Re-Introduction

Hi there, and hello to all of my new blog followers. My name is Sarah and I live in Illinois. I’m an only child who has lost both of her parents. My mom passed in 2011 to a brain aneurysm, and my dad in 2017 from sepsis and endocarditis. Below are pictures of me with my mom and dad! I miss them every day.

 

When I initially started this blog, it was to document my life as the caregiver to my dad. And while I will still post about that stuff, this blog has turned into a place where I can share my life experiences since losing both parents. I love that I am getting to experience new things in life and that I have a place to share my growth as a person now. I had a friend give me homework after my dad passed to see how much time of my life I have back now that I no longer need to take care of my dad, and it’s amazing how much time I truly have back. Don’t get my wrong, I would do it all again in a heart beat, but there’s something very liberating about finally getting to live my life fully for me.

So to share a little more about me, I live with my two cats, Socks and Shadow (pictured below). These two have been great to have and have helped so much with my anxiety and dealing with the loss of my dad. Besides having two fur babies, I’ve got several friends who are the best. They have helped me through some of the hardest times in my life and I don’t know what I would do without them.

One of my more recent posts was about my first vacation in eight years to NYC. You can read that post on an earlier blog. I’m making this year a year to focus on me and what will make me happy. I’m working on getting back into shape, taking trips, even if just to see family, because life is too short to not spend it with family. I also have a couple of other major trips I am planning on doing this year. One will be to California, and it will be my first time being on  the west coast. The second I’m still waiting on details, but one of my friends is going to be doing a retreat and I was told last year that I have to go this year, and I’m more than happy to oblige with that request. One of the smaller trips I making is actually this weekend for my cousin’s third birthday. She’s having a mermaid party and the kid in me is excited for that!

Thank you all so much for the follows and likes on my posts thus far and I can’t wait to share more! Feel free to share this with others and have a great rest of the week.

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Positive Influence

Over the weekend I found out something that made me happy and that I wanted to share. During my walk with coworkers and friends, we ended our 6.7 mile walk at a small restaurant in a town called St. Joe. While we were all recovering and refueling from our walk I had the chance to talk to the director from the emergency room I used to work in. I saw him briefly last month at The Daisy Award ceremony for the nurse who took care of my dad in his final hours.

What I learned from him on Saturday made me even more grateful that I took the time to nominate this nurse and that she won. He told me that she is a travelling nurse from Japan and that she really wasn’t sure she fit in here or that she had made the right choice to come here. He told me that after she won the award that it made her feel like she had made the right choice to come here and that it made her feel more a part of the team. This means the world to me. I saw not only how she interacted with my dad and I, but with other staff members. She is truly one of those nurses that is one in a million.

Never underestimate how you can make a difference in the life of someone. I nominated this nurse because of the care and compassion she showed. I didn’t know a lot about where she was from or that she was a travel nurse here. I’m glad that my show of gratitude and appreciation helped make a difference in her life, as she did in mine. Things like this just make my heart so full and make me want to continue on this journey of finding a way to make a difference in the lives of others, while also allowing me to make my life more fulfilled. The next time you think a gesture is too small, but you still want to do something for someone, do it. You never know how big that gesture could be to the person and that it could be life changing for them.

Progress

Over the course of the last two weeks, I have proved to myself that I can do anything I set my mind to, and that I need to not let that little voice in my head tell me otherwise. Last week when I was in NYC I did so much I didn’t think I could do, but the one thing I wanted to do more than anything was complete my first half marathon. I fell short of that goal due to a blister. I wasn’t disappointment because I completed eight miles. For me that’s the farthest I had walked/jogged continually in my life. That achievement alone made not only myself happy, but also friends of mine happy for me and that was a great feeling.

Flash forward 6 days and I fucking completed the distance of a half marathon today. Albeit there was a break to refuel, but I did it! In my town there is a new walking path that will eventually lead to a state park called Kickapoo State Park. Right now the trail goes from Urbana to St. Joe which is just shy of a 7 mile walk. The group I went with was coworkers I used to work with when I worked registration in the ER, one of the guys I used to go to church with, and a girl who works in the lab that got to know my and my dad really well because dad was always in for lab work. There were new people that I met as well, and it was a blast. We started at around 9:10 this morning and made it to St. Joe about two hours later. Myself and one other person decided that since it was such a nice day that after refueling with food and stuff to drink that we’d make the trek back. I’m so glad I did. I felt amazing by the time I got back to my car. Finally having a nice weather day made it all worth it. I did walk away with a slight sunburn on my face, but I can live with that.

