Taking time for the 'list'

Tanya Deke

Even before the movie "The Bucket List" came out, I would often think about things I wanted to do, "someday," when I had the time. Although I was always cognizant of my list, there was never a specific timetable attached to it.

Like most people, I have been consumed with the day-to-day living of my life. While I am divorced now, I was married for 20 years and focused on my family and raising my three sons, who are now 25, 21 and 17. For me, there was nothing more important. There would be time to do all of the other things on my list ... someday. The thought of going off and doing something just for me seemed selfish and a luxury I couldn't afford, both monetarily and time-wise.

Last fall, when my middle son announced that he would be staying at school for most of the summer to attend school, I admit that I had a moment of panic. You see, I was already going to be without my youngest son, who spends six weeks in the summer with his father. Having my middle son home working always made the time my younger son was away more bearable. Not that I saw him that much -- after all, he had a job and his friends -- it was just his presence in the house. Now I was facing six weeks alone.

After a few days, I realized I needed to "get a grip." I had a thought. Maybe I should plan to do something for myself during that time? The state of the economy coupled with my difficulty in doing anything that is a "want" and not a "need" made me second-guess the idea. After several conversations with my family and some very good friends, they convinced me that I should go for it; that I deserved this adventure; blah, blah, blah. Besides, when would I have this chunk of time again? Well, I figured it was worth checking into.

Two things that had always been high on my "someday" list were learning another language and spending time in another country. I started doing some investigative work online on French immersion programs. There were dozens of them, but once I refined my search to what I was really looking for -- an adult, intensive, total immersion program in France -- I found my match, the Institut de Francais in Villefranche-sur-mer.

After doing my homework and ironing out the details, I sent in my application. Once I was accepted, I booked the rest of the trip. Now a different type of panic set in. The "oh, my God, what have I done" kind of panic. I was now going to France for a month by myself. I guess now would be a good time to add that my French language background consisted of high school and a semester in college, which I might add was a very long time ago. In other words, I was a beginner. Nevertheless, I left for France on June 25. "Someday" had arrived, and there was no turning back.

Studying French for 8 1/2 hours a day for four weeks might not make anyone else's bucket list, and believe me, the irony of being in class all day in a beautiful villa overlooking the Mediterranean Sea was not lost on me. For me, the experience meant two of my dreams were coming true. I was in heaven!

Along the way, several other wonderful things happened; I met some of the most incredible and fascinating people from all over the world, and I learned so much more about myself. I returned from this adventure with a better understanding of why it is important not only to have your own "someday" list but to try and actually fulfill it, and why it is OK to occasionally put yourself first. I continue to struggle with this one, but I am making progress.

With my youngest going off to college next year, perhaps there will be other opportunities to check off more items from my list. Who knows, after this story is printed, it may happen sooner than I think?