2016 was my year Part 3 – A Muddy Girl and a Love Story.

 

2016 was my year Part 3 – A Muddy Girl and a Love Story.

 

There she was, covered in mud and doing burpees, looking like it was tough, so I looked at her, told her “ You’ve got this”  gave her encouragement.  Her green eyes shined through mud and we began to talk as she joined Sarah, Al and I for the rest of the challenge.  I will not say it was love at first sight but I was entrapped by her smile and energy immediately.  A few obstacles later, a mesh climbing wall, I told her to go ahead of me, to be nice…ok, I will be honest because she knows the truth.  I totally got her to go ahead so I could check out her muddy bum.

 She was fun and doing great, she completed the race with us.

We lost Sarah at the end briefly and took some photos together and separately. 

A few photos later, I asked for her number under the guise of “texting her the photos I took on my phone.” While asking for her number, the speakers were playing “ Call Me Maybe” by Carly Jepson.  HAHHAH….Smooth right ?  She had no clue of what I was thinking.  We went to the outdoor showers and cleaned off, each taking turns with the cold water from the hose, fully clothed just to be clear !  We were in public after all and of course, I am a sweet and innocent man ( BS right there my friends !)

Once we were cleaned up we met up with Sarah and Al and headed to the beer gardens where we enjoyed some food, a ton of wasp swatting and a beverage. Our conversations with each other went on for I think close to 2 hours before I knew I had to leave as I had arranged a photo shoot in Black Diamond.  I pushed our conversation right to the limit of time, knowing I would not have long to get to my shoot. Worth it !  I arrived at my shoot covered in Mud but that is ok, it was for a kids birthday.  I figured I would be rolling in the grass once I got there anyway, which rally was kinda true.

We walked towards our vehicles alone, Sarah and Al far behind us, or so I thought hahah.  As we got closer to where she was parked, we stopped and I asked her if I could maybe call her and meet up, kindly she said yes, little did I know how much this moment would change so much for me.  As I was asking, Sarah and Al were walking towards us and I stumbled on my words but still got them out just before they arrived haha.  We parted ways, me knowing how silly busy my schedule was and wondering how I would even get time to see her.  I wanted to see her, this was a first for me in a long time, could she handle my crazy sched ?  Would she get annoyed?  Nope and Nope.  That girl was ….well….

Persistent.  We couldn’t get together with my sched and of course me going out for my birthday ?  That is another funny story.  I had no plans originally, told her so, then after a last minute mind change and call from a friend, I went out.  Well, she was baffled and a little like WTF ?  This only motivated her more, we texted a bit more then she said…..next Thursday, let’s meet.  Direct and to the point, so a date was made for August 25th at Jamieson’s Pub in Brentwood.  Her persistence was exciting for me, someone ACTUALLY wanted to see me, little old me !  No one special, just me.

The first date.  Simple, conversation and beverages.  So much conversation, the hours went by faster than we both wanted, we were engaged in the moment.   Niether one of us wanted the night to end and her persistence once again came through as we decided to continue the conversation until late.

As I walked her to her truck, we talked some more and nervously I went in for a kiss.  I was not 100 % sure she was into me as most times with women I am clueless.  After that kiss, I knew I was in.  I immediately was drawn into her kisses, they filled me with all the tingles and warmth.

The conversation continued well into the evening.  It was nice to have some honest conversation.

8 months later, I am in love, I have met her kids and I feel more love than I thought I ever would deserve.  My office is covered in drawings, my time is spent now planning kid friendly dates going on our own dates, talking late into the evenings about everything both personal and humorous, reading bed time stories, building lego, playing kid card games and having a “kid “ calendar.  My life and heart are full.

None of this would have happened if I had not opened my heart or let someone in.  My girl’s persistence is the one thing that stands out most to me.  No woman has ever pursued me like this before, no one has shown me love the way she does, with actions far more than words.  She is appreciative, romantic and I love the look on her face when she sees me because it is the same look I get on mine and I know how she is feeling.  Her smile is my favorite feature because her whole face lights up and I love the crinkles she gets beside her mouth alongside her cheeks.  Admittedly her cute bum is a close second 😉

She is not perfect but she is perfect for me.  I am excited to see where this goes.

 

2016 was my year Part 2 – Dodgeball

2016 was my year Part 2 – Dodgeball

 

I love playing Dodgeball, this is no secret to those who know me well.  2016 was a great Dodgeball year. 

I play on two different teams and have been doing this for as long as I can remember.  Sometimes, I wonder how many years I have left in me, my body gets so tired and sore but I keep going back.  I love the punishment haha.

In 2016, my teams won 4 championships.  My Wednesday and Thursday Teams won in the Spring seasons.  One of my teams also won a Dodgeball Tournament.  My beach team also won during Spring.  Every season is different, sometimes we play all great teams all year and in some leagues we play a few Douchey teams, which ruin the fun aspect of it but with the teams I am on, the fun eventually prevails.

Most of my team mates I have played with for almost 10 years, in some years they were on opposing teams and we came together to form other teams.  These people are friends and to varying degrees like family to me, we spend so much time together.  We have been through a lot together as teams and friends, I love these people.

