Happiness Challenge Day 20

When you think of a to do list, you think of things like grocery shopping, deep clean the bathroom, and vacuuming. Especially during the week of Thanksgiving. You’re most likely going to have people coming over so you’re cleaning the baseboards, getting rid of the cobwebs in the corners, and dusting inside the lamps. I’ve got a friend who posted the best time to be in and out of the grocery store this week was Monday from eight to ten pm. Now you know for next year. There are people getting their to-do list ready for the holidays – gifts to get, good to make, decorations to hang, movies to watch.

If I’ve got a lot of things I’ve got to get done, I will make a list. I tend to be very forgetful. I am the exact person that walks into Walmart to buy toilet paper, comes out with two hundred dollars worth of groceries, and forgets the toilet paper.

My to do list has changed over the years. The name of it has changed. Because “to do list” is more of a list of things you have to get done a list of chores that need to get done that day, in the next couple days, or that week even. And I get the importance of those things but I suppose my list is more of a bucket list. Much like getting bills in the mailbox or shipping that package to Mom and Dad, the things on my bucket list are equally important to me. And it’s recently occurred to me that I may have more years behind me than I do in front of me. I’ve seen a lot of good people go for what we thought was their time.

My bucket list has less things on it and more experiences and places I want to go. The biggest and most important one is to become a full-time writer. I’d love be home and write. I would like to earn enough money to support my family and live comfortably. I think that’s the goal for every writer. I had the opportunity, before I went back to work, to write. I just didn’t have the confidence in myself. I’m kicking my own ass for that. I wasted a lot of time life not writing. I let other people tell me what my goals and dreams should have been. I let others make my to do list – my bucket list – should have been.

I’m taking that all back, and I’m starting with writing. That’s why put out as many books and blogs as I do. I have so many ideas that I have shelved and put on the back burner for so long. Those ideas have been waiting too long to come out. At the time of writing this one, I have two other books that I’m working on. That’s on top of the other four books that I’ve written in two years. My mom was telling me that I might be focusing on my word count too much, especially during nanowrimo. That’s the whole point of nanowrimo: getting your first draft out. I would rather have a crappy first draft then an unfinished manuscript. Les Brown said it best. He got this from another mentor, another teacher of his. He said, “Imagine you’re on your deathbed and surrounding you is not your family and your friends. Instead, you are surrounded by all the ideas, all the projects you never worked on. And they are staring at you with cold, dark, lifeless eyes. And they say to you, ‘Only you could have given us life. Only you could have could have brought us out into the world. We came to you and you didn’t do what you needed to do and now we have to die with you.'”

That’s a terrible thought and it’s exceedingly motivating for me. Because there’s some of these characters that have been living in my head for so long I have to get them out. There is no way that I want them buried with me. The last thing I want is to be in the afterlife and have these creepy critters rolling around with me in whatever form the afterlife decides to take for me.

I’m really grateful that I got Jimmy Natale out of my head. He had been living up there for five years. I love his evolution as a character. Not a lot of people know that he started off looking like Trevor Phillips from Grand Theft Auto V. He was a lot scarier.

And that’s the thing with writing. I love seeing how a story evolves, how a character changes. To not write would deprive me of that. I’m writing. I’m going to write all the things. I’m going to keep writing until I can’t write anymore.

Another item on my bucket list is to take my parents to Disney World. They’ve been taking me since I was fifteen. They’ve always taken my family. Just one time, I want to take them to Disney World. I want them to know what it’s like to be spoiled – the way they’ve done for me and my family. I want for them to be able to just show up at the hotel and have it paid for. Park tickets, food, everything taken care of. I can’t wait to be able to do that for them. They deserve it. My parents have worked hard all their lives.

I know a lot of people give my folks grief for going to Disney World as much as they do. To those people I have this to say: let people enjoy things. My parents going to Disney World has no effect on your life. It brings them joy. It brings them together. For crying out loud, the first time I’ve ever seen my parents hold hands is when they’re at Disney World was when I was sixteen years old. It was on Main Street, USA. If people enjoy things like Disney World and the only reason you’re mad is because you’re not going yourself, get over yourself. My parents worked hard all their lives. They deserve their retirement. If they want to go to Disney World once, twice, three times a freaking year, let them go. Just one time, I want to be able to take them. I pay for everything for them. Even my dad’s Mickey Mouse watch that he gets every trip. I want to buy my dad a beer at the Boardwalk pool bar.

And speaking of taking a trip with the family, I want to take my family – husband, step kids, kids – to where I grew up, Philly. I want to show them my old neighborhood, my mom and dad’s house and backyard. Maybe I would take him to a Phillies game. We would take them to see the zoo. I’m going to make them run up the art museum steps just like Rocky did. I can’t wait to see the look on their faces when they turn around and see that there’s about a hundred more steps behind them from where he decided to stop and do his little jumping up and down jig. I want to take my son to the Academy of Natural Sciences so he can see the dinosaurs. I know my husband would really enjoy seeing Eastern State Penitentiary.

