When I was young, I never thought I was pretty. I was skinny, with skinny legs, no boobs and long, straight hair hair. There was absolutely NOTHING special about me, so it seemed. We were poor. We lived in college housing apartments because my Mom was going to school. I didn't get to wear the cool and cute clothes. As a matter of fact, we had a building washer and dryer that everyone shared and they took coins to operate. Most days we hung our clothes on the line because we didn't have the money to dry them. We didn't have money, but my Mom believed in having a clean house, clean clothes and good manners. She taught me how to cook at a young age. Between my older brother and myself, we took care of the cleaning, cooking and watching after our two younger sisters while Mom was either in class, at work or asleep. It wasn't an easy life, but we somehow managed.
I graduated High School and started attending Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Ok. I got married at 19 and had my first child at 20. I continued going to college and working whatever jobs I could that would work with my schedule. At 23, I had my second child. It took me 7 years to graduate and both of my children watched me walk across the stage to receive my Bachelor's degree in Education.
Turns out, teaching in a school wasn't what I really wanted to do. It didn't fill me with joy. I had been going to a women's only gym where I was taking aerobics classes and they asked me to sub one day. I loved it! I was instantly hooked! I knew this was what I wanted to do. I didn't know how exactly, but I continued to teach school and teach classes at the gym. A few years later, an opportunity opened up for me to become the aerobics coordinator for another gym. I took the job and soon after began my training to be a personal trainer. I quit my teaching job and began my career as a full-time PT. I was in heaven! I had taught 3 aerobic classes per week and trained from 6am until 4:30. It was a lot! I still loved what I was doing, but I knew I was burning out. I was becoming one of those cookie-cutter trainers. Not because I wanted to! I loved my clients and all of the members of my classes. I was just SO busy, raising my kids and doing all the "mom" things. Oh, I also got divorced and remarried somewhere in this time frame! That takes WAAY too much time and energy to talk about here. Maybe later!
Fast forward to 2005. My daughter was 17 and a senior, my son had just turned 15. You hear about years that people say was just "not their year", this WAS NOT MY YEAR! Nor was it to be my family's year.
In December of 2004, I had a hysterectomy due to a non-malignant fibroid tumor that didn't go exactly as planned. During the laparoscopic procedure, the doctor nicked my bladder, which resulted in a much more invasive surgery and longer recovery. Not what a gal likes to hear when she's used to going ninety to nothing. About 4 weeks into recovery, which made it January of 2005, my internal stitches ruptured. I was sick as a dog. Vomiting profusely, my poor kids. My doctor rushed me into emergency surgery to repair the problem. Several days later, I went home with a bladder catheter. My kids promptly named it "Pisser". You have to find humor in the dark moments! My recovery was long and full of tears. I lost so much weight that I thought I looked gross. I think I may have even tried death by chocolate! I couldn't wait to get back to the gym to regain my strength and muscle. When I was finally able to go back to the gym. I was working with clients and taking it very easy. Through all of this, the stress and other things had taken a toll on my marriage. One weekend, my husband and I decided to take a motorcycle ride with another couple. Just to get away and enjoy the company of friends. I'm NOT an advocate of not wearing a helmet, I promise! But that afternoon, I was not wearing one. I had ordered one and it hadn't come in yet, so we just rode without mine. About an hour into our ride, as we were about to take an exit, a semi decided to take the same exit. My husband swerved to miss the tail end of the truck. In doing so, he lost control of the motorcycle. He went down with the bike, I was ejected and hit the center wall that divides the lanes. I don't remember any of this. I was knocked unconscious. I had a little moment of waking as I was being loaded into the ambulance.
I know, I know, this sounds like a bad romance novel or soap opera. But it's real. When I finally came to, I was surrounded by family and doctors. I had suffered multiple head injuries, including an orbital fracture. My left leg was pretty beaten up as well as my left elbow and knuckles. But I was alive! After 10 days in ICU and a private room, I was allowed to go home. My husband had a few broken ribs and a broken ankle. I had excruciating head pain and it hurt to open my eyes. I spent the next several days in bed sleeping. Only waking long enough to have a sip of water, a bite of a cracker and take my pain meds. BTW...my kids, my best friend and my youngest sister were taking care of me, taking turns sleeping at the foot of my bed. My husband was laid up in another room. I'm certain that both of my grown children have PTSD from this whole mess!
