I’ve been a nurse for over 16 years, most of which was spent in trauma or surgical intensive care units. I’ve delivered countless chest compressions, units upon units of blood, and numerous vials of medications through veins, lungs, even bones. I have been scratched, bitten, spit upon and cursed. I have washed every imaginable body fluid from my shoes and my clothes. I have witnessed death before my eyes, in my grasp, and on my watch. Yet while all of these things may sound unpleasant, it is what nearly always happened at the beginning of every shift that is my most unsettling memory: THE PATIENT HISTORY REPORT.
Coronary Artery Disease. Peripheral Vascular Disease. Stroke. Cardiac Arrest. Obesity. Diabetes Type 2. Over and over, the same diagnoses. So many of them preventable with education, availability of resources, a shift in lifestyle and the desire to live well. While there are genetic exceptions, congenital anomalies and predispositions, THEY ARE FEW.
Oh yes I did. Neighborhood market, bikini, stilettos.
This photo was taken in October 2014 when I challenged myself to spend a few hours going about my daily business in Los Angeles dressed in what I’d be wearing on stage in Miami the following month. It would be my first fitness competition, and I thought I might need to test my confidence with exposure and “judgment”.
The decision to compete took quite a significant amount of thought-integrating, internal demon-fighting and self-image shifting. I knew the most difficult work for me would not be within the walls of a gym, but within the confines of my head. I had committed to competing, and I decided to do whatever it would take to bring my best to the stage. To do this, I had to expose and clean up 40 layering years of self-image vandalism.
The moment I reframed motherhood to include being unapologetically committed to my own excellence and dreams, the moment I gave myself permission to pursue my own happiness…is the moment I would ultimately be choosing to give my children the gift of the best mother I could be.
They won’t remember their mother’s agony over leaving them with a sitter, or their occasional tears as she pulled out of the driveway. They won’t remember missing her at all. They won’t remember these little moments they were given to explore the territory of their own bodies and minds to find peace with their reality…they’ll be grateful later for the practice, though!
When I was sixteen, I was invited to compete in a Junior Olympic girls’ volleyball national qualifying meet. I had been playing USVBA volleyball all over the state during the summer before my Junior year of high school, and I had been selected to travel to Iowa to compete for a spot on the U.S. Junior Olympic team.
That was 1990. Since then, I have traveled and lived in many states across the country, and I have found no collection of women stronger in physique and more formidable than the young female athletes of the midwestern states!
They kicked my ass in the first round and I was quickly eliminated.
Nevertheless, I excelled at the sport and would still have the honor to serve as Captain of my high school volleyball team, and kick ass in my hometown. I finished my Junior year strongly, and was already being scouted for college volleyball scholarships.
Then, in early summer before my Senior year, I made a decision that would alter my course dramatically. All of the hours of practice, winning games and early accolades were tossed aside in pursuit of thinner thighs. I chose an eating disorder instead.
This was a response from a woman eavesdropping on a conversation I had with a family member recently when discussing therapies for a health issue. I had shared a stretching exercise to try before bedtime, recommended by a neuromuscular therapist for the specific issue. The woman was a proponent of pill-popping, offering suggestions for various drugs to “fix” the problem quickly, and rejected the inclusion of stretching and exercise to treat it.
The results from my indomitable will, lifting the weight of life’s challenges at the gym, has called out a strength in me that far surpasses what the eye can see..and the subsequent manifestation of CLARITY and STRENGTH in forging a purposeful life path, in relationships, wealth and power, have been worth every minute, every rep, every dollar spent. Please invest in your health! If not for any of the things I’ve mentioned, then to have an @$$ like this at 40, too 🙂