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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Reverse Bucket List

By Kristy McCaffrey

Unless you've been living on Mars, then you've heard of a Bucket List. (And if you are living on Mars, then you win top prize for best Bucket List destination.) But what about a reverse Bucket List? I'll wager you've not penned one of those.

What is a Bucket List in the opposite direction? It's looking back on your life and shining a spotlight on what you've already accomplished. Since all you have to do is remember, it's super easy, not requiring saving money, booking an airline ticket to Africa, and working out like crazy so you won't bonk when climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. What's even more exciting about this list: you'll find yourself again. You know, that younger version of yourself, the one who faced life with uncharacteristic enthusiasm, the one who followed his/her inclinations and passions without worrying about the whys or how-to's.

Here's mine:

1. As a child, I read TV Guide cover to cover each week. I was exceptionally talented at the crossword puzzle inside due to my vast knowledge of the Boob Tube.
2. I was entranced by clouds. I studied them, photographed them, and categorized them. At school I wrote reports on them at every opportunity. Why am I not a meteorologist today?
3. When in high school, I had the same chorus teacher (Mr. Millsop) as my mother when she was in high school. This just shows how close in age my mom and I are. (Sorry Mom, your shotgun wedding is out.)

4. At age 15, I discovered the Dragonriders of Pern books by science fiction/fantasy author Anne McCaffrey. A few years later, I met my future husband: last name McCaffrey. But more importantly, I started writing fan fiction in her Pern universe, which eventually motivated me to write something original.
5. At age 17, I worked in a movie theater. Best. Job. Ever. (Free movies, anyone?)

6. In 2nd grade, I was accepted into the Gifted Program because I did exceptionally well on the placement exam. While I believe there must have been a TV Guide crossword puzzle on the test, in truth, I guessed my way through it. It really sucks to be labeled 'gifted' so young since expectations always ran high that I'd get all A's, become a fighter pilot, and whip up something tasty at Christmastime.

7. When I was about 10 years old, I put my bare feet in the ashen remains of a campfire (it looked so inviting). Shortly thereafter, I put two metal barrettes in a power socket. Blisters on my feet and electricity zipping through my body were obvious indicators of my sense of adventure and, of course, my giftedness (see no. 6).
8. When I was 9 years old, I lived on the Navajo Indian Reservation. As a writer, it's been a goldmine of unresolved issues buried in my psyche, forcing me to scratch out an essay every few years about how miserable I was. Why won't anyone ever publish these?

9. I earned a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Mechanical Engineering. There were many days that I felt intimidated by the intellect around me and was certain they'd discover I was an imposter, but I'm proud to look back at all my hard work and say that I've done absolutely nothing with it.
10. My children. Thanks to my four offspring, I have a permanently flabby stomach (10-pound babies will do that and I'm too lazy to get a tummy-tuck). But, they are also the most gorgeous and fantastic creatures ever. What a privilege it is to love and fight with them (and torment them).

11. My husband. As he said to me recently, "How did you ever find a man to put up with you?" (Umm, tag. You're it.)


What's on your Reverse Bucket List? Give it some thought. In shamanism, there's a technique called 'soul-retrieval', in which pieces of the self that are lost during a lifetime are embraced once again. This exercise may just help you find long-forgotten nuggets of yourself, aspects that can help you remember that life is a playground, and it's all about playing. (Just watch out for those power sockets.)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Columbia River Gorge

By Kristy McCaffrey


Last month I visited Portland, Oregon and had the opportunity to enjoy the riches of the Columbia River Gorge, a canyon that defines the Oregon-Washington State border. The gorge stretches for 80 miles through the Cascade Range as the Columbia River makes its way to the Pacific Ocean. The area is known for a high number of waterfalls, with over ninety on the Oregon side alone. The gorge has supported human habitation for 13,000 years, but is most famous as a pathway for the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1805.
The Columbia River as seen from the Oregon side.
Multnomah Falls, with a total height of
620 feet. Be sure to have lunch at the Multnomah
Falls Lodge, at the base of the falls.
View from the top of Multnomah Falls. A one-mile hike on a
well-maintained trail will get you there.
Bridal Veil Falls.
Latourell Falls.
The Pacific Crest Trail spans 2,650 miles from Mexico to
Canada, with a portion running through Oregon and
the Columbia River Gorge.
The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) at Cascade Locks.
Bonneville Dam, one of three on the Columbia River.
It provides electrical power and aids in river navigation.