Just over two years ago I was “introduced” through my television and the Jeff Probst Show to Kelly Pollozi. For those not familiar with her story, she was diagnosed with stage four cervical cancer and was fighting for her life, even though 4 specialists had told her there was no point. She was 33. She walked every step of her fight with an infectious spirit and energy for life you could feel through the TV screen. She was electric, and passionate, and strong. She was going to win. I wasn’t in the best space in my life. I had just left my career to become a stay at home Mom and was drowning myself in pity for the “situation” I was in. I had to “sacrifice” my career to raise my children. I was stuck at home doing mundane activities, cooking meals and trying to achieve domestic perfection in a way that I never really cared to do. I was doing what everyone else expected me to enjoy, and yet still felt lost and searching for my new self-identity.

And then I saw her show. And then woke up. The reality is that for most of us we live a very privileged life but are so lost in our own drama to wake up and realize it. We’re so obsessed with yammering on about our problems that we stop to realize the gifts that we are given, such as a healthy body, the ability to read, or a safe community to live in. Kelly’s infections smile, her attitude and zest for life reminded me that I too, could “live” in my “new life.” That my kids deserved nothing but the best mom and that I could be my own person too… I didn’t need to be defined by the sole title that I was holding. So I got off the couch and started living again.

I started snowboarding again. Starting camping again, and teaching my 1-year-old how to walk through the trees. My four-year-old and I have shared many splashes in the pool, and in the puddles in the rain. I reconnected with friends who shared similar interests, not just those that could moan about missed potty training attempts. I started defining who I was as a whole and about who children would like to define their mother as: an outgoing, fun, kind and generous person.

I rewrote my bucket list and started tackling things with such ferocity that I knew I was going to tick a few things off my list each year. And I did. I started living again. I started having experiences that reminded me of who I was, and of who I wanted to be. I experienced the beautiful environment we are surrounded by every day, and brought my babies into the beauty to experience it too. It was an amazing transformational year, even though all I was doing was getting back to my authentic self.

Kelly Pollozi was always in my thoughts, for what she had inspired in me, but also in my prayers for her recovery. I wrote on my bucket list that I wanted to meet her when she got all better. Unfortunately, that’s not something that I’ll ever be able to do. Kelly ultimately lost her battle, and never saw her 34th birthday. It is times like these I find myself asking why…But for today I’ll live. I’ll love hard, and live big. For more information on Kelly Pollozi and her journey check out her blog.