Welcome to the June 2014 edition of my newsletter. I’m humbled by those of you who have subscribed and express my sincere thanks! If you’re a new subscriber or a website surfer, welcome!
Please feel free to tell your friends and families about my website. Let them know too about this free monthly newsletter. I promise no email address is ever shared.
As I said last month, this will forevermore be a work in progress; it exemplifies my life. I’m committed to walking the pathway towards growth and fulfillment. I enjoy the search for the positive in even the most seemingly negative situations. I believe there is always something present for us to learn. I’m prepared to make mistakes, take faulty steps and perhaps a re-route or two as I go along and I'm okay with that. I embrace me in all my imperfect glory! It is my hope that I inspire you to take steps somewhere new in your own life as well - maybe even revisit a place inside yourself you thought you no longer needed. I would be honored to imperfectly delve into uncharted territory together.
Of course, you're always welcome to just to sit back and watch me as I go through this journey - no judgment. I love the company!
POEM OF THE MONTH
This poem I wrote less than a year after my stroke. The poetry I wrote during this period I admit is a bit despondent. What I wish to impart when I share it though is that no matter what road you are on in life, it can be pulled out from you in a heartbeat. I don't recognize the person speaking here. My advice is that if this happens to someone you know or love, lean in a little closer. My life changed on June 9, 2003 – some have been good changes and others have been ones that really made me pause.
I look at you
And no longer see
That used to shine out from inside of you
I once thought
I could ignite
Has disintegrated and now lays in embers
I don't think
I can ignore
That fills me now
With the knowledge
That no matter how hard I try today
The book of matches I once used to use
I can no longer pick it up
For I am paralyzed
June 9th is the anniversary date of the stroke I suffered in 2003. My quote therefore is dedicated to all the stroke survivors out there as well as those we lost. Last month, my Great Uncle Toby succumbed to a stroke.
He was the last of the Brown generation of my great aunts and uncles - on my mom's side. I know he is happy to be reunited with many, including his mom and dad and brothers and sisters. Yet, I know that, without a doubt, he misses his wife, my Auntie Joan. May 31st would have been their 67 year wedding anniversary!
Rest in Peace, Uncle Toby. You were one of a kind; your laughter and smile will be greatly missed by all who loved you, mostly your wife, Joan, and daughter, Nancy, and son, Jack.
My quote this month is dedicated to him:
Oh heart, if one should say to you that the soul perishes like the body, answer that the flower withers, but the seed remains. ~ Khalil Gibran
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT
11 Years Later . . .
I find it hard to believe that 11 years have passed since my stroke. Some days it feels like it happened yesterday. Some days it feels like it never even happened at all and I dreamed it. There was a video recorder at the hospital that I grabbed one day when I was there and recorded myself. It's eerie for me to watch. I have only watched it maybe twice. It's peculiar to see myself on drugs and loopy. No semblance of who I am today. I know that with each passage in our life, each challenge we defeat may leave behind heartache, or steal a small part of us forever, but it also provides a lesson and gives us the opportunity to teach others our newly acquired strength. My fitness section below is about an emotional implosion that set forth a new voice inside of me. I feel elated to have been able to allow myself to delve in this far. I love who I am becoming. While listening to music as I write this newsletter I did have a major revelation that I wish to impart:
I never even thought of this when I created my challenge stuff, but the song that IS my stroke to me is Landslide – Stevie Nicks (love Stevie)! My cousin, and close friend, kaeroked it many times right before my stroke happened. I’ve seen Stevie sing it live twice since then and I cried both times. My goal is to play this song to Trev on my guitar, picking pattern and all. A celebration of how far I’ve come this year as I have been unable to write due to arm pain, so I’ve stayed away from it. When I reach this goal, I will make sure Trev puts my phone on record so that hopefully I'll be able to put a link to it so you can hear me. This year doing a website and wearing my heart on my sleeve like I have done by posting my writings has showed people I am not who they think. I know that. To my Wholly Fit people I'm very jumpy and I mean that physically not emotionally, to my co-workers, I think they see me as reserved, but that I stick up for myself if wronged. Being quiet