Life

Alignment

I don’t know whether it is age, a result of experiencing major losses, or a combination of both, but over the last couple of years  (and especially this last few months) I have gotten really clear about my core values. I definitely feel this is something that evolves and changes as our lives do, and if we don’t continue to ‘do the work’ to be clear and grounded about what is most important to us and why… things get out of alignment, dissonance occurs, decisions get difficult, and we make choices that don’t feel good.

I have never been much of a dabbler. When I get ‘into’ something, I go all in. There are both positive and negative aspects of this characteristic. On the positive side, it typically yields pretty impressive results over a fairly short period of time. On the negative side, I tend to let every other aspect of my life slide while I am deep diving into whatever has my heart and mind’s attention. Like anything, there is a cost associated with the results. It stands to reason that if I am going to go all in on something, it needs to be aligned with my core values. And if my core values are being sacrified by ‘going all in’ then I need to pump the brakes and find a way to pursue ‘the thing’ without being consumed by it.

This has been an evolution, and possibly a maturation on my part. Going down the rabbit hole is fun. It is a dopamine fest! And the results are like confetti that amplifies the entire experience and keeps you grinding for that buzz. But when the results of the thing are consuming more energy and focus than the thing itself, the party can go sideways, and it can lead to some pretty big costs in other life areas. Ignoring your relationships, your health, your outside obligations- in the name of ‘following your bliss’ or ‘chasing your dream’ or ‘pursuing your passion’, doesn’t make it any less destructive. And when the day comes that you need to come out of the rabbit hole for air, you may find yourself broke, unhealthy, and alone. It might sound dramatic but I see it happen all around me, and I’ve had enough of my own ‘down the rabbit hole’ experiences to know how easy it is to justify the behavior.

So what does this have to do with core values? Good question, thanks for asking.

When you get super clear about your core values, making decisions gets to be very simple. You don’t get sucked in to the hype or the buzz or the latest ‘thing’. You learn to temper your passion with the reality of the scope of your life. You can easily say ‘no thanks’ to opportunities that don’t align (even when they appeal soooo much to your inner dopamine addict). You don’t ‘fall off the wagon’ because you aren’t on one. You are simply making choices that reflect your core values. It gets really, really simple. You will do less and feel more satisfied. You will sleep better (bye guilt). You will consume less (because you are no longer trying to fill a void). You will stop over commuting and over scheduling and trying to do ‘all the things’. FOMO is NOMO.

So how do you get this clarity? You need to spend time thinking about what is truly important. When everything else is stripped away what is left? What matters to you? What are the things that you will care about at the end of your life? What allows you to truly enjoy your life? What are your non-negotiables?

For me, my top 3 core values are:

  1. My Health
  2. My Family/ Relationships
  3. My Work

When I make my to do list, this is how I prioritize. When I am presented with an opportunity, this is what I measure against to decide if it is a fit. When I have a decision to make, this is what I consider first. This goes for everything from what I do with my time to what I put into my body, to what I pursue for work. I can tell you that I have said no a lot this year. I am doing less than I have in the past, but I feel much more at peace and internally satisfied. My world may not always feel perfectly balanced, but it feels aligned. Which to me, is even better.

 

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Uncategorized

Training/ Life Update

I feel like I went deep on my last posts. I needed to get that story and the resolution out of me. But to be completely honest I do not enjoy revisiting that time of my life. These days I find myself thinking about the me of a year ago, when I am out running. I am sending her love, and encouragement, and hope. Telling her to trust the process, that one day soon the feeling of joy in her heart, the sound of her strong steady breath in her ears, and the lightness of her feet on the ground…will once again be the norm.

This past weekend I managed to do my longest run in this training cycle. It wasn’t easy after a month of almost exclusive treadmill running, but I felt surprisingly good and strong. I picked some really long hills, and quite a few of them. I didn’t take any walk breaks on those hills and I can’t remember a time I felt that strong. It has been a while.

I’ve had a few months of good quality, consistent base training. I’ve been sticking with 3 runs a week, 3 bikes a week and 3 strength sessions a week. I’ve been upping my volume gradually but so far I feel really good. This coming weekend is a big 28km and then I scale back for a while as we are going to Mexico for spring break.

Yesterday I completed the first course in my Plant Based Nutrition Certification. I am LOVING being immersed in the course material. I know for certain it was the right decision because I get so much energy from learning, discussing and thinking about this field. The course material is intense and the time line is aggressive for me so it has been a wee bit stressful to get everything in, but I know I can handle it and I feel like I am putting a lot of the “Atomic Habits” work into play. It has really paid off and I feel really really good about what I am accomplishing right now.

I also finally started meditating every single morning. I do it as soon as I wake up. I am happy to say that I have created this habit and although I can’t say for sure what the benefits are I know they are occurring. I do feel more focused these days and I have found it easy to stick within my self imposed social media limits.

Overall things are great. I appreciate these times in my life so much. I know they don’t last forever so I am going to enjoy and take full advantage of all the productivity and flow while it lasts!

