I spent much of yesterday updating my site, both in content/navigation and appearance. I’ve needed to do that for several years now and I’m very pleased with the result. It’s easier to read now, too, especially on mobile — which means I was up past 2 AM last night reading old entries on my iPad. Not smart, but I don’t entirely regret it either.
One of the old posts I came across was this life list I made in 2008 and revised in 2009 and 2011. It was fun to review, because while I’m no longer invested in many of the items on this list, I have made it through a lot of them, and that is deeply satisfying.
(I’m throwing paragraph breaks in every so often, to avoid the wall of text.)
Already accomplished (in spirit if not in letter)
1. Play piano in a public recital (link is to blog mention but no audio/video).
2. Write a paper that’s praiseworthy and prideworthy (link is to PDF).
3. Present that paper in a conference (link is to blog mention with pics).
4. Take modern dance classes (link is to blog mention, no pics).
5. Teach people to read (I’ve tutored elementary students in Oakland and adults in Los Angeles).
6. Work for a nonprofit.
7. Take a creative writing class.
8. Go to grad school (I have an MA in History).
9. Volunteer (most recently with the Alameda County Community Food Bank).
10. Travel alone (2004, 2015, 2017; pic below is at Edinburgh Castle in 2015).
11. Take a homeless person out for a meal.
12. Eat at Ubuntu in Napa.
13. Figure out a balance of meat-eating and non-meat-centric meals that I’m comfortable with.
14. Not live in Los Angeles. (We lived there for ~5 years. I loved it, so I’m not sure why I put this on the list; I remember not wanting to leave.)
15. Do something that seems impossible right now. (In 2009 I decided that singing vibrato and topping out at the bouldering gym both qualified. Today I would add natural childbirth!)
16. Learn to sing in a way that pleases me.
17. Have a garden, however small.
18. Have a happy marriage.
19. Create and maintain a good-looking, functional website.
20. Make a habit of visiting friends who live in other places.
21. Get more massages.
22. Write, write, write, and own it and love it.
23. Learn to truly live in the present moment. (Ongoing. I don’t think this is one to ever really check off the list.)
24. Care not for material things. Mostly. (I’m going to revise this. I’m not sure what I meant when I wrote it; if all my stuff burned up in a fire, I don’t think it would be wrong to grieve. But in 2012 we shoved most of our stuff into storage, or gave it away, so I feel I know how not to be tied to our belongings.)
25. Meet lots of people. Have parties I can invite them to.
26. Vacation in a place that feels secluded and unspoiled, like a little hut on an island, or a cabin in the woods in some remote place in Canada. (Yeah. Done some version of this several times now. It’s great… coming back is also great. I like my wifi and having access to lots of bakeries.)
27. Work from home in a beautiful light-filled studio with flowers. (I absolutely love that I put this on my list in 2008 and then in 2014 we moved into a beautiful light-filled studio apartment that I filled with flowers, both real and painted.)
28. Learn to do really good portraits, preferably in paints, but in pen and inks if that’s what it takes. (My 2008/09 self would be in awe at the portraits I’ve done.)
29. Firm, love, and show off my butt. Not in a vulgar way. (Um. Sure. I don’t know that I’d put it on my list today…?)
30. Live in a different state. (We’ve had months in Hawai’i and Massachusetts and Florida. That’s good enough for my 2018 self.)
31. Hike/walk a mountain in another country. (Yes! We did it in Scotland, and in Iceland, and in New Zealand, and each time it was beautiful and wonderful. I even did a tiny, nauseous, solo first-trimester hill climb in Newfoundland that gave me the same thrill.)
32. Make a painting that is really beautiful (to my taste and no one else’s). (Achieved so many times now, and I am so happy to be able to say that.)
33. Be able to sew my own clothes (even if I don’t end up doing so). (I made a skirt that was a little wonky and fell off me on a busy intersection in Paris after I lost weight during our travels. That said… I’ve realized that sewing my clothes would require career-level time commitment, and I don’t want that.)
34. Have the kind of home my parents have, where people come over all the time, and the house always feels lively and full of laughter.
35. Re-learn to dance, though it doesn’t have to be modern.
36. Learn to sing folk songs, chants, and old old songs. (Surprising, but our toddler music classes are definitely hitting the spot on this one, part-singing and all.)
