Bucket List Value Added – A Ghost In My Room

Dear Diary,

Since I am stuck here sidelined from training for The Next Big Thing, I thought I would regale you with tales from bucket list items I have recently been able to check off as complete.

Heceta Head Lighthouse was to be the crown jewel of two weeks of jewels. I had planned my trip very carefully (that’s part of the fun) and had amassed a rather eclectic collection of hotels, motels, and B&B’s with the only pre-requisite being that it had to be on the Pacific Ocean’s shore (the first week anyway, I took an inland route home).

Spending the night in a Lighthouse (keeper’s house) was a bucket list item within a bucket list item (the PCH experience). I had looked forward to it since leaving my home in Southern Cali, and just couldn’t wait to see it up close and personal.

It didn’t disappoint. In fact, pictures cannot do it justice.

A Room With A View - and a Ghost

A Room With A View – and a Ghost

This is the view from my room.

I had checked in fairly early in the afternoon so set out immediately to explore the area. I didn’t know much about the history before I got there, which is out of character for me. I usually do quite a bit of research upfront on travel locations. Maybe because I had so much to plan for the trip, I knew I wanted to stay here so I booked it and moved on.

I will never make that mistake again.

I made the short walk up to the light house, and again I had my breath taken away.

Heceta Head Lighthouse

Coming from So. Cali., I am not accustomed to the ferocity of the sea battering the rocky Oregon shoreline. It is indescribably beautiful, but at the same time sends the message that it is in charge. One slip would result in certain death on the crags and rocks below, if not plunged fully into the ocean itself in which you would be battered to death within minutes. Whew, I almost scared myself there.Gold Beach to Cannon Beach 045

No guardrails or fences here. This snapshot was taken on the way to the lighthouse. It can’t be seen from the house or the lighthouse even though it’s between them. Only when you are up close to it and this is as close to the edge as I get folks. Falling from this height into the ocean is most definitely not on my bucket list and is a value add I will most assuredly not allow if I can at all help it.

The beach below my window (Devil’s Elbow State Park, hmmmm I should have known something was up) was my next destination and again, words cannot describe the beauty of the Cape Creek bridge, Cape Creek emptying into the ocean, and the ocean and shoreline beyond. There were more than a few caves along the beach which I would have loved to explore, but it was high tide and I am more than a little respectful of the sea. I know what it can do and I will not challenge it. Gold Beach to Cannon Beach 057House and Bridge

I went back to the Victorian.

There is no food at the Lighthouse Keeper’s B and B (except for breakfast), and both Florence to the south and Yachats to the north were a bit of a drive away. That was fine with me. One of many unexpected perks of traveling alone was I didn’t have to worry about who was hungry and what they wanted to eat. I just made myself a PB&J and a couple of handfuls of trailmix (from supplies I had in my car), followed by a water from my little ice chest and I was good to go.

There was only one other couple in the entire house. Mid-May is not tourist season, and in these parts (at least for me), it was dang cold. I sat in the parlor while they made their dinner in the guest kitchen.

I should explain why this particular Victorian is so unique.

It was actually the Lighthouse Keepers Assistant’s houses. A Victorian duplex if you will. The Head Lighthouse Keeper’s house was demolished in 1940 and the lumber used to build a café in Mapleton, Oregon. This photo was taken in 1900 of both houses before demolition of the foreground house.headkeeperhouse_1900

The Assistant’s duplex (background)was actually designed from a single plan and doubled in the interest of saving time and supplies since this place was so remote.

It is still off the beaten path.

Originally, the two identical homes were separated by a wall which was taken down by the B and B operators (it is actually owned by the State) to make a single dwelling.

That being said, there are still two identical kitchens – one can be used by guests, while the one on our side of the house was used exclusively by the chef. The proprietor was gone as soon as both parties were checked in. He mentioned that there was a woman on site that lived in the basement (accessible only by outside stairs), but that we wouldn’t see her unless we needed her (getting locked out, etc.).

We had the entire 6 bedroom, 2 kitchen, 2 living room, 4 bathroom house to ourselves.

I got to know the other couple. A thoroughly delightful pair from Canada (actually he was originally from Australia with his dreamy accent) who were there celebrating her graduation from medical school.

