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 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.

 

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Soooooo Close !

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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From Heart Attack Survivor to Marathon Finisher

Heart Attack Survivor to Marathon Finisher ( Goofy Challenge Finisher)

39.3 MIles ( 63.25 Kms) , 2 Days, 4 Theme Parks.  3 Medals. 1 Moment of RAW Emotion.  

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His name is Mark.  At age 38 , he is now a Marathon Finisher.  It did not come without struggle, committment and hard work.

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Friends are a big part of what makes this whole experience so special ! Left to Right: Diane, Tracy, Cynthia, Nicki !

One week prior to his 36 birthday he suffered and survived a Heart Attack.  Four days later he went into Cardiac Arrest during surgery to place 2 stents in his heart.  Only one was placed due to this event.  He continues to live with another 70 % blockage in the main artery to his heart but this doesn’t stop him from living and trying to reach new limits.

For the next 2 years and 5 months he went through Cardiac Rehab, made a few lifestyle changes, lost 30 lbs and got back to one of his passions.  Running.  Mark will admit that none of it was easy and there were some days of having to push beyond what he thought he was capable of.

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On January 10th, 2016 in the Happiest Place on Earth, Walt Disney World, Mark became an official Marathon Runner and Finisher.  Equally as important he completed the Goofy Challenge which requires a runner to do a Half Marathon (13.1 Miles or 22 Kms.) the day before.  Some would call this crazy, I guess that is why they call it Goofy.

In 2013 he attempted this same challenge and did not finish.  Due to pacing requirements he just wasn’t fast enough to avoid being swept off the course.  Some people say they were closing things early because of extreme heat and humidity.  “ It doesn’t matter the circumstance, I just was not fast enough and that race, unknown to me would set the tone for my year.  I failed but knew I would try again.  I just didn’t think it would take me three years to get back here to do it.”

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All Business !

 

On his Marathon Finish Mark said “This was by far one of my hardest and most proud moments in life.  I cried like a baby knowing I was going to finish a Marathon.  I saw my friend Jennifer, a woman who I respect, admire and love for how encouraging and supportive she has been. I believe around Mile 24.

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Jenn and I ! I love this woman, such an amazing friend !

She gave me some beer.  Yes I drank a beer and it tasted like heaven.  Shortly after I hugged her and went on my way, tears began to fall. “

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The course was not without it’s challenges.  From mile 19-20  he had to fully walk because his heart rate was not recovering as quickly as he had hoped.  It is the only point in the race where he thought that he may have to pull himself as his heart rate seemed to not dip back below 125 beats per minute on rest moments.  Thankfully his heart rate eventually went down enough to keep going on.  “6.2 miles to go, it became harder and I began run/ walk more frequently.”

To run a Marathon requires commitment, a commitment that most won’t give.  For the last 9 months he trained while most were sleeping.  Midnight and 2 am runs, sometimes he’d go earlier but that was rare. “Some people totally understood and others not so much.”  Opinions began to not matter to me. This was not about other people, it  was all about me.  I was dedicated to finishing, so dedicated that I eventually stopped wearing my Fitbit on those late night runs.  I kinda wanted to ensure I was challenging no one but myself. I was obsessed to say the least.”

The race started around 5:30 am with the first wave of runners set to go.  Mark was in Corral M.  4 corrals up from the last, he knew he had to go hard in the beginning as to not fall behind and risk being swept.  By the time it was his turn to cross the start line, the time was closer to 6:20 am.

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Corral M, I’ve got this !

Off went the fireworks and  it was now time to put all that training to the test.  He was nervous but not afraid, strong , focused but most importantly no matter the result, prepared to ensure he still had fun.  “ I stopped for a few photos with people who had funny signs, looked on in envy of those who had time to stop to take photos with characters but still felt like a kid seeing the Disney characters on the course. I did eventually get my chance at a couple of character photos but that reward would wait until I knew I was going to finish the race.”

The first 13 Miles seemed to be the easiest according to Mark.  13 miles was a distance he was use to as he had run half marathons in the last but only once since his Heart Attack.   As he continued he did experience some knee pain but was able to overcome that by stopping at Medical tents and utilizing bio freeze which numbs the area.  He credits that with allowing him to focus on the race and not the pain.

