Thursday, May 24, 2018

Number Sixteen

About six or seven years ago, I read a book titled The Next Thing on My List by Jill Smolinski. Cover your ears if you don’t want to hear what happens.

The book begins with two women - one in her early twenties, the other middle-aged - sitting at a Weight Watchers meeting. The younger woman needs a ride home. The middle-aged woman offers. There is an accident involving a truck. The younger woman does not survive the crash. While lying in the street, waiting for first responders, the older woman sees a paper that has fallen out of the younger woman’s bag. She grabs it and later discovers it to be a bucket list - something along the lines of “20 Things I’d Like to Do before My 22nd Birthday.”

Struggling with an immense amount of guilt and responsibility, the older woman feels compelled to complete the younger woman’s list. Tackling the bucket list of a stranger, especially one so much younger, is unexpectedly exhilarating and enriching.

I was moved by this idea.

I approached my sister. We agreed to create a list for each other. We included small, easy things to complete as well as bigger, more complicated items that would take a bit of planning. We swapped lists, gave ourselves a year to do as many as we could, and made a point to track and record our progress just for fun.

Since then, every year on January 1st I have begun what I came to call my "Twenty Things to Try" list - some years swapping with a friend, other years, having friends on social media curate the list for me.

I’ve found, over time, that it’s not so much the item itself that enriches my life as it is something that happens as a result of completing that item. One year, for example, instead of throwing a dart at a map and going where it landed (as was listed on the challenge), a neighbor offered his bow and arrow. Not only did I enjoy a weekend in Minnesota, but I also spent a fun afternoon in a friend’s yard shooting arrows at maps.

As a result of these lists, I’ve gone zip lining with friends, sent a message in a bottle, spent a day in silence, did something that scared me (sold everything I had, packed the Prius, and moved to California!), finger painted, learned a new sport, volunteered at animal shelters, and rode the roller coaster on the beach at Santa Monica Pier. These are just a few of the many challenges I've completed.

I recorded my efforts on my Facebook page with photos, videos, notes, and blurbs.

Which brings me to the blog at hand.

This year, item #16 on my list is “Do something outside the box.”

I struggled to think of how to complete this one. I pretty much live my life outside the box. And then, one night, my daughter and I stumbled across a little journal at my local Barnes & Noble. Titled “My Ultimate Bucket List,” the book contains 300 items to be completed with room for notes.

“Mom,” my daughter said. “You’ve done bucket lists, but you’ve never done a list like this.”

She was right.

I bought the book and began to strategize.



On June 12, 2018 (my 55th birthday) I plan to launch an Instagram site dedicated to the project. The goal is to complete as many of the items as I can before reaching my next (56th) birthday on June 12, 2019.

I plan to offer challenges and contests to pull others into the project, encouraging followers to join me in the fun. As always, I will share my experiences through photos, videos, and blurbs.



These are the guidelines I have set for myself (and for others) for the project:




1. Nothing I’ve done to this point in my life counts (we're starting from ground zero)

2. No doubling up (for example, cannot count 1 activity for 3 items)

3. Skips are allowed (I’m human, it’s okay to say “no”)

4. Interpretation is up to the person completing the item (I will be veganizing some of these)

5. Check off as many items as possible by the end of one year



And, finally, the list itself. Join me - reach, stretch, grow. You have no idea the people you will meet, things you will learn, or good times you will have. I will share the Instagram site as soon as I have it up and ready so you can follow along.

