Of Life and Lists

So, I made one of those damn life list thingies.

I was lucky enough to be able to attend the BlogHer conference this year (and luckier enough to be able to contribute to it in a small way) and though the conference was magnificent (really, best one yet, girls) and seeing my old friends again, and making new ones, was exactly what I needed right now, the very best part of the conference, for me, was the Pathfinder tracks on Thursday.

They cost a bit extra, and hogged up an additional day, but for that we got two amazing keynote speakers and four hours dedicated to our two panelists. Mine were the unsinkable Chookooloonks and Gwen Bell.

I walked out of my Pathfinder with insight, with inspiration, with questions that need answering and with a fucking life list. And I liked it.

It wasn’t so much that they sat us down and said, “You’re going to make life lists today!” as it was that they handed us journals and said, “You’re going to write something that might change your life today. We’re going to help you get started.”

Over the course of two hours, our three writing (actual writing) (with, like, pens and shit) (in mini-Moleskines) (really) prompts were a) to write a letter to our younger self 2) to write a list of the things we love and lastly, to write a life list.

Here’s the thing with the life lists that I knew already:

Writing a life list is not writing a list of stuff you want to do before you die. Writing a life list is saying aloud things you need to do so that you will have lived.

Here’s the thing about writing a life list that I didn’t at all realize:

It’s not really writing a list, at all. It’s playing free-word-association with the words “I” and “want”. I and want are really difficult words for, I’d argue, a whole lotta us. For me, personally, it’s always “you” and “need” and so, though my first 10-15 life list items were easy (See: Pshaw, I want X, X and X!), after that I hit a wall (See: Wait, what the fuck do I want with my life?).

Where am I going with the time I have left? What matters to me, really? What will complete me as a person? Where-in do my values lie? How many different ways can I incorporate coconut into this list? Can I even answer those questions?

Maybe I can’t. I didn’t get anywhere near 100, yet. It’s been over two weeks and I’m holding steady at 35, but that’s one for every year of life I’ve completed thus far, so I’m feeling pretty good with that number. And it will grow, as I do, I am certain.

And now I’m going to publish it, and give it a permanent page on this blog, partly because these things, this living, simply cannot be done alone, and maybe one of you will find something on my list that you can help me do, and maybe you’ll see something you want to do with me, and maybe we’ll all start living, together. Mostly, though, I feel it’s easy for me to hide myself in the shadow of book bindings, where I never have to look at them and let myself feel want. I’m kind of getting tired of hiding me from myself. So here is the beginning of me, 35 times over, sans snark.


  1. Own a home.
  2. Plant (and not kill) a vegetable garden.
  3. …and cook with my children from it.
  4. Stand on another continent.
  5. Learn to write with my left hand.
  6. Write my book proposal.
  7. Buy the wedding dress I always dreamed of having.
  8. Drive west until I run out of gas.
  9. Speak to a really, really large group of people. Really.
  10. Play a song on the guitar.
  11. Speak to my mother.
  12. Foster/adopt a child.
  13. Own a brand new car.
  14. Knit a blanket.
  15. Build a coffee table.
  16. Camp in every state .
  17. Learn photoshop.
  18. Figure out my camera.
  19. Be Disgrasian of the Weak.
  20. Get a college degree.
  21. Take swing dance lessons.
  22. Be published in a major newspaper/magazine.
  23. Meet the President of the United States.
  24. Own my own business. Like, ‘on paper’ own it.
  25. Bake a great cake.
  26. Be one of Karen's 1000 faces.
  27. Sail through Venice.
  28. Change a child’s life for the better.
  29. Cover an entire wall in words.
  30. Sew a (decent) dress.
  31. Walk a Scottish golf course.
  32. Do a cartwheel.
  33. Build a Japanese garden with my son.
  34. Try Bikram Yoga.
  35. Attend a birth.
  36. Get matching dye pumps from Payless for a formal gown.