Bucket List

I don’t actually have a Bucket List, but like everyone there are things I would LOVE to do before my time is up… some of them I have been fortunate to already do, I’d like to share them with you here.

 

Please note, no Lisa’s were hurt in the making of this… erm, page. 

Living a FULL life.

I understand the need to be wary, to be cautious. To look after yourself and your body.  But I also think life is for living, it’s for laughing and it’s for loving. It’s for trying new things and either loving or hating them, it’s for making memories that no materialistic possession could ever replace. Life is about living and that’s what I want to do, live a full life. 

So, I’ve not always taken the safest option and some of the things you see here might seem extreme, BUT these are all some of my happiest moments and I wouldn’t give them up for all the riches in the world. 

 

Skydiving!

One of the craziest, most terrifying, but most exhilerating and most enjoyable things I have ever done. I’d always thought skydiving looked fun and I’d spoken to people who had done one and said it was the most amazing experience of their life, so I thought, why not? I figured worst case scenario, I would plummet to my death… it’d at least be a quick ending (crying laughing face).  Actually I checked the stats and although skydiving is an extreme sport, it actually didn’t have many accidents or fatalities.

It was only after I got in the plane that I realised this really wasn’t going to help my fear of flying any.  I was bricking it, the whole way up.  It was like waiting in the queue for a rollercoaster and thinking “why am I doing this to myself” x 100! But wow, was it worth it.

Check out my (shortened) skydive video. (FYI, this was back in 2006, I was 22 and fresh-faced, the DVD quality is a little poor).

This was 15 years ago, I can’t remember all the little details, like where I actually did this skydive (it was in a field in the UK if that narrows it down).  But there are some things I remember. 

I remember the training, learning how to hold the skydive position and other little bits and bobs you need to know.  I also remember nervously asking questions, my favourite being “what happens if my instructor passes out and doesn’t pull the parachute?”… apparently parachutes are rigged to auto-deploy at a certain height.  Probably shouldn’t have asked that question stood right next to my instructor…. you live and learn. 

I also remember that after training I was sent back to what looked like a big porta-cabin, where I sat anxiously waiting for my turn, feigning watching the Starsky and Hutch movie they were playing. 

While it was quite scary, it is an experience I highly recommend. Free-falling was like being suspended in air, completely weightless, it was pure freedom, it was exhilerating. When the parachute deployed (and after I breathed a sigh of relief) my instructor showed me how to steer the parachute and I drifted back to the ground, seeing some of the most spectacular views as I did. You can see from my face on the video, the experience was something I could only describe as amazing, I am so glad I was brave enough to do it. 

Swimming with Dolphins and “The Push”

I have always been a massive fan of dolphins. As a child I adopted a dolphin for years from the WDCS (well actually my nanny adopted her for me), her name was Bubbles.  Getting the chance to actually swim with dolphins was like a dream come true and doing the push was even more amazing.

I did this on holiday in Cuba, a beautiful country where the people are just wonderful, so chilled and happy. 

I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the experience because I’m not a fan of animals being enclosed, I don’t agree with keeping a wild animal in captivity.  I thought I might find the dolphins living conditions inhumane, that I’d feel guilty for paying them to “play with me” and do tricks… but they absolutely loved it.  The dolphins were super friendly and so playful, they were so much fun, it was like being in the water with super-friendly kids.  And their living quarters was huge (and ridiculously easy for them to escape from if they wanted, it was a simple case of jump over the net on the surface of the water), it actually seemed like they were there voluntarily. They also smelt of fish, given their diet I guess I should have expected this, but as someone who hates seafood, the fishy breath really took my breath away.

As well as being ridiculously cute and childlike, the dolphins were so strong.  They easily pulled me across the water like I was no weight at all… and the push, well that’s something I wasn’t expecting, but really enjoyed.

 

What is the push?

It’s when two dolphins swim underneath you, after gathering speed, they push their nose into the bridge of your feet (one on each foot) to lift you out the water and speed you across the surface of the water, like this:

The whole experience was just magical, the kind of experience that you know when you’re experiencing it, that nothing else could ever compare to it.

After we finished (and got dressed) we went for food.  The ‘restaurant’ was glass along both sides and was located the opposite side of the pier to where we swam with the dolphins.  While we were eating, enjoing the sea view, the dolphins made their way around.  Once they spotted us in the restaurant they started jumping and splashing and doing all manner of tricks, I think they genuinely loved the attention.  They were SO adorable, so beautiful, so sweet and innocent.

