Tag Archives: life

Gettin’ Sweaty & Breathin’ Heavy 5

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Oh, hello blog…its been awhile, eh?  Found this post from September and thought it was due to be posted. Better late than never!

The first 10K was scheduled for Monday, September 2nd. Training was going well – finally reached a 9K run about two weeks previous to the race. Picked up my race kit on thursday. On friday, off to the ER we go! Yep. Darn allergies. Suffice it to say that an asthmatic reaction of sort has waylaid my training for a brief period of time.

Drat.

Perhaps I spent a bit too much time inhaling those fumes from the bonfire.  *sigh*

As so many have said to me, and so many have said to the running population – it’s not about how fast you run.   It’s about putting one foot in front of the other and participating.  So that is exactly what I did – participated.

Maybe I needed to be slowed down a bit – to stop and enjoy the beautiful sunshine on that cool morning.

In the last GSBH post, the focus was compassion for those that have betrayed or hurt us.    Today it’s about turning the focus towards ourselves, yes, inward – completely, selfishly, and wholly.  Compassion for self.

As I move through the healing process I am reminded that my body, in its entirety, cannot be rushed through the healing process.   Over time my lungs will relax, bronchial tissues will resume their homeostatic state, and being physically active will become easier.  At this point in the process I am eager to get moving again!   This morning I went for an easy run/walk and my lungs have been rebelling ever since — thankfully not in a tightened, wheezy kind of way but in a hacking cough, congested kind of way.  It’s a bit of a trade-off I guess.

Again, its one step at a time.  Today a short, easy run/walk.  Tomorrow maybe a quick walk. Eventually back to my usual morning run.  *sigh*   Be patient with yourself, I say to myself.   Have compassion for yourself and allow your body to do what it needs to do, assist when/where needed.   And by have compassion I mean – don’t beat yourself up for not being active right now, don’t lose patience with the process of healing, and find other ways to keep active in the mean time.

On the positive side of all of this there is the realization that my body image and overall outlook was much more positive when I was in a training mode of sorts.    Damn those body image issues!!   Again,  am learning to be compassionate with myself.  When it comes to body image I am my own worst enemy – today I will remind myself that I am not feeling 100% and that is ok,  I will remind myself that although I feel large and lazy I am actually down a few pounds from where I was in June.  And if I need to flex my quads and poke them with my finger to remind myself how much stronger my legs are since beginning running, then I’ll do it…poke..poke.

One step at a time.

So, yes, I will be a little selfish and take care of myself as I move through this healing process.

Compassion for self is good.

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“Is this a test?”

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lilac-bushFor those who have followed this blog you have read various posts relating to many cherished family memories, as well as some challenging family moments.  On April 24, 2013, my mom passed away.  The writer in me has been struggling to find the words – and trying not to post my grief on Facebook (too much).   

They say that grief is a process.  It has stages.  I am sure that many have written books and journals on the process, analyzing it down to what may be believed to be a precise process.  What I know to be true is that grief does not form itself into a specific, set-in-stone pattern.  The loss of my mother has knocked me sideways, upside down, thrown me down, and  picked me back up, only to go through it all again.

For me, right now, the key is allowing the emotions to come to the surface.  Acknowledging the sadness, the loss, as well as the good memories that arise as you move through it all is an opportunity to let go of the pain.   Note:  ‘…to let go of the pain (not the person).’

So here we go…

Our childhood was steeped in the Lutheran community of our hometown in Minnesota.  We lived a half a block away from the church and both of our parents were involved in many aspects – from Sunday school to vacation bible school, pancake breakfasts to Lenten suppers, ushering at services to  bible studies and altar guild.  Like making a perfect pot of tea we were soaked in it like precious tea leaves.

Despite all of that – once I left home (and even before) religion seemed like a lot of pomp and circumstance and not much substance.   Admittedly, I leaned quite far away from my faith for many, many years.  Heck, I even married (& divorced) a ‘self-professed Atheist’ for heaven’s sake!

And then, after all mom had been through since the cardiac arrest – she was diagnosed with Stage IV Liver Cancer with approximately 4 months to live.  She received the news on Good Friday of all days.  Shortly thereafter mom began receiving a drug treatment to extend her life a bit longer, then Dad called to tell us she was in the hospital again.  Without asking, his voice was enough to urge us home.

Doctor G. told us that he didn’t recommend another treatment.

Pastors prayed with us.

