Typically, I write my Goofy Bucket List adventure every month — but not this time. Another bucket has consumed me. No, I’m not working as a rodeo clown and unable to escape. But that’s not a bad idea for a future story.
My oldest child often mentions her “bucket.” As you can imagine, this is confusing.
“Miss Susie filled my bucket today,” she said, beaming, as if she had swallowed a ray of sunshine.
“You have buckets at school?” I asked. “I don’t remember that being on your school supply list.”
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“No, it’s a book the counselor read to us about filling your invisible bucket with kindness,” she explained. “If you are nice to people, you fill their bucket, which makes them feel good. If you say something mean, or bully, you are dipping into their bucket and they feel sad and empty.”
Pretty deep for a kids’ book, right?
The book my kids love is titled, “Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids,” by Carol McCloud. Both of my munchkins use this technique, and the results are beautiful. Plus, they’re learning to “keep the lid on their bucket” to protect themselves from others dipping into theirs.
Reflecting on my own bucket over the span of four decades, I’ve experienced my share of bucket dipping. I’m not forming a pity party, but find it interesting that not many others knew how to fill my bucket back up. Or if it did get filled, it was short-lived. I couldn’t even locate a lid to keep any type of praise, love and kindness intact and was always craving more.
From a young age, I grew up on the stage performing in musical theater. Every spare moment was working on my craft and becoming the best singer, dancer and actor I could be. However, I was under the false pretense that applause from an audience could keep my bucket full.
Thirty years ago when my confidence was riding high, I would dance joyfully behind each closing curtain after every performance. I wasn’t afraid of performing in front of anyone. But when the applause died down, my bucket remained empty and yearning.
For the next several decades, I thought I was invincible. Most teens and young adults believe they are, but what set me apart was I had the means to discover the world. Even before I knew what a bucket list was, I crammed in as much excitement I could before I would die:
▪ Performed in New York City.
▪ Sang with a jazz choir in Europe.
▪ Toured the country in a double-decker bus for two years.
▪ Rode on a Mardi Gras float dressed as a mermaid.
▪ Dined and danced with Baryshnikov in my home.
▪ Hung out with my writing hero, Dave Barry.
▪ Sipped cocktails with Miles Davis in Holland.
Talk about an amazing starter list of fun! So when I decided I would write of my continuing bucket list, I was motivated.
I composed my list — a surprisingly short list. I wouldn’t have enough material to get me through this fiscal quarter. How did a family and responsibilities creep into my life? My new life was carefully planned, but I guess I didn’t read the memo that my life would change so much.
So I Googled other Bucket Lists to find any appealing events I might have overlooked. Mountain climbing in Kathmandu? Not on my list. I’m not a huge fan of snow and a lack of oxygen. Other than jumping out of a plane at 80 years old, I’ve done about everything I wanted.
I was at an impasse.
That’s when the “Goofy Bucket List” came to me. Why not try new weird things? Nothing overachieving or award-winning, but silly, gross or ridiculous adventures would spice up life.
Then my list tripled! Get to do absurd things and not be called crazy, in the name of research? Priceless!
Now as I travel to meet interesting, lovely people and try goofy ventures, I’m not only filling my Bucket List, but also my personal “Bucket.” And I’m keeping a tight lid on it too.
Sharing my enjoyment of these experiences makes me beam — just as if I’d swallowed a ray of sunshine.
Freelancer Stacey Hatton writes once a month. Find her blog at nursemommylaughs.com.