Life, Pulmonary Embolism

The Rising

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It turns out that no matter what age I am, sometimes I just need my mom. Once I was able to truly rest for a couple of weeks I started to feel pieces of myself returning. And with it a need to begin moving. I had spent weeks imagining never being able to run again, or climb mountains with my kid, or be the active person I had been most of my life. I had heard from others that 6 months to a year was a reasonable timeline to return to training. Most of this was unimaginable to me, but I knew that regardless of what I couldn’t do, I needed to start doing something. So I got on the treadmill. I walked slowly. SO slowly. It was hard to breath. My legs were heavy and weak from laying around for so long. It took me 20 mins to walk a mile and I felt like I had climbed everest. But it was the best I had felt in weeks.

So I started walking every day. Just one mile. I always needed a nap later in the day to recover but that time moving my body was the best I felt during the day. As my energy increased so did my time walking. I went from 20 mins to 30, 40 and eventually an hour. I was still going slow but feeling stronger with each passing day. I also ordered a juicer and started making green juice every day. It felt like it was going straight to my cells and helping my body to recover.

A month later my mom was still with us, but I was able to do more and more without needing as many rest breaks. Eventually it was time for her to go home. She literally saved me and I will never forget it.

Through all the testing I had done I found out I had a genetic factor that could lead to blood clots:Factor V Leiden Heterozygous ( meaning it came from only one parent). This news meant I should be on anticoagulant therapy all my life. But this wasn’t a viable option to me. The medication made me dizzy, brain foggy, and it caused horrific menstruation that led to severe anemia. Thankfully I had a very progressive Hematologist to took my whole life into consideration and agreed that after 3 months I could discontinue the medication- with several preventative measures in place that I have to keep at the top of my mind daily.

I was able to get on with my life. I gradually started running again, first in 10 second intervals and eventually over several months building to 10km, 20km and then 30km in August when I was able to run the Moose Mountain Race. This symbolized so much to me. Moose Mountain was the place I went after my dad died. I returned months later to leave some of his ashes at the top. And this race was my way of symbolically releasing him and knowing we were both ok.

The part about this whole process that feels like a miracle isn’t that I didn’t die. It’s that being so close to death flipped a switch inside me. The grief that had settled inside me so heavy and deep was just… gone. It really was. I still felt sadness about my dad and Harley passing. I still missed them both. I still cried. But it was like the weight of it all that was pulling me down into deep depression had just lifted. This, for me, was the gift in it all. God works in ways that don’t always make sense at the time but now that I can look back, a year later, I know this experience saved my life.

 

 

Life, Pulmonary Embolism

The Bottom

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I wish that the call to 911 was the end of the story, where they tell me whats wrong, I get treatment and we all move on in life. Unfortunately it took another 4 days, 3 different emergency rooms, about 27 hours of wait time, multiple procedures and 3 incorrect diagnoses before I actually got the news. ‘You have two clots in your left lung’.

While I knew they were testing me to rule out Pulmonary Embolism, I really didn’t think that was what was going on. In my years of Nursing education I only knew one outcome of PE- death. And obviously I wasn’t dead. But once I had this diagnosis the questions started flowing- what caused it? I didn’t seem to have any of the obvious risk factors- obesity, sedentary, high blood pressure, taking hormonal birth control- they couldn’t even find signs of a previous DVT so they started looking for cancer. Yes. Cancer can lead to clots so that was the next place to investigate. I had been in that hospital ER area for almost 12 hours. I was alone, hungry, exhausted, scared. And now they were sending me for ultrasounds to look for signs of cancer in my abdomen and reproductive organs. I wondered what it would feel like to receive a diagnosis that was worse than the one I thought was worst case scenario. Its crazy how quickly I went from praying I didn’t have blood clots to praying that is all I had. As much as I was alone there, I felt my dad with me SO strongly. And I felt like he would take care of me, regardless of what the outcome was.

A few hours later the scans came back clear. I was sent home with anticoagulant medication, a sense of gratitude for what was, and no clear understanding of why this had happened. I also had no idea what was ahead for me.

The following week I hit the lowest point of my life. My body was completely depleted and I spent most of my time in bed. I felt so weak, and I remember laying there with the sudden feeling that this was going to be the end of me. I texted my husband and told him, ‘I feel like I am dying’. It wasn’t an exaggeration, I truly felt my body letting go. He came home and took me back to urgent care. They checked my heart, which didn’t seem to be under duress and after a few hours sent me back home. As the days went on I was able to get up out of bed, but still had no energy and to stop to rest on my way up the stairs. I felt useless, it took me hours to prepare dinner because I had to sit down every few minutes, I felt like I was unable to take care of my family or do much of anything. In addition to not being able to breath well I was very light headed and had massive brain fog. I couldn’t seem to think or process or remember anything. It was horrible.

I had medical appointments multiple times a week and had no choice but to bring my son with me. Thankfully he was an angel through all of this and actually gave me such a sense of purpose and need to get better that without him I probably would have just given in to the pull that was dragging me away from this life.