And mom asked, “Is this a test?  Is God testing me?”

As I heard her ask the question I realized that this truly was not a test of her deep and abiding faith.  What I saw in action was that God was with her as she moved through this painful ending.

Life unfolds according to our choices, and God walks through all of it with us – if we let him.

In hindsight, it came together quite logically. Family and her dear friends gathered by her side.  The Nurses listened and worked to ease her pain.  The pastors from the church visited, prayed and offered support.   Her grandson arranged a Skype chat with her son who was overseas.   The son (J) who visited rarely called to say he was on the way.  We were all certain Mom’s eternal Hope would prevail.

And as much as mom always wrapped her children in absolute, unconditional love –  God did the same for her.

Mom and Dad had a great visit with J. when he arrived.  All of her children had visited in person or by Skype.  That evening God wrapped her in his love and took her home.

At the funeral  Pastor D quoted John 3:16, ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son.  That whomever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.’  It was the one scripture I memorized as a child, only now does its true meaning reveal itself.  I feel that if my parents had not instilled their Faith in us when we were children, that today my heart would be eternally broken.

Through this faith I know, and believe, that mom lives on enjoying gardens that she had never imagined would ever exist, and that the skies have one more bright, shining star watching over us.  Perhaps most importantly, I know that she is with me (& our family) everyday.

Grateful for my amazing mom.  Grateful for this life lesson.

Shakin’ it off…

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Forgive my lack of posts in the past several, and I do mean several, months.    Life has shifted in a lot of positive ways and some difficult ways too – and as you know, change is always a challenge.

Throughout the past four years I’ve been a bit of a hermit – going to school and working full time doesn’t really allow for much time for ‘fun’.   Since graduating this past October I have been working to up the fun factor in my life.   When I hear that Prince was coming to Winnipeg I thought, oh wow!  His music is so the soundtrack to my high school years.   I remember buying the cassette tape of Purple Rain, and obsessively watching his videos on MTV.  So I purchased the least expensive tickets to the concert just to be there and hear his music.   I wouldn’t say that I was uber-ecstatic about going, but was excited to see him perform live.

The day finally arrived.  We got the concert and [unfortunately] Winnipeg had not sold out the entire arena, but the bonus was that our tickets got bumped up and we sat a level lower in the arena than originally planned (gotta like that!).  Winnipeggers seek the  quality things in life (as long as they are on sale), and are a discerning lot when it comes to our music.

From the moment Prince took the stage we knew it would be a different concert.  Almost the entire audience stood up.   Now, you have to understand, when we went to the Aerosmith concert last year – the majority of the audience remained seated.  What it came down to (for me) was his clear passion for music, and for being true to his art, his craft.  There was no selling out here – no excessive light shows and costume changes, no excessive performance factors.   It was pure music (with only 3 costume changes).

[The best part was an older couple seated to our right (probably in late 60’s) who immediately stood up and danced through the majority of the concert.  Such a huge demographic represented!]

Much of Prince’s music is not available on YouTube (he didn’t even allow the local press to photograph the concert), but a friend posted on the same concert and found a video from the concert on Facebook.    Here it is –  take a moment and shake off your day – and listen to the instruction ‘2 and 4!’.

Stand with Prince. (if this link doesn’t work you’ll have to look it up on facebook — Andy Alo/videos/Stand)

What Prince (and Art) has reminded me of is that sometimes you just gotta put on some music and shake it off!   Cause you know what?

Sometimes life is hard.

We all share that experience.

[Perhaps this is my naiveté speaking, but…]   At that concert it felt like ‘everyone’ that was there, in the moment, feelin’ the music right alongside Prince and the New Power Generation.  And for a few hours, life was a little more joyful, and little easier.

Thank you Live Nation for bringing Prince to Winnipeg.  And thank you Prince for being the true artist that you are.

Here are a couple of other posts on the concert…

Natalie Duhamel

Winnipeg Free Press

ichoose…

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[Am taking a deep breath and posting this one…it feels tremendously personal.  I have chosen to take a leap and go with it.]

My mothers’ recent health crises has, as said in previous posts, sent me spinning.

Whirling.

Tumbling.

Into an unknown that has hit us all. Hard.

My mother’s strength, perseverance, positivity, and creativity, are an inspiration.  Listening to Sarah Kay in a recent TED lecture I was moved to consider my perspective through this new life challenge.  Her words are illuminating and encouraging.

