Sunday, September 2, 2012

Survived the Summer

It's been a hot one, that's for sure. Between the heat, the humidity, and the pop-up thunderstorms that periodically knocked out power, I think I am probably not alone in being grateful that summer is coming to a close and the temperatures have started to come down a little.
I was out for a jog the other day and saw that a few leaves were starting to change colors! Given that my mantra for the summer is to "survive until the fall," I found this to be a very hopeful sign and was ecstatic.
Despite the heat, though, things have still been going well. In the last 30 days, I've gotten slightly more than 100 miles under my belt. I'm feeling stronger all the time. And I even signed up for a 10K in October. Hopefully I'll be able to run that distance all at once by that time!

Sunday, April 22, 2012


So much has happened in the last month and I really need to get it down on paper. My life has completely turned around. The progress has been pretty steady since February, with my last serious episode taking place in early February, but the last couple of weeks have been truly amazing. I feel normal again. I have good energy, even when I am tired. If I stay up too late, I end up tired, but not bone weary to the point of incapacitation. And if I lie down to sleep, I awake feeling better. It is truly a miracle and I feel so amazingly blessed. Every single day I do things that two months ago were impossible to me.
A couple of weeks ago I went to California for the half ironman in which two of my brothers were competing. It was a fun vacation, with time in a beach house, lots of reading, playing with nieces and nephews, and just relaxing. It was a good opportunity for me to set boundaries and listen closely to my body – pushing it some, but not too much.

The very first thing about this trip that struck me was how different it was from my last trip, which was in November (to the Mayo Clinic). For that trip, I was barely able to make it onto the plane. It was, in fact, only by the grace of God and the help of a friend that I did. Holding myself upright was almost more than I could handle, let alone carrying my luggage.
But getting on the plane to California was a whole different ball game. I got myself to the airport, wandered around the airport lugging my carryon and laptop while I was waiting for the flight, got myself onto the plane, and even lifted my roller bag into the overhead bin. Granted, it was a bit difficult to do that last part and I ended up checking the bag for the second leg of the flight, but nonetheless, I was able to do it. It was amazing! I had the energy and strength to keep going. To talk, to eat, to walk up the jetway on my own power. I was even able to stand upright while waiting for my luggage at baggage claim!

Now, I know this probably sounds stupid and most people can’t really understand my excitement over these small things, but the contrast from just a few months ago is so amazing that I really can’t even believe it myself. Everything seems easier and better when compared to just a few months ago.
From California, I flew to Utah for another week.

The transition to Utah was a bit more difficult, due in part to the altitude and in part to the extreme exertion on the day before I traveled, coupled with a significant lack of sleep. My first day in Utah was pretty miserable and I spent some of it with my head in the toilet. But the next day I took it easy and within a couple of days, I was fine!
It is truly a miracle!

When I returned home about two weeks ago, I was amazed at how not exhausted I felt. I had thought I would come home fatigued to the core and that I would require some time to recuperate. But that was not the case. I came home feeling good. I’ve been at work every day since and have even started jogging in the mornings (sometimes) and walking home from work (sometimes).
Four days after I returned, I went for a jog in the morning before work, showered up, went to the office, worked nine hours, and then walked home (the long way) from work. It was 4.7 miles!

And last Friday, I went for a (very SLOW) jog in the morning, showered, went to work, went to dr. appointments, and then walked 5.5 miles home. At the end of the day I was tired but, again, not incapacitated. I feel like my old self again!
It’s hard to believe that I am the same person that 3 months ago could not take a shower in the morning because it wore me out so much that I could then not make it to work. It’s hard to believe that I am the same person who often couldn’t walk the couple of blocks to the metro to get to work. It’s impossible to believe that I’m the same person who, up until just a month ago, couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs without feeling like I absolutely had to lie down immediately!
Miracles DO happen!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Who I Want to Be

A few days ago, I went to visit my grandmother in the hospital. She was awaiting surgery to amputate one of her legs. When I arrived, she was lying in the bed dozing. She had just received pain medication and it seemed to be helping. She roused herself and we started to talk, but it was clear that the medication was having the anticipated effect both on her pain and on her mental capacity. She was groggy and not altogether with it. Nonetheless, or maybe because of it, I was very impressed. She kept talking about how blessed she felt, how loved by God. She also kept talking about how proud she is of us and of her own kids. She kept saying how my dad did such a good job raising us. Her face shone with a beatific smile.

I know (and have experienced myself) the kinds of behaviors and inflammatory reactions that can come in the face of a scary and lifechanging event (like the amputation of a limb) and particularly when inhibitions are removed through the administration of pain killers. But I was impressed that when Grandma’s inhibitions were removed, what came shining through was her profound love of God and her deep devotion to Him. Her true eternal beauty was so evident.
I hope that when I am faced with challenges and pain I can react with similar fortitude, gratitude, and humility.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Validation, Radiation and the Post Office

A friend of mine recently posted a YouTube video on his facebook page and, although it's a little out of character for me, I actually watched it. Even though it was more than 16 minutes long. I loved the depiction of the impact of one person - one average person without a high-powered job, fame, or probably a fortune.

