Archives for the month of: July, 2013

Who can forget the movie The Bucket List with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. (If you haven’t watched it – watch it. What struck me as sad was the fact that the main characters in that movie waited to have cancer before they took the time to fulfill their dreams. It’s humbling when we are reminded of our mortality, and that the only moment that we can be sure of, is this one right now. 

Recently I read a book by Robert A Johnson, called ‘Living Your Unlived Life: Coping with Unrealized Dreams and Fulfilling Your Purpose in the Second Half of Life’. (My psychology/self help reading addiction is back.) It’s the kind of book that speaks about having a midlife crisis without throwing your life away on some self destructive, crazy, wild fling. It’s all about giving life to unlived aspects of yourself. He writes what his friend, who’s a chaplain at a hospital, told him about a recurring theme that she heard repeatedly from the dying men and women. ‘They thought that if they met the responsibilities of life, fulfilling the culturally prescribed things that we all feel compelled to follow, that somehow life would not run out before they had a chance to live it. Yet in those precious moments  before death they realized there was no more time. It was too late, and they had missed some essential experiences.’  Isn’t that chillingly sad. 

And that’s where a bucket list comes in. I don’t think you can ever be too young or too old to have one. It’s about writing out the life you’d love to have, the things you’d love to do and achieve. The small and big goals that you would have loved to do if today was the last day of your life.

A few years ago on New Years Eve, my husband and I made our bucket lists. I wrote mine on paper and now don’t know where it is. He put his on his phone and still has it. The other night we were out on ‘Date Night’ (See previous blog post. Bucket listing is a great date night activity) and we read through his list. We were surprised to see that he’d done quite a few things on it. It was exhilirating to see that we’d gone to Italy and that he’d fulfilled some of his personal goals. These were things we may not have ended up doing if he hadn’t written them down.

Of course there was a lot left to do on the list. But it didn’t matter. It’s not about fulfilling each goal, dream and wish fastidiously. The list is more of a guideline as to the general direction you’d like your life to go. That night we individually rewrote our lists. 

My list was fun and simple. It helped me refocus on what I want in my life. There were easy, doable things on the list: Draw and paint. Walk to coffee shops with baby (something I find hard to do in Johannesburg). Read poetry. Get my children involved in a social, reading cause with other South African children. And daunting goals: Bake a six layer cake, bake bread. And my bigger, hairier, audacious goals like travel to India and do a yoga course there. 

From simple goals to high dreams, my life is enriched for the better by writing out my bucket list. Since I’ve written it I’ve found a six layer cake recipe. (In this months House and Garden Gourmet magazine.) I’ve broadened my reading. I’ve walked a bit more. I’ve lived a little bit more of my unlived life. It’s so simple and it can’t fail to bring a smile to even the most cynical, despairing face. There’s so much to do and be, and I believe just sending the intention out there, creates in our unconscious the space to do more than we ever imagined we could.

The Right to Date Night could also read – The Right NOT to be Bored. I think marriage especially once you have children becomes a relay race of ‘hellos’ rather than real connection. Unless you go on a date night. Unless you make an effort. I’ve always believed in date night, and we’ve always gone out at least once a week. (This is more due to the fact that I NEED to get out, more than any relationship development.) For the last month or so I hit  a wobbly patch of ‘boredom’, even on date night. Boredom in the same old places we go to in small town Johannesburg. Boredom in the same conversations (mostly about the kids). Boredom in myself at nothing new, exciting or challenging to engage with. It’s a boredom that stifles the best of relationships.

I chatted to one of my very good friends, and to my surprise she admitted that as much as she loved her husband, they too faced the same challenge of boredom. It made me think that it’s not such an uncommon thing. It’s not that the relationship is bad, it just needs spicing up, a point of interest, something FUN. And when do we ever do anything fun with our spouses? (Notably if you don’t have a spouse, it’s still important to do something fun with yourself, or partner, or good friend.) Fun lets us be kids again, children of light and life who dance in the dewy grass. It brings back the reason you fell in love and married your partner in the first place.

A part of me wanted my husband to plan the ‘fun’, ‘romantic’ rendezvous for us. The part of me that wants to be taken care of, to be wooed again. Naturally I had to get over myself. My husband is not the kind of guy who plans ‘fun’, ‘interesting’ things easily. (I’m working on him though.) So it’s up to me to plan the unpredictable, the spontaneous and out of our comfort zone fun. And so I did.

FUN Things to Do

Theatre – Last week I booked ‘Solomon and Marion’ with Janet Suzman. It was a resounding success. It was a wonderful production, incredibly written and beautifully acted. We both left inspired, our spiritual bellies full of creative food.

Movies, Documentaries – I’m on Hazel Cohen’s Cyril Harris Auditorium’s email list, and get a host of emails about the documentaries they show. I just saw ‘The Flat’ by Arnon Goldfinger, which was thought provoking and beautifully done. Another simple, stretch my horizons experience.

Go Somewhere New – Eg. Arts on Main – Joburgers sometimes don’t make the most of their own city. I know I don’t. There are a lot of events, nightly and on Sundays at the Maboneng Precinct in town. It’s safe enough, has a buzzing artistic energy and it’s definitely outside our comfort zone which is absolutely exhilarating. It’s on my list of to dos.

Go Away – This isn’t an easy one, but I believe it’s essential for couples to go away, even for a night. Even if it’s to a B & B down the road. Being away from the hum drum practicality of life is pure heaven, and you get a proper nights sleep! (You could go to Cape Town and see Solomon and Marion there.)

Physical Activities – Bowling, ice skating, walking, running, roller blading. Find something you both enjoy and do it together. Even better learn a new skill together. Truth be told we don’t do this in Johannesburg, but on holidays by the beach we have a whole exercise ritual which includes running, walking, yoga and  dipping into the sea.

Attend a Class – Art class, knitting (just kidding, although you never know), cooking, chocolate making, French or Spanish lessons, Jewish history classes, Biblical Tanach classes. There are endless adult evening classes in Johannesburg. Learn anything that gets you both thinking, talking, and discussing, even laughing as you expand your skills and knowledge. This is a great way of being together.

Play Music – Lately we’ve begun playing soft, romantic music. Enya is our favourite at the moment. We play it whilst we have tea and chat. (Another idea would be to put groovy dance music on and just dance in the comfort of your home. Or if you can, go out dancing. My husband flat out refuses to dance, but I think dancing is ALOT of fun.)

Chat Daily – Not everything has to be brilliantly exciting. We’re tired at the end of a hard working day and a nice chat with tea and music fills us up, and reconnects us in that domestic, happy way.

It’s holidays now our children are out having fun, we need to reconnect with ourselves, our partners and have a bit of fun too. There’s nothing like a giggle to make us forget our every day problems. Cynics out there will say, it’s easy to say, ‘have fun’, but practically life’s too difficult, hard and busy for such frivolity. Such people must have the deepest, furrowing, war trench wrinkles ever, and I doubt they have fulfilling, happy marriages. I say don’t listen to such people, even if it’s your own inner critic, or your spouse, do it anyway, and see what happens…. We may not have the perfect marriage, but at least we’re having fun.

NB. The above are my own ideas. I’m sure you have a heap of your own. You can comment and share some of the more fabulous things that are possible in Johannesburg.