Coming back to the blog

Coming back to the blog
Well, it certainly has been a while since I have written a blog post. 

 I am not even apologetic about it! I have really come to learn that thinking "you can do it all" either leads to shoddy work on everything, or intense stress trying to do a quality job on too many fronts.  I am now very conscious of the amount of work I commit to and have promised myself that I will do what feels right, what doesn't feel like "work" and what fuels my passion. My desire to write a blog post has to come from a moment of passion for living that i want to share with you and not a sense of obligation and a post is due. 

And this morning, as I was chatting about how March kicked my butt and laid me out on the couch to really learn the lesson of listening to my body,i I realized that I have created a couple new, small habits that have helped me in my wellness journey. Suddenly, I wanted to share them with you. 

The first habit I have adopted, and really become solid with, is always having drinking water by my side, no matter where I am. I now ALWAYS have a water tumbler with me around the house, on a walk, in the car, at a dog show, or anywhere else I might find myself. 

I find, now that I have been giving my body all the water it needs, that I am always craving it. I NOTICE my thirst now. 

I set my goal at drinking approximately 4 litres of water per day and use some lovely Young Living flavour boosters to help me get it all down. It started off hard and I peed a LOT, but now it is easy to get that much in and I don't have to go to the bathroom as often. 

The second small habit I have adopted this month is intentional breaks between tasks. 

I am a very focused person and can get completely consumed by a project I am working on -- this leads to overworking and self-induced stress. So now I will work on something for an hour and then stop.......done or not. And shift my focus to something else. I may or may not go back to the first task later in the day but I am getting better about leaving things undone and take a mental and physical break. 

This one is the harder of the two habits to practice as I have been trained my entire life to finish what I start and to focus intensely on what I am doing. So it is a work in progress and I use some tech help (like my watch telling me it's time to stand) to help me practice. 

What habits have you recently added to your life? 

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10 Things My Second Heart Attack Taught Me - #10 Peace and Acceptance

10 Things My Second Heart Attack Taught Me - #10 Peace and Acceptance
You can find peace and acceptance that things didn’t go according to plan and then find wonder and joy on the path you are on. It might look different than you expected but it is your path nonetheless. Make the most of it.

One thing I quickly came to believe after my FIRST heart attack was that in the most profound way, it was a gift. The heart attack allowed me to finally see what the culture of overwork was doing to my body, how my beliefs about what made a good leader meshed perfectly with a society that wanted as much work done as possible with as few people as possible. 

My first heart attack engaged the rescuer side of my personality and empowered me to reach out into my community of workers and try to throw them a lifeline with my new learning. 

What my SECOND heart attack showed me was that sometimes when you have been taught that drowning is the way, you don't want a life ring.

The stories we have running in our heads about how we are in the world are powerful, lifelong scripts that once kept us safe. Just because the results have changed over time doesn't mean people want to hear that it is no longer working. 

And I had to come to peace with that. And I had to come to an acceptance of both the way I ended my career in healthcare and that my message as the "ghost of Christmas Future" was truly only a message for me. 

My second heart attack was a powerful earthquake that I could not ignore. It was the seismic shift I needed to completely comprehend that my body could not endure going back to that way of being EVER -- and I still need the reminder of that shift every day. 

I _ still _  have those overworking stories -- although I now see them in action and walk them away. I am always going to be a Type A personality but now I ask myself "does this seem like work" and if it does I banish it. 

Our society still glorifies people who sacrifice themselves to a job that will never repay in kind so I choose my conversations more carefully. 

I find myself growing less devastated when I hear of another person succumbing  to burnout or health deterioration from overwork, not because I am uncaring but because my body cannot hold that devastation without itself being devastated. 

I have to practice detachment, surrender and most importantly release when I meet with friends from that life....and deep breathing is required as I feel my stress level rise, my body tighten and my head start to spin. 

I have to accept that I participated in the means of my own destruction and find peace in the fact that I thought and was taught that this was required to do my job in the best way possible. 

I have to accept that sometimes bad things happen then happen again and to work to see the gifts that come from those low, low points.