This sense of accomplishment and momentum I’ve had the last few weeks has been fantastic. I’m getting out of my own head. I’m really taking to heart the talks I’ve had with a good friend and I’m no longer letting things from my past hold me back. I’m taking on the world and I love it. I’m in a really good place mentally that to be honest, I haven’t been in years. Each day is a new day to do accomplish something else and to show my dad that I’m doing well because of everything he taught me. The night he passed he asked me how I was going to take care of myself. I’m taking care of myself with the love and support of family and friends. My 20’s weren’t the traditional 20’s that many people experience, so I’m taking life by storm in my 30’s and it feels great. Here’s to many more adventures and goals to crush this year!

The journey continues

I saw this on one of my social media pages tonight and it’s absolutely accurate. When I said I was going to NYC some people didn’t understand why or what was there for me that I couldn’t get here. I’ll tell you I got five days of truly feeling like I was living, making connections with my goal crushers, and soaking up as much as humanly possible to make myself a better person.

Everyone has a different journey in life. We all have this idea on how our life will go, but nothing ever goes to plan one hundred percent of the time. And as I look back, with all I’ve been through, I wouldn’t change it because of it were any different I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’m in such a good place and it’s a place I haven’t been in years.

This is my time to shine. I’m more passionate about life, doing things I never thought I’d get to do, and working on making the most of each day. I’m proof that you can go from the lowest low to the highest high.

Living life

It’s weird how much my life has changed in the short amount of time since my dad’s passing. I completed a 40 day challenge hosted by one of my friends. I started making mental changes to better myself. I’ve gotten back into working out. I’m doing things that just a few months ago I wouldn’t have been able to do or wouldn’t have been in the right mindset to do.

The last five days in NY have allowed me to let go off all of the stress and worries I once had. I explored so much of the city and saw more in five days than most people probably see of the city in their lifetime. I went from Lower Manhattan to TriBeCa, to the village, Central Park and so many places in between. I made connections with new friends and strengthened connections with friends I’ve known for a while. I got my first tattoo, was five miles shy of completing my first half marathon, won an amazing goodie bag from Shape, and for yet the second time had Jen make me cry at one of her events, but the tears this time were for a completely different reason. I’m headed home a changed person. Only I am in charge of my happiness. I can feel a shift in my life happening and it’s exciting. Here’s to the start of a new adventures and a new chapter.

Changing The Narrative

Back in February on the last day of the Shape Goal 40, I found out I was the week six goal crusher of the week. Jen told me it was a joint decision based off of not only people who nominated me, but on her observations, and with the help of the Shape Squad. I distinctly remember in the Facebook live she said, “I’m not giving you this award because I’ve known you for a long time, but because there’s something shifting in you. You’re truly finding your way. You’re changing the narrative”.

Those words have stuck with me, which is leading me to change the focus of this blog. While I feel like my past is important, and sharing my experiences as a caregiver are important, sharing growth of myself is more important.

In the last two and a half months, I’ve been to two of Jen’s events and at both she has made me cry. The first was at the Arnold Classic in Columbus. I drove four hours to support my friend signing her book at the Laura’s Lean booth. After the signing was over we had a talk where she was really hard on me. Things we talked about made me cry in the middle of this huge event. One thing she asked me was what mentally was holding me back. I stood there and said, I don’t know. On the four hour drive home it became evident to what was holding me back mentally and I was crying on the drive home. It wasn’t a sad cry, but a cry where everything just sort of clicked and me being disappointed in myself for allowing something that had happened years earlier still have this control over me mentally. It may be hard to let things that happened in your past go, but when you do it’s so freeing and that day was a huge shifting point for me.

Jump ahead about a month and I’m nearing the end of my first vacation in eight years in NYC. I took this trip for me because I deserve to treat myself and to live and having amazing experiences, but it was also to do things I never thought possible. I also wanted to support my Shape squad in things they were doing this week/weekend. Friday night I got to meet Mara who was supposed to run the half, but couldn’t due to an injury. I met her at NYRR along with Tiff McFierce for yoga. It was the first time I had ever done yoga and everyone was so supportive and Mara was surprised it was my first time. Here’s proof of me doing yoga.

