Find a Way, Not an Excuse

It’s no secret, I’m a slave to the Summer Bucket List every year (2013, 2014, 2015).  I don’t know what it is with me, but a bucket list motivates me to make things happen, particularly a Summer Bucket List.  This Summer is no different.  Despite moving across town and still trying to grasp the fact that I have four children, I have stayed on track to complete this year’s list before school starts.  I hadn’t given much thought to my success with the bucket list until I came across this quote I saw by Jim Rohn, “If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way.  If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.”  What it comes down to, is that I really want to complete the bucket lists.  So I set out with more determination than usual and I find a way, not an excuse.

Find a way, not an excuse

I genuinely have never considered myself a determined person, perhaps because I so often was teased about being a quitter.  Of course the teasing came from solid examples.  As a child, I took up soccer and quit after the second practice because the coach reprimanded me for something and I took it personal and told my mom that I was done.  Not too long after, I started singing lessons.  I went to two lessons before I quit that as well.  My reason for quitting?  The teacher told me that as a singer I would need to cough in a more delicate manner than I was used to doing.  It seemed absurd to live a life with throat clearing versus a solid cough.  I’m laughing as I type this, but it really is true.  That is why I stopped.  I chalked it up to my love for singing being recreational and, decidedly, not professional.  Then, between Jr High and High School, I took up volleyball.  I was not a natural, as I had never done sports before.  In fact, I remember the coach being surprised when I did a successful play.  Then came hell week, and it was, well, hell.  So, I quit.  So you see, I didn’t have the best reputation for seeing things through to the end.  So, it should come as no surprise that I thought very little of my ability to see anything through or “to find away.”  I was always so good at finding an excuse.

Then a remark was made about me while sitting with my siblings, their spouses, and my dad and step-mom over dinner.  My dad was talking about how he plans to have his ashes scattered at the top of Mt Whitney (the highest summit in the contiguous United States).  He wants them scattered there, as he has climbed it 30+ times successfully.  He mentioned that he intended to have some friends of his take the ashes to the top and scatter them.  I was quite hurt that I would not be scattering them myself, even more hurt that my Dad didn’t think I could pull it off.  I get it, I do.  I’m not athletically inclined nor am I even deemed healthy, but still I should be the one scattering my father’s ashes.  Shocked by the news, I remember speaking up and saying, “Hey, wait a minute!”  Then there was some laughter, because well, it’s me.  I really am in no way prepared to undergo such a feat.  Then, my sister-in-law spoke up on my behalf.  She said, “Sara could totally do it.  She can do anything she puts her mind to.”  I was shocked at my back-up.  Frankly, I wasn’t sure she was even right.  It made more sense to think that I couldn’t climb Mt Whitney than that I could.  But here she was defending me and, in that moment, I remember feeling a little more confident that I could succeed at anything if I really wanted to give it a go.

Then, flash forward to the summer of 2012.  I was visiting my BFF up in Los Angeles and we were sitting on a bench in Griffith Park while my older kids played on the playground.  I still lived in Southern California at the time.  I brought up to her that Aaron and I were thinking about moving to Central Oregon.  I explained to her all the reasons why we thought it was best for our family.  Finances being one of those reasons.  She responded, “Well, how long until you guys get your finances okay and move back?”  I informed her that we had no intention of moving our family back to Southern California.  This would be a permanent move.  I wasn’t ready for the disappointment on her face.  Truly, the mood in our day changed and I felt so sad in that very moment.  As though I could somehow ease her pain, and my own, I told her, “It might not happen though.  Aaron still hasn’t gotten a job.”  She sadly said, “It’s going to happen, Sara.  Anytime you’ve set out to do something, it always works out.”  Such a flattering thing to say, but I could not for the life of me figure out where she was getting this impression.  I still don’t really know.

It wasn’t until the second Summer up here in Central Oregon that I started to believe that maybe I do have a bit of determination in me.  It was when I started the Summer 7 months pregnant, had our baby mid-Summer, and then had the Stroke of Luck the following week.  I had already prepared my 70 item bucket list (only 50 items are posted publicly, as 20 items are location specific) before the Summer began and somehow I was determined to complete it regardless of the curve balls that kept seeming to be thrown my way.  This was the Summer that my BFF gave me words of encouragement from over the phone, “Where there’s a will, there’s Sara.”  For the first time, I actually felt like I had some actions to back up her words.  I was determined (to the point of annoyance to some, I’m sure).  Even if it meant being inconvenienced, I was going to find a way, not an excuse.  And, I did.  All 70 items were completed before the first day of school.

