Wednesday, June 3, 2020
Monday, May 18, 2020
In twenty years or so I hope I have a conversation with my grandkids about "What did you do during the Plague of '20?"
What did I do?
I missed my kids, I missed my friends, played with my plants, tried lots of new recipes and walked a lot. I also discovered the goodness of people all over again. We were able to cook for friends and clients which in turn gave us an opportunity to pay some bills. Our little business didn't qualify for loans or assistance but once again we were shown there is always a way. Follow the Light!!
The news gets better because even in a pandemic fun things can occur. I rarely come across things I love so much I have to recommend them but in the last week I came across THREE! Three things I have to tell you about.
The first one was an answer to, well maybe not a prayer but definitely an answer to some really painful feet which was making my job even harder. Last weekend I delivered food to a fabulous friend of mine. As we were talking she noticed I was standing on one foot then the other so of course I suffer by committee so I loudly mentioned, my feet are killing me! She then showed me her shoes and said I had to get some as they were the most comfortable ones she had ever had. I told her I would try (right...) Well she and another friend buddied up and surprised me with a pair! They are amazingly comfortable and podiatrist approved. With the best name ever! OOFOS! Aptly named a recovery shoe I have such a crush on these shoes!I am not in any way being compensated for this glowing review, but I will be compensated if you get some and enjoy them as much as I have. I was running out of options for how badly my feet hurt. I am so glad I didn't keep my foot discomfort to myself that day! Love my friends!!
Wednesday, November 20, 2019
Today is holy day for me.
Rebirth is far too heavy a word for it so I have settled on holy. This day three years ago I was close to death, in fact most people with an aortic dissection do die - about 80%. But for whatever reason, I didn’t.Each near death experience is different and not all include white light, encompassing love and seeing your whole life flash before you. Mine was clinical and then mysterious.
The entire first year after my “event” was a fog. I spent it trying to get better which simply did not occur on my time table. I believed each doctor when they said I would be better in about 6 weeks. What garbage that was. Open heart surgery is as intrusive an operation as one can have. Your arms are tied back (no one told me this and I wondered for weeks why my shoulders and arms were so sore) for the duration of the surgery, your chest in hacked open in a way only Genghis Khan could appreciate and every tube in the hospital is inserted into each orifice you have not to mention the 10 or 15 they invent. Then after the surgery you are tasked with the new job of surviving - evidently the first 24 hours being the most crucial (I always thought every 24 hours in our lives are crucial) followed by a long, in my case, very long journey of healing. When I woke up from my surgery the first thing I did was look down my hospital gown at a nasty incision. I thought I looked like an autopsy. Then I looked around at the faces of my worried family and immediately realized what must have occurred. I had uncharacteristically terrified my family. That feeling of guilt stayed with me for a long time. But I did what I always do when I don’t like what is in front of me - I put it behind me. I ignore it. I have done this my whole life.
When my mother left I cried and then put it on a shelf.
When my mother died I cried and then put it on a shelf.
When I found out I was adopted, when I moved from Texas, when I had a miscarriage, and then another, when my children left on missions, college and marriage and even when my parents died. I bottled up each difficult episode and shelved it until the shelf became too full. I learned some valuable tools for dealing with my shelving problem years before my aortic event but this was too big to deal with at once. So I shelved it. No matter how well Valerie had taught me, I reverted. That first year was learning to live with pushing myself to do anything. The medicine I take makes me so tired as it is designed to slow me down and boy does it. My resting heart rate can go as low as 45. My surgeon told me he wants my heart to beat as seldom as possible right before he said it could happen again.
I went from not being able to walk to the kitchen to walking to the end of the street as my family and friends encouraged me. Now I walk 3 miles without thinking about it but in the beginning I had to push, prod and plead with myself to do it. I don’t like to push myself and usually stop at the first sign of discomfort, but I kept at it and saw progress.
That whole first year was cathartic - I admit that now. My beliefs were all tied up, my emotions were a mess and I lived with constant guilt that I lived when so many others died. I am better now....not where I want to be, but certainly better. Since my dissection we have squared away our loan modification which kept us in flux (and terror of losing our home) for 5 years, we have a wonderful new daughter-in-law and three grandchildren. Our business continues to pay the bills and Raymond’s health is on track.
