Monday, February 14, 2011

LOVE Valentine's Day

I LOVE Valentine's Day. I don't care if it is a 'Hallmark' Holiday. I totally fall for this one.

I LOVE Pink and Red, I LOVE Velvet, I LOVE Lace, I LOVE Godiva, I LOVE Red Waldorf Astoria Cake, I LOVE Ribbon, I LOVE flowers, I LOVE Papyrus , I LOVE Tyler, I LOVE Troy, I LOVE Steve, I LOVE Toffee and I LOVE Topaz. I LOVE it all.

I celebrate LOVE on Valentine's Day with all of the trimmings! Happy Valentine's Day to YOU!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Leadership & Latte: Speaking Engagement

Prior to my surgery my friend Alicia contacted me to see if I was at all interested in speaking at an event the Minneapolis Junior League was presenting on Saturday, February 12.

The Minneapolis Junior League was holding their Leadership and Latte Day: Your Heart, Health and Happiness. The facilitator wanted to bring to the agenda a piece that would cover diet and exercise as preventative medicine for heart disease; presented by either a nutritionist, personal trainer/therapist with fitness focus or combination expert.

I hadn't had any contact with the MJL prior to this event and was a bit apprehensive to accept, simply because this event was out of my comfort zone as I typically speak to running groups. We have the common bond; running. I didn't know what I may have in common with this group. I knew they were a professional group of women who volunteered their time to benefit women and children. I didn't know how I would I would feel 2.5 weeks post surgery, another reason for my apprehension.

I did decide, yes, I would do this. I know that it is good for me to stretch out of my comfort zone and good for me to connect with others. I do enjoy sharing my story.

I was still very apprehensive.

As the week of the presentation neared I learned that I would be part of presentation that consisted of two other speakers. Dr. Joyce Wahr, a cardiac anesthesiologist as well as adjunct professor at the University of Michigan, would be speaking before me relating to the risk factors, gender data and preventative measures of woman's heart disease. After her segment Krista Post, Psychologist, would be speaking. I would be the final speaker. Now I was real apprehensive.

I entered the Excelsior and Grand Clubhouse and introduced myself to many of the women. They were very warm and very welcoming. I learned that 61 women had reserved a seat for the event. I was directed to place my literature upon the table for the members attending. As I reached for the agenda I was shaking with nervousness.

Dr. Joyce Wahr delivered a great presentation. I learned very much from her as she spoke about women and heart disease. We had a break and Krista then spoke about the components of emotional well-being. There was no break between Krista and I. I was introduced "Julie will share with us an inspirational story of how one woman has embraced life-changing habits to lead to a more heart healthy life" and up to the front of the banquet room I went.

I looked into the eyes of the women, I began to deliver my presentation. During my presentations I don't hold any notes, I don't use the projector or power point, I don't use photos. I speak from my heart. Just myself and my audience. I spoke to these women about how I changed my step at a time and how those baby steps led to lifestyle changes. Big lifestyle changes. It is a very personal history and one I enjoy sharing very much.

The women laughed with me, they even cried with me. At the end of my presentation they asked many questions and let me know that I did in fact inspire and motivate them. I was asked if I was willing to speak at upcoming events. I've received phone calls and email to see if I will schedule other speaking engagements.

I enjoyed myself so much. I love to share of myself in this way. To let others know that yes, you can change your behaviors, today, to live a healthier lifestyle. It isn't too late. You do get another chance!

I'm going to run with this, to polish my speaking, to accept these speaking engagements, to share myself with others. It's an offer I don't want to refuse.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

2 Weeks Post Op

Thank you for all of the cards, texts, emails and phone calls. They mean a lot to me. I have a new appreciation for get well cards! A little something that means so much. Thanks again.