Heceta Lighthouse and keepers houseIn the above photo, my room is the right hand set of double windows on the second floor. The attic windows are the double set on the third floor. The lighthouse is in the background. The rocky coastline follows the road around to the lighthouse, and around behind where I am standing to take this photo. Heceta is a large outcropping of rocky coastline named for the Spaniard who discovered it in 1755, and evidently lived to tell about it.

After my new friends ate dinner, we started out sitting on the glorious front porch, but because of the cold moved into the parlor.  We lit a nice fire and chatted while they played a board game.

I must comment on the change in weather. While Oregon (at least for my trip) was not sunny So Cal by any stretch of the imagination, it had been partly sunny when I arrived. As the day started to wane, the waves had become even more violent, the sky ominous, and it became bone chillingly cold. Even though it wasn’t raining, everything was wet and slippery. Not a place I would hike in the dark that’s for sure.

I got a feeling for what a lighthouse keeper’s job really must have been like. Not as glamorous as I had imagined.

While we were chatting in front of the fire and watching the storm roll into our little slice of Pacific Coast heaven, the subject of the house being haunted came up.

WHAT?!?!?!?

Exsqueeze me….did you ask me if I knew the place was haunted? Ummm, no. I certainly did not.

The male half of this couple told me to not pay any attention to her, she was the type that if there was one shark in the ocean she would expect to get bit.

Oooooookaaaaay, but this house was a bit smaller than the ocean. This would be like a shark in your swimming pool. Pretty good odds of an encounter I’d say.

While this was slightly unnerving, I didn’t feel ominously threatened or that we were being watched or anything else spooky for that matter.

When I finally got home 2 weeks later, I googled it and is indeed considered one of the most haunted houses in America. Why didn’t I know that going in? Still a mystery to me since I am normally Miss Information. Not mis-information…nevermind.

The next thing we knew the caretaker from downstairs was in the room with us and explained she was only there to close the shutters on the front doors (to protect the delicate stained glass) in preparation for the incoming storm. Incoming storm? Funny, I didn’t know that either. I even had Yachats as a favorite in my Weather Channel app, oh that’s right AT&T…

We invited the caretaker to have a cup of tea and chat in front of the fire which she cheerfully did. We got through the niceties and I went straight for the heart of the matter by asking about ghosts.

“Oh” she said, “we only have one and she is a shy ghost. She is known as “Rue” and rarely appears as a visual specter, the only time we even know she’s here is when she  gets upset from spring cleaning and move everything around.”

I asked…”what do you mean by move everything around?” She replied, “When we close for a week and move everything to the middle of the house to clean and make repairs, sometimes when we come back the next day it’s all put back in its place.”

I wish I had a cleaning ghost like that in my house.

Be careful what you wish for…I know, I know.

I learned from our host the life of an assistant housekeeper’s wife was horrible. She would be subject to surprise white glove inspections and scrutiny by both her husband and the head lighthouse keeper’s wife. No wonder poor Rue is still at it.

This assuaged any fears of paranormal activity because frankly, who can be afraid of a ghost that doesn’t show herself and cleans?

A couple of hours later we had talked ourselves out and all parties bade each other a goodnight. The Canadian couple and I headed up our steep winding stairs and to our respective bedrooms.

This is my room pre-storm and dark.  No frills but who needs a TV or computer with a view like this? Room and View

As I laid down to read before falling asleep, I felt myself become melancholy which is not something I normally allow myself to indulge in. It’s a slippery slope, and I would prefer to dwell on happy thoughts whenever possible. And it’s always possible.

I chalked it up to not being able to talk to my kids for a couple of days (one of which was Mother’s Day), and although I had been able to talk to my hubby the night before, and our conversation was most pleasant, it was still strained. I updated that I was safe on Facebook (the B&B has wi-fi) and got their well wishes on my timeline, but it’s not the same.

Also it was my sister’s birthday, and while I usually try not to dwell on her untimely death (which leads to thoughts of the untimely death of her young daughter), maybe because of the storm and isolation my mood matched the grey turmoil outside.

I propped the window up about a half an inch. Call me crazy, but when you love the ocean as much as I do the sound of it crashing below your window should not be muffled or restrained. It started to rain but was not coming in my window so I left it open a crack.

