Vanessa Gonzalez Kraft tries to balance her traditional Mexican-American cultural heritage and Catholic identity, personified by her grandmother La Lupe, with her roles as a young wife and mother.
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#1 On My Bucket List
I know I’m in my twenties so the idea of being worried about a bucket list already may seem somewhat silly, but one of my good college friends just visited last weekend and reminded me how quickly life is starting to pass us by. She came to check out Austin because she got into grad school here at UT. I asked her what made her want to go to grad school. She responded, “Well, we’re getting to the point in our lives where everything we do is going to dictate the next 20 years. I want to get this out of the way because I’ll need it eventually and it’s easy to do now without a family.”
We started talking about how, even though we’re only a few years removed from college, everything is moving much faster. People know more of what they want. We’re not 21 year-olds new to adulthood and testing the waters; we’re at the point where people want to begin settling down, starting careers and families and such.
Then she said something that totally blew my mind. She talked about how incredible it is that our 10 year high school reunion is coming up. No, no, I thought. It’s only going to be our 5 year high school reunion. I was confused and wondered if she was older than me. No, she’s my age. Hmm, ok, 4 years of college and we’ve only been out of college a couple years. No wait, my email has been bombarded with our 5 year college reunion flyers. Holy cow! She’s right. I’ve been out of high school for almost 10 years. What have I done with my life in 10 years?
A decade. That sounds like so much time. Granted, some pretty amazing things have happened to me in the last ten years. I went to college and loved it. Had professors that still amaze me that I got to meet and was lucky enough to hear lecture on a daily basis. I attended World Youth Day in Cologne (my first time to visit Europe). I also traveled to Rome with Brandon, got to see the bones of St. Peter — totally amazing trip! Found out how to concretely live the Gospel at Casa Juan Diego. Got married. Learned that I love teaching high schoolers. Had two kids.
One thing I really tried to drill into the heads of my students was that they need to act with purpose. They shouldn’t just float through life without being intentional about what they are doing. It is so easy for me to let weeks and weeks pass just surviving rather than actually trying to get something out of my life. Sure sometimes surviving is the most I can do at the moment but I can survive with purpose and not just because I keep on breathing.
So while I haven’t just been sitting on my haunches for 10 years, my friend is right, what we’re doing now could dictate what happens the next 20 or so years. There are some big dreams that Brandon and I have. Sure we still have plenty of time (God willing) left to make these realized dreams but I see now how quickly life passes. If we want to actually do the things we want to do, we should start planning and being purposeful about it.
Out of all the things Brandon and I would like to do, there is only one real thing that is bucket list worthy. If you meet me on the street 10 years from now, it is your duty to grab me by the shoulders and shake me until I answer that I have done the following:
We want to start a local community center. This community center will be funded by private donations as well as a coffee shop we would open. The coffee shop would be legally staffed by undocumented immigrants. (Hopefully by then there will be some law making it possible to legally hire undocumented peoples, like if the employer agrees to pay a lot of extra taxes for the employees or something like that. Some also believe that currently there is a certain caveat in the IRCA 1986 that allows a person to hire legally as long as it is from a day labor site or work coop. Obviously we need to do more research on this front.) It will also have some apartments above it for any families that we come across in need of temporary housing. This might even be some of our staff members. The community center will primarily offer parenting courses and be a resource center for parents. Classes and workshops will be given on pre-natal preparations, nutrition, healthy cooking, discipline, children’s development and sleep needs, marriage workshops, couple’s counseling, etc. But we also want this community center to offer really interesting things for kids. Painting classes, pottery classes, yoga, book clubs. Stuff like that.
We love the idea of having a place where our kids can work with us. The idea of working together as a family to make something succeed and not having to be away from each other for a whole eight-hour plus work day seems amazing.
How are we going to pull this off? No idea. Not even the foggiest. But we better start doing more than just thinking about it before another decade passes us by.
What’s on your bucket list? Any big dreams? Any suggestions on how to get started on these big dreams? How do you know this is God’s plan for you?