We truly have a new lease on life....but it is just a lease and we both know that.
The best part of my dissection is how my faith has changed. And my faith can be interpreted into anyone’s belief system. I am learning to put away the heavy hammers of obedience and replace them with the simple love of Christ. I find the love from Christ, but you can call it anything you want to. I not only offer that love to myself but to those around me as I try and see people as God does. He loves us despite our shortcomings. He loves broken things.
Not long ago I relived a day from my early childhood when I didn’t have religion in my life at all, but I wanted to pray, I wanted to be with God. So He came and walked with me, I remember, as a 6 year old I believed in God with all my heart because somehow I knew Him and knew He was with me. My parents were coming and going, homes were here, there and everywhere but God was always with me. It was a simple faith, a child’s faith. I believed in Him and I knew He loved me and I didn’t have to do anything to deserve that love. Since my surgery I have slowly gone back to that kind of faith. He knows my heart...a heart that was almost broken because of a faulty artery. It’s funny isn’t it? My heart is fine...but what kept it alive was broken. A perfect metaphor for life....you are perfect, but the things that feed you might not be. So surround yourself with good people, good food, go outside and enjoy the rain, or the sunshine....read good books, speak with God....wait for His counsel and follow it. Love...let everything you write, think and say be based in love, think of it as the food you give your heart.
Friday, October 18, 2019
I am going to enjoy my life today....not when something changes, but today. I am going to enjoy my life right where I am, not where I can be or ought to be...but where I am...with what I have, who I know and who I am. I am going to love people and cherish their stories. I will learn what I can and teach what I may and I will forgive as quickly as my fallen heart will let me - 70 times 7. Please let me remember the Savior of my childhood, a being of light and love, acceptance and kindness....a being that softened my heart and healed my little girl soul when chaos swirled around me. But more than anything I am going to be grateful...grateful for life and for those who choose to walk this life with me.
Monday, September 2, 2019
Thursday, July 25, 2019
This week we have been in Dallas with our daughter. She had some very extensive back surgery. I am happy to say she is doing well and it is for several reasons. One, she is in an amazing hospital with the best doctor for her back issue in the country, and two, she is in great physical shape. 5 years ago she had a discectomy (gymnastic pounding and then simple wear and tear left her with real problems) then last year the discectomy failed and she was left with bone on bone in her back and a lot of pain...constant pain. So she went in search of a cure but she had decided against any kind of surgery...no, never...nope, no surgery. EVER!!
Then as we were crowded around the TV watching the Masters this last April the announcer mentioned Tiger Wood’s back. His injury was exactly like Ashleigh’s. Same place, same problems, same pain....immediately she started researching and by Friday morning of that week she had found all the information on his surgery and his doctor. By Friday afternoon she had sent all her x-rays and history to the doctor to find out if she was a candidate. By Monday the doctor determined she was a very good candidate. Things going fast? A little too fast because she was determined to never have surgery again. But then, the pain that was always there got worse and after several consultations she decided to go ahead with it.
The surgery and everything connected with it was a success. From the front office to the nursing staff things ran like clockwork. Everyone involved kept remarking on her quick recovery...over and over they said it was because she was in great physical shape. For the last year even though she was in terrible pain she never stopped eating well and using her Peloton.
Once again life comes down to being proactive and not reactive.
Two of my friends had some serious falls in the recent past. One tripped over a hose while she was pumping gas, the other slipped and fell at work, both told me they werent doing anything out of the ordinary but from the resulting injuries both needed shoulder surgery. Simple falls that have turned into a year long recovery. I am not saying we can prevent every injury in life, accidents occur, but we can be in better shape to mitigate such a long, long recovery. A simple fact is more muscle around our bones and then just stronger bones helps us recover faster and get injured less.
