The Clarity List

Dear Diary,

Clarity – [klar-i-tee]

Noun – clearness or lucidity as to perception or understanding; freedom from indistinctness or ambiguity.

The Clarity List. The most important list anyone will ever make, and you haven’t heard of it because it’s the last list anyone makes. If you’re lucky, you are given time to make it. I know because I had what turned out to be a dry run at it last year.

It’s the list you make when you’ve been given a death sentence.

Your life-force is an amazing thing. It makes sure you sail through life with very little thought to the end. Even when you’ve been given the death sentence, once it’s rescinded you go right back to where you left off without giving the clarity list another thought.

That’s a good thing.

But since I DID make one, I merged it into my bucket list.

It’s hard to trick your life-force into letting you make a clarity list before it’s time. Your mind is not easily tricked. It’s always on the job.

But you should try.

It’s funny that what I thought would be important to me at the end, was not.

I thought I would care about my husband’s new wife spending my 401k. I didn’t.

I thought I would want to jump on a plane and go to #1 on my bucket list (Tahiti). I didn’t.

I thought it would be important to itemize who got what of my earthly possessions. It wasn’t.

When I was staring the grim reaper in the face it was much different than I thought it would be. It was amazing at how quickly and easily it was to see what was most important.

Not money. Not places. Not things.


Only two things became important.

Spending time with people I love became paramount. On any terms.

Seeing the beauty around me. Have you ever seen how beautiful the world is when you are about to leave it? I hope you haven’t. But you should try. Even the smallest thing like a lady bug or the green of grass is so beautiful. It’s like seeing it for the first time. Really seeing it.


No fear. All those things that kept me awake at night like who pissed me off or how much money I spent against my budget or the to-do list for next week, simply fell away. None of that mattered.

All of my little nagging fears didn’t scare me anymore.

Except dying.

How much pain would I be in? How long would I linger? Have I done enough to insure I would go to heaven? Have I done enough to make sure my family will meet me there?

Have I told everyone how much they mean to me?


I didn’t regret any of the things I thought I would regret. But I did have a few.

I regretted all of the time I spent caring about what other people thought.

I regretted not being happier with the body God gave me.

I regretted not making my kids go to church every Sunday.

Hey, I’m just being honest.

After my death sentence was repealed, my life-force kicked right back in, but I have put a few things in place as a result of my clarity list.

I am available and present with my family now. No distractions. I drop everything when a friend calls. My door is always open to those I love.

And it’s closed to those that don’t deserve my time anymore. The drama loving, negative, destructive folks have had to be let go. It wasn’t easy (they don’t like not being enabled or having to do for themselves) but they take away, rather than give to the richness of life.


I have two little chests (one for each of my children) that I drop notes into every time I think of a story from when they were little or something I want them to know after I’m gone. Like how much I love them.


I am going on my first camping trip in 30 years (where there are no bears, I am still afraid of bears no matter what list I’m looking at) and although it’s not a place that is on my bucket list, the time I get to spend with my hubby unplugged and appreciating beauty wherever I am satisfies both items on my very short clarity list.

The most important list of all.

Until next time dear diary.

Bucket List – VALUE ADDED


Dear Diary,

As bucket list makers go, I’m pretty much a scaredy cat. When I was young, single, poor, and naïve I didn’t have a whole lot to lose, so I was game for anything.

As I got older, had children, bought a home, survived tragedies, and watched too many murder shows on the Investigation Discovery channel, my bucket list became increasingly safe.

Items like “Climb Mt. Everest” and “Bungee Jumping” fell off.

No real adventure. No real risk.

I’m good with it.

That being said, as I was reviewing items from my safe little bucket list, I realized that labelling some of them as just done wouldn’t do. There had been value added to quite a few of them.

What’s value added you ask?

VALUE ADDED = Experiences involuntarily added onto a bucket list item that I would have emphatically opted out of had I been given the choice.

Confused? Let me paint the picture.

Heceta Head LighthouseThis is a bucket list item I was living – Spend the night in a lighthouse.

Pretty straightforward eh? Here comes the value added part….wait for it…..WITH A GHOST IN MY ROOM.

You see what I mean now?

Oh yes…that happened.

I imagine that if God had said to me while I was planning this trip, “While you are spending the night in a lighthouse I would like for you to have a ghost in your room”, I would have politely replied, “No thank you God”, and promptly cancelled my entire trip.

In fact, I would cross that item off of my list and stayed as far away from any opportunity to spend the night in a lighthouse as I could (this wouldn’t be hard, nobody has ever knocked on my door with an invitation to do so).

Luckily, I wasn’t given the choice and things occurred the way they were supposed to. It enriched the tapestry of my life with a thread that I wouldn’t have used. Would I do it again? Heck no…well maybe, but that’s a story for another time.

