I was trying to unclutter my living space recently and found a folder titled “50 Things.” I’m pretty sure this was from around 2000. It was a time when my years with kids at home were waning and a new life was ahead.
I wanted to be sure that I was living with intention, so a list seemed like a prudent step. Where the number of 50 came from, I have no idea.
This is not a “to do” list or a list of goals. I think it was more of a “wouldn’t it be cool, if…” sort of list.
It’s written on lined paper, two sheets. There are 50 numbers written down, one on each line, ready for a “thing” to be written next to it. There are 22 “things” listed. And 27 blank lines.
Either my imagination was limited or my time to imagine was interrupted. Either way, I am pretty sure I intended to return to it and to complete the 50 lines, adding “things” as I thought of them.
The list was forgotten, filed away in a box of other filed, forgotten folders. Until today.
It is a good list that I am glad to have found. I’m glad to revisit my 20-year-ago self.
Reading down the list, I’m happy to report item #1 has been accomplished, “Have a book published.” In January of 2018, Which Old Woman Will You Be was made available for purchase, so that is one “thing” that I have done that I hoped to do.
As I work on my second book, I remember that this has been a long time “thing” for me to do. Write for others to read. Tell my stories. It was the first on my list of 50 Things, 20 years ago, and it is still important to me today.
There are other items from that list that I have also managed to do.
I have “kept a child who needs a temporary family” (#3) and I have written a column for a newspaper (#6). I have a laptop (#13) and I have been white-water rafting (#20) and snow skiing (#21). I saw a painted bunting (#19) when I was visiting my family in Texas.
And… there are those “things” on the list that I have not accomplished.
I still do not have a weed-free strawberry patch (#5). In fact, I don’t have a strawberry patch at all. I did have a blueberry “patch” at one point (#18) but it was never very productive. I still cannot “dance well enough that it’s fun” (#8) and we never “remodeled the girls’ dorm” at the Retreat Center (#10).
Those things I haven’t done and won’t do. And that is totally okay. Dancing is not something I want to spend time on at this point.
I realize now that the only way I really enjoy gardening is when my husband does it. And while I never remodeled the Girls’ Dorm at the retreat center before we sold it, I have had a part in plenty of remodeling since then.
The thing that stands out to me with this list is that I have both changed and stayed the same as 20 years have passed by.
I am still focused on writing. And getting better at it.
I still love to travel. So far, not to Sri Lanka or Santa Fe that were on my list, but who knew, back in 2000, that I would visit Hungary and Poland, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan with Habitat for Humanity? Who knew that I would love Honduras and make seven trips there, leading groups and speaking to organizations?
And I certainly did not anticipate my husband starting a travel business to Copper Canyon, Mexico!
I still love outdoor adventure. We bought kayaks last year. Most likely, they will be used locally on our fairly calm river, so no more white-water rafting, but enjoying floating along, enjoying flora and fauna and quiet.
I, then and now, have my own business. The one I have now is different than the Retreat and Training Center I had in 2000, but I still use the leadership and team building skills I learned then to create engaging workshops and presentations.
Now in my ThirdThird (ages 60-90), my list is shorter with fewer specifics:
What kind of list did you have when you were younger? What do you have on your list, now that you are over 60? Are there any lingering “things it’d be cool to do if…” you might plan into your life? Let’s have a conversation about them!