There’s something satisfying about crossing an item off on a list. Grocery list, shopping list, honey-do list. Any list, really. Especially a bucket list. Crossing off “bucket list” items can be sweet, sweet victories. But sometimes not all the items on a bucket list are enjoyable. Some are even downright painful, and that makes their cross off that much sweeter.
I still smile and pinch myself from the memories made after crossing off 29 of the 30 items on my 30×30 list. I giggle even more after counting up how many items have been “done” on my new Next List after creating the new list just last summer. Seventeen! A friend suggested creating a “rotating bucket list” — starting with 30 items and then adding on an item every time another is crossed off. Brilliant. That way I always have a plethora of ideas, dreams, and goals to choose from! This idea wouldn’t have worked when I was crossing off the original 30×30 list (mostly because this little procrastinator would’ve ignored the same five items and never end up actually doing them), but this concept is perfect for my Next List, my next goals, my next season and my next chapter.
Procrastination. This nasty habit was a big factor in the most recent cross off, lucky #13 on my Next List…saying goodbye to the dreaded Blackberry. Aka getting a new fancy phone. Sounds simple, right? It’s just a phone. People get new phones every day. This goes far beyond technology avoidance or ignorance. Much deeper than affordability or upgrade eligibility. I’ve been eligible for a fancy phone upgrade for almost a year. So why the delay? Why the sensitivity? Why not just cross that off the list and get it over with? Except in my world this little item represented something so much deeper and proved to be far more difficult than a simple tech purchase.
Because in my world, it’s really not that simple. I wish it were.
Little backstory: First and foremost I had a Blackberry for work back in the day when it was still cool (and required) to do so. At one point I had given up the yucka Blackberry when a loving and generous boyfriend bought me a new state-of-the-art fancy pants phone when he sweetly asked to merge phone plans. Cute. He saw a need and met it. It was a random act of kindness that meant a lot to me. I wish the story stopped there.
I’m not a tech person, and it took me a long time to succumb to the Apple bug when I bought a Mac and drank the Applejuice for photo editing purposes. I loved that someone would see the need and step up and take care of it for me. Not because I was incompetent or couldn’t do it myself, but because they were willing and wanting to do so. There is just something so beautiful when someone shows they are paying attention and that they care.
Fast forward several months and I sat front row at a funeral. Shortly thereafter I had to walk into the phone store to cancel the account and return the very gift that once made me smile and feel so cherished. Going back and being downgraded to the yucka Blackberry stung in so many ways that I still can’t even describe without fighting back tears. And as painful a reminder it is and as desperately a new one was needed, I somehow just couldn’t bring myself to purchase one for myself. I’d even walked into the AT&T store multiple times telling myself that “this is the day,” and somehow walked out empty handed every time.
After thoroughly annoying everyone in my world by my tech avoidance and embarrassing Blackberry usage, knowing my phone sensitivity, a loving friend asked me sweetly to my face exactly why this was so difficult for me. What was really behind this? Was it just the memories tied to it, not being able to let go, or letting some kind of fear stop me? I’m thankful for my friend for being loving and direct. I needed it.
Maybe a small part of me wished that somebody, anybody else family or otherwise, would know me well enough and be kind enough to be strong–and care enough–to take that bullet for me (because I evidently was not strong enough to do it myself.) I think deep down I was secretly hoping to be given this particular item as a gift once again…I just couldn’t bring myself to make the purchase on my own. So I just didn’t. Instead, I intentionally put it on the Next List to force myself to one day address the this wound. God made me capable and strong and able to buy a silly phone, but I did not want to cross this item off alone. Lord please don’t make me do this one on my own.
The fact that I’m even able to talk about it now to the “public” is for me, a really big deal and a huge step in an attempt to cross off #13 on the list and kiss that part of my life goodbye. In my world, this is not just simply “time to get a new phone,” it really is for so many reasons something I needed to have the courage to kiss goodbye.
Funny, in my original 30×30 list I procrastinated on a particular item for a similar reason years ago–I didn’t want to do that specific item alone. There are some things in life you just never envision doing by yourself. Or ever want to. Ever. I almost didn’t cross off #29–hot air balloon ride. This particular dream was the very last item on my 30×30 list that got crossed off and quite frankly the dream that almost wasn’t. Circumstances at the time weren’t going to allow me to do this beautiful experience in the way I had originally envisioned when I had penned it and put it on the list years prior. So I avoided it. Until I couldn’t. Check out chapters 27 & 28 in the Life Before the Lottery: Living Beyond the Bucket book for the full story on this little adventure. I didn’t end up having to fly the friendly skies alone, but I almost didn’t cross off “hot air balloon ride” off my 30×30 list because I simply didn’t want to have to do it by myself.
Back to the Blackberry. I had avoided and procrastinated on this item too long. It was time. Anyone can purchase a new phone. It’s not hard. But when it comes to supposedly “easy #13″ on my Next List, it IS hard for me and I really do have to kiss it goodbye. And if I am the one that has to go in and make that big girl purchase, up until yesterday I just wasn’t ready to do that yet. But I did it. There were tears, but I did it. My kind friend wouldn’t and couldn’t do it for me, but instead walked me to the store and stood just outside to be my strength and support and was just the assurance I needed to not walk out empty handed.
Suckee #13…check. This was a big win.
QUOTABLE QUOTES FROM THOSE MUCH SMARTER THAN MYSELF
- “God will not permit any troubles to come upon us, unless He has a specific plan by which great blessing can come out of the difficulty.” – Peter Marshall
- “The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.” – John Maynard Keynes
“Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy.” Pope Paul VI
- “The greater the difficulty the more glory in surmounting it. Skillful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempests.” – Epictetus
Ashlee Bratton is a professional photographer, freelance writer, and inspiring speaker with a bachelor’s degree in speech communication and master’s degree in business administration. Her book, “Life Before the Lottery: Living Beyond the Bucket,” was published and launched fall of 2014 and is now available through Amazon. Along with completing 29 of the 30 things on her 30×30 list, her writing contributions include numerous publications such as Vail’s EAT magazine, creating a 56 page Visitor Guide for a mountain ski town, blogging and guest blogging, being featured in multiple newspapers and e-zines, and various other projects.
Currently, she keeps her camera in hand in Southern Colorado, is a complete and total foodie, and takes plane rides for fun. She likes things that go.