Tag Archives: Bucket List

Gluten Free Sun Screen

She didn’t even flinch as she pressed “submit reservation.” Nor did she deliberate long over ordering the lunch for $13.00. It was not clear from the information if she was allowed to bring food and she well knew her propensity for hunger on the river, or anywhere in the out of doors. What do we work for anyway but to give ourselves a treat once in awhile? A mini vacation. An early birthday gift. A reward to ourselves for staying at work nine hours a day and often going in on weekends. This was a  reminder to herself why she is even here in this town on the edge of the river.

“So what’s a $100 dollar bill between best friends?” she asked. Me, Myself and I.

A trip to the beach just the day before in 99 degree heat reminded her of the necessity of sunblock. Don’t underestimate burn potential of reflected sun. So when she arrived at Colorado River Discovery to check in, she went straight to the counter and requested fragrance-free sunscreen. The clerk read the ingredients: hypoallergenic, gluten –free…. she laughed at sunscreen needing a gluten free label. “I’ll take it,” she said. She gulped at the $10 price tag, but did not reconsider. A moment later, as she slathered on the expensive, but quality, goo in bright hot sun she had no regrets. An hour later, eating lunch on a raft with fingers, camera lenses, sunglasses and nearly everything in sight greased with sunblock she acknowledged the necessity of gluten free-or at least non-toxic, sunscreen. It was a fabulous trip. The river is beauty. The river is nature. Nature has healing powers. Beauty can restore. And it did.


A trickle or a flood

San Juan River, Bluff Utah, May 2016
San Juan River, Bluff Utah, May 2016

She sat on the banks of the muddy San Juan, in the shadow of a bighorn sculpture and watched the river roll away lazily to the Southwest. It made her long for the beach. That is where the river was headed, after all – to join the mighty Colorado at Lake Powell and finally empty into the Pacific Ocean.

But she knew something the river did not yet know; it would never make it to the ocean. It was headed for the beach, but along the way destined to recreate, irrigate, hydrate, relax and refresh millions of people. Somewhere, 50 miles or so short of the Gulf of California, the river would trickle to a stop.

Desert Bighorn sculpture in memory of author Ellen Meloy
Desert Bighorn sculpture in memory of author Ellen Meloy

So she pondered this truncation, this travesty, this unavoidable change of plans people foisted on the river and she asked herself, “How are you doing on your own bucket list? Are you headed for the beach? And whether you ever make it to the beach, will you restore and refresh and recreate and relax? How much of you will be absorbed and diverted into the schemes and needs of others? How much of the landscape of your life will you beautify along the way?”

Live. Love. Laugh. Learn. You do not know if your end will be part of a cataclysmic flood or simply trickle away.

I want to die in a beautiful place – The Ghost of Christmas Future

I want to die in a beautiful place.

That’s my long-term goal.

Since most of us do not know where or when we will die, I have to make some short term-goals that insure my long-term goal comes to fruition.  Therefore;

I want to work in a beautiful place.

I want to live in a beautiful place.

I want to travel and see beautiful places.

I want to be happy.

I want to be at peace.

There were times in the not so distant past when I walked along a beach and said, “Now God?  Could I just die now amidst all this beauty?” But that was not to be, so I continue to make sure I frequent beautiful places and take inspiring walks.

Until recently, I was not bold enough to confess that I want to be happy, nor did I  realize how much peace and happiness depend on my own choices or actions.

And always, I continue to explore what is meant by love.

I want to die in a beautiful place.

Until then, I want to live a life of love, happiness and peace.

That is going to take much thinking and a good deal of writing.

Onward!  To 2015!

Gratitude brings happiness

Some months ago, while car shopping, I posted on Facebook “ Red with a spoiler,…but will it make me happy?”  And my 24- year-old daughter responded, “Yes, yes it will.”  If you know my daughter and me, this exchange seems ludicrous, almost batty.  We both know that things don’t make you happy, that money doesn’t buy happiness. We are accustomed to live frugally.

I know some things that do bring happiness: a heart full of gratitude, time spent with those I love, the sweet feeling of success large or small.

Welcome home from your hike
Welcome home from your hike

Within a week of purchasing the vehicle, I was able to travel to Ft. Collins and visit my two younger children.  I had been desperate to see them for several months. I can take the car to work or into less accessible areas. When I return from a long hike and see my own *Red Pearl in the distance, it is like coming home.  My heart is filled with gratitude.