37. Sell cards that I draw, in however tiny a way. (Well, it wasn’t cards, but prints.)
38. Write a fan letter to an author. (I’m not sure if this was my first one ever — it might have been — but in 2015 I sent a heartfelt email to Courtney Milan, and she wrote back! I’ve since told more authors how much I like their work. Email and Twitter have been lovely for this, since people can respond, even if it’s just to heart my tweets.)
39. Own a pair of shoes I really love that I can actually walk in. (The current favorites are these in a custom combination of violet-blue and metallic silver.)
40. Get good at watercolors. (As with the portraits, I think my 2008/09 self would be thrilled at what I can do now.)
41. Travel somewhat regularly. (I really aced this one. I mean, pure overachiever glory.)
42. Raise children. They can be adopted kids.
43. Bake regularly for my kids and grandkids. (Well, my kid is 2, but the regular baking is happening at the moment.)
44. Visit Japan.
45. Find a beach I really love, and go there regularly. This can mean every day, or every few summers. (I have been to some beautiful beaches around the world now, and my favorites are cool/cloudy, which is not what most people look for in a beach. I don’t care about frequency of visits anymore.)
46. Take Erik to Alinea, or equivalent. (I loved eating at Alinea and I wanted to share that experience with Erik. I’ve since realized, though, that while he would probably have enjoyed Alinea, it wouldn’t have been for the same reasons I felt it so important to take him there. We have had enough other lovely and memorable meals now that I am fine counting this as accomplished.)
47. Live in a place that fills me with joy. I mean a geographical place, not the house itself. (Yes, many times over, if you count our travels.)
48. Do something crazy and lasting on a whim, and never regret it. (Does traveling the world for almost two years count as “on a whim” when we planned for a few months?)
49. Live someplace where I can go to the farmers’ market (or its equivalent) multiple times a week, so I can eat local, seasonal, super-fresh food almost exclusively. (We can go to markets 6 days/week here, although now that we have a child and can get local bounty delivered, we usually don’t. We love our CSA box and Good Eggs and we eat very, very well.)
50. Invest time and work into something, and then be officially celebrated for it (on however small a scale). (Yeah, this has happened several times now, for various reasons! I love it and I want to do more things so I can celebrate them!)
51. Do something I’ve always wanted to do “but it’s just too crazy.” Even the thought of this makes me feel light and liberated. (My 2009 note still holds: I don’t know… maybe my definition of “too crazy” has changed, so that nothing seems too crazy anymore. That is cool. I like that. I’ll leave this item here for now, though, in case I ever do find something crazy enough that it still makes me reel and go, “wow, it’s just too crazy.”)
Begun (and maybe that’s good enough)
52. Be able to do a yoga handstand without any human help (the wall is okay). (I can’t do it now, but I could around 2008 or so.)
53. Be comfortable doing yoga arm balances. (It’s possible I would be strong enough to do them now, but I no longer have the flexibility to do them with control.)
54. Meditate at least somewhat regularly. (I’ve tried a couple of times. I will probably keep trying.)
55. Work my way through my cookbook shelf!!
56. Get through our dear friend Jason’s must-see movies list.
57. Never stop feeling like I’m making a difference in the world. (Not really one that can be checked off a list, is it?)
58. Do whatever I can to help my sisters and closest friends realize their full potential.
59. Travel throughout China. (Beijing and Nanjing in 2017. I hope there will be more.)
60. Fear nothing, including (and especially) death. (Another lifelong process. I’m still wary of death, and other people’s mortality is especially terrifying to me now that I’m a parent. But my list of non-death fears has gone down a LOT. And if we could actually have reasonable gun laws in this country, my list of fears could shrink even further.)
61. Make creative work my livelihood, or at least be able to call it my profession (part-time is okay). (I don’t know if I care anymore about livelihood or professional labels. Sometimes I feel very insecure about this, but I am moving toward a place of valuing the work more than the appearance of being official about it.)
62. Have a house in which the indoor (kitchen) and outdoor dining space are so connected that we think nothing of moving easily between the two for meals. (We’ve had access to this kind of setup at least twice now, and you know what? I don’t like eating outside under most circumstances. Bugs. Dust. Dirt. Cold. Damp butt. Heat. Wind. Having to schlep things back and forth.)
63. Be friends with someone who owns a bakery, store, café, or restaurant I like, so I can hang out there! (I think it’s more fair to say “this is something that gives me a very good feeling when it happens” and not so much that this is a task for me to complete!)
