Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Sometimes I forget I have Chiari...and how remembering brings me JOY!

Sometimes I forget I have Chiari.
How is that possible?
Living with a disorder so relevant to my daily activities, it seems its presence would smack me in the face all day, every day.
Yet, it doesn't.
Many days, Chiari, or my brain, or brain surgery never comes to mind (no pun intended).
Then, other days, I am overwhelmingly aware of its presence, of my uniquely shaped skull and those things that once screamed out at me as limitations.

Today has been one of those days.  Having the flu, with coughing, body aches and chills really is not so fun.  Not fun at all.  As I reached my aching arms out from under my bedspread this morning, willing myself out of bed--it hit me. Hard.  Vertigo.  I fell back on the bed and braced myself until it subsided,  just head congestion, I thought. Eventually, I fell back to sleep.  Hours later, I shivered myself awake.  Freezing, I attempted to roll over and snuggle up to my husband when it hit me again. Debilitating vertigo.  Spinning, can't-move-so-hold-on-until-its-gone vertigo.

Then I remembered.  Last time I had the spinning dizziness this bad,  I was diagnosed with Chiari. Now almost five years later, again- the room kept spinning.  I allowed my body to go limp as I laid in my husband's arms and sobbed. The nurse in me knows this is likely brought on by the flu virus my body is busy fighting.  Rationally, I know the odds of this being some problem that could require another surgery are super slim.  Yet, just for a few minutes, I allowed myself to become a victim again.

My mind raced back over the past few years of diagnosis, the search for treatment, surgery, recovery, pain, losses, wins, physical therapy, massage, work, writing, loving, losing, supporting, giving up, giving in, letting it be, hating Chiari, hating my body, loving my body, the people I've met through this, the people I've lost through this, financial loss, financial gain, travel, headaches, MRIs, choking, walking, fatigue, energy work, body work, inner work....then I slept.

Upon waking, the tears had dried on my face making my eyes feel tight, my damp shirt clung to my body as I slowly and purposefully turned over, sat, then stood. On shaky legs, I steadied myself against the wall, crept slowly to the door and down the stairs.  The room never started to spin, I did not get dizzy. I did not fall down.

I did, however, drink a glass of water, make my way to the sofa, snuggle under a blanket, watch the sunrise and shed precious tears of gratitude.  Appreciation flooded my body as I realized, nothing has changed. I am still beating the odds.  My body is up to the task of living, loving, thriving (not merely surviving).

As my tears once again dried up,  I realized that I had forgotten for a brief time that I had Chiari. Like the way one forgets for awhile they they were abused, raped, abandoned or betrayed, stumbling intrepidly forward in life, with each feeble step putting distance between what was and what currently is.

Often, I am asked (sometimes angrily)  why I delve into the past, examine my life, dissect minute details and question, question, question everything.  "Can't you just be happy to have survived? Can't you just move on? Be grateful? Don't you realize that other people have things so much worse?  Well, you should just count your blessings." 

Don't get me wrong, I am not opposed to counting blessings. I do not write these thoughts in a manner of comparison or competition with the wins and woes of others.  I write, I ask and I examine because it feeds my soul.

Examining the why of it all, the wonder of it all, the pain of it all catalyzes the meaning of it all. Understanding leads to acceptance.  Acceptance soothes the barbs of sadness. Soothing evokes easy movement. Movement leads to increased energy flow. Increased energy flow ignites endorphins and soon there is an eruption of joy.

Having the flu reminded me I have Chiari and that my neurological system is delicate. Understanding that because of this, the flu and its remedies (like Tamiflu) affect me differently.  Accepting this helps me give into the process of healing, even the moments of sobbing defeat.  Soothing and being gentle with myself makes moving through the process easier.  As the movements occur, my energy is increased, I feel better and more invigorated...and I use that energy to spill my thoughts onto this page.  Writing brings me great joy.

So, yes!  Sometimes I forget  I have a Chiari Malformation... and remembering that I forgot brings me great joy.







Saturday, July 25, 2015

Pursue Life With Passion

I


Brain surgery blues?  Been there, done that...(still doing it most days)...But there is so much more to life than that part of who I am. 

Who are you?  Who do you want to be?  What is it worth to you?   

