PTSD (not military) and Acknowledgment

I was in a major car accident in late March, and since then I am so grateful to be alive. I walked away with injuries to my neck and upper back, but I walked away from the worst accident I’ve been in. One of my best friends right after the accident suggested that I will probably have PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder). Which, of course, I blew off.   I will explain below.  I just realized, months later, that I do, indeed, probably have PTSD.

Let me be clear I am NOT comparing my PTSD with those who are, or have been, in the military. I know several people both active or former military that served in the military and some of them have PTSD, and that is fundamentally different from mine. I could not imagine how haunting some of the circumstances they have been in would be for me. Both have lasting affects.

Stolen from Facebook. I don't know who, but I love it.

I didn’t think I had it.  I didn’t process much emotion during this whole ordeal except a few times. I thought I had dodged at least bullet out of this ordeal. It wasn’t until I got and read the police report that it sunk in how close it was. If the light had changed a second sooner, it would have been a full on t-bone collision.  And I, most likely, wouldn’t be alive to write this. However, one of my best friends said something to me the other day that struck so deep that I didn’t even give a half smile. I gave a full on grimace. He was listing my injuries to a police friend of his and at the end “and almost had to see a psychiatrist due to not being able to paddle [be on the water] for months”. I not only gave a full on grimace, I stood military straight and whispered, “that is not funny. It is not remotely funny.”

To which he responded, “because it’s true.”
I said, “yes because it’s true […]I also added, ‘he could have killed me for no reason’.”  The first responder in Bath, Pennsylvania, who wasn’t responding to a call almost killed me.

As I said, I am very grateful to be walking and talking considering the damage of the accident. But for an extensive period of time (almost 7 weeks), I lost my mobility, my car, and independence because I had to bring a friend to evaluate used cars for me to replace my destroyed, beloved Honda Fit. I am not writing this to gain sympathy. I am writing this because for the first time since the accident, I am realizing that my trauma goes much deeper than just my physical injuries.

fb car pic

Taken the night of the accident.

For the over 150 of my friends on Facebook who have seen the picture above and wished me well either through a comment or private messaging, I thank you. It meant more than you know, especially because I didn’t post it to my timeline.   It was one of the most humbling and amazing experiences of my life.

I thought PTSD was something only soldiers, first responders, and the like suffered from it. I still really don’t know what it means to me because I just figured out I had it. I just know that people with it shouldn’t feel alone and/or shouldn’t feel like they can’t talk about it. It happens, it’s real, let’s acknowledge it.

Perspective

I spent the past week teaching a group of autistic kids nature and photography in my beloved upstate New York in Lake George at Camp Moki run through an organization called Camp TLC. This camp is all about love and giving not only the kids, but also the parents time together in a safe environment. This was my first year teaching there, and it was life changing to say the least. I’m excited that I’m teaching at least one more, and possibly two this year. Shameless plug, Camp TLC that runs this and three different camps throughout the country.  Go check them out:  Camp TLC.

doodle

This last day of the month is one of my favorite days because there are so many qualifications, promotions, and awards being celebrated through people kicking it in their Arbonne businesses. I absolutely love congratulating people on their different achievements, more so than my own. It was amazing as always, but it felt different.

When the time came to relax and finally go to bed, I just sat in front of my computer processing the events of the past week. It hit me what was different. I was different. They changed me as much as I helped them. For my social media posts, I started using #whohelpswho because I knew that it was going to change me. In terms of capabilities of the campers at Camp Moki, they ranged from high functioning to a few of them had a great deal of difficultly speaking and communicating. They were such an amazing group of kids, and they all started to come out of their safe shells by the end of the week. It was one of the most rewarding and awe inspiring things to watch and be a part of. That is why we do it.   It puts life in perspective.