I closed my eyes but thoughts of my little sister Susan persisted. A life so tragically interrupted (see Do They Know How Much I Loved Them for details). Because of the sudden loss of her young daughter, another life tragically cut short.

I tried to redirect my thoughts to what was on my plate for the next day, calculated where I was on my trip, etc. but the darkness on the edge of my mind was still there.

Then I heard music. Amidst the sound of the rain, the crashing surf, the thunder of the storm, I heard music.

Not music from instruments, but music as if a woman was humming a melody.

And it sounded like it was in my room.

That couldn’t be. There was an old dial up radio in my room but it wasn’t on.

I got up and put my ear to the vent thinking that it might be coming from the woman two stories down, after all old houses are like that right? Wrong, it wasn’t coming from there.

It was following me. It sounded like something a woman would hum if she were trying to put a baby to sleep. Very soft and soothing.

I know. Maybe the female half of the Canadian couple had gotten up to take a bath. The bathroom they used shared a wall with my bedroom. That had to be it.

I opened my bedroom door and stepped out into the hall. The bathroom door was open and the light was off. Nobody in there.

While I had stepped out into the hall, the humming had followed me and gotten even closer to my ear. Eerie, but I wasn’t going to panic because I was not out of options. It could be someone outside.

I highly doubted it on a night like this, but you never know. I stepped back into my room and grabbed the flashlight provided in case of a blackout. I opened the window all the way and shined it outside. Nothing but rain and surf. I shuddered and closed my window and locked it.

The humming continued, and moved when I moved.

Phooey, time to panic. I jumped in bed and pulled my covers up to my chin and shut my eyes so hard I squinted.

I had the overwhelming sensation that if I opened my eyes there would be a face within inches of my face. I knew someone was staring at me, and I knew it was close.

Let me say I am NOT one that has a great deal of experience with the paranormal. I avoid invisible drama. I have enough tangible drama in my life without this kind of thing, thank you very much.

I wasn’t alone in my room. I sensed the person walk around the outside of my bed and sit at the foot of the bed on the other side. I felt it move, and I was not moving.

I am frightened out of my mind at this point. I am not sleeping this night, that’s for sure. Adrenaline is pumping like high performance racing oil in my veins.

I sat up and said, “Rue if it’s you, I would like for you to leave.”

The humming stopped for a moment. It’s as if she was considering it. Then is started back up again, but never as close to me as before. About an hour later, the humming moved out of my room and out of ear shot. Finally!

I awaited dawn which was only a few hours away at this point, as I laid awake with my eyes as big as saucers I’m sure. She didn’t come back, but I was waiting and listening for any sign of company.

The next morning both the Canadian couple and I headed downstairs to breakfast at the same time (as it is served promptly at 8am). I told them about the night’s adventures.

Surprisingly, they had adventures of their own.

Evidently they kept opening their window to get air, and “Rue” kept closing it. Since it was a small wind out window, it was not possible to close on its own. At least they assured me it couldn’t.

When the husband balked at his wife’s suggestion that it could be the ghost, he was promptly held down in his bed without the ability to speak or move.

I’m glad I didn’t balk.

The chef overheard our conversation at breakfast (it is 7 courses after all), and when the Canadian couple left to pack, she approached me about my story.

She asked if I was in mourning or was sad about the loss of a loved one. I said I was, and told her about my sister’s suicide after the death of her daughter.

“Ahhhhhhhhh, that’s it”, she said. “That’s what?” I replied.

The chef said that it is thought “Rue” committed suicide after the death of her small daughter. Although there is no record of such history at the house, there was the grave of a small female child unearthed on the grounds.

I could see it. I can’t imagine having to deal with unbearable grief while being cutoff from the rest of the world.  And the sound of the never ending, nearly deafening crashing surf. While I love it, I think that it might become maddening without transportation to carry me away to silence once in a while, or iTunes and headphones. She would have had no options but to suffer alone.

The chef went on to say that “Rue” has been known to try and comfort those that grieve for loved ones, especially children. Just a month earlier she had put her ghostly hands on the face of a female guest grieving over the death of her son.

Was that what she was doing, trying to hum me to sleep? Trying to help me get my mind off of the loss of my sister and her daughter? Newsflash Rue…you are not conducive to sleep, but come to think of it, you did get my mind off of what I was thinking before you showed up. .