The video reminded me of a quote I'd heard the previous Sunday at church: "Every person who lives in this world wields an influence, whether for good or for evil. It is not what he says alone, it is not alone what he does. It is what he is. Every man, every person radiates what he or she is. Every person is a recipient of radiation...It is what we are and what we radiate that affects the people around us...The effect of our words and acts is tremendous in this world. Every moment of life you are changing to a degree the lives of the whole world. … So, it’s not the surroundings, it isn’t the positions; the thing that will influence [others] in this world, are personalities. No matter what you are people will feel and recognize this. You radiate, you can’t hide it. You may pretend something else, but that will not affect people." (from Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay, Lesson 24)

So, I started thinking about my own life and what I radiate. Do I validate people and reflect back to them their own wonderful, unique qualities? Do I radiate love and acceptance and support?

I had some errands to run on my lunch break and stopped at the post office. The line was pretty long. The two women working the counter did not look happy. The people in line looked impatient. My initial impulse was to join the line of impatient customers. I was in a hurry, after all. I only had so much time for my lunch break. But then I was reminded of Validation and Radiation and I started to look for something I could compliment the post office worker on when I finally got to the counter. Since I didn't know which woman would serve me, I studied them both and picked out qualities about their work that I felt I could truthfully compliment. When I reached the counter, I greeted the worker with a smile and told her what a great job she was doing in moving customers through the line quickly and efficiently. Although she didn't smile at me exactly, it was clear that what I said had a positive impact. It was also clear that she doesn't hear what a good job she's doing often enough.

I doubt that moment changed her life, but it changed mine. I realized that I really can radiate more positivity. I really can have a positive impact on the world around me, even though I inhabit only such a small corner of it.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

It's All Relative...

I’ve been thinking about how relative things are. This week has been a little tough and one day in particular was a bit rough for me physically. I felt pretty under the weather and my boss even commented that I didn’t look good. But, I made it through the day and came home – rundown, tired, and ill-feeling. I had to stop to rest a couple of times, just to allow my blood pressure to stabilize after standing up too quickly. Nonetheless, I had made it home without passing out or even coming too close to it.
As I entered my apartment, my roommate asked me how my day was and I said, “It wasn’t my best day,” and went directly to bed. As I was lying on my bed, however, after having taken off my shoes and gently setting my bag down, I realized that I was wrong. A month ago, I actually would have considered this one of my best days - a day when I didn't crash land on the platform of the metro or at an awkward angle on my apartment floor or bed. This was a day when I had the strength and energy and wherewithal to take off my shoes and coat after arriving home, rather than sleeping in them.
Isn’t it amazing how things are so relative? And how quickly we take for granted the very circumstances that, in another time and place, filled us (or would have filled us) with immense joy and gratitude? How quickly we begin to whine and complain about something that, viewed from a different perspective, would be considered a grand blessing?
At first, my pondering led me to conclude that it's all relative. That everything is relative. But as I lay there longer, I realized that, in fact, everything is not relative. There are definitely some absolutes. It's how we perceive and contextualize absolutes, facts, and occurrences that introduces a sense of relativity.
So, moving forward, I hope I will be able to keep a broader perspective, recognize the blessings that come, and enjoy them in every and any context.
In the meantime, I am so grateful that my bad days now are not nearly as bad as my good days were a few weeks ago.

Monday, February 13, 2012


That is the number of a miracle. A miracle in my life. It is the number of miles I jogged today - very slowly. It may not seem like a lot. And it isn't. But two weeks ago, when I was barely able to make it all the way home from work and did not have the energy even to eat dinner after doing so, jogging 2.3 miles was just a far-away dream - an impossibility really.

Nonetheless, today, after a long six hours at work and an even longer three hours at the doctor's office, plus about two hours of total commuting, I was able to do it.

I think I'm starting to get my life back.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

72 Degrees?!?!

72 degrees is arguably the most perfect temperature. In the summer, we set our air conditioning to 72 degrees. In the winter, we set our heat to 72 degrees. Spring and fall tend to be replete with 72 degree days. 72 degree days are days when you can sit under the weeping willow tree and read a book while water happily skips over the rocks in a nearby creek. On 72 degree days, you don't need a jacket or long sleeves. On 72 degree days, you can comfortably indulge in ice cream, go for a jog, and have a picnic. "72 degrees" conjures up an idyllic sun-filled image of bliss. One that is not often seen in the dead of winter.

Except for today.

What a beautiful 72 degree day!