Practice Makes Perfect

I’m biting my lip, thinking about how many times I have thought of my former post, Why Me? since last Monday.

I spent the day attempting to work from home while enduring severe neck and shoulder pain. It had worsened after the initial muscle pain from my previous surgery. My surgeon sent me for a CT Scan over the weekend and my intuition was validated when I answered his phone call on Monday afternoon.

It’s never a good sign with the Neurosurgeon calls ahead of your planned appointment.

Long story short; my fourth cervical spine fusion failed. Four screws are loosening from pressure above them and the only solution is to remove the hardware and fuse further below, into my thoracic spine.

 

IMG_6842

What does your spine look like?

 

His voice cracked while telling me. I felt numb. I shifted my way over to my dog and held him for a few minutes before telling my family.

So, how do I not want to curl up and avoid the world? How did I practice a growth mindset? Was I positive?

For the record, I did want to curl up and avoid everything, but curling up would be extra painful. So, I laid down. I accepted many snuggles, both human and puggle.

 

IMG_6895

Wrangler the Puggle, expert level snuggler.

 

I let the doctor’s words play over and over in my head, acknowledging frustration and anger. These surgeries are intense; emotionally, mentally, and of course physically. I could not believe I would have to do it over … again.

The anger became sadness and fear as I talked with my therapist, but I knew they were just feelings, natural with what was happening to my body. As I spoke more about it, I began to practice my growth mindset.

Mindset.png

I am unsure why this challenge has entered my life but I chose to focus on the fact that this surgery and this recovery will give many people, especially me, the opportunity to grow. All of my doctors (and yes, it is quite an amazing team) will learn more about Ehler Danlos Syndrome and the effects of hypermobility to my neck and others who may be similar. The opportunity for me to grow, to learn more about my body, to grow healthier, to grow to learn more patience and courage.

While it may be a setback to my life (I’m supposed to move! I should be at work! Pushing through pain to live is hard!),  I promised myself to prepare for the best possible recovery so I can grow and improve.

I have downloaded inspirational and motivational TED Talks, podcasts, and have my meditation app ready. My iTunes playlists are full of Lady Gaga, JayZ, Eminem, Hamilton, Linkin Park, P!nk; music to get me up and moving. Currently, I am making a list of small but attainable goals to achieve each day, such as mini walks, practicing meditation, reading, reaching out to friends, all things to stay busy and positive. I will eat healthy to promote healing (but the occasional ice cream WILL help) and will follow doctor’s orders.

I will enter surgery with good thoughts and intentions, which has been and will continue to be practiced. After all, practice makes perfect.

#yellowitsme #positivity #growthmindset #mindset #progress #blog #wordpress #cervicalspine #ehlerdanlos #cervicalspinalfusion #grateful #gratitiude #pain #chronicpain #positivethinking #recovery #grit #persistance #determination #ladygaga #jayz #eminem #hamilton #pink #p!nk #linkinpark

Advertisements

Why Me?

A lackadaisical summer car ride brought about the interesting question.

My Jeep weaved up and down hills, from point to A to B, as I hovered my foot above the gas and twisted the wheel with each turn; iced coffees jostling between our hands and the cupholder.

23deb1d6001296f8df417453423d5e05--monty-python-yellow-quotesWe were talking about some of my medical conditions and the impending eight level cervical spine fusion that was charging our way.

She asked, “have you ever thought, ‘why me’?”

Without a beat, I replied, “No.”

Yes, I have acknowledged painful moments in my 32 years. I have allowed myself to feel those moments with the raw emotions that tackle one’s system; devastation, fear, loneliness,  anger, and frustration. However, I never throw myself pity party, I never play the victim card. What a waste of energy.

mindset-change.jpg

I have hope. I am grateful. I have faith. I have love. I have laughter.

I know the strength to remain positive in adversity is not something I was born with. My life experiences created it. It was (and is) modeled by my family, mentors, and friends.  My faith constantly reminds me that I must trust the universe.  I continue practicing the growth mindset, an idea about the brain presented by Psychologist Carol Dweck. Everyday incredible opportunities present themselves, far more than anything horrible. I chose to focus on the good.

1176251-Carol-S-Dweck-Quote-In-a-growth-mindset-challenges-are-exciting.jpg

As Monty Python sings,

“Always look on the bright side of life/If life seems jolly rotten,/There’s something you’ve forgotten!/And that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing.”