I ask myself these questions on an almost daily basis when I have to kill the desire in me to stay in bed and nurse a headache, dizziness or vision problems...some days the pain wins, but most days...living life wins.  I whisper to myself, "Get that rebel inside you up and moving..."  So that's what I do, and it's not easy, but I want life more than I want  to  feel comfortable.   Pain is just pain, so unless it's knocking me down...I keep myself on track for the day.  This is why I do what I do now.  I coach other women to defy pain, emotional, physical, spiritual. Breathe new vigor into their life. Resurrect their inner rebel.  Live out loud.  AND--I LOVE IT!

I love the thought that my passion for life may be inspiring to my (very grown-up) children...After sleepwalking through an unlived life for twenty years, the past 5 have been a roller coaster of passion, travel, writing, creativity, brain surgeries, moves, new frontiers and not backing down from any challenge that came along the way. I love the ‪#‎bigmagic‬ that is continually flowing through my life. My hope is that my two creative, passionate, brilliant kiddos continue to pursue their dreams & live life on their own terms with the unique gifts they each bring to the world.

So how about you? Time to #resurrectyourinnerrebel?   I'm your girl.  Visit my website to schedule a strategy session...You can transform your life.  www.michelecollum.com

Monday, July 20, 2015

Writing Around In Circles Until The Truth Comes Out


Each time I start to write, thinking something profound will come from my words, 
Nothing does. 

I have all of these profound thoughts to share with the world about how it feels to live with Chiari, and how it feels to live with a history of emotional abuse, 
and how it feels to just want life to be "normal".

I stare here blankly at the screen, in my dedicated writing time 
and I'm blocked. 

I realize now that the block is not caused because there is nothing to say. 
The block is because so many words can't fit through my mind hole and filter down to my fingertips. 
Like rushing waves crashing agains a dam, waiting for the spillway to open up. 

All I feel is loss. 
For a person that is upbeat on a most regular basis,
A princess that has found her prince, 
An heiress to grace, 
All I feel is loss. 

No, no loved ones have passed away. 
No further tragedies have occurred. 
My loss is deeper, graver, 
Etched into my being. 

I'm often reminded of the tragedy of the unlived life. 
I vow with all that is in me that my story will be one that is lived out in technicolor. 
As I vow, a tear rolls down my cheek 
and I wonder. 

What hinders me in living my dreams full out? 
What keeps me small and still (at times)? 
And what is my purpose really to be? 

Is it to be the mouthpiece and the spokesperson for all who suffer with my same neurological disorder? 
Is it to help carry the broken to shore while mending their limbs? 
Is it to be strong and true and keep putting myself out there in relationships with friends who will never remain friends and family that barely remains family and a public who forgets heroes as quickly as they appear? 

Should my writing be more dramatic? More factual? More autobiographical? 
And quite honestly, does anyone really care? 

Should anyone care? 
Should it matter that children are starving in our country and all over the world? 
Should it matter than an unfathomable number of pregnancies are terminated in the womb? 
Should it matter that churches oppress people to the point of abuse...While using the name of God? 

Does my voice even matter anymore? 
Am I effectively ineffective? 

Where are those who vehemently supported me in leaving an abusive marriage? 
Where are they now but in the camp of my abuser? 
Where are they who supported me through my surgeries, held my hand when I was fearful, 
Eased my pain? 
Hiding behind their own wounds I suppose. 
The ones I inflicted when the great darkness came and I fell into loss. 

These thoughts go through my head and I slay them one by one. 
I cover the transgression with love and bid it farewell, 
To be neither seen nor dealt with again. 

And that works just great until another blow hits. 
Another pain surfaces. 
Another blow that hits below the belt and crumbles me into a pile of rubble. 
Then once again it smashes down and I begin the slow march to restoration. 

So today, with a headache and blurry vision, I am digging myself again from the rubble. 
Going through the motions-Getting from A to B. 
Getting the work done...and most definitely doing the work. 
The work of living, of pushing forward, of pushing through. 
I'm grinning and bearing it (with out the grin). 

I just wish it didn't have to be so hard. 
Honestly, all I want is one day without some sort of physical pain. 
The emotional pain I can handle (I think).
I just want to have no pain...just for today. 

Aren't I selfish?
I know...I'll do what really works. 
I'll just smile and say I'm okay.

Works every time. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Release






Like many people, I can be really shallow. 
I can take a situation, look at its surface, it's perceived appearance and make a quick, split-second assumption. 