courage-fear-do-it-anyway

We always say in Arbonne don’t judge anyone’s life by the highlight reel that is social media these days. Life is a challenge, it’s not all unicorns and rainbows. Lacey, another Arbonne consultant, was also remarkably at the camp with her two kids with special needs. One of them is quite disabled with Downs Syndrome, and she barely made it out of the cabin on Monday. Tuesday she was walking up and down the driveway path with her dad in tow. The dad and daughter both went home because it was too much for her, while her older son and Lacey stayed at the Camp. She wrote a beautiful post that described what their family goes through sometimes. You can go to as many classes, programs, and clinical rotations to get an idea of what it might be like to have a family member with special needs, but until you live it, you can’t possibly know the struggle. For those that don’t know, my sister has some special needs. As much as I love her, it’s a tough struggle that my parents are more involved in than I am.  This post isn’t to garner sympathy, just awareness. The more I mature, the more I realize that she is pretty amazing in her own right.

barriers-to-love

My life isn’t perfect and I have struggles with self-worth, discipline, and vulnerability, among others.   The universe conspires in odd and wonderful ways sometimes. I had been pondering for the last month or two about how I just deserved to get away for a few days and regroup with nature. Camp was at the perfect time, and because of the location allowed me to unplug. I never stopped being grateful, but after this past week I will strive to never to take my health for granted. Or my wonderful amazing extended family and friends. I do not think I have ever appreciated what I have in my life more than I do now.

Your life isn’t perfect either. Nor should it be. Struggles with family, partners, finances, jobs, etc are part of the package called life. It sucks at times, but don’t live there. There is always someone who has it worse than you. Bottom line: be grateful for everything you have. The good and the bad.  There’s a reason for all of it.

Exercise, Music, and Pushing limits

I will admit that I am totally, 100% addicted to exercise in a way I never thought possible.  If I go a two days without it, I’m like Jonesing for a fix.  It’s weird, but it’s a good weird.  Every time I go to Sphericality, I reminded that I made a good choice.  I finally had the chance to take a class with the owner of said gym, Dorian, and she did not disappoint.  Like most of the other classes I have taken there, there was a focus on form.  Dorian seemed to take it a step further, and went around the class and tweaked our movements if need be.  Kelly also did this.  This is one of the reasons I am coming to love this gym.  It’s almost perfect for me.

I love music.  I don’t play it, or sing it, I just thoroughly enjoy it.  It is apart of my soul.  Yesterday, my friend Jenny had her first open mic at her place in Bath, PA.  There were a couple of firsts for me.  I read poetry (okay, I had done it once before), and I played music for a genuine first.  I played the cymbals.  Yes, I know that’s not much.  For me though?  It was HUGE.  I have always thought I didn’t know how to keep a beat, at all.  Yesterday I proved myself wrong, because I was according to Jenny able to keep a beat.  I also felt like I could before I asked her.  It was a night of firsts, bonding, and just celebration of a new, eclectic space.

I pushed through a few boundaries, reading my poetry in public and playing music.  For me, there are very few things more vulnerable than those two things.  Reading my inner-most thoughts out loud to the public is something that I am working on overcoming this year.  This was a first step.  Was it uncomfortable?  Hell to the Yes.  Was it worth that feeling?  Hell to the yes.  Happiness and freedom lay outside your comfort zone, and that is where I am pushing this year.

I am a different person than I was last year, and I’m pushing myself to be even more different next year.  When I say different, I don’t mean a caricature  of yourself.  I mean that you are becoming the best version of yourself, and finding your true calling in life.  Which may be so different than you ever thought it could be (like mine).  Be in love with who you are, or at the least be working on loving yourself.  I know it sounds weird (guilty) and new-agey, but trust me when I tell you when you feel peace with yourself and your mission, there is a peace inside of you that rivals no other.

Day 6, Gym 4

I am repeating one gym (Gold’s Gym)  because I had very little time today to find a gym, make an appointment, schedule something, and go before it would have kept me up all night.  Plus, it was the end of my three day pass.  I plan on doing two gyms on one day, anyway soon.  I felt like I should give my body a little break, although, I am not nearly as sore as I thought I’d be after really not working out much at all in the past couple of months.  Thanks to the combination of Arbonne Phytosport line, specifically the hydration and after workout, along with stretching before, during, and after exercise, I’ve for the most part been sore free.

hydration selfie

I have noticed that my stomach is getting tighter again, which is really good.  I didn’t get to take a before and after picture for a few different reasons.  I feel better, have more energy, and just getting out of the little cloud I was in.  It is doing exactly what I had hoped it would do.

