Bucket List

wild and precious life

You’re never going to believe what I did a few weeks ago.

Against all my better judgment, including aversion to animal smells, indoor litter boxes, and concern for my highly-allergic friends, I brought this into my house:

cute!You should know this wasn’t the first time I’ve considered getting a cat. Or the second, or the thirtieth. I grew up with cats, and perhaps my love for these little creatures started with “Nub,” (no making fun of the name, please.) How I loved that cat! Nub was a beautiful long-haired Persian, and part of my earliest memories as a child. In fact, my mom tells the story of the night Nub insisted on being let into my bedroom where I was sleeping as a tiny newborn. Out of curiosity she finally let the cat in. To my mom’s astonishment she found two babies nested together: me and Nub’s new kitten. How that mother cat negotiated that arrangement is still perplexing to my mom.

So, in other words, I guess that cat-love is in my blood.

But still. Hair. Litter box. Those things are part of the package. And that is why, contrary to my love for cats and my youthful resolve to always have one, I have spent most of my adult life in a clean, sanitary, allergy-free home. Until now.

Maybe it’s watching my kids grow up without the experience of something I loved. Or maybe the promises I made to myself are starting to haunt me. But probably….it’s the fact that I am 37, and I’m starting to notice something about life.

It’s going by quickly.

And all of those things I promised myself I would do…they aren’t getting done.

Mostly they aren’t getting done because they aren’t convenient. I am practical. I am organized. I am productive. And happiness? It doesn’t always fit in those categories. But the more life I am privileged to live, the more I am beginning to realize that at the end of the day, a checked off list maybe doesn’t matter as much as I used to think it did. A clean home? I love it…but it doesn’t leave me with too many precious memories. And in this paradigm, I am certainly not experiencing my allotment of joy.

So what did I do, when I arrived at this conclusion? I got a cat. And that is just the first step. Because now that I have it, I remember what happiness and being unpractical feels like. (In balance and moderation) it feels wonderful! Doing what you’ve always wanted to do in life is the glue that holds it all together. I love this kitty! And so do my kids. Can you tell?

photo 2My three year old has a new best friend.

photo 1My child with anxiety is finding such peace in holding this little animal.

My timid 5 year old is conquering her fear of claws and teeth.photo 3

Even my 14 year old son has said, “How have we ever gotten along without this cat?” My 12-year old animal lover is in heaven. And me? Well, let’s just say that this cat has the power of derailing my fierce determination to crush my to-do list, and you might find me sitting on the coach loving her instead of cooking dinner or picking up the house.

photo 4
Happiness, people! This is what it looks like. The Happy Gal has found some additional happiness in her life.

And I love it! And…it’s gotten me thinking…what else am I going to do with my “wild and precious life?” I know myself well enough to know that my practicality will talk me out of the other things that could bring me even more of this great happiness. These things are often hiding in our hearts, layered beneath the tasks that we “have” to do, or the questions of “what will happen” if we do them. If I don’t bring them to light now, I might miss my chance. After all, life is short and you get one shot at it. One shot at having little kids, one shot at this summer, one shot at creating something meaningful today.

So I’m getting real with what I think will bring me some happiness in life. Call it a bucket list of sorts. These aren’t goals, necessarily. They are just little things that, if I’m being honest, I dream about in my heart. Here is my list, and I’m going to follow it up with a little challenge to you. After you read mine, take 3 minutes to jot down what is in your heart. It doesn’t need to be perfect or even very cool. After all, one of mine was getting a cat! And for heaven’s sakes, in a minute I am actually going to admit that one day I want to be on Oprah! It doesn’t get more vulnerable or embarrassing than that!

Post your list where you can see it regularly. Add to it if you think of something new. Keeping that list in front of you is an easy way to give yourself a nudge in the direction of happiness. And it’s so worth it!

Ok, one last picture. And then my list.

photo 5

I mean, really!!! With the tongue and the paw on my brother’s hand? How could I have resisted?

Ok…on to the bucket list

1. Own a houseboat at Lake Powell (Go big or go home!)
2. Drive across country on a road trip with my husband
3. Go on a service trip with my kids to a third world country
4. Take the family to Hawaii before the first one leaves home
5. Go to Israel
6. Have a cat (check!)
7. Let her have kittens (don’t show my husband this!!! Just once, okay? I want my children to know the joy.)
8. Be on Oprah Winfrey (Did I really just post this on the Internet for everyone to read?)
9. Write a book
10. Be a keynote speaker
11. Certify as a life/success coach
12. Serve a mission for my church with my husband
13. Enjoy an annual girls trip with my daughters when they are old enough
14. Grow a beautiful vegetable garden
15. Take a European history course and then tour Europe.

That’s all I’ve got so far. Remember, I’m just opening up Pandora’s box here. There will be more to follow, I’m sure.

What about you? What do you want to do in your life? Carpe dium! Seize the day! Please share in the comments below.

For more inspiration, be sure to check out this amazing post by Sarah about Letting Go.


Image by Kristin Clove at cdotlove.blogspot.com


  1. Andrea says

    Reading this post made me want to get a dog for my boys! But since a few of us are allergic it most likely won’t happen. Thanks for the reminder that they are only little once…and we only get once shot at THIS summer.

    Hawaii is definitely on my bucket list. 🙂

    • jenny says

      So sorry about the dog allergies. We were lucky that didn’t stand in the way of the cat. I think Hawaii is on everyone’s bucket list! And as for this summer, what’s on your bucket list?

  2. NISHA says

    Oh girl, you did WHAT?! Haha…owning a pet of any kind is definitely NOT on my list!

    Here are a few things on my bucket list:
    Take my oldest daughter to NYC for her 16th birthday and see The Rockettes and other awesome Broadway
    Take many trips out of the country with my family (including Guatemala)
    Take a romantic trip to Greece with my hubby
    10 year anniversary to Hawaii with the hubs and do outrageous things every day
    Serve a mission

  3. Sarah says

    You are speaking my language Jenny! When I was in my 20’s I read a book that changed how I was living my life. In this book we put together what is called a N.O.W. list. I have been working on mine for a few years now. It has also shifted and changed a little through the years. Here are my top 10 right now:

    1. Learn to speak Spanish (working on it slowly!)
    2. Learn to play the guitar (still improving)
    3. Become an author
    4. Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro (went to Africa, but didn’t climb…yet!)
    5. Write music
    6. Help a dream come true for someone who can’t afford it
    7. Start and maintain a successful business
    8. Serve missions for my church
    9. Get my massage therapy license
    10. Take my kids on a humanitarian trip
    In the meantime, I am enjoying the simple moments with my kids, husband, and family and friends. Those are the ones that mean so much!
    PS you are really tempting me to buy my girls that puppy they have been asking for! Love the pics! So adorable!

    • jenny says

      Ooh, Sarah! I love your list. Okay, I am adding #6 – help a dream come true for someone who can’t afford it. Isn’t it wonderful to think about how many amazing things life has to offer?

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