Well.. This whole "guest blogger" idea has turned out to be a roaring success! When I tentatively put the idea out, on Twitter, I wasn't sure anyone would be remotely interested in writing for me. Got that wrong! Two guest posts have already been published, both Doctor Who related. Today, it is my pleasure to share the third guest post, and something a little different from the usual posts, in which my dear friend, Karen, gives us a warm and entertaining insight into the world of "bucket lists". It is a subject one would think would be rather depressing, but Karen's idea of "bucketing" while living, and not dying, is both uplifting and inspiring.
THE BUCKET LIST by Karen (@KarenKts11)
After my grandma had died, we were clearing out her flat and we kept coming across little packets at the back of drawers, carefully wrapped in tissue paper. Once opened, these were revealed to be various treasures she had accumulated over the years and put away for best. We had never seen any of these things before and it was clear they had never been used. There was some stunning opal jewellery her brother had sent her from Australia, never worn. There were some beautiful expensive table linens that had never been taken out of their packaging. There were a myriad other things. It seemed so sad that these things had never been enjoyed, they had been kept for a day that never came. I know the fear. I have some expensive handbags (a weakness of mine!) and I was always afraid to use them in case they got ruined. Eventually it struck me that there was no point owning them if I wasn't going to use and enjoy them. If they got ruined then they did, but I would have the pleasure of using them first.
This was one of the things that got me thinking about how life can sometimes be 'saved for best,' for that day when we have more money or more time. That day may never come and you could spend your life waiting for it. A programme I used to really enjoy on TV was The Labours Of Erica. In it Erica (Brenda Blethyn) had a list of things she wanted to achieve before she was 40. These thoughts coalesced until I decided to write a bucket list.
Traditionally of course, the bucket list has been something people write when they discover that they are dying. It has always seemed to me such a shame to try to do the things you have always wanted to, at the end of your life when you may be too physically frail to do them. Even if you are up to them physically, they cannot bring you the same joy in those circumstances. I would write a bucket list because I wanted to have a reason to be alive and not because I was dying.
There is something about having things written down in a list, that makes you want to do them and tick them off. It gives you a little extra motivation. I wrote down all the things I had always wanted to do. Top of the list was to visit Sydney, Australia. I had to get a bank loan to go and I have never, for one second, regretted that. My trip was the most wonderful holiday of my life and those experiences and memories can never be taken away from me, no matter what. I think about it often and I am SO glad I went. I was slightly concerned beforehand that it may be an anti-climax after all the years of wanting to go there and reading about it. If anything, it was even better than I had hoped!
I had always wanted to do a parachute jump. Instead of vaguely thinking 'one day' as I had in the past, now I looked up parachute jumps in the phone book and rang them up and booked it. The day of the jump was beautiful, I was incredibly lucky. Headcorn airfield was the location and I arrived feeling very nervous but determined. Up I went, with my tandem partner who I was harnessed to, in a small airplane (an experience in itself) Then came the moment of truth. Standing in that open doorway, looking down at the ground far far below I was truly terrified. I had a video made of my jump and the look on my face as I exited the plane is priceless!
As soon as I was out I absolutely loved it. I can't describe the wonderful sensation of freedom and exhilaration you get whilst free falling. Adrenalin pumped through me and I was so alive. Then the parachute opens and it is unbelievably peaceful and beautiful, drifting down to a patchwork of fields in the sunshine. When I landed, I was SO proud of myself for doing it. I felt such a sense of achievement. I have the video and the photos of that day but even without them it was an unforgettable experience.
Another thing on my list, was a day trip to Lapland to visit Father Christmas. I organised it and went with my friend and her young children, that was my excuse for going sorted! I love snow. I mean I really love snow. I dream about it sometimes. Living on the south coast of England I hardly ever get to see it. Lapland was blanketed in thick, beautiful snow. When we arrived we had a traditional drink in a Lapp tent, around a fire and were told traditional tales. We went on a sled pulled by huskies, we stroked reindeer and went in a sled pulled by them. We went on a snowmobile ride on a carpet of snow, through thick forests and under the spectacular Northern Lights dancing green in the sky. We were taken to a wood cabin in the middle of the forest and there the children sat on Santa's knee and were each given a bell, the traditional gift. We visited Santa's post office. We were miles from anywhere, when the airplane had come in to land, the handful of wooden buildings associated with Santa were all you could see. The rest was trees and snow, in all directions. There were just the people on our plane and the day was truly magical. As an adult, there are few experiences that are genuinely enchanting and magical, but this was one. It was the best day of my life.
Back to the bucket list. I wanted to get a tattoo done. Again it was something I had always wanted to do and had always thought 'one day.' That day was now. I decided on a simple heart and I made the appointment. I had it done and again I felt so proud that I had, I realised that even when I'd been saying 'one day' to myself, I had never really thought I'd ever do it. Someone actually said to me that I was the last person on earth they thought would ever get a tattoo. I was really pleased with that. I was pushing my boundaries and surprising people and myself.
Not all the things on my bucket list are big, expensive or permanent. One of the things I wanted to do was be in a car as it went through a car wash! We never had a car as a family and I have never driven, so it was something I'd never done but had seen on TV and always wanted to experience. My friend took me to the fanciest local car wash and as the first roller thing approached the car I started laughing, something about it struck me as so funny and exciting at the same time. I laughed the whole time and thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a unique experience. Another thing ticked off the list.
Some of the things on my list I'm unlikely ever to do, go into space, for example. Although never say never and all that! There are many other things on my list both big and small and I have done quite a few already. Nearly all the best experiences of my life have come from the bucket list and without it I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have done most of them. Why not write your own bucket list today? Live your life now, don't save it for best.
You can follow Karen on Twitter @KarenKts11