Dangerous. 

Like many other people, I can be really deep. 
Actually, I sort of live in the deep end. 
I'm one of those people that dissects every aspect of my life, troubling situations and normal day-to-day activities. 

Still Dangerous. 

In my world, the world of entrepreneurs and the world of emotional damage and the world of Chiari and the world of writers (which I've got to admit is a weirdo freakazoid mix)...

In this weird, unparalleled, totally random mix of characters...self-inspection is a vital act. Self-inspection provides the life blood, the energizing force that drives creativity, healing, forgiveness, blame, intention, sorrow, bliss, awe, control, lack of control, frustration, perfectionism and random humor. 

As an entrepreneur, I depend on this life blood, this catalyst to spark the next project or offer, as a survivor of emotional abuse...I let my experiences fuel my passion for helping others move past their scars to a life of receiving, as a woman with Chiari Malformation Type 1 and two brain surgeries under her belt,  this energy shakes me out of bed on the worst days and challenges me continually to press on regardless of what symptom might be tossed my way. And, as a writer,  this same self- inspection forces my hand every time I sit down to write.  It leads me to a place of truth regardless of pain, shame, blame, guilt or regret.  I often find I write better during these moments, they are more comforting to me than those unfamiliar thoughts/feelings  of love, security, joy, happiness. 

Sometimes, I have to reel myself in and Tame The Beast. 
That's my pet name for living life in the zone of "what if" ...
"What if I have to have another surgery?"  
"What if I don't?"
"What if my writing never sells?"
"What if it does?"
"What if the truth is that I am defective and undeserving of love?"
"What if I am?" 

Success is just as scary as failure in my world.  Honestly, it's all scary. 

From moments of feeling fine to suddenly dizzy, shaky and ready to throw up, 
Being able to exercise three days in a row to three days of being in bed. 
No headache moments to excruciating headache within seconds. 

The only thing I seem to be able to plan for is that whatever the plan is, it's sure to change. 
Then getting caught up in the horrible "What Ifs" 
This only adds to my misery and confusion. 

Yesterday, I had a Scarlett O'Hara moment.. You know, the moment when you fling yourself on the bed in a fit of tears and wail as you cry.  (If you don't know what I'm talking about...stop reading now, this blog isn't for you).

Fortunately, I had a friend talk me down...talk me through and get me back into reality about where I am in life and just what hell I've been through. 

My last 3 years....almost unbelievable.   My last 9 months...I should sell the movie rights. (my entrepreneurial mind is always at work).  

My friend suggested my current major health issue.. and infection that is being stubborn, so stubborn in fact that I am on my 8th... count 'em EIGHTth round of antibiotics, which is what sent me in to the Scarlett moment... My friend suggested that perhaps the metaphysical parallel is correct... that the infection keeps coming back to the same area because I am "pissed off" at someone. 

Some ONE?  How about Some TWENTY or so?   As we talked, I saw the faces in my mind of the people who have hurt me over the past year or so, they have abandoned me, or lied about me, or manipulated words to shed a bad light on me, or professed to love me...then when I needed them most they turned away...oooh.. or the big one---they hurt my child.  I ran the hurt roster through my head to determine just which person was the culprit.  Who am I focusing so much anger on that  I'm keeping myself sick?  Which one?  The jerk ex husband that has made up so many stories about me that even HE believes them now?  Or maybe the ex-friend that claimed and professed her undying love and friendship only to pack up all of her friend toys and get the heck out of Dodge when she saw the cowboys coming.  How about the other friend that cares so little about my condition that she can't even remember what it is...Now that would make anyone upset.  

Alas, what I realized at the end of the list of sins of others was that none of these "others" really brought up any anger in me.  Disappointment, yes. Sadness, yes. Loss, of course. 

My final conclusion (insert drumroll here), I'm mad at MYSELF. 

I closed myself off,  shut myself down, built a really sturdy wall and dared anyone to come in.   I'm upset with myself for doing that.  I'm upset with my body for not being stronger.  I'm enraged that I can't do all of the things other people can do.  No, not mad at God.  Mad at myself.   Mad that I get sucked into the "what ifs".  Mad that I am not able to continually shake it off and keep coming back for more with no ill effects.  Mad that at the end of the day I am what I feared all along:

I am merely human.