Cheers,

Tammie


MY ULTIMATE BUCKET LIST



• Go sky diving
• Take a cruise
• Visit Las Vegas
• Plant a tree
• Learn to play an instrument
• Learn a new language
• Start a new tradition
• Test drive my dream car
• Ride in a limo
• Reach my goal weight
• Write a song
• Design a family tree that traces my lineage
• Send a message in a bottle
• Ride in a helicopter
• Meet a celebrity
• Relive a childhood memory
• Get hypnotized
• Get a tattoo
• Start a new business
• Run a marathon and finish
• Go to a concert of a favorite band
• Take a day trip to a wildlife preserve
• Go on a safari
• Get a part-time job as Santa one December
• Join a club
• Enter a talent show and win
• Attend a séance
• Slide down a fireman’s pole
• Send a secret admirer letter
• Attend a protest
• Go white water rafting
• Learn to say hello in 50 languages
• Attend a drive-in movie
• Celebrate the Dia de Los Muertos festival
• Make a time capsule and bury it
• Party at Coachella
• Start a blog and keep it going for at least a year
• Have a pen pal in another country
• Attend a murder mystery dinner
• Raise chickens and enjoy fresh eggs
• Throw a bachelor or bachelorette party for someone
• Be in a play
• Participate in a fantasy sports league and win
• Change my hairstyle
• Learn CPR
• Get dunked in a dunking booth
• Stand on an equator
• Fall asleep under the stars with someone I love
• Have a water balloon fight
• Participate in an open mic night
• Take a road trip down Route 66
• Complete all New Year’s resolutions I set in a year
• Start a weekly game with friends
• Ride in a hot air balloon
• Drink directly from a coconut
• Throw myself a birthday party
• Earn a medal or trophy in a competition
• Ride an elephant
• Visit the local SPCA or Humane Society and play with the animals
• Experience the Northern Lights
• Try a martial art
• Take a mud bath
• Climb a mountain
• Crash a wedding
• Get my picture in the newspaper
• Participate in the polar bear plunge
• Wear a snake around my neck
• Get an autograph of someone famous
• Get on a game show
• Ride a camel
• Jump in a bouncy castle as an adult
• Dress up in disguise for a day
• Go to a luau
• Explore a shipwreck
• Try mud wrestling
• Swim with sea turtles
• Get 15 minutes of fame
• Attend a movie premier
• Post something to YouTube
• Get into a VIP room/lounge
• Go to a floating lantern festival
• Try panning for gold
• Successfully throw a boomerang
• Visit a vineyard
• Get on stage at a concert
• Write and publish an ebook
• Donate money to a worthy cause
• Swing from a trapeze
• Kiss under a mistletoe
• Go to a rodeo
• Throw a dart at a map and go where it lands
• Go on a spiritual retreat
• Swim with dolphins
• Gamble in Las Vegas
• Try to be in two places at the same time
• Try yoga
• Write a screenplay
• Shower under a waterfall
• Go on a journey of self-discovery
• Walk a tightrope
• Learn to play the didgeridoo
• Witness a geyser erupting
• Try to find a four-leaf clover
• Name a star
• Get in a taxi and yell, “Follow that car!”
• Milk a cow
• Create your own card game
• Attend a toga party
• Fly a kite
• Learn to write calligraphy
• Build a tree house
• Read over 100 books in one year
• Go parasailing
• Sleep in a hammock
• Visit an island (any island)
• Try hang gliding
• Kiss an elephant’s trunk
• Get my name in lights
• Make someone’s wish come true
• Fly in a private plane
• Donate hair to cancer patients
• Enter a contest
• Be an extra in a movie
• Dance on a bar
• Go deep-sea fishing
• Take a sailing trip somewhere
• Have an Alice in Wonderland themed dinner party
• Adopt a dog
• Take my dream vacation
• Walk the red carpet at an event
• Go to a nude beach
• Go camping
• Create a children’s book
• Volunteer at a homeless shelter
• Dance on a conga line
• Dye my hair a crazy color for a day
• Give blood
• Invent something useful
• Make homemade ice cream
• Have my portrait painted
• Climb to the crow’s nest of a ship and take a photo of the view
• Enter an eating contest
• Visit a ghost town
• Visit a tropical rain forest
• Give a motivational speech to an audience
• Ride in a spaceship flight simulator
• Learn self-defense
• Inner tube down a lazy river
• Try to get a celebrity to tweet me or retweet a post I made
• Take a pottery class
