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!

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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

Day trip

Sometimes you just need to get away from your home and your city for a day and surround yourself in a new environment to recharge. This past weekend was one of those weekends for me. I needed a change of scenery for a day and so I hit the road to Columbus, Ohio on Saturday to see my friend Jen at the Arnold Classic. I left home around 5:30am because I knew once I hit Indiana I’d be in the eastern time zone and wanted to make sure I got there in time to see Jen at her signing. The drive to Columbus was super peaceful with the open road, music, and getting to see the sunrise was just what I needed.

I got to the Arnold Classic with no problems at all. I figured there would be a line to see Jen, so the booth she was at was the first stop I made. the line wrapped around the booth, which made me so happy to see so many out to see her. As the line moved she looked over at one point and saw me and came over to give me a hug. Some people in line were looking around and Jen said she’s known me for a long time now. Once I made it to my turn to actually see her, she and I had a good talk and then again after her signing was over we talked more. She really made me think about things that have been holding me back from making progress and I shed some tears.

Sunday morning I woke up at 4am and that’s when everything she talked to me about really started to set in about what’s holding back my progress. I thought it was just a couple of things, but then I had an even bigger revelation later in the day. It was one of those holy shit moments where I realized that there have been some things I’ve been suppressing. I’m grateful for the talk and homework Jen gave me.

Sunday was a good day too. After getting some stuff down on paper, I took a nap since I was up so early processing stuff. Later in the day my friend Bri and I went to see The Greatest Show Man. It was such a good movie and I’m glad I went.

10 weeks…

Tomorrow marks 10 weeks since I lost my dad. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long since he left me. It still feels like it happened yesterday, but I’m coping so much better than I did when I lost my mom. I owe a lot of that to my dad because he wasn’t afraid to have the hard conversations with me about end of life. The bereavement class that I have been attending has also been a huge help. It is a place where it’s okay to grieve and mourn. So many of us share things that we don’t feel like we can share elsewhere and it’s a great atmosphere. I’m grateful for this safe haven.

Now to get you caught up a little bit on me and what’s been happening the last few weeks. I finished the ShapeGoal40 challenge on the 3rd. I’m sad that it has ended, but the support of the wonderful women I’ve met continues on in the group. I’m also happy to say that I was named the goal crusher for the last week of the challenge. I will come back later and share the video here. It’s a great feeling to see how far I’ve come in such a short amount of time.

Another plus is that I saw my doctor yesterday and she’s proud of the progress I’ve been making. Last year before dad died she wanted me to focus on losing weight because I had been putting on weight and pretty quickly. Then my dad died and I turned to food as a comfort, but knew that I couldn’t continue down that path. At my appointment yesterday she told me I was so close to being out of the morbid obesity range. I told her I didn’t even know I had hit that range and she said she didn’t tell me because she didn’t want that to be in my head and make things worse. She wanted to encourage me to move more and to work on eating better. We also talked about things that I’m doing coming up, like my first half marathon in April in NYC. I’m lucky to have a doctor who encourages me. It’s one more person on my team who I know I can turn to if I need support.

I hope you all have a great Tuesday!

Looking back…

As I look back on this past year, I realize that I am a lot stronger than I ever though was possible. The year started with my dad in the hospital in January, then again in March, April, May June, July, September, and November. He went through so much this year and there was a period of three months that I had to take off from work because of running out of FMLA time and needing to be home with dad to administer antibiotics via a PICC line three times a day. In all of the hard times this year I realized that I am capable of so much more than I ever knew I was. I don’t know that a lot of people truly know all I went through this year and I will go into more detail in a later blog.

I never imagined ending 2017 without my dad. He was such a fighter this year with all of his health ailments, and while that didn’t help my generalized anxiety disorder, I still feel like I had some great moments with him. During  the three months I was off from work he and I would watch The People’s Court together during the day and a Cubs game at night. I’m thankful for all of the moments I was able to have with him over these last several years and I know how much he loved me. Maybe one day I will post the video I recorded of him telling me he loves me, but in my healing journey I’m not there yet.

While there were more tough times this year, than good times, I still managed to have some pretty good times. Some of the good times this year included me celebrating my 30th birthday with two of the best friends any girl could ask for. Justin and Katie had shirts made, we went to Sleepy Creek Winery, and did a whole lot of other fun stuff for my birthday. I’m so lucky to have these two in my life. They are more like a brother and sister to me. I’m so excited for more adventures to come with them in 2018, and of course Max and Bentley, their German Shepherds. I know this next year is going to be a lot of fun!

