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August 10, 2012, Friday

A realistic bucket list

The term “bucket list” means a list of things a person wants to accomplish before they pass away. Each person's bucket list varies, depending on their desires and what they find important -- some include grand accomplishments such as climbing mountains or sailing across oceans, while others go for more simple desires like learning to cook a gourmet meal.

Not too long ago, I read a mother's bucket list of things she wanted to do with her children while they were still young. Her list included many trips abroad, which is not a realistic goal for many families, including my own at the moment. However, this list, in turn, got me thinking about my own bucket list for my son.

There are many items on my bucket list for what I would like to accomplish with my son while he still thinks his mother is not too old or too uncool to have fun with. This includes dancing together, creating our own artwork as a team, reading some of my favorite childhood books out loud at night and taking memorable trips that are affordable. However, I feel that there is a more important bucket list of goals that I would like to achieve in regards to my son. This bucket list has some of the many lessons I hope he will learn and make part of his life. The list changes from time to time, but the main points are below.

1. Learn to take pride in all you do. Being proud of accomplishments does not mean bragging to others about what you have achieved or receiving acclaim, but it is knowing that you did the best you could, tried your hardest and feel good about the result.

2. Tell the truth. It is much easier to tell the truth than to try to keep track of what lie you told to whom. Even if you may get in trouble, admit mistakes and take responsibilities for your actions and words instead of lying to cover up what you have done. Honesty really is the best policy. Once you are known to be a liar, it will be hard for anyone to completely trust you.

3. Apologize if you are wrong. Admitting and accepting responsibility for your actions is an important part of life. We all make mistakes, and the best way to deal with them is to apologize and move on. Apologizing does not make you weak, instead, it shows your strong character. When you need to apologize to someone, look them in the eye and be sincere in your apology.

4. Never be afraid to ask for help. There is no shame in asking for help when you need it. When you ask for help, it gives you the chance to learn something new.

5. Treat others how you would like them to treat you. If you are rude or abusive to someone, chances are that they will respond to you in the same manner. Everyone is worthy of respect. If you do not like it when someone insults you, remember that they feel the same way.

6. Help others whenever you can. This can be as simple as helping an elderly person safely cross the street or pitching in to help a neighbor carry grocery bags up the stairs. Volunteering at an organization that assists those less fortunate can help you appreciate how much you have and see life from a different point of view.

7. Never stop learning. Even though school may seem boring at times, you should never stop trying to learn new things. Once you finish school, keep learning. Read as much as you can. If you are interested in a new area, take classes to expand your understanding and knowledge. Listen to the news, exchange ideas with others.

8. Listen to what others have to say. You may not always agree with the opinions that others hold, but respect them and let them express their point of view. You may learn something of value from the exchange.

9. Think for yourself. Listen and learn from others, but carefully weigh the opinions of others. Make up your own mind about what you believe to be true. Do not just repeat what you have heard -- investigate on your own. Learn to formulate your own opinions and feel confident in expressing your ideas to others.

10. Eat healthy. Yes, I know all too well that junk food can taste great. But limit your intake of unhealthy food and you will be healthier and happier in the long run. Remember to drink lots of water. Stay away from things that will harm your health -- including cigarettes and alcohol.

11. Learn to be financially independent. It is too easy to run up credit card debt that will keep piling up for years. Pay cash whenever possible. Save money whenever you can. Understand the value of money and hard work.

12. Keep reaching high. Try not to settle in life. Look at your goals and see what you can do to achieve them. It may take lots of work and many years, but if you are determined to achieve a goal and keep working towards it, eventually you will succeed.

These are the main goals that I hope my son will make an integral part of his life. Like all parents, I hope he succeeds. What is on your bucket list for your children?

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