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At almost 69, I’m realizing my “Bucket List” has suddenly become important. A few days ago we were out for lunch with friends our age when it popped into my mind to ask, “What’s on your bucket list?” Most everyone knows that phrase refers to the movie starring Jack Nicholson (I’ve loved him ever since he upstaged Nurse Ratched) and Morgan Freeman.

When our friends asked the question in return, I quipped, “Clean my desk so I can get to other writing projects.” Caring Lessons has taken up much of my time for the last ten years, and I want to eek out a few hours for other writing. But I have to whisk away piles of unrelated debris and papers first.

So what did I do today to diminish the piles? I went to church. Yes, at 8:30am, wrapped up in a long down coat, hood, scarf, and gloves, I acted like a commuter and marched up Michigan Aveune to my church, Fourth Presbyterian, across from Water Tower Place.

Why? Every week day, clergy and staff hold morning prayers for members of the congregation. People who are ill, mourning, or simply members of the church. Today was “our” day to be prayed for. We had received a letter notifying us of the date, followed up by a phone call asking if we had a specific prayer request. This was before Marv’s surgical surprise of late, so I’d said no. But I’d noted the date and this morning, faced with a third day of cleaning my desk and with Marv completely healed and back to work, I decided to attend.

And I’m happy I did. There’s something about hearing your names, Lois and Marv Roelofs, being prayed for in a small intimate Gothic-style chapel. And then having an intimate conversation with a few of the female clergy afterwards about aging, illness, retirement–those things that lots of us are dealing with nowadays.

No, I didn’t ask them about their bucket lists, but as I left the church, I asked myself how I could make my walk home superbly enjoyable– to prepare me for getting back to my desk work.

First, breakfast.  I headed a few blocks north (farther from my desk!) and  stood in a long line in a skinny corridor at the Original Pancake House off Rush Street. Since I was the only party of one, I was seated quickly. Ordered my three pancakes and one egg (the least caloric item on their menu), large tomato juice, and decaf.  And since I don’t do a “party of one” real well, I soon met the couple next to me (tables are close), found out they were from southern IN, and we were off and gabbing.  She was a teacher; I had been a teacher. He was a farmer; Marv was raised on a farm. She was indulging on crepes oozing with sour cream and blueberries; I was being “good” and eating as low cal as was possible. All instant topics of mutual interest.

Did you ever notice that if you talk to strangers very nice things can happen? I was feeling blessed from prayers and conversation as I hit Michigan Avenue for the sunny walk home with temperatures in the twenties. I’d taken my camera to snap photos because WordPress, the name of this blog site, had just sent me directions on how to add a slide show to my blog. Give me a challenge, and I’ll try it.

So now you can walk home with me on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile–North Michigan Avenue. You’ll see very candid shots of my church, store decorations, people, cars, buses, flags, an ambulance, newsstand, and more. I figure, if  you can’t make it here like the thousands of other tourists who did,  you can pretend you’ve been here today!

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So the real truth is that I didn’t make it home for four hours. There were sales, you know, the kind of bargains that work like a magnet on any thrifty person’s purse. For example, protein powder–40% off. Who could pass that up?

And my desk, and its mess, will be here yet tomorrow! But, I just remembered,  I have a luncheon date…

Oh my, I think I’ll have to add making the most of each moment to my bucket list. That way, if I get distracted doing fun things, I can always say I did them because I simply had to.

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