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The Half Marathon Portion on Saturday Jan 9th as a part of the Goofy Challenge. 66 kms in 2 days 🙂

As the remaining miles went by it seemed like forever, he began to run/ walk more frequently but still maintain a pace that was healthy and that would help him succeed.

How did you feel when you knew you were at the point where you absolutely knew you were safe and were going to finish the race without the fear of being swept ? 

“  That moment is when I got through the ESPN zone, the most boring part of the course.  I left ESPN and shortly encountered Mile 22.  The Mile in which I was swept in 2013,  I saw the buses  that were parked there for those who would not finish this race sometime later.  I gave those buses the two middle fingers, smiled and kept going.  It was such a good feeling to know that I was now safe and the race was now mine to finish.

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At Mile 26. The time is from the official start time. My final Time was 6hrs 47 min, 13 seconds.

 

To finish this story, I will now leave third person and talk as myself. 

As I entered Hollywood Studios my pace slowed, was is my sense of security ?  No, I was tired and wanted to ensure a strong finish.  They say with hard work comes reward.  What was my reward before finishing?  I worked so hard and skipped some character stops that I would have loved to do.  Then I saw Boo from Monsters Inc.  I had to stop for this photo, at least one, for me.  Shortly after  I saw the Genie from Aladdin outside the boardwalk and I was ecstatic that I could have my photo taken with him.  There is a quote in Aladdin that I love . “ But oh, to be free, such a thing would be greater than all the magic and all the treasures in the world.”  This sums up how I felt crossing the finish line.

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Boo and the Genie !

 

I came running around that 26 mile marker and shortly saw that finish line in front of me.  I wanted to stop and admire what was before me but I could not, I knew I had to keep going.  As I got closer I looked into many eyes of those cheering on the runners.  I was bawling like a baby, I could not contain my tears, I forgot what it was like to actually feel emotion until that moment.  My eyes were leaking !!

Just before I reached the finish all I can remember was pushing my arms out to my side in excitement and bringing them back into my body, almost flexing and releasing every emotion I had in me.  Lucky for me the photographers caught that moment.  Here I was, after almost losing my life a couple years before, accomplishing the most physically challenging thing I have ever done in my life.  I smiled, received my Marathon Medal, hugged the volunteer and almost couldn’t let go.  I am pretty sure her shoulder is still soaked from my tears.

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ALL OF THE FEELS !! MY EYES ARE LEAKING !

Jan 10, 2016, I became a Marathoner.  I finished in 6 hrs, 47 minutes and 13 seconds.  I was not fast but I never gave up.  The training for this race began from the moment I stepped back on a treadmill 6 weeks after my heart attack. 

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“If you can Dream It, you can do it.” – Walt Disney

That feeling of finishing was worth all of the late nights,  hard work, blood, pain and listening to those who told me if I trusted them, then they would get me back as close as they could to who I was before.  That day I left it all out there and succeeded.

If anyone tells me they can’t do something, or that I can’t do something they have said it to the wrong person.  Because I will show them what I can do, what they can do….. IF,  they believe.

I may not have what others have in terms of physical capabilities but it’s not about that, it’s about my will power.  I am proud of what I accomplished but I will never settle.  I will always succeed and earn every moment of life.  I am still not a finished product, I am striving each day to always be better than I was the day before.  In my Heart I do not fear, I love as much as I can and am free.

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“ But oh, to be free, such a thing would be greater than all the magic and all the treasures in the world.” – Genie from Aladdin.

 

Mini.

Dear Universe. The Love Edition.

 

Universe, I am tired of the Friend Zone and being stuck there.

So. Damn. Sick. Of. it. IMG_2913   So, here it goes, are you ready ? 

Help Me Please.

4 and a half years single.  Yes, that’s correct.  That is the amount of time since I last seriously dated someone.  My last actual relationship definitely de railed me for far too long because I let it.  I am beyond that and have been for a while now.

For the first couple years after it ended I struggled with my own lack of confidence in myself and wondering if I could actually find someone who just wouldn’t give up when life went sideways?

The last couple years it was about my own healing my heart after my heart attack both physically and emotionally.  I am always healing and progressing from that.

I am as ready now as I feel I can be.  Waiting for the “right” moment may mean one waits forever. There is never the right time, nor the right moment so if I keep waiting until “I’m ready” then I may never be ready.  There is no perfect moment my friends.

