Life list

Not Quite 100 Things

Marry my soulmate | Meet a president | Save a life | Write a book | Take a scenic train ride through Europe | Learn all of the words to “We Didn’t Start The Fire.” | Learn to sign | Ride in a gondola | Get a six pack | Pay off my mother’s mortgage | Take a photo class | Take a self portrait I think is beautiful | Make my parents proud | Learn how to moonwalk | Compete in a beauty pageant | Become an influential blogger | Be in two places at once | Root for Patrick while he plays in a Major tournament | Go snorkeling in the ocean | Become certified in CPR | Make time when there is none | Get a tattoo | Own a t-shirt from every state | Take a trip to Paris | Befriend someone I don’t like | Learn to drive a stick shift | Visit Best Friends Animal Sanctuary | Be part of a flash mob | Snorkel with manatees | Inspire someone else to create a list of 100 things | Stand up to a bully | Hold a sloth | And a koala | Run in an organized race | Do one random act of kindness every day for a year | See all seven wonders | Steal bowling shoes | Go skinny dipping | Take a self portrait every day for a year | Hike through the rainforest | Inspire someone else to become a vegetarian | Hold a flag at a military funeral with the Freedom Riders | Write Patrick’s biography after he’s famous | Swim in a natural swimming pool | Attend the Mighty Summit | And BlogHer | Go whale watching | Swim with dolphins | Learn the Thriller dance | Learn to use a sewing machine | Sew a dress for me | And one for Naylyn | Do four unassisted pull ups in a row | Go apple picking | Go salsa dancing | Take ballroom dance lessons | Be a guest on a talk show (Oprah!) | Start a food fight | Write thank-you notes to my old teachers | Host a fancy dinner party | And maybe a murder mystery party | Design my own masthead for this website | Earn one million Twitter followers | Take a trip to Washington D.C. | Photograph every week of my first pregnancy | Attend a peaceful protest for something I feel strongly about | Wear a fancy dress to a red-carpet awards show | Give a $50 bill to a kid with a lemonade stand | Convince one breeder to stop breeding dogs | Have a “then me, now me” photo shoot | Help someone pay for college | Take tennis lessons | Take a martial arts class | Complete an intense workout plan | Brew my own tea | Brew my own Kombucha | Do Scorpion Pose | Run a half marathon | Take a photo where it looks like I’m holding up the leaning tower of Pisa | Hug a stranger | Be a friend’s interior decorator | Grow a vegetable garden | Find out what my love language is | Be confident | Join a book club | Do a handstand | Overcome my anxiety disorder | Make peace with people I’ve hurt | Make a coffee table book of kids eating cupcakes | Hula hoop for 10 minutes straight | Write a children’s book | Zip line through the rainforest canopy | Fight off a mugger (I know, kind of a downer, but I TOTALLY want to show an attacker who’s boss!) | Catch a bouquet | Take a trip to Seattle | Pay off a stranger’s vet bills anonymously | Work from home | Build a family compound to spend the holidays | Fold a paper crane | Ride a tandem bicycle | Research my ancestry and build a family tree | Travel to Greece

The story behind the life list:

This list is a journey. I was inspired to create this list my junior year of high school after a classmate (whom I actually never knew) died and left a mostly crossed-off list as his legacy. In 18 short years he’d managed to live such a full life. I was halfway through my junior year of high school when my mom got a job transfer that would uproot our lives as we knew them and move 300 miles away. I took my finals in December at one school, my school, and then started classes in another state in January. It was tough. I spent a lot of time wallowing and feeling bad for myself. It didn’t take long for the rumors to spread, for me to find out which people weren’t interested in being my friends. And it didn’t take long to find out that the reason there seemed to be a dark cloud looming over the heads of nearly every student in that school.

Three days before my first day of school, a student was killed in a car accident. I stopped in the hallway between classes one day to examine one of the lists hanging on the wall. Apparently this student, Kyle was his name, had made a list of 100 things he wanted to do before he died. I stood there while people shoved past, bumping my shoulders and tipping me off balance. I read every item. It didn’t matter that the bell rang, that I was two minutes late to class. I could just chalk it up to being a new student. That school was a labyrinth anyway. Here he was, at least, what was left of him. I never knew him, and now I’ll never have the chance to. But a piece of him lives on in his legacy. He left behind a list – a list of things he wanted to do, a list of things he never got to do, and most importantly – a list of things he did.

I found a seat in class and opened my notebook. I titled the page “100 Things.” And the rest of day was devoted to that list. I left No. 1 blank. I thought anything so profound as to be first on that list isn’t something I can think up in earth science and jot down.

I’d occasionally see a fellow jock walk up and cross something off the list with tear-filled eyes. I realized we’d all done it – we’d all begun doing the things on his list. Some because they wanted to find peace in knowing all the items were crossed off while others – like me – were looking for purpose. For direction. Because in this new place, this new life, how could I be lost when I’d drawn myself a road map of all the things I wanted to accomplish?

This list has gone through many transformations. I’ve chiseled down the list to contain the things I REALLY want to do, not just things I wanted to do because it seemed standard to put on the list. Like skydiving. I mean, who REALLY wants to do that? I know, right?

And because there are no longer 100 things, I’ve amended the title. But that doesn’t change the fact that in creating and keeping and updating this list, I’ve realized what belongs in that No. 1 spot: Patrick. Falling in love, building a life together, all of it. The theme of my life is deep, true love, and it’s the kind of fuel that pushes me to be extraordinary. And it’s the kind of fuel that powers me on my journey to continue to build and check off this list.