Monday, April 28, 2014

It has a name

Here is my PSA on all the things I am learning about concussions. 

I have talked to 3 other women who have recently had concussions.  It is a huge relief to know that I am not alone in still feeling the effects almost 3 months later.  

Concussions usually clear in a couple of weeks, but Post-Concussion Syndrome (who knew?  not me.) occurs in a surprisingly large percentage of people who suffer head trauma.  Risk factors are

being female (although unclear if this is because women are more likely to seek medical care)
prior concussions
history of headaches

The severity of the concussion does not appear to be a factor in who gets PCS.  

Also it seems to develop in those that get a head injury from a fall or a collision (such as a car accident) rather than from sports. 

It usually comes on about 10 days after the injury and lasts from 3-6 months.  Mostly it manifests as severe fatigue, pressure in the head, headaches, brain fog and can include depression. 

Most importantly, the risk goes way up if one does not COMPLTELY refrain from all physical and cognitive activity immediately after the injury for a period of 2-5 days.  Which means no physical activity, no light, no noise, no computer, no reading, no nothing.

I hope you never know someone who gets a concussion, but just in case, I think this is useful information to know.  

Friday, April 25, 2014

Thank you

To all the friends who have been supporting my healing process, my fears and frustrations and my writing.  Thank you, beautiful people.  I value each and every one of you immensely.  Have a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

(Sweet) Surrender

The title of the post was originally Surrender.  But by the end of writing this, I added the sweet.  Trying it on for size.  You can decide.  

The last few days have been frustrating to me.  I should be better by now.  Do I sound like a broken record yet?  I mean c'mon...I took all that time off.  I rested.  I did nothing.  But still my head is not right.  I am easily fatigued, both physically and mentally.  I want to will my brain to heal.  To rush the process.  But alas, I am reminded yet again, that all I can do is surrender to the healing process.  I can choose to respect the brain that has served me so well for the last 43 years and give it the time it needs to regrow the neurons.  It will not be on my predetermined schedule, despite the fact that I have adjusted said schedule a few times already.  It will be what it will be.

When I first was injured, I was in denial about the pain, the severity of the injury.  I pushed past what my body was trying to tell me.  Worked when my head hurt, when I was exhausted.  After all, I am tough.  Macho, as a few have suggested.  When I finally admitted I needed to rest in order to heal, I decided that would take 2 weeks (or a little less than 2 weeks after I attended to the last few clients appointments I didn't want to cancel).  After that I will be better.  Not so fast, Maria.  Still not myself.  But when?  Why not yet?

After my chiropractor stopped just shy of an outright eye-roll, he suggested I stop "yelling" at my brain to heal (which is likely doing exactly the opposite of what I want).  To fully surrender means to give up control.  Surrender is scary, but perhaps, in a way, freeing.  To just allow what needs to happen.

There is a striking parallel here to something that has been suggested to me for my life as a whole.  Surrender.  Surrender the plan.  Surrender my tight hold on controlling the outcome.  I do not know what the future will bring.  I cannot control what happens.  But then I think, why would I want to?  At what point did I decide that my life would be better if I controlled everything?  (that is yet another blog post).

No control, no plan.  The wild and crazy ride strikes again.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Charlie Brown moment

Sometimes it is hard to look at the bright side, and the positives, and the lessons.  I try.  And mostly I can.  I believe I have even genuinely said that I think this whole concussion has been a blessing in many ways.  But sometimes...sometimes I am just frustrated.  About being injured.  About being "behind" on everything I am supposed to do.  And scared.  About being alone.  About being out of shape.  About my uncertain future.  

I know it will pass. But in the meanwhile.  ^^   This is how I feel.  I love the Peanuts gang.  Such an expressive bunch.  

Monday, April 21, 2014

Empathy vs. Sympathy

I have been thinking a lot about empathy vs. sympathy.  On the list of positive take aways from the slip and fall is that I feel it will help me have more of the former.  My friend, Claudia, sent me this great video from the ever-fabulous Brené Brown...a quick, funny and poignant reminder of what each of us can do to be more empathetic.  I have definitely been guilty of the "at least" :-)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Lesson or Lemonade?

After reading yesterday's post my friend, Kerri, posed this excellent question...

"Do you think that fate/God doled out your slip and fall circumstances in an effort to have you learn from the experience?