I want love as much as anyone.  It is the one area of my life that I am really starting to notice the void.   I am actually starting to feel what lonely is.

You see, Universe.  Today I come to you with my Love life.  I am ready.

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You see Universe, I have tried dating and have not succeeded much at all. In some cases it was not the fault of the women with I spent time with.  Dating today is far different than the past. I struggle to adapt.

Universe, If I am to be honest, I have not really cared about dating or finding a girlfriend for a very long time.  That, has changed.

You see Universe, I get shy or as you know, I have trouble showing how I feel even though I do mean what I say. The struggle here is my worst enemy.

You see Universe, I don’t make my “move”, rather I say I am being patient or I make up an excuse for my lack of taking that chance.  I get confused easily by the signs I may or may not be getting from the fairer sex.

You see Universe, the most common question I get after a date is:

“Did you kiss her ?” My answer is always no.  This needs to change.

You see Universe, just once please give me the courage to kiss the girl and stop making excuses as to why it didn’t happen.

You see Universe, I ask you to prepare whomever may be someone special to me to be able to handle me.  I am not easy to love, at least in my mind.

You see Universe, I have not been confident with women or in myself since 2011.  I am now confident in myself but struggle with becoming more than friends.

You see Universe, I ask you to prepare whomever may be someone special to me to be able to handle me.  I am not easy to love, at least in my mind.


ME:

Universe, I need to you open my heart, help me to be open to love.

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Universe, please remove the fear inside.

Universe, help me to not want to run away just when I start to become close with someone.

Universe, I want to be comfortable enough to be myself around her and not who I think I have to be to capture her attention.  I am awesome in my own unique way and worth it.

Universe, help me to own my past, to be free to know that anyone who is not ok with my past health issues is not someone who I need to spend time on.

Universe, help me to not be scared to talk about it. A woman must know for it is only fair to her even if I get hurt in the end and she walks away.  I do not want to waste any woman’s time.

Universe, help me to never not be me because that is I need to love in order for someone to really love me.

Universe, help me to really realize I deserve to be loved, that I someone will see beyond me being just a friend and the nice guy.

Universe, allow me to be free to risk my heart and not be afraid to have it broken again.  In love, I have to accept that risk is always there but the upside to that risk is that there could be a lifetime love awaiting me.

Universe, help me to adapt to this new world of dating.

Universe, I am a traditional man, one who stills believes in romance and  little things.  This is how I was raised.  Help me to never lose sight of that because at times, I have in the past, thought that stuff didn’t matter anymore.

Universe, In the last 2 years I have really met “Me” and I like me, a lot.  I want someone to see that in it’s true Genuine form.

Universe, I am a fun, playful, silly, romantic, serious when I need to be and a very hopeful man.  A man who is in it for real, for the long haul.  I understand this may take some emotional endurance and time.

Universe, I know love is not all puppy dogs and rainbows, I know it takes work.  Always remind me of this. Always.

Universe, allow me to be accepting of her and all that she comes with as no one is perfect and we all have “something” or some baggage..  Help me to fall in love with her imperfections, quirks, dreams and  not just the things that may be perfect, charming, sweet, fun, endearing or great about her.  She is more than the perceived perfections.

Universe help me to not give up when a relationship challenge arises for that is when things really matter.

Universe, help me to learn to free up my time to make time for her.  Help me to want to be less busy and stop avoiding what I consider the emptiness of alone time, for I know, that is when I feel the most lonely.  I don’t want to be busy but I also don’t want to feel lonely anymore.

Universe, as a part of hoping to find someone special please help me keep the drive in my own passions for passion in one thing can lead to passion beyond.

Universe, most of all, open my heart to the possibilities that surround me and give me the emotional endurance to know it may take many dates with many women to find my perfectly, imperfect woman.

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Universe, when it comes to the her, I ask for a little but ultimately just want someone who, when with her, we compliment, encourage, grow, love and challenge each other.  A woman who just keeps being herself.

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Universe I hope she is perfectly imperfect, independant,  confident and her own woman.

Universe, I want to her to have patience, especially because she will need that quality to date me.

Universe, I want her to be able to laugh at herself and be ok with laughing at me because, I am a goof and very clumsy.

Universe, I want her to be active in any manner that is enjoyable for her.  I am active and hope we can support each other in this area.

