“Life list” sounds pretty straightforward and linear, doesn’t it? 1) Write a list of stuff you want to do during your life, from the mundane to the grandiose, 2) share the list with a bunch of smart people to find out who might be able to help, and 3) get crackin’.
But Camp Mighty (the event) and the process of writing a Life List were the opposite of straightforward. Both, in their own ways, took me into a labyrinth. Not a spooky maze, like in The Shining or Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I’m not Theseus in search of — and at the same time hiding from — the minotaur. But I did find myself walking an unexpected path, full of hidden turns and double-backs. When I finally found the exit, I didn’t end up where I thought I would.
Luckily I wasn’t alone. The absolute best thing about blogging for the last six years is that I have come to know amazing people. I can’t tell you what a privilege it is to have a glimpse into peoples’ lives and families, and to feel a kinship based on spirit rather than geography (this goes for my blogging colleagues and for Parent Hacks readers who have become friends).
My cabinmate was Christine Koh, writer, designer, mother, sage. My guides were Maggie Mason and Laura Mayes, planners of Camp Mighty. To call them role models would be a massive oversimplification. My partners were all the other attendees and speakers I was able to meet or hear.
Despite peoples’ different circumstances and reasons for being there, the playing field was beautifully and touchingly level. Camp Mighty wasn’t about self-promotion. It was about promoting our selves.
There was silliness, laughter, quiet and tears. There was relaxation. There was hard work. There was learning and there was teaching. There were moments of confidence and shyness. There was dazzling inspiration and there was humble achievement.
Why am I telling you this now? Because we’re heading into the holidays, a time when many of us long to reconnect with our values, but instead get caught up in appearances, overcommitment and stress. With the best of intentions, we lose sight of what we care about.
Camp Mighty forced me to focus attention and time on my dreams — acknowledging them, articulating them, owning them, and then taking a definitive step toward them. I hope, as you head into the heady holiday season, you’ll do the same.
As lovely as it was to go through the process with a bunch of friends at a hip hotel in Palm Springs, all you need to begin your Life List is a notepad and the willingness to consider your dearest hopes. Even — especially — if you have no idea how you could possibly achieve them.
It may feel silly or scary or self-indulgent to begin a Life List. But it’s worth pushing past those feelings and giving it a try. Start with five things you want to do next week, next year, someday. Little, big, whatever. It’s your list, and it will become what you need it to be as long as you’re honest with yourself. When the busy-ness and expectations of the holidays lead you astray, your list will help you find your way back.
Your list may even become your partner in the biggest adventure of your life.
Here’s Maggie’s suggestion for one way to begin your Life List. It sounds remarkably similar in some ways to my Happy/Sad List…which makes me wonder if she was the original inspiration for it. I wouldn’t be surprised if she were.