When I began car shopping, I knew just what I wanted; a dependable, fuel conscious Subaru Outback, preferably red, within the scope of my savings account.   The spoiler was unexpected lagniappe. So is the upgraded stereo system – literal music to my ears.

It is impossible to ever enjoy a feeling of success without having set goals – large or small. Reflection on goals met or sweet success brings contentment and confidence.  The confidence comes from being able to say, “I did what I said I was going to do.”

Andrea commences the rest of her life May 2012
Andrea commences the rest of her life May 2012

I got my children through school.  I finished my degree.  After much research, saving and shopping; I got the car I wanted. But these successes share some things in common. They all cost money, time, focus.

Money may not buy happiness, but it does augment the time I spend with those I love, the sweet feeling of success; and hey, money right when it is needed causes overwhelming gratitude.

This year, I’m going to do what I said I was going to do.  I’m going to write a book.  I’m going to live as though I have been given only 365 days to live.  That is going to take time and focus. Oh, and undoubtedly some money.

* Red Pearl – sorta like the Black Pearl, and captained by a woman.  The dealer certificate lists the color as regatta red pearl.

Who will share your 365 days?
Who will share your 365 days?


Only 365 Days to sing and make music – – Quartet, the movie

Avalon at night
Avalon at night

An upscale retirement home for aging musicians.

A birthday party concert for Verdi.

A residence where every type of music and musical personality emanates from the walls of every room.

Another curtain call – one last hurrah in the final stages of life.

What could be more appropriate?

I took myself to a movie last night.  Yes, I skipped supper and ran out the door after my final piano student to make it to the historic, downtown Avalon before showtime. I sat in the lumpy and aged theater seats of what was known as the Cooper Theater in my childhood.  It was the place I first saw the original “Fantasia.”  Also where I gagged at the smell of a cigarette smoked surreptitiously nearby. But that was once upon a time, very long ago.

As the reel rolled, I was reminded over and over again of who I am and who I used to be.  More importantly, I was reinforced in my resolve of the past few years to live each year as though I have been given 365 days to live. Things that need to be said, relationships that need to be healed, dreams I want to come true; come under deadline when I have been given 365 days to live. As Robert D. Smith says in his book, 20,000 Days (2013), “…imminent death inspires clarity of purpose.”

Was it a feel-good movie?  Do tears make you feel good?  Does getting older comfort your soul?  In some ways, the plot was reminiscent of “August Rush” with the underlying theme of never giving up on your music. Over the past year, I have played numerous one hour piano gigs at retirement centers. The movie, “Quartet,” is a poignant and comedic reminder of the changes that happen as talented, intelligent people age.   Think of it as “Pitch Perfect,” for great- grandparents.

These were opera singers.  While I have never aspired to sing opera, the similarities to the music life in general brought back vivid memories – pictures from the scrapbook of time. Reggie’s magnificent presentation, to high school kids, of the similarities between rap and opera reminded me of numerous times I stood in front of a class, endeavoring to engage middle schoolers by following the common thread, however thin, between their favored genre and classical music – back through history to the roots of music.

Are you like me? Whatever my goals and dreams, I want to keep doing them, reaching that high-point again and again.  It is not enough to cross something off the bucket list – to redeem and reconcile the past.  Living each day in the present, saying what needs to be said and doing what needs to be done daily is also part of the deal.

I will make music. I will. I will. I will.  And, I will live to write about it.

What are you doing in the 365 days you have been given?  Are you keeping the music alive? Please leave me a comment, so we can encourage each other.

A brief return to the stage as Mrs. Mullins in the 2006 production of Carousel at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood, Colorado
A brief return to the stage as Mrs. Mullins in the 2006 production of Carousel at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood, Colorado, Matt Nageli as Billy
A five-month foray into the world of barbershop singing with a quartet of my own in early 2012
A five-month foray into the world of barbershop singing with a quartet of my own in early 2012

Not Pictured: A senior’s oldies band I played with briefly in Seattle in 2011 resulted in relationships with other aging musicians.

New Year, same lofty goals. 365 days to live.

This year, I want to know more who I am each day; to pursue heartily the person I am created to be, though it may take me a few degrees outside my angle of comfort.

Cherry Odelberg - I write about relationships Photo credit Kevin Decker 2010
Cherry Odelberg – I write about relationships Photo credit Kevin Decker 2010

Happy New Year!  I am only a few days late, so I’ll make it simple.  My goal this year is the same as last: To live as though I have been given 365 days to live. Why reinvent the wheel?  Some who have gone before have said it much better:

“The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences (Eleanor Roosevelt).”

