It all started as I approached 40. I wouldn’t call it a “bucket list,” because I wasn’t planning on dying anytime soon… there were just some new things I thought I should try. Stuck in my routine and bound by anxiety, I felt like I was missing out. So, why not try something new? I wish I would have actually written them all down. Perhaps I didn’t believe in myself enough to think I’d go through with it. Some things that I do remember (starting around, near or after 40):
- Colored my hair blonde (just to see if I’d have more fun)
- Completed a half marathon (total of 4 times)
- Went to a “paint & sip” by myself – did a painting while drinking
- Did hot yoga (normally don’t like being hot)
- Joined a “fight club” at the gym (I know, I broke the first rule)
- Got breast cancer (lumpectomy, radiation & hysterectomy)
- Rang the survivor bell (see above)
- Got tattoos (just for radiation, haven’t been brave enough to get a fun one)
- Wrote/writing a blog
- Rode the Wild Thing roller coaster at Valley Fair
- Ski @ Red Lodge, MT
- Moved my family to Alexandria
- Went to a writers conference
- Rode the Linq wheel in Vegas
- Went to a drive in movie
Did any of them change my life? Yes. Some were intentional & some were not. All came with lessons or realizations of some kind. Some were more profound than others. Coloring my hair made me realize that it’s not your hair color that decides how much fun you have – it’s your willingness to say yes to new things. Completing the half marathons started out as a test for myself to see if I could do half of what my husband does (he’s a full marathoner). It ended up as an emotional journey – my last one being completed a year after my cancer “stuff.” The painting class by myself was proof that I could step outside my comfort zone. I normally avoid situations where I’m alone with 20-30 strangers. I made it through the class and have done it a few times since then – alone and with friends or family. The hot yoga and fight club made me realize that my body can do some amazing things. Also learned that “hot” is ok and I got my pink boxing gloves for fight club. Those pink gloves would be worn the day of my lumpectomy. The cancer wasn’t on my bucket list, but it did change me. It opened my eyes to how short life is. It helped me to realize that it’s ok to take a risk or make a change. It made me realize that it’s alright to need people, to let them bring you meals or flowers or just visit.
You get the idea… everything had a meaning or a lesson or a realization of some kind. Some stretched me further than I thought I could go. Some prepared me for other things that would come along later. It only happened because I was open to it. Not quite like the Jim Carey “Yes Man” movie, but along those same lines. Before having cancer, our family trips were carefully planned out. I’m talking spreadsheets, budgets, binders, timing of events & places to go, how much we would spend on parking or toll roads – all of it. Planned. After cancer, we went with a rough idea and were more spontaneous. I’ll never forget my boys looking at me and asking what our plan was for the day. When I said “I’m not sure,” their eyes got huge. “What do you mean?!” This whole concept was foreign to them. It has taught them both ways – it’s good and comfortable and reassuring to have a plan, but it can be fun to be spontaneous.
My hope for you is that your own file (“things I never thought I’d do”) grows. Be open to new things. Let people in. Step out of your comfort zone. Take the trip. May your journey of enough lead you to a whole new set of adventures and a peace that fills your soul.