• Kiss a stranger
• Ride on a parade float
• Give up 5 bad habits for at least a year
• Learn a magic trick
• Ride on a gondola
• Make a difference in at least one person’s life
• Have a summer romance
• Canoe down a river
• Buy myself an entire new wardrobe
• Visit 5 national parks
• Explore a cave
• Catch a foul ball at a baseball game
• Visit a castle
• Build a greenhouse
• Go skinny-dipping in a lake
• Eat street food in a foreign country
• Go jet skiing
• Bungee jump
• Have a candle light dinner
• Sleep on the beach
• Walk on stilts
• Hold up the Leaning Tower of Pisa
• Learn to play the drums
• Visit the birthplace of my ancestors
• Visit Hawaii
• Create a new recipe
• Visit every state in the United States
• Attend a masquerade ball
• Explore the Grand Canyon
• Learn to juggle
• Visit Stonehenge
• Volunteer at a hospital
• Go rock climbing
• See a lunar eclipse
• Fry an egg on the sidewalk
• Make an investment in something
• Host a family reunion
• Pay it forward every day for one week
• Find a real pearl in an oyster
• Go off-roading
• Take a life drawing class
• Submit a photo to National Geographic
• Read a story at an elderly community
• Serenade someone in public
• Go to an award show
• Try every flavor of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream
• Compete in a row boat race
• Play strip poker
• Renovate an old piece of furniture
• See a shooting star
• Go to the top of the Eiffel Tower
• Line dance
• Stay in a log cabin for a night
• Create a playlist for someone
• Ride on a double decker bus
• Solve a Rubik’s Cube
• Have a cowboy cookout
• Swim in the Dead Sea
• Give a lecture at a school
• Bathe in a mineral spring
• Roast marshmallows at a campfire
• DJ a party
• Go to a food festival
• Master my physical fitness level
• Go on a zip-line
• Take toys to a children’s hospital
• Ride a mechanical bull
• Learn survival skills
• Go kite boarding
• Visit Disney World or Disneyland
• Jump on a pogo stick
• Tour a ruin
• Try a Zumba class
• Build an igloo
• Tie messages on a bunch of balloons and let them go
• Be a part of a flash mob
• Teach a class in any subject
• Learn to ballroom dance
• Try glass blowing
• Sit in the very front seat of a roller coaster
• Go on a blind date
• Play Spin the Bottle with people at a party
• Start a food fight
• Attend any of the Olympic Games
• Complete a triathlon
• Be on TV
• Make a bucket list
• Stomp grapes at a vineyard
• Write a letter to myself and open it in 10 years
• Drink water from a glacier
• Go to a live auction and place a bid
• Cash in a winning lottery ticket or scratch off
• Pet a stingray
• Walk the Hollywood Walk of Fame
• Get a license for something other than driving
• Learn how to surf and go surfing
• Go horseback riding
• Have a monk bless me
• Volunteer as a Big Brother/Big Sister for a day
• Write a message in wet cement
• Bicycle across a bridge
• Target practice and hit the bull’s-eye
• Find my way out of a maze
• Get a degree
• Live in another country
• Build something that flies
• Start a collection of something (stamps, coins, etc.)
• Play charades at a party
• Enjoy and document a year’s worth of exploration
• Take a pottery class
• Kiss someone at midnight on New Year’s Eve
• Climb a tree
• Go to a jazz club
• Learn to ice skate
• Read the Bible
• Get a book autographed by its author
• Go to a theme park and ride every ride
• Touch the Hollywood sign
• Go scuba diving
• See a Broadway show
• Visit a wax museum
• Take an online course to better myself
• Visit a volcano
• Mentor a young person
• Have a date in Central Park, New York
• Watch the Ball drop live on New Year’s Eve in Times Square
• Race a car on a racetrack
• Go to a formal party
• Sunbathe on a yacht
• Write a business plan for a company I’ve been thinking about
• Try to beat a Guinness World Record
• Watch a symphony perform
• Build a snowman
• Have a spa day
• Swim with sharks
• Visit Hollywood
• Make a prank call
• Ride in a biplane
• Get backstage at a concert
• Do a road trip across the USA
• See a solar eclipse
• Go dogsledding
• Sing at a karaoke club
• Ride a train
• Learn how to lasso
• Collect honey from a beehive
• Skateboard
• Go night swimming in the ocean
• Play a round of golf
• Write a mission statement