Also this year I got to meet Jen Widerstrom. I drove up to Naperville, IL for her book tour and after her book talk and answering some questions from attendees, she was signing her book. She is one of the most down to Earth people I’ve met. She and I talked for a few minutes, and she remembered me from winning a DietBet she hosted in 2016. I’ve been lucky enough to keep in touch with her over the last year and I can’t wait to see her at the retreat she is planning in 2018.

I was also blessed enough this year to spend Christmas with several of my cousins in Indiana. And while I wish my dad could have been here to celebrate as well, I am glad I was able to go up for a few days. This was the first time I had really experienced a big family Christmas. Getting to help make treats, and meeting other family that I haven’t met was a lot of fun. The best part of the trip was when my cousin Shanna surprised my Aunt Joyce with a trip to Hawaii. It was a three part gift with the last being a shirt that said, “I can’t keep calm, I’m going to Hawaii”. She didn’t have the shirt completely open and at first thought it said, “I can’t keep calm, I’m going to y’all.” It was such a great experience to see her face when she realized it said Hawaii on the shirt. This has been her dream vacation, so I’m happy for her that she gets to go.

As 2018 approaches, I’m looking back at this last year with a lot of emotions. I never imagined I lose my dad so soon, but he and I had talked about his end of life wishes a lot over the years. At the end of 2016 he told me there was a good likelihood with his heart failure that he wouldn’t be here this time this year. He was right, but it wasn’t due to his heart failure. Signing a DNR for him was literally the single hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I’m grateful for the nurse who took care of him in his final hours and let us use her phone so he could listen to Elvis.

In the new year, I’m going to be focused on living life again. I put myself last in order to make sure my dad was taken care of. I’m ready to rediscover who I am and what I am capable of being completely independent now. I’m excited to do things out of my comfort zone, actually go on a vacation this year (Jen’s 2018 retreat), spend more time with family and friends, and focus on getting my health back in check. I’m looking into the new year with optimism and excitement. Let’s do this 2018.

#ShapeGoal40

I mentioned in a post I made a few days ago that I’m joining Shape Magazine and Jen Widerstrom doing their 40 day challenge. Being a caregiver so long I really didn’t take care of myself the way I should have. I ate like crap, gave into temptation sitting next to the person at work who is always bringing donuts, cookies, and candy in. As hard as these last four and a half weeks have been without my dad, I realize that this is a time in life where I get to rediscover who I am. I don’t have to constantly worry about my dad throughout the day or not get enough rest because he needs help with something in the middle of the night. Don’t get me wrong, I wish he were still here because he was the best dad I could ever have ever wanted, but I knew in the back of my head that I was putting my health on the back burner to make sure he was okay.

The timing of this challenge has been fantastic. Today is day five and since it started I’ve been cooking meals instead of eating out. I’ve been making chicken dishes, healthy sandwiches, eating salads, fruits, and going out of my comfort zone by trying new things like couscous. It’s amazing how in just five days I feel like I have more energy and that my body is functioning better because I am putting good stuff into it. I’ve also significantly cut back on soda, except for a sip or two to get medication down. When I was six I choked on a life saver and my mom had to do the Heimlich on me, so getting pills down has always been an issue for me, and the carbonation seems to help that. If you know of something else for me to try, let me know!

With the ShapeGoal40, there is a fantastic group of amazing people who are all supportive of each other from all over the world and many of us have posted our goals so we can all help each other stay accountable. I want to post that here on my blog as well, so that I make sure I am not only accountable for myself, but for anyone who may be doing this challenge who reads this, can also keep me accountable.

For the first time in almost seven years, I feel like this huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. I love my dad dearly, but now that he’s gone and truly seeing the toll it took on me that I couldn’t see, but everyone else could has been a huge eye opener. 2018 is going to be focusing on me and rediscovering myself and my joy. As I look back in 2017, I don’t know how I managed to do all that I did for my dad. There were times that I was pretty much at rock bottom, but was able to put up this façade to make it seem like everything was fine. I’m ready to conquer 2018. I’ve got big goals and plans for some of the most special people in my life. I really couldn’t have made it through this last year without Justin, Katie, Bri, Gina, Kelly, Jen and so many more.

Here I come 2018 and here are my goals below!

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