At the time my mom was still in Mexico where she spends her winters. She kept asking if she should come home and I kept saying no. But the day I had to go out for groceries and then needed to lay down for 20 mins before I brought them in the house I knew I needed help. My husband had been taking time off to be home when he could and help with my son but he was out of days off. I called my mom and asked her to come home. This turned out to be the best thing my stubborn self did.

Once my mom was with us I could truly rest. She took care of everyone and everything. I was still going to multiple medical appointments and I no longer had to drag my son along. She did laundry, cleaned, took care of my son, cooked for us and gave me the peace of mind I needed to just recover.

To be continued…

 

 

Life, Pulmonary Embolism

The Fall

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One year ago at this time I was sicker than I have ever been. I had horrible pain in my lungs, a violent cough that even codeine syrup couldn’t touch, and I was filled with a sadness so heavy, I could barely get through the day.

In September of 2017 my dad died suddenly. I had seen him a day prior, hugged and kissed him, said thank you for everything, I love you, and watched him wave at us through the window as we pulled out of the yard. That was it. Twenty four hours later my dad was gone from this earth, and I my life was forever different.

Grief is all consuming when it is fresh. The sadness is oppressive, unrelenting and exhausting. I tried to distract myself by burying myself in work. I drank more than I should have. I cried every day. Some days I could barely function. I felt guilty for being so unavailable to my husband and my kid. As the months went on the depression set up camp and made itself at home in my heart.

Our 12 year old fur kid, Harley was going through health challenges through this time. We almost lost him more than once but I begged him to hold on. I didn’t think I could handle another loss. We made it through a sad Christmas and into the New Year. I was living in a fog and poor Harley was suffering with uncontrollable diarrhea. We spent thousands on vets without much clarity as to what was going on and no help for his suffering. Every time he ate he got very sick so I would restrict his food. But the poor guy was starving. He got weak, depressed and we knew from some imaging that something was growing on his spleen. The week before we said good bye to him he had blood spraying from his anus, multiple bouts of uncontrolled diarrhea on the floor (which he hated as much as us) and he wouldn’t even get up off his bed. We made the impossible decision to release him from his suffering. It was unbearable. Our family was heart broken and I remember being so sick but not even aware of how sick I was because I was just overcome with sadness. I remember the day after we said goodbye to Harley I told my husband ‘I feel like I am going to be sad forever’. I truly did. I couldn’t remember what it felt like not to be saddled with the weight of grief. And I was losing hope that I would ever feel joy again.

That same day I took myself to the doctor. I was pretty sure I had pneumonia and I knew I needed to get some help. When I went for an xray I had a coughing fit that wouldn’t relent. I thought I was going to pass out in the office. Armed with a tentative diagnosis, some antibiotics and codeine syrup I took myself home and went to bed.

Unfortunately two days later I was even sicker. Obviously the meds weren’t working but I was reluctant to go back to the doctor. Then that afternoon I was sitting on the couch with my son doing a craft and I got a sharp, severe pain in my lung. I thought that all the coughing had caused a small pneumothorax (collapse of the lung) and I knew it was time to go back to the doctor. My husband was at work and I knew he was in an appointment so I decided I should get dressed and be ready to go in when he got home. I walked upstairs and realized something was really wrong. I felt like I couldn’t breath and was suddenly aware that if I passed out my 5 year old would watch his mom die in front of him. So  I did something completely out of character for me, a former nurse. I called 911 and asked for help.

(to be continued)

Life, What I feed my kid

Ryder’s Blog Post

Peace is the most important.

Cuteness is better than death.

Eat more vegetables.

You should help animals. You can help animals by stopping eating meat.

I’m going to give you some tips for stopping doing that: you could eat more carrots or vegetables and fruits. Less sugar and more vegetables.

You should start going into a business to help others.

That’s all I am saying.

(Ryder, my 6 year old son, really wanted to help me blog today. This is verbatim what he spoke. I feel like it is perfect.)

 

 

 

Life

Healing vs Integration

Last year I read a few good books about grief. I can’t remember which one pointed out the distinction between healing and integration but it was a game changer for me.

I thought I had to heal from the loss I felt. And healing to me felt like rectifying or resolving something that was broken. Which I couldn’t wrap my head around. I knew that the parts of me that were broken by loss were not meant to be mended.

The word integration works well for me. It feels like allowing vs resisting. I can still be whole with broken parts. The person I am now is different from the one I was ‘before’. And there is no way to be her ever again. Grief is a part of me now. I will never stop grieving my dad. There is a part of me gone and that is not something I will get back. Nor do I need to fight against that reality. It is an inevitable part of human evolution. If you love, you will lose and you will grieve. Love doesn’t go away over time and neither does grief. It is the price we pay for love. The changes are permanent and it is the integration and acceptance of those changes that allows you to move forward.

As dark as this may seem, I can tell you that grief doesn’t come without its own gifts. I am more compassionate. Softer. Less reckless with my words and more intentional with my time. I understand the impermanence of everything- the good, the bad, the pergatory. None of it lasts. So when things are great, enjoy them. When things suck, hang on it will get better. And when you are in the shitty zone of moving between the two trust that it won’t last forever.