Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A 'Bucket List' and a Birthday

I remember when I was the age of my oldest son (seen below). It seems like yesterday. Then, I thought all my friends' parents were old. Most of the parents I knew then were in their thirties...

I didn't feel so old when I turned 30--seven years ago to this very day. (Yes, it's my birthday!) I vowed not to despair or worry about my age. Instead I created a short list of things to do between the ages of 30 and 40. This post is about my list. The title was inspired in part by the title of the excellent movie which has now been released on DVD.

However, I believe that I was really inspired by a touching novel by Nicholas Sparks. It was called A Walk to Remember and was published two or three years before my thirtieth birthday. The main character of the novel (made into a film in 2002) was an eighteen year old young woman dying of leukemia. The plot of the novel revolved around a list of 100 things she wanted to do before she died. Her love interest found her list and did everything he could to make her dreams come true. Although both the Bucket List and 'Walk' both feature dying characters, both stories are inspiring as they are more about living than dying.

Unlike those characters, I'm planning to be around for a while and hope to make little bucket lists every time I reach a new decade milestone (40, 50 60, etc.) Hopefully I'll get the opportunity to make quite a few more lists!

My very first list has only three items and at 37, I'm very close to having everything crossed off.

So here it is:

1. Have a baby!

Here he is looking all grown up five and a half years later! I was 31 when he was born in 2003 and although I haven't changed quite as much in five years, I too look a bit older now.

Here is a photo from when we were about to take our new addition home to complete our little family of four. I remember it took forever before a nurse said it was OK to leave hospital. Our then four-and-a-half-year-old boy had a really hard time waiting to leave and was bouncing off the walls of the tiny hospital room. I think we had been forgotten until my husband stopped by the nurses desk to see what was going on.

That really was our most difficult challenge in terms of having a new baby and a small child with ASD. We gave our oldest a gift and all our friends and family members doted on him nearly as much as they did his tiny brother. We were fortunate to have a fairly easy time with him getting used to having another child in the house. OK, well he did have a hard time when his little brother was around 18 months of age. He had a difficult time transitioning when his brother woke up from his nap. He wanted him to stay in his crib, so we had half an hour struggles for awhile.

2. Get a Master's Degree.

I earned my Masters Degree in Humanities in 2006. It was a fun degree to earn for the most part. I was able to take a Charlie Chaplin class, a History of Paris Class, a Nonfiction Writing class, a workshop about Dracula in the movies, and a class on James Joyce amongst quite a few others.

One of the posts I wrote awhile back (Me too) is a reworked version of a story I wrote as a student studying nonfiction writing. Actually, I wrote a lot about my son and autism in general for that class. I was contemplating writing a memoir, but decided to create this blog instead. Though I enjoyed some of the classes, it was still a difficult period. I needed a lot of babysitting help and about two years of counseling to get me through that time. It was a stressful time for my child with autism because I had to be gone a lot in order to attend classes. The writing and the counseling helped me to heal as a person struggling with day-to-day life and to finish my course work. One class that influenced a big decision in my life was the one I took on James Joyce. One of my favorite books I read for that class was was a book of short stories, Dubliners, by James Joyce. I really was able to get a sense of Dublin and that time period in general. Further, Dubliners was much easier to read than Joyce's Ulysses. That one was a difficult read to say the least, but I did try. My plan B paper (an option to a thesis) was all about trying to understand that novel which ranks at the top of this list of the best books ever written.

I've always loved (most) things that are Irish, although I'm of English and German descent. Perhaps that is why I enjoyed the class on James Joyce so much. Regardless, I do suspect that class influenced my decision regarding the last item on my list.

3. Take a trip beyond the boundaries of the North American Continent.
I'm going to Ireland soon! I'll be travelling with a good family friend, S.M., from November 2 to November 14. Actually, only ten days will be spent in Ireland. The rest will be spent travelling. My friend and I will be part of a tour group, so our itinerary is all planned out. Hopefully, my travelling companion and I will use some of the free time to check out the James Joyce Library in Dublin or to take a James Joyce tour.

My husband will stay in Mt. Pleasant to take care of the boys and to get them to school everyday. I know I'll miss my boys terribly when I'm gone, but I'm pretty excited. The only other countries I've visited involved a day trip to Mexico when I was 14, a few days in Canada for a senior class trip (more than a half a lifetime ago), and four hours in Victoria, Canada during an Alaskan cruise two years ago.

Extra note: My husband told my boys this morning I was 50! I corrected that pretty fast. Although I prefer aging to the alternative, I still have thirteen years to go before I get to the age he mentioned.


Stephanie said...

Nice job, Julie!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday!


Casdok said...


Going to Ireland! How exciting! I have a sister in Ireland, maybe i should go and visit her in november!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday! It is great you have accomplished your list, going to Ireland will be awesome! You and I are almost the same age. It is funny to think that when we were younger people our age were thought to be soooo old and boring. Ugh.

Shannon said...

First off, Happy birthday! You sound like such an amazing woman. I love the idea of creating a "bucket list". You're so remarkable for getting your master's while being a mother two boys (one with ASD) and a wife. I noticed you said you enjoy reading and that you are from England. I would highly recommend you read a book called "A Friend Like Henry". It takes place over in England and the young boy begins speaking through the use of his best friend, Henry, a golden retriever. It is such an inspirational story!

Susie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sharon said...

Hi Julie, thanks for visiting my blog. I see what you mean about the book spam!

I hope you enjoy your visit to Ireland. Will you be venturing out of Dublin? (Do, there's far more to the country than that!)

Oh and I was 37 in June, '71 gals rock!utvloi Happy Birthday!

J said...

To Steph, Morgan, Casdok, and Marla: Thanks. : )

To Shannon: Welcome and thank you. Am actually from the U.S. but have ancestors from Germany and England.

To Sharon: Yep '71 Girls rock! As for my trip, Dublin is one of the many Highlights. Our tour guides have planned a lot of stops! : )