Could you be making the mistake of trying to rebuild your life with broken pieces from the past?

Source: David Ritter

Source: David Ritter

Let’s get real…

Someone just threw a rock through your living room window.

Their not done! They run around to the back of the house and smash your bedroom windows, and they bash in that beautiful bay window you’ve just had installed.

How do you feel? Shocked? Scared? Pissed?

You call the police. Your statement is taken, and a report will be written up.

Now what? You have broken windows throughout your home, and your dwelling is vulnerable.

Since we’re talking in hypotheticals, you CAN’T have a repair man come out and fix these windows. You CAN’T call on your spouse, neighbor, or best friend. It’s YOU fixing the problem.

It’s 2:30pm on Sunday. Time is tickin’

What are you going to do?

You pause for a few minutes and decide to take a taxi to Home Depot. (“A taxi?” Sorry, your medical condition doesn’t allow you to drive.)

You get to Home Depot and start wandering about the store.

The intimidating vastness of Home Depot is upon you. You run into a customer service rep, and they direct you to the hardware aisle.

Staring back at you are foreign objects known as charcoal fiberglass screens, steel patio foot rollers, splash guards. What the heck? Where are the windows?

Unfortunately, you’re not going to walk down a prefabricated aisle called __________ (insert your name here) window repair aisle.

You will need tools and materials such as putty knife, paint brush, glazing compound, etc.

You simply wanted shiny new panes of glass and easy assembly instructions.

I know what your thinking.  “Get to the point! What does this have to do with the broken pieces of my life?” Hang with me, this is a journey we’re taking, not the destination.

Did it EVER ONCE cross your mind, that in order to repair your broken windows, you would have to pick up EACH PIECE of glass and reassemble it?

“Did she just say to pick up EACH PIECE of BROKEN glass and reassemble the windows with super glue glass adhesive?”

That would be crazy, wouldn’t it?

You understood there was a place that housed tools and materials that would aid you in repairing your broken windows.

It may have occurred to you, like those windows, you feel broken. Something outside of your control has left you shattered and vulnerable.

You’re ready to move forward and repair, but your trying to REASSEMBLE a life with the broken pieces from your past.

It’s going to take NEW tools and NEW materials to REBUILD the broken pieces of your life.

Much love,
Marissa

PS: “What are these new life tools and materials you speak of that will repair my life?” I’m not ashamed to say… I have NO CLUE.  I JUST realized I was trying to rebuild my life with broken pieces from the past. To be continued…

Disabling Life Autopilot

I have found this post difficult to write. Not because I don’t have incredible things to say about 2012, quite the contrary. It’s that I don’t believe I have fully digested the lessons of 2012.

I didn’t realize I had been gathering fuel for this project for 6 year, and all I needed was ignition. That spark came Dec 13, 2011. I received an email from Susan Mees from WEGO health.

Dear Marissa,

I’m writing to let you know that you have been nominated for one of our 2011Health Activist Awards by someone in your community. The first-ever Health Activist Awards will recognize Health Activists for the great things they’ve accomplished this year. Your nomination has put you in the running to win an Award. Congratulations!

An award? Wow. At that point,  I had seen the blog as a personal diary. No one in my life had willingly sat me down and wanted to hear my version of how my health derailed my life. Sure, I saw a few therapist, but that was me reaching out for help. No one had reached out in the way I had needed them too. I was on autopilot, driving on the wrong side of the highway, praying for a head-on collision and no one knew it!

wet road

photo: freedigitalphotos.net

The blog became my mentor. I wrote, it didn’t judge, and I wrote some more. I didn’t have a direction for the blog, or want to turn the blog into an affiliate money making machine! LOL. I needed this blog. I envisioned one spectator out there that was interested in hearing about my story. I wrote to that one witness.

I was fully engrossed with MYSELF!

I only saw MY story, MY journey, MY tragedy, MY hurt, MY pain, MY grief, MY loss!

I was growing and purging emotionally in 2011, but something was missing! I had no clue how to turn off the cruise control of fear. I had worked myself through the stages of grief with assistance of a therapist, but I was AFRIAD! NOW WHAT? How do I live a life with a hidden disability?

The email from WEGO health contained a link to additional awards and nominees. I began following the nomination and award process and found myself devouring each nominee and their story. I became obsessed with their journey’s and how they were living despite chronic illness.

