Bucket List Poll — Results

I bet you’ve all been wondering how your Bucket List items stack up against other Gaspers.  Well, it looks like lots of you want to live at the beach, while Comic Con and Hillary are geek-quests shared by only a few.  Hmmm….

Haven’t weighed in yet?  You can take the Bucket List poll here.

Answer Percent
Live at the beach 12%
Write and publish a book 10%
Visit Germany (and have plenty of time to explore) 10%
Visit Australia / snorkel the Great Barrier Reef 7%
Be an audience member on the Ellen Show 7%
Dance at the weddings of my children 7%
Go to culinary school 7%
Hold all of my grandchildren 5%
Participate in an archaeological dig 5%
Go zip-lining someplace exotic 5%
Learn to surf 4%
Visit the Pyramids of Giza 4%
Vacation with my brothers and our families on a Lake Powell houseboat 4%
Take a camping trip on horseback 3%
Receive a blessing from the Pope 3%
Attend San Diego Comic Con with a really cool costume 2%
Walk the High Street and visit the Garden of my family’s ancestral village in England 2%
Meet Hillary Clinton 1%

Simple Truths

ImageIn a few days I will celebrate another birthday, putting me solidly past the half-century mark. I share this only as evidence that I have lived long enough to learn a few simple, yet elegant truths.  Much of this knowledge was culled from the many wise people I’ve been blessed to meet in my time.  But most of it came from my own experience,  including bone-head mistakes, dumb-ass choices and failed actions taken in arrogance, naivete, stupidity, impatience, or some combination thereof. This is what I know:

  • Do what you love, and you will find a way to make a living from it.
  • When the way is blocked, there’s always another path.  You just might have to hunt through the weeds to find it.
  • Nothing is as soothing or joyful as holding a baby…unless the baby is screaming.
  • Sunrise makes everything feel better, especially after a long difficult night.
  • Remember to get your daily dose of Vitamin L — laughter. If you laugh at yourself, consider that a double dose.
  • When you point a finger in blame, three fingers point back at you.
  • A beautiful sunset is both a gift and a promise, no matter what your beliefs.
  • Do something that scares you every day.
  • Fruits and vegetables from your own garden always taste better.
  • Pay attention to your gut, heed that niggling voice in the back of your mind. Except if you’re schizophrenic, then you should consider going back on your meds.
  • Your are stronger than you think. Way stronger.
  • When you have trouble deciding between two choices, flip a coin. If you feel the need to flip it again, you already have your answer.
  • Your kids will always be your beautiful babies, no matter how old, big, hairy, smelly or angsty they become.
  • We are all Bozos on the Bus.
  • It’s very difficult to eat soup with shaky hands.
  • Tell people you love them, and tell them why. Then tell them again.
  • Be a great partner…with your family, friends, coworkers, doctors, educators, etc. We’re all in this together.
  • Courtesy and respect leave deeper impressions than fancy clothes and hefty pedigrees.
  • Losing weight is simple — burn more calories than you consume. But it isn’t easy.
  • In your lifetime, you will do many stupid, selfish and foolish things in the name of love. But you will do even more great and generous things.
  • It’s never too late to say you’re sorry, or to say thank you.
  • Every person you meet — friend, friendly, foe or in between — has something to teach you.
  • Tequila shots almost always lead to bad hang-overs…and pregnancy.
  • Big dreams require thoughtful plans.
  • Everything happens for a reason. The challenge is to figure out why and become a better person because of it.
  • Texting is a lousy way to hold a conversation.
  • It’s impossible not to laugh along with a baby.
  • It all starts with the Golden Rule.
  • Even though they act like they aren’t, your kids really do listen to you.
  • The friends who are there for you when it really counts are often not the people you expected.
  • When in doubt, Stop. Breathe. Listen.

What are your Simple Truths?

A Different Kind of List

beach_bucketOkay.  It’s been a little intense around here, so let’s lighten it up a bit.  And I know just the thing — a Bucket List!  What’s more fun than dreaming about all the cool stuff you’d like to do in your lifetime? Exactly! Which is why I’ve created an interactive Bucket List. Yes, this is a thinly-veiled attempt to garner comments, but it’s also a pretty clever idea (she said modestly).

