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My Bucket List

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Thursday November 30 2017 12:00 PM

This week from the MS & Me archive Willeke Van Eeckhoutte lets us in on her bucket list, how she uses it and the importance of having goals in her life. 

The older I get, the more nervous I become of not being able to achieve all the things I set out to do. After all, every year rushes by, seemingly at a faster speed than the year before! Science is still to crack the code of becoming younger instead of older. And therein lies the problem if you’re a non-bucket-list achiever- at some point in life you will begin to think “Argh, if only I’d…!” done something. But the clock can’t ever be turned back.

Being of the opposite kind, I yelped an “Argh!” when I realised I lost all my documents during a laptop crash last year, and I had to rebuild, rethink - or even worse - try to remember what was on my bucket list to begin with (Memory issues… ouch!). Having a bucket list is all about personal fulfilment, and it doesn’t really matter how short or long your list is, as long as it has/had substance over form. My list was/is filled with generic things I imagine many people would love to do- like swimming with dolphins or winning the lottery. Other personal dreams would to be in touching distance of wolves or have much-needed weight loss surgery. 

Goals that have already been fulfilled are living in Ireland • Watch sunrise/sunsets on the west coast • Newgrange • WB Yeats’s grave • Rome • Venice • The rest of Italy (•½). Study psychology (• ½). Writing a book (• ½) and many other things. The list is therefore very much a work in progress, which can expand or shrink at any given time.

Thankfully, I’m someone who likes to grab the bull by the horns. Where and when possible I chase my dreams as best as I can. Like moving to Ireland. This was a wish and a teenage dream. In it, I have the sea in front of the house and mountains in the backyard. I would also marry someone Irish, who has red cheeks from always being outside and we would live happily ever after. Sadly, marrying someone with red cheeks never happened, and where I live has neither beach nor mountain. Nevertheless Ireland has been a happy home for the last 13.5 years. MS may have tempered the speed of fulfilling the list somewhat, but there is still some life left in it. I am quite mindful though that it doesn’t turn into a check list that urgently needs to be ticked-off and wiped clean every day.

The way I treat my bucket list is to forget about it. Continuously aiming for the goals can take away the beauty that is already around us, and in the people we share our life with. We cannot forget to live in-between the goals we have chosen to put down on paper/computer. You also cannot forget to “live in the now” (as mindfulness therapists call it) and make time for those around us. The present is now, it is all we have, it IS as important as what lies ahead. Spontaneity happens when you allow and figuratively step out of the way.  

In hindsight, a week in Rome with my mum earlier this year tops everything else I have done or achieved so far. We owe it to ourselves to keep having dreams and to continue putting things on our lists. Life would be rather dull otherwise. Like Henry David Thoreau said, “Do not lose hold of your dreams or aspirations. For if you do, you may still exist but you have ceased to live.”

It can reignite your dreams to put them down on paper and remember what lights your spark. Check out https://bucketlist.org/ for some inspiration. 

If you want to read more of Willeke’s own blog, please check Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me and Twitter 

originally published April 2016

Author: Willeke Van Eeckhoutte

Tags: ms, goals mindfulness, goals

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