Reading Ken Robinson’s The Element inspiration is found not only in his philosophy, but in the stories he tells of  achievements against all odds or expectations.  His words have reminded me of the notion that life is a series of choices that are presented to us, with each choice there must be an acceptance of consequence and a certain commitment to fulfilling that choice.  When we follow our passion [when we are in our element], we fulfill that choice  with authenticity, in turn the process is joyful and time is fleeting.   We are then true to ourselves.   In a society focused on immediate success void of failure, it is sometimes very difficult to make those authentic choices.  I propose a new app for that.

ichoose…

‘ichoose’ is an app that takes into consideration our values, beliefs, and priorities for us.  It considers our personal histories and happenings which are woven within this crazy life.   Simply tap the ichoose app!  [wouldn’t it be great if all decision-making was so simple?]

And so, Today ichoose…

  • gratitude.
  • to seek [and remember] laughter being shared with my mother and family, for it is truly the best medicine.
  • to be thankful for family that, despite physical or emotional distance, comes together in their own way to support one another and our parents.
  • to appreciate and respect the amazing gift that is the human body with all of its systems keeping things in homeostatic check, so that we can move through life and pursue our dreams.
  • to find ways to combine all that I know, and all that I do not know, to craft ways to encourage others [and remind myself] to learn to love and appreciate moving their bodies in an attempt to prevent any possible chance of their experiencing diabetes.
  • to craft ways to encourage youth to give their health the attention it deserves.
  •  to write my way through all of this.
  • authenticity.
[if this was an app it would need accompaniment…such as Yo-Yo Ma playing the cello, Adele singing anything at all [she is brilliant], or this amazing contrast of classical music and breaking].
What would you choose?   What music might be your accompaniment?

Dear Mr/Ms Webster and Oxford…

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As children/teens we have all experienced those moments when a friend, parent or sibling was dramatically concerned about their weight or cursed themselves for having that delicious piece of chocolate cake, pecan pie, ice cream, cookie..etc.    And how many of us in our adult lives have been been completely annoyed by the thin and perfectly fit men and women in commercials, videos, films?

And today I rant.

I rant because I am tired, T – I – R – E – D of feeling that I am committing some mortal sin because I eat, and I enjoy it.

And the subsequent feeling that in my lowest moments I am not ‘allowed’ by some societal judge/s to indulge or gain a bit of weight because I perhaps am self medicating with too much chocolate/candy/steak (not at the same time though, that would just be uncouth!).

[Calling all authors of Webster’s and Oxford’s dictionaries! Now hear this!]  I say we throw the word D I E T out of the dictionary…  It is an evil word.

DIET is no longer a word, nor a slang!   Let’s replace that nasty word with eating for health, healthy eating, and consumption of fuel that sustains my brain function, heart, and allows my body to create the chemical reactions it needs to maintain my best health.  And yes, sometimes that includes cookies!!!!

[Keyword – sometimes.]

And another word to be thrown out – D E P R I V A T I O N – why are we so convinced that deprivation is the key to our weight loss/happiness/confidence?   Again, let us be honest with ourselves.   How many of us have ever been successful at completely eliminating something we enjoy from our menus?

At the end of the day it all comes down to feeling at home in our own skin, this shell we inhabit for the span of our lives.  If we allow ourselves (women and men) to give in to the subjugation of the overly processed, airbrushed, commercialization of the male and female form we will never truly BE happy WITHIN ourselves.   Each of us in inherently unique physically, mentally, and emotionally – BE with YOUR individuality.  CELEBRATE what makes YOU unique.  Our children, nieces/nephews, grandchildren, students, look to the adults in their lives to see that it is possible to be happy with ones individuality – and when we give in to what we believe others want to see in us we are no longer staying true to our individuality.   And we wonder why our children have difficulty BE-ing happy with themselves.

To BE happy with ourselves means having the courage to indulge in self-reflection, being honest about what we see physically and emotionally.

It is my belief that we are able to look inwards when we get our bodies moving in ways that bring us JOY.  Walking, running, playing, cycling, gardening, dancing, skating, skiing…whatever the form of movement, it brings us physiological  and emotional joy.  When we feel this joy we make healthier choices and decisions.    We are able to indulge ourselves and enjoy the moment in its fullness — and then move on rather than dwell in the guilt of it.