Here’s how it works. I’ve created my Bucket List as a poll. If one of my items also appears on your Bucket List, put a check by it.  You can check as many as you want. Then list the rest of your Bucket List items in the comments.  Also, if you’ve ever experienced something on my list, let me know what you thought about it.  Ingenious, right?  Plus I get to try out the Poll Daddy app!

Ready. Set. Interact!

Yes, my geek is showing… and so’s my fan girl. But we’re being honest, right? You probably also noticed a lot of this list is post-transplant. That’s because I plan on sticking around for awhile.

Now for the important stuff…. like what’s on your list that isn’t on mine? Tell me all about it in the comments.

It’s (Not) All About Me

not_meChronic illness has a way of redefining who you are if you aren’t very careful.  It engulfs every waking moment:  medicine schedules, treatments, therapies, doctors appointments, research, dealing with symptoms, support groups, thoughts, prayers …. you get the idea.  It’s a full-time job. And for awhile there, I fooled myself into thinking it was my full time job, and mine only.  But I was wrong. Very wrong.

As my disease has progressed, I’ve watched my family become “sick-centric”.  My illness worms its way into decisions as mundane as who will drop off my daughter at the library, to bigger things, like where (and if) we go on vacation this year. Too often, family activities are dictated by whether I’m having a good day or a bad day.  And, since most household chores leave me gasping for breath, my husband has taken over all the shopping as well as most of the housework — in addition to all of the yard work.  I see the strain on his face and it tears me up inside. Like so many people I’ve met with PF, the guilt can be overwhelming at times.

Yet, even though our activities have changed drastically, I still clung to the hope that my kids were relatively unscathed by all of this.  We’ve talked about my illness, and I’ve told them I’m always here if they have questions or want to talk.  Since both have remained fairly mute on the subject, I figured they each viewed all of this as just a bump in the road.  Again I was wrong.  So very wrong.

My daughter had to write about a personal experience for an English assignment.  She chose to write about when we learned of my diagnosis.  We sat in my bedroom, talking about that day.  She distinctly remembered  a frigid winter landscape, bare trees, gray skies and icy streams.  I was diagnosed in early fall — September.  The trees were still green, the sun bright in the sky and the temperature was almost balmy.  She became very upset, convinced I was wrong, so I told her to write it the way she remembered.  When I read the finished essay, I realized why she was so adamant about the weather.  Her memory of a bleak winter day was so vivid because that’s exactly how she felt.

The piece was beautifully written, and brutally honest.  And in it, I discovered that the news that day crushed my daughter’s innocence.  The mother who was supposed to always be there, no matter how much teen angst she tossed my way, was suddenly fragile and broken. She could no longer be certain when or if I’d be there. I’ve sobbed over that essay, especially as I see the same theme pop up in other projects and assignments.

My son, who is pre-law at Saint Louis University, has been deeply affected by my disease in his own way.  He’s a born debater, and unlike most kids his age, he uses his Facebook updates for serious discussion of issues that concern him most.  During the Presidential election, he posted a plea asking people to stop their political mud slinging for just a moment and take a wholly humanitarian view of “Obamacare”.  He used me as an example of the importance of universal health care.  My PF bretheren and I are uninsurable.  In my case, I’m looking at four years before I will have insurance to cover a lung transplant.  Since ability to pay is a prerequisite for getting on the “the list”, I risk the very real possibility that I may never make the list, or be dropped from it when I am most in need.  It happens, I’ve seen it.  And my son worries about that.  While I’m proud of his understanding and vision, I also know that he’s just 18.  Right now he should be focused on his studies, his girlfriend and hanging out with friends.

It’s not all about me.  And yet it is.  My disease is indiscriminate. Though it attacks my lungs, it devastates the whole family.  I can only hope (and pray) that whatever I learn/understand/accomplish through this illness, will be shared by the people I love most.