Kickin’ The Bucket List

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My confession: I don’t have a Bucket List.

My confession expanded: I don’t see the need for a Bucket List.

My confession to its conclusion: Bucket Lists seem constricting to my sensibilities.

Yes, I know!  Having a spread sheet in Excel of ALL THE THINGS for a Bucket List is very chic, very hip.


Want to know my biggest regret?

I’ve often said that I live a small life.  What I mean to express is that what comes my way, in my space, I’m happy to have.  What I don’t do is make a to-achieve list before I, um, kick mah bucket.  When I think of a Bucket List I wonder, “What’s the point?”  No really.  I think that every. stinkin’. time.

Before those of you who have a Bucket List grab the torches and pitchforks, I should explain myself with a biographical story.

Once upon a time, in the wondrous state of Texas, there lived a young mommy.  She was happy.  She was raising her family.  Every day she was hustlin’, hustlin’.

As she was moving through her life, she noticed a weirdo spot on her leg that seemed to have changed.  Off to the doc she went.  The doc poked and looked and declared her A-OK!  The young mommy wasn’t convinced, so the doc cut that spot off and sent it to other docs.

Word came, by phone, when the young mommy was in the midst of cleaning the toilets.  She had to sit down and shake the disbelief from her head: C-A-N-C-E-R.  Melanoma to be precise.

Back to the docs she went.  Back to get clean margins and talk of life expectancy and odds.  The docs told her she’d have to wait for weeks for the results, but Young Mommy went all Terms of Endearment on their asses and she knew within one week that it was stage one with no spreading to far away organs.  As her oncologist predicted, “You’ll live to be an old woman.”

There was much celebrating and crying from the sheer relief, as all she could think about during that horrible no-good week was the family, the young son, she would leave behind if the news turned dire.

Yep.  That young mommy was me.  At one point in the week o’fun between discovery and diagnosis, the docs told me the worst case scenario was that I had six months.

Six. Months.

It is no exaggeration to say that Husband and I took care of business in that one week.  I mapped Boy’s eduction and what would be needed, so that Husband could continue with our original plan.  Our estate was settled.  We made our horrible, painful, crybaby peace with what might befall our lovely little family.  We told family and friends.  We controlled the chaos as much as we could.

Then, a blessed grace that I could have never earned, bought or begged:  “You’ll live to be an old woman.”  For the record, when I heard my oncologist declare such a bold statement, his words were not his own, they were straight from God.  No one will ever convince me otherwise.

The other amazing grace I was allowed during that excruciating week: I understood in a pinpointed moment what was important and what was hubris.

The sins of others I had held tight: dissolved.

My sins: forgiven.

The day to day nonsense of my world, the self-centered, demanding, WHAT ABOUT MY NEEDS, seemed comically ridiculous.

Here’s a few fun facts about Melanoma:

* Melanoma can only be cured by excising the tumor completely.

* There’s no chemo that can touch it, nor radiation that works towards a cure.

* You either get it all out with knives, or you suffer until it spreads and kills you.

* Most people have no idea it’s one of the few cancers that doesn’t have a hopeful course of action towards cure.

Talk about a HOLY SHIT moment.  Um, yeah.

My life went from broad gray paintbrush strokes to fine-tipped color markers.  Suddenly, I knew what mattered.  Suddenly, I had all the answers to the questions we ask ourselves our entire lives.  Suddenly, I could see.

Want to know my biggest regret?  Wanna know the one thing that has stayed with me all these years later?

I had denied myself way too much chocolate cake.

I kid you not.

WHAT A WASTE!  I should have had MORE CAKE!  This, of course, was a literal and figurative revelation.

I had been so worried about tomorrow that I had neglected today.  Today, every now and again, I am reminded that my vision is too focused on tomorrow and I eat cake.  Seriously.

Seems too simplistic, right?

Of course you should plan for tomorrow.  I’m a huge proponent of planning.  The one thing you can find me doing is making a list of all the things I plan to do.  While there are definitely things I would do if offered the opportunity, I’m not pining for random goals.  I don’t spend time wishing for and building a bucket list.

