Bucket List Living

“Guess it comes down to a simple choice really. Get busy living, or get busy dying.” – The Shawshank Redemption

A bucket-list-life is one spent living spending your time doing the things you were made to do, and choosing to enjoy the ride! In order to live a bucket-list-life, we all need to keep our passion-bucket full.

Yesterday morning, I noticed an exceptional amount of gaping yawns as students filed into my classroom for a morning math dance. For my attendance question, as an attempt to zap some sleepy eyes with life, I asked students what they were most excited for that day. The two answers of choice were “sleep” and “for the day to be over.”

Before busting into the math fun that I was the only one excited for… I asked students this: Considering that we live in the most luxury and freedom of any society that has ever existed on earth … why is it that we often just want to sleep? Several of them answered by saying, “I’m always so busy, I’m too tired to think!” Later that day during the junior girls volleyball wind up, we belted the famous Let it Go from Frozen with karaoke music crackling. This was probably the most important task on my to-do list because it fuelled my soul for all the other necessary daily details.

Is this a familiar to-do list to anyone?

  1. Get up
  2. Survive
  3. Go back to bed

In the book, Simplify: Ten Practices to Unclutter Your Soul, Bill Hybels says it is imperative for a person to keep their own passion bucket full in order to positively influence the people around them. In His book, Hybels asks people to consider this question, “How does it feel to be filled up and replenished?”

This is how people described the full bucket life:

  • “I’m at my best when I’m filled up.”
  • “I pray my best prayers.”
  • “I feel the presence of God more consistently.”
  • “I’m more attentive to the whispers of the Holy Spirit.”
  • “I hear the voice of God more often than when I’m depleted.”
  • “I love my spouse and my family well.”
  • “I love perfect strangers. Heck, I even love Packer fans!” (When I hear this in Chicago, it’s impressive!)
  • “When I’m filled up, I make better decisions about my schedule. I’m careful not to overcommit.”
  • “I make better food choices and rest choices.”
  • “I feel more creative, more soulful.”

Unfortunately, when the passion bucket runs empty, irritability, frustration, resentment, apathy and lethargy sneak in pretty quick.

The definition of busy is: Having a great deal to do. The truth is life is busy and busy doesn’t mean bad. However, in the midst of the rigmarole, God knows it’s good for us to keep refilling the passion bucket. He said, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart” – Colossians 3:23. In other words, live a bucket-list-life. As you look at your day ahead, add a few extras to your to-do list that you know will seep some fervor into your soul.

Keep the bucket-filling rolling and waltz right into a bucket-list-life. These were some of my personal favorite “To-do list” items suggested by google:

  1. Get into a crowded elevator and say “I bet you’re all wondering why I gathered you here today.”
  2. Major in philosophy. Ask people WHY they would like fries with that.
  3. Run into a store, ask what year it is. When someone answers, yell “It worked!” and run out cheering.
  4. Change name to Simon.. Speak in third person.”
  5. Notice kindness
  6. Smile
  7. Learn something new
  8. Laugh
  9. Breathe
  10. Be thankful

Don’t Hate the Wait

Get this! In one year, you will spend around 13 hours waiting on hold for customer service, 38 hours delayed in traffic and about three full days waiting in line. Just reading these facts can conjure up aggravation.

I hate to wait. When I get a great idea, it needs to happen today! When I pick berries, I accumulate more in my belly than my bucket. I have always hated waiting. As a kid, I remember looking longingly at my sister’s brimming “savings” jar and resenting my empty one. I was tempted to switch the jar’s name tags as if I might be instantly rich by a simple label change. It didn’t work that way then – and it doesn’t now. The good news is, impulse control is a skill. It can be practiced and developed – and like any other skill – with practice, it gets easier and easier. And let’s just say … I’m working on it!

Waiting is hard. Yesterday, in a Professional Development workshop with Clinical Psychologist Dr. Peg Dawnson, I was reminded that learning to wait is critical. Dr. Dawson explained research shows that kids with better impulse control have better life outcomes. They are more likely to be successful in whatever endeavors they choose to pursue in life. If we learn to wait as kids, this benefits us long term. At the workshop, teachers, psychologists and parents considered the famous marshmallow youtuble video where young children display their impulse control skills by resisting the temptation to eat a marshmallow in order to earn more marshmallows at the end of the waiting period. I couldn’t help but think … I am like the marshmallow kids – Sometimes I just don’t get the waiting, and it’s hard to believe anything good is coming at the end.

When God tells us to wait – He knows this is for our long-term good too! God’s unrelenting love for us can be hard to grasp during waiting times. Unfulfilled desires can leave a person feeling ignored, unimportant and forgotten. Know this today: He has not forgotten you. Waiting is most difficult when you don’t know the details of the hold up. A traffic stop is especially maddening when you can’t see the barrier ahead and it is particularly annoying to wait on your coffee date if you don’t receive a text explaining the tardiness.

