As my 1,001 Days has ended to “officially” complete my 101 Things, I wanted to take a moment to reflect and share what I’ve learned. I ended up completing 83 of 101 things. Although I was unable to complete the other 18 things on my list in the time frame, I’m not going to stop trying to complete my list. I still have things I am actively working on and I still plan to complete my entire list. As a reminder, click here for my full list with the official progress I’ve made.
The first and one of the most valuable things that I learned was that not everything happens in a neat, little time frame, and that’s okay. When you’re dealing with health issues, some things are just beyond your control. Even when you’re not dealing with health issues, sometimes we’re just not under our own time frames. Things happen. Priorities change. Finances can play a factor… We grow and our goals change… and all of this is okay. The night before my official time frame ended, I was really depressed when I looked at my list. At first, I couldn’t see the 82 things I had completed at the time. I could only see the 19 things that I hadn’t completed yet, which momentarily completely took away the pride I should have had for what I had accomplished. I didn’t give myself nearly enough credit. Reflecting now, I can truly say that even with the hard days… even with not accomplishing every thing in the time frame, I need to be proud. I am a better version of myself than I was when I started this. I was a little lost in the beginning. I had things I wanted to accomplish, but I was always led by my fear of failure, which prevented me from even attempting to move forward. This list has served a greater purpose in my life than I ever imagined that it would. I created incredible memories. I have met incredible people… and I have had the most amazing support system following my journey and rallying around me to help make these things happen. So, it didn’t happen in 1,001 days… That’s okay. It was still an incredible 1,001 days.
This entire list challenged me and fulfilled my life in ways I never even imagined. I’m grateful for my journey. I faced fears (even if I didn’t overcome some of them. LOL) I met my idol. I started a company inspired by my idol… and even had the incredible opportunity of telling him in person how he helped inspire me. I pushed myself to do things I was scared to do. It helped motivate me to live healthier and happier and to give back to others more. This list was “meant to be” a way to help me deal with my cancer diagnosis, but I think it has been so much more than that. I think it has made me a better person. It has given me something to look back on and point to & say “I can’t believe I did that!” or “I can’t believe that people love me so much that they helped support me in that!”
I know I already said this, but it bears repeating… My list led me to my PASSION, which led me to meeting my IDOL (on more than one occasion), which ultimately led me to create my company, Shine On Music City, LLC, which has been so fulfilling that I truly can’t fully put it into words.
This list has taken me across the country, coast-to-coast, where I’ve gotten to have incredible experiences and see some of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen in my life. It helped me re-connect with old friends and create new memories with so many people in my life as well.
My only regret is that it took my cancer diagnosis for me to really seize the day, but I think sometimes we need reminders to let us know that life truly is short. At any moment, your life can change (for the good or the bad) and it is your job to create the best life you possibly can. It is our job to give back, make the world a happier place, and find our calling and pursue it passionately, because following our calling might be exactly what the world is missing and needs more of. As much as I hate hearing that I am an “inspiration” (because I feel completely undeserving of being called that), I pray that my journey does inspire someone to go out, to have adventures, create memories, to challenge themselves, to find their passion and to give back to others. We only get one life. Appreciate the people that want to be a part of your journeys. Those are the people you need to keep close and cherish. We need to remember to live the greatest life that we can and be the best version of ourselves that we are MEANT TO BE and to make the world a better place.
Happy Sunday, everyone!
Here are *some* pictures of some of my journey over the last 1,001 days:
#1-Meet Keith Urban
I never imagined I’d get the chance to actually meet him, let alone meet him 3 times. Special shoutout to my friends, Ron & Jen for helping me meet him for the first time. Also… my friend, Lindsey & Wes are troopers. They stayed out in the rain for hours to snap the 2nd and 3rd picture here.
#2-Get backstage at a concert
Thanks to Scotty from Saving Abel, we got to enjoy a couple of shows backstage while they performed. If you like rock music, be sure to go catch one of their shows!
#3-Travel more than 3 1/2 hours for a Keith Urban concert
I actually have been lucky enough to get to travel to multiple states now (GA, VA, FL, CA) to see Keith perform (totaling 25 times and I’ve traveled just under 9,000 miles total to see him since right after my 2nd thyroid surgery), but this particular time was one of my favorites because I turned one of my best friends into a Keith fan. In fact, we ended up going to see him together 2 separate years (2014 & 2016) for my birthday and he even recognized me the 2nd time in the crowd, which was pretty cool to us (considering we were in Virginia and not Tennessee).