I almost had it all taken.  I almost bought the farm.  I came thisclose to being six feet under.


What a stunning surprise.

The other reason I don’t waste my time concocting an arbitrary list is because I’m busy living where I am, baby.  My life might be small in terms of world travel or experience, but I’m livin’ large in terms of where I’ve been planted and it suits me; my small life makes me happy.

I’ve had friends die too early from disease.  I’ve lost family.  I’ve witnessed too much pain to worry about a list.

I gots to live now, here, with all I have in me, and not worry about checking off a life’s to-do list.

Gives me the freedom to be who I am, where I am.

Boots anxiety, over a trendy list, to the curb.

Allows more servings of chocolate cake.

My Bucket List = no Bucket List.

Go live.



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  1. So glad you proved the diagnosis wrong! I also don’t like by a bucket list… it takes away from the fun and spontaneity of life I think.

  2. “Eat more cake!” is my battle cry and life’s motto. I share in your no bucket list philosophy. We just try to live as we want to and as best we know how to each day. Great piece!

  3. As a fair skinned Irish gal who grew up in Florida during a time that ‘sunscreen” meant baby oil, I have become all too familiar with the signs of skin cancer. Fortunately, I not yet had the terrifying scare of melanoma but know others who have. Life is, indeed, much too unpredictable to deny ourselves cake. Extra forks for everyone!

  4. I also don’t have a bucket list, can’t see the point I am too lazy to do anything I would put on such a list………lol
    With all the no no’s in life today with children it is amazing we all survived and of course we were all happy little children

  5. You are amazing…that is all…Now I’m going to go eat my chocolate covered Oreos, because life is too short without them. Love your outlook! XOXO

  6. What a touching and personal post! I am so glad you shared! What a great reminder of the power of Faith, and Grace.

  7. I made a bucket list about six or seven years ago. Here it is: I want to dance with my wife at my granddaughter’s wedding (she’s seven now). What a great article; I too am glad you are going to live to be an old lady!

  8. Love your perspective, Patti. I’m so glad you’re sharing it with all of us.

  9. You GO GIRL- EAT. MORE. CAKE. You’re an inspiration. ♥

    • LOL! Thank you, Kathy! (and if anyone is reading this comment other than Kathy, SHE’S the inspiration for fighting for her right to keep her chickens. I think you’re the inspiration, girl.)

  10. wow.. what a great read. I am glad to hear you beat the odds… I may need to rethink my own bucket list! 😉

  11. I’m just so glad this turned out well for you. And I had no idea that Melanoma was as dangerous as you’ve described. That makes your outcome even more remarkable.
    When my kids would fret over things in school (“I should have chosen another prom date. I should have studied harder for math instead of government. ” etc etc) my standard reply was “live in the present.” After awhile I started taking my own advice. That’s why I have no bucket list. Can’t do anything about yesterday and tomorrow may never arrive. Just enjoy what’s right in front of you and make THAT right!

    • Exactly! (on both the melanoma being incredibly dangerous and living in the moment.) All we have is the moment we’re in. Live it. Live it. And be ready for more cake!

  12. Live in this moment. YES YES YES. I whole heatedly agree. I don’t have a bucket list. I have things I want to do of course, but I don’t stop what I am doing to do that. I love living in the now. Doing things in THIS moment to make me happy. Now, go eat more cake!

  13. Your post got me tearing up. Specially that last line. Amen. So glad you got a chance to do that…and not just for 6 months.

  14. Beautifully written! I can only imagine the emotions in that week.

  15. What a great blog post. So very glad things turned out well. I read a suggestion recently about calling it a life list. instead of a bucket list. That’s much less morbid and a lot more inspiring, I think!

  16. This is so beautiful! I am so happy we have such a beautiful woman & your beautiful soul today. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I have shared on my social media pages. Lots of love ~your friend from TXWB, Lisa/ Princess Mousey


  1. […] It is well-established that I like cake and have made it my life’s mission to eat more of it. […]

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