Muscle buildup and stronger bones comes from exercise...weight training is the best thing you can do to build up your muscles and bones that will help prevent an injury. There is a test called a DEXA scan that I highly recommend. The technical definition is “Two x-ray beams with different energy levels, are aimed at the patients bones. When soft tissue absorption is subtracted out, the bone mineral density can be determined from the absorption of each beam by bone.” Or in Donna terms you can find out your bone density, muscle mass and total body fat. We all need to know those numbers to be able to prepare for better futures. The owner of my gym, Gene Carrillo, is offering a free DEXA scan test to anyone who calls and mentions my little blog and takes a tour of the facilities. What a great way to bribe my friends to come in and see all the fun stuff and get a painless test for free? Call Paula at 702-750-9420 then mention my name and get this great test so that you will have more information about your body that can help you have a better future.
Thursday, July 11, 2019
Until they don't.
Then I don't know quite what to do. I know things don't always work out the way I plan, but I still take it as a personal affront when they don't.
While in the course of living my life I have discovered frogs stay frogs, the end of the rainbow is often just the end of the rainbow and a handsome prince comes with a mortgage, diapers and occasional mayhem.
Again, not what I thought. My Great Expectations have always been just a tad (or a mile) above what actually occurs. Which leaves me breathlessly critiquing everything I do using my third grade teachers BIG red pencil to correct mistakes so everyone knows I fell short.
My life is covered with big red pencil marks....self inflicted.....for all the world to see.
So is anyone surprised that after almost a year of working out with weights, straps, machines, wall balls, slam balls, pushing boxes across the floor, holding a plank and slamming heavy ropes I am DISAPPOINTED that my weight loss can be measured with a teaspoon?
And this is where it gets dicey. I am so much stronger, my lab numbers are good, my knee doesn't hurt, in fact nothing hurts. When I get up from a chair I spring up from the chair. But my weight hasn't budged. Not being a science denier I know the formula, less calories in more calories out equals weight loss. I do a lot of calories out...but I also do a lot of calories in. That's right, I eat too much and with medication that slows me down to sloth pace, being older and surrounded by food all the time are reasons why it has been so hard.
I felt like I failed....
But did I?
I have stuck with an exercise program for almost a year and experienced leg strength to a point my knee no longer hurts. I can pick up heavy trays, crates and boxes I couldn't even budge a year after my surgery. When I started exercising my core was non existent. I could only do a few setups and now I can do 60 without thinking about it. I can hold a plank over a minute 3 times in a row and literally pop up from a chair due to never-ending squats from a box holding weights. Open heart surgery is a way bigger deal than I thought, and getting my strength back has been hard. When I first got home from the hospital just walking to the kitchen was the impossible dream. Today I am SO MUCH BETTER!! But I am not thin, I'm not even much thinner, and I expected to be thinner and that seems to be my only benchmark. I guess for all my bravado being thin was what I really wanted, not just being healthy and strong. My expectations certainly ruled the day. Although I did want to be stronger and more fit, I really wanted to LOOK stronger and more fit. The problem with expectations is they tend to be a bit disingenuous. We expect things from a vacation, a marriage, children, friends, or a workout plan that often cannot realistically be delivered. But what we are given in our journey is often much better than what OUR plan was. The last year has been filled with personal accomplishments I thought were behind me. Yet I proved to myself I can still do tough physical things. I can lift heavy weights, I can do squats and push ups and pull ups and and I can work out around people half my age and call it good. And if I can do this I can other things I want to do. It is not too late! I love my trainers and friends at Xuberance who never stop trying to help me and have made sure I am safe every time I work out. I can push myself to the edge of the cliff because I know they will catch me.
So I am taking this template to everything in my life. What else have I applied an expectation to and then didn't appreciate where the road led me instead? Have I been grateful for my life even though it doesn't include the retirement plan I wanted? Open heart surgery is a pretty big bump in the road, but have I appreciated the fact I survived? And all the experiences connected to that survival? Financial ruin is horrible but do I remember the miracles we have experienced while climbing out of that abyss? Yes difficult things have occurred in my life but tremendous things have won the day each time.