or aloof is believe it or not a shyness of mine. I actually look before I leap. I don’t push myself on people. I was told to shut up a lot as a kid - the generation of children should be seen and not heard - so speaking is sometimes hard. I can't count how many times I have been told by people at work that I was not who they thought after they spoke to me and we were real. I'm open and I'm honest, I do not mean harm. I put bugs outside of my house gently when I see them, I do not squash them to try to show I am the big powerful human to be feared. To those close to me, they know I am very sensitive. They know that I do not forget. I am the one that remembers birthdays, anniversaries, I'm researching the family's genealogy. I am there when people cry. In friends I find that I am there when they cry but not as much when they laugh. When I cry, it is often alone. I’m so fortunate to have a husband who puts up with my zaniness and who listens to me cry. When he and I were younger I did not let him hold me when I cried as I always would immediately stop. After my stroke this changed a little bit. This seems to be my path in life, a keeper of another's painful soul; a guardian of secrets. I'm okay with that. I attract interesting people too me. So, I would not give that up. I create fun in my life don't get me wrong, but I am also a watcher of those close to me and their fun times from a far. It's a pattern that I have set up and blame myself for that. It's the sensitive person in me who steps back and peers around a corner. I look, I listen and I learn, I always remember.
I am feisty because of battles life has thrown at me; divorce, abandonment, affairs, death. But that's okay because it all makes up me, and I love myself. At the end of the day it doesn't matter if you don't.
So as I said before I was listening to music as I was doing my newsletter for this month, when a song came on. I immediately started crying. But this time for a new reason. As I prepare on June 21st to climb Mt. H'Kusum with my husband and a fellow Wholly Fitter and her husband, I resonate with the last verse of the song:
I take my love, take it down I climb a mountain and turn around And if you see my reflection in the snow-covered hills Will the landslide bring you down And if you see my reflection in the snow-covered hills Will the landslide bring you down, oh, oh The landslide bring you down
What a metaphor for me to where I have reached in this journey! On June 21st I hope someone sees my reflection in the snow covered hills at the top of Mt. H’Kusum and won’t let a landslide take them down. I realize that I will be releasing a very painful time for me at the top of my mountain and that just like paying it forward it's time for someone at it's top to see me standing there winning and get hope that they can too. I realize I will never know whose life it is that I touch but I will go up there confident in knowing that for me I have transformed and that I will be the conduit to the transformation of another. For this I will be eternally grateful.
Be kind to each other!
MY FITNESS CORNER
Well this month has been all about training for Tough Mudder and also the Kusam Klimb, which takes place in June! I'm excited to say that from May 21st to June 21st, I was selected as the Challenger for my fitness group, Wholly Fit. I have written a post this week that brought about the worst emotional crisis I have ever encountered. It was growth disguised as failure. I have copied the entire blog here for you to read. I feel it is important to share as it's about me the author of this newsletter and realistically it has a lot to do with what has been bubbling inside my head since my last newsletter. I am now in the process of releasing my stroke and it's negative effects on my person. I will always be a stroke survivor, a kid of divorce, a women whose boyfriend tried to hurt her in a way that rocked her to the core because she never suggested that she would marry him and how the birth of a baby and the loss of a beloved can change me. I want to share it with my readers as I'm human and I want you to be okay with being one too:
To go from the high of the Goddess Run to the low of an emotional breakdown (yes Wholly Fitters and their friends, as well as my own family and friends), that’s where I’ve been; is a jagged ride. Unbeknown st to me, my emotions had been building, bit by bit, and were now suspended, like the lava that crested the top of Mount Vesuvius, as unsuspected Pompeians, sat oblivious to the devastation that was about to occur. I’d like to share my story. So, cuddle up, wherever you are, lend me your ears and a kind heart and take a walk with me down the winding path of a Wholly Fit Challenger’s old self’s demolition - to say this ride would bring me face to face with dejection only exemplifies the point of what my Wholly Fit Challenge is all about. So let’s start walking together back to the beginning . . .