In your life, God sees the details of the hold up. You may not be able to get high enough to glimpse from His view – up above the dust and messiness of your present days – but know that He is God who sees. He always has your best in mind. He is 100% trustworthy. He is 100% on your side. Rest today trusting that He knows why you are waiting – and you don’t have to hate the wait.

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.” – Psalm 27:13-14


Choice Rewards

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” – Nelson Mandela

Hours ago I found myself on the phone with a Mastercard Choice Rewards representative … for the third time this week. You know the drill, a little time on hold – and finally the ringing begins … I could hear the controlled frustration rising slightly in the representative’s voice as I repeated the same questions and struggled to understand his answers. Truth be told, he was probably making perfect sense – but my brain processing time was at an all time low and the dots weren’t connecting for me… Let’s just say I had some rising frustration of my own.

As I huffed through my words – I stopped midsentence, recognizing that my tone was unkind. I couldn’t see the face on the other end. He didn’t know me. I didn’t know him. It seemed ok to let some fury flare– but while I was huffing out a frustrated sentence, I was reminded of this: I always have a choice. I could choose to live according to my values, and speak as I would to someone who knew me – or to let my annoyance fly because my female spaghetti brain was maxed right out … As if it was the Choice Reward rep’s fault. It wasn’t.

We never know what’s going on behind the smiling eyes and spoken lines of the people we pass daily. You can bet there are hurts, frustrations and disappointments that teem beneath the surface. We have a choice about how we treat people. Always.

In fact from the moment you wake up in the morning – you are making constant choices – they make up your life. Joshua 24:15 says, “Choose you this day who you will serve” … We get to choose what we give our energy to, and who we want to be. I want to be kind because my God is kind to me. I want to be kind when no one is looking – and when I can’t see the face of the person on the other end of the phone.

Choices are powerful.

“We are our choices” – J.P. Sartre

“Choice is what enables us to tell the world who we are.” – Unknown

“No matter what the situation, remind yourself ‘I have a choice’” – Unknown

Today, notice your choices. Own them. Let your choices truly represent your values – and you will reap some big Choice Rewards.

Keep Your Eyes On The Tries

Grrr! Ahg! Stupid, Stupid, Stupid! Uhhh! These were the sound bites oozing from my cousin Alyssa and I as we dug deep in Saskatchewan’s famous white stuff to set our snowbobile free from the clutches of being stuck. Our pre-teen snow day adventure was becoming a monstrous disappointment. The more we dug – the deeper the sled sunk, frustration grew and hope fled. Hope is a powerful thing. We all have hopes in life … I asked my students this week to offer synonyms for hope. One student held up the scribbled word, “Change.” It’s true! Feeling stuck in life makes a person feel powerless, helpless and deflated, but the hope of change inspires.

I would like to say that Alyssa and I worked hard enough to dig ourselves out of our hopeless dilemma, but we didn’t. We didn’t have a good strategy to get unstuck. We were focusing on the end result without considering the steps needed to get to that end result. Motivational speaker Reggie Rivers gives goal chasers this counter-intuitive instruction, “If you want to achieve your goals, don’t focus on them.”

American entrepreneur, producer and author Russel Simmons writes, “I know some people say “Keep your eyes on the prize,” but I disagree. When your eyes are stuck on the prize, you’re going to keep stumbling and crashing into things. If you really want to get ahead, you’ve got to keep your eyes focused on the path.”

To my cross-fit coach cousin and friend Alyssa, we may not have been able to get the sled unstuck from the banks of those unforgettable caragana trees, however, you have learned to dig so well in your life! Your courageous journey of health and empowerment is breathing hope to so many – and teaching this important principle: In order to get unstuck, sometimes we need to get our eyes off the prize and on the daily tries. Your commitment to achieving health and strength in your life has been energizing and captivating to track with. I remember you telling me, “It’s a journey, and sometimes you fall down, but you just get up and keep going!” Sometimes you were frustrated, but you never stayed stuck, you kept focusing on the daily behaviors that were taking you in the direction you wanted to move. Your goal was never to reach a certain weight, to fit into one particular dress or to flash a mirror appearance. It was always about health and strength – and as you daily focused on the right behaviors, you reached these goals, and more!

God didn’t make any of us to live stuck. His calculated design of the cosmos shows that He is a God of order. His battle plans for His people marching behind Joshua around Jericho show He is a God of strategy. Like Alyssa, let your digging strategy be to focus on the daily behaviors and feel yourself wiggle free from the things keeping you locked down. Let Alyssa’s words about her own journey trigger the determination inside of you to keep focused on the daily tries and not the far off prize. The daily choices and behaviours are what will keep you digging in the best ways to reach your goals and get unstuck, for good.