Today I wanted to do strict cardio because I haven’t done that yet, and wanted to gauge my fitness level.  I did 12 minutes on the rowing machine, which is my favorite cardio to do in a gym (running, hiking for outside).  I did almost 2000 meters, which I thought was pretty good.  I held my own, too.  I didn’t get too winded, but I did start to feel it after about 7-8 minutes.  I have come to the conclusion that you can do all the circuit training, kickboxing, etc. that you want, and it is more fun than a piece of cardio equipment, but there is no substitute for straight cardio, unfortunately.  You take a pause in all the other ones, because you have to.  It doesn’t work without a break (even a 10 sec) one.  So, it’s time to get back to the love/hate relationship I think everyone has with cardio.  😉

Your True Self

Sometimes the person you have spent your entire life being, isn’t really your true self.  You may have been taught things that weren’t true about yourself and that became your truth, or you succumbed to the version of yourself that everyone believed was you.

This is the story you are telling yourself.  If you are unhappy with it, it’s is time to write a new one.  It’s your damn life, be happy with the choices, lifestyles, and career.

I have recently stepped into the person I am supposed to be, and that for whatever reason has been buried under a mountain of my own bullshit.  Over the past three years, in order, I have developed or done:  started a business, adopted a mentor, followed them around everywhere, did what they said, read a lot of books; developed self-confidence, probably for the first time, actually worked my business; got promoted, and taught and inspired others to be the best version of themselves, and then got promoted again. At times it was painful, but it was worth all of it to be building my future freedom.  Success is rarely easy.

When I got to train after completing Area manager with Arbonne, I got a standing ovation.  It is a moment I will never forget as long as I live.  It was reaffirming, it was magical, and I finally felt comfortable that this was where I was supposed to be. It was at that moment that I realized I am changing the world one treehugging hippie at a time.

me training 2-1-16

Me training at our Arbonne meeting

This is just the beginning of my life.  This is my true self that have unburied after a lot of painful growth, which I have written about before.  The person who I am today is so different than anything I have been in the past twenty years that sometimes it takes awhile for people to see me as I truly am.

The leader, the paddler, treehugging hippy, the person who has inspired an entire Arbonne nation to celebrate with me, and just overall badass, cargo pant wearing chica.  All of those are who I am.  I have shedded the skin of my former life because I’ve grown into my adult embodiment of myself.  It feels like home.

Striking Times

This has been my first Mother’s Day without my Nana.  I felt her on Sunday, I did.  However, for some reason, it is hitting more today for the first time in awhile.  There are so many other times where have felt her presence more, and it is beyond random.

It has happened when hiking, walking, paddling, and very occasionally driving.  I will see something, and out of nowhere WHAM there’s Nana.  I am a deeply spiritual person, and a lot of the emotion I express via writing. It just comes out better than if I do it verbally.

My 96-year old Nana receiving a mud mask last summer. Thank you Arbonne for giving me the time with her.

My 96-year old Nana receiving a mud mask last summer. Thank you Arbonne for giving me the time with her.

The time I spent with my Nana before she died was directly related to my business.  It gave me the time freedom to go down to the shore, and give my Nana a facial and spend time during the week.  My flexibility gave me the time I needed to be with my family.  There are two things that matter to me more than other part of my life:  my family and my friends.  You mess with either of them, and you will regret it.

I get struck by these emotions and sentiments at odd times.  Generally when I’m tired, and my guard is down.  I got to have a final conversation with my Nana that others in my family didn’t get to have.  I would have given ANYTHING so they could have had that conversation that they so deserve.

She is with me.  In every heart ache, every barrier broken, every adventure, and every celebration.  She is there, and always will be.

My mission in life right now is that no one else that I know, specifically, has to endure that hurt.  They get to have that option, freedom, and say in their own god*&mn life.  It’s not about me, and it never really was.  But this just got real.

Goals and Disappointment

When a person sets a goal (big or small), and fails to meet it by their deadline, how do they react?  It depends on their perspective.  I missed a big goal last month.  Was I slightly disappointed?  Yes.  Has it crippled me?  No.  I am still determined to get it done.  I was actually filled with so much gratitude because so many of my team members achieved their goals, and the energy that was created will continue into this month to fuel everyone’s business.