My Dodgeball families, when we are not having fun and trying to win games are there to support me in my biggest endeavor each year.  Teddy for a Toonie Dodgeball Tournament to raise money for The Alberta Children’s Hospital.  

5 tournaments now and each one so much fun and the support is amazing, we have raised close to $10,000.00 in 5 years and I am hoping the 6th year goes even better than past years.  My Dodgeball family has stepped up without being asked each year.  Whether it is creating schedules, organizing themes, prizes, baking cookies,  creating drafts, finding teams and lifting me up when tournament 3 almost didn’t happen because I was recovering from my Heart Attack.

I could easily write an entire blog post thanking the people each by name, that is how great the support is.

Last years tournament followed the fun, raised about $1500.00  ( i cannot remember the exact # in my head right now.) , created new friendships and renewed fun rivalries.  Every year there are new teams, and faces, friendly familiar faces, odd photos and each tourney is different in it’s own way.  This is always a highlight of each year, all the hard work, stress leading up to the event becomes worth it on event day.

I find it hard to put into words how much all of these exciting events last year mean to me.  Dodgeball in an odd way is one of my fun reasons to live, it gives me a sense of meaning, belonging and friendship and truthfully it brings me so much love, love that is not defined by status but by a common love for a sport that abuses the crap out of us haha.

Soon to come is my 2017 Teddy for a Toonie Dodgeball Tournament, I am thinking positive here and just know it will all go well and again we will come through for the Alberta Children’s Hospital.

This post may be short but it means so much in so few words.  Dodgeball, my sport, my fun, my friends,  a huge win in 2106 for me, even if we had not won anything.  Ultimately it brings my people together and I would not change it for the world.

 

Next up: A muddy girl and finding love in a race.

2016 was a Great Year – Part 1

I have wanted to write this for months but found reasons not to.  I was afraid of upsetting those whom had bad years.  I realized, i cannot control if they compare their wins and losses to mine, I can be proud of what I do and share it.

2016 was rough so many people I know, it seemed like a shit year.  NOT FOR ME.

Yes, I had a great year, one of the best years of my life.

So, why write about this now ?  Because there comes a point when you have to share your wins, how you not achieved your goals but totally annihilated them.  It also can allow me to share how I did it.

I also want to start moving forward and working on new goals for 2017, that I have kinda left behind.

My accomplishments in 2016 were as follows.

  1. Completed Goofy Challenge, a half marathon on one day and a marathon the next.
  2. Completed 3 Spartan Races, each with it’s different challenges.
  3. Won 2 Dodgeball Championships with great teams.
  4. Had my 5th successful Teddy for a Toonie Dodgeball tournament to raise money for the Alberta Children’s Hospital
  5. Took my dream trip to Thailand, it is finally time to talk about this trip.
  6. Met my girlfriend after 5 ½ years of being single, because I opened my heart up.

 

Lets start with the physical accomplishments:

 

2016 was my most physically challenging year, I put myself in training mode for all of 2016.  I got in the best shape of my life so far.  I also completed events that I never believed before that I could.

It is not new news that I had a heart attack in 2013.  Since then, I have done a lot to get better and healthier, I have screwed up along the way. I trained most of 2015 for my first big event in 2016.  While others were sleeping, I was at the gym, out running on the streets because I wanted to complete Disneyworld’s Goofy Challenge. 

That event was so big for my mental and physical health, it cannot be understated that it was a huge turning point in my life.  I began to feel emotion the very second I knew I was going to finish The Marathon part of the challenge.  I cried, I let 3 years of pain and thoughts release.  I knew at that point, I could do anything.  Which leads to Spartan.

My friend Sarah Waite had signed up and encouraged me to join her.  This was her goal, her races, her proving to herself that she could do it.  I did not know how much it would change me and my life, I signed up to support her and in the end I learned so much from her and the races.

 

Spartan Sprint:  August 13, 2016.  5 km of running/walking and obstacles.  The race did take us a couple hours, by the end we completed 5km covered in mud with bumps, bruises, excitement and yes some hard moments.  I also during that race encouraged a woman while doing burpees that she “had this” .  In that moment, I met my girlfriend and in turned my life changed.  We all went for drinks after at the beer tent but sadly it ended early due to commitments we all had.  I was so proud of Sarah for pushing through the first of our 3 Races, the smile on her face was so large.  She is pretty awesome.

Spartan Super: September 4, 2016.  14 km of running, walking, obstacles and facing fears.  This race was far more challenging.  Ruuning through fields of cow crap, harder obstacles, more bumps, bruises, cuts and mud.  Sarah and i both had to encourage each other to press on at various moments.  We both got tired, hurt all over and I faced a fear of jumping into water and swimming across a small spot on a lake.  I was scared shitless but Sarah was there to encourage me to do it, she helped instill confidence in me that I could do it.  I did it and felt so proud of me and Sarah said she was proud of me.  That made me happy, afterall, I was suppose to be the one supporting her and she showed me that goes 2 ways.  We finished that race in like 4 hrs and went for a drink after, we were the last ones in the beer tent at the end of the day and it was such a great moment sharing that with her.  Next up would be the beast……in Kamloops.

