feels well, perfunctory, a to-do list, if you will. If I wrap my head around say the movie-version of a Bucket List than the entire concept moves from to-do to fun. Get it? I also realized (after writing this and while on a walk with Kyle) that there is a correlation to bucket lists and stating your intention. Remember that super popular book (from 2006), The Secret? Wikipedia reminds me that The Secret “is based on the law of attraction and claims that positive thinking can create life-changing results such as increased happiness, health, and wealth.” Maybe the lady who wrote the book (Rhonda Byrne) stole a little from the idea of a bucket list. Simply put, a bucket list, like The Secret (as cheesy as it may sound), is just another way of putting it out there. When you list (or state your intention), crazy impossible seeming things, like riding an elephant in Southeast Asia, or graduating from college, actually happen.

Reach big and all I must admit that I have always felt a little uncomfortable stating my intentions. And then when I shake the silly insecurity out of me, I see that a bucket list is a really healthy and fun way to give our life purpose. I believe that everyone deserves to dream crazy big, and that every one deserves to achieve their dreams! So why not bucket list? Ok. I think I will. Without much effort I know that at the top of my bucket list is travel, (which I think most people know even if I have not statement my intention out loud — wink, wink). I wish I could be more specific regarding travel (and I will try). The truth is, if I am exploring a new place, I feel like I have accomplished the impossible. Does that make sense? And then my random wanderlust begs the question,

“can you retroactively add things to your bucket list? I say, yes. Absolutely! Why not?”

Before I state mine (or retroactively adjust mine — wink, wink), what are your bucket list dreams? Maybe I could steal some of them. I am completely open to suggestions and thank you!

Us, Florence, Italy
Us, Florence, Italy

Beth’s Bucket List:

  1. [check] Hawaii
  2. All of the Hawaiian Islands (so close — still need Molokai and Lanai)
  3. Paris/stand at the top of the Eiffel Tower (this is my true, little-girl-dreams-bucket-list item and we are going there next month)
  4. Graduate from college (you know I have to do this. I am very very close.)
  5. Visit  Rome and Giolitti (truth be told, this will be a revolving door bucket list item)
  6. Ride an elephant (in honor of a very adventurous young man)
  7. Travel to Southeast Asia: Singapore, Viet Nam (river cruise) and Thailand
  8. China, Thailand, and Taiwan
  9. Iceland (longboarding there like Walter Mitty because the boys want me to — and of course visit Christian and Mallory)
  10. Peru and Machu Picchu
  11. Climbing to the top of Mt. Timpanogos, Utah
  12. Remain standing while riding a surfboard (in Hawaii, of course)
  13. Australia and New Zealand (go to the place Hobbits and Elves lived — ah-hem, or filmed a movie)
  14. Waterski on Lake Minnetonka (hometown goal)
  15. Travel via land and or sea through the Fjords in Norway
  16. Vist the Hotel Koener in Luxembourg because I am related to the owners.
  17. Ski in the Dolomites (for Eli)
  18. Live overseas (Asia or Europe, specifically France)
  19. Canoe the Boundary Waters, Minnesota
  20. Go to the Faroes Islands because Matthew Workman makes them seem very cool.
  21. Visit Mont Saint Michel, France
  22. Visit Every state in the U.S. (getting close)
  23. Africa (I am a little nervous about a safari, but will do it for Dave and the boys)
  24. A Mediterranean Cruise (I think. In theory I really want to do this. Maybe just visit the Mediterranean.)
  25. Climb to the highest point of every major place we visit.
  26. Get Sponsored for travel writing (Kyle gave me this one.  What a great and supportive kid.)
Kyle drew and then framed this most awesome picture for me. Giolitti, Rome, Italy
Kyle drew and then framed this most awesome picture for me. Giolitti, Rome, Italy

Then I asked Dave to give me his bucket list. I love it. I am glad we are married, because his list is really cool.

Dave’s Bucket List:

    1. [check]Visit the world’s cheapest Michelin Starred restaurant (Tim Ho Wan, Hong Kong)
    2. [check][check] Stay in the world’s tallest hotel and swim in the world’s highest swimming pool: (currently The Ritz Carlton Hong Kong)
    3. [check] Travel around the continent in a VW camper van
    4. Fly around the world (in first class, stopping along the way)[beth here. I am happy to participate in this list item]
    5. Raft the Grand Canyon
    6. Visit Cappadocia and other sights in Turkey
    7. Own (or subscribe to) a self-driving car
    8. Hike the Inca Trail (Dude, I just learned that the Inca Trail goes to Machu Picchu. How cool is that? Dave and I can combine list items.)
    9. Glacier National Park chalet hiking
    10. Mountain bike from Telluride to Moab
    11. Travel around the continent (again) in a better camper than a VW.
    12. Do the “island hopper” between Honolulu and Guam
    13. Stay in an overwater bungalow in Asia somewhere
    14. Go on an African wildlife safari
    15. Visit all the National Parks in the system (half way there)
Us on the 116th Floor of the Ritz Carlton, Hong Kong
Us on the 116th Floor of the Ritz Carlton, Hong Kong
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