64. Improve my French. (This is almost guaranteed to keep happening throughout my life as I visit French-speaking places.)
Incomplete, but still a current goal
65. Get fit enough again that I feel ready to strut my stuff anytime, wearing anything (or nothing).
66. Write a book. Or write and draw one.
67. Be outdoors and in nature regularly. (We managed this in 2009-2014 or so, but are not doing well with it at the moment.)
68. Make a family tree or in some other way delve deeply into my family history. (I’ve done a lot with this already, but still want to do more.)
69. Take Mommy to Chez Panisse Café, or equivalent. (Basically I wanted to do something special and nice and fancy for my mom. Have I done that? I don’t know. But she’s my mom; I could do this every week and it would still be important to do it again.)
70. Live with Shra and Devin, either in the same (big) house or next door. (Well… I would love this, truly. But we have had two opportunities to buy a house next door to them, now, and we haven’t done it, because we don’t all want to live in the same kind of place. Which is also an obstacle to doing this with our dear friends Ying and Ståle, with whom I would also love to live. So it’s tricky, but is definitely still a cherished wish of my heart.)
71. Paint the interior walls of my living space. (I don’t know that this is important, exactly, but I do really want to do it.)
72. Visit Prince Edward Island, just because I’ve always loved Anne of Green Gables. I guess this isn’t a must, but it’d be fun. (Yeah, okay, I still want to do this, even more so now that I’ve been to Newfoundland. We could combine a return trip to Newfie with one to PEI, right?)
73. Be able to identify lots of trees and plants. (I still like this idea, but hey, there’s probably an app for this. That’s good enough.)
74. Host another party like our wedding, but this time for no “official” reason. I have always wanted to have a party to which I invite everyone I know. (This can stay on the list, but at the moment the thought of planning a gigantic party — especially since we, and so many of our friends, have a toddler — is flatly hideous. My extrovert energy does not extend that far.)
75. Learn more Shanghainese. (I would love to. It may never happen.)
76. Learn more Cantonese. (Ditto. I have, however, gotten better at Mandarin, though that wasn’t on my list.)
77. Take a cool train trip with Jackie on a classic line, like the Orient Express or Trans-Siberian Express. (This would be super awesome, although the last time I checked the prices for a train like this, it was something like $16K for a journey. I don’t know if I need this that badly.)
78. Visit Antarctica. (Yeah, we can leave this here. But now I’ve met someone who’s spent a lot of time in Antarctica and it sounds complicated to visit.)
Incomplete, but I wouldn’t put these on the list today
79. Put my correspondence and event programs into scrapbooks that I then actually look at. (I’d like to do this someday, but if I never do, whatever. They’re in boxes. Adult Owl can find these and groan that her mother never threw anything away, which is not true, but I do like documentary records, sorry Owl.)
80. Give more massages. (A nice idea, though.)
81. Take a sunrise hike… or just go someplace special to watch the sunrise. (I think waiting for sunrise is not as glamorous as it sounds; it’s so gradual, and you’re so cold.)
82. Go to the desert in the early morning with Erik, and take pictures. (I would like to visit the desert with Erik. I will undoubtedly want to take pictures. But does it need to be on my life list? Nah.)
83. Articulate my ideas on TSVW (note to self, not yet for public consumption!). (I don’t remember what this is anymore, though I know I have notes about it somewhere. If it’s important, it will show up; maybe it already has. It doesn’t need to be on the list.)
84. Learn how to sculpt or make pottery. (I do love tactile pursuits, but I don’t need to try to master yet another art form — especially one that requires a lot in terms of materials, space, and cleanup!)
85. Learn to like swimming. (Ehhhhh. It’s true I still dislike swimming. I think I’m okay with that.)
86. Have a dog. (I would not mind having a dog someday. But it doesn’t need to be on the list. Possibly I will feel differently about this someday, when I don’t have a dependent child!)
87. Be friends with someone who makes movies I like. (This would be amazing, but isn’t this mildly creepy to put on my life list? I’m not going around actively trying to cultivate friendships with filmmakers.)
88. Plant/maintain our own fruit trees, especially lemon and orange. (I would love this. Maybe it’ll even happen soon. But it doesn’t need a spot on the life list.)
89. Write and illustrate a children’s book, if only for my own kids (or my sisters’). (It would be fun, but I’m not going to feel like I’ve wasted my life if it never happens. Raising the actual child is work enough.)
