Making Your Bucket List

In the hit 2007 film The Bucket List, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, two terminally ill men assemble a personal-life wish list of things they would like to do before they die. Since the movie’s release, the term “bucket list” has entered the cultural vernacular as a short-hand way to communicate what we aspire to experience during our lives.

The list might include places to visit, foods to eat or adventures to tackle. Just making the list can be exhilarating and inspiring. However, depending on age or economic where-with-all, it can be a depressing exercise, as it might represent a list of things that will never be.

Recently, a bucket list has widely circulated about Avery Canahuati, a six-month-old girl who suffers from the genetic disease, Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). Avery is not expected to live beyond age 2.  SMA is a progressive disease of the motor neurons in the brain stem and spinal cord that will eventually rob Avery of the use of her muscles for swallowing, breathing and movement of her limbs. Some degeneration has already occurred. To read more about SMA, click here:

Her father, Mike Canahuati, began an imaginary “bucket list” for his daughter to spread awareness about the illness and to ensure that the family enjoys the limited time they have together. Each week, Canahuati shares photographs and experiences and crosses items off Avery’s bucket list. The blog is joyful, humorous and poignant.

On Saturday, April 28 Avery knocked off items that included going to her first baseball game and shaking hands with “super hot baseball players.”

A few days prior, Avery’s dad had crossed off, “Wake up smiling, Have a bad hair day, Eat a cupcake and a Blow Pop.” Each entry concludes with, “Up Next: Whatever I bring to life, because I don’t have time to wait for life to bring anything to me.” Click here to visit Avery’s blog:

While the Canahuati family’s situation is tragic beyond description, Avery’s list offers great perspective that life, and one’s bucket list, does not need to be full of monumental accomplishments. It is also an important reminder to prioritize spending time on joyful and satisfying simple pleasures. As the oft-cited saying goes, “No one on their deathbed ever wishes they spent more time working.” If we are lucky with our health and mindful of the way we live, we will certainly have a very full bucket when we die.

Carol Lewis Gullstad April 30, 2012



  1. Carolyn B. says:

    Beautiful and inspiring post. This is the first I’ve heard of Avery’s tragic story. It reminds me to be more grateful for my own ability to live life full-out, and has me asking the question – ‘To what extent am I really doing it?’ Thanks for this moving ‘nudge’ to create my own ‘bucket list’.

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