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What You Really Get Out of a Bucket List

I’m joining The Bucket List movement.  I haven’t up until now.   When the movie came out in 2008, I wasn’t that impressed. I know, I know- everyone loves Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. But it just didn’t ring true to me. Lists like “Things I want to do by my 50th birthday”, and “Things I want to do when the kids are gone” have been around forever. To me, it just seemed like another list of things I have to do- and I have plenty of them. No thanks!

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2013 Women’s Half Marathon

But recently I did something that I’ve wanted to do for 10 years- and I feel differently now.

Marathon Bucket List

More Women’s Half Marathon

I ran the More Women’s Half Marathon in Central Park NYC- almost 3000 miles from my California home. When I read about this run years ago it seemed so out of reach. But the thought of being able to run 13 miles in New York City sounded amazing. NYC is the center of the world.  And I’ve seen Central Park in so many movies; it is so beautiful and romantic.  It sounded like a far-off dream, something I’d never be able to do.

I did start running, at least that moved me a little closer to my goal.  Eventually my 2-3 mile runs lengthened out and I started running distances. Still, even though I’d run about ten local half marathons, a run 3000 miles away seemed out of reach.   I needed a running buddy to go with me and each year, life would get in the way and no one could make it. Every spring, the run would come and go- and I wouldn’t make it.  I’d have a twinge of regret each time it passed.

We're excited to run

Ready to Run in Central Park

This year was different. My sister went with me and we finally made it! On a bright sunny morning we found ourselves among 10,000 women in Central Park at dawn. She was in the front with the faster runners; I was a little further behind chatting with women from Florida and Long Island.  There were women of all ages, all types with the same goal as I had- to be here and enjoy this experience.

Still, I didn’t realize what really happens when you do something that’s on a bucket list. During that run, I thought of my life in a way I hadn’t done for a while. I stepped back and looked at the bigger picture.  I saw the past and how I got here. And I realized that through it all I’ve had an amazing life. It hasn’t been easy; but it has made me what I am.

I thought of my life, my upbringing in a poor Italian family with 5 daughters, I thought of my first husband- in and out of mental hospitals.  I thought of the $10 an hour job I was lucky to get as a single Mom.  I thought of my second husband who rescued me. I thought of my wonderful life, our home and four kids.  Each step of that 13.3 miles I was astounded at how lucky I’d become- lucky for each moment, lucky for each step, lucky for each experience.

I cried almost all of the 13.3 miles. It wasn’t pain, it was emotion.  Now, I’m pretty emotional by the end of any run, by mile 12 my body is taxed and all of my defenses are down. So I tend to get teary.  But this time the experience was one of wonder, and amazement, and healing. I came to appreciate all of my life, the good and the bad. It’s what has made me who I am.

And for this, I’m tremendously thankful.  As doubtful as I was about a bucket list, it turned out to be so much more than I thought it would be.

So, be brave! Make that list. I can’t promise you that it won’t come with tears- but I hope they’ll be the good kind.

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  1. Dawn Biocca

    This was a great post. I am so proud of you and Martina for doing this. One of the things that is on my “Bucket List” is the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk for the Cure. I have been wanting to do this for about 6 years. I talked with several friends of mine and they just can’t do it but I finally found a long time friend who has also been wanting to do it and she has a friend in NC who has wanted to do it. So the plan is that 2014 is our year to walk those 60 miles. We don’t know what city we will be in with 2 of us in CA and 1 in NC we have the whole country to chose from. I am a little scarred about doing it but on the other hand I have had so many friend die from Breast Cancer and the last one was a wonderful women named Linda who had been such a positive force in the eight years I knew her. She passed away on August 6, 2012. That Birthday and the many to follow will never be the same. If there is just one little way I can help to find a cure then I have to do it.

    As far as other things on my list I have not really thought about it much. I have enough to do getting from one day to the next. Although I do like you “I have enough lists thank you” and I had never thought about it in the way you put it. It puts a different light on it.

    • Virginia

      Thanks Dawn, what a wonderful goal for you! I know you can do it! And, what a wonderful memorial for your friend. Glad we both can think of the Bucket list as something more than just another lists of things we “have to get done”. Thanks for sharing, Virginia

  2. Ginger Kay

    Congrats on the run! I’m not a list maker, so, no bucket lists for me.

    • Virginia

      Ginger- I was just like you so I understand. It’s not for everyone. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Virginia

  3. Joy Weese Moll (@joyweesemoll)

    Terrific post. Bucket list always seemed a bit macabre to me, but you’ve inspired me to make a “50 things to do in my 50s” list.

    Congrats on the run! That’s a great achievement.

    • Virginia

      That’s great Joy- I was kinda thinking it would be like that for me also. I am moving forward on my next item on the list and that’s skydiving. I have to say though that I think I may chicken out- bok, bok, bok. Thanks for sharing! Virginia