Spartan Beast:  September 24, 2016.  26 kms of what I could best describe as a pure Hell.  35 obstacles, more scrapes, pains, bruises, mind fucks and not so much mud this time.  This race was so damn hard, the first 7 km were uphill, we encountered rude volunteers that tried to get Sarah kicked off the course for standing up for self.  There were many moments we both had to help each other get out of our own heads, push through the pain and push through the moments when we both wanted to stop.  Having a friend to push and encourage you can make so much of a difference.  During the race we met a team from Edmonton called the battle monkeys.  These humans made a difference in our race, we all supported each other, different people took on different leadership roles at times when it was needed.  These people included us in their race and at the finish, they even asked us to join them in their finish photo jumping over the line of fire.  We all laughed, shared in our accomplishment and  now will do another race in 2017.

Lessons learned here: 

  1. Surround yourself with positive people, you may even find them in the oddest of places.
  2. Push yourself, even when you feel like giving up.
  3. Set goals and go about them silently, leading by example rather than by voice.
  4. Get uncomfortable
  5. Be open to the unexpected
  6. Listen to your heart
  7. Do what others won’t so you can do what other can’t
  8. Encourage everyone you meet, it may change your life.

 

So, if you are reading this and comparing, please don’t, in fact share with me, your wins.  Ask me questions, maybe just maybe I will challenge you.

Next up, Dodgeball and meeting a Girl.

2017 Time to write again.

2017 Time to write again.

 

For most 2016 was to put it lightly was a pretty rough year.  I saw many friends hit some lows, struggle with themselves in relation to the world.  I spoke with friends who battled depression, loss, illness and many other things that made life tough.

For me, 2016 was a mix of both challenge and greatness but the great did not come until I began to open myself up.  I stopped updating my blog, in part because I got super busy and part because I was struggling with myself.  It is so hard to write when your mind wanders so much that you have no idea what to add to your blog.  I was struggling with my direction and struggling as I stepped away from comparison.  Comparison with other bloggers, photographers and others whom I deem successful.  I wanted to be like some of these people but needed to figure out how not to keep selling myself short. To accept talents that I play down, things about me that although drive some people crazy but others love immensely.  I am “just me”.

 

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Photo Courtesy of POP Photography. Maggie Manchester

You see, I also made myself way too busy, which only briefly distracted me from the fact that although I am a caring person I began to pull back.  The pull back came from stress, from loneliness and from rejection from some people.  I made myself busy to block people from getting too close. To me, my heart was too valuable to allow it to keep getting rejection from people who, now I realize were not worth the effort.  This lead to just being afraid of even trying for the ones who were worth it.  When you are afraid of people getting too close because you don’t think you are worth people’s time then you find a way to still be around people but keep them at a distance.  Because, I love people and the energy I gain from them.

I did surround myself with things I enjoyed doing like my photography, volunteering, reffing hockey and for a brief moment…writing.  I would say around May, maybe June I began to realize that by keeping people at a distance, I was hurting myself.  When you desire companionship, like most humans do, pulling away only increases the loneliness.

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The one thing I have yet to mention, is that since January, I began to feel a spattering of emotion again.  Now, you may be thinking, awesome dude, I know how much you were struggling with no feelings.  Ya, wrong, not awesome.  My first emotion to come back was anger.  I was not being as patient as I use to, this was affecting me at work and I wanted to be alone a lot more when I was on my own time.

I began taking forever to return messages, texts and calls.  This did lead to losing potential clients and made a few friends angry.  I know when stressed or anxious, I tend to pull back, to think and also to be sure I do not say something harmful to people.

As time went on, I knew something had to change, I needed to learn to deal and to make a few changes.

So, the first step was to finally book a trip I have wanted to do for years but made every excuse not to.  May 2016, on an impulse I booked a trip to Thailand then asked for the time off.  Risky ?  yes, there is a chance I could get the time declined.  Toss it into the universe, I thought.  My hunch was right and it worked.  This became life changing for me.

I had also signed up for another insane physical challenge as this is something I need to keep moving forward in my life.  At the urge of my friend Sarah, I signed up to do the Spartan Trifecta challenge.  Little did she or anyone know then, that this stretched my budget, I really couldn’t afford it but I also couldn’t afford not to.  I wanted to support her in her journey not knowing exactly how all of this would affect me.  Supporting her changed me.  These events over the summer and fall would also be life changing for me.  I still battled anxiety and even some self doubt going into these but it was, just like the Goofy challenge in January about remembering what one person can overcome when they stop doubting and start doing, even when scared.

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I have no idea what 2017 will bring, nor am I making resolutions.  I will, like always make some goals, sign up for a few things that challenge me and continue on the road that I started in 2017 which has help me build confidence, open my heart again and start to realize that even if the things I do drive people nuts, they make me who I am and why some people love me.

Writing has been a great outlet and I have so much to talk to about and for  the first time, I don’t care if people “Like” what I write because at the end of the day, my blog is for me to share my wins, my losses, my challenges and document my life and my continued journey since my Heart Attack.