Be unstoppable in spite of fears and doubts. Taken from the interwebs.  Unsure of where.

Be unstoppable in spite of fears and doubts. Taken from the interwebs. Unsure of where.

I did not change the goal to fit the deadline.  I played full out until the end.  When you bring it until the end, even if you didn’t make the goal, you feel like you’ve won.  You have momentum that continues to build, and that is an AMAZING feeling.

If you stop before the deadline though, and then give up on achieving it at all?  The pain of regret is worse than the pain of failure, and can stop you in your tracks.  We’ve all been there, knowing that we could have done something more.  However, dwelling on the past and beating yourself up about it does not serve anyone.  Move on and decide to do it better.

Nature and Respite

The last two weeks, I have sat in front of the ocean at numerous times.  Many at night, and a few during the day.  I have realized how peaceful I am while at the ocean.  I wrote a poem about 2 weeks ago.  How the tide seems to ebb my pain away.  It is still there, and it will be there for quite some time.  The ocean is especially emblematic for how nature seems to center me.  It brings me back to a specific time and place of riding the waves to shore with my nana, or the boardwalk where we watched fireworks.

However, it doesn’t need to be that symbolic.  It can just be soothing.  I was at a park watching the river, and I felt something.  Nana had never been there with me, but the creek reflected her essence.  It had her shine, her bright smile.  And it made me smile because of it.  Things don’t have to be concrete to be real.  Given my background, I have some trouble with that statement.  If you believe it to be real, then it is.  The difference has to be how you reflect on that experience and make it real to the world.

It is there how you truly bring your memory into the world as a living, breathing thing to share with others.

On a completely different note.  This blog has been an amazing experience in so many different ways.  I get to share a personal part of myself (something I am NOT good at) with others I never would have met before, and you get to experience what I write as you want to.  I also get to share my passion for nature, gratitude, my business, and my family in a way I never would have thought possible.  This has been another life changing journey for me this year, and it’s JUST begun.  Thank you to all of you who have subscribed so far, I feel honored.  I hope you are enjoying this as much as I am.

Grief, Trust, and Belief

I am not a big trust person.  It takes a long time to earn it from me.  I have been working on steadily for the past two years.  Every once and while, though, I get this urge and almost necessity to speak with someone who I don’t know very well.  I did that tonight, and it was about something deeply personal for both of us.  I honestly didn’t know what would come of our conversation, which started about a family event this past week.  It was an open, genuine, deeply “real” conversation that was both terrifying and quite striking.  And it morphed from a conversation about grieving and that process to one of an oddly fulfilling personal awakening.  The cool part was it all stemmed from my friend Kayla’s firm belief that my Nana was immensely proud of me.

When you spend almost your entire adult life being closed off from the world, and to open yourself up little by little is a bit daunting.  It makes one vulnerable and exposed.

I have had people tell me, “you are such an inspiration.” And I would say, “thank you so much, and I am glad I was able to do that for you.”   In reality, I never understood why I was such an inspiration.  FYI, this is not me being modest, I honestly didn’t know.

Kayla, my friend and colleague, clued me in tonight on why I am so inspirational (her words).

I met her last year in Vegas, and she was brand new.  Apparently, I said no matter what it was, “Arbonne is amazing.”  To me Arbonne is not about the paycheck, which can be incredible.  It’s about the relationships, personal growth, and self-discovery along the way.  And that is why I am an inspirational being in Arbonne (this is what others have told me).  I have persevered much longer than other people may have, because despite some setbacks, I kept going.  Because I SAW the potential, I saw where I was going, and I saw what I could become.  I hadn’t seen that before really, EVER.  I didn’t believe in myself, and I relied on others belief in me until I gathered my own.  My personal definition of perseverance is doing something long after the excitement and what you said you were going to do has worn off.  I am a person of my word, and yes, this is a lot longer than I thought it would take.  It IS happening.  My Nana saw it in me the last time we spoke, and it has provided a fuel for me to get it done.  She was proud of me.  She saw greatness in me, and she believed it to be possible.

I didn’t know what this blog entry was going to be about.  I almost just free-wrote it, and this is what came out of my head.  It’s important part of this journey that I am on to trust myself.