Kaylin’s Bucket List

cleaning_service_bucket_with_sponges_chemicals_bottles_and_cg1p70148695c_thIf you don’t live your days by goals and plans, chances are you spend most of your time caught up in a flurry of day-to-day activities and self-imposed obligations that you can’t seem to complete, no matter how hard you try. Do you ever feel that your days are passing you by without any tangible output to speak of? What did you accomplish in the past 3 months? What are your upcoming goals for the next 8 months? Look at the things you did and the things you’re planning to do next — Do they mean anything to you if you were to die today? Having a bucket list reminds you of what’s really important so you can act on them.

Even if you frequently live by goals or to-do lists, they are probably framed within a certain social context e.g. performance, career, health. A bucket list opens up the context. It’s a forum to set anything and everything you’ve ever wanted to do, whether it’s big, small or random.

It’s just like planning ahead all the highlights you want for YOUR whole life. 😀 Even though goal setting is already my staple activity, I still found many new things to do while I was writing on my own list. It was an incredibly insightful exercise. What’s more, coming up with my list gave me a whole new layer of enthusiasm knowing what’s in store ahead!

The objective of creating this list isn’t to instill some kind of a race against time or to create aversion toward death. I don’t see our existence to be limited to just our physical years on earth — I don’t see our existence to be limited to just our physical years on earth — our physical lifespan is but a short speck of our existence in the universe.

The whole point of creating your list is to maximize every moment of our existence and live our life to the fullest. It’s a reminder of all the things we want to achieve in our time here, so that instead of pandering our time in pointless activities, we are directing it fully toward what matters to us. So with this in mind, here is my current bucket list. Things that I long to do before taking my last breath:

  1. Travel: I have literally been around the world via airplanes and cruise ships, but there are still a few places I’d love to see in this lifetime. These unique locations include: Chile, India, Cuba, Argentina, Egypt and Finland.
  2. Experiences: Keeping in mind some of these countries, imagine journeying the entire length of Chile’s Pacific coastline. You’d start in the lunar-like Atacama Desert and end in a land of water and ice, as the country splinters away to the Tierra del Fuego — a gateway to Antarctica. In between lie the Lake District’s volcanoes, valleys blanketed with vineyards, and the stark mountains and rock formations of Patagonia’s Torres del Paine. Then, far away from the mainland, seemingly marooned in the ocean, is enigmatic Easter Island. India, Cuba, Argentina and Egypt are easy when it comes to adventures. There are hundreds of things to experience there: visit the Taj Mahal, taste Havana rum, meet gauchos, and view pyramids. But nothing beats sleeping under the Northern Lights in a glass igloo and sledding with reindeer in snow-covered Finland. Or snorkeling in the glaciers of Iceland. Now that’s what I call fun!
  3. Personal Fitness: I’m notorious for savoring wine, eating on the run, snacking while writing, and taste testing dinner so I can get to the yummy desserts (especially if chocolate is involved). Exercise is the last thing on my mind every day, especially when I wakeup and remember a dozen things that need to be addressed. But the only way to fit back into the new wardrobe I recently bought is by shaving off a few pounds, reducing my wine intake and eating sensibility. So my list needs to include a healthy regiment and fewer trips to the plastic surgeon’s office for botox and liposuction procedures.
  4.  Mentoring: Obviously, teaching is one of the most rewarding things we can do. No matter how old you are, even if you are in your teens, you are always in the position to mentor someone else — perhaps someone who is more junior than you or someone who is older but can benefit from a particular expertise you have. Mentoring others is also a great way for you to develop yourself too and to share your abilities with others. So maybe it’s time for me to reach out and offer up some writing tips and advice to others.

Do you have a bucket list? A collection of dreams you’d like to turn into reality? As I’ve learned after losing wonderful people to diseases and tragic accidents, life is much shorter than we imagine, so don’t wait too long to act. Find ways to make yourself happy and to push yourself beyond your limits and comfort zone. The memories you’ll be left with are the material stories are made of, whether they be written down or told time and again.

A little Irish humor goes a long ways…

MercedesOn a golf tour in Ireland, Tiger Woods drives his Mercedes into a petrol station in a remote part of the Irish countryside. The pump attendant who knows absolutely nothing about golf, greets him in a typical Irish manner completely unaware of who the golfing pro is.