As you may remember June 1st was the Goddess Run and the pictures on our Wholly Fit Face book page reflect the kind of day we had; sunny and warm filled with inspiration, laughter and friendship – the energy was electric and contagious. Clad in Wholly Fit tutus, thanks Kate Z, we were a site to behold. Although, I’d had a bit of back pain the night before, I’d managed to stretch it out with my trusty back thingamabob that I got from my chiropractor. I felt in good and in 5 kilometer running form. Testing my back out on my bike ride over to Jenn’s that morning confirmed to me, I was ready and focused.
The energy of events, concerts and large groups filled with happy people, inspire me and puts wind beneath me my feet. As you already know, I ran along with another Wholly Fitter – Kate Z, whose magical pixie dust brought my pace to a rhythm that put me 7th in my age category of 40 to 49 – not bad for a 48-year old! My time was 5km in 26:29 with a 5:26 pace per kilometer. Although people at Wholly Fit believe I am a runner, I actually don’t live to run. I love to row on my machine at home and work out with my own body weight in the great out doors with Wholly Fit, in Jenn’s gym, or at home after a row. I love to do my pack walks with my dog as well. In saying, that I have to be honest and say I do enjoy the occasional run, with my dog(s) beside me. For me running is about having fun and a good tongue wag with a fellow runner or a freedom run with my canine friend(s).
I left this particular event with husband and little boy feeling alive; content at where my body and mind were for the challenge. Or so I thought . . .
On Monday morning when I awoke I was tired. As I’d gone to bed a little later than I would have liked, I felt slightly headachy. My body never really had the chance to get into that “resting and repairing” state, so I knew it would be a long day. I promised myself that I would go to bed early that night.
I went to my Monday bootcamp feeling inspired as it was once again a gorgeous evening to do bootcamp outside. I partnered up with a fellow Wholly Fitter, Lisa, and I did my best to workout, hard and strong. Still feeling a little sluggish and headachy, I was still able to move about as needed.
It wasn’t until it came to the end of class and Jenn put out my next challenge, 150 pushups with resistance that I felt a small part inside of me begin to vibrate. I didn’t like the word resistance. It does not resonate with me well. This was the second time in a row for my challenge that I had heard that word. Resistance to me means to hold back and since my stroke holding me back can cause damage if you are unaware of the nerve damage they did to my head when they ripped it open for life or death surgery. It’s not to say Lisa did not treat me with kid gloves, cause she did. She’s aware of how far I have come and in no way tried to jeopardize this growth or compromise me in any way. Her touch was gentle yet firm. She was in momma protective mode of her fellow Wholly Fit friend and I trust her. I need everyone to understand that for me this was more a mental word associated bubble of feelings. My body went into guarded, protective mode. I tried to ignore the feelings that were surfacing and I pushed through them, completed my task, jumped on my bike and rode home.
I’ve learned later from Jenn that my pushups were too fast. She didn’t realize that I was in a state of distress emotionally and that something was beginning to shift inside. Honestly, I wasn’t even aware of where I was about to descend, so I didn’t have the chance to give her a warning that her Challenger was at the apex of an emotional roller coaster ride and that the cart was about to move.
Tired from lack of sleep, I went home intent that I’d go to bed early; but didn’t. I couldn’t for the life of me get my brain to turn off. What were my thoughts, well I don’t know. My husband kept telling me to go to bed. And I didn’t, I couldn’t. My mind kept going around on this endless loop of thoughts that from one minute to the next I couldn’t recall what they were even about. I couldn’t get my head to shut off. I’ve had these moments when I was healing right after my stroke – I did not like them. With the anniversary date of my stroke nearing – I began to feel panicked. Am I actually having a stroke again? Was I having symptoms? I had been told my personality had changed a few weeks before I’d had mine, so I started to speculate that it might be happening again? But then the reasonable side of me kept trying to interject - how could it be happening again if I was cognizant that I was waning? I knew I was just being outlandish, but my mind raced. I was on a surefire plunge to somewhere, but to where I did not know where. I finally took something to knock me out. I had to I as I just couldn’t stop the loop from repeating.
