Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sometimes It's Quiet Courage

"Courage doesn't always ROAR. 
Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 
I will try again tomorrow."

~Mary Anne Radmacher

Courage comes in all forms - from the mighty lion ROAR, when perhaps we have achieved something or we have done good in a situation.  But, a lot of the time, it comes in the form of a quiet voice, when things just don't go your way and you must summon all your strength to pick yourself up mentally and emotionally and calm yourself so that you can hear that voice in the dark recesses of your mind, a voice that sounds familiar but unrecognizable at first, telling you to just get through this day and you will get to try again tomorrow. A new day to try again.

I would say that since my accident, that roar of courage comes to me more often in the form of that quiet voice when I'm down on my knees mentally from a day (some days literally down on my knees) that just wouldn't let up abusing me physically, mentally, and emotionally. One of those days where it's just one thing after another, beating you down like a hammer to a nail.  Where you feel like you try and try and try and life just blocks your every move.

So far, my 2015 year has had a very rough start and making me nervous that it could be setting the tone for how the rest of the year is going to go. I had probably the worst year last year since the year of my accident. I had seven very hard surgeries last year ALONE, I made an extremely hard decision to have a double mastectomy which, didn't go so well putting me in the hospital for three weeks and enduring four surgeries in a timespan of two weeks as well as dealing with the effects of so much anestesthia is such a short period of time, having my body opened up and cut into, wound vacs attached to my chest which had to be changed every so often and anytime they messed around with the wound vac at the site, it hurt beyond the reach of pain killers. Everything hurt beyond the reach of pain killers so I was put on an extremely strong PCA - fentynol.

That particular experience that I had this summer truly tested my strength and courage. It brought me back to my original experiences in the burn center those first 3.5 months. And what got me through all the physical pain, all the emotional pain, the unknowing, the tears shed when my mother had to leave for the week, the tears of a familiar experience I never wanted to feel again, the stress, the anxiety attack was not a roar-ing kind of courage, but rather a quiet voice at the end of the day and thru every traumatic experience where I had no one to hold me and tell me it was all going to be ok, saying, you have the strength in your heart of a roaring lion.  And though you may not hear it's mighty roar now, the strength of that lion fills your heart, your soul, and you WILL get thru this moment.  You WILL get thru today and try again tomorrow.

So, even though courage may not come to you as a mighty roar after finally breaking a 7.5 minute mile after you blew out your knee and been in physical therapy, or finally asking out that special guy or girl you've haven't been able to stop thinking about but been too afraid to because of your low self-esteem, it may still be there in your heart, quietly cheering you on if you listen deep enough to find it. It's there. It's always there. Listen, and you WILL get thru whatever it is that is bringing you down and trying to tear you apart. Listen, and you will make it to tomorrow and you never know what good may come your way tomorrow making you glad you found and listened to your courage.

