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I came across a wonderful website the other day that was so good I wished I had thought of it. It still has me pondering. It was started by Lauren Gillette, an artist in Maine and it is an open call to people on the internet to list the 5 things they have done over the course of their lives. Each list functions as a portrait of the person who supplied it.

The entries, which now are probably over a hundred, are compelling. Once I started reading it was hard to stop. Here are two examples:

 

An early entry is by a woman named Alaina, age 59.

  1. Had a baby at 18, gave it up for adoption
  2. Married a musician at 31.
  3. Traveled to Italy and Mexico.
  4. Received a Master degree at 58.
  5. Continued to regret giving my baby away.

A little farther down the line was Sarah, age 29, who said,

  1. Dropped out of HS and got my GED
  2. I was addicted to crack and heroin
  3. I had a baby when I was 19
  4. I went to college and dropped out
  5. I healed.

There is a wide range of people who participated. I noticed more women than men responding, and it was interesting to compare the kinds of things that people in their 20’s listed versus those 40 or older. Some lists were action-packed – I climbed mountains, traveled around the world and the like; while others were value-packed – I stayed with my mother as she died, I fell in love, etc.

Anyway, it got me to thinking about my five things, and the more seriously I thought, the harder the list became to compile. Here’s the latest version.

  1. I bore two children and buried one
  2. I had one husband and four affairs but never made it past six years
  3. I found my ‘voice’ and my art after 50
  4. I learned that happiness is a choice
  5. I took chances, made mistakes, kept going, made more mistakes, kept going, made more mistakes …

I encourage you to visit www.thingsididproject.blogspot.com and look at some self- portraits – and maybe add yours to the list.

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