#4-Go to the CMT Awards
Boy… I’m a lucky girl. My husband doesn’t really like country music, but he’s a sport and still goes to these things with me.
#7-Go to a real music studio
We went to RCA Studios in Nashville and did a tour. As crazy as it sounds, I know I felt a spirit there and there are pictures of orbs and interesting shadows, even though by the time I had a funny feeling, Wes & I were the only ones there. I can’t find the pictures right now of the moving orb, but here is one photo I took after the tour.
#8-Go to CMA Fest
We ended up going in 2015 and 2016. One of my favorite artists that I got to meet in 2015 was Hunter Hayes. He was so sweet! I also have met Craig Campbell, Lindsey Ell, Josh Turner, Lonestar, Robby Johnson, LoCash, Austin Webb, Eric Paslay, Jason Michael Carroll (who remembered me from another event a couple of years prior to CMAFest 2016)… and got to support my friends Cort Carpenter (my first spotlighted artist on ShineOnMusicCity.com) and my friend, Steve Dorian. I have also been lucky enough to have a friend that knows how much I love country music and hooked me up with tickets to Dan + Shay’s fan club party and I got to meet them and get pictures with them in 2016).
#9-Go to a concert or show that I wouldn’t normally pick myself
So this one, in all honesty… I was NOT excited about, but I “took one for the team” and decided to be a good sport and go to a Marilyn Manson/Smashing Pumpkins concert with Wes & some of my best friends, Jessica & Jesse. I also used this as an opportunity to let Wes pick out an outfit me to wear. #96-Let Wes pick out & buy an outfit of his choice for me to wear out (skull shirt & leather pants for the Marilyn Manson/Smashing Pumpkins concert.
#12-Visit Colorado and #22-Be more active in the thyroid cancer community & attend 3 major events or conventions.
This is a pic of me and friend Bikira from the first Thyroid Cancer Survivors convention in Colorado in 2014. I also attended it in 2016, as well as a Women’s Survivorville Convention in Nashville. I’m grateful that their our communities of survivors out there that I have gotten opportunities to connect with.
#13-Visit New York & see the Museum of Disabilities, Times Square, a Broadway show & the 9/11 Memorial.
This trip was one of the most incredible trips I’ve ever had in my life! We started our trip in Buffalo, NY and went to the Museum of Disabilities and Niagara Falls (the U.S. and Canada sides… the Canada is way more beautiful for some reason. Check out that rainbow!) We saw everything in NY that we planned to see, saw Jersey Boys and I even got to see a couple of friends there that I didn’t expect to get to see. We also had lunch with my friend, Elizabath while we were there. Also, my friend, Richard (from high school), gave us an amazing tour of the city and made that part of the trip even more amazing. We even randomly got to see one of David Letterman’s last shows, which wasn’t even originally in the plans. In total, we went for 9 days and went to Buffalo and NYC. From there, we drove to Philadelphia, where we did #15-Travel to Philly to meet the penguin we adopted (Murray) and saw the LOVE statue and several of our friends that live in the area all met us for dinner while we were there. We never did quite figure out which penguin was “Murray” at the Philadelphia Zoo, but we did go to the penguin exhibit. I could have watched these amazing creatures for hours. I’m obsessed with penguins!
Side note: Even though it technically wasn’t on my list, when we went indoor skydiving in Gatlinburg, we also went to the aquarium, where I did get a meet & greet and one-on-one time with a penguin. Meet Hala:
#16-Yellowstone & the Grand Prismatic Springs in Wyoming
This trip was also one for the books, for sure! Pictures will never do this experience justice! As my Christmas gift for 2016, Wes surprised me with a trip to Colorado & Wyoming. We also went snow-skiing in Colorado (#61-Go water OR snow-skiing again) and took a tour in Yellowstone and saw the Grand Prismatic Springs. One valuable thing we learned is that you can barely see the actual Grand Prismatic Springs during this time of year, but we did get some pictures of other springs and even got great pictures of Old Faithful going off. I’ve never been one to get “excited” about nature, but I’m really happy that I had put these things on my list, because these sites were so beautiful. Also, snow-skiing is harder than I remembered it being… and the ski lift did NOT help my fear of heights. Check out the picture of the bison I caught on our bus tour though. He was fearless! We also go to have dinner with our friend, Sara, before heading back home.
#20-Visit the Nashville Zoo
We spent a day at the Nashville Zoo with our friends Jessica & Jesse and their kids. It was a great day!
