Where it all began
For as long as I can remember I’ve had a list. Well, I’ve had lots of lists but there are some that I’ve kept since childhood that have been little pieces of things I wanted to do and places I wanted to see before I die. I know that no one talks about bucket lists anymore, but I’ve had one my whole life and this year has been the year of the bucket list and it’s an adrenaline-rush and emotional rollercoaster to finally check off some of those little boxes I find inside my mental list of must-dos.
Being sick for 6 years transformed my vision of life as we know it. For those of you who have read my previous article surrounding Lyme, you probably know that the changes to my body were so drastic that I quickly went from being a thriving 19- year old girl to being a fraction of myself. I turned into a hermit who spent most of her time lying on the couch perusing the numerous options that television had to offer and deeply wishing and hoping that if things ever turned around for me, I’d make the choice to live the life I wanted every single day and to live that life to the fullest.
Fast forward to now, almost 3 years into remission and at a point where I honestly believe that each day overflows with the aroma of potential. It’s beautiful. Living the life that you took for granted after you’ve been thrown into the shadows is almost like waking up from a deep sleep. You look at the world with hope, hope that you will see each second as the gift that it is. So many people say that they aren’t afraid of the way they live, because they aren’t afraid of dying. I’m not afraid of dying, but I most certainly am afraid of living the way I lived when Lyme disease consumed my body. And I don’t EVER plan on doing that again.
Lyme remission, on a mission
So here we are in 2019, the beginning of the year held so much potential and you better believe I made a list of goals to check off for the year. One of those goals was to run a marathon. This goal was terrifying for me. Not just because it sounded daunting and impossible but because it held the potential of causing so much stress to my body that I feared the possibility of Lyme remission. I know what you’re thinking, that perhaps the risk was so great and I should have just crossed that item off my bucket list. But that would be allowing my Lyme to CONTINUE TO dictate how I live my life, that would be allowing my fear to decide the course of my life. I decided when I heard that I was in remission to never allow fear to dictate my life course again.
So I ran that marathon, and when it was over I cried my little eyes out. Because I DID NOT relapse, and I lived. I’m being so dramatic and I don’t even care, I told my fears that they did not get to decide what I did anymore. I told my anxiety that while I was thankful for its protective tendencies, I was disregarding all the alarms in my body going off that told me I should listen to it and hold back. And because I didn’t listen to the fear, I learned a valuable lesson. I learned that I was capable of so much more than I thought possible. I’m not talking about running 26.2 miles, because I most certainly had to walk during my marathon. I am talking about facing something that made my stomach turn and roll and deciding to go forward anyways because life is short. Life is short, and there may come a day when I physically can’t run a marathon, so I’m going to be certain that I run all the miles while I can.
Photo by Andrew Dalbey at mile 20, right before I actually hit my wall...
Time to jump out of an airplane
The next bucket list item came as quite a surprise. It came around so quickly that I wasn’t even sure it would actually happen. My friend sent me a text asking if I wanted to skydive, I responded that I absolutely did and the next thing I knew we were signing up to jump out of an airplane at Falcon Skydiving and check off yet another item from my bucket list.
Photo by Andrew Dalbey
For those of you who have gone skydiving, you know what it’s like. They give you a class before you even jump where you basically sign your life away and recognize that your jumping could ultimately result in death. That’s about the time that you stop breathing and try to remind yourself why you decided to do this in the first place. But then there’s the jump, the head back counting down from 3 where you actually think you may pass out from fear of your final moments. But then you don’t, and you free fall for a minute and you experience the most brilliant rush that is humanly possible. A feeling of OMG I’m still alive to I’M STILL ALIVE AND THIS IS THE MOST AMAZING THING I HAVE EVER DONE. There aren’t even words to describe the experience of free falling, the intangible evidence that this life is brilliant beyond belief. The gentle reminder that you are indeed alive, and this life is fanfreakingtastic.
Photo by Andrew Dalbey right after I landed, I wasn't crying, okay I might have been crying
Then the parachute comes out, and you have moments or minutes to look around at the beautiful landscape and just think to yourself, I just did that. I faced death, and I was absolutely fine. I faced my fears and I told my fear I didn’t need it and that I was going to take this jump alone today. It is fantastic.
My bucket list has been made smaller. I’ve checked off two items this year and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon (currently brainstorming more ideas so send ideas if you have any). But the point of this is all to say, dream big. Make a bucket list, and do it. You’re never too young to start living the life that you want. Don’t say that you can do that tomorrow, because you have absolutely no idea what tomorrow holds. As someone who works in healthcare, and who has watched the lives of those around me be transformed overnight, I can tell you that you truly don’t know what your future holds. If you aren’t living your life right now then there’s a chance you won’t ever be able to have those moments that make your heart swirl and remind you why you are alive. Dream big, jump far and show your fear exactly where it can go.
Peace, Love and White Hearth Coffee