They say she stays in the attic during the day…I was in the house alone within the hour, should I explore it? Should I try to tell her I’m alright? OH HELL NO.

I’m not that girl. I was on my merry way within just a few minutes.

I would go back to Heceta Head Lighthouse in a hot minute with all of its beauty and history…but not by myself. Not without my hubby and an Ambien. Or two.

Until next time dear diary.

Retirement Year One – A Madwoman’s Playbook

Dear Diary,

Firstly and most importantly when you make it to retirement you need to feel very very blessed.  Wallow in it.

By this time in our lives we have known many people who didn’t, and the fact that we are still standing is a testament to our tenacity, vigilance, strength of body and mind, and by the grace of God.

Let’s move on…’cause that’s what we survivors do.

My retirement came abruptly (due to a health scare) and 4 years earlier than planned, but other than that I see no reason why it would be any different than one who retired on exactly the day they always planned to.

Except I didn’t get a retirement party or a gold watch. I’m still a little mad about that. But I got to go on living. So I’m over it.

Like any other successful Operations Manager in America, I was manic. I didn’t choose the field in which I spent most of the 40 years I worked. I wasn’t that organized when I was 21. Instead, Logistics is where I landed when I blindly launched from my parents’ home and college, to a short and ill-fated marriage, to a desperate single parent in 2 years. Too proud to ask for help.

It’s funny how poverty tends to motivate one to succeed.

For.The.Rest.Of.Your.Life.

Did I say succeed? I meant over-achieve.

Out of the gate as a college dropout in Logistics. I shudder in retrospect.

Logistics = There is no such thing as weekends or holidays. Every delayed shipment is the one that will break or make its retailer. That’s the rules, in a nutshell. Oh wait one more – You must play “Simon Says” with the port of Los Angeles and all points of entry along America’s southern border, and you are not Simon.

As far as management goes, I’m pretty sure it’s the same in any area of expertise.

Middle/Upper Management = You do not have a life. You are available at any time day or night. You are only as good as your last P&L and to a lesser extent, your last employee satisfaction survey. Nobody else can do your job, so taking more than one week of vacation while “out of pocket” (unavailable) is not permitted.

Wait…that last part might be my micro-managing psychosis and not a real pre-requisite. The lines between them got blurry. Don’t judge.

A Blackberry, cellphone, and a laptop were my constant companions. Checking them became an addiction. Like crack. Which is why I called mine a Crackberry.

The meetings, don’t get me started on the meetings.

In addition to the aforementioned, I took on penetrating the glass ceiling. I think I still have shards embedded in my scalp. But I did it.

I ate stress for breakfast. Bring it. But nothing else, because I was dieting. For 40 years. No joke.

For me and my psychosis, over-achieving did not end at work. The time I had off was spent cleaning, laundering, gardening, grocery shopping, regular shopping, over-the-top birthdays, hosting most extended family holidays, parent-teacher conferences and blah, blah, blah. You get the picture right?

In short, I may have fed, pruned, and weeded the roses – but I never stopped to smell them.

Never.

Fast forward 40 years to retirement. Year one.

The playbook reads as follows…

You turn in the company Crackberry and the laptop.

You clean out your office. This is not as easy as it sounds. Your identity is so enmeshed with your work, you have to really concentrate to accurately divide what is yours and what belongs to the company. You hold onto those business cards though, you’re not throwing away you.

Next you pack your things in an unceremonious cardboard box (I don’t care who you are) and load it into your car for the last ride home from work.

And you start the life you have dreamed about for 40 (fill in the blank) years . The life that made you go on at all the times that you were sure you couldn’t go on. The life you saved 20% of your check for.

I am sure there are a plethora of books out there, written by qualified people, that give a blow by blow of what comes next. I did not read them. I’m a rebel like that. I must run with a rebel crew, because no new retiree I know read one. Just sayin’.

Mad Baby BoomerTo be clear, this is the diary of a mad baby boomer, not a mental health professional. Proceed at your own risk.

First order of business is to take a trip. Every new retiree I know has followed this play from the Year One Playbook without exception. A cruise, a road trip, visit out of state family, travel abroad…whatever. You break away without an approved vacation request, a rite of passage if you will. And because you can.

Then you come home and take two weeks to unpack. Why? Because you might want to take off again, or you guessed it…because you can.

