Rory Bore hosts a Coffee Chat each Tuesday at her blog Ink Interrupted. I was intrigued by the topic she chose for this week - making a reverse bucket list - the things you have accomplished thus far, rather than just focusing on the things you hope to do in the future. For my reverse bucket list I've decided to focus on some of the things I've done in the past ten years because my life has changed so dramatically in that time frame.
* In the Fall of 2006 I finally surrendered myself to the reality that it was necessary for me to end my thirteen year marriage which had become increasingly destructive. Friends and family had been trying to tell me this for a long time, but I had to reach the point where I knew without a doubt that the relationship was not salvageable.
* In December of that year left our home on the farm and moved into a small apartment in town. Doing so at 52 years of age was more than a little intimidating, but at long last I had freedom and peace, even if that meant being alone.
* Late the following year I got brave enough to check out the online dating scene and discovered that while there are indeed a lot of crazies out there, there are also a few truly good guys looking for someone to share life with.
* Eight years ago this week I met Papa Bear online, and began the adventure that would totally change my life, making it more wonderful than I ever dared to dream possible!
* At the end of May in 2008 I left my job of nineteen years, and the city where I had lived for the past twenty, and relocated to West Texas to begin my life with Papa Bear. We were married in September of 2008.
* Moving here, I took an office job at a Peterbilt dealership and remained there for almost four years until the family owned company sold out to a large corporation. Desiring to return to the human services sector, I obtained employment at a law firm that specializes in assisting people with obtaining Social Security disability benefits. I love what we do and the opportunities the job presents daily to treat people who are down and out with kindness, compassion, and respect. I have been there four years as of this week, and now hold the dubious distinction of being the employee at our branch with the most longevity. It's fair to say we've gone through a LOT of changes there in the past few years!
* When my father died six years ago we were able to use some of my inheritance to purchase a small piece of land outside of the city, twenty miles outside of it to be exact, and move our manufactured home from the congested mobile home park to the privacy of country living, which I love.
* Over the course of time we've acquired a family of four very furry felines who keep us entertained and shower us with affection. Toby, the youngest, was my sixtieth birthday gift, the gift I requested. He and I can grow old together. I am blessed to live with a man who loves cats as much as I do!
* Since I've been married to Papa Bear we've taken several wonderful vacations, something that very rarely happened during my previous marriage. I love road trips with Papa Bear and I look forward to them eagerly, especially when they end up at the ocean, which to me is the most peaceful place on earth. :-)
* In the past ten years I've been able to watch the group of children at Red Cloud Elementary School on the Pine Ridge Reservation that I came to know and love grow up, graduate, and move ahead with their lives. These beautiful young people will hold a special place in my heart forever and I cherish the ability to stay in touch with many of them via Facebook.
* I was introduced to blogging shortly before my last marriage ended, and it was my blog "Picking Up Pieces" and the wonderful friendships that developed with fellow bloggers, that got me through the hardest time of my life. Blogging has been my window to the world and my connection to people that I can share my thoughts, fears, and dreams with, and even a bit of off-the-wall fiction now and then. I have discovered that I love writing more than anything else I do!
* In recent years I've learned to love myself more, value myself more, know when to say "no", know which relationships to nurture and which to walk away from, and which issues to take a stand on. In short, I have found myself, my voice, my purpose, and a faith that proves to be rock solid - even when the wind blows.
* Even if I was to never achieve a single thing on my Goal List for 2016, or anything on my rather vague bucket list, I would die being content with the experiences that life has given me, proud of what I've learned, warmed by the knowledge that I am loved, and grateful for all the amazing people that I've had the privilege to get to know along the way.