“No Reserves. No Retreats. No Regrets (William Borden).”

Promptly with the new year, a new book crossed my path and was subsequently loaned me by a good friend.  20,000 Days and Counting (Robert D. Smith), is a slim manuscript, in which I found the words of William Borden quoted above.  From the author himself, I enjoyed these nuggets which apply directly to 365 days to live:

“Live each day as if it were your last – imminent death inspires clarity of purpose.”

“There is no thought that will purge your priorities of worthless and worldly tastes like that of your impending death.”

For me, there are still many places to go and people to see.  The year past was not one of travel and travel is on my bucket list.   I still want to see the wonders of all 50 States and some foreign places as well.  I want to talk deep and laugh with my children.

There were things I experienced this year that had not made it to my bucket list, yet made for richer life. I hiked most of the trails in Colorado National Monument; many in solitude, most in sunshine, and once in moonlight with my brother and sister-in-law. I plunged into the Colorado and Gunnison Rivers in a borrowed kayak with no reserves, no retreat, and certainly no regrets. I reclaimed my right to share my musical gift by singing in a quartet and tickling the ivories at retirement centers. My spirit has been too full of fear and reticence for over 50 years. May I remember, “I am always divinely guided…I will always take the right turn in the road…God will make a way where there is no way (Norman Vincent Peale).”


I’ll stay until it’s time for me to go. Part 2 of 365 days to live revisited

_MG_9682redAbout this time last year, I determined to live as though I had been given only 365 days to live. I pointed out:

“I could not afford to waste any time. My bucket list would be overhauled from, “someday I would like to have a Phd. in Music,” to “what information and knowledge do I need, right now, to make better music?”

I love studios, microphones and stages. There were still songs unsung and stages untaken. I wasn’t given time to get there solo; but knew I might get there by joining forces with a few talented friends.

_MG_6469January, February, March, and April were a whirl of music as a quartet formed, blended, melded; musically, spiritually in intimate friendship. We sang for a full day of Valentines – and ate and drank our profits. It was almost magic.

And then abruptly, we dissolved. Too much busyness of life and too much baggage caught up and it was time for me to go.

While singing solo may be daunting; Eighty-eight keys are more manageable addressed by one. I received much needed musical fulfillment from playing over 21 pop/folk piano gigs at local retirement residences. There again, as 2013 advances, I will stay until it’s time for me to go.

Writing, when seen through the lens of 365 days to live, also takes a shift. “I want to be published, and achieve a certain amount of acclaim,” becomes, “I want to write my heart, get it all on paper, for the benefit of those who follow after and the great conversation.”

56294_4756203392394_485641455_oWhile I did more writing in 2012, I am not sure I finished everything that needed to be written.  I cut 20,000 words of raw truth from a 60,000 manuscript and added better fiction; reworking several chapters into short stories. I continued to write for Examiner.com, finding that the shear  exercise and accountability of writing to curséd specifications was growing me as a writer.  For a few days, I was hugely inspired by the idea of re-releasing The Pancake Cat – complete with illustrations by Andrea.  All these dreams may come to fruition in the coming year; along with other completed manuscripts; but they did not reach the finish line in 2012.

We are three days into 2013.  Here I will stay until it’s time for me to go. 

I’ll stay until it’s time for me to go. Part 1 of 365 days to live revisited

Andy Williams, Elvis Presley and Neil Diamond crooned, “Then I’ll stay, until it’s time for you to go (Buffy Sainte-Marie).”  Though I am a tenaciously loyal soul, this has been my chosen motto and mission this year.

It is one thing to commit, in marriage, for life.  Quite another to commit wholeheartedly when you don’t know how long the life of a project, activity or job may be.  I am learning, ever so slowly, to hold things loosely, not to base my dreams, goals, or life on any one particular outcome, event or circumstance; not to control the response of another.

I am learning that you cannot force the outcome with relationships; job, social, spiritual, even love.

The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image (Thomas Merton)”

One of the ways I let those I love – including me (because how can you love your neighbor as yourself if you don’t love yourself well enough?) – be perfectly themselves; one of the ways I remember to hold jobs and opportunities loosely; is to go about humming quietly:

tongue in cheekDon’t ask why,

Don’t ask how

Don’t ask forever…

I’ll stay until it’s time for me to go.

Elvis, Neil Diamond, Andy Williams; they sang so convincingly.  Now, the task is to convince myself.