I may have readers, I may not but that is ok.  Let it be what it will be as I go along.  Set goals and keep kicking ass. 

I cannot promise I will be perfect at updating this blog, I can promise, in the very least, I will try.

Cheers to a rockin 2017 my friends !

 

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NEW LOOK FOR MY BLOG !

 

 

It has been 2 1/2 years since I started this blog.  Time sure flies !

After reviewing the way things looked, I felt I needed a refersh.  My old look did not seem warm or inviting.

OK, let’s be honest, when this started I was not in a good place, so maybe it was a reflection.

I needed more color, vibrance and something that looked more inviting.

Why?  Things are about to change over here, I am going to be posting mote and journaling more of my goings on in life as I keep moving forward from my Heart Attack almost 3 years ago.

I have ideas that I am working on.  I need this to keep motivated.  I know I have a few readers but I also know I created this for me to help me as a form of therapy.

It has and has not worked because there are things I was afraid of sharing, fear of judgement.  

That changes with my new look.  Feedback is welcome 🙂

Here it is in photo but mosey on over and take a look my friends.

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What do you think ?  Warm and inviting or way too much ?

If Facebook life is perfect, our real ones are too right ? Part 2

Sadly, everyday I spend way more time on social media than I probably should however, I also spend a ton of time on phone calls, texts and sometimes when time permits….coffee with friends.

“The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on or blame. The gift is yours. It is an amazing journey. And you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life rely begins.”

– Bob Moawad

 I love this quote.  I love it because, I get it finally.  I am almost there, to the point of really ensuring my life is my own.  The scars and all.

In my previous post I shared the story behind my most liked photo, to kinda show how imperfect that photo is, even though I was proud of the end result.

Today, I want to discuss how I compare myself to others.  This is where Social Media makes us all think we are not good enough. What you read going forward it also why I need a break from Facebook.

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People on Beautiful Vacations…compare, why can’t I have a trip that looks that much fun ?

 

Facebook and 3 am.

 Here is yet another night, 3:00 am, I am bored and no longer interested in editing photos.  What is Facebook land up to ?  Let us take a look.

Oh man, “he” is really kicking ass at the gym, I wish I could have abs like him, hell I’d even settle for toned arms, too bad my strength is only cardio.

Haha, look at how cute their little human is, too cute for words.  Mom and Dad look so happy as newer parents.  Hmm, am I really getting to old to have kids?  Geez I will be 39 soon.  Of course, I have to actually date to be able to make a tiny human of my own.  I love kids, meh, maybe one day but I would love to have a child look at me with eyes full of love.  OK, anyway…

Oh wow, she is looking stunning.  Love that smile.  Maybe, no, can’t ask her out, far from her type.

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Oh, to have someone to hold like this ….Maybe.

Look at that photographer !!I love this persons work, their photography is something I am just amazed by, I need to learn how to take shots like that but just don’t have time.  Seriously, wow, I just spent an hour looking through their portfolio, mine is good but definitely not to the talent level of him/her.

Scroll, scroll, scroll…… Looks like some people did some fun stuff today.  I am kinda boring.  I edited, I read, napped like a cat again, enjoyed a little sunshine but stayed in Calgary.  Sometimes a camping invite or hike would be nice.  Maybe I should be the one inviting.

I really should call  him/ her.  Meh, they’d be too busy with their family to hang out.  The joys of being a single person when all your friends have young families or new boyfriends/ girlfriends.

I hate being so damn busy, but….ugh, more free time would be just nice to try a few of these things that he is doing.

Oh look, she said I am an awesome guy, inspiration.  Can’t see why she’d say this.  I am just me, always have been, no one special, just someone who wants to see others smile, just a guy always trying to be better.  Just Me.

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Just me, always finding ways to smile.

 

Why do we do this ?  Why do we compare? 

OK, so ya, those are thoughts I have had when looking at Facebook.  Other things that happen at 3 am.  Let’s just say it is a lonely hour,  In fact it is when I feel most alone.  No one to call, no one to go home to, just me.   It is the time when I  am jealous of those who have someone to sleep beside.

 So when I look on Social Media,  I begin to question my self worth, my level of exciting and my mind drives forward thinking of ways to make my life exciting again, in a sense so others may notice.  I think I am boring, I don’t go out much, I get more exhausted than I show, I cat nap and get social anxiety.

My goal going forward is not to compare my life to those around me.  It won’t be easy.  Just like those around me, I know others compare themselves to me and think my life is always happy.  Now, to be clear, overall I am happy but I am not living my life for me in the way I want.

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I have said to others who have come to me upset or falling into bad habits, that if you don’t like it, change it.  Time to take my own advice.

I am ok with being imperfect.  What I am not ok with is not living my life with passion and desire and rather than doing something about it, I sit here, compare and think I am just not good enough, smart  enough, creative enough or talented enough.

 Next time you are online and comparing your life to others, just remember someone is comparing their life to yours.

 

I would love to hear your stories of comparison.  Will you set a goal like me to stop it ? 