I'm not a super hero or a martyr. I'm not special or chosen or set apart. I am not indestructible or saintly.  I'm just your average, ordinary girl from Mississippi who gets scared of things that go bump in the night. 

I am neither immune to the "What If" Beast  that taunts me in my weakest moments nor am I so benevolent that I can't just continue relationships with people that have hurt me as if nothing ever happened.   

So the conclusion, the answer...the way to  sort this out in my mind.  One simple, easy word: RELEASE. 

Easy to say, hard hard hard to do. 

So today, I'm practicing releasing.  Releasing fears, expectations, guilt, blame, false beliefs, anger, bitterness. And I'm releasing myself from the constraints I put on myself to be SuperHuman.  Today, I start taking it as it comes with no pretense or anxiety.  I live in the moment. 

I am okay being all of the things that make up ME. 

And once again, all is right in the world. 

Well...almost. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Open Apology to the Chiari Community




So, you honestly may not remember me.

There was a time I posted to my blog daily, even hourly.

Then.... I....stopped.

Why did I stop? What caused me to drop off the face of the planet for several months?

Whenever this thought or question came up in my mind, I blamed  it on several things: family issues, working on my new business, moving...the list goes on and on.  All of these are very valid reasons.  The family issues you wouldn't believe if I told you...I mean, it's the stuff movies are made of...and the business-- yes, it's been difficult to transition my love of helping others into a business... and moving, well, if you've ever moved, you know the drill.

However, last night, one of the worst Chiari-symptom nights I've had in quite a while...my own truth smacked me right in the face.

SMACK!!!   "SNAP OUT OF IT!!!"  I literally yelled at myself.

The ugly truth?  I wanted to be done.  Finished with the Chiari story.  I wanted to live above it all. I wanted to keep all of my symptoms, pain,  fear to myself.  I wanted my last surgery to be my LAST surgery.

I mean really, who cares if my depth perception is almost non-existence and I can't stand driving?  Who really wants to know that my head has been hurting for about the past 10 months straight?  Why does it matter if I'm having trouble swallowing again or if bladder issues are intermittently rearing their ugly heads?   Does it really matter  if I have tremors, numb spots and am continually saying the wrong word at the wrong time to the wrong people?

Because of all of this.. Isn't it better to  turn a blind eye to it, make everyone in my world assume I'm better and just get the hell over it?

I just wanted to make it stop!

I just wanted normal stressors to be normal stressors.

In moments of weakness, I went to doctors, I had MRI's... and I never followed up on results or even sent my MRI's to the neurosurgeon that ordered them.  Worse than that...I have never even looked at them myself.

I'm a fraud, I'm a sham, I'm a fake.

I put myself out into the world to be this Chiari Crusader...and I don't even want to face my own illness anymore.

What did I do?  I hopped on a plane every chance I got to go anywhere in the world that I could find a purpose to go.  I ran.  I dug myself in to my business... noble as it may be.. I dug in to helping others manage their lives with Chiari or A-cysts, or their lives after abuse... or their  small businesses.
I really did.. I dug in and did all of these things.

I became a champion at handling my personal anxiety surrounding the trauma in our family.  You know the drill... 2 Flexeril and a Klonopin and the anxiety just melts away... Then I could get down to business.

I could work. Work, work, work.
I could write. Write, write, write.
I could ignore. Ignore, Ignore, Ignore.
I could blame. Blame. Blame. Blame.

Yes, I could do it all...No Chiari was going to rain on my parade.  No one was going to tell me to slow down.  No one else's opinion even began to matter.

All doctors are idiots and I'm going to prove it by not needing one.

Until last night,  last night it all came crashing down.  Last night, I needed a doctor.  Last night, I needed a Chiari friend, like the ones that I used to text in the middle of the night.  The ones that quit speaking to me when I started pretending I was no longer "sick".  Last night,  my world became purple again.

Last night, honestly... I was scared. 

Last night, I realized how I had abandoned the very community I set out to help.  I was so busy being annoyed that no one reached out to me in my time of need (except for one..you know who you are)...I realized I had shut myself down.  I was NOT serving others.  I was serving my own ego, my sense of pride and wearing my badge of martyrdom as an invisible chip on my shoulder.

