Truly Blessed

ALS patient James Martin shares his journey.

The Mulligan List

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James Martin
Sunday, June 16, 2013

I am extremely fortunate for an abundance of reasons, too many to list here.
And as I reflect upon my life, and the choices made therein, there are few things that I would change. As the title suggests, I am truly blessed. Yet from those blessings, I have learned many things and often the hard way.

Many people create a bucket list, things to do before they die. It is similar to those mental lists we make when we throw money away on lottery tickets. These are fun lists for the future. But this essay is about lists of the past, something I call a Mulligan List; it is a list of do-overs.

A Mulligan List is not a list of regrets, sorrows, or failures. It is a list more akin to the phrase "If I knew then, what I know now." It is meant to share with you, more specifically the younger yous, the wisdom that comes from life, from experience, from choices made or avoided, from successes and failures, but most importantly from self reflection.

First on my list is High School. It was a missed opportunity of signicant consequence. I should have cared more than the little I did, studied more, and worked harder. There is much truth to the saying you get out of it what you put into it. I got less out of high school solely because I put little into it.

I should have taken physics. The world would make more sense to me.

I would have started automatic withdrawal for retirement with my first real job at 16 and gotten in the habit of investing then.

I should have traveled to Ireland, the Mediterranean, and Asia. A safari would have been cool too.

Life is too short to wear uncomfortable shoes.

Being fluent in a second language would have opened opportunities that I missed.

Taking basic business and accounting classes would have saved me from learning about business the hard way. For all of you in or going to college follow this advice, regardless of your major. This knowledge and these skills apply no matter how you plan to make a living.

I would have worried less; it changed nothing.

Though I bought disability and life insurance, I should have bought more.

I should have learned how to play the piano.

I should have walked more. Walks are good exercise, good conversation or alone time, good thinking time, and good prayer time.

It would have been better to forgive more easily. Carrying all of that baggage will lead to back problems.

That is my list for now. I will think more about it and probably do another essay on this topic. In the interim I encourage you to write down and share your Mulligan List. Don't let those important, hard earned lessons, go for naught.

Last updated: 8:23 am Monday, July 29, 2013

James Martin is a former attorney and graduate of Gonzaga University and Marquette Law School. He lives in Spring Prairie near Burlington. He has been diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. He is married with 6 kids. James is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff. His opinion is not necessarily that of the Gazette staff or management.

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