Still JOYFUL …

Every year I come up with a new birthday mantra. A short personal saying that I believe will help me shape the next year of my life. Some years they come quickly to me. Other years they take a bit of time and reflection. This was definitely one of those years that required some thought. And I’ll tell you why.

I don’t think that one simple saying can ever describe how grateful I am to turn 50 years old today. I honestly want to scream it from the roof tops that I MADE IT! There were years that I was skeptical because of my family history. And moments, when my personal health seemed grim, my pain was unbearable and I felt so ill, that I made peace with death. Trust me folks, encephalopathy is no joke. I’ve been in that ugly place where I had to face my own mortality. I have had to surrender to what was happening to me because I was too weak to do anything more. But I have also felt God’s beautiful grace when He blessed me with full healing. TWICE. I know not everyone is that “lucky”. But for some reason I was. I was given more time to live life with the people that I love … and I simply couldn’t be more thankful. Again, “thankful” just doesn’t seem like enough. There is no word that even comes close to describe how it feels to be HERE. To breath, to laugh, to love and to LIVE in this moment is just about the best feeling I have ever known. And I am not going to waste one second of it. No way. No how. God gave me THIS. My life. My story. My miracle. And not being able to describe how I feel about all of this is incredible. I am 50 and life still leaves me speechless. It can still completely consume me with emotion leaving me with no other choice than to just be IN IT and FEEL IT. And if that isn’t the best gift EVER, I just don’t know what is.

So, I guess that leaves me with only one choice for my new birthday mantra. This year I will continue to do what I have always done, to try to see the best in everyone and in every situation. I will continue to carry hope in my heart. And I will celebrate every season, the good and the bad, that I am blessed to experience. Because I know that life is precious. Very, very precious. Every. Single. Moment.

Well, I hope you all have a year where you are STILL JOYFUL!!!

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Happily growing older …

Yesterday I found myself explaining how elated I am to be turning 50. I know that may sound absolutely crazy to a lot people, but if you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m not like most people. I’ve never been one to focus on my age. I’ve actually spent most of my life focused on my mortality. Having a mom who died in her mid forties after battling breast cancer twice taught me that life isn’t so much about longevity as it is the quality of time you have here. But it also scared me A LOT. I honestly never new if I would make it to see 50 especially dealing with meningitis … twice. OY. But despite it all, here I am. Healthy. Fit. And feeling quite blessed. I am honestly surprised I made it, HA! So how can I be anything less that overjoyed? I’m surrounded by incredible friends and family and I’ve been given the most wonderful children in the world. And God has graciously given me more time to share with them than I ever expected.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you are happily growing older!!!

Bouncing back …

It’s official. After 20 months my sleep is FINALLY back to normal. I’m back to feeling that seven hours is like “sleeping in”. It’s wonderful! The need for so much sleep was honestly the hardest thing I’ve ever physically experienced. Waking up feeling so groggy was brutal! But now I feel rested again when I wake up and I have my energy back. Every once in a while I have a bout of fatigue that is a strong reminder of what my body has been through. But on the eve of turning 50 years old, I’m happy to say that I don’t feel much different than I did turning 40. Which strangely, was also a pivotal time of recovery from my first bout meningitis. I’ll be honest this is NOT how I want to celebrate turning a new decade ever again. TWO WAS ENOUGH. But I guess as long as I come around to my old self … um, my younger self (HA!) … how can I really complain?

Well, I hope you all have a day where you feel like you finally bounced back!!!

I couldn’t have done it without them …

I want to say all of this today, since tomorrow I will just be too busy (and scattered). My heart is so vested in these words that I fear that if I start crying that I might not stop. So if I wrote them tomorrow that would be bad because Sunday is race day.

This will be the first full marathon I will run since I got sick. I’ll be fighting a lot of demons out there Sunday. Yes, I can run. I’ve proved that time and time again. BUT can I run THAT distance again? Do I still have what it takes? I honestly and fearfully don’t know.

But with the love, support, guidance and encouragement of my family, friends and doctors, I get to find out. It’s a miracle I have been given this chance again. And I do not take any of it for granted. It is because of these incredible souls that I am even willing to try.

It’s hard to put yourself out there like this. REAL hard. Even under the best and healthiest of circumstances it takes all you have. Being knocked down physically has only made this task more difficult and one of the biggest mental challenges I have ever faced. But I promised myself something years ago when I took a chance on running seriously again. If I do this, I won’t give it up. I wouldn’t do that to my heart again. Running matters to me. It is the part of me that propels me into a fearlessness that I have never know otherwise. And I don’t want to let it go. Not ever.

The point of all my emotional rambling (HA!) is to publicly thank each and every person who has walked through this season of life with me. The season that robbed me of so much, but gave me back even more than I could have ever imagined.

SO without further adieu … to those beautiful souls who have cheered me on, from those first steps that I took with my walker, to the start line this Sunday morning … I humbly and genuinely thank you for believing in me. I couldn’t have done all of this without all of you.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you feel eternally grateful!!!

World Meningitis Day …

Happy World Meningitis Day everyone! Being that I’ve battled viral meningitis twice I wanted to encourage everyone to check out all the fact sheets out there on meningitis. There are two kinds, viral and bacterial. Both can have some pretty devastating side effects and outcomes. Being aware of causes and symptoms is so important! And probably the biggest thing I want everyone to walk away with today is to TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS and ACT FAST. I only had a headache the second time around. No fever or other symptoms, and all my labs were normal. But I remembered THAT headache from the first time I had it and insisted that medical staff continue running more tests. I even had an ER doc yell at me! But I refused to back down. I just knew I was sick again. And I was right! Thank God I am a social worker with lots of medical experience because with as severe as my encephalopathy was, had I not adamantly advocated for myself, I would be lucky to have survived without significant neurological issues. OR WORSE! So please take the time to read up on meningitis today. Tuck the information away in your memory, just in case.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you learn some pretty important stuff!!!

Tapping back in …

Sooooo … I have a race on Sunday. I haven’t raced since last July and that was just for fun when I was in Alaska with friends. Sunday will be fun too but it’s also me officially starting to race seriously again. It is both scary and exciting. Getting sick messed with my mind, body and soul. I’ve slowly crept out of the funk it put me in and I feel like I’m finally owning that my heart is vested in my dreams again. I’m a LONG way off from achieving them. Trust me, Sunday’s race will be slow and steady to the finish. No where near my old finishing times. But you know what? I am going to appreciate every single second of it because those footsteps are the beginning of me believing in myself again.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you tap back in!!!

Do what you have to do …

I used to love going to the dentist. Yep. I was one of THOSE people.

But not now.

The day I got my second round of meningitis I spent the morning at the dentist so I will FOREVER connect the two. God love my dentist and the entire office for how good they have been to me. They have done everything they can to get me back to that dentist loving patient again. I can’t appreciate them more. I truly believe that dental health is beyond valuable. So as scared as I’ve been, I’ve kept going. It hasn’t been easy. Trust. Me. The first few times I went back, I will admit, I cried! Yes, my fear was THAT bad.

Today I had another appointment scheduled. I was a ball of nerves on the drive over and sitting in the waiting room my stomach ached! I didn’t want to go. I wanted to cancel my appointment but I showed up anyway … because fear will not stop me from doing what is best for my health.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you do what you have to do!!!