‘What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men …… That is what love looks like.’ - St. Augustine

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Proverbial Bucket List

I've been in a slump. A deep one. The kind that you think you'll never crawl out of unless there is divine intervention. Being out of work is hard for me. Heart-wrenching. It's not that I don't enjoy the free time. It's just that I feel so completely fulfilled by my work. Take that away, and you've quite an empty pocket to fill.

I am being very productive with this time -- organizing closets and drawers, being an ultra-attentive mom, cooking and baking more, reading books, taking care of all the mundane tasks I never usually get to.... but it's just not enough. I experience so much joy being with my students. That's gone right now.

I'm trying to follow Ann Voskamp's example. I'm trying to be grateful every day for what is here, now. But I'd be lying if I said that was easy. I might be successful for a morning, but by noon I'm often counting curses instead of blessings.

And it's quiet. Soooo quiet.

Nastia is in school, the dogs are in hibernation mode. Friends are busy with their own lives. I get it. Life goes on. But I can't help feeling a little left behind. It's not a feeling I'm used to.

And so, with eyes gazing hopeful towards the future, I started making one of those proverbial bucket lists. If I can't have what I want and need now, at least I can dream some tomorrows into being.

Here's the list. It's not flashy or shiny, but it's mine. I don't want to climb Mount Everest or win the lottery, so you might find my list a little boring in that respect. But it's an honest list, and that must count for something. I actually feel quite vulnerable sharing it, but all the more reason to do so. Naming things gives them more validity, more substance. I'm naming my deepest dreams to prod their little seed-selves to take root.


1. See Anya sitting across from me at my kitchen table, US passport in hand.
2. See D sleeping soundly in his bed. Here. On this side of the world.
3. Watch Nastia receiving her HS diploma, to wild applause.
4. Creat & nurture SOAR, the nonprofit I've envisioned.
5. Adopt more children. (Please, God?)
6. Be the inspiration for other adoptions.
7. Become a certified emergency foster parent.
8. Buy a house in Siberia for children aging out of the orphanage.
9. Write a book.
10. Meet Nastia's birthmother before she dies.
11. See Africa with my own eyes. Visit the tiny Ethiopian village where my father used to live.
Asmara, Ethiopia where my dad used to live. (now Eritrea)
12. Visit my ancestral home in Ireland again. With my daughter.
13. See India with my own eyes.
14. See Nastia graduate from college, to even wilder applause.
15. Build my own cob house and live in it.
16. Educate and empower the local community in Siberia to fix the system and get ALL the children of Orphanage #5 into homes.
17. Finally speak Russian fluently.
18. Go on an adventure overseas with all my brothers and their children & spouses.
19. Find a kind and open-hearted man to love and marry.
20. Join a barbershop quartet for women, like my cousin.
21. Sleep just one more night at Hengrave. (A place I used to live, in England)
22. See Iceland with my own eyes.
23. Visit the Aran Islands, and sleep in a JM Synge's cottage there. Read his stories as I fall asleep.

Synge's cottage.

24. Take the Trans-Siberian railway, stopping along the way.
25. See one of my students perform with Shakespeare's Globe or the Royal Shakespeare company, before I die.
26. Live in Florence Italy for a month. 
27. Take my godsons Josh & Drew on an overseas trip, just the three of us.
28. Edit and publish my father's last book before I turn 50.
29. Cliche, I know, but...swim with dolphins.
30. Gaze into the eye of a whale, underwater.

See? It can be done. But I want to do it without a camera. Just me and the whale.

I'm sure I could think of dozens more if I tried, but these are the ones that came effortlessly. What's on your list? Do you have one? Will you share it with me?


  1. You didn't say you wanted to do it alone, so I guess it's okay if I come with you on number 26. I would love to live in Florence for a month! The 3 or 4 days I spent there didn't begin to quench my thirst for that city.

    Blessings to you and your children.

  2. They all (well, mostly all) look good to me. Maybe I'll do this, but it makes me sad, as so many are impossible. I didn't used to see things as impossible, but I begin to.

  3. Loved your list. A while ago, i thought that I noticed a slight british sounding accent in one of your videos? I thought maybe it was your training in theatre/Shakespeare. Or is it because you lived in England? How long did you live there?

  4. Hi Keri,
    Both of my sons turn 18 this winter/spring and one will be returning to Cheboksary to visit family this summer. Have questions about passports, travel, money, phones, safety.....is there an e-mail address you would share so I can contact you?
    Thanks so much, Jackie

    1. Hi Jackie,

      Yes, my email is KeriCahill34(at)gmail(dot).com:) happy to help.


What do you have to say? Leave a comment!