Peace and Love

Thursday, January 22, 2015

My First Great Challenge In Truly Living Life Again

I think about this quote a lot because it really is one of the more unique ways of saying, "Live life NOW."  Before my accident, I did pretty well at balancing the act of keeping my past in the past, where it belongs, working hard for my dream career and being the best at it while still all the while, truly enjoying and living in the present. Of course those were the years that I lived in New York City and having dreamt for so long about living my life in New York and chasing after my dream of acting and singing; Being one of the greatest performer to ever hit the silver screen AND Broadway, I was actually finally doing it. I had made the biggest decision in my life - to move to The Big Apple and meet up and live with a friend of mine who was already there. 
I remember clearly the day I decided to really do it, really make the move.  I was working as a personal trainer in Portland, OR and I was on my break. After listening to a voicemail from my good friend that was already living in New York, I called her back. We were going through the very same experience - boy problems. So after listening to what she was going through, I decided to tell her the situation I was in with my cheating, lying, abusive boyfriend. We found comfort in one another, that we weren't going through this awful shit alone. Then suddenly, without really thinking, I told her, I was moving up there with her.  That it was time for me to stop being a victim of this guy and spread my wings, finally break free to be ME and chase after my dream.  After we hung up, both all excited and giddy, I did not think twice about the big decision I just made or doubt myself.  It just felt so right. 
Then came the moment where I would have to tell my parents. And I remember everything about that, too. My mom and dad were in the kitchen cooking dinner.  I had come home for either a weekend or it was a holiday. I knew they were going to have questions and concerns but I just said it, "I'm moving to New York. I'm going to move in with my friend who already has a place in Brooklyn and I'm going to follow my heart and passion. It's time for me to go. Actually, it's past time. I should have done this sooner." And my parents kind of looked at me, blinking their eyes a few times like a cartoon, and could only reply, "we'll talk more about this later." But I didn't feel scared that they might find ways to prevent me from moving all the way across the country only cause they would worry with me being so far away in such a big city on my own. They knew this was my dream and I knew ultimately in the end, they couldn't say or do anything to keep me from going. 
At this moment in my life, I had turned a corner. I was finally stepping away from being with a scumbag guy and was moving MY LIFE forward without thinking once about leaving this guy I really gave my whole heart to for four years. I was doing what was right for my life and nothing else. I was becoming the fiercely independent and strong woman I once was until I met this guy who crushed all that in me. I felt ALIVE!!!  And my God, did it feel incredible; like I had broken free of my chains and nothing was going to stop me now. 
New York was EVERYTHING AND MORE than I ever dreamed or expected. I would go to bed at night, sharing a bed with my dear friend in a cute little apartment in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn, not being able to sleep cause I would be thinking about all that I did and saw that day; and I couldn't fall asleep, even though I tried so hard cause I couldn't wait for what tomorrow would bring. I was just 23 years old, living on my own in the biggest and most beautiful and inspiring city in the U.S., just beginning one of the most exciting times in any young persons life - graduated from college, living on your own, and during a wonderful period in everyone's life, my twenties!  A time when you've really, really struck out in life on your own with being responsible for bills and making a career for yourself, armed with the tools you learned in college. 
I was living life completely.  I was taking chances and being CRAZY, just like the quote above says. I didn't hesitate a heartbeat when making the decision to move to New York, 3,000 miles away from home. Everything that had happened in my past I locked away to stay in my past never to taint my present or future and which also allowed me to live in the here and now completely and focus on creating a future that I had always dreamed of.  I was truly living in the moment of time in which I was the oldest I had ever been while at the same time also knowing it was the youngest I would ever be again. I was living life the way it should be lived. 
And then I came home to Oregon for a little bit of a break just to get away from the hustle and bustle of life in a city like New York and cause I missed home, when tragedy struck my life, at the height of my young life at 26yrs old, nearly killing me, and everything changed for me, my way of life, and the dream I held so close to my heart. 
The way I lived my life when my accident happened changed for the worse because I knew I would never again have the life I was living in New York before the accident. But now, 7yrs later looking back at those beginning years of my life post accident, how I viewed life then was normal. I can't be upset with myself for going backwards a bit. I mean, my life was turned upside down and inside out in just a matter of seconds!  I mourn and grieve still, everyday, even now, for the life I was robbed of and the dream that was my whole world but is now shattered, never to be a possibility in my life again. 
But now, I look at that quote and I see my first great challenge in getting some kind of a life back now - putting my past back in the past where I once held it never allowing it to torture me in my present or future. As well as taking chances, being crazy, accepting my scars as part of me now - my battle wounds that show I survived one of the most terrible ways of being hurt and possibly killed - and not hesitating on taking those chances in my life now. Always easier said than done, but, the art of survival is a story that never ends. 