I believe this is the same for everyone. Each person I know has a story to tell that will inspire and motivate. And I am talking to you....you are an inspiration. Start writing your story and see if I am not right. And while you are writing find the good in every bad thing that has happened to you. See if it doesn't turn your thinking around, if not your life. I love this quote about ships not being made for the Harbor
You aren't made for the Harbor either....get out there on the open sea and find out what you are made of!!
Monday, May 20, 2019
That is until now.
Saturday, May 18, 2019
That is until now.
Wednesday, April 17, 2019
This morning I showed up promptly at 7:50 for my 8am stress test the cardiologist insists I need along with an ultrasound tomorrow.
However this test will be better because I don't have to go into the cylinder like last year and when they shot me up with something that would have been banned at Woodstock. All to make my heart race...
This time I was taking my act to the bike and I was confident and caffeine free! I didn't drink any diet coke or take an excedrin. I was ready....
I took my medications which includes a pill I cannot pronounce to slow my heart rate. I was not supposed to and when they asked if I read the papers they gave me, I had to say....Papers? Nope.
I heard no caffeine and filed everything else away. I mean no caffeine for 24 hours...what would you hear after that?
Regroup and reschedule....sigh, so dumb not to read the instructions, but whatever.
Off to the gym, but on the way I took time to think about my last 8 months and the journey it has been.Whenever I spend time in the cardiologist's office I go into a mental tailspin. There are people from every walk of life sitting in the waiting room with me. Some very, very ill, some on walkers, some on oxygen, some so overweight they can hardly move, some so thin they look like they will break in two...and some that look perfectly normal just like me that have scars only they know about. We are all equal there, none of our equality the same...but equal.
I drove to the gym without the radio...just alone with my thoughts on the journey and I went in to the gym happy because every person there cares about me. They are all invested in my success. They know how hard my road has been because they have my medical records! They see me 3 times a week trying so hard to lift that kettle bell, bang those heavy ropes and sprint on the elliptical. There have been times I really didn't want to go, times that one last circuit was just too much. I have done so many squats, so many sit ups, planks and leg lifts. But getting up from a chair is easier and not being able to made me feel so old. I can lift things, I can lift really heavy things.
I am doing things I thought I would never do again.
I do admit I have called my trainers Caligula
|I am the biggest complainer....|
And I often I feel like Sisyphus. But I am better than I was 8 months ago
This is Joanne one of my workout buddies....not only is she doing a minute plank, but she has a huge weight on her back. Her core is going to be made of stone!! I waited until she did it again and took her picture because she has to keep this near her always as a reminder of how amazing she is.
There are tons of success stories at the gym. My friend Brian is sticking his finger in the eye of age and has recorded 18% body fat. 18%! When he left the gym the other day he went straight to hockey. He can do that because he works out. There is my friend Crystal who is on her feet 10 hours a day, she works out so she can work. When I first started working out my core was nonexistent because of my surgery....today my posture is so much better, my endurance is better, and I know I'm not as worried about getting older. My blood pressure goes from 144/83 before I work out to 119/77 after I work out. (For me lower blood pressure is key -high blood pressure will cause big problems with my aorta.) A combination of lifting weights and cardio is the key....and your life will be so much better!
Then there is Gene Carrejo the owner of the gym...He is a happy, effervescent man in his 60's who is there every day. He doesn't ask anything of us that he doesn't do himself so he works out right along side us, sweating and hoping to make it through the circuit. Our trainers, Caligula (Sarah, Anthony and Joshua) treat him and his lovely wife Lisa, just like us.😓 I asked him today to share his fitness journey. And what a star - he sent it right over!