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Time to Break Up with Perfect

And here we go again.

I moved into my new place just six months ago. Would you believe I’m moving again? This is starting to remind me of my childhood. My family was never in the same home for much more than a year. Sometimes, not even that. About the time I got unpacked and started making friends, my mom would say, “Put your stuff in this box. We’re going to our new house.”

New house?

My daughter has decided to move in with me for a trial. She’s been living in Michigan the past couple years with her dad. I should clarify she’s an adult (twenty) and that the trial is to see how she feels about California as her home. I need a larger apartment. Even if she decides palm trees and sandy beaches aren’t her thing, two of my children live in Los Angeles and are frequently down for a visit. It would be good to have the space.

This is how I do things.

My recent move was a foot in the door, my attempt to sneak into my new life in whatever fashion I could. At the time, I was overwhelmed – selling a house, selling my possessions, packing my things, strategizing a cross-country solo drive with a cat and a dog, finding a new home, saying goodbye to family and friends, thinking about having to make new friends, making my way in a strange new place. A one-bedroom apartment was safe, affordable, and a pretty good start.

Now it’s time to grow.

People think I’m impulsive. They think I’m a ready, fire, aim kind of gal. What they don’t know, or see, is I’m more a ready, ready, ready, ready, ready, fire, aim kind of gal. I have an idea in my head a long time before I act. But when I am ready to act, I don’t wait for perfect. Perfect will work itself out as I go along. Is there ever really a perfect anyway?

This has been my strategy as I’ve gone through my life. Know what I want. Think about it. Strategize. Think some more. Talk about it. Strategize. Talk some more. Act. In whatever way works for now. That might not always look like I think it should look. But once I’ve got that foot in the door, I can go from there.

The problem is, with most things in our lives, we wait for perfect – the perfect time to have children, the perfect conditions to make the big move, the perfect aspects of a new job, the perfect situation to learn a new skill. We miss so many opportunities, so much joy, so many crazy experiences, waiting for perfect.

You should know that perfect is fickle. Perfect isn’t thinking about you. Perfect only thinks of himself. Perfect is dating your best friend, and you don't even know it. Time to break up with Perfect.

Time to make friends with Foot In The Door.

It’s all about the baby steps. Is it your dream to travel the world but you’ve never been outside your hometown? Start with making your desired destination your background on your phone. Research some ways you might want to travel – cruise, hostels, group tours. Talk about the idea with supportive friends. Know that this is a thing that’s going to happen in your life. Then take a trip to a neighboring city. Get brave. Spend the entire day. Branch out. Try a new state. Get that foot in the door.

I wasn’t sure I could handle rent on a two-bedroom.

Having owned a home the past couple years during my single life, I was unsure about renting. It felt risky. But I knew I didn’t want to purchase another house. I’m not even certain this is the spot geographically I want to remain. I needed to get here before I figured that out. The one-bedroom was safe. It was my foot in the door.

Now I have a better handle on where I am and what I’m capable of. Moving up no longer feels like a risk. It feels good and natural and, I know, is just the next step in many next steps.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

It's Not About the Sex

Sometimes words are frustrating. Or, rather, the people who read the words are frustrating. I have noticed in the history of this blog that if I write of breasts or sex or my ass or anything with a suggestive title or tone I get significantly more reads. Those essays are fun and silly and easy to write, but they are fluff. I want my words to move, to inspire, not merely to entertain.

I have gotten sneaky with my writing. I have learned to weave the two, the sex and the philosophical, into one. This is not an easy task.

I bought a cute little white dress the other day. It’s frilly and light and best worn barefoot while twirling in the fresh cut grass. I feel like a fairy princess in it. Or Marilyn in that photo we all know. It shows a bit more cleavage than what I am accustomed to. It shows, in fact, a lot. The dress is so short that if a slight breeze blows it will show quite more than that.

I feel sexy in it.

This is not a goal I aim for when I dress. When I choose my outfits, I go for stylish, fun, easily cleaned, put together. Sexy? I think I’m too repressed for that. But the dress is totally me. When I wear it, I feel more myself than I have in forever. When I look into the mirror and sashay a bit, I feel I have returned to my soul.

This, along with the fact that some of my most fun writing has involved words I would blush to say out loud, makes me question why my go-to is to sport conservative cuts and pen well-researched thoughts. Why can’t I just accept what my heart is calling me to be? Why can’t I ditch the philosophical and steam up this page?

I recently moved from Michigan to California. I thought this might be the root of my dilemma. My new state is freer in showing a bit of skin. Perhaps I am struggling to acclimate, taking time to transition. No. I’m pretty sure it’s just me.

I have lofty goals. When you read me, I want you to think, to feel inspired to move. I want you to consider a position you hold, to turn it in your hands as if it is a child’s block and see it from a different place. I want you to take my words and use them to make a positive impact in the lives of those you love. How can you do this if you are distracted by a little leg? If I am littering the page with cleavage, where will I write of big words like poverty, longevity, humanity, and soul?

Do you see? For me, it’s an either, or. I can be taken seriously, considered smart and in the know, or I can stand there and look pretty.

And when you read?

