When It’s Not About Me

When crossing off bucket list items, at what point is it time to consider something crossed off? Some items just don’t seem to have a clean start and finish to them. And what if a bucket list item has nothing to do with you?

When creating my Next List last summer, I thought it only appropriate to put “help someone cross off their own bucket list item.” I’ve had some remarkable people help me cross off my 30×30 list in some remarkable ways, and if there’s a way that I can even in the slightest bit do that for someone else…I’m in.

And the pictures and stories that have come in have put a big smile on my face. I received a picture of a woman who had never been on one of her husband’s commercially piloted flights in the fourteen years of their marriage–she was smiling next to him in the cockpit. Another dear heart posted a picture on Facebook of her hosting her very first Thanksgiving, turkey and aunties in all!

So when the local Veterans Center called me up and asked if I would help them debut a new “Make-A-Wish” program for the residents in their nursing home, I was honored. Actually, thrilled. Not only are they fulfilling wishes of these dear hearts, I blink at God’s goodness that I actually get to be a part of it!

THIS kind of thing is exactly what I was praying for when I decided to publish the book. When my publishing editor asked me to specifically define what success looked like for this book–sales, reviews, best seller lists, distribution, etc–I think I disappointed her when I said none of the above. For me, if we could design a way to receive feedback and hear stories of people going after their lists and doing something with their “life before the lottery,” THAT would be my definition of success.

Real lives. Real people. Real Dreams. This is all about them. For the residents of the Veterans Center, what’s on their list? One gentleman wanted to be on the radio. One phone call to the local radio station and he’s now scheduled to be the next interview for a commercial for the nursing home. Another man wanted to go home and have lunch with his family. Turns out, his home is literally two blocks from the facility. Done. Another woman ever so gently listed she wanted to hold a baby. Sweet. Never been in a plane? With the area ripe with little commuter pilots and several local airstrips, coupled with a doctor’s medical clearance and a nice volunteer, I believe we’ll see a very doable experience worth creating.

Yet another dear heart has always desired to teach a crochet class–specifically, to teach a man how to crochet. (I’m still laughing as one guinea pig on staff took one for the team and they just held their second crochet class last Thursday!)  And the story that cracks me up most of all is of a gentleman who always wanted to go hunting with a metal detector. It turns out  that one of the staff members just happened to have one lying in the garage, hid some coins and treasures on property, and the rest is history.

Really, I actually have had nothing to do with these people crossing off their lists. This is all them. But, I am relishing every email, text, picture and post of someone following whatever the dreams are in their heart. Bucket lists are nothing new, but every time an item is crossed off someone’s list, it’s (at least for me) a really big deal. Thank you for sharing your stories.



Ashlee Bratton - Life Before The Lottery

Ashlee Bratton is a professional photographer, freelance writer, and entertaining speaker with a bachelor’s degree in speech communication and master’s degree in business administration.

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.

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