SO here, I apologize to you, my tribe, my Chiari sisters and brothers and I vow to stop ignoring my condition, stop ignoring the cold hard FACT that we all need each other...and to stop ignoring the Fact that no matter how much I "say it isn't so"... things in my body are just not right.  It's time to seek to another neurosurgeon, find a local neurologist and to face what's happening.  It's time to get involved again, risk caring about people again and make amends where they are due.

To my family...You are all right.  I need to slow down.  I need to be where I am and let go of the guilt and shame that surround where I am.

No, I'm not stopping my business.  On the contrary, I'm still pursuing it with all of the gusto I can muster.  As one of my mentors, Gina DeVee often says, I'm "taking a stand for the AND".   Chiari and Coach can exist in the same body.  I do not have to forsake dealing with one in order to succeed with the other.

I am giving my health it's rightful place in my life, making finding a new set of doctors a priority and making a conscious effort to reconnect with the community I do love so very much.  I am proclaiming it to you...even though you may not know me...because I believe in going back to basics, back to the core of who I am and how I got to where I am now.  At the core, we are the same. We have the same basic struggles, basic fears.  You are my tribe.  

Thank you in advance for your understanding. Please comment any thoughts or insights below...I'll be seeing you around in all of the old familiar groups and of course at  the Conquer Chiari Walk in 2015 (not sure which location just yet).

Thank you for reading this post and for your support.

Michele

www.michelecollum.com






Thursday, May 21, 2015

When Pain Enters The Game


That's The Thing About Pain- It demands-2
 
What really happens when pain enters the game? When our bodies
unwillingly dive into fight or flight mode? When the silent (or not so silent) alarm
goes off within our neurotransmitters that alerts us to pain?
Physical, blatant, oh-damn-that-really-hurt pain. Invisible, silent, my-life-willnever-
be-the-same pain. Screaming, shouting, why-won’t-they-listen-to-me pain.
Aching, longing when-will-it-ever-stop pain.
I’m sure there are many other types of pain…but these four strike me tonight.
These four seem to swarm around my life like a perpetual beehive of activity.
Waning for moments here and there..then bursting through with an unmistakeable
buzz and an unconsolable bite.
Physically, I am daily challenged by a life of chronic pain. Getting out of bed
is continually an act of will…something I must do in an effort to prevent being
sucked in to a life of woe and misery. A life filled with doctor appointments and
outrage at the medical community. A life riddled with more and more and more
instruments and foreign objects being jammed into my head, making me less me
and more synthetic. In particular, I’m challenged by daily activities, walking my
dog, carrying groceries, lugging my luggage around the airport. Previously, I wrote
about this pain daily…only to find the more I wrote about it… the more I dwelt
upon it.
Emotionally, I am a bit of a hot mess. I have this amazing life that makes me
so grateful it brings me to tears. I have this past life, where I’m continually being
burned at the stake, which also brings me to tears. My tears flow in gratefulness
because I now see that God is pouring out on me the blessings I was told long ago I
was not worthy to receive. I was told I was stupid, I wanted to much and I needed
to stop trying to be “Billy Graham” in everyone’s lives. I was told church wasn't
important and that I was an embarrassment to be seen with. I was told I wasn’t
worth the medical bills I incurred and that a “bullet is cheaper”.
That was my story, and my underlying belief for many long years. I wore
shame like an ill-fitting cloak as I prayed to God for a sign, a reason… some basic
worth. Until one day, like Elizabeth Gilbert said, “the only thing more difficult
than leaving, was staying”. So, like Elizabeth...I made a decision… to pray, (you know, like
...to God) to make peace with
God and to leave that  abusive facade of a marriage, praying that even if God left me alone for the
rest of my life, I would be okay with it because I would be free of scorn and
ridicule, I would live without fear and life would become a virtual bed of roses.
The truth is, I am not free. The more time that passes- the grander the stories
about me grow. That causes more pain. Sure, there is the "sticks and stones may break my bones but words
will never hurt me" approach.  Let's get real, who did that ever work for?
I want to scream at the top of my lungs:
“Haven’t you hurt me enough?”, "Haven't you hurt our children enough?"
“When can I stop being your whipping boy?” and
my favorite way to put a spin on it , “Wow, you must still be really hung up on me to make up all of
that…”
Pain comes from “friends” and “family”. People who have turned  a blind eye to what
has happened to you because he is part of their family.  (Gentle reminder, so was I for over twenty
years) That’s fine, support your family...but does it have to be an either or?  Did I cease to be a person
because I chose to cease to be a victim?
 