Or do you think the circumstances just happened and you are taking the opportunity to learn a lot about yourself?

Let me start by saying that not a particularly religious person.  Spiritual for sure, but I am a lapsed Catholic, much to the chagrin of my lovely Aunt Mo, who I fear worries about my soul.  But never fear, my soul is just fine :-)  So in talking about God here, may I presume to say that it covers your God, my God, a higher power, Mother Earth or whatever power you believe in or pray to?  

I am someone who believes that everything happens for a reason.  And in spite of my mad frustration about my tortoise pace healing, I am actually happy that I hit my head.  I am the first one to joke that mine is especially hard, so whether you call it macho, or stubborn, or whatever...I often need a good crack to knock sense into me :-)

I have often found comfort in the idea that God has a plan (even though I often struggled to understand what it is).  This faith has carried me through some immensely challenging times.  I wonder if it is a coincidence that this discussion has come up on Easter Sunday....hmmmm.  I think not :-)

But I also believe we all have choices about how we react to things in life...the road bumps, the craters, the tidal waves.  And I think the most important moments in our lives are the ones in which we decide how we react to the road blocks.  Do we turn around and retreat, or do we find an alternate route?   These moments and choices speak volumes about our attitude and help to define our character.  

So my answer, dearest that for me, it is both.  God places learning opportunities before us, the ones we most need.  And then it up to us how we navigate those situations and how we choose to handle the challenge.  Maybe not always the smoothest path, but I am grateful for the opportunity for growth.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Unexpected positives

I didn't post yesterday because I was wondering if it is disrespectful to a person who is imminently dying for me to think about my own death, which at the moment is a more theoretical prospect.  I am thinking that if someone else's death makes me focus more keenly about how I want to continue living, then maybe that is a positive thing.  Not totally sure, but here I go.  

I get so caught up in certain small, insignificant things, that I often lose sight of the big picture.  I mean seriously, nobody is going to give a fuck how fit I was, what size jeans I wore, or even what I did for a living, once I am gone.  That certainly isn't what is etched in my brain when a loved one dies.  And I would never want that to be what anyone would notice or care about, so why am I so worried about it?  

Then that leads to think about what I would want people to remember.  I don't want to go so far as to talk about how my obituary would read...partially because that seems a bit cliché...and partially because that just seems kind of weird.  But talking more generally about purpose is probably along the same lines with less of the morbid overtones.  My wise friend and coach, Christopher, has challenged me to articulate my purpose.  And I have, at times, struggled with that notion.  But thinking about what I would want someone to remember about me, or what impression I aspire to leave behind, seems easier to me.  I hope the people I encounter along my journey will remember that I possessed a vibrancy for life.  That I loved with an open heart.  And that I inspired do more than what they believed they could do...or to live with greater passion and authenticity.  I want people to remember my spirit and my joy for life that I shared genuinely and wholeheartedly.  

What started on Thursday as a somewhat sad post about a premature death is, for me, turning into a positive reminder about what really, truly matters in my life and how I move through the world.  

Thank you, Jason.  

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Bayside memories

I have been dealing with this head injury for 2 months.  Still not myself.  I was going to whine about my frustration and fear over when my body will heal allowing me to get back to doing all I want to do.  Then I learned a childhood friend from the old neighborhood is dying from a brain tumor.  He has just gone into hospice.  Huh.  

Life is precious.  He is leaving behind a wife and a young son.  He is too young.  We are too young.  Unfortunate that it takes such a sad occurrence to remind me of what is important.  We all need to value our life and our health and those we love...and try not to take what we have for granted.  Figure out what is really important in life.  Figure out where true happiness and contentment lies...and go after it.  What are you waiting for?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Life is about trade-offs.  I know there are people who want me to believe I can have it all. And true maybe I don't always think big enough.  But I'm many's a trade-off.