We have been in business close to 18 months in the beautiful city of Las Vegas. Xuberance has evolved into a home for people who are looking into establishing longevity and vitality to their lives as they move forward in this hectic world we exist in. Lisa and I are not only invested in the financial and operation aspect of our business, but are totally involved in the actual process of adding vitality and longevity to our personal wellbeing. My journey to anti-aging began after the holidays in 2018, I have been very diligent in following the fitness protocol that Sarah and her team have built for me and thoroughly enjoy the creativity and thought that goes into my MWF workouts. Once I established a baseline through the formal evaluation process and realized I had plenty of room for improvement, I made a personal commitment for fitness. The sense of accomplishment in the gym is very important but if you are not entrenched in the rest of the process the results you are looking for will not materialize. (He is so right, food is my nemesis)
Our doctor suggested hormone balancing to help with metabolism enhancement and energy along with mental focus. Jeremy (the nutritionist) and I have regular dialogue on what I should be eating also he adds a very creative twist that doesn't not become tedious. I am a sugarholic and have substituted fruit as my sugar fix. I have watched my cravings go away as I watch my energy improve. Simple fixes and a commitment to listen and implement are the keys to success.
I started the process at 209 lbs with a 28% body fat ratio, I am now 178 lbs and 20% body fat ration and I added 6 lbs. of muscle. It definitely works and the bottom line for success is a personal commitment. We need that same thing from our clients which gives us the opportunity to guide and counsel them through the process.
I'm proud of what we are accomplishing and our clients are reaping the rewards with our recovery methods. Yes, massage and ozone therapy are also part of the process!
Thank you Gene....
This process has been such a blessing to me; hard, hard work but a blessing. With so many people invested in my success I know I will eventually get to all my fitness goals. I have achieved a great many so far, but as they say, "Life isn't a destination, it's a journey!" So Wherever you are on your journey please keep moving and don't stop. For me getting older is a blessing that was almost taken away so I don't mind the aging process at all. I also know for a fact that working out is a price I am willing to pay so I can have a few more birthdays. I can validate every excuse you may have because I have used each one, but working out is better, lifting weights is better......it's a better way to live.
Now get out there and move!!!
Monday, April 15, 2019
We all remember this picture of Tiger and his father who was always by his side, so happy he won the most prestigious golf tournament there is.
Watching Tiger confidently walk the fairways yesterday was inspiring. It made me feel like I could do anything also! He looked like the Tiger of 15 years ago and honestly I felt better just watching him.
And now we have a new picture of a father and son. But this picture, of Tiger and his son, is not just one of redemption, but of grit and determination to come back from an injury that could have ended his ability to ever play again. But he did it. We watched the final round not just to root on Tiger, but to instill hope in our own "injuries". Where do we need to make a comeback? I know all of us have one to hope for. We can indeed make a personal comeback also, regardless what it is.
Sunday, April 7, 2019
One minute my home is bursting from the seams...the next minute I can hear the clock tick. It never fails to make me a little sad when a great event is suddenly over and everyone leaves. I am not complaining because this weekend was so much fun, but when it’s over.....what am I saying? We will just plan another!!
Last weekend started off with a book signing Friday night. And it was gift to me. Joan Snyder, now Joan Moran, was my high school speech teacher, the one teacher who took me seriously. Last year I saw her on facebook and timidly asked if she remembered me. After assuring me she did we had great fun catching up. In January I saw her newest book was about to be published so I mentioned if she was ever in Las Vegas I would love to host a book signing for her. She told me she was coming to town in April to visit family so we quickly arranged a date.
We all had that “one” teacher, didn’t we? The one that changed how we look at ourselves? Mrs. Snyder was that teacher for me, she was the gold standard at our high school where she taught drama and speech. One day she asked me to be in a county wide speech contest and I was thrilled thinking it would be fun but knowing I didn't have a chance. I worked on the speech in front of her, our class and the mirror! I came in third and called it good, but not Mrs Snyder. After the results she flipped her cape around her shoulders and moved with “loud heavy steps” right up to me. I thought her obvious displeasure was because I hadn't placed higher. She looked me straight in the eye and said, "If you were a boy you would have won!" A moment that forever changed me because someone I looked up to so much thought I should have won. Coming in third was the best thing to happen to me because I wouldn’t have learned nearly as much from a first place finish. Now I knew I was a good speaker and boys had an advantage. I have used my speaking ability throughout my life and I never let the boys get in the way!
Raymond did flowers and provided incredible food...it was a perfect evening. (Thank you Ray Ray!)
And little Scout..