Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Need a little hope today? Write out your bucket list and get started!

Now here is a fun project - put your Bucket List to paper and get working on it. My latest via Divorced Moms. Let me tell you, few things will bring you that very powerful emotion of hope more than accomplishing, seeing and doing things you have always wanted. 

Enjoy!

Oh, oh, oh-- September is Blood Cancer awareness month. Blood cancers include leukemia, lymphomas and multiple myeloma. We are so close to a cure. Do something amazing to help further that cause!

Peace and joy,

Lizzy

The Power of the Bucket List & Why You Must Have One

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By Lizzy Smith for Divorced Moms
September 01, 2015
635199118062852913Fotolia_52995721_XS.jpgOne day in 2012, I was sitting in a windowless infusion room getting high-dose chemotherapy. I was wearing a wig. I had no eyelashes and no eyebrows. I felt pretty crappy. I had lost a ton of weight.
Typically at 5 feet 8 inches tall, I weigh about 135 pounds but had plunged to 118 pounds. The only thing I truly craved and loved to eat were pickles. Almost like a drug addict, my hands would shake and heart pound until I got the lid off of that pickle jar and started cramming them into my mouth.
I was also going through a really horrible divorce. That day, in particular, I had just received a pleading that my then-husband and filed with the courts calling me a liar and demanding that I get my ass back to work because I was "just fine" and was making up my whole cancer diagnosis. It was quite a low point. I sat in that infusion room reading the filing and wondering how I got to this point. Sick, so very sick, emotionally, physically and spiritually.
I called a man "Sam" I met at clinic the week prior. He too had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma but was a few years ahead of me in our shared journey. He survived two stem cell transplants, the same treatment protocol that I was embarking on. I needed Sam to reassure me that I would some day feel "better" whatever that meant. He answered. "I will call you back in about an hour," he reassured me. "We are skiing and need to get our gear in the car. As I'm driving down the mountain, I will have time."
I could not fathom ever feeling well enough to ski. Was it true that I could heal and, wow, do something like that? Or do fun things again? Or not simply just want to stay in bed and never get up? Was that a glimmer of hope I was feeling-- that joy, fun, happiness, and (dare I even think this?) health might be mine again? And if the answer was yes, what would that look like? What would I do? I realized that I had a life to plan out and, even in a highly sick state, I could start right now. 
I asked one of the nurses for paper and pen and started writing out my Bucket List. I always had places I wanted to visit and things I wanted to do or accomplish swimming around my head. But I had never written them down and it was time. Thirty items made it on my list and when I was done, it was an emotional pick-me-up. I had a plan. If I ever got approval from my doctors to be "normal," I knew what was in store for me and, in many cases, my two young children. And it involved a lot of fun. Yes, FUN!  
I am sharing my list because it is tacked on my bulletin board where I can view it often. If you don't have one already, I highly encourage you to get started and put it somewhere you can refer back to often. So far, I have crossed off many items on my Bucket List, but there are many left. Every time I start feeling sad or "off," I read my list and plan, dream, or think BIG and then I get busy. I pick one item and there you have it. My list does not look pretty and it is written in no particular order, but I LOVE it.
Lizzy's Bucket List
1. Take a trip on Amtrak - DONE!
(I did this in July 2012 between my two stem cell transplants. Seventeen days from Salt Lake City with multi-day stops in Chicago, Washington, DC and New York City), it was very fun.
2. Ski - DONE!
I took my first ski day just three months post second transplant. I was not strong, it was not my favorite day on the mountain, but I DID IT! And I have gone skiing many times since then.  
3. Skydive
4. Hang Gide - DONE!
One of the world's best hang gliding mountains is just ten minutes from my house. Last year, for my 47th birthday, I did it. And it ROCKED!
5. Write an OpEd piece on Obamacare and get it published - DONE
In 2014, the Chicago Tribune published my piece on Obamacare. I was the featured article in the printed (and digital) edition. This was a huge and exciting accomplishment.