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Extending one's life to-do list - April Avison

In a moment of panic during the terrible storms last week I began to wonder, in classic mid-life crisis fashion, if I died today, would I be proud of my life?

The answer is I don't really know. There are things I've done of which I can be proud – my job, my friends, my family. I'm generally one of those "I have no regrets" kind of people. Even our mistakes are learning experiences. The embarrassing moments and painful realizations make us stronger.

I like to continue challenging myself and embarking on new experiences. Whenever I catch myself saying "I wish I could do something like that," I add the something to a wish list that stays in a special place on my desk at home. It's more than a wish list; it's actually a small bound journal that contains wishes that range from travel destinations to art projects.

The wish book has many entries, and only a few are marked with a satisfactory check to indicate that I've fulfilled that wish. But it's nice to have goals, something to look forward to, something to work toward.

Admitting to being a listmaker may show my obsessive-compulsive personality. I know I may be the only person in a 100-mile radius who carries around a list of books she wants to read and movies she wants to see. But don't you wish you had one of those movie lists when you're standing at the video store trying to figure out what to rent?

Likewise, the wish book works for me, but I'll concede that it may not work for everyone.

But, as clich? as it's now become, no one wants to look back on their life in 50 years and say, "If only I'd ?" If you're going to wish you'd done it, go ahead and do it.

Julia Cameron, who writes inspirational books like "The Artist's Way" for creative people has a quote in one of her books that I think of every time I get nostalgic like this. Cameron says that when a student asks her "Do you know how old I'll be by the time I finish a (novel/painting/screenplay, etc.)?" Cameron says she replies, "The same age you'll be if you don't."

We often don't accomplish the things we know we're capable of because we don't think we have time or we don't think our peers will support it. But you'd be surprised at how inspiring it is to be around someone who is doing the thing they always wanted to do. You might consider being one of those people – I know I will.

April Avison is the city editor of the Daily Herald. Her column appears on Mondays. She can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or via e-mail at aavison@henryherald.com .