My bucket list isn’t very long. There’s not a whole lot to it. The other things that I could think of on here would be pet a sloth and get a corgi. Yeah, the pet a sloth has to happen. Down in Branson there is a zoo that has a pet a sloth experience. It’s about two hundred dollars. I think I could start a go fund me. I think people would pay for me to cry over seeing a sloth.

Me and Kristen Bell. I’m telling you – I’m in good company. She just thought there was a sloth in her house and she was breaking down, hysterical crying. Kudos to her husband for knowing that she loves sloths so much that he went out, found somebody who had a sloth, and had them come and set up a habitat in the house so that she can have a sloth for her birthday party. Are you kidding me? That guy gets bonus gold stars. That is a total gold star moment. Way to go, Dax, for knowing your wife so well. I would cry just getting to see a sloth (actually, really did and made a fool of myself at the zoo.) I can totally imagine petting a sloth and holding a sloth. I totally am not going to steal a sloth. That’s never crossed my mind whatsoever. I have never considered stealing a sloth. I have no idea how that sloth got in my backpack as I left the zoo.

And as for the Corgi, I’m working on that one. The thing about bucket lists is it’s great to make lists. It is. Lists are amazing. There are whole journals built around making lists. Some therapists say if you’re going through a little bit of a depression, a little bit of sadness, to start making lists of things that do make you happy.

Making lists is great but if you don’t do anything about then it’s just words on paper. I can write a list that includes going to the store, and picking up milk and sugar. That’s awesome. Good job. You wrote it down. Now, do the things. That’s why it’s called a To Do List. You have to do the things on your list. I want to be a full-time writer. To do that you have to right to be a writer. In my case, I have to learn how to do the business side of things. It’s a little difficult while working a full-time job. I’m thinking of starting in January. I’m going to start buckling down on the business side of things. I can start marketing a little bit better. I need to market a little bit better. And i need to learn what I need to do in order to get those things done. How do you set up a landing page? How do you set up an author page? How do you set up newsletters to go out every month to people and start an email list? These are all steps that I need to take in order to get to the end goal.

You have got to take the steps. You have got to run the marathon to get your gold medal. I’m still in my marathon because the gold medal for is being a full-time writer. And making a living that way is actually part of the steps for being able to do things like take my parents to Disney World and take my family to Philly you. It’s like a triathlon at this point. I know I have to get through the first part so they can do the other two.

I want to Corgi. Guess what? I don’t rely on anyone else to get me a corgi. Although, that would be really nice if a lone Corgi would walk onto my property. I’d be really OK with all of that. If somebody wanted to just, you know, give me a corgi, I’d really be OK with all of that. I would not complain at all. That being said, I would very much like a corgi. So I’m doing the research. I am finding breeders that are in my area and price range. I have it narrowed down to about two or three. I know about how much it’s going to cost. Im aware this is no cheap feat. I’m OK with that because I’m working on making more money for my family.

That’s the thing with goals. They have to be attainable and measurable. You know you need this amount of money you. Then you’ve got to figure out how you can get that. Make it, earn it, win it.

And you have to be unrelenting, unfaltering, unwavering in your belief that you’re going to be able to obtain whatever it is you’re going after. Bucket lists aren’t just for seventy year old guys who are dying of cancer and want to jump out of an airplane. And if that’s a thing you want to do, that’s great. I’m so happy for you that you want to do that. If that’s on your bucket list, you are a special kind of crazy. There is nothing normal about wanting to jump out of a perfectly functioning aircraft. That is the exact opposite of what you are supposed to do. You’re supposed to sit down and get some where. The ground is not supposed to be your end destination with a parachute on your back. OK? That being said, if that’s your deal, you’re not hurting me so do your thing.

To get to your goals you have got to take the steps. My goal is to put a manuscript out thirty days. In order to have a finished manuscript, I have to put out one word at a time. Which I’ve been doing really well with this one, by the way. This has been going so well. I’m really excited. It’s pretty much the best part of this happiness challenge. The best part has been writing. This has actually made me happier because I’m getting all the thoughts out of my head. I really enjoy that part. The daily challenges haven’t been real happy making for me, but the actual writing has and that is a win in my book.

Although, I do want to cross fifty thousand words this year because I want my t-shirt. I will get a nanowrimo winner t-shirt.

My to do list doesn’t include things like go pick up butter from Walmart, mail off the electric bill. It does include some life-changing events. And for those event to take place, there are steps that need to be taken to get from point A to point B to point C, all the way to the end goal. Which, with my luck, will wind up being point AA, point AB, point AC. Because, why not?

I will take the steps needed to reach my bucket list, my goals. And they may not happen immediately, but I’m doing what is necessary to make those dreams come true. And it is one step at a time. And even though it seems like I’m traveling by inches instead of miles somedays, I’m getting closer to where I want to be.

Today, I will cross off items for my to do list.


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