#21- Go to the new Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum again.
This wasn’t the first I had been (I’ve been a few times now, in addition to the time frame that Keith’s exhibit was up, which is when this picture was taken).
#23-Do at least 5 different volunteer activities
Wes plays for the local adaptive sled ice hockey team in Nashville, so when we travel for the tournaments, I volunteer during the trips. We also sorted potatoes for Second Harvest. I volunteer at the Williamson County Animal Center when I can. We volunteered the morning of Valentine’s Day 2017 to serve lunch to the male residents that utilize the services provided at Nashville Rescue Mission (this was one of the most meaningful experiences I’ve ever had. See my previous blog here about my incredible experience there). We also ran the scoreboard for a couple of games for a tournament in Nashville the Nashville Wheelcats (the local wheelchair basketball team).
#26-Donate time, money, food, treat or toys to an animal shelter.
I’m pretty sure Wes was nervous we would end up adopting all of the dogs at the shelter when I started getting involved with WCAC. He’s only partially wrong… We did end up donating a bunch of items and I try to spend time volunteering up there when I can. Side note: We actually did end up adopting our 3rd rescue puppy in December. Meet Lily!
#27-Plant something on Earth Day
#32-Take an art class of some kind.
My friend, Ron (who helped with me meeting Keith for the first time) had a friend who taught me glassblowing. I made a music note.
#34-Do something crafty of creative to showcase all the music-related experiences I’ve had.
Shoutout to Ron, Wes & Carlos. For my 31st birthday, we had a housewarming/birthday party at our new house. As part of my birthday gift, my friend, Ron, hand-painted the incredible 4 ft. painting from a picture that I had taken of Keith at one of his show. Also, pictured is a Keith Urban signature collection guitar. Wes bought me the “Shine” sign for me for our 7th wedding anniversary (the “copper” anniversary). My friend, Carlos, is helping me in a couple of weeks to hang up everything on the walls for me. The shadow box is something I put together to display all of my Keith memorabilia I’ve collected over the past 3 1/2 years. The painting, guitar & shadow box will make up what I call my “Urban Nook”. I also can’t wait to proudly display my “Shine” sign (in honor of my company, Shine On Music City). I have all of my music memorabilia framed that will also be displayed as well.
#35-Take a cake decorating class
My cupcakes turned out prettier.
#36-Finish a 1,000+ piece puzzle
#37-Finish a scrapbook
I made this scrapbook for one of my best friends, Tara, for her birthday last year
#38-Learn a new craft that I enjoy
These magnets are a project I learned how to do from Pinterest. I love Pinterest!
#42-Paint at least 1 more painting
Thanks to Ron for always letting me crash his studio to paint!
#43-Complete a Pinterest project
A Christmas card holder!
#45-Still be working out at the gym AT LEAST 1x a week. Ideally, 3 times a week.
It’s pretty cool to see my progress over time. Although I do miss a week here and there, I’m still keeping it up. The 2 trainers I’ve had are incredible! I remember the setback I had right after my 2nd surgery in 2014 and I was on a 25 lb. weight restriction and struggled with it after having built my strength up to that point. Now, I can pull down over 100 lbs. and my PR for bench press is 110 currently. I’m 10 lbs away from being able to handle my body weight!
The first picture is from June 2013 (after my 1st thyroid surgery) vs. June 2016. The 2nd picture is June 2014 (after my 2nd thyroid surgery) vs. July 2016. The gym picture is Feb 2017 vs. May 2015.
#46-Complete 2 half marathons
I’ve actually completed 3, but in 2014, my time was 2:13:25 (only 11 weeks after my 2nd thyroid surgery). In 2015 (with no training that year), my time was 2:17:42. My next goal is to try to get closer to 2:10:00. Side note: In 2015, my friend Jessica completed the half marathon 8 1/2 months pregnant! She’s amazing!
#47-Complete 3 5k’s
We Run The Row-Time: 34:47
Viva La Diva-Time: 37:08
650AM WSM/Springer Mountain Farms 5k Run & Walk 33:01 (This was last week and a new PR for me). I think I’m finally bouncing back!
#50-Donate blood (if possible).
#56-Rent a limo for a special occasion.
For our 7th wedding anniversary, Wes rented a limo. I had never ridden in one before! We had an awesome night together that night!
#57-Audition/try out for something
I finally tried out for the Ms. Wheelchair Tennessee pageant in 2017. I was Jr. Miss Wheelchair Tennessee in 2001. I didn’t win in 2017, but I did get 1st runner-up and Ms. Congeniality.