 

Mini

 

 

 

If Facebook life is perfect, our real ones are too right ? Part 1

Given how my day went today it is fitting that I wrote this post a few days ago and now have 2 parts to share with you all.    

Facebook fools us all into thinking others lives are perfect, some people even think my life is always smiles and fun times…..Let’s open that door  and start with……

 

The story behind my most liked Facebook photo ever.  

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When you are not sure where to start, start with what makes the most sense.  Authenticity.

Marathon Weekend 2016 in Disneyworld.  My greatest and most successful moment in my Heart Attack Recovery, finishing the Goofy Challenge.

Great moment, right ?  I will agree, in fact over 200 likes, 2400 views on blog Facebook page, a few shares and many positive encouraging comments.

Yay, yay for me right ?  Sure.  Let’s go with that.  I made it look easy of according to some.

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This is where most of us make a mistake on social media and I am not immune to it.

 Now, I have definitely shared highs and lows and some not so great life posts but most of my Facebook shows more of the great life moments than the struggles.  Authenticity of life is thrown out the window because who wants to show how they are struggling behind the photos?.

Comparison, it’s what we do but we shouldn’t.  I had one message from someone who, while congratulating me also told me seeing my photo collage made them feel inadequate because they could never do what I did.  My response, you can do it but I promise you it is not easy.

Let’s look behind the photo.  Rewind a bit shall we ?

January 2013, Walt Disney World.  I attempted my first Goofy Challenge.  I failed.  I got pulled at mile 22, put on a bus and taken to the finish where they gave me 2 medals which to this day, I still think I did not deserve.  Those medals stay in a box.  My first thought was embarrassment, shame.  I had spent time on social media sharing my excitement for the event upcoming.  How the hell do I now tell people that I was pulled from the course, not fast enough.?  I wanted to be alone, I was ashamed, hurt, crying, angry.  After some time, I shared my failure on Facebook.  That was so fucking hard, so Hard that I turned my phone off right after to avoid any ridicule or mean comments.  None came.  People were encouraging and supportive.  It took a long time to get over that failure.  2013 became one of my worst years overall.  Life sucks a lot sometimes.

 

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My heart after having a Heart Attack. August 11, 2013
My heart after having a Heart Attack. August 11, 2013

Continuing on.  Aug 2013, Hear Attack.  Starting over physically.  I knew exactly what goal I needed to set but I also knew I could not rush it.  So behind my successful photo in 2016, here is what you didn’t see.

  • My first time back on a treadmill where I couldn’t even walk for 8 minutes and had to accept that defeat.
  • The moments when I walked away from those who said, you shouldn’t do this, maybe you just can’t anymore.
  • Injuries that I never spoke of. Spraining my knee twice, slipped discs in my lower back and neck, angina attacks ( thankfully only a couple.)
  • My feet and legs that bruise and swell from running, every single time.
  • The days I awoke in so much physical pain I struggled to just get through the day knowing it would eventually go away.
  • The training miles. When you commit to a marathon you commit a lot of time, time you could spend with family and friends.
  • Sleepless nights where I would go to the gym just to get out of my head.
  • Did I mention daily pain?
  • The training runs that I had to stop because I was vomiting profusely
  • The moments of doubt, so many times I thought “maybe you shouldn’t go for this.” I lacked confidence.
  • The moments of reaching out to people who rejected my pleas to talk, some of whom I no longer speak with.
  • The moments when you are trying to share but others make it about them or compare.
  • Friendships that have suffered because I made myself so focused that I failed at maintaining some important relationships. Some may never recover.
  • The times I stopped training to help others but received not so much as a thank you which made me question my importance to others. Who thought I was worth their time, love.
  • Wanting it so bad, the “win” that I got into some stupid situations that could have cause more injury harm than success.
  • The many times I questioned my own self worth.

 

Soooooo   Close !
Soooooo Close !

 

 

 

 

 

 

WORKOUT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I could on and on.  The point here is this.  Behind most every smiling photo or “doctored” Facebook status is someone’s pain, someone’s sacrifice, someone who is looking for a win so bad so that they don’t feel like the loser they think they are. 

Most importantly behind the success at the end may just be someone looking for authentic connection, a talk, a hug, someone just to let that person be themselves so that they can pull that mask off, be vulnerable.

Comparing ourselves to others social media life is unfair because it is rare that you will see the authenticity or vulnerability of someone and usually when we do, we cower and say nothing or think, gee that person is just looking for attention.

Comparison is something I see a lot of in the support groups I am a part of and daily on my personal FB page and it can be so sad to see how people beat themselves up outside of Facebook because thier life is not like someone else who posted a great experience or photo.

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One of my goals is to be way more authentic in the coming 6 months.  My one promise is this…..  I will not “out” anyone but I will share stories.  I will talk about what is actually happening and share the wins and the challenges because I believe now that there are no failures, just challenges.

 

 

I have failed or faced challenges leading up to finally completing my first Marathon and as of this writing, I have been challenged once again by having my first Did Not Finish on my second Marathon due to injury. I shared this on social media and although I got support, I know there are many who would not.  Being that vulnerable was scary but worth it.  Sometimes you just have to open up but also listen to those who may need you to step up for them.