Disclaimer:  This author has struggled with this for at least the past 30 years of life.  None of us is going to get it right each and every single day, but every morning we can get up and try our hardest to do our best to BE happy with our SELVES.  Allow yourself the indulgence of imperfection.

Ummm, Hello blog!

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Wow, I feel like its been forever since my last post. So much has happened in the past two months – what a whirlwind since my last post (you can check it out here). Instead of throwing together a post today I thought I’d post links to some of my favorite posts since beginning this blog.   I am enjoying my morning cup o’coffee while reviewing these favorites – will you join me?

Here is my list — just click on the text to get to the post!

A favorite post on the subject of Mom.

A summer memories – coping with frustration – kind of post.

Absolute favorite music-flash mob post.  Love Love.

A social awareness  – poetry slam post.

A silent, still Christmas post.

Perspective and productivity post.

Betwixt and Between – this one made the WordPress Freshly Pressed list.

My mothers’ health has jarred my focus. A diabetic for roughly 20 years, her health complications stem directly from this chronic disease.   Her journey since the heart attack has been a bumpy one which has recently resulted in a lower leg amputation due to diabetes related circulatory issues.  Dialysis is now a part of her life as well – three mornings a week for about 3.5 hours at a time – another result of diabetes.  Yes, the disease is manageable.  Too many people – both adults and children – have been diagnosed with this disease. The long-term effects on the body are harsh and painful.

Have you had a health check up lately?   Did the doctor screen you for diabetes?  Below are listed some interesting links to websites which promote health and diabetes awareness, I hope you will take a moment to check them out. Awareness and education is so important in the betterment of our health.

Health related websites to check out:

Canadian Diabetes Association

American Diabetes Association

Live Strong! (love this one for promoting and facilitating overall better health…)

With Gratitude…

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On Wednesday, January 19th my mom suffered a massive heart attack.   Thankfully, she had already been admitted to the hospital on the previous day for another condition and there happened to be a cardiologist by her bedside when it happened.

Arriving to the hospital I quickly learned that for those few minutes [during the heart attack]….her heart and breath stopped.

S T O P P E D.

The magnitude of that moment is unnervingly humbling.

Immediately our family rallied to her bedside wanting, needing, to do something to make it all better.   Holding her hand as she dreamt the dreams only medications and painkillers can induce and felt the pain that continued in her legs (a previous condition) while she slept, we doted over her every concern.   The nurses in both the ICU and on the floor were wonderful, compassionate and caring, telling her what was happening whether she was alert or not.   We joked with her about the dialysis being ‘spa treatments for her blood’ and gave her foot massages to ease the discomfort in her legs.

Amidst all of this there were those moments of quiet when mom and I would talk about what was happening, where she was, and how she got there.  At one point she asked that we keep a daily journal for her so that later on she could read about the events and the days to follow – she doesn’t remember making that request at this point but am so glad that she did.   We have kept it and I hope that it will help her to better comprehend all that has happened and just how blessed she truly is.  [If ever you are faced with a similar situation I strongly recommend this – for the patient and for yourself as well, it is so easy to forget when/what procedures were done and Doctors comments/instructions amidst the surreal nature of the situation.]

During crisis such as these I go into my own ‘crisis mode’ and work to stay focused on the positive, giving encouragement and being there for her.  [Basically doing what I can to not think about what might be or could have been – otherwise knows as denial or avoidance!]  And then, once the storm has calmed a bit, reality sinks in.  This time the reality was HUGE.  The ‘what if’, ‘could have’  and ‘what now?’ thoughts begin to filter into my world and I/we cannot even comprehend the answers.  Writing this today I still have difficulty comprehending it all.

About four days after the heart attack I was chatting with mom and she began talking about how much we take for granted in this life.  Simple things, really.  Like standing, sitting, walking…. and on a larger scale  – LIVING.  The miracle of medical science and how they can take a small instrument, as thin as a fishing line and feed it through an artery in the hip to reach the damaged heart muscle and repair it.    The miracle of dialysis – how they can remove blood from a person, filter it through a machine (kind of like a wash cycle for the blood), and return it to the body.

Though mom doesn’t remember much of our being by her side in those first few days, every one of those moments is a gift.

Life is a gift.  Living is a gift.

Each of us is a gift, a miracle – whether we feel like we are a miracle or not at any given moment or day.  We are.  YOU are.

Honor the miracle of your life and the life of those around you.

Take care of your health and give your body the respect it deserves.

Each and every day.

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