90. Keep chickens, unless I find out they’re smelly and gross and I don’t want them anymore. (Yeah, they are a bit.)
91. Visit Greece. (Why Greece, specifically, rather than, say, Mongolia, Madagascar, Chile? I have no idea. Off the list it goes.)
92. Really, really splurge on something material but not silly (so: house but not sports car, coat but not strappy shoes). (I have undoubtedly done this by now, and it’s telling of my changed state of mind that I can’t remember what I splurged on.)
93. If he still wants one by the time I can afford one, buy Daddo a houseboat. (I’m sorry to say it is probably no longer a good idea to take my dad on a houseboat.)
94. Go on a rollercoaster that scares me but doesn’t terrify me. (Know what, 2008 self, I am really, really fine with not ever going on a rollercoaster.)
95. Have a bathtub big enough for two, preferably next to a window. (I’m not sure exactly where to put this. I mean, this is 100% still #bathgoals, but we might never own a house or have an appropriately placed window. But I can think of two readily accessible places in our current life where we can, with a paid reservation, sit together in a bath with a window or in the open air. If it never gets more “ours” than that, I’m okay with that.)
96. Visit Ireland.
97. Visit Denmark. (Same comments as for Greece, above.)
98. Invent something, maybe. (No need. Making my own life is more than sufficient.)
99. Row/paddle a boat across a lake. Even just those little paddleboats will do. (I am okay with not doing this. I am a little confused that I ever wanted to do it that badly.)
100. RV road trip! (This… doesn’t sound as appealing anymore.)
If I take everything off that last section, that leaves me with 22 open spaces on my list. What would I add?
79. Color my hair, brightly. (Done!)
80. Fly first class. (I don’t want this enough to pay for it, though.)
81. Star in a photoshoot that’s focused on making me look as glamorous/sexy as possible.
82. Try making my own croissants, just once.
83. Attend a silent retreat. (Done, kind of. The silence was optional but encouraged.)
84. Have my own art studio (own or rent).
85. Collaborate with Erik on a creative project (probably something story/digital, but it could be music, or something else).
86. Write erotica (doesn’t have to be published).
87. Live with our kid(s) in another country. (Does a long visit count? I think so.)
88. Learn capoeira. (Done!)
89. Get strong enough in my body to do something like pole dancing or aerials or parkour or unsupported handstands — although I don’t have to do any of those things.
90. Have an essay (or other significant piece of writing) published someplace with established literary/public cred.
91. Paint bigger portraits (life-size and going down to the sternum or so).
92. Live in New York City with our kid(s) (a long visit also counts).
93. Make a really big piece of visual art. Like wall-size. Painting a wall could count, or also just covering a wall with many small pieces — but it should feel like a cohesive work, not just a gallery.
94. Get comfortable with deep-frying. (Done! Thank you, Kasma!)
95. Have a dress custom-made for me. (Somehow I feel like I’ve done this already, but I’m sure I haven’t?!)
96. Completely de-clutter our entire home/all our belongings. (Is this a total pipe dream?)
97. I like the idea of buying a house, but don’t know if I want to own one. But I’d like to feel settled in a place where I can actually store everything I own, and where we can make substantial alterations to the structure if we want to.
98. Be in some kind of public performance where my singing/dancing/acting/whatever is actually important (i.e., not just an extra). I think YouTube videos would count.
99. Ask strangers if I can sketch them. (Done!)
100. Make another braided rug, maybe a wool one this time, preferably larger than my previous ones.
This is a fine list, Lisa. I especially enjoyed reading the 22 items you crossed off and your reasons why. Things do change and our ideas about what is important change too. (My 16 year old grandson plans to get a big American flag tattoo on his arm as soon as he can do it legally. I’ve told him not to tattoo anything on his body that he will not be happy to have there when he is 80.)
Thank you, Sherry! Whew, I hope your grandson listens to your solid advice. I’ve heard that tattoo removal is incredibly painful!
So fun to read! Love that you have a mix of big things and small things. Gives a nice rounded portrait of your longings!
Thanks! 🙂 I am full of longings, but it’s satisfying to see that I’ve fulfilled so many of my past ones.
Great post and creative list! I definitely agree with #21 – massages are great!
Thanks! I have one scheduled for a couple of weeks from now. 🙂 I hope you have access to them too!