#yellowitsme  #positivity #progress #mindset  #lifesjourney #blog #wordpress #grateful #mentalhealth #family #disability #inspiration #panicdisorder #ehlerdanlossyndrome #cervicalspinefusion #hypermobolity #scared #thanks #gratitude #mentalillness #growthmindset #emotions #montypython #caroldweck

 

25 Things You Don’t Know About Me!

Summer 2017 was pretty tough, but with a growth mindset, positivity, and some hard work, I am ready for some fun. Scroll below to get to know me a little bit better!

Me

  1. I pissed off Jack Nicholson. JNicMy brother and I heckled Jack at a Yankee game when we were young. He was wearing leopard loafers, sitting in front of us, minding his own business, but we were riled by the crowd taunting him for “killing animals.” He took it in stride in the beginning, but as we continued to annoy him, he methodically turned to the right and shot us his signature evil glare. YIKES! We learned not to mess with Jack again. On the plus side, his friends Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick, and Chris Rock got a chuckle out of it and were very nice to us.
  2. Christmas Eve is my FAVORITE night of the year. It is still as magical as it was when I waited for Santa. ChristmasEve
  3. I eat two pieces of dark chocolate a day. Except for one week, when I tried the #Whole30.
  4. My family and I discovered I was allergic to bees on my sixth birthday (my “golden birthday”) when I was stung running around the yard. The best gift that year was my EpiPen!
  5. I have six tattoos and will probably get more. 18423_3412005374019_3466843665173679104_n
  6. My dad used to tell me, “never say never.” I would roll my eyes. Some things I have to say never to: that I would never live in Ridgefield, that I would never work at Pamby Motors, and that I would never go to SJU… OHHHH the irony! (I moved back to Ridgefield after grad school, I attended SJU for my BA and MA, and I currently work at Pamby’s. Admittedly, I have tried the opposite; “I will NEVER win the lottery…I am still waiting!)
  7. I am a compulsive organizer with everything. I won’t even let someone else wash or fold my laundry. That is Emily time!
  8. I pray, meditate, and believe in a higher spiritual power.
  9. It has been said that I have incredible handwriting. I think it’s nice.
  10. In regards to handwriting, two things: my favorite things to write are exquisite thank you notes and the only pen that is an acceptable writing instrument is a Pilot Precise V5 in black. The other colors are for doodling, obviously.
  11. I can make an awesome elephant sound. Just ask my friend’s kids.
  12. My Dad ran me over with a snow plow. He was plowing my Nana’s driveway and I was shoveling. The snow was almost up to my thighs. I moved when he wasn’t looking and the next thing I knew, I was being plowed with the snow into the snow bank. It didn’t hurt all that much, I was just very stunned.
  13. Socks. I love socks. I have a sock for every moment, every graphic, every attitude. My sock collection is hilarious, colorful, and fun. Thank you to all who gift me awesome socks and keep these feet happy!
  14. I wear sunscreen every day. SPF 15 or higher!
  15. I am ambidextrous. I prefer using my left hand for driving, coloring, brushing my teeth, and eating. My right for writing, throwing. Sometimes I rotate based on comfort. This really helps when my Ehler Danlos flares up and I dislocate hands, fingers, or arms!
  16. I have never seen The Game of Thrones.
  17. Yellow Starbursts are my favorite flavor. Not because of the color. They taste delicious!
  18. I have a reoccurring nightmare in which I am back at college and can not graduate because I have not finished my math requirements.
  19. I refuse to watch scary movies.
  20. I read a lot and I read fast. I love learning new ideas and imagining the world an author has created. I typically am reading two books at once, one is a piece of fiction and the other is a self-help, teach me something type of book. Currently, I am finishing Radical Forgiveness by Colin Tipping and The Lake House by Kate Morton.
  21.  I had dinner with Nobel Prize Winner Desmond Tutu. When I was a child, my parents often hosted dinner parties. They were friendly with our churches priests and the men would come on weekends for fun. One night, the Pastor brought a visiting priest from South Africa, Desmond Tutu. He was gracious, thoughtful, and I loved his accent. He even played with my American Girl Dolls!
  22. I can pick up objects with my toes, like a monkey.
  23. I love playing Poker. 1780735_241893689315247_466245469_n
  24. I (try to) watch Jeopardy every night. It was something I would watch with my Noni and Aunt Jess while trying to earn .25$ per correct answer. I love trivia! My family and I will often watch it together and compete.
  25. I LOVE my family.  They are everything to me. Ups, downs, challenges, fun, ridiculousness – we have been through it all and we support and love one another. My parents were strict as we grew up but showed us the ways of the world, which we navigated together. #FamilyFirst