Peace and Love. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

My Past Will Not Dictate My Future

I have had a rather, shall I say, goolosh, of a past in that there has been a little bit of everything in it. There's been great and wonderful experiences, happy times and fun memories of good things and then there has also been some difficult and hard times and some disparaging events where there seemed like there was no hope mixed with lots of emotional turmoil.  Things weren't always easy for me before the accident. But that doesn't need to dictate how the rest of my life will be.
The night of my accident is a big black space in my mind. I don't remember anything about that night. All I have are second hand accounts from my mother and father. The brain is an incredible organ of our bodies in that in the event of a terrible trauma it can, but not always, protect us by blocking any memories of the trauma often even blocking days, weeks, months before the occurrence of the traumatic event. Such a block of memories of my traumatic experience happened to me, not just for that night but also for about a week before as well. I sometimes wish I knew what happened that night that caused me to be burned so badly but then a bigger part of me is thankful that that was blocked from my memory. Being burned alive is not exactly the type of thing you want to remember. The only problem I have with it is it makes it hard to answer the first question people ask - how did you get burned?
Since that night, my life has become divided into "Before the accident" and "After the accident."  And what I consider, "my past," lies primarily in that, "before the accident" sector of my life even though it has almost been 7 years since that night. Even though a lot of good things took place in my past and I have many good memories from then, I can't help but allow those bad parts of my past dominate and taint everything else. And I think it's because the bad parts of my past were so out of character of who I was. I lost my moral compass for a bit during a couple times in my life before the accident. I'm certainly not proud of my choices during those times when I had a lapse in my character. In fact, it's downright embarrassing. But what I need to learn is those moral lapses in my past DO NOT need to dictate my future. And most of all, though the dreams I had for my future since I was a little girl have basically been crushed and ripped from my hands, never to be a glimmering possibility for me again, doesn't mean that my future cannot be better than I ever imagined it to be when I was dreaming about it prior to the accident. I just need to explore all the avenues available to me and find what ignites that same fire in me that acting/performing does.
And it's not enough to just explore all those avenues available, but I must stay open to the different possibilities for my new future. That, I think is the hard part when you've been so in love with a certain profession just about all your life that that's all you can see that will make you happy and make for the most amazing future. My head, heart and soul must all open themselves to what else is out there that could create a future better than I ever imagined possible after an accident that nearly claimed all possibilities for such a future by taking my life. I still have my life, though the quality has been quite severely lowered, and therefore I still have a future ahead of me that shall not be shaped by any mistakes or bad choices I made in my past. Nor should I let the dark clouds of my accident that shroud my present daily life rob me of dreaming and taking action for a new future that can be better than I ever imagined for myself post accident.

Peace and Love.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year 2015

"If you want the present to be different from
the past, study the past."
~Baruch Spinoza

I begin writing on 2014 New Years Eve, with just 45min to go till midnight when the famous ball drops in NYC, and now our own New Years ball drops in my little hometown on Main Street; when people will gather in Times Square or at a private party and countdown the last ten seconds together before they yell out, "Happy New Year!" And clink their glasses together in a celebrated toast and lastly of the new year traditions, kiss someone, sometimes many someone's, be it a husband or wife, a boyfriend or girlfriend, an on again off again lover, a crush, or your friends. So, as you can guess, if I've just begun writing, I'm not doing any of those things. I'm alone, in bed watching TV, and putting heat on the right side of my neck trying to loosen up the terrible tightness I'm feeling from thick scar tissue and contractures already forming and an icepack laying closeby on my right shoulder. How pathetic. 

This year, 2014, has been a difficult year.  I started off the year with a surgery and I ended the year just a month and a half ago with my 50th surgery. Actually this whole year has been nothing but doctor appointments, a lot of trips to Portland, surgeries and their following recoveries. There really has been little else for me. I had 7 surgeries this year alone. I had my most difficult time this year during the summer over the 4th of July when I went in to have a double mastectomy performed due to complications with my burn and the scarring in my chest. I had to make the most difficult decision with going ahead with the double mastectomy to begin with and then so much went wrong and happened that I ended up having to have 4 surgeries along with several wound vac changes in a matter of two weeks and didn't walk out of the hospital until yet another week later for a total of three unplanned weeks on the hospital. That was a very hard time for me emotionally and physically. I'm still working through in my head all that happened in those 3 weeks and trying to be ok with my breastless body.