A month has gone by. It’s awesome.

Then you go to all of those appointments that you struggled to fit into your schedule (and ultimately had to cancel because of work conflicts). Medical, dental, attorney (for your living trust), tax person/broker/financial planner (just to reassure yourself that you are on track with your financial retirement plan…for the third time). You’re good to go for the rest of your life. As long as the stock market doesn’t crash.

You build a semi-complicated excel spreadsheet to track itemized spending. And to keep your Microsoft Office skills sharp.

2 months go by. It’s friggin’ awesome.

You watch all those documentaries, series, movies, concerts, epic sporting events, etc. that you had TIVO’d but never had time to see. For the first TIME in your life, a bad movie was not a waste of your TIME. That’s new, and also friggin’ awesome. You feel like a TIME thief in a vault of TIME, without the TIME Po-Po around to see you stealing it. Ever. Does it get any better?

3 months have gone by. Beyond awesome.

You take on that project that was always on the back burner. That remodel, DIY, yard, car, hobby etc. That thing that you were always going to do after you retired. You may or may not finish it. That’s the beauty of retirement. You are no longer judged by your last achievement.

Except by your spouse. Ouch.

You start needing to eat meals at the exact same time every day. Where did that come from? Weird.

4 or 5 months go by. Wow. Already? Awesomeness beyond description.

Here is where I began to struggle just a hair. Just a smidge. Maybe I am unique in that my hubby is not retired. My time was entirely my own, whether I liked it or not. I lose sight of the retirement playbook. I have no idea what everyone else is doing. It’s just me doing my thing. Like being distracted by shiny objects.

I used to be responsible for managing 300 people (some indirectly I’ll admit), and a multimillion dollar budget. I multi-tasked up to, but not over, the line where it becomes ineffective. That is a professional multi-tasker peeps.

Now, I am picking off worms from my tomato plants with a tweezer. The little bastards. For hours. Because I have an organic garden and I am not a quitter.

My trusty companion is not the assistant of yore. She is my grand-dog and does not do my bidding. Only because of her lack of opposable thumbs, not because she isn’t enthusiastic. I find myself having conversations with her. I don’t even notice she doesn’t talk back. Out loud. We’re connected like that.

Doesn’t this face scream “You’re taking me with you to this party when you go, right”? Who needs words. Not us.

I didn’t take her to the party. She knew.

I check my phone, somebody texted. It’s not urgent. I’ll answer them later when I’m not so busy.

I open the Excel spreadsheet and realize I am 2 months behind itemizing expenses. Screw it. I add them all up without itemizing and find I am only slightly over budget, that’s ok, I’ll do better this month because this is all still new. I keep the excel spreadsheet because it’s pretty, but I know I’ll never open it again.

Wait, what month is it?

I get annoyed because I didn’t know it’s a holiday and the whole world is off of work and school on a weekday. Very inconvenient.

A friend texts and wants to have lunch. I write it down on the wall calendar (old school style), and set aside the whole day. In fact, I have two things planned in that week and I feel like if anything else comes up I might be a bit over-committed.

I have lunch with the friend and find out we’re doing the same things. Whew. NOT CRAZY, good to know. I’m in line with the playbook. We’re back to the collective You, not just I. I vow to have lunch with friends more often.

You walk daily and feel pretty darn accomplished in that regard. Unless it’s the weekend. Then you rest.

Thoughts come up that are so random that you are afraid you might have Alzheimer’s. A childhood memory that is so vivid you can actually relive it in every detail. A poem that you suspect was always there but only now becomes clear. A familiar imagined vista that now longs to be put on canvas. A word that needs to be written. You ask yourself, who am I?

Then you realize that it is nothing more than an unfettered mind that is finally let loose to run, to play, to create, to remember. The long dormant right-brain coming to life. An unchained prisoner, free for the first time since it was a child.

You talk to God. Because you can finally hear him talk back. Because you’re finally listening.

You walk by your roses and smell them. That legit smell doesn’t come from a hothouse florist or a bottle. The real backyard fully bloomed rose. Almost heaven. Was it there all along?

You go to dinner with your family, and you notice them on their smart phones, crackberry, ipads. Where did you leave yours? Did you even bring it? When was the last time you checked it?