Universe, I want her to have her own interests as well as some we can share together and grow with.  I don’t just want her to like what I like because she likes me and vice versa.

Universe, open her heart to adventure, quiet nights in, cuddling, inside jokes.

Universe, I want her to be comfortable enough to be herself with me and not who she thinks she needs to be to capture my attention.

Universe I want to her know love and relationships take work and that she won’t give up when life challenges or upsets us.  I really need someone who won’t just walk away when things aren’t perfect or romantic comedy like.

Universe, you know I am done with the previous statement except to say I need someone who can handle the good and the tough.

In Conclusion:

Universe, I believe in love, I believe in you and I believe “my girl” is out there.  Believe in me.

Universe, should it be that I am not to meet someone and be a single man, that is something in which I will understand and always be happy with my life.

Please guide me in the direction for Love in whatever form that may be for the life I am to have.

 

Mini

HAPPY 2 YEAR HEARTAVERSARY TO ME !

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August 11, 2015.  This day,  I celebrated  me and 2 years of life post heart attack.  I wanted to be alone this day because it is my day, for me.

So how do I share a day so personal to me ? A day in which I think about the previous year and my growth.  I also begin to think about how I envision the coming year.

So what did I do ?

I started this day by visiting the beach court where I had my Heart Attack.  I sat alone for a while in thought….surrounded by kids playing at a day camp around me.  I smiled as these kids played tag, threw dodgeballs at each other and had sand fights.  Then it came to me…..sorta.  Seeing all of this around me gave me a Happy Heart 🙂

Now, before I continue…..I used the hastag #happyheart for the day but #happyheart is not my original idea.  For this, I give credit to my heart sister Sarah Klena from http://heartattackat31.blogspot.ca/.  She created T shirts this year to raise money for American Heart Association.  Ultimately that hashtag was created by her and I will give credit where it is due.  I think about #happyheart a lot since Sarah first brought it forward.

So, after I took the photo below, I posted it to Facebook and asked my friends to share with me their stories that made gave them a #happyheart.  I would read these at the end of my day when I returned to social media.

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Now, I will get back to this in a moment.

My Heataversary is like my New Years minus any drinking and kissing someone at midnight ( unless someone wants to join me in a kiss. )

The rest of my day was driving through Southern Alberta and stopping to take in the scenery.  I wanted badly to just be alone.  Alone to be with my thoughts and to go about my day with only having to worry about where or what I would do next.  There was no direct plan other than to drive and take photos.

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The photos above are from various points along the route I drove and places I stopped. Truth is, I did not think much for the first half the drive, I simply took in the scenery.  Whether it was the vast fields, mountains in the distance or the various Horses, Sheep and Cows along the way.  It was completely breathtaking and relaxing.

Then came the drive home and although earlier I had thought about the direction I hope to go in the coming year, another thoughts came to me.

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You see, I have definitely grown in the last 24 months and come so far but one thing occurred to me.  I still play things too safe and don’t take as many risks as maybe I should.  I still play it safe. So then my mind wandered as to why.

The answer is not as simple as I thought.  I thought I have been taking more chances the last 2 years and yes I have taken a couple BUT I still played it safe by not pushing myself to reach beyond what I think are my limitations and in matters of the heart.  I won’t go into too much detail as this is a little personal for now but I will say this……

I NEED TO STOP BEING SO AFRAID OF NOT BEING QUITE GOOD ENOUGH.

I NEED TO MAKE A MOVE

I NEED TO TAKE HARD STEPS

I NEED TO TRY EVEN MORE

I NEED TO BE OK WITH MAKING MISTAKES

BECAUSE ALL OF THIS MEANS……I AM BEATING MY OWN FEARS.

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The drive home passed quickly with no stops for photos and although I was deep in thought, I was actually happy.  Happy because, if you remember at the beginning of this post I said I wanted to be alone.

Somewhere along that highway I realized I wanted to be with friends, I really wanted to be around people to end my day.  Lucky for me, my team had a dodgeball game that night.  I had planned to skip the game to be alone, I honestly did not want people to see me at all.  I am thankful that I changed my mind.

That game was our first win of the season, it was a fun game and I felt completely in my element being with people I love being around, playing a sport I love.  Playing the sport in which I was playing the day my heart attack occurred.  Kinda like slaying the demon in my head.