Emotional pain comes from rejection. Even within the Chiari communities ,
rejection happens. The very minute I started standing up and declaring I would go
against the odds and this disorder would not rule me…my allegiances changed. I
became an outcast, a loner, a freak. I take no scheduled meds and only contact my
neurosurgeon on the rarest of occasions. I want to move forward, shake it off and
still LIVE. So what if I have to take two muscle relaxers and a clonazepam upon
returning home from a trip-- I am LIVING!  I am seeing the world. I am going for it in life.
For this, I am judged. I am scorned for not “checking in on people”…though no one seems to
notice that “no one” is checking in on me. Will I always be the girl showing up with a casserole when
others are sick,  only to find on my darkest days...guess what?  No Casserole.
Did you know that two way streets really do go two ways?
Then family tragedies hit.. and the “friends”, they scatter like flies. Pain
results. The pain of really longing for a friend to just sit down and pray with you.
Or to even care enough to ask questions. The longing for understanding, for acceptance, for just a simple
hug.
I suppose this really is just an essay about pain in its many forms.  Real pain. Pain that has grown from
neglectful parents. Pain that has been watered by harsh words and neglect. Pain
that seems so uncontrollable that though it be emotional, it is felt physically and it
will not be silenced.
Feeling like a single parent. The weight of the world on my shoulders. The
joy of triumphs with the children and then the agony of defeat. The sheer agony
of knowing a child has been so traumatized that mom’s TLC won’t help. The fear
that inappropriate advances were made by a family member..knowing that story lies
just beneath the surface-waiting to pierce through and reveal itself at any given
moment. The pain of an unjust legal system and the search for good (and affordable
resources for PTSD).  Knowing I'm going it alone in this area simply because I'm still
being punished by an ex husband that is too blind to see that his efforts to hurt me and
make me "pay" for some contorted sin he made up to justify his own lack of parenting is
only hurting his children. Then the realization that he hides behind a church pew while he
dishes out his untrue, justifying and blatantly neglectful edicts results in a different type
of spiritual pain that is better left for another essay.
Pain… it comes in all flavors, it’s fat-free and has no carbs or calories.
However..this pain, it keeps us small. No one really wants to know pain, yet
everyone wants transformation. Everyone wants to evolve, to grow, to level up. In
perfect balance, transformation cannot occur without pain. So we must be careful
what we want, really inspect the desires of our hearts and ready ourselves for the
aches and pains that lend to metamorphosis.
I believe my part of the pain process is to acknowledge it, and assign it a
home, a label, a purpose. As a master chef, I slice it, dice it, stir-fry it and serve it
up beautifully until I can swallow it completely…typically doing so just before it
takes over and ultimately consumes and controls every aspect of who I am.
I imagine this to be how depression feels…long bouts of pain on steroids.
Hurt, rage, guilt, shame all morphing into such a heavy burden that it’s victim is
weighed down with it to the point of becoming paralytic.
So today, I write about pain. Tomorrow… I may write about pain again. Or
perhaps joy… or perhaps daffodils… But what I truly believe is that I will continue
to write about pain until its all written out of me and I am free of it. I share it with
you because if what’s most personal is most universal, then you struggle with pain as
well.
Behind every perfect smile and in every “perfect” home, pain lurks in
the corners, in the silence, in the dark. Those without voices are consumed by it.
Those with voices cannot hold it in. Truth will always be revealed. No matter how
much it may fight to stay hidden. I believe the truth of pain lies in our very core, in
who we are, who we were always intended to be.
I believe the denial of its existence is like scoffing at God and His divine plan. I
believe pain is part of the fiber of our being… so what I truly believe is that pain
doesn't enter the game. Pain merely sits patiently in on the sidelines until we are
available to play.
In today's contest, I emerge as the victor.  I will rest my weary bones, soothe
my tear-worn eyes and ready myself for the next match.
What I know now is that using my voice is more than half of the battle.
Visit my new website www.michelecollum.com to see just how I'm using my voice. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Become A Student Of Life

As I am reaching yet another Zipperversary...well, in about 4 weeks anyway...
I am taking time to ponder everything that has happened over the course of the past year.
This time last year I was prepping for a second brain surgery...had just moved to Dallas and just started a new job.  My husband and I had started our own business and we were busily laying its foundation.

