Monday, July 12, 2010

Art Inspires Life -- Bucket Lists

by Pamela Palmer

First of all, can I just say I hate the term 'bucket list'? It's such a negative term for such a brilliant idea. If you're not familiar with them, a bucket list is a list of all the things you want to do before you 'kick the bucket'. These don't have to be big save-the-world kinds of items. In fact, usually they're not. They're things like take a hot air balloon ride or learn to knit. In my case, they're things like learn to fight or shoot a gun.

Which is where the art inspiring life comes in. A lot of the things on my own bucket list actually fall more into the column of research. Not the necessary kind of research, like knowing what the Potomac River looks like from the rocks high above, where the Feral Warriors perform some of their most important rituals. I don't need to know how to fight in order to write battle scenes any more than I need to know what it feels like to shift into an animal in order to write about it. I can imagine both very well. But that doesn't mean I'm not curious.

Delaney Randall, the heroine of Obsession Untamed, book 2 in my Feral Warriors series, is a human FBI agent and a crack shot. Olivia, the Therian heroine of Rapture Untamed, book 4, is an expert at hand-to-hand combat. The only fighting I've ever done was with my little brother when we were kids. What would it be like to possess Delaney's or Olivia's skills? I'm not going to join the FBI to find out. (Sorry Feds, but I'm on deadline.) Nor am I ever going to be immortal. But it occurred to me that I can still get a glimpse into my characters' worlds.

Actually my thinking about a bucket list started last fall when my twelve-year-old niece earned her black belt in Tae Kwon Do. My first thought? Cool! My second thought? I want one! I decided why not. I'd give it a try just as soon as I got the book done. But then I had another book due. And another. You get the picture.

Which is where the bucket list comes in. Instead of writing a list of New Years resolutions this year, I sat down and made a list of all the things I'm currently inspired to do and see. Everything I could think of. Try Tae Kwon Do. Learn to shoot a gun. See Iceland. Some are research-related, others are just things that sound like fun. But the point is, I want to experience them. Someday. But someday has a way of never coming. So I made myself a promise that I'd focus on one item a year. Just one. And suddenly the impossible doesn't seem so impossible after all.

A few weeks ago, I signed up for Tae Kwon Do and I've already earned my first belt. Okay, it was the white belt, but it's a start. I'm learning to kick, to punch, and I've even broken a couple of legit boards with my fist, which was seriously cool. Will I eventually earn a black belt? Maybe, maybe not, but the point is, I finally made 'someday' happen.

Think about the things you'd put on your own list. What interests you? Excites you? Inspires you? What one thing could you commit to doing/trying/investigating this year? These aren't things you have to tell anyone but yourself, but if you'd like to share something from your own list, I'd love to hear it!

And if you have a better, more positive sounding name than Bucket List, I'd love to hear that, too!


Anonymous said...

What about a Life List! Afterall the point of it is to live your life to the fullest right?

Sharon S. said...

congrats on taking TKD! The whole family got Blackbelts last year. I love it, especially the weapons. Bo staff is my fav. I want to become a State Champion in forms, weapons and sparring (got 4 tournaments this year). I actually have a pretty good shot at it. I also will get my 2nd degree this Fall. I want to go to a book convention, travel west to see the Rockies, coast, Grand Canyon and Vegas, baby!

Pamela, if you want to feel empowered take Hapkido (your instructor can help with that). It is self defense that will make you able to kick anyone's butt, only if needed of course . Krav Maga is another one that is fun to learn. I pity the fool that tries to grab me.

Vicki Pettersson said...

I love this idea so much more than a NY resolution! And while I add to my bucket list regularly (almost daily ;-p) the new year is a great time to gather up all my dreams in one place and look forward to the new year.

Thanks for the idea, Pam!

Pamela Palmer said...

I like the Life List! That's a great name for it.

Pamela Palmer said...

Wow, Sharon, good luck with the State Championship! I'm not familiar with Hapkido, though I've seen Krav Maga and am absolutely fascinated by it. I may have to add one or both of those to my bucket list...Life List!

Pamela Palmer said...

Hey Vicki, dearest! I laughed at your 'almost daily' comment. The possibilities are endless, aren't they? I do the same, especially when I'm in the middle of revisions. I start imagining all the other things I could be doing. Fun things. Exciting things. (I hate revisions.)

Crystal @ RBtWBC said...

