October 2009

National Novel Writing Month

Writing a novel is on the Living To Do list of many people, but it can be a pretty intimidating activity. Writing definitely takes time, and while some people can put out a novel a month, most writers take longer to produce a work of that length.

That said, it’s definitely a doable task; and what better time to accomplish this goal than during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)? This approach to novel writing allows participants to worry about nothing but word count. Grammar, quality, plot—none of that matters during NaNoWriMo. The only thing that does matter is your output.

Have Your Dream...Funeral?

As morbid as it sounds, planning for your own death is pretty important. Not planning the death itself, of course, unless you’re really morbid. And in that case, be sure to see a doctor.

You definitely want to have your last will and testament prepared. Be sure to declare who gets what—especially if you’ve got squabbling cousins after your antique corncob pipe rumored to have been used by some famous country singer or whatever. Make sure to designate a guardian for any children or pets as well—which, of course, you’ll probably want to ask the potential guardian about beforehand too, unless you’re Kate Hudson’s sister.

Add Some Novelty to Your Life

This one might be harder to implement that you think. Most of us develop some sort of pattern—daily habits, or a rhythm—in our lives that’s hard to break. Such things can be very good for you, of course; making healthy meals, exercise, bedtimes and other rituals a part of your day is definitely optimal for a healthy body and mind. But too many mundane, same old, same old activities can not only cause you to get bored—they can also cause some health problems on their own.

Science says that adding a bit of variety or novelty to your routine can help prevent Alzheimer’s. Whether you do something new—such as learn something new, take up a class, or attend a lecture or play—or engage your brain with a novel activity such as a game or a book, you’re helping your brain stay active.

Sleep in a Haunted Place

In 2007, I was able to check off two items from my Living To Do List. I went on my honeymoon—and stayed the night in a haunted house. My husband and I had a lot of fun at the Lemp Mansion of St. Louis, which was gorgeous and spooky—but if I hadn’t known it was supposed to be haunted, I have to admit, it wouldn’t have really been so spooky.

I did have a hard time sleeping, because I sort of wanted to see something out of the ordinary—I had heard plenty of tales from friends and acquaintances, after all, and wanted one of my own. Though I didn’t see anything supernatural during our visit, it was still pretty awesome to stay there just because of its beauty, the garden outside, and the delicious breakfast served there.

Face a Fear

If you’ve seen the mediocre children’s film Space Chimps, you might have smiled (or yawned) over the scene where the little alien girl, Kilowatt, tries to stifle her glowing head—which is brightest when she is scared—in the presence of a gooey fat green monster, muttering, “Control your fear. Control your fear.”

Luckily for us, we don’t glow when we’re scared. (We usually do that when we’re pregnant, or after we orgasm.) But that doesn’t mean that we don’t feel like our fear is on display for all to see. Not only is it frustrating to have a strong fear that prevents you from certain activities, it’s also embarrassing to admit it to friends and family.

Some of us laugh when we’re fearful; that’s my own modus operandi. But others cry when afraid. These and other symptoms are not necessarily pleasant, particularly in the face of other people.

Replicate Yourself

Making another you just might be on your priority list—or, in this case, your Living To Do List—sometime or another in your lifetime. Hopefully you don’t want him or her to be exactly like you—not only would your flaws be replicated, but it would also probably be pretty boring (no offense). The route most people to take in making their own Mini Me is a pretty direct one: they have sex, get pregnant, and produce an infant. No big mystery there.

But if you really want to have a child and the how’s don’t matter so much to you as much as the child itself, there are plenty of other ways to acquire one. Just make sure you do so legally and ethically; kidnapping, cloning and buying babies may not be smiled upon where you are from.

Laugh Every Day

If there’s something that everyone should definitely have listed on their Living To-Do List, it’s laugh every day. Not only is laughing plain fun, it also comes with a host of other benefits. It turns out that Patch Adams was really onto something. Laughter
  • Reduces stress
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Increases the threshold for pain
  • Reduces food cravings
  • Provides relaxation
  • Exercises the belly and heart
  • Dissipates guilt and anger
  • Provides a social connection with others
  • Provides a physical release

…all for free! Who couldn’t use more laughter in their lives? To specifically add more laughs to your life, try one of these ideas—or post your own.