I own my own business.  That means I have quite a bit of autonomy...but I give up a steady paycheck and paid vacations.  I am single and live alone so I always get to choose what's for dinner and I am in charge of the remote, but I am also in charge of all the chores and bills, and my feet get cold on winter nights. I am not saying any one option is better than another, only that it is interesting to note that every option has some good points and some less desired ones. Like not working out. I'm not as lean.  So slighter softer.  Higher body fat means rounder belly and hips. But, my breasts are bigger!  Well, maybe just fuller, but still!  Guess every one of us gets to decide what trade-offs we want to live with ;)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Random guy at the bar

I'm single and occasionally I find myself at a bar solo.  This particular evening I didn't want to stay home but nobody was available to join me so I decided to take myself out for a wine and a bite.  This guy sits down next to me (and let me not keep you in suspense...this post is much less about the actual guy then about the conversation we had) and within 10 minutes we had managed to cover that I am divorced and why I am divorced, all the places he has lived, what is remarkable about his kids and what we each do for a living.  But then it started to get interesting.  He asks me for my 30-second elevator speech.

Now anyone who knows me could tell you that marketing and self promotion are not in my DNA.  Give me a person, product, cause, or business that I believe in and I will shout it from the rooftops, but somehow I am insanely uncomfortable doing that for myself.  The fact that I have been teaching hundreds of people in fitness classes for the last 15 years and only a fraction of them know I own a massage therapy business a mile down the road is an issue I will have to tease out in another post on another day.

Since I do own this business, I have, over the years, felt obligated to attend networking events and workshops to help me grow my client base. I remember being told by one "expert" that I need to have a 30-second elevator speech that would tell someone everything they needed to know about my business in that half minute. Seriously?   Ugh. 

So for a split second I got nervous that I was going to be tested on this elevator speech by my new friend from Minnesota sitting next to me at the bar.  But of course I already knew he wasn't the type to be interested in business marketing.

I inquired to his intent and he said he wanted the 30 second elevator speech on ME.  My life, my dreams, my desires. Yippee. Now that is fun!

I lit up.  He wanted to hear what excites me and what matters to me in life and relationships.  I realized that after some tough life events which led to deep soul searching I am able to talk for hours on the subject but also have become clear enough that I can easily and effortlessly nutshell my thoughts in 30 seconds.  Way cool.

That is my kind of elevator speech. 

What is the elevator speech of your life?  What gets you fired up and brings passion to your world? 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Slow Down, You Move too Fast

Taking time off, especially when it's unplanned, especially when I haven't "earned" it, is hard for me. I covered that the other day. However, once I do it, I so love the slower pace. Over and over I keep hearing that Simon & Garfunkel song in my head...

I am slowing down and appreciating, as a friend suggested, smelling the roses.  It feels healthier to me.  But how do we incorporate this into regular life?  Not feeling rushed?  Not constantly feeling like there is something we are supposed to be doing?  Is the idea of slowing down that of an era gone by, like the haircuts in the video?

I hope not but I am going to need to some help putting it into practice once I'm back from my sabbatical.

Today is least in the Americas (I am a little late for you over in NZ, Lisa)...good day to slow down, and feel some groovy! :-)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Time off

I hit my head.  Ok, I know I should rest.  And I was convinced not to exercise. But take time off from work?  What?  I "can't".  I "shouldn't".  Why not?  Some sense of obligation?   To my clients?   To some over developed work ethic?  Maybe an unwillingness to prioritize myself?  Or maybe I am just so tough that I can push through anything?  Is there an emoticon for eye rolling? ;)

Have I mentioned I am a very slow learner?  Very belatedly I have decided to take time off from work and rest my noggin. A very wise woman said to me last week that I should take care of myself...nobody is going to do it for me.  So simple. Yet funny that it took me so many weeks to give myself permission to take care of my health in this way.

My friend Meredith and I are keeping a list of all the lessons being learned from this slip and fall event!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Reflections of you

What are the words you would use to describe yourself?  Or what if you were to ask your friends?  What would they say?  I know I would be thrilled to share with my friends what it is that makes them fabulous.  

I am lucky enough to have some of the best friends in the world.  No judgement on how great your friends are.  I am sure they are awesome too.  But I just wanted to acknowledge mine and all they do for me.  

For my birthday a few years back, one dear friend ask the other women in my circle of "sistas" to give her a list of words that they think describe me.  Then she had them all etched on a mirror as a border, so that every time I look in the mirror, I have a reflection of what those who love me see when they look at me.  So incredibly cool, right? 

So hard to take a picture of a mirror, btw.  But you get the idea.

