My mouse spun mindlessly on the treadmill in my childhood bedroom. His name was Algernon and he ran on that blasted thing. Every. Single. Night. I can still hear the whirring pitter patter. The treadmill of life gets that way sometimes as I look at my to-do list and flip back to yesterday’s list because it looks the same.
I am planning a trip to Iceland with my husband and friends so there will be one less thing on my list of regrets when I’m old and gray. I hope that list will be short when I’m 82. Make plans now so your list of regrets will be shorter too! That list will come – Things I Wish I’d Done. What did you do today? What can you do, plan to do today?
My dad lives in a care facility and I visit as often as I can, but some visits are a bit sad as I watch him slowly, inexorably descend into a life that narrows, squeezes out opportunities, and shrinks his horizons. Embrace life, do a new thing each day, savor the variety and freedom you have right now. Make a list and journal about the new things you choose to do. While you still can.
In coming years my world, and yours, will shrink too. The knowledge that I will have limitations as I age makes me eager to grow my bucket list and start doing more, living more fully, and thanking God for the good health to enjoy! I look forward to the day when I read my journal and have no regrets. I will take great pleasure in reading about all the new experiences I had.
I am learning to be more intentional in life. Even if you’re younger than I, time flies! Maybe it’s your grandparents who live in a care facility, or you visit elderly aunts and uncles. For now, let us live life fully! That’s why Jesus abides in us, so we can live fully. Think about what that means in your life.
Jesus said, “…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” New International Version (NIV)
Here are two quotes to ponder as you make your ‘to do’ list for living life fully today:
Don’t settle for living mediocre. Embrace who you are and your divine purpose. Identify the barriers in your life, and develop discipline, courage and the strength to permanently move beyond them, and keep moving forward.
― Germany Kent
Don’t live the same day over and over again and call that a life. Life is about evolving mentally, spiritually, and emotionally…. you have to change your thinking if you desire to have a future different from your present.
― Germany Kent (She’s an American journalist and author from Mississippi)
Have you ever felt stuck? As we learn and grow and dream of what our future can be, we can flounder in circumstances that just don’t seem to change for the better. Some days I feel like I’m Bill Murray in the movie Ground Hog’s Day as my ‘to do’ list looks suspiciously like my list the day before. And the day before that. I can continue to run on my treadmill, or I can recognize the sameness of my days and shake it up a little! What can we do to evolve mentally, spiritually and emotionally?
- Learn something new! I took horseback riding lessons when I was 58! So. Much. Fun.
- Travel! We’re planning a trip to Iceland for hiking, horseback riding and amazing scenery. Glaciers, waterfalls, black sand beaches, I can already feel the oomph of my expanding horizons!
- Read a genre of book you wouldn’t normally pick up. Have you been reading mysteries forever? Try some historical fiction or think of an interesting topic and find some nonfiction to learn more about it. I’ve been reading about time management and productivity to help me get stuff done. Procrastination teases and taunts me.
- Volunteer! I’ve been a hospice volunteer, a volunteer and board member at a crisis pregnancy center, a volunteer at a refuge center, and nursing home at different times in my life. It’s very fulfilling and making friends from different walks of life has been a huge benefit. Volunteering helps me be grateful for what I have. Emotionally it helps me grow in empathy.
- Explore new cuisines. I have developed a love for Indian cooking, something new for me. Curried lentils anyone?
- Learn to appreciate new types of music. Do you mostly listen to Christian praise music? Try some classical or jazz. I’ve developed a great appreciation for classical piano music.
- Or if you’re musically inclined, learn to play a new instrument. One friend is taking piano lessons at age 55. Not for me, I was delighted when I could quit clarinet lessons in 5th grade because I broke my arm. (Breaking a bone to get out of something is not recommended.) But playing music might be your new pursuit while you’re still fit as a fiddle.
Listen to people, everyone has a story to tell. I own a business called Memory Echoes, www.memoryechoes.com. I absolutely love interviewing people. I’ve heard amazing stories! It’s been a great way to stretch my thinking as people make different choices than mine.
- If you need more exciting inspiration for things to add to your bucket list check out the Swedish Nomad! https://www.swedishnomad.com/bucket-list/
I work from home on several small businesses and often just need to get out of the house. I go for walks, head to the library, or find that out of the way lunch spot to meet a friend. I live in a small city but there are still museums I have not visited. Jazz up my list, write it down, I WILL visit that museum, or the state park that’s only 10 miles away for a long walk. With new scenery!
I saw a photo of a frozen waterfall in a state park in Iowa not far from my home. What a fun adventure it would be to take my own photos of that gorgeous waterfall, frozen in time with long shimmering icicles!
I noted in the article that the photographer had to tramp through deep snow in snowshoes to witness the spectacle. Snowshoes, hmmm. Might be fun to learn how to walk with them!
My dad was CEO of a large corporation. He thrived on learning new things and leading people. He was on many community boards and loved to give back to organizations with his many talents and blessings. Everybody loved and respected my dad, mostly because he treated everyone with respect, from the guy who measured him for a new suit, to the folks who ran his city. I was proud as people said, “Dave’s your dad? What a good man!”
Today he ambles down the halls at Good Samaritan Home behind his walker. Slowly, carefully, walking with intention, a sharp contrast to how he used to stride confidently to his next meeting without thinking of his sure and steady movements, hands relaxed swinging by his side, instead of gripping his walker handles, fearful of a fall.
He’s still a good man. An amazing man, my papa. But today the highlight of his day is doing his walker amble down to the dining hall where he can get a cup of soft serve ice cream, balance it on his walker seat and inch back to his room to eat in silence. Alone. A big day is sloshing it with root beer to make his favorite ice cream float.
I’m thankful, as I’m sure he is, that he can enjoy simple pleasures. A walk in the sunshine, slowly skirting the building on the sidewalks, eating ice cream, reading a good book, watching his great grandkids play when they come for visits. My dad does have a full life, but hampered by his evolving limitations.
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
As I meditate on that verse I pray I can truly feel his presence, and know my joy is full as I enjoy the pleasures God has granted me. He makes known to me the path of life. My prayer –
Lord help me to trust You more, help me to be thankful for my path of life, even when it veers from where I think it should go.” My path is from God and I can have fullness of joy. Not just joy. Fullness of joy, abundant joy!
God’s good gifts are here for us to enjoy. Live life fully while you still can! My dad is enjoying his small pleasures as he ages. Growing old is inevitable, but for now, enjoy all that life has to offer each day. One thing you’ll not want to do as you age is say, “I wish I would’ve done that while I was still young enough to do it!” Embrace life as God reveals His daily gifts to you.