The next day I got up and my headache had intensified. Now I’m not talking about a normal headache. Not the kind of headache that makes you non-functional and unable to think. I had a busy work week and I was fine working with that. I could separate my emotional state and getting my work done. It actually distracted me from my thoughts. What I’m talking about is the kind of headache that you get when you’re jet lagged. I felt my body going through all of the movements necessary, but it was my mind that was feeling abnormal.
My husband and son and dog came to bootcamp with me. I started the work out in a mode of tiredness just like the night before, still feeling capable, if that makes any sense.
At the end of the session, Jenn told everyone that my challenge today would be to run a Scottish Mile. For those of you who don’t know what that is it’s where you start as a long line of joggers and the one in the back sprints to the front and so forth. We have done them before. Any others I’ve been involved in were one big loop of a field. So this one would not be a problem. Or so I thought . . .
As we began the run, my instant thought was that I couldn’t do this. My body was saying, “Why?” but my mind was saying “NO!” I didn’t understand. I didn’t recognize this voice inside of me. One person yelled that they were going to run me hard or something like that as they and a few others sprinted ahead. I heard someone groan behind me as another person dropped out. As I was running, I couldn’t help thinking that I thought this end of class challenge was for me with fellow Wholly Fitters joining in only to support and inspire me further. I didn’t understand why someone who didn’t know me, might not even know my history, and would say they were going to make me work hard. At 48, I do work hard, my almost half century body has done amazing transformations over the last 11 months considering two brain surgeries almost killed me twice. I felt I did not need to be challenged by anyone else but Jenn (this is my personal opinion only and not Jenn’s). I only wanted inspiration and help to meet my challenge. As we rounded back towards the others, I then heard Jenn yell out, “Okay, you’ve done 2 minutes, only 4 more to go!” Six minutes of straight running now at the end of class was all I could think of. There was a slower group running that I so wanted to go be with, but I couldn’t I was the Challenger. All I kept thinking was “Four more minutes!” And then it happened . . . I stopped.
I’m so lyrical minded that the only way I can express this to you is by asking if you’ve heard the song “Say Something” by A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera? In particular the section:
“Say something, I'm giving up on you.
I'm sorry that I couldn't get to you.
Anywhere, I would've followed you.
Say something, I'm giving up on you.
And I will swallow my pride.
You're the one that I love
And I'm saying goodbye. . .”
All of a sudden my body and mind separated. I could feel the division taking place. My mind ultimately controls my body and it won and as you’ve probably guessed, emotionally I broke in half. There on the field in front of many, I was split wide open. I felt the walls of defeat encompass and heard all the negative voices that have filled my head at different times over the years along with every breath of word that fell onto the pages that formed gut wrenching articles, poems and songs I’d written over the years collide and combust. The only way I can give you a comparison is to say that if you’ve ever had your heart broken or lost a beloved you will remember that punch in the stomach, right in your solar plex, which takes your breath away and makes you feel as though you have no legs to stand on.
I looked at my husband now who sat quietly in a chair and all he said was, “Kim, breathe” and I couldn’t. My head began to spin as Jenn and I made eye contact. She came running over thinking at first that I’d injured myself, but as she got closer, I could see from her face that she knew different. I don’t even remember what I said to her. All I wanted was to be out of my body. I didn’t want to be in this moment. I wanted it to be erased. I didn’t know who I was, I wasn’t connected. I saw people looking at me and it reminded me of people and how they’d looked at the bookstore when I’d had my stroke – I knew the speculation had begun. I felt like I was standing on a stage by myself and everyone was laughing and booing at what they saw.