I like the Life List too, a lot more positive sounding then the Bucket List.
I am working on the 'Learning French' part of my list. And procrastinating at it. But we are getting back on it this week!
I want to learn to belly dance too. And I want to travel; Vegas, Rome, lot's of Islands.
There's always something new to add to the list!
Have a great week everyone =)

Joss Ware said...

LOVE the name Life List. I'm starting one right now!

For a long time, getting a book published was on my Life List. I've been lucky enough to have accomplished that. And this October, another item on my Life List (going to Italy) will occur.

But there are many other things I want to do, like see the Taj Mahal in person, hold my grandchildren (though that's not up to me, and is hopefully MANY years in the future), and live in a small town where I can walk to everything when I'm older.

This is a great topic, Pam. And congrats again on hitting the NYT!! So very well deserved!

nymfaux said...

Wow--Don't mess with Sharon S.'s family!!!!

Pamela this is AMAZING!!!!!!!! I totally LOVE this post!!!!!!

Have any of you watched The Buried Life?--It's a reality show on MTV w/these 4 (cute) guys who painted a bus purple and are traveling across the country working on their list--Whenever they work on an item, they also help a stranger work on THEIR list--It's a really cool and inspiring show.

I can totally relate to putting off the things on my list, but ever since college, whenever I've moved, I've made it my goal to try something I've always wanted--I took dance lessons out east and danced in the Poconos, and in New York...I've traveled...been to Punxatawny on Ground Hog's Day, seen the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, &the Empire State Building; traveled across the country, swum in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Taken riding lessons in Montana. Joined a gym and started getting healthy. I've met one of my all-time favorite authors (twice, in two different states). I started writing a blog, and have gotten the opportunity to meet others with my interest and passion, not to mention talk with, and even interview some of my favorite authors!!!!

My main problem is not always staying in one place long enough, because everything has been just as amazing as I hoped it would be!

The big thing is, I didn't want to hold myself back anymore--I had always been self-conscious, but I was tired of saying "someday" and "what-if?" There are still some days when I'm just as happy staying home and watching tv--but I try to balance it out with making the most of doing what I can, where I am!!!

Wish the best to all of you!!!! I am always inspired by other people accomplishing their lists and goals!!!!

Nicole Murphy said...

Great idea, Pamela. I find that I get so caught up in working/writing/housework that I don't do anything beyond that, and a boring little girl makes for a boring writer :)

I had an equivalent a while ago - Project No-Regrets, where I was going to do all sorts of things before I turned 40 so I'd have nothing to regret. Selling the trilogy got in the way of that, but I think I'll get back to it.

Cylver said...

Most of the items in my "life list" involve traveling: Rome, Venice, Florence (I should probably add "learn Italian" to the list!)
I want take a cruise to Alaska to see the Aurora Borealis.
Some summer (but probably not this one) my best friend and I plan to take a road trip up the California coast, into Oregon, Washington State, and into Vancouver. Just to see what's there...

Helen Lowe said...

Congrats for doing the TKD, Pamela, and getting the first (white) belt. And I like your appraoch to the list, one per year. I think I might have to try that ...

Tracey O'Hara said...

How cool - TDK - and I haven't really thought about this, just too busy trying to get through the day. But yes, there are a few things I really want to do - like have a holiday - a real holiday - with my husband. We have been together 22 years and never really had a holiday that wasn't about visiting family or writing related.

Second thing - I really want to learn how you use a katana, proper fighting style weilding a sword. Oh yeah - and shoot - that would be cool too.

Sharon S. said...

Tracy, did you know with the traditional Gumdo sword (Korean version of the Samurai sword) it takes 3 years to master drawing the sword, 3 years sheathing and another 3 years to wield. Of course we learned the abbreviated method .

Brenda Hyde said...

I don't want to drag everyone down with sappiness but I don't have a list. I do have one thing I want to accomplish-- write a book and have it published. Now, let me say this-- when I was in my 20's (I'm 50 now) I was in an emotionally abusive relationship (nothing physical) and I remember being so depressed during the worst it-- thinking I'd never have a family, never be happy or feel like I wasn't walking on egg shells. That lasted about 6 years, then it was over and I met my husband-- and 5 years later we had kids. When I look back I am SO fricking grateful to actually have found love, to be happy and to have three kids who are so cool-- it's hard to ask for more, you know?