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After the game we were invited to a our team mate Jesse’s place for a BBQ and a Beer.  I had declined this invite a few times actually but eventually decided to go.  BEST DECISION !

Ending my day with these amazing people was the perfect ending to a great day.  A day of celebration, reflection and just being one with myself, nature and in the end, my friends.

I am thankful for life, thankful for growth and I am thankful I get another shot at living every single day.

2 Years later I am thankful for my Heart Attack because it was my eye opener and my life line.

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Celebrate life and make someone happy, make them smile because as a quote I read the other day said.

“If you have the power to make someone happy, do it.  The world needs more of that. “

–Don’t know the author.-

Happy Heartaversary to me 🙂   Here is to many more !!

HEART ATTACK SURVIVORS UNITE !

That Moment I met someone who inspires me.  Sarah Klena.

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There are few people I admire or look up to in this world.  Those whom I do are those who have risen above the tough situations in which they have experienced.  Over the coming weeks I am going to acknowledge some of these amazing people.  Each of them has a special place in my Heart for different reasons.

One of those people is my heart sister, fellow Heart Attack Survivor, Sarah Klena from http://heartattackat31.blogspot.com/  .  I met Sarah through her blog and she even wrote a guest post here on my blog in February which I recommend you read.  We have interacted back and forth though Facebook sharing our experiences with each other and getting to know each other.

 I was in Disneyworld a few weeks ago and sent her a message asking if she would like to meet for dinner.  Plans were made.  We met on Dec 3rd at Raglan Road- A great Irish Pub ! ( my favorite place in Downtown Disney !)

To say I was excited would be a HUGE understatement.  Reading her blog shortly after my Heart Attack was so helpful and inspiring for me.  To me, it was meeting a someone who gave me hope in my recovery through reading her experiences on her blog.  She inspires, for what she survived, how she’s recovered and the attitude and honesty she chose to display.  She chose to share her story to help herself and others.

We met around 5:00 pm. I walked into the front door and there she was.  A beaming smile and a welcoming hug.  She looked healthy, beautiful and full of life.  She is also a little taller than me haha.

I was unsure of what to expect or how the night would go.  I will say this, we both can talk… A LOT. 

I cannot remember what we ordered, I do know we ate pretty healthy and that the food was pretty awesome.

I won’t go into all the details of our conversation but I will say this.  Nothing is more refreshing than speaking with someone who had been through what you have and truthfully, she definitely was far luckier than me to have survived.  Sarah had not ONE but TWO Heart Attacks and survivede at the age of 31.

One thing we both agreed on is that once something like this happens to you at such a young age you almost feel an obligation to help others, get the word out, tell people about what happened, how it can happen, how to prevent it happening.   We both would not want others to experience a Heart Attack, we both have a desire to help others and get the word out.   We are young and never thought this could happen to us.

We talked about the scary moments, being a slight hypochondriac at times, the differing emotions and experiences, the recovery and how amazing life can be.

We spent a lot of time laughing, talking about our lives post Heart Attack, how others reacted, treated us, what they said ( some people say some funny things, trust me !)  She told me of something great about her personal life! ( seriously exciting news but hers to share, not mine.  It is not on her blog yet haha !)  Before we knew it, it was past 9:00 pm and we had lost track of time.  We probably could have spoken for hours, maybe even days more.

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We almost didn’t take a photo !  We asked the server if he would take a photo of us on both our phones, and my camera.  After all, how could we have met and not had a photo together right?  

I could tell you so much more about that night however, the most important part was just being in the moment and meeting a friend that I met through chance and experience. A friend who has inspired me on my journey.  Not that I recommend having a Heart Attack to meet new friends  😉

I will say this about Sarah.  She is humble, has good energy, great attitude, is friendly, funny, engaging, strong, motivated, healthy and has a smile that has presence and light.

I have watched this amazing woman become a huge advocate for women’s heart health in the United States since the time I first sent her an email.

Time to brag about her a bit and share a few of her accomplishments.  She has appeared in the November Issue of Good House Keeping, spoken for Go Red for Women through the American Heart Association and recently appeared on an episode of Doctor Oz- Dec 17, 2013.  You can watch her 2 segments here:  http://www.doctoroz.com/episode/oz-viewers-who-saved-their-own-lives?video_id=3948074010001

And here: http://www.doctoroz.com/episode/oz-viewers-who-saved-their-own-lives?video_id=3948090061001

Thank you Sarah for a great evening and great conversation. Here’s to friendship, good health and kicking Heart Attack’s ass !  Now, I’ll have to get you and Lina up to Canada  haha.