It’s the first thing they do when they get up in the morning and the last thing they do when they go to bed. While in bed.

You feel sad that this is what you were just a short time ago, and that you can’t save them. Or get their attention. Payback is a bear.

That’s ok, you’ll wait for them. You have time.

Wait…what year is it?

NOW you are truly retired my friend.

Until next time dearest diary.

The Next Big Thing

Dear Diary,

Everyone (who is alive) has a next big thing. No matter what name we give it, there is a hope in us that sustains us through the everyday grind.

It could be an item on a bucket list, a wish list, a guest list, a life goal list, a to-do list, a DIY list, and quite possibly even a $@#% list.

Whatever we perceive this list to be tied to, it is really simply a list of hope.

A dream is a hope defined.

Since I have finally let go of that dream to marry Donny Osmond, most of my hopes/dreams are somewhat attainable.

With a little work, and varying degrees of money.

Oh yes, and that little issue of my selfish children not giving me grandkids…but I’m not giving up on that dream just yet.

Ahem, back to my next big thing.

I have achieved quite a few of my life goals. A successful career, a nice home, both kids through college (almost), and I actually own my car.

Then illness hit, and suddenly my little train chugging along the life goal list was derailed. The next big thing was to just stay alive. Just to go to the doctor and have my test results come back with indication that I can go on.

And I was blessed enough to have that happen. Let me take a moment here to say once again, Thank you for that God.

Now that I am stable and I have happily entered back into the human race, I don’t know where to begin. Can’t pick up where I left off, there is too much permanent damage to go back into the work force, and I am finally at peace with that.

Let me stop here for a second and describe the personality types in my home. We are A’s and AA’s, like energizer bunny batteries. Once in a while, one or both of us (God forbid) will move into the AAA zone, and an intervention is required to get us over our busy little selves.

So after a year of getting my strength back by putzing around the yard, the house, and the neighborhood (Mrs. Kravitz style), it’s time to get a little bigger.

The next big thing. The hope sustaining the daily grind.

I take out my bucket list and narrow my options.

It has to be cheap, I’m trying to live on a shoe string. Off goes Tahiti and pretty much all foreign travel (for now).

It has to be doing something I adore, or I will lose enthusiasm over time. That eliminates anything not having to do with being on or near the ocean.

Ah yes…that did it. The next big thing on my bucket list just bubbled up to the top.

The Lost Coast TrailHIKE THE LOST COAST TRAIL.

That’s big! That’s very big!

It’s the California (my state) coast the way it was before abundantly rich people came and made it unattainable for the other 99% of the state’s population. It’s where the California Redwoods meet the ocean. It’s where seals and tide pools reside without fear of being molested by us human interlopers. So many of my favorite things in one place.

I’m all in.

I give myself a year to get ready. One year from September 2, 2014. It’s on the 2015 calendar in pen. Check.

I do a little research and come upon my first rub…”must have a bear container”. I don’t even know what that is, but I already don’t like it.

I have camped once in my life, that was in Yosemite and I was so terrorized by bears I have not camped in the 30 years since. Ok once, but it was car camping and a bear would have had to successfully navigate LA to get to me.

Let me add I was a diva the entire time. The heaviest thing I had to carry was my purse from the car to the tent.

Bears are a definite concern which means I will have to drag my fearless husband with me, so that goes on the to-do list. Convince husband…check. Not going to be easy but I have a year.

Or get a very large dog. I’ll leave that option open.

Next item on the list is to get in shape to hike over hill, dale, and sand. I have been walking up to 5 miles 3 or 4 times a week, so I will just slowly up my game and incorporate hiking and sand walking in the mix. Check.

Next item up for research is equipment. Ah…another rub. Did I say cheap? Whew, I never knew how much a stinking backpack would cost ‘til I looked online. Holy cow, I don’t want to summit Everest here, just a 3 day jaunt over some rugged terrain. I’m a little mad about it but no matter, I have a year to pinch pennies and make this happen.

You see here? See how optimistic and forward thinking I am?

This is what the next big thing is about. Hope.

Here’s hoping I can get all this together in a year.

I almost forgot, I also have faith.

Remember, I am an energizer bunny. It’s hard to keep us down.

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…

IN A CONVERTIBLE MUSTANG BY MYSELF.

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.