Need another example? Ok, I have more than a few of them…

Bucket List Item – Drive the Pacific Coast Highway from LA to Seattle.

Not unusual. This is a pretty common one. But here’s the value added…


Nope, no thank you. I don’t want to experience something like that alone, and I’m scared to travel that far by myself. I’ll pass on the alone part, but I’ll add the convertible Mustang part to the safe item.

That’s what I would have said, but it happened. So far out of my comfort zone that I’m still shocked I did it.

But I did.

This single value added bucket list item provided a unique experience that left me enriched, empowered, re-acquainted with myself, memories of not only vistas that are indescribably beautiful but people as well, and at peace with my involuntary retirement and the health issues that put me there.

Simply put…A truly divine gift.

And to think I would have chosen to skip it.

Are you beginning to pick up what I’m throwing down here?

No? Here’s another one…

Harley Route 66Travel Route 66. Another predictable and relatively safe bucket list item…but here comes the value add…ON THE BACK OF A HARLEY DAVIDSON MOTORCYCLE.

Me? On the back of a Harley? Nooooooooo. I’m not a Harley type, I am afraid of motorcycles, I have trust issues, I get cold easily, it might hurt my joints, I don’t have any motorcycle boots, I don’t want to die.

Pick one, ‘cause these are all of the excuses I would have thrown out there to block this from being added on.

But I would have missed the incomparable experiences that went with it, not the least was to put a much needed shot of youth/excitement/togetherness into my marriage. And cute black boots. Really cute black boots.

Yes, I’ll admit there have been a few that still inspire terror and I am a tiny bit mad about…for example,

Swim with Dolphins – WITH A SHARK.

Sail Lake Powell – IN A PERFECT STORM.

Camp in Yosemite – AND BE MENACED BY BEARS.

Snorkel in Anguilla – WITH A BARRACUDA.

But I lived. Barely. Such a city girl.

Now they are funny stories we tell after a shot (or three) of courage (I mean whiskey) to relive them.

Adventures worthy of Indiana Jones.

Thank you God for knowing what’s best for us, in spite of us.

I still won’t knowingly add these little extras, but I promise to keep relishing them.

Bye for now dear diary.

Bucket List Found

steno padDear Diary,

I finally found my bucket list today. I found it deep in the bowels of “the office”. I put this in quotes because “the office” is what we call the area of the house with a desk and books. It is cleverly disguised as a place where something productive may happen. But it doesn’t. Unless you count dusting and vacuuming said area as productive. I digress.

The reason my bucket list was so hard to find is because it resides in a steno pad. That’s right, I said steno pad. Let’s stop and think for a second how far we’ve come since stenographers who performed stenography on a stenography pad was a thing. That’s history son. Google it.

That’s how old this list is.

It’s so old it’s actually entitled “Things to Do Before I Die”. I’m still a little mad that I didn’t think up the term Bucket List.

At first glance it was immediately evident that this list needed editing. There are some things I’ve actually done. I can move those over to a done list. Done.

Then there are the pie in the sky by and by items…for example Bora Bora. Although this has always been in the top three, there is more than a very good chance it will never happen. No matter how I pitch the cost justification, my husband won’t buy it.

I’m not giving up on Bora Bora though. I’m going to hold out hope that one of my two selfish kids takes me there to assuage their guilt over not giving me grandkids. I must admit it would help ease the pain. Temporarily.

There are bucket list items I have to exclude because the ship has already sailed (a little mad I didn’t think of that one either). They are as follows;

  • Being a Princess cast member at Disneyland. – Nobody wants to see an old Cinderella. I’m not going to regret this too much. Being at the mercy of every child without being allowed to talk doesn’t hold the same allure as it once did.
  • Participating in the Olympics. – And by participating I mean walking in the opening ceremonies. I don’t have rigid discipline and crumble under pressure which negate competing in an actual sporting event. Even if I did, it would probably be a horrible uniform year and the irony would be too much. No regrets.
  • Surfing. – Clearly this was listed pre-Shark Week.
  • Space Travel. – No way. Not after seeing the movie Gravity. I can conjure up an imaginary conversation with George Clooney right here on Earth. I might already have.
  • Sky Diving. – Nope. The ground looks too far away when I just stand up now.
  • Roller Derby. – Really? Was I out of my mind? I can’t believe that being hurled by a teammate into a group of angry women while on skates was ever appealing. Yikes!
  • Marrying Donny Osmond. – Ok, this technically wasn’t on the list, but for 40 years has been my secret desire. I had to put it on and formally take it off to close this door. I’ll admit saying his name still makes my heart flutter a little. Don’t tell anybody that.

I have to go for now dear diary. I’ll tell you more about the bucket list later.