Wednesday, August 31, 2011

More important than ever...

I know I made light of my bucket list in my last post.  Let me amend that right now.  My friend Gloria passed away today.  A month ago, this was something no one saw coming.  She was from a family where longevity reigned supreme.  She was vivacious and gregarious and always involved, be it theater, community, work, or friends.  Gloria had life...a lot of people just exist.  I always envisioned her acting and directing and getting on with it until she was a cute little 90-year-old star. 
But that was not to be.  A nagging backache, at first ignored, then not immediately diagnosed, turned out to be a cancerous death sentence.  Those who knew and loved her will have a large space in their lives that will be quite difficult to fill.  Although Gloria led a full and rich life, I'm sure there were many things she still wanted to do, be they small or large, simple or unique.  She was not one to be satisfied with the status quo.

And in that, we should all take heed.  Don't stop learning; try new things; expand your mind and your life; because you never know when it might end.  I know I will be taking my bucket list quite seriously from now on. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Jack Nicholson has nothing on me!

When I turned 40, the FIRST time, I decided to make some major changes in my life. I took stock and realized that I was turning into my mother, so I made a bold decision not to go gently into that good night. My first project was to not get older, so I concocted the “Betsy McMillan Quantum Theory of Aging.” It goes something like this. When you turn 40, you automatically subtract 10 years. Then you only age 1 year for every two chronological years. It works like a charm, but eventually you get back to 40 for a second or even a third time, so you start the process all over again.

The second change was my health. I was severely obese, so I proceeded to do everything humanly possible to lose weight and keep it off. This actually included becoming a dual-certified personal trainer. Granted I don’t LOOK like a personal trainer, but I am pleased to say that today, I weigh 220 pounds less than I did when I was 40. I still have a little way to go.
Another thing I created during this process was the Betsy McMillan version of the Death March. I discovered that if I left the house with all good intentions and started walking, I was prone to stop short due to tiredness, rain, cold, wind, snow…you name it. But if I got in the car with my other half and had him drop me 2 miles from home, I was totally motivated to get back to the house. Neither rain, nor wind, nor snow, nor exhaustion prevented me from finishing the two miles because there was no other choice AND because I was walking toward home the whole way (a wonderfully positive psychological component for one as chronically lazy as myself).

The third change was that I wanted to travel. I had literally never been anywhere. Once I made that decision, I called my friend Bonnie and talked her into running away from home for several days. We headed out for parts unknown, namely Savannah GA, and had a fabulous time. It didn’t matter that we were staying at Motel 6 and Tom Bodett had the light on for us…it wasn’t Ohio. Six months later, we headed for Vermont for a week. Six months after that, New Smyrna Beach - Orlando FL was our destination. After that I began braving the travel by myself. My solo destinations include Vermont, Seattle and Bellingham WA, Las Vegas, Chattanooga and Nashville TN, Huntsville AL, Greensboro NC, Detroit MI, St. Louis MO area and on and on. I love to travel.

I also began writing books. Since my “first” 40th birthday, I have managed to get multiple non-fiction books on the market. I knew I would have to make appearances, and since I was nervous about speaking in public, I began singing with a guitar player (the incredible Forest Ratliff in a duo gig that lasted 9 years), and I joined Toastmasters International to hone my skills. I have since used those skills in radio and TV interviews, no less.

I’ve ridden in a hot air balloon. I drove to NJ with my future (now actual) son-in-law and tried out for the X-Factor Auditions. I sang the National Anthem solo at the Captain’s stadium before a game.

So what comes next? I am compiling a bucket list of sorts…things I want to achieve before I hit 40 for the “second” time. The list includes many things, from losing the balance of the weight to get to my original goal, eating healthier, completing three novels that are already well on their way, putting a series of kiddie books on Kindle and Nook for download (already in the works), and finding a way to get that niggling postcard book, now renamed “Secret Angel” out to the appropriate audience. The “list” has been on my mind for several days now, and I keep adding to it as new and more wonderful things occur to me. I am open to any and all suggestions. I am completely convinced that when I am really old (when I hit 40 for the “third” time), I will be able to write one hell of memoir of my after-40 adventures!