When I was almost completely well, I discovered some things about my marriage that ultimately ended our relationship. Life became as close to normal as could be expected. I continued training my clients, teaching classes, started a weekend job at Dillard's and tending bar at an Event center to have enough money to pay hospital bills, help send my daughter to Baylor and pay for my divorce. That's semi-normal....right!?
My middle sister was living in Texas and came to visit me in late Summer. She brought her two kids with her. We had a great time! It was so good to see her again! She informed me that she was planning to take a job as a district manager of a Cracker Barrell in Florida and they would be moving soon. She also told me that she was planning to leave her husband, but that she wanted to wait until they were settled before she told him and their kids that she wanted out of the marriage. I tried to convince her to stay with me. But she did not. In December of 2005, I was hopping around in my kitchen trying to get my tennis shoes on to teach my aerobic class when I got a call from my Mom. She sounded more than a little worried, but I was in a hurry. She said she had been trying to get in touch with my middle sister, Natalie. She wanted to know if I had talked to her. I had, a few days previous. I hurried Mom off the phone so I could leave for the gym. That evening while preparing dinner with my kids, I got another call from my Mom that will forever haunt my dreams. My sister was dead! Fatally shot by her husband. I dropped the phone as I fell to the floor! I could NOT wrap my head around what was happening! My Mother was hysterical, my children were crying and screaming! My world was SHATTERED! I'm crying as I type this because the pain of that day is just so surreal! I can't even remember how we managed over the next several days. There are so many details that I don't feel need to be told here. Maybe one day I will write a book.....
The next several months of my and my family's lives were just crazy. A lot of things happened. A lot of words were said and many, many tears. I started to unravel. I was still working with clients and teaching, but I felt empty. There were days that I didn't want to get out of bed. I didn't want to smile and say all the nice and encouraging words that my clients needed to hear. I didn't want to talk to my Mom. I started to drink to make the pain go away! Sometimes I would sit on my kitchen floor and drink an entire bottle of wine by myself. I could see what was happening, but I didn't know if I cared enough to stop. I could see the pain in my kids and the concern they had for me. I started to have these weird feelings that I can only describe as deja vu. I would get a metallic taste in my mouth, and my mind would just fade into another time. Like I had been there and done that. These feelings only lasted a few seconds. But then they got worse. One day, while standing in the gym talking to my boss, I felt the far away feeling again, and the next thing I knew, there was a paramedic talking to me as they were strapping me onto a gurney. I had NO memory of what happened to me that day. I was told and it is just crazy. I was sent to a Neurologist and diagnosed with epilepsy due to head trauma!!!! WTH!?!?
I was put a medication called Keppra to control seizures, which I still take daily. I still enjoy wine and margaritas, but I also know that I have to keep it in check, I have to manage my stress and sleep. I am remarried to a fantastic man, gained two additional daughters and I now have 3 grandbabies with number 4 on the way. I have my own studio where I train clients in person or virtually. I am a nutrition coach and currently working on my Yoga certification. I am a very active part of the local women's shelter in helping to educate and end domestic violence. I will always work to end end this sick disease and I will always think of Natalie as I do!
Life can change in merely seconds. Are you willing to keep putting off your well being, not making your health a priority, taking for granted that you have today? Your health matters! Your health is urgent! Your kids need you! Your grandkids need you! YOU need you! Celebrate getting older! You don't get do-overs!
THIS IS MY "WHY"! My "why" has changed, or morphed into something bigger and more holistic over the years. That's ok. Yours' may as well. The reason I share this with you is to show you that everyone will fall on hard times. Everyone will experience bad things in life. There's no doubt in my mind that had I not been in the physical, and emotional shape that I was while going through all of this, there's NO telling how my life may have ended up. Knowing that the path I was going down, and how I wanted to live my life, made me realize that I needed to make some serious changes.
THIS IS MY "KICK-ASS" WHY....I want to be an active, healthy and vibrant part of my children's and grandchildren's lives! I want to show women how they too can live a happy, healthy and active lifestyle and overcome the hard shit! Life can throw some serious curve balls and you have to be ready to knock them out of the park or get knocked down! But I refuse to stay down! I want to show you how to dust off your britches and get back on that horse!
DON'T SETTLE, BE KICK-ASS!!!!