My first week at home had me out of sorts. I imagine the anesthesia stayed in my system for a while, as well as the pain meds I was taking in the hospital. Steve stayed home on Wednesday, went back to work on Thursday and then went to a pool tournament for the weekend. I wasn't on meds anymore so was able to drive Troy about. Just getting dressed and running one errand wore me out. I would be back home on the couch within minutes. I was able to begin walking without pain, just a bit of dizziness. My first week home I was walking 1-2 miles outdoors each day which seemed like a huge victory.

Week two went much smoother. I wasn't so tired all of the time and spent less time in bed or on the couch. I used Netflix and watched an array of movies: The Expendables, Time Travelers Wife, Hangover, WallStreet (II), Salt, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; I finished a few books: Let Me In (spooky freaky), Winter Garden (so sad) and decided to read again one of my absolute favorite series (as well as Tyler's and Troy's) Terry Goodkind's Sword Series. I love it. I'm reading the first one now and can't put it down. There are like 12 books in the series and each book is 1000 pages long. Fabulous. It's been a few years since I last read the series.

Last week I was able to walk up to 5 miles each day. My surgeon stated "no exercise for 6 weeks but you can walk as much as you want to" "walking isn't exercise, not even like 10 miles?" "no, not really" Interesting hu? The media has us believe that walking 30 minutes a day can reduce fat, risk of heart disease, increase cardiovascular health but really, it doesn't make much of a change in a person. It is a great stepping stone to better health but in of itself, not so much. I don't think they (government? health industry? media?) believe that the average joe or jane will try to change their lifestyle if they are told they need to elevate their heart rate to 80% of max in order to reap benefit. That might be too uncomfortable and too far out of the comfort zone to contemplate. OK, off my soap box.

So I am walking 6 miles this week. Topaz probably runs about 10 because he is running up in front of me, herding me, having a great time.

Today it is -18F in Big Lake with a -34F wind chill. I actually placed hand warmers into my mittens and wore 3 layers top and bottom. Topaz sported heavy booties. Brrr!

My routine this past week is not too exciting. I have breakfast with Troy, drive him to school, go for a walk, read..facebook.. (too much) .. movie.. nap..walk to the bus stop to meet Troy .. at least I'm fixing dinner now .. go for another walk .. Biggest Loser or American Idol .. bed time ..

Last Sunday I ventured out for the first time other than a quick drop off. It was fabulous. I had lunch with my awesome friends at CRAVE at the Galleria. We were celebrating Tom's 30 year anniversary of sobriety. It was interesting to note that the majority of us are ultra runners and sober. It felt so very good to get out to see great friends, great conversation and a great meal. I had 101 questions to ask John and Jason as they had just returned from running the Arrowhead 135.(Click on the Arrowhead Link and watch the video. It is of the bikers - this race allows bike, ski and foot - and the scenery, the people, outstanding. But why not any runners in video? Oh well..) John won it again, finishing in 40 some hours and secured an entry to the Iditarod Trail Invitational 350 awesome video here, too. Wow. I was seated near Jason so I asked him 101 questions and told him that he could tell me at any time to stop asking. He never did. So I asked away..and learned a lot.

After I left Edina I picked up Troy from church and returned home to make dinner for the Superbowl half time. Troy had requested Giada's Twice Baked Potatoes. As I was prepping dinner I realized I wasn't exhausted. I had been up and about most of the day and felt very good. What a great turn of events.

So as I enter this third week of post op I am feeling very grateful for my uneventful recovery. My strength is returning, I am healing, I am not as tired as I was in the previous days.

Next Saturday I am speaking to the Minneapolis Junior League relating to healthy lifestyle/inspiration and motivation. The next few days will have me running my presentation through my mind, making less time for movies. That is a good thing!

There is bad news, however. Yesterday Mom learned that her ovarian cancer has spread to her lungs and liver. We are devastated. Her CA 125 had been on the increase and her latest scan revealed the bad news. However, she responded greatly to the chemo 6 years and again 3 years ago. We are very hopeful that she will again respond in the same manner. Today Mom has her first chemo treatment. We are praying that the chemo will be as effective as it has been in the past.