I left Jenn’s side immediately; there was a part of me that was mad. I didn’t want to be around her. My mind was whispering, “She put you here. She challenged you. She took you past your limit. It’s all because she doesn’t like you, you know. She wants to destroy you.” My voice of reason was trying to shout out to stop, this was absolutely unfounded! Jenn is my biggest cheerleader! But this other unknown voice inside of me was unforgiving. I turned to see Sarah, Lisa N and Linda, two who are former Challengers, in amongst the group. They were looking at me, and I wanted to reach out, but they were amongst the people I didn’t know (so I couldn’t go over to them because I knew I’d have to explain this to people I didn’t know and I felt vulnerable). I didn’t see Vanessa, another former Challenger, or our sweet little Amanda who’d been running around me. But as I turned the other way, I saw the yellow shirt of our pixie dust queen Kate Z and my body turned and I ran to her and grabbed her hand. Her smile turned to concern as we quickly walked away. Kate has eyebrows like me, they’re very expressive and I could see they were furrowed. She asked me what was wrong. All I could do was pace, I didn’t know, I couldn’t breathe. With such calmness, she stared right at me and asked me what my challenge was. I know I probably said this with a b*tchy attitude, but then that person I never knew was inside of me had possessed me. “I’m climbing a mountain, like my blog said.” I spat back. In fairness to Kate here, I would never assume she or any others would read my blog. I would hope Jenn does so she knows what state her Challenger is during the Challenge Month. I understand that this is my challenge and therefore I don’t assume anyone reads these. But all Kate did was smile as she kept repeating to me, “What are you doing?” And I kept looking at her thinking am I really having a stroke and speaking in tongues. “I’m climbing a mountain!” I’d tell her over and over as she asked. Then almost simultaneously to her saying, “Yeah you are climbing your mountain.” I got it. I am crying as I write this – I may be feisty little punk on the outside but inside I’m a receptive soul whose mind goes deep. The revelation slapped me in the face and in that moment I understood. I was climbing my mountain. The physical mountain is easy for me right now. Conquering my mental mountain and throwing away all that garbage and negative energy was going to be what was hard to let go. It was what defined me without me being vulnerable. It was my shell that I could show to the world so that they wouldn’t have to see the side that only my Trev and Kaian gets to see and of course whose unconditional love from me is forthcoming, like the glaciers continuously melting and supplying the rivers below.
Sarah, who I spoke of before came towards us then, and put her head down – Sarah is like that she’s sensitive to privacy like me. As she walked by me I knew then what I needed. I stopped her and asked her for a hug and she gave me one. Sarah’s hugs are like being wrapped in a protective blanket of strength. When I stepped back, both Kate and Sarah were smiling. They both said they’d been here too . . . the ever unintended emotional breakdown.
I saw Linda too pass by but I imagine she could see that Wholly Fitters were with me so she respectfully stayed at a distance. Jenn came to me then and asked me to talk. Now the real Kim snapped back for a moment. God I was embarrassed. God I felt stupid. Here I was standing with a whole new group of people who’d joined the Wholly Fit group and me, her Challenger, was acting like an idiot.
She talked and I talked. Then I challenged, but she ducked. So, I challenged her again but she ducked even further. I was a fighter looking for a punching bag, but she wouldn’t stand still long enough for me to release this explosion of emotion. I wanted trainer Mike with me right now so he could put on his punch mitts and I could hit them with his punching gloves. “Harder he’d tell me, hit harder, let it out!” I needed to release. I felt alone. I told her things I needed that I don’t even think I really need. It was that self defeating voice that will say anything. It’s the side that nobody loves; or so it was telling me. I didn’t hear her compliments, my mind was in beat up mode and it wasn’t letting me go. We finally broke the stalemate of a continuous circle of a broken Challenger, when I had to leave with my husband; she had to leave to go to her kids. She said she’d call me later which she did. She wanted to know how to help me. But I couldn’t tell her. She said I had support from her and everyone at Wholly Fit. But I couldn’t take it; I didn’t trust her that it was real. This side who had emerged was a nasty soul, non-trusting and probably truthfully is the protective side of ourselves but this time she was destroyed and clinging. Have you ever had that feeling of loneliness in a crowded room or in amongst the travelers in a busy train station or airport?
I felt abandoned, I felt hopeless, I felt useless, and I didn’t feel me.
Again I went to bed late and got up. I held myself together. Jenn had texted and emailed me. I didn’t answer her. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know who I was how could I explain anything.
I stayed quiet, despite a few people from Wholly Fit trying to reach out, I stayed off line. I think I either scared people or they didn’t know what to say. I’ve had that affect on people. When I get upset they stay away. It’s something to do with my personality. Some say it’s a good thing to be this way, a survivor. But this little voice inside of me was despondent and fragile and wished for someone to come to me like I had been to so many before. At this time I wanted someone to fight for me and take the hits I was throwing knowing that it was not them I was hitting, it was myself I was demolishing. Don’t get me wrong, Jenn reached out and also I can’t expect this from anyone else at Wholly Fit!