Part 2 coming in a couple days.

 

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In absence there is re focus…sort of.

I want to start this post by saying thank you to the reader whom renewed my blog this year.  I had lost track of the date and missed my email reminders.  Thank you so much.  That renewal that showed me that I must have done something right or inspired someone enough to do that act of kindness.  One person just made a simple difference in my life and for that reason I know I need to start posting what I have written but not shared.

I have so many things I need to talk about, to share and get off my chest.  I needed time to sort through my mangled brain. 

Being Vulnerable is scary for anyone, especially someone like me who always finds a way to be strong in a crowd.

I’ll start with this.  I stopped posting on my blog not because I dislike it, I stopped because I went from the highest of highs in January to a low that I just could not comprehend nor understand that threw me into a tailspin of a dark tunnel that had me again re evaluate how I want to live.

December to now has been a lot of change.  I always tell people if you are not happy with something, do something about it.  So, for me, it is time to re start living with a purpose.  I know I cannot change the world but I can change my life and maybe just maybe it will change someone or inspire them into something more.

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Over the coming weeks and months I am going to get some serious issues out of my head.  It has been know secret that I struggle with emotion, that I have been seeing a Therapist off and on and spending more time alone than someone like me should.

These last few months have been what I call a “hidden” struggle.  Struggle in the sense that I am openly identifying things about myself that I have to accept while working on solutions to overcome or at least deal better with them.  I need to focus on the things I have done well again and stop focusing on the things that have had a negative impact that dog my head daily.

I have no magic fix for my issues nor anyone else’s, I do have ideas and plans that I will outline as I move along.  No one can fix anything in one day, it may take months or even years, it may take it’s tolls on relationships I currently have but also create new ones.  I have read so much and heard so much about how who you surround yourself with becomes you, an element of your successes and failures.

I am not a failure, I am merely one person lost with many looking to define themselves, be successful, nurture my happiness and needs. 

Life on purpose is my goal.  No more wandering aimlessly with only hope.  It takes small steps.  I need to get better for me and those who believe in me.  I need to believe in me again, like those who tell me they do.

Time to be uncomfortable yet again.  Bring it.

 

Mini

Heart Attack Stories- Anne Clark- We All Bleed Red.

Who are you ?  Name, current age, where are you from ?


My name is Anne Clark, I am 50 years old and I currently live in Damascus, Maryland.  Where are you from is a very complicated question for me, my Dad was in the US Navy and we moved often, so I am not really “from” anywhere in particular, although I do consider Hawaii my home.

 

ANNE CLARK 1

How old were you when you experienced your heart attack?

I had my heart attack on 7/8/2010, I was 45 years old.

Where were you when it 
happened?  Tell me your story.What were your signs and
 symptoms?  Did you have any pre existing conditions or
family history ?


In July of 2010 I was working as the Director of Acquisitions for a Property Management Company in the Washington, DC area.  I worked in the neighborhood of 55-60 hours a week and had a 2-3 hour daily commute.  It was a high stress job, to say the least.  I had been with the company for 16 years and had worked my way up to the position I held.  I was well compensated, but I was also expected to to put in as much time and effort as was needed to get the job done.  I did not eat well, I smoked two packs (or more) a day and got very little exercise.  Sometime after the fourth of July, I got into a huge fight with my sister (& best friend) and she stopped speaking to me, which added to my stress.  On July 8th I left work and went to a homeowners association meeting, getting home around 8:30 pm.  I went about my normal routine, I fed my dogs & let them out, I called my parents, sat on the back porch and smoked a few cigarettes.  I hadn’t eaten since morning, I had been too busy to stop for lunch.

I started feeling queasy and I was hot.  I wasn’t all that concerned, I have suffered with terrible acid issues for years and it was July afterall, it was hot out.  I went upstairs (six stairs up) and thought I was going to throw up, when I didn’t I decided to lie down.  I started feeling worse and somehow I knew something was terribly wrong.  I tried to walk downstairs to the phone and couldn’t, I ended up crawling to the stairs and sliding down.  The first thing I did was try to call my sister multiple times, as she was still not speaking to me, she didn’t answer the phone.  Finally, I called 911.  When the ambulance arrived, I was actually feeling better and I tried to send them away.  Apparently, they cannot make you go to the hospital, so I refused.  I was feeling better.  Everytime I refused, the EMT said okay, why don’t you re-think that answer.  He was not going to take no for an answer.