“Top of the mornin’ to yer, sir,” says the attendant.

Tiger nods a quick “hello” and bends forward to pick up the nozzle. As he does so, two tees fall out of his shirt pocket onto the ground.

“What are those?”, asks the attendant.

“They’re called tees,” replies Tiger.

“Well, what on this god’s earth are dey for?” inquires the Irishman.

“They’re for resting my balls on when I’m driving”, says Tiger.

“The Devil you say”, says the Irishman, “Mercedes thinks of everything!”

The Writer’s Greatest Enemy

Laptop computer and coffee in the gardenIt happens to every writer. It’s inevitable. Your prose has turned to mush, you don’t have a creative bone left in your body, and you want to throw in the towel.

Writer’s block. Every writer struggles with it. But what you do with it is what really matters. Before I write about solutions, though, it’s important to understand the problem.

 

Common causes of writer’s block

The reasons for your block may vary, but some common ones include:

  • Timing: It’s simply not the right time to write. Your ideas may need to stew a little longer before writing them down.
  • Fear: Many writers struggle with being afraid, with putting their ideas (and themselves) out there for everyone to see and critique. Fear is a major reason some writers never become writers and never fulfill their dreams.
  • Perfectionism: You want everything to be just right before you ever put pen to paper or touch a keyboard. You try to get it perfect in your head and never do, so you never begin.

So how do I vanquish this enemy?

It’s a tough question to answer, and I’m afraid I don’t have a great solution. I’ve personally wrestled with writer’s block on numerous occasions, and each victory looked different.

That’s the thing about writing: it’s an art, not a science. And you’ll have to approach it as such. There is no formulaic fix, no “7 Steps to Becoming a Better Writer Now.”

Well, except for one. But you already know what it is: Start hacking away. Begin trying stuff. Sometimes, the quirkier, the better. The trick is find something that works for you.

Creative solutions to writer’s block

Here are a few ideas to help you work through your creative constipation:

  • Go for a walk or a short drive. I find nothing works better than a ten minutes trip through the garden or along a peaceful waterway.
  • Eliminate distractions. Turn off the radio, television, even your phone if necessary.
  • Do something to get your blood flowing. Stretch, grab a cup of coffee…whatever it takes.
  • Change your environment. If working behind a desk on a computer becomes intimidating, try putting your feet up on a recliner and typing on your laptop.
  • Read a book. Sometimes words and scenarios from other authors can inspire you.
  • Write nonstop with only the ideas of your story or character conversations in mind.
  • Listen to music. Try classical, easy listening, blues or jazz…and mix it up a bit to spark ideas.
  • Relax your mind with a small glass of wine. This is definitely a tension reliever. But don’t finish off the bottle.
  • Start a routine. Many famous writers have daily writing schedules to summon the Muse.
  • Spend time with someone who makes you feel good. A fellow writer, a grandchild, even a puppy.
  • Call an old friend and catch up on each other’s lives.
  • Brainstorm ideas in bullet points or by creating a board on Pinterest.
  • Read some inspiring quotes in books or online to get you started.

The possibilities are endless, but movement is critical. You need to generate momentum to get out of your funk.

Once you start heading in a direction, it’s easier to pick up speed. And before you know it, your block will be a distant memory and you’ll be doing what you once thought impossible. You’ll be writing!

The fail-proof solution

If you’re still not satisfied, you have one last resort, an ace up your sleeve. The silver bullet solution. The fail-proof way to overcome writer’s block is one you already know. In fact, you’ve been avoiding it this whole time, because it’s precisely what you don’t want to hear.

You overcome writer’s block simply by writing. Start somewhere, anywhere. Write a few lines. Say anything. And see what happens. Don’t think about it too much or make any fancy announcements. Just write. It doesn’t need to be eloquent or presentable; it just needs to be written.

And remember…write for the joy of writing. Because you can’t not do it. Don’t try to say or produce anything; just get some words on paper, now. No more excuses or justifications.

You can write. Don’t make it harder than it has to be. Just type a few words. They don’t have to be good (all first drafts suck). It just has to be written. Then at least you have something to work on.

If you do this, you’ll get past the hump. I promise. The difference between professional writers and amateurs is this: Both encounter blocks, but one pushes through while the other gets paralyzed.

So get busy. Write like there’s no tomorrow…and when it comes to creativity, don’t let anything stand in your way.

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