Then I did what I needed to do. Just like I’d done last summer at Whistler on the zip line I metaphorically jumped. I could see myself inside my own head upside down, my arms spread out wide, receptive. God I wish someone had gotten a picture of that. It was a defining moment as I allowed myself to free fall into a place of self discovery.
So was the last few days’ fun? Hell no. I felt like I said that my heart was breaking and that I was being gutted. I had NO energy, I was ignoring my eating, my water intake. I went into I don’t care about me mode and pulled up a chair. I felt the pain and although I didn’t like it, I let it surround me. And every time I tried to write Jenn back, I cried. I’m a writer and an emoter, so just let it all out and I let it flow. Writing is cathartic. I go into a zone. I felt long ago buried pain surfacing and it pierced me, but I had to reach inward down to that small voice of the real me who was crying, “Let me out!” She wanted to emerge to be with my new body. Scared and shy, she’s nervous and she sure knows how to cry. But if you just stop and say hi, she’ll smile and say hi back.
As I write this I’m sitting here listening to Pink’s song, “I Don’t Believe You”. To the real me that has FINALLY emerged I say to her, “Know that I will always believe you; I will never say that I don’t need you anymore and I will never pretend not to love you.” Free fall anytime, baby girl cause I will never watch you fall, I will always pick you up, over and over again until you can stand . . . I promise.
May your own day be one of health and of discovery.
Until next time . . .
Remember that no matter your age, always focus on success. Turn off the inner voice that says you'll never do it, don't listen to the naysayers, ignore the looks of the younger people who say nothing yet their eyes tell you, "Why the heck are you going to a fitness class, you're too old!" And just do it! You will succeed! Your measure of success will never reach anyone else goals or dreams. It is unique to you.
RECIPE WORTH SHARING!
This is an awesome "iron" rich version of one of my favourite salads, the Caprese. I found Caprese Stacks on the website, Nutritionist in the Kitchen.
2 small beets, sliced
2 medium on-the-vine tomatoes, sliced
½ cup fresh basil leaves
2 medium bocconcini balls, sliced (or another mozzarella variety of your choice)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
Instructions: Wash and slice the beets into thin rounds. Steam the beets in a pan until just softened, about 10 minutes. Heat the grill to low heat and place the steamed beet slices and tomato slices on the grill. Grill for 3 minutes on both sides. Remove from grill. Assemble the stacks starting with a slice of grilled tomato, a slice (or two) of grilled beet, a slice of bocconcini, and a basil leaf. Repeat the sequence to make a “stack”. Then repeat the process to make a second stack. Drizzle each stack with balsamic vinegar and season with a dash of salt and pepper.
I can't wait to try this this barbeque season - personally will probably not grill the tomatoes as I love them fresh - especialy inthe summer! If you hit the picture it will take you to the site too!
Are you looking for a boot camp to "be the best version of yourself" and live in Victoria, BC? If so, check out Wholly Fit's website at http://whollyfitvictoria.com/ and sign up. There are special summer deals on now, so act fast so you can take advantage of the savings! Note, any opinons I've expressed about Wholly Fit in my newsletters are mine and not theirs.
Next month is July my intent has been to release my eBook on my stroke. With my Challenge with my fitness group in full swing and the effects of that physically and emotionally I need to step back Adan refocus and rest. August/September is probably a more realistic time frame, as I honour myself and give myself space. It may be sooner, but I want to give myself appropriate time, I want you to enjoy what I write. Next month will be geared towards motherhood. Why? Well just wait and see ;)
In the interim visit me at my website, Kim Friesen - Mogillow Arts and have a read of the article I wrote, A Brush of the Stroke. Leave a comment about what you thought! Or, if you wish to support me further, think about purchasing a copy of Angelina Beaglina Saves Summer or Little Willow or reading my articles for free (I have another one I will be releasing soon) for some summer fun reading!