A Different Kind of Bucket LIst

I’ve been seeing a lot of “bucket list” posts on Pinterest and Facebook…memes, right? And they are typically centered around travel, kissing celebrities or other unlikely events. Now, this is not judgmental or holier-than-thou (single moms are not allowed on the moral high ground and I want to kiss Brad Pitt as much as you do), but my bucket list doesn’t include any of those things. In fact, there are only three things I absolutely want to do before I die.

1. Adopt a Child
I love being a mother more than anything else in the world and any time I think about having more children, adoption seems more likely than carrying another baby. Had I been a slightly different person, Eva could have been adopted and…(sorry, I have to take a moment and thank God He gave me the courage to keep her)…I would love to honor a woman who couldn’t decide to parent her child.

2. Serve in Africa
As much as I know it wasn’t my time to go in 2007, there will come a time when it is. Something in my heart calls me there. (No, it is notto meet a man and produce more genetically-blessed biracial children.) Maybe I’ll adopt from there, maybe I’ll have the chance to rejoin the Peace Corps, maybe I will get to work there, MAYBE I’ll start my own non-profit there–I don’t know yet–but I will serve.

3. Give Abundantly
I was constantly showered with blessings from complete strangers during my pregnancy all the way up to providing a place for me to live rent-free. In my one-day home, there is a bedroom for someone who needs it. What a joy it would be to honor Larry and Linda by giving the way they gave to me.

So, that’s it. The sum total of my life goals. I don’t actually care about how much money I make as long as Eva is provided for. I would love to travel the world but I haven’t been out of the States since 2004 and can still breathe normally. I would like to get married but…yeah, I don’t see that happening at this point and that’s ok. There are plenty of things that would be fun to have in the future–a big house with a big family and a big dog, a big bank account thanks to a big fancy job–but what if none of that happens? Will I consider myself a failure? Nope, I sure won’t. What if for some reason life doesn’t go as I planned (oh, wait…that has never happened anyway) and I don’t even accomplish those three things? Fail then? No way, Jose.

The life you live is greater than the plans you set aside. Trust me.

It’s so easy to get caught up in what’s popular and trending, I am so guilty of thinking about things that are less than productive: industrial-grade kitchen appliances, hopping on a plane to Vienna at any given moment, how the heck I am going to survive Eva’s teen years (because if I haven’t already mentioned, she started those 9 years early) and so on… But when I stop for a moment and re-center my thoughts on the things that are present and important–Eva is only four, we have immediate needs to fill, I am blessed and already able to give to others–I can take a deep breath, say thank you, and keep on going. Things will happen in their own time.

Today I will focus on today.

At least…that’s my plan…

Happy Saturday!

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Too Many Options

A friend and I have been talking about relationships a lot lately, I’ve ended one as she has begun one and we use each other as a sounding board a lot.

She is anxious about the future of her relationship (aren’t we all?) and we started discussing it as if she were 7 months in.

“What if we get to November and I realize I don’t like him enough?”

(OK, 8 months in–I prefer to estimate, not count)

Eventually, we realized what we were doing and tried to steer ourselves out of it. Because the deeper we delved, the more we were just trying to solve problems that didn’t exist yet. She and I are both go-getter/problem-solvers and are prone to the same worries. We want to know that things will go as we plan.

Which is to say we don’t always live in the moment. (But to her credit, she is much better at it than I am.)

In this moment, she and her guy are dating and having fun and I am coping as best I can.

We can’t predict what will happen in November. We can’t even predict what will happen tomorrow.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop us from trying…because we are FIXERS. And the thing about fixers is that we love to solve problems–real or imagined. We FIX things because it gives us something to do, a sense of accomplishment, but more importantly a sense that we have returned ourselves to “normalcy.”

For my friend, normal has meant a year of establishing consistency: the same job, the same home, the same routine and no boyfriend. She has a very clear picture of her “normal.”

So she has to decide to change her routine and allow for the possibility that maybe the next year doesn’t look like she thought it would.

Which means that OF COURSE we have to extrapolate and hypothesize exactly how this change will play out so as to ascertain if the change is worth it.

Wooo, controlling the future takes a lot of work!

She and I both had to realize that we needed to reexamine why we were approaching life this way. There are too many options. And having too many options is scary.

The unknown is scary.

Who hasn’t had that realization before? If you haven’t, please return to your regularly scheduled programming–this discussion may not be for you.

So she and I took a step back and reminded ourselves that we can’t anticipate how any of this is going to happen, we can only deal with what we have right now. I think it helped. At least for yesterday.

Deciding to work with what you have in front of you, to be gentle with yourself instead of demanding and critical, to hope and to just breathe… those are are choices that have to be made anew every morning. Some days (ok, almost every day) I forget to make them and I end up panicking, stressed, dejected and on the verge of hyperventilating. Not the attitudes anyone, much less a parent, wants to have.

Today I tried to choose gentleness. I failed a couple (cough_A LOT_cough) of times as I allowed myself to get caught up in all the terrifying potential future choices, the “inevitable” difficulties I’m facing, and even the uncertainty of my own desires. But when I took a deep breath of the spring breeze and focused solely on what I needed to do next to get through the day, I started to make it through.

I’m not saying pretend like you don’t have options; I’m saying don’t get overwhelmed by how many options there are.

Tonight, I have placed a vision in my mind. A beautiful mountain lake, shimmering water, a cool breeze, comfortingly tall trees and Christ standing at the shore. He’s looking at me with so much love and compassion in his eyes as I kneel by the lake. So simplistic, right? But it reminds my that I am seen. He sees me. He sees my heart, he sees my need, he sees my fear. And no matter how ugly or broken I think I look, he keeps his eyes on me.

Tonight, I don’t need lots of options. I don’t even really need answers. I need just ONE option: to let myself be seen and know that, for this moment, that is enough. The unknown is still scary, I still don’t want to go to work tomorrow, I still wish I could snap my fingers and have everything fall magically into place… But instead of running circles in my mind, I am going to be still and be seen. For now, that is enough.