And...HAPPY NEW YEAR!!  It is now the year 2015. A new year. And what everyone calls, "a fresh start."  I have always been a resolution maker. And it seems I never truly followed through on any one. I mean really felt with great satisfaction that I...had become regular in my exercise habits (the most popular resolution), was on good healthy eating habits, or had saved money each month without dipping into it and spending it, etc. Many people don't believe in making resolutions cause they just set you up to fail.  I see that, absolutely.  I've done it! for crying out loud. I have failed on so many of my resolutions that I want to be one of those people that doesn't set themselves up for failure with silly resolutions and just aim to be a better me or just have a good year. But, every year I still make those damn resolutions that are always pretty similar to my last years resolutions or exactly the same because I failed in my execution of them in the past year.  However, I'm a kind of person that needs a goal, something to aim for. I told myself maybe halfway through this last year that 2014 was gonna be my year. Even though half the year was over I was gonna get serious and start making some real changes. And I did make some headway in changes to my health. I have so far lost 33lbs and I'm determined to keep that going, only even more aggressive. I may have lost more weight than that in the past couple months but I haven't weighed myself through the holidays so as not to upset myself.  But I digress a bit.  As the kind of person who needs a goal set in my mind to aim for, I will, once again, make a couple resolutions. But this year, my resolutions will be fewer, more thought out in terms of what is really most important to my well-being emotionally and physically. They will be achievable yet challenging.

I thought the quote I put at the beginning of this post was perfect for looking at what my resolutions will be and how to make this 2015 year a really good, no, GREAT and different year for me.  I really want to have a great year. I haven't had a good year since my accident almost 7yrs ago. It's time for  some change. Achievable yet challenging.

Looking back on my past, I have very often gotten really down on myself and how my life is going.  Because of everything the accident took from me and how I'm reminded of it all with anything I do, it's all too easy for me to slip into this kind of black hole that swallows me up and I have no energy or motivation to do even the smallest things like take a shower or walk to the dinner table to eat. Even eating has no appeal to me. So when I can't even do or take interest in such basic things, just the
thought of going to a friend's house, or out doing errands like grocery shopping, and even getting on my computer to write, check emails or see what's going on with everyone on facebook is so incredibly daunting that I just stay curled up in bed or in my chair sleeping or mindlessly watching TV. Eventually, the blackness that had surrounded me for so long will begin to lift and little streams of light will again fuel my body and mind. Things that once seemed so futile or that I had no interest in or energy to give to, I was active with again.  I would find life quasi-enjoyable, as is normal for me, and just wait with an impending doom for the next black hole to suck me down  and under again. This is basically the cycle my life has taken on. And it's draining me in every way.  So I must look back on those times when I was in one of those black holes and study them so I can really try this year to stop all this emotional yo-yo-ing.

I really, desperately want to have a great year, a year full of exciting and positive changes.  So my resolutions are as follows:
1.   Continue on with weight loss.  I am not going to specify a number cause I think that will stress me out too much every time I get on the scale and set me up for failure if I don't hit that specific number.
2.   Keep up with my walking. Try to get at least 5 walks in a week.
3.  Get more sleep at night if possible (dependent on pain which can't be helped)
4.  Keep mind busy with hobbies and friends but make sure to allow for bodily rest also.
5.  Know that I will still have difficult days. If I have a hard day, let yourself be upset but also
remember your strength and focus on getting through that day. Tomorrow is a new day.  Just get through to tomorrow when you can start again.
6. Focus on CREATING myself!!  And HAVE FUN.

Being a Phoenix isn't easy.  Having to recreate yourself from your own pile of ashes is a very difficult task. But I was chosen.  I was chosen to rise from my ashes and be beautiful again, perhaps even more beautiful than I ever have been, on both the inside and out. I was chosen to stand out in the world. I will find my purpose in this world and leave a very large mark on it.  Bring on 2015!  This is just the start of my creation.  Happy New Year everyone!  Be kind and gracious to one another. Remember, everyone you meet is fighting their own personal battle so be a human being and take care of each other. Now GO! and create!