So if you find yourself in the place where the expectation -- yours, your organization, your employer, your community, -- is to be "self-less" in your work, to give up time with your family and your self in order to be good at your job, or to ignore the signs your body is sending --you whether that is poor sleep, aches, raw emotions, frustration, un-caring -- then you are on a path that has some pretty rocky points.

You can choose to stay or choose to leave but what ever you choose you have to make some changes to the way you are proceeding. 

No one can do this for you. 

Now if you are reading this and thinking "I can't do anything about this, that is what is expected of me" then your path is harder than anyone's. There _are_ hard choices you can make -- but they all come down to choosing yourself over your current identity.  

What are you choosing?

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10 Things My Secont Heart Attack Taught Me -- #9 Don't Put off Your Bucket List Items

10 Things My Secont Heart Attack Taught Me -- #9 Don't Put off Your Bucket List Items
#9 Don't Put off your bucket list items because you may not have time to get to them all.

I follow a couple from the US called Snow and Curt on their around the world adventures in the liveaboard RV. They have been on the road now for four years and video blog twice a week about their journey. 

Many many times Curt can be heard saying "we are doing it while we are able" as a way of saying don't put off doing what you love. 

They have been a sort of vicarious lifeline to me as I navigated my new questions on the way home from hospital after the more serious second cardiac.  

Then, late last year, Snow had a heart attack. And they didn't know what was happening writing it off to a flu or other such virus -- the insidiousness of women's heart attacks is why when women finally show up to an Emergency department there tends to be more heart damage already taken place. 

This was the case for Snow. Heart failure as a result. Poor ejection fraction. New world of multiple medications, being winded on small walks, not trusting your body and feeling bad that you let it get so far at the same time.  Altitude and adventuring now serious questions. 

For Snow and Curt this came as such a huge shock -- and it rocked their world.

At least I knew what was happening because it was my second time.

I had been out walking the dog -- and out of no where ended up having massive heart attack. Clot Buster medication. 4 minutes of CPR. 

It shook my confidence in my body so hard I didn't have any left for a long time. Could I/Should I go for walks by myself?

Could I/Should I go into the forest alone?

Could I/Should I go on road trips alone? 

What would happen if I have another one alone?

I had never doubted my body before and now I didn't even understand how it was functioning. 

And at the exact moment I needed to hear it, my husband, Gerry, said, well you can get busy living or you can wait around for death.  

It was like a flash of reality that I needed......Death will come for me one day but am I going to sit around waiting for him or am I going to make Death come find me. 

Well Snow and Curt had the same conversation and after Snow had stabilized on her medications, gotten comfortable in her body again, and built up her courage for living.....they started out on their journey again. 

I spent the summer after my second heart attack traveling around BC with only my dogs going to dog shows (with Gerry doing all my logistics from home while he worked) and made my peace with my body. 

I know that the second heart attack had no real reason "shit house bad luck" was my Cardiologists brave diagnosis....

So think about how you are going to get busy living today -- don't put off your heart by working too much, thinking you have a lot of time later to do the things you dream about. 

Death is coming for all of us -- make him have to work hard to find you.

Oh and if you want to follow some really great people living their best life -- check out Snow and Curt on Youtube

And the picture I am using for this particular post is of Mt. Terry Fox - probably one of the most influential Canadians that ever lived -- who lived his life fully and left such a legacy on the earth that it is only fitting a mountain be named after him....that I stopped at on my summer journey and pondered how he must have felt about life after losing a leg at such a young age.....and then starting off running..

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10 Things My Second Heart Attack Taught Me - #8 Giving Your Whole Being is a Recipe for Disaster

10 Things My Second Heart Attack Taught Me - #8 Giving Your Whole Being is a Recipe for Disaster
Giving Your Whole Being to a Job is a Recipe for Disaster

In the last post I talked about how you are not indispensible to any thing but your family......but I missed someone very important in that point. 


You are not indispensible to YOU either and when you give "everything" to your job, you are ignoring the most important piece in this -- YOU are MORE important than any task, role, title, job, wage, social standing, or accolades.