Saturday morning I had two events to go to. The first was a workout that Jen was leading a workout at Paragon Sports, where only 40 of about 150 people who signed up actually showed up. Her workout was hard, but so much fun. While I was there I met Cara from the goal crushers group and we were partners for workouts that needed a partner. What we experienced was special on Saturday morning. After the workout we all met by the Shape ActiveWear in the store and had a fantastic talk. Jen answered our questions and had Cara and I share our stories. The connections that were made that morning is something I will never forget. After the workout Cara and I headed up to NYRR for the panel talk for the Shape Women’s Half Marathon. The panel of women was absolutely amazing. To be in a room with so many influential women inspired me in ways I can’t even get out in words yet. And the big event on Sunday was the Shape Half. I made it eight miles before I had to head toward the finish line because of a blister on my foot that wouldn’t let me go any farther. Another woman I met at the start of the race named Joy was having issues with her shins so we linked arms and crossed the finish line together. That’s what this whole weekend has been about. Women empowering women. After the race I was able to see Jen for a few minutes and told her that I had completed eight of the 13.1 miles. She said “You fucking did eight miles?! I’m so proud of you!” She signed my medal and helped me take off my race bib. She told me to write a message to myself on it and to keep both of those together.

This whole trip was much needed, but also life changing. In a matter of days I have so much insight and passion to pursue things I never thought I’d want to pursue. I will be leaving NYC tomorrow with a heart much fuller than when I arrived and I have to give all the credit to the wonderful women who made this weekend one of the best in my life. Check out some more pictures from this weekend below.

A Love Note

This is a post I’ve been wanting to make for a while now, but wanted to find the right words and it’s still not perfect, but it comes from the heart.

Over the last seven years there have been so many people in my life that have been there for me when I’ve been through hell and back and then through hell and back again. This love note starts with those who my dad and I worked with back on 03/17/2011, the day my dad came home and found my mom had died. My dad worked the night audit at a hotel and I worked part time for my community college police department. His coworkers were great at donating money to help dad and I cover my mom’s funeral costs, making meals for us, etc. My coworker being cops came out to be with my dad and I while officers, paramedics, crime scene investigators, and the coroner were at our home. They not only were able to help us through what was going on, but was just there for support. They brought us coffee and breakfast. It’s those small things that made all the difference that day. Our world had just been turned upside down and without the support of them it would have made that whole situation a lot harder to get through. I am and I know my dad was forever grateful for all you did for us.

To all my friends who sent messages and donated to my mom’s Go Fund Me page and the Go Fund Me page for my dad and I to keep the roof over our head a couple of years after my mom passed, you all hold a special place in my heart. The outpouring of love during those times did not go unnoticed. I’m grateful that you all allowed my dad and I to be able to keep going. Times before and  even after that were tough, but you all made everything else in between seem so minor knowing we could let my mom rest and that my dad and I were able to keep our home. There’s no greater gift than that.

To my family, we have been through a lot the last couple of years. We’ve lost three amazing dad’s. I’m thankful for technology and how far it has come so that we were able to keep each other updated on how things were going be it good or bad. I love the memories and pictures that we can look back on and smile at. Sometimes it is still painful but we are all strong and I’m glad we are all getting even closer. We have three awesome angels looking out for us. I can’t wait to spend more time with you all more often to not only create new memories, but to also share memories of good times.

To Justin and Katie. I don’t even know where to being. From all of our late night weekend shenanigans to endless talks in hospital waiting rooms and everything in between. You have seen me at my highest highs and my lowest lows. You have helped keep me sane. I’m so blessed to have both of you in my life. You guys are family, no ifs ands or buts about it. I’m so excited for the year ahead. All of us have a lot of changes. Me finding my freedom and independence again and you guys with the little one on the way. I can’t wait for this journey to unfold and I love you guys more than you know. Here’s to new adventures ahead! And to Bentley and Max, I love you guys too! There’s never a dull moment when Bentley realizes it’s me! 🙂

To Jen and the #ShapeSquad. People are brought into your life at the craziest, but perfect time. A year ago I drove to Naperville to see you and hear you talk about your book, The Biggest Loser, and so much more. Flash forward to this year and driving to Columbus to see you and support you like you support us. I’m grateful that over the last year we have become friends. You wrote to me that I am important to you, and you are just as important to me. I’m sure we will have many more heart to heart talks this year and I can’t wait. One of these days you need to bring Hank with you on a trip! 🙂 And #ShapeSquad, we have come a long way since the start of the forty day challenge. I love to be a part of a group where women are building up other women. It’s nice having a safe space to talk openly, share ups and downs, progress and struggle, and to just be real. For those going to NY next month, I can’t wait to see you. For those that can’t make it, we need to find a way to get the squad together later this year. I’m proud to be a part of this group and grateful for each and ever one of you. Our group is a special one.

The last few weeks my heart has been so full! In the last four months I have had a lot of time to reflect and grow. I realize that I have been through two horrible losses, being my parents, but also working in healthcare and in an emergency room as a member of registration, I’ve seen many people lose their lives in many different ways. Life is short and I don’t think we tell the people we love enough that we love them and appreciate them. Right now there is so much negativity in the world that I wanted to share the love for those I love. You all make my life better in so many ways.

Love,

Sarah