Then it happened- a quick review of an MRI sent me back to Houston for testing and surgery. Round two of brain surgery recovery began.

As recovery began, our business activity slowed down. Everything slowed down.  The surgery was deemed a success, though my vision would beg to differ.  I set about on a journey to get my vision "fixed" - to no avail.  Apparently, my brand of vision difficulty is a mystery...which should come to no surprise to anyone  who has Chiari.  We always seem to be the ones that defy the medical books.. that keep the doctors just shaking their heads.

While dealing with this vision issue-- I managed to keep my job, take several business trips (and a few trips just for fun).. visiting family and friends in Ohio.

August found me hanging out in Paris, France for a week or so, for both work and pleasure.  Seeing Paris with my daughter is one of the highlights of my life- I'll never forget it.

In September, I began a certification program  to become a Transformational Coach, specializing in helping women reclaim their lives after divorce, abuse, trauma or chronic illness diagnosis. We took a brief trip to Ocala, FL to visit our family and friends there,  and I even made it to the Houston Conquer Chiari Walk Across America, where I was excited to spend a few days with a dear friend in the Houston area.


In October... I went to Hawaii for a little over a week, where I simply marveled at the beauty around me.  Before that, there was a business trip weekend in Long Beach, CA, where I wore high heels for the first time since  surgery.  It was both excruciating and elating!   For a few minutes, before it became unbearable--I even felt pretty.

The end of October brought sadness to our family in a form that I still have trouble discussing.  We are still reacting to this trauma as we slowly heal. Very, very slowly.

Since then, there has been a blur of travel, school, work, healing, tears, stress, loneliness, exhaustion. My daughter graduated from college and I've been to  Southern Indiana, Miami, Memphis and Sydney, Australia.

I am still working, trucking through school- and I go back to Paris in about 8 weeks.

I can no longer make sense of what life is now or what it was.  Everything seems upside down at times, while other times it makes perfect sense.

This is what I know.   I've grown through it all.  I've let go of people who I should've never held on to. I discovered the difference in a friend and an acquaintance.  I found that the strangest people become support in the most difficult times-- and it's never who you think it will be.  I've found that people mistake pain for indifference and that at the end of the day, the people who one can really count on are those who they least suspected to be there.   I have found that tears are truly unending..they just never run dry. I've found that sometimes the best thing I can do for myself is just lay down and indulge myself in a good, long, sobbing cry.

The problem with crying is that it makes my head hurt, then my ears ring, then I get dizzy, my vision gets wonky and I'm done for.  So, I tend to just hold it all in as long as possible until a breaking point comes and my defenses hit the ground.

So I guess my point is this--  I've survived yet another year after yet another brain surgery.  I have packed more into this last year than most people pack into a lifetime.  I have ached over losing people who never thought twice or looked back and I've gained a great many new people who seemingly appeared from nowhere, yet made all the difference.  I've learned that getting too attached to this world can be dangerous, but not getting in the game of life can be lethal.

I'm fully in the game. I am transforming the lives of women everyday through my work. I am slowly healing my own wounds and praying for the continued healing of our family.  I've ac
cepted about myself that I'm living life the only way I know how... with all my cards on the table.. I am all in.  No halfway, no mind games, no agenda.   No time for "I can't"  "I shouldn't" or "Maybe later".  No apologizing for who I am, what I stand for or what my desires are.   I have the love and support of an amazing man...a family that loves me and a career I am passionate about.

Beautiful coastline of Australia, photo taken on the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk near Sydney, Feb. 2015
So as I review the past year and look to the year ahead... I visualize more places I will travel (Paris, Los Angeles, Spain (several cities), Savannah Ga, St. George, Grenada-- already in the works!!), more lives I will touch, more people who will fill me up with joy, tears and amazement.  I love setting goals and reaching them...I encourage you to do the same.   Life is so much sweeter when every person you meet and every thing that occurs is viewed as a teacher. (Yes, even our pain is a teacher...learn from it)  Then you are free to learn all you can from everything, soak it in and then release the person or event back into the world.  Become a student of your own life.  I promise you, your outlook on everything will change.  Mine sure did.