We are brought up in a culture that encourages self-less-ness as a sign of saintliness, of social mobility, of true achievement when in fact it is only a tool in a greater societal drive towards so-called efficiencies. 

If every person did only what was required in their role and prioritized their own well-being over work, then the gap between work needing to be done and work getting done would widen significantly. It would require a mass hiring.

How many times have you see a person leave, get sick, retire only to be replaced by two or three people into the exact same role?

Self-less-ness only serves to keep the issue of overworking from being discussed. You are in fact complicit in your own overworking.

Now some may come back to me on that and say "well it is a requirement of my job to work more" and to that I say, it will remain so until people stop accepting that as a condition of employment. 

Just think about what self-less-ness is actually saying -- it is saying you are agreeing that your "self' can be sacrificed to an external obligation - an implicit modern day human sacrifice. 

Because the impact of this kind of self-less overwork is loss of motivation, poor mental health, burnout, physical sickness and for far too many of my colleagues, death. 

NO that isn't hyperbole. 

Take a moment to consider colleagues, friend and family who have had health issues, who are off on stress leave, who have suddenly died. Could self-less behaviour have contributed to that result? If we don't ask this question, we will never truly know the enormity of the problem.  

So where does that leave us. 

Well, we first need to start by re-evaluating why we are doing what we do. What stories do we tell ourselves about what makes a "good employee", "good leader", "successful person"?

Where did those stories come from and being honest in evaluating if those stories are actually getting us the results that we want. 

Then we need to look forward -- is this way of being healthy for me in the long term? 

What other stories are out there that show an alternative? Could I adopt those as my belief system? Could they feel comfortable to me in my situation?

Then start working on how, when you are focused elsewhere the old stories just pop up and engage you in behaviour that is more automatic than mindful.  You can be different, but it does take recognition there is a problem and then focus on changing it.

It's time to shift the narrative and save a life -- YOURS!

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10 Things My Second Heart Attack Taught Me -- #7 You are not indispensible to your job

10 Things My Second Heart Attack Taught Me -- #7 You are not indispensible to your job
#7 You are NOT indispensible to your job but you are to your family -- prioritize well.

There is a meme out there that states "Your job will be posted faster than your obituary" and while it gets a laugh, I wonder how many people ACTUALLY realize this is true?

Systems, organizations, cultures -- all the big picture forms -- are created to NOT collapse upon the loss of one person. They simply cannot be created that way.....but we are raised to think that to make ourselves indispensable is the responsibility of good employees. 

There is even more pressure if you strive to be a "good" leader. 

But our efforts to make people reliant upon us, to make us the holder of unique and vast knowledge, to become indispensible, leads us to a more and more unhealthy relationship to work. 

And while our team mates, our own leaders, and organizational leadership may thank and appreciate our efforts (or maybe not but that is the topic of a different post lol), the organization, the system is neutral to our efforts. 

No amount of extra hours we put in will cause an organization to hesitate to replace us if we suddenly cannot be there. 

Read that again. 

We have created this fantasy as a way to monitor and evaluate our performance -- which may also be reflected in our formal performance reviews -- but this has absolutely no bearing on your replaceability. 

So what do you do with this information? 

You recognize it for the truth that it is and you begin to divest yourself from the belief that the more you work the more important you will be to the organization.

You realize that all the extra hours and efforts, the sacrifices and losses, the missing out times, are NOT worth the result. 

Your disconnection from the one place where you ARE indispensable == your life == is TOO high a price to pay to an entity incapable of reciprocating. 

So, begin to disengage from the volume of extras you do. Yes, continue to do an excellent job at your job, but without the sacrifice of time, energy and health. 

Step back from overachieving

Step back from relentless hours

Step back from trying to be the Golden Child.

You will start to see how being great in your life outside of work will suddenly translate into a better, fresher, more creative you at work. 

Best of all, you will find that your life, your family, your friends, your hobbies, your pets, will all suddenly spring back into a fresh relevance and you will begin to experience joy again. 

The shear joy of being not of doing. 

Time to listen to your heart.

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