As the ambulance headed toward the hospital, when we were about two minutes away from my house, apparently I turned blue.  I remember very little from that except I desperately wanted to go to sleep and the EMT wouldn’t let me, he kept asking about my dogs. We arrived at the hospital and I was immediately surrounded by 5 or 6 nurses/staff.  I was wearing my favorite pink tee shirt and pants with my college logo.  After they cut my shirt off, I heard someone ask the doctor about my pants, they were able to pull them off with out cutting them…yay!  I don’t recall too much that the doctor said to me but one thing is still clear in my mind, he said “Smoke again and you will die”, I have never smoked again. They wheeled me into surgery where I have an angioplasty and a stent.  One was 68% and the other was a 100% LAD blockage.  I was somewhat conscious during the surgery and I remember at one point the doctor and the nurse started discussing baseball.  I am not a baseball fan, I like football.  Apparently, I told them if they felt it necessary to chat while they were fixing me,I would prefer they chat about football.  Once the surgery was done, they brought my sister in to see me, my first words to her were, “I win”. She was not amused.  That was a Thursday night, I was released from the hospital on Saturday.  It took me several years to say it out loud, I had a heart attack.

 

ANNE CLARK 3

How did this affect your life?  Physically/ Personally?


After my heart attacked, I re-evaluated myself and my life, as many do.  I went through a severe depression, which I am still struggling with and almost took my life, several times. If not for my dogs, I probably would have.  My two dogs were already named when I adopted them in 2009, their names are Hope & Grace.  In 2011, after 17 years, I walked away from my job and took a year off.  I now work for a construction company, make substantially less money, have a fifteen minute commute and I am happier than I have been in  a very very long time.

What lifestyle changes have you made ?  What are your struggles ? Stents/ Zipper or Defib ?  What is your situation?


I have a stent.  I still don’t eat as well as I should, I gave up smoking (cold turkey) and rarely drink anymore, although I do enjoy a cocktail from time to time.  I don’t exercise as much as I should, but more than I used to.  I am still a work in progress.

What do you fear now ?


I don’t fear dying, but I do fear dying and not leaving a mark on this world.

What are three things that are most important in your post heart attack
life?


The most important things to me are my family, my dogs and my happiness

Did you do Cardiac Rehab?  What has been the hardest part of your recovery?


Cardiac Rehab was good, after I completed the program, I had a personal trainer for a while and that helped me a lot.  The hardest thing was quitting smoking, I still miss it all the time.

What are your new dreams ?


I don’t really have any dreams right now.  I went through such a severe depression for such a long time that every morning I would set the goal that I would make it though the day without killing myself.  I have.

ANNE CLARK 2

 

Who was there for you?
I am blessed to have an awesome family and a few life long friends.  There are very few people in this world that will drop everything and come running when they know you need them.  I am lucky to have people in my life like that.

Did you lose many friends after your heart attack ?


I lost several people that I considered friends after my heart attack.  One in particular, we had been friends (so I thought) and co-workers for almost 20 years.  On Monday after my heart attack she called me and asked when I was returning to work, according to her, things were beginning to pile up on my desk and the owners were not happy, at the time I did not know that was a lie.  I returned to work on Tuesday.  About a week later she asked me if I wanted to go to happy hour at an outside bar across the street, I said sure.  When we got there she ordered a beer and I ordered water.  She yelled at me saying what is the point if I’m not going to have a drink and stormed off.  We have not spoken since 2011.

What is the funniest thing someone has said or asked about your heart attack? 


Every time there is an issue at work that my friend/co-worker thinks is going to upset or stress me out, before she tells me she always asks “How’s your heart feeling?”
The Saturday after my heart attack, my parents came to town to see me.  I was home from the hospital at that time so my parents said they would stop at the store and get dinner.  They showed up with ribeye steaks (very fatty) and baked potatoes, complete with butter and sour cream.  Really??  I don’t think that’s on my new diet plan.  My Dad knew that was one of my favorite meals and he just wanted to make me happy.  His heart was in the right place.

 

If you could go back in the past how would you live your life differently?
I don’t really think I would do anything differently.  My life has made a dramatic change in the past few years.  If not for my heart attack I would not be the person I am today.  I like the person I am today.  I have come to realize that I didn’t really like myself for a very long time.

What do you want more of in life ? 


I want love and happiness.  I used to be an angry, stressed person, I do not want to be that person ever again.

Is this the hardest thing you have ever experienced ?


I would say this is one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through.  It has been a learning experience and has reminded me what is important in life.

What makes you great ?


I don’t think anything makes me great, yet.  I am still trying figure that out.

What advice would you give to a healthy person who has never experienced something like a Heart Attack?


I would say to all, don’t judge, be kind and show compassion. You will never know what is going on in someone else’s mind and you will never fully understand their struggles.

Heart Attack Stories- Amy Siegfried. We All Bleed Red.

Hi there… My name is Amy Siegfried, I’m 50 years old, and I’m from southern Indiana, but have lived in chandler, Az for the past 5 yrs, and have lived in Az before… My daughter, 14, was born here, but we moved back home when she was in kindergarten, as my husband was traveling, and my grandparents were still around, and I wanted Jess to know them. We got four more years with them!!

