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My List of Life

A few months into 2020 I got a message questioning why I was working through my bucket list. On one hand, it’s none of your business magical follower :), on the other hand I really wanted to answer from my soul. I do my best to always have the purest intentions in everything I do. I rarely do anything without a purpose or a larger meaning.

Marking things off my bucket list, creating moments that remind me how precious my life is, stopping my every day life to go do something crazy- it’s all taught me some of the most important life lessons. But the #1 thing I’ve learned over the last 7 months is that I am capable of doing absolutely ANYTHING.

I know, we all say it. Our moms tell us when were young, “You can do anything you set your mind too!” But do you actually believe that? When you look deep within you, do you actually believe you can do ANYTHING? I didn’t. I said I did, but I was lying. Until I jumped out of a plane, swam with sharks, took a road trip to the springs, and floated in a hot air balloon. Those moments taught me I can truly do anything I set my mind too.

We can prime ourselves to believe we can do things, but to prove it to yourself is whole other level of believing you can. It’s like that saying, “When people show you who they are, believe them” we are watching their ACTIONS. If you spring into action and show yourself you can complete the extraordinary, then you will finally believe that you can.

The other day someone asked me if I would ever do something that was wild and crazy and scary. I sat back and thought, “Well, I don’t know if I would want to do that, but I definitely know that I CAN do that if I wanted.” I can accomplish anything, I know this because I free dived with sharks when I thought that there was going to be a cage- but I did it. I know I can do anything because I jumped out of a plane, took a dance lesson, and gave some blood.

I know what you’re thinking, wait… you? Kassidy? Who has ran for her life during a shooting and battled watching a love one die just now figured out you can make it through anything? After jumping out of a plane? Isn’t it scarier to run for your life?
Yes, but sometimes the lessons life gives us doesn’t teach us the things we thought it would. I’ve learned a lot from my trauma, but it didn’t learn to believe I can do anything. That, is thanks to my bucket list.

I am halfway through a year of bucket list items and something tells me I am just getting started.

To the person who questioned my why behind doing this, I hope you find or create your list of life and get to it- maybe you’ll discover a little bit about yourself along your voyage.

I hope my journey inspires you to live your list of life. The list that when you accomplish things on it, makes you feel full of LIFE! It makes you feel more alive than you’ve ever felt.
You deserve to feel alive.

Feel It All

I lay in bed as a wall of sticky notes stares back at me. They read, “I am a runner! I am worthy! I am brave! I create energy! I am smart! I am a trauma thriver! I am beautiful! I am loved!” On the far right corner hangs the prepossessing purple sticky note that reads, “Feel It All.”

Feel It All.

Every emotion, every stab to the heart, every joyous laugh, every smile, every tear.
Feel It All.

I lay in my bed consciously feeling it all, every fervor of emotion that comes to me.
I feel the beauty that is in the sun shining outside.
I feel the pride of the year I’ve spent challenging myself.
I feel the heart break of loss, of both the dead and the living.
I feel the anxiety, of never doing or being enough.
I feel the depression, the deep sadness and NEED to be in bed, in my safe zone.
I feel the grief, of constantly wondering how to go on when Cooper is gone.
I feel the surprise, of life- the good and the bad.
I feel the disgust for the world we live in.
I feel the joy for the world we live in.
I feel trust, in that I know where I need to be- here, right here, in this moment.

Feel It All.

Feel every thing, every moment, every thought, every thing.
Friends, when you choose to feel it all, it doesn’t mean life will be easy- it actually means life will be harder. But you will be stronger for choosing to feel it all. For choosing to stand up to every emotion and say, “Here I am, here you are, together we are one.”

I never understood ‘being in the moment’ until I swam with sharks. You would think I would have learned this lesson from watching my brother die, but I assure you I could not be farther removed during that situation. When Cooper was passing my mind was so distracted about the ‘after’. After we would leave Cooper at the hospital, where would we go? How will our home be different? Does a little bit of me die too? Also, the social worker just handed me a pillow with Cooper’s handprint on it, is that all I’ll ever have left of him? I could barely focus on the moment I had in front of me, one last physical touch of Cooper.

However, swimming with sharks was quite the opposite. I HAD to be focused, completely possessed by that moment. One sudden movement and I would be choking on salt water all the while my body flailing in the water causing the sharks to FREAK OUT. The last thing any of us wanted as we floated atop their home. As I entered the ocean and looked below me, I realized I had just entered someone else’s property- a flood of respect washed over me. Thoughts consumed me as I rested atop the water. But unlike the stressful thoughts that consume me on land, in the water they simply told me to breathe, to stay calm, and to feel. Isn’t that all any of us need to do? To breathe, to stay calm, to feel? At the very basic level of being any sort of living creature that is all we need to do. What if instead of worrying about all of the necessities we deem to be important we just stopped and focused on the bare minimum? To breathe, to stay calm, and to feel.

Before I entered the ocean, a man gave me three simple instructions:
1. Stay Calm
2. Breathe
3. Always look the sharks in the eyes, it builds trust

I chuckled after that last one, really? Look the shark in the eyes? But he was right, it was our only way of communicating, me looking into his shark soul saying, “I am not going to hurt you, I am here to learn from you.”

Huge Thanks to Florida Shark Diving

I learned three important lessons that day in the water:
1. Stay Calm
2. Always breathe
3. Feel your feelings

The first two I learned from the man on the boat, but the sharks only reiterated his words. The third thing I learned was from the sharks and the ocean. ‘Feel your feelings’ the ocean taught me she is a big place full of wondrous things that we do not know about. The sharks taught me they are gentle, peaceful creatures painted only by dark stories. In that moment I needed to feel what was going on around me, I couldn’t make sudden movements, I couldn’t see what was coming behind me, and probably most terrifying, I could only see about 20 feet below me- but I knew there was far more feet beyond than that. My heart, beating into my chest a million miles a minute, skipped as I saw a shark come up from the unknown below me. She was swimming fast, and right towards me. I was nervous. But I remembered my instructions. Breathe. Stay Calm. Look her in the eyes. I did as I was asked and she swam softer, looking for the smell of food near by. I realized I was the last thing on her radar.

Feel It All.
Feeling it all is a lot like that shark swimming straight up from the unknown. At first you are terror-stricken, unable to think consciously about what you should do next. But then, if you listen to your feelings closely you’ll remember you’ve been given the instructions. To breathe, stay calm, and look her in the eyes. To look your feelings in the eyes and welcome her, to say I am ready to accept all of you. I will no longer push you down, push you away, and avoid your presence. I will feel it all.

The sticky notes that line my wall remind me who I am and who I aspire to be. The sticky notes are the instructions, not actions. Choosing to feel my feelings aligns fully with who I want to be. Feeling it all is the action to feeling worthy, to feeling that I am enough, to acknowledging my beauty, my trauma, and my abilities. The action of feeling it all is what turns my wall of affirmations, my instructions, into my reality.

To the sweet friend reading this, choose to not only write your affirmations, but to BE them. To take action and be your affirmations.
Sister, FEEL IT ALL. It is time to acknowledge our hearts, to feel all the beauty, pain, joy, and anguish. To hold our hearts with grace and feel it all.

Feel It All.
Today.
Tomorrow.
Every day.
Feel It All.

#graciousandgrateful