Right off the bat, I’ll just lay it all out there. I’m not much of a Carpe Diem (Seize the Day) type gal.
I wish I was, because who doesn’t love a Ms. Positivity-Go-Getter with boundless energy?! But sadly, I’m not sure it’s in my nature. While I love life and am grateful for every minute of it that I have, I don’t spring out of bed each morning, smiling, feeling energized and ready to greet the day like the woman in the Gain Laundry Detergent commercial. I swear, (and you’d think I’d remember!) every morning the alarm clock wakes me up at an ungodly hour with the same visceral jolt – leaving me feeling like my soul hasn’t quite yet re-entered my body. I struggle to fully awaken, drag myself from the warm bed and work to find my land legs. I’m stiff, wobbly and groggy – and in immediate need of a hot shower and a coffee. Probably because 5 days a week, like many others, I need to go to work – early and on time. And my work does not involve bringing about world peace, saving lives, solving world hunger or curing cancer. Basically, at my age, it came down to a choice: if I choose to have certain things in life, I need to be able to pay for them. Work provides me with benefits that any parent hopes to have, such as paid vacation, a pension plan, medical and dental. It provides me with enough money to support my family so that we can live in a decent house, have heat, water, food, a pet, and my son can play sports. However, it also takes up the bulk of my waking day. Taking me away from the many things in my life that give me joy down to my soul: my child, my partner, my cat, leisurely shopping, coffees or chats with friends, yoga, hours of reading, taking random fun courses, furthering my education, wandering aimlessly around the city, taking photos, writing…and so on.
Of course I can still do all these things – just not leisurely, on a whim, or whenever I want. Things I want to do for me must be scheduled; squashed in, and timed to fit in amongst all the “need to’s & have to’s”. Because like most working moms (if you aren’t lucky enough to have a housekeeper!), once the paid work day ends, the unpaid work day begins: homework, practices, lessons, groceries, supper, dishes, laundry, dusting, vacuuming, and anything else that may need doing. And not that I mind, because I love being a mom (best job in the world!) and having a home, it’s just that sometimes, at the end of the day, I’m just so worn out that all I can do is fall into bed, hopefully watch a show and then fall asleep. Too tired to do yoga, too tired to read, too tired to call a friend and catch up. Just ready for sleep and ready to repeat it all again the next day.
I am, my friends, now a member of what I’ve heard called, The Sandwich Generation– a new phase of life where you have so many things competing for and requiring your immediate attention: children, aging parents, deadlines, paid work, work in the home, etc… and unless you are one of those Type A personalities who have so much energy that they can easily do it all (of whom I’m totally in awe of, by the way!), somewhere along the line, you end up neglecting yourself – putting yourself and your needs, last. So, (while regularly fantasizing about retirement) and through my personal reflections of measuring a life well-lived via a bucket list, I feel I’ve had to morph into more of a Capere Ocasionem (Seize the Opportunity) kind of gal.
I do this by keeping a running list of all the things I want to do, see, have, experience and accomplish. I keep it with me all the time. I read it once a day. Sometimes, I add to it. And each day, if ever the opportunity presents itself of my getting to cross an item off the list, I go for it. It’s the main way I manage to fit things in and help me feel like I’m accomplishing some little things just for myself. Whatever works, right?
This brings me to the “Ride a Mechanical Bull” item on my bucket list. Something I’d always wanted to do, but for some reason the opportunity never presented itself. Like, really? How many working moms have the time to seek out and plan to ride a mechanical bull? None I know. So it stayed on my list. Waiting for the opportunity…
And finally it came. A couple of years ago, my son was invited to a birthday party at a place called Hatfield Farms. We had never been there before, and he was a bit shy at the time, so my partner and I planned to stay with him. The farm party had many fun activities: a wagon ride, BBQ, bouncy castle, mini golf, gladiator fights, a petting zoo, a mechanical bull…wait. Mechanical Bull!?! No way! The heavens opened, the angels sang and capere ocasionem! Because, yes. Lo and behold in one area of the compound – there it was – a mechanical bull. I didn’t know where or when I’d ever have this opportunity again, so children’s birthday party or not, I decided then and there, oh yeah… this was happening! So, while the children were busy with games, other rides, etc… I grabbed the bull by the horns (or so to speak!), and rode the bull.
It wasn’t exactly like I thought it would be. For some reason, after all these years, in my mind, I assumed I’d be some sort of mechanical-bull-riding-prodigy. However, it was harder than I thought – kind of like a full body workout in a few short minutes. My right hand was white-knuckled to the saddle. My head (and my whole body) were whipped violently this way and that. But to my credit (while I didn’t risk the maximum setting) I held on and managed to stay on! I was a bit nauseous when I finally got off, my butt felt bruised and my thighs hurt from gripping the sides of the bull to keep my balance, but hell yeah, I DID IT!
It’s always a moment of joy, a small victory and extremely cathartic for me when I get to cross an item off my bucket list! And while I no longer have a burning desire to ride a mechanical bull, I’d probably do it again if the opportunity ever presented itself! Capere Ocasionem! Yee haw, y’all!