AMY SEG

I was 48, (5’5 and 135lbs) when I had my MI. I had been experiencing hot flashes, and some nausea, but chalked it up to menopause, and maybe a bug. I was hanging out with my grandkids, and driving them to dance class when things got started…my symptoms were off and on for 9 days before I went to the ER. Around the 8th day, I finally had my husband Scott take me to urgent care, because it was getting worse, and I had strange pressure/pain in my chest…they ran an EKG, but saw nothing out of the ordinary. The doc suggested I had acid reflux, and gave me a nasty concoction to drink, and sent me home with a prescription for nausea meds, and prilosec. I was chugging milk of magnesia, but not getting any relief. By now, I can’t lay down, because it hurt. Hard to explain that pain…it wasn’t sharp, but it made me cry. (I’m not a crier, and I have other health issues, and pain meds.) It kind of felt like a steel band around my ribs, and a heavy feeling in my chest. My neck and left shoulder hurt as well, but I didn’t connect any of these dots, yet.  I also have fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis.

Pain is my norm, so…anyway…Didn’t sleep much…woke my husband and daughter with my sobs, but I couldn’t explain the pain. Scotty gave me a Valium to help my anxiety, and I dozed sitting up… The next morning, I still felt awful, but Jess had to get to school, and Scott to work…he was worried, and asked if I needed to go to the ER. I told him I’d be ok, and was going to try and sleep a little, so check on me later. I knew he had an important lunch for his staff that day, but he said he’d come home early, and take me if I was still sick. I finally decided I needed to go when my neck and jaw started tingling, and i actually had a thought that it could be my heart, but dismissed it, and called him around 11, but said I wanted to get cleaned up before we went, so go ahead with the luncheon, and I’d be ready by one or so.

We finally get to the ER…I never did take a shower. Too weak, too much. Somehow I felt foolish and a little embarrassed when the clerk asked what brought me in…”chest pain?” (I said it like a question). She checked my O2 sats and I was ushered to the back immediately. A couple minutes later, I’m hooked up to an EKG, and then everything started happening really fast!! I was swarmed by techs and nurses, and one said “Mrs. Siegfried, you’re having a heart attack, and we’re going to take good care of you!” Nitro patch slapped on my chest, 4 baby aspirin shoved in my mouth, IV started, and poof! Off to the cath lab!! (Hubby was on the phone talking business until the announcement, and I looked at him with tears starting, and the only thing I could say was “oh shit” !! Lol!! Not very poetic, but I guess it fit!!)
I spent 3 days in the hospital…2 of them in ICU, though I felt like a fraud for most of it. I just never felt like I belonged in such a “seriously ill” ward… I got “busted” in the cafeteria, trying to buy a coffee and a snack, because I didn’t have a “hall pass”. The ICU nurses didn’t know, as they never have to deal with people leaving the floor on their own!! (I was styling in my gown, with the porta-heart monitor tucked in my pocket!) Lol!!

Anyway, I now have 2 stents in my RCA, which was 99% blocked, then 3 months later, I had a stent installed in my right illiac, as they found blockage to my legs with an ultrasound after my follow-up. I still have the left one to do, but it’s not clogged enough to warrant surgery, yet. I now have PAD, and something else to do with the arteries…can’t think of it…the cardiologist suggested it was caused by RA. I had no idea that RA could wreak havoc on your organs!! Luckily, after all that, my EF was at 50%, and no damage!! There is no real family history of heart problems. My dad had a blocked illiac, and had a stent placed when he was around my age, but it never affected his heart.

I was left kind of wanting by my cardiologist… He blames RA without tests. (I’ve had RA since I was 12, and it’s moderate, so I didn’t think or know it was possible). I wasn’t even offered cardiac rehab, and didn’t know it existed until much later… I still don’t know for sure that was the cause. My stress levels had been through the roof, off and on… I did change cardiologists after a year, and my new one scheduled a stress test, which I passed with flying colors! I also had funky side-effects from the statin. She changed that from atorvistatin to crestor, but no change in my muscle cramping and charlie horses…I couldn’t deal, so, after much research, I quit taking statins. I’ve read many articles stating that they do more harm than good, I just can’t see taking a medication that causes more pain, and might damage other organs!

As far as lifestyle changes, I quit smoking…but it took me a year. I still vape, but very little. I walk more, too…and I’m thinking about joining a gym soon, with my daughter. My greatest fear is not being here for her, her milestones…her graduation, from high school, college…her wedding, children. The usual, I think. I have started looking for work…after being a stay at home mom for 12 years…looking for a passion though, that allows me to still be home for my daughter after school. I work with animal rescues as a volunteer… I (we) have 3 dogs and a cat. I took on a foster dog last year that was labeled aggressive and fearful…he’s still here, and he’s a beautiful lover-dog, though skittish still, and in the hall bathroom hiding from the wind storm as I type. I really want to foster kids…especially those poor babies that are yanked from their homes to keep them safe… I am a caregiver at heart. I helped care for my grandparents, I saw my mom and dad through colon cancer, and I cared for my aunt B until she passed last Jan. I still feel a little lost now that she’s gone.

The most important part of recovery for me has been to take better care of me…I’m not very good at that! To anyone else I would say, quit smoking, if you do, and do more…exercise more, love more, eat better! Oh, and don’t think it can’t happen to you, because I know it can…I’ve seen it happen to people that are way better at working out, vegetarian, nonsmoker’s…just listen to your body. Women present differently than men, most of the time. Hug your family tighter. I’m rambling… Peace out! 😉

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