Dec 15, 2011 blog post: Reflection, monition, idea, execution…

For a moment, I found myself lost in another person’s story and passion. After reading several nominees blogs, I had a thought. Could a shift in focus away from vestibular struggles help me through my vestibular struggles? Educating myself on other medical conditions and focusing on another person’s journey may be the best way for me to pull through my own condition.

Dec 18, 2011, I put together a video blog.

The 12-12-12 project was birthed and I got to work.

It wasn’t about MY story, MY journey, MY tragedy, MY hurt, MY pain, MY grief, MY loss!

It was about Their story, Their journey, Their tragedy, Their hurt, Their pain, Their grief, Their loss!

I became the person I needed that never came. I wanted to hear their stories, learn about their conditions and spread awareness! I became so invested in this project that I was often distracted by my own personal struggles living a vestibular disorder.

If I felt fatigued, I would think of Kim and her struggles living with a Budd- Chiari Syndrome, and the fatigue that engulfs her.

If I didn’t want to walk for exercise, I would think of Peachy living with a form of arthritis called Ankylosing spondylitis that requires her to exercise to maintain flexibility in her joints.

If I didn’t want to take a shower because I was down and depressed, I would think of my dear friend Blake. He would love to hop out of his wheelchair and jump into the shower, but Spinal Muscular Atrophy has taken that from him.

If I could choose a single lesson from this project to share with you, it would be this….

Actively search for and wholeheartedly listen to another persons story. You will create a synergy of emotional healing for the both of you! There is power in numbers.

Thank you to EACH project member for opening yourselves up to share your story.

January: Blake Watson
Condition: Spinal Muscular Atrophy

February: Kim M.
Condition: Budd-Chiari Syndrome

March: Amy Gurowitz
Condition: MS

April: Rhiann Johns ( Thank you to Mrs. Johns!:)
Condition: Long-standing brain stem lesion and spastic paraparesis

May: Sara Gorman
Condition: Lupus

June: Dale Lehn
Condition: Chronic Pain

July: Peachy
Condition: Ankylosing spondylitis

August: Sarah Levis
Condition: Arteriovenous malformations (AVM)

September: Sarah Mills
Condition: Severe multiple allergies, covering asthma, hay fever, eczema, food allergies and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS)

October and November: Andi and Jett Durkin
Condition: Down Syndrome

December: Pam Sloate
Condition: Dystonia

From the bottom of my heart, I love you all and  THANK YOU for disabling my life autopilot, putting me back on the right side of the road, and keeping me from a head on collision.

Much love,
Marissa

The Lessons: Control And Beyond

Here are just SOME of the lessons that 12-12-12 project member Pam shared with us during her INSPIRATIONAL podcast interview.

Lesson #1
“We are not in control. Living with a movement issue, I spent the majority of my life trying to control anything because I couldn’t control the main things, and it’s a waste of time”

Lesson #2
“We have to accept ourselves with all of our imperfections.”

Lesson #3
“You have to not assume that other people are thinking anything about you. I used to walk down the street and not want to look at anyone else because I was convinced they were looking at me and how I walked.”

I HIGHLY suggest you listen to Pam break down these lessons in our recent podcast. If you want to jump directly into the lessons they start at 50:16.

PODCAST HERE

Much love,
Marissa

Podcast With 12-12-12 Project Member Pam Sloate-Dystonia

Play

Pam opens up about her experience living with Dystonia since age 8 1/2. She talks openly about Dystonia, grief & loss, and maintaing a positive attitude. She shares SOME VERY important life lessons! It’s a MUST LISTEN.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Download the audio

Much love,
Marissa

P.S. Pam, thank you for stepping outside of yourself to do this interview. I love you girl!

30 Things I Needed to Hear Before I Got Sick-Life lessons learned

Life lessons I have learned a little late. Please don’t make the same mistake!

What’s your typical weekday look like?

If you are LUCKY ENOUGH to have a job in this economy, your averaging about 7.5 hours a day at work according to the American Time Use Survey.

Some of you are clocking a commute of 100+ miles round trip daily.

So let’s break down a possible scenario:

You get up at around 6:00 AM and put some sorta breakfast together. I won’t forget to mention your much needed morning cup of coffee.

You realize it’s too late to workout, so you head for the shower. Too tired to lay your clothes out the night before, so your fumbling around looking for something presentable to piece together.

Your hair has taken a bit longer to style than usual, so you slack on your makeup routine.

You know you shouldn’t put on those new high heels, because you haven’t had time to break them in, but you ignore your moment of SANITY.

DANG! You forget to pack your lunch. Oh well, your used to scrambling, grabbing a quick bite to eat during your 45 minute lunch break.