    #yellowitsme #positivity #progress #mindset #growthmindset #blog #wordpress #trivia #ehlerdanlos  #grateful #gratitiude #positivethinking #fun #jacknicholson #yankees #newyorkyankees #christmaseve #darkchocolate #allergies #tattoos #epipen #goldenbirthday #neversaynever #organized #laundry #prayer #mediation #higherpower #spiritual #handwriting #handwrittennotes #thankyounotes #elephants #snowplowed #snowplow #sock #sockcollection #sunscreen #ambidextrous #gameofthrones #starbursts #yellow #yellowstarbursts #nightmare #scarymovies #read #books #fiction #nonfiction #nobelprize #desmondtutu #southafrica #poker #texasholdem #jeopardy #trivia #family #love #support

Learning to Fly

 

Bird

A Robin fledgling, a baby bird who has left the nest without much experience to survive. Credit: Google Images

 

Dusk’s magical lighting fell over the manicured grounds, so at first, I thought it was a baby bat. It was on the pavement, so close to the lush lawn where its home was, but about ten feet away, struggling to fly.

I squinted, focused, and recognized the little animal as a tiny Robin, old enough to be away from the nest, full of its blue egg remnants, but small and young enough to fumble in flight.

My heart sank as I watched. It kept jumping up, launching straight up like a rocket, and then would peacefully fall back down to the ground. It would barely gain any distance towards the inviting trees and gardens, where its community was waiting and chirping for the bird.

With each attempt toward the sky, I stopped breathing, until the bird safely landed. Inch by inch, it flew up, fluttered back down. I prayed the wind would come along and help carry it over. Should I help it?  What if a car does not see it? I began the dangerous thought pattern of “what-ifs.”

As it launched itself again, I rooted for its flight to become more fruitful, for it to gain distance and length. Little by little, the determined bird made its way; up and over, up and over, up and over, to the green grass. It’s dainty legs hit the grass and like a proud mother, I teared up when it leveraged itself once more, and finally, hitting his fledgling stride, soared home.

 

The synchronicity of this little bird and his struggle overwhelmed me, but I trust the universe and look for signs when practicing mindfulness. I believe the bird was there for me, from a power higher than I can imagine, showing me I too will soar with persistence, grit, and determination. That wobbly, unstable flight represents the trauma of the past three weeks. Each flight attempt up symbolizes my struggles for the days, the hours, or the minutes that I conquered.

It was dusk for me at many of those moments; the pain, the panic, medical threats to my life and well being. With my loved ones encouraging me, chirping in and reminding me there was a beautiful spot for me to land, I endured my wobbly flight of recovery.

I can enjoy this fumbling flight now that I know soon I will be able to soar.

#yellowitsme #positivity #progress #mindset #growthmindset #blog #wordpress #cervicalspine #ehlerdanlos #cervicalspinalfusion #grateful #gratitiude #pain #chronicpain #positivethinking #recovery #grit #persistance #determination #synchronicity #learningtofly

Grace; Part One.

 

Gracie

Emily Grace and Grace Ann. She only calls me “Emily Grace,” and I am quite honored she understands what a privilege it is to have her name in me.

At age ten I sat in my family’s dining room perusing the glutinous treats that were spread across the table. Father Michael, our family priest (I am Irish and Italian…yes, we have a family priest) sat down next to me, popped some cookies in his mouth, and quizzed me on my recently acquired knowledge from the fifth grade. Father Michael is a highly educated man, stemming from the nation’s best universities and always seeks answers to profound questions. However, for some reason, we, ten-year-old Emily and the Roman Catholic priest began talking about my Aunt Gracie. He gently asked me, “Emily, how old were you when you actually noticed Gracie was different?” He wondered if I understood that my Aunt was unique.

 

Ever the politically correct child (okay, the sass may have just been starting), I mentioned something about everyone being special. He smirked and then pressed for more information. I knew Grace was “different.” I was ten and taller than her. I could read and write. She was 28 years old and couldn’t do either particularly well. But, I had no idea when in my life I made that observation. I was quick to heed to his cheeky personality. I responded, “She’s the most normal one in the family.”

Vintage 49

 

12119126_479692658868681_1196998814290604709_n

Poker face.

However, Gracie is ANYTHING but ordinary. She is my Aunt and she has Down syndrome. She defied a generation of doctor’s opinions and society’s impressions of the developmentally disabled. She was born in 1966 when the medical world was slowly transitioning to tolerate (yes, to tolerate) children with disabilities. Gracie has had a profound impact on my life, and the life of my family and friends.

 

(To be continued)

#yellowitsme  #positivity #progress #mindset  #lifesjourney #blog #wordpress #grace #downsyndrome #family #developmentaldisability #inspiration #disability #50yearsold #extraordinary #aunt