-Mini-

Taking Photos for Heart :)

There is nothing I love more than making people smile and have fun.  Yesterday allowed for than opportunity over and over again.  I volunteered to work a photo booth for The Heart and Stroke Foundation at The Spruce Meadows Masters and I must say the experience was exhilarating and freeing for me.

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When raising awareness for any disease which can be tragic it is good to see that you can do that and make people smile.

Whether it was getting families together to act silly in costumes or having little girls act like divas or having little boys dress up as cowboys and the occasional one who dressed in the diva outfits.  It was fun and it was me being me.  Being a goof, laughing and bringing people out of their comfort zone. 

 

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I got to work with 3 other amazing people who got in on the fun.  One girl was even racing kids on the little horses. SO. MUCH. FUN.  The fun was contagious no matter what we faced during the day.

 

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The event to raise awareness had four stations. 

  1. Heart Facts Trivia ( Heart Fact Station)
  2. AED awareness ( Stayin Alive Station)
  3. Physical Activity Education ( Heart Racin Station)
  4. Equestrian Family Photo Booth.

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Our role was to help educate people on the important ways people can educate and promote good heart health while assisting in the activity that we were involved with.

 

Each booth had a different activity like learning CPR or doing a little exercise, or creating AED awareness and of course one booth having fun taking photos.  People attending the Masters Event at Spruce Meadows had an opportunity to do each station and get a passport stamped and receive a prize.  Sadly I did not find out what that prize was.

The event was sponsored by Canadian Pacific Railway  you can follow their Heart Efforts and fundraising on twitter at : @CPhasHeart.  Last year they helped raise $120,000 for The Heart and Stroke Foundation while helping to create AED deployment across Canada.

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The more I volunteer with The Heart and Stroke Foundation the more I wish I had done this long before it took a Heart Attack to get involved.  I am re finding another part of me that use to be there when I was younger.  The part of me that was hopeful and wanted to make a difference in this world as a teen.  This Adult is going to keep this up and not let that part go away again.

 

Each of us can make difference, help the world and it does not have to be by BIG actions, even the little ones help.  Sometimes the little actions can have an even bigger impact than the big ones. 

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How do you think you can make a difference, to make our world better ?    I challenge you to find a way.

Mini

First Speaking Engagement- Heart and Stroke Foundation.

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August 21, 2014 thanks to my friend Sabrina I took part in the Big Bike Ride for The Heart and Stroke Foundation.  This lead to an opportunity that I am so happy I was given.

At the event I spoke to one of the coordinators and was able to share my story and was asked if I would speak the following week as the fundraiser was continuing for the Calgary Corporate Challenge.

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Now excuse me if I begin to sound like an excited little school girl but this was amazing for me in so many way !  *Giggle*  ok, no giggle but still amazing.

Before I ramble on I’ll explain that I spoke to participants in 2-3 minute spurts after each big bike ride.  Participants were doing this fundraiser as part of the corporate challenge for their companies. I spoke in front of many company teams in the two days.  I also got to know some of those working for the heart and stroke foundation.  They have a fun crew I must say !

OK, ramble time. 

Look, I have been trying to figure out  how to write about this because it seemed like it all went by in a blur for me but there were things that made it worth it.  I had to process it I guess.

The best part about the sharing my story wasn’t even sharing my story.  It was what happened each time after I shared.

People came to me individually after each presentation.  I heard their stories about themselves, their family, and their friends.

One story  was a man who shared about seeing his father die in front of him from a Heart Attack at age 49.   This man was currently 35 and he wondered about what could happen to himself.  He spoke of  how hard it was to see his Dad die and how Heart Disease had an impact on his family.  Spoke of how scar and shocking it was.  His father was an instructor at a college here in this city and it happened at his school.  They called an ambulance and he was shocked numerous times but sadly he never made it.  We also spoke about my recovery, my current lifestyle and yes a little about my own heart attack. He said it was nice to see someone his age share their experience and be able to relate.  We spoke easily for 20 minutes.  I don’t know what he took from our talk but for me it made an impact and I thought a lot about how we all have a story and sometimes it takes hearing someone else’s to share ours.