Fumbling around looking for your keys, you catch a glimpse of your purse and realize it doesn’t match the outfit you pieced together at the last minute. You don’t have time to mess with it. Your out the door hoping you grabbed everything needed to get through ANOTHER DAY.

You start the car to find you have a quarter tank of gas left. You say to yourself…“Figures!  I can’t be late again. My boss is going to kill me. I can’t get fired.”

You see where this is heading. Since the minute, this poor gal woke up the cards were stacked against her. She failed to finish before given the chance to start.

I am comfortable saying this scenario rings true for a great majority of individuals.

EACH DAY runs into the next, and you realize you are just another HAMSTER ON THE WHEEL OF LIFE!

This was a typical day for me before I got sick.  I was getting trampled by life, and I never questioned slowing down and checking in with myself.

 SO, if I got a chance to go back in time and speak with healthy Marissa, THIS is what I would say to her…

(If you are healthy and feeling a bit out of control, THIS ONE’S FOR YOU!)

Continue reading

12-12-12 The Lesson: Positive Change

Change scares MOST of us. WHY?

BECAUSE THERE IS A POSSIBILITY WE MAY FEEL…

  • Uncomfortable
  • Scared
  • Out of control
  • Judged

 

When I got sick, I subscribed to two schools of thought…

1.) I have no control over this illness. It has me. I CAN’T change my situation.
2.) My choices are limited, BUT there are plenty of areas of my life I STILL HAVE control over (what I put in my mouth, my at·ti·tude, my personal values and beliefs). I started focusing on what I could control! I realize access to choices means there is a chance I CAN change my situation.

 A POWERFUL SHIFT happened when I moved from I CAN’T to I CAN!

 When I was in the I CAN’T camp, I felt…

  • Uncomfortable
  • Scared
  • Out of control
  • Judged

 

Now enrolled in the I CAN camp, I feel…

  • Uncomfortable
  • Scared
  • Out of control
  • Judged

WHAT?

How can this be? I know what your thinking. “Marissa, what are you talking about? You are still in the same place! Nothing has changed for you.”

Does that mean I am not broke, not sick, or not realistic about my situation? NO.

Let’s face it, I am bordering “JUST ANOTHER STATISTIC “ status. There is a HUGE chance I may not be able to reinvent myself and support myself financially or enjoy a career I am passionate about because of these new limitations.

THE DIFFERENCE IS…

I BELIEVE that I have enough variables in my life that I can control where CHANGE may positively alter my current predicament.

This month’s 12-12-12 lesson has reaffirmed that belief.

Peachy shared with us a lesson that is both critical and relevant.

“Be the change that you wish to see.”

I’m trying to be the change that I wish to see. I wish there was a change in regards to arthritis. I wish there was a change and a cure for arthritis. I wish there was more people who actually understood about this disease and where people didn’t feel isolated and alone and felt freely to talk about it and not feel like people are going to discriminate against them, and make them feel alone. I’m trying to be the positive change in which I hope people who have arthritis can see.

Peachy listed VERY SPECIFIC areas in her life where she doesn’t have much control over. BUT she is grabbing onto the variables in her life that she has control over and that she BELIEVES she can actively change.

She is positively changing the world around her by being the best version of herself.

Here is a link to this month’s 12-12-12 podcast interview with Peachy.

Peachy! You are a blessing and THANK YOU for reaffirming the power of positive change!

Much love,
Marissa

P.S. Bust out one of your devices or go old school on me and use paper and pencil. Jot down one area of your life you have control over mentally or physically.

Example: Are you judgmental? Do you see someone walking down the street and you are quick to judge them? “Oh my, what was she thinking wearing that? Oh no she didn’t!”

Well guess what? That is an area of your life you have control over! Whatever you decide, let that be your start to positive growth. You will soon find there are many areas where positive change is possible.  You will start to experience personal growth AND THAT will instill a belief that positive change is possible for you.  It might hurt. You will most likely resist. You may fail. And that is when you know you are on your way to producing positive change. You got this!

Guess Who I Ran Into Today? The World’s Oldest Shoe Dog!

 

Danny was AWESOME! I let him have the final shoe color selection.

New Shoes

Nice choice Danny!

I also appreciated THE LESSON he passed on.

You have a good attitude AND THAT will carry you through life!

Marissa and Danny at Shoe City

Thanks Danny and thank you Shoe City for letting Danny live his passion (AND for offering brand name shoes at affordable prices to the community!)

Much love,
Marissa