#67-Release a sky lantern with my favorite quote on my 30th birthday.
This particular birthday was ONE of the BEST (with my 31st being pretty incredible too). For my 30th birthday, on the actual night of my birthday (which was a week day), we went to a nice dinner and Wes surprised me by having one of my best friends (Jessica) and 6 local musicians show up to dinner. The musicians took turns passing a guitar around. I felt truly blessed that these musicians took time out of their busy schedules to spend time with me. After dinner, we released the sky lantern on the roof of our apartment building. The weekend before, we celebrated with a bunch of other friends at a winery and Tara even surprised me by showing up from VA for that weekend.
#68-Move out of Murfreesboro and into a place that could be our “forever home”.
We found our FOREVER HOME! We are absolutely in love with it! We had an incredible realtor (Eric) who spent 9 months carrying us up and down stairs and in and out about 20-30 different homes and we found a home that exceeded every expectation we ever could have had. We’ve spent the past 10 months-a year making it feel like home.
#72-Take a winery tour
Wes had a random afternoon off, so we took the afternoon as an opportunity to take a tour of the winery. While we were there, we did #90-Have a picnic.
#74-Make a pie on Pi Day
My mom came over and taught me how to make pie (crust and all) and dumplings from scratch.
#75-Attempt at least one new recipe a month
I still have to make a new recipe for March, but I made a new recipe every month. This is just one of them. Sliders. Yum!
#76-Try to make 5 new dessert recipes
This is just one of them. Reese’s peanut butter no bake bars. They were ridiculously good!
#77-Get an Easy Bake Oven & try to make at least on thing in it.
This was by far one of the silliest things on my list, but I never got to try this as a kid. It was NOT yummy though.
#82-Indoor sky diving because I am terrified of doing it.
This one was a blast. I went 2 days in a row. It wasn’t nearly as scary as #84-Get on a ferris wheel. As for the ferris wheel, Tara, Wes & I were at Disneyland and Tara tricked me into getting on to what I will forever call “Mickey’s Wheel of Death”. It’s actually called “Mickey’s Fun Wheel” (look it up). I swear it was a death trap. This also removed any doubt of whether I have a true fear of heights (and definitely ferris wheels now). Ask Tara or Wes to tell their versions of this experience, but it is one of the only things on my list that I will NEVER, EVER, EVER do again.
Indoor sky-diving was a blast though & it was even cooler because I got to do it with my mom!
#83-Wear no makeup for one day and go out in public.
I’m honestly ashamed at how difficult this was for me to do, but I did it!
#85-Go to a haunted house.
This one wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.
#87-Coordinate another event
I actually got the chance to help plan 2 different baby showers. One for Ron & Jen and another for Jesse & Jessica. Ron & Jenn’s theme was puppies & Jesse & Jessica’s theme was minions. I had so much fun doing these.
#91-Be in the audience of a live talk or game show.
We visited L.A. in 2014 and got to be in the audience for Jimmy Kimmel Live! and then (as I mentioned earlier) also for one of David Letterman’s last shows. This is a picture I captured of Jimmy Kimmel after the show during the Sia concert that happened afterward.
#95-Go to a drive-in movie.
I had been once before with friends, but this was the first time I had been on an actual date to the drive-in. We saw “Sing!” and “The Lego Batman Movie”
#101-Send a message in a bottle.
When I went to see Tara for the 2nd Keith Urban concert in Virginia Beach, we also went to the oceanfront so I could send out my message in a bottle. Maybe one day someone will find it! If they do, they’ll be $1 richer and will learn about this journey!
I encourage everyone to make a bucket list. Now that I’ve made a short-term bucket list, I plan to make an actual lifetime bucket list next. Thank you for following my journey so far. I’ll add more pics as I complete some of the other ones that I didn’t quite finish in the original time frame. Stay tuned!
Sometimes, God gives us struggles to prove to us that He is always with us and He will make our story greater than we ever imagined if we put our trust in Him! No matter what, never lose sight of the fact that He will always help you end up exactly where you were MEANT TO BE! Most importantly, always try to find a way to SHINE!
***As a final note (since people have been wondering): Since my 2nd surgery in 2014, my levels have slowly gotten more and more stable. 5 years is the official “cancer free” diagnosis, but I am slowly feeling more and more like my old self and showing no signs of anything new since June 2014 is a step in the right direction!***