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There was a woman who approached me for more detail about my heart attack ( I did only have 2-3 minutes.)  After telling her a little more she then asked how people around me reacted or treated me after my heart attack.  It was a subject that truthfully I really tried to put in the back of my head because there are so many good and not so good ways people treated me after.  I don’t talk much about the not so good because I know most people were well meaning and I did not always share what I needed form them.  The honesty of the subject felt great to talk about.  But that is for another post.

 Back to her.  She wanted to know how to react or be around her sister.  Her natural instinct was to be protective and worried, putting her sister in a bubble, her sister was not receptive.  This, I could relate to 100 %.  I listened and then we spoke about just allowing a person to be who they are even if they themselves don’t always know “ who they are”.   Sometimes those who are recovering just want to be accepted and treated like they aren’t damaged is what I told her.  I did re iterate that many also want to be coddled and felt sorry for.  Her sister was not to be felt sorry for based on what she told me.   This conversation had more detail than a blog post will allow but listening to her ask how to be there showed me that although concerned, that she really wanted to find the best way to support her sister. 

Other people came up and said thank you and that my story was inspiring to them.  Some just simply wanted to know how I am doing a year later and some asked me what scared me now.  Although I got an opportunity to speak, those stories showed me that what I was doing was right.

My story may not be glamorous and unimportant to some but for a few, it does mean something.  That makes this worth it.

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Mini

HAPPY 37 TH BIRTHDAY TO ME !

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August 19, 2014 I celebrated my 37th Birthday. It was an amazing time shared with some friends.  It is also the first birthday I have actually celebrated in 7 years.

I could share many reasons why I haven’t celebrated but let’s focus this year on why I did.

August 19, 2013.  8 days post heart attack.  I had been released from the hospital the day before.  Happy Birthday to me right ?  I lived, so umm maybe I should be doing something because I almost did not make it to my 37th.  Sadly, no.  You see, my Heart Attack was still a secret to most people.  Very few people knew at this point what happened and if you look back to my posts in February you will see that is when I came out and told the world.

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Friends did the usual Facebook “Happy Birthday”, I got some texts and phone calls.  I had people invite me out for a drink.  I replied to a few people, half heartedly, I declined the invites because I did not want anyone to know what was going on.  It was so hard not to tell people what I was feeling and thinking.  Part of me wanted to celebrate my life but I knew my reality that day.

I slept a lot as I was still battling fatigue.  I walked my 20 minutes as instructed.  I read a little and basically stayed in my protective cocoon.  It kinda sucked really.

Truth.  I felt very alone.  I felt like I may have not even been worth people’s time even if I was healthy that day.  It was like I was in a dark room with one light shining down, four walls with no escape.  I was trapped in my own loneliness.  The only escape was the hard way out and that would have meant telling people why I was staying home and not returning their phone calls.  I couldn’t.  I did not understand a lot of what happened and I was still trying to make sense of it all.

Please don’t get me wrong here, I was thankful I was alive but the reality that I may have never seen another birthday was quite striking and the fact that the Heart Attack happened so close to my birthday only made it worse.

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In 12 months, I realized that I really am not alone, that I am worth celebrating.  Life in itself is worth celebrating.  It doesn’t matter how crappy other birthdays were or how others made past birthdays miserable.  What does matter is that even if we don’t have an elaborate birthday party, that we take the time to celebrate the past year and the year of life that we will now enter in hopes that we make it to the next one and many more after that.

August 19, 2014.  I celebrated with friends, had a few wobbly pops ( yes, 3 is the # I remember putting me into umm “tipsy mode.”  I did a failed muff dive shot, I laughed, I goofed around, I had fun.  It was nice to hear Happy Birthday sang out of tune from my friends.  It was fun having a wide mix of friends sharing their stories about the silly and crazy things I have done.  It seems everyone had a great “ Mini” story.  Each of those stories no matter how embarrassing made people laugh, made me laugh and that my friends is exactly what I needed last night.

If you wish to view the failed Muff Dive Video, it is on my They Call Me Mini Face book page. They Call Me Mini

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Thank you to everyone who came out and making my night fun and a little crazy.  I am looking forward to next year.  I only get better with age from here.

Mini.

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