Sitting here writing this makes me want to ask my sister-in-law and BFF what gave them the impression in the first place that I could achieve anything I put my mind to, as it seems I gave so little reasons in my life for that to be the case.  But, yet, they saw it in me.  Regardless, how do I implement this determination into other aspects of my life?  Like, exercise perhaps.  No, seriously, how do I?  I don’t know.

Is it as simple as printing my Life Bucket List out and placing it on the fridge the way our seasonal bucket lists are on display?  Making it a constant reminder for me to make things happen?  Because, you see, I already know that the bucket lists are good motivators.  So, while I want to work on being healthier, it doesn’t seem to work to say, “I’m going to exercise so many days a week.”  I will come up with an excuse.  I know I will.  However, if I want to accomplish #22, Run a Half Marathon (side note, the original list I made said that I wanted to run a marathon, until I realized that I really have no desire to run a full marathon.  It actually sounds pretty miserable.), then I’ll begin to work in that direction and a healthier body will follow naturally.  Then, a healthier body will leave me better suited to carry out #7, Climb Mt Whitney, because my sister-in-law believed that I could, and I want to prove her right.

I get that bucket lists don’t work for all.  I’ve even read a post about 7 Reasons Not to Make a Bucket List.  Honestly, I don’t understand how I get so fired up about them.  But, if a bucket list is what makes me find a way, not an excuse, then a bucket list it will be.  I feel like the stated reasons why not to make a bucket list are more based on bucket lists that are too lofty.  Sure, I have some places that I want to travel, but few, if any, are so specific that I risk not attaining my goal due to a jellyfish migration issue.  Many of my bucket list items depend on personal achievements, not trying to one-up somebody else’s passport stamps.

Life Bucket List #39 - Have a Large Family.  Check.
Life Bucket List #39 – Have a Large Family. Check.

What I’m getting at here, is that we should all look at what motivates us in our lives to find a way, not an excuse.  I speak from experience, that it really is a rewarding feeling to know that I am out making stuff happen versus watching the world around me go by.  I like the way I feel when I find a way, not an excuse.  I feel at odds with myself when I find an excuse.  So, here’s to bucket lists, determination, people believing in you when you might not even believe in yourself, and seizing the day!  Go find a way, not an excuse!


2 thoughts on “Find a Way, Not an Excuse

  1. It made me so sad to read this post this morning, the part about the day you told me about Oregon. (because of this, Oregon will never have a place in my heart) Reading your description of that day at the park made my heart break all over again, as It did that day. Though the news and reality gets a little easier to bear with time, I really felt bad for that girl, sitting in the park, unbeknownst to the crushing news that’s about to descend upon her. But let’s save the dramatics for another day, eh?

    I honestly think you’ve carried too much of the past with you. Maybe you quit some things as a child, but who doesn’t? (I’ve since quit thumb sucking.) It surely does not define the adult you are today, and this story you’ve created for yourself of being a quitter, has got to go. Maybe you should “quit” this story you’ve created for yourself? Nope! Trick question! Because we are just letting go of this quitter story… There’s a lot of things you could’ve quit as an adult, but didn’t, you should make a list of that instead (including taking care of your mom when she was sick, your determination to buy your first home, moving to a new state away from friends and family, being a mom to 4 kids…imagine if you quit after August!) But let’s not dwell on lists, instead let’s discuss the person you are today. Besides being a mother, a wife, a wonderful friend to many (not just me), you’re a determined, highly capable, responsible and resourceful human being, and that’s the least of it. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to do whatever you set your mind out to do, you just have to really believe that you can. Mind over matter. Believe, and the rest will come.

    In terms of exercise, my advice is this: just start really small. So small there’s no way you can’t do it. Maybe one squat today. And then add on little by little over time. Two squats tomorrow? Sure, why not. You do more than that just picking up your kids. Also you gotta make it a habit. It’s about practicing your habits, just like you tell your kids to practice their writing skills or their unicycle riding (oh, Oregon). If you practice the habit of sticking to your excercises, it’ll eventually become routine. Even then sometimes you might break that habit, or not feel like sticking to your habit. So you fall off the habit horse, but habit horse is there, waiting for you to hop right back on. Habit horse makes no judgements, it just wants to to be ridden. And then you just do your best, day by day. That’s all!


    1. Your comment actually got me teary eyed. I miss you so much and I’m so sorry I moved so far. Doing what’s best for our family has proven more difficult in some ways. I’m homesick for you and my family all the time. Thanks for being there for me even when we can’t live closer. It means a lot when someone knows all the pretty and ugly stuff about you and still lifts you up and believes in you. I love you, sweet friend.


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