Swimming with dolphins is on a lot of bucket lists… and rightly so. It was a magical moment.

Stroking a Tiger

The year after my Skydive (I was clearly going through a ‘no regard for my own life stage’) I was very fortunate to receive a Big Cat Ranger Day Experience.  The experience was with a big cat shelter for rescued animals including tigers, lions, lynx… anything belonging to the cat family.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, or how close I’d be able to get to the animal, but I was really excited.  I never imagined I would actually get the chance to touch the animals, so to stroke this gorgeous and completely placid tiger (for ages!) was just amazing.  

I started the day by mucking out and feeding the lions.  They were taken back to their dens and the door to the outside enclosure was closed, so the ranger and I could enter safely.  First job, clean up lion poop.  It wasn’t the nicest if I’m honest, it was as disgusting as house-cat poop, but way bigger (and covered in flies).

Sh*t duty done, we went onto feeding the lions.  There were three lions in the enclosure and three massive slabs of meat.  This meat was almost as heavy as me, the size was pretty much the size of my torso!  Seeing how closely I resembled their lunch (but with limbs) was a little disconcerting.

With the three pieces of meat spread out around the massive enclosure (to allow them all to eat in peace), we left and opened the door for the lions to come back through. They immeduately went to their slab of meat (they’re very clever animals) and we got to watch them eating their lunch (i.e. me without the limbs).

Lions fed and looked after, it was time to head on over to the tigers.  They were a few tigers, in a few different enclosures, but I easily had a favourite.  This (very tall) beauty standing up against the fence asking for a belly tickle and licking at our hands.  SHE was easily my favourite.

Of course, she needed feeding too.  But her mealtime was way more awesome.  I got to hand-feed her chicken pieces. I hand-fed a tiger!!!!

Her size aside, this big cat was way more laid back than either of my pet cats.  I would happily have gotten into her enclosure and snuggled up with her.  As you can see, this beautiful big cat has stolen a piece of my heart. 

After this I saw the other cats, including a lynx that had recently been rescued and hadn’t been well-treated.  He was in his enclosure, hiding in the darkest corner.  As I stepped towards the metal cage to see him better, he snarled and lunged at the cage.  Needless to say I didn’t attempt a second look.  I didn’t want to cause the poor thing any more distress and I kinda wanted to leave with all my limbs. Fortunuately, I knew he was now in a place where he would be well-looked after and I just hoped that one day, he would be as happy as the other cats I’d met that day. 

Holding my book in my hands for the first time

I’ve wanted to become an author for as long as I can remember.  The dream was to write a book that I can be proud of, that people from all corners of the globe can enjoy.  But when I told people this was what I wanted to do they told me it was a pipe dream and I needed to be more serious about my future.

Over the years I’ve had lots of ideas and written a few different creative things, but I’ve never published it, or even made them available for other people to read. I was worried I’d open myself up to ridicule.

In Jan 2020, I had the idea for Unprecedented Times, I started planning and researching it, with the view of writing it and once again, keeping it for my eyes only. But later in the year something inside me clicked. I woke up one morning and realised that because of my lack of confidence, my disliking of the attention and my fear of failure I wasn’t living a full life, I wasn’t doing what I wanted to do. So I decided to take action, to make the changes I wanted to see in my life and to push myself outside my comfort zone to gain confidence. That prompted me to publish my book for the world to see, that and the idea to donate proceeds from the book to charity.

After almost a full year of research, planning, writing, re-writing, proofreading, re-writing, proofreading (I could go on but I won’t) my book was finally finished. I’d had it read by a couple of beta readers and it was ready to be published.  I decided to go the self-publishing route, figuring I might never be picked up by an agent (I’m trying to remain positive but there are so many fantastic authors and books out there, can I compete?)

I published the book on my website (here!) and on Amazon, and made the book available in paperback on Amazon too. Of course, I had to order myself an author paperback copy for my own little library. 

Holding that book in my hands was overwhelming, it was ALMOST like holding my babies for the first time. I looked at it in astonishment, how did I made this?  I can’t believe I made this! Needless to say, I was very, very excited. As you can see…

What’s next?

Well, looking at the above, it could genuinely be anything right? I mean your guess is as good as mine here. 

But I do have some things in mind, so, yeah… maybe watch this space. 

Thank you for following my journey!

Lisa Thomas

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