I have been thinking about why it is so difficult for me to do this for myself.  Or why it is hard for any of us to know our own strengths, and own them, and remember them when we are not at our best.  What would your list look like if you did one for yourself?  Or if your friends were to give you a lifelong reminder of your fabulousness? (I know it is not a word, but I like it anyway)

Monday, April 7, 2014


I like to think I give really good advice.  Taking that same advice is a whole different story!

I often forget to take smart advice, whether it be from me or others.  I need lots of reminders.  I am lucky to have friends who send me gentle reinforcements often.  One of my favorites was from my sister, Francesca, who wrote in a card to me a few years ago that although she knew I was going through a difficult time, I was moving forward with grace.  I love that.  It resonated so deeply within me that I felt it would guide me through most any challenge in life.

But I still forget at times.  Hell, I even have it tattooed on my wrist and I forget.

  Grace.  I want to always remember that no matter what happens I will move forward with grace.  Life hands each of us many challenges.  Some big, some seemingly small.  But I believe it is how we handle these that speaks to the strength of our character.  So it is not that I am telling myself that none of this should bother me.  But finding the positive in the situation, using it to learn something about myself.  Sharing my journey so it may help another feel less alone.  To me, this is grace.  And I am glad I remembered.  

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Baby steps

I am allowed to workout at all?  Well, the neuro said I could walk.  (insert a raised eyebrow here).  

Seriously?  Walk?  Alrighty then.  

So I went for a walk yesterday, and will go today.  Yay that I get to do something.  But my head definitely sets the pace...grrrr (because it is slower than I would like).  

But here is the interesting part.  This is how I feel....."I went for a WALK!"  I would typically be the first person/trainer to call someone out if they were trying to pass off a walk as a workout, if their goals were to be getting fitter and seeing results.  Oh how perspectives change.  At the moment I would have to say that a walk feels like an amazing option compared to doing nothing.  

It is sunny out today.  Go for a walk.  Stop and smell the roses...or the vague hint of spring air ;)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

What do I take for granted?

I saw a woman running this morning. I had such a rush of "oooh, I want to do that." Then I thought of all the days in my life I have exercised because I thought I needed to. Now that I am not able to choose how I move in my day, I realize I took for granted my ability to move when and how I wanted to. Luckily, hopefully, mine is a temporary respite, but I hope I do not forget this feeling once I am able to run and jump and hike and paddle again.

So I want to suggest you think about how this applies to you.  Please never take things in your life for granted.  What would you do if today were the last time you had the opportunity to do something you love?  My wish for you is that you figure it out without something having to be taken away in order to learn the lesson.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Sexy as...

What is sexy?

This is one of the questions that has been rolling around in my head the last six weeks.  What do I think is sexy?  In the past, if I had answered that question about myself, I definitely would have jumped to the physical body.  But now as I examine it more closely, I realize what I find sexy in others is not necessarily physical...

I think a man with a great smile is super sexy.  Someone with a playfulness behind his eyes.  A man who is confident, and has a little swagger without trying.  A man who is interested and interesting.  A man who is active because he likes adventure.  Who takes care of himself and has pride in his appearance.  Someone who knows his strengths but is humble.  That is sexy to me.  

And a sexy woman (yes, I think women are sexy) is someone who has a joy for life.  Who laughs and has a great smile.  Someone who owns her physical body and loves it (and this has nothing to do with size).  A woman who takes care of herself but is not overdone.  A woman who is not afraid to be confident and who knows what she wants in life.  That is sexy to me.  

Sensing a pattern here?  Nowhere in there is a 6-pack abs, or zero-percent body fat, or a person who in the gym all the time.  Of course, I am attracted to a fit body, but more so because it is a sign of a person who values themselves and their health.  And of someone that likes to move, be active, and explore new things. 

Can you picture that person who has a "perfect" body (whatever the hell that is) and yet is trying so hard or is so uncomfortable with themselves it is almost painful?  And standing next to that person is another who is perhaps not quite as fit but far more beautiful in their natural ease with themselves and enjoyment of life?  I know which one I want to talk to.  Interesting though that I would have said that for me to be sexy I would have to possess some version of that "perfect" body.  Hmmmm...if it doesn't matter to me when looking at others, why would I think it would be different when others are looking back at me?

So what do you find sexy in others?  And does it match the standard to which you hold yourself?

And I wonder why I hit my head...;)