Know that I, too, read the gamut. I pore through books so heavy they build my vocab abs. I tear through others I can’t be seen with in public. Is one right, the other wrong? No. They are just different. Like you and me, they are each just going about their days doing what they do.

I want my words to move, to inspire, but I guess it’s okay if all they do is entertain. Don’t we all need an escape, a little fantasy now and then? And, if I offer you a bit of verbal relief, how is that a bad thing? Don’t you then go about your day lighter, kinder, more connected to those you meet? Don’t you smile more and keep my words in your heart, remember them throughout the day? Maybe they brighten your step. Maybe they pull up a grin.

So, this is me making peace with all those times I led you on with my words, making peace with the life messages I have hidden between my boobs. If you want it, here it is. It was a cheap trick, I know. I’ll knock it off for now. If you want a life lesson, I’ve got plenty of those. No more hiding behind suggestive titles. And, if you want the other, well, there’s more where these came from.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Tammie Tries a Podcast


Note to self: Next time you're on a podcast, take the bracelets off. Not bad for a first interview.

Are you remembering to stretch your brain and try new things? This experience was terrifying. It's a new medium for me. And, it's certainly not a perfect effort. Looking back, I'm glad I did it despite never finding where that darned courage was hiding.

Be brave. Do new things. Go tell somebody about it.

(link in comments)

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Deactivate Account

I deleted my Pinterest account. I’m no longer on LinkedIn. I am four deactivate clicks away from falling off the social media grid. It’s a conundrum. I’m a Gemini, after all. I want to be in front of your face, in front of any face. Look at me! Listen! This is my life. At the same time, I sometimes need to hide, to protect myself from overwhelm.

At times like this, I delete shit.

I take a lot of bubble baths. I work in my apartment instead of at the local coffee shop. I un-follow people on Facebook, cancel lunch appointments, and hole up with a good book, or four. I ignore texts. These things soothe me. They keep me sane. I want to understand the world and everyone in it. I want to understand why we are the way we are. It hurts my brain when I try. I sink to my chin, instead, in a nice hot tub filled with LUSH end-of-season bath bombs, a glass of chardonnay sitting on the floor at my side, and my Love Songs channel on Pandora. Love, love will keep us together.

I’ve thought a million times to delete this old blog, but I just can’t do it. It’s my heart. It might be retro, obsolete, but it’s mine.

When I’m working on words for you to read, I always feel I should be doing something else, something with earning potential, something real or professional. Like, a job. But I don’t want to. This blog is my sandy beach, my iced tea in the shade. It saves me from myself. It saves me from the world.

Since I was a little girl, I have been a sensitive sort. If others are hurting, I want to make the hurt stop. If I’m the one hurting, I crumple like you’ve never seen anyone crumple. If worldly things are out of sorts, I want to fit them back together. I want us all to circle up, put our arms around each other, sing songs, and smile. All we need is love, and all that jazz.

Could this ever happen? Is it too lofty a goal?

Humor me, would you? Go hug your spouse, your child, or your friend. Mumble some words of gratitude for having this person in your life. Send a mentor a note. Snail mail if you like or just message online. Throw out some flowery words thanking him or her for the contribution, the role played in making you the person you are. Tip your server thirty percent today. Round up. Call your parents. If that’s not possible, talk to them in your head. Thank them for bringing you into the world, for giving you life. Despite what you thought or think of them, without them, you would not exist. Send a note of encouragement to a teacher. Educators are quick to hear complaints. Lavish a little praise. Do these things for me today. I need this. I need it badly.

I need to believe.

I need to believe that no matter how divided we are, we’re still capable of a kind word, we would still lift the other when the other was down, we would lift the other even when the other was up.

I am four deactivate clicks away from falling off the social media grid. My go-to in times of conflict is to hide, to run escape the stress of the world. I’d like to feel brave enough, for once, to stand.

Look at me! Listen!

Turn to the person next to you right now, even if that person is your dog. Love that person in whatever way you can, in whatever way feels comfortable and best. Offer a helping hand, a word of encouragement or praise, a hug, or a pat on the back. Maybe World Peace is too lofty a goal, I don’t know, but Peace Where You Are can definitely be a thing.

Not around another human being right now? Get your shoes on and go buy a cup of coffee. Buy another for the person behind you in line. Then give that barista a twenty-dollar tip and watch the sunshine fall out of their insides. You did that. World Peace in your little corner.