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It’s About Being Alive

18 years ago I had a heart transplant and I’ve been completely different and exactly the same ever since.

Easter, 8 years pre-transplant

Not sure what I mean? It’s the beauty of organ donation. We get to live on and be us. For how long? There is a lot of speculation and statistics around this that you may google if you wish but I choose not to for many reasons, one of which is this dude: David (Click his name for the article). David is 90 and had a heart transplant 35 years ago. David is awesome. I want to be like David. David was told he might only live for an additional 10 years and David said “bullocks” (David may have said this but this is not a quote from David himself nor was David at all directly involved in the crafting of this article).

Life is the same because we get to keep on living. We are limitless. Things may go wrong but that may happen whether we have had a transplant or not. I’m in a bit of a different situation than some, and many people may not know this, but I was perfectly healthy before. I needed a transplant very suddenly. My heart deteriorated very fast (it felt like a couple of weeks) and I needed a transplant with nearly no explanation as to why. My heart just died. They call it idiopathic cardiomyopathy. No statistics or speculation could have predicted it. They don’t know what happened.

Prince Edward Island, 9 months post transplant

I’m not someone who was sick my whole life and had a new zest post-transplant telling you that I am now limitless. I am someone who was healthy my whole life who suddenly needed a transplant who is telling you that I am STILL limitless. I have lost nothing. I haven’t lost years, I haven’t gained fear or any serious pain. I’m just a regular girl that gets to keep moving along, doing normal life things like dreaming of my career, my first home, the family I get to build and my future pet Pug.

I could easily sit around thinking about what life could have been like had it never happened (been there). I could easily be unhappy. I could easily worry about what could happen next (done that). I could easily worry about what people think (and that). I could easily limit myself. But I am telling you, with my 18 years of experience, that it’s a lot easier and healthier to simply live.

High School Graduation Ball, 4 years post transplant

I did not trade a disease for a condition. I traded a hospital bed for my high school diploma. I traded wires and tubes for my driver’s license. I traded a little bit of time in the hospital for the rest of my life outside of one. I traded the promise of nothing for the promise of absolutely anything.

In the last two years, I have sought out and become part of the transplant community. I have opened myself up, told my story, talked to others, met some immensely inspirational folks, and have come to realize that that’s exactly the right thing to do; live.

Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia, 12 years post transplant

I wake up every morning groggy, tired, cranky, and inaudible (I’m definitely not a morning person) but around 1 p.m. or so, when I finally wake up, I think I about my next project and how I am going to achieve it, I think about how happy I am that I can do anything I want, and now, I think of my new friend David (David does not know that we are friends) on the other side of the world, just chillin’ and thinking about what he’s going to do next.

Even though I am recipient, I could still save someone one day, just as someone saved me. To be a donor register at www.beadonor.ca

Hogsback Lockstation, 18 years post transplant
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You are enough. You can save lives.

We had a booth set up at @Costco in #kanata last night. The Costco community recently lost a family member who was waiting for a compatible #organdonor. They asked us to come so that we might help prevent another #community from losing someone they love unnecessarily. Let’s do this #together.

In #Ontario 1500 people are waiting for #organtransplant. Every 3 days someone dies.

Can’t #donateblood? You can still be an organ and tissue donor. No matter what, you’re not too old, you’re not too unhealthy, you’re important exactly the way you are. Don’t think you’re good enough? You absolutely are. Join the #donornation community with me. You can save lives just by being you and by registering at beadonor.ca.

@ottawagift #beadonor #donatelife #trilliumgiftoflife #giftoflife #organandtissuedonation #organdonationsaveslives #givelife #iamadonor #endthewait

My Last Week as “Just a Receptionist”

Whenever anyone would ask me a question about myself, I would feel the need to add “just” in front of it. Someone would ask me what I do, and I would answer “I’m just a receptionist”. Someone would ask me what my program in school was “just a general arts degree”. What kind of sports do you do? “just swimming and sometimes biking”.

I never felt good enough and I didn’t understand why. Looking back, I was never seriously bullied. Sure, I heard comments, all people do. I never really let it get to me. I never really let it get to me because I was too busy bullying myself. The only one making me feel not good enough was me.

Going through what I went through as a kid really knocked me down mentally. I had to learn that it wasn’t my fault. I had to teach myself that I wasn’t weak. The disease took my heart, but it didn’t take from me what really matters.

Someone once made me realize that even though something isn’t a common accomplishment such as getting a degree, building a career, or buying your first home, doesn’t mean it’s not an accomplishment.

Everything you do for yourself, everything that you accomplish that’s important to you is an accomplishment. This person reminded me I had accomplishments. She asked me why I didn’t think learning to sail was an accomplishment. I didn’t know what to answer. I always just thought a university degree ranked and everything else I did didn’t. I was wrong.

If you biggest accomplishment today is getting dressed, doing your hair, making a healthy meal, or leaving the house, feel good about that. Everything that’s worth it is hard. You should be proud ❤

Breaking News: Today I ate vegetables #adulting
#onlytook3triestospellvegetables

What makes you feel accomplished lately? It doesn’t have to be something that we all recognize, just something that you’re proud of. Let us know. Maybe you’ll inspire someone else to feel good about themselves today.

Just because you’re not doing the same things everyone else is, doesn’t mean the stuff you are doing is less meaningful. This is the last time I will call myself « just » anything. Keep going out there and living YOUR best life! ~Laura

I wrote this post a few weeks ago to try to perk myself up. I felt like I wasn’t going anywhere fast. Even though I had just graduated and gotten a full-time permanent job. I’m 31 (Almost 32 😭) and don’t feel financially stable enough to move out. Crazily enough I was offered a position that I had applied to months before and didn’t think I was going to get. I accepted. I’m now an academic advisor and really darn proud.

In under a year I graduated, became employed, and got promoted. All major life accomplishments that 5 years ago seemed very impossible. Who wouldn’t be proud right? Just because you do something awesome doesn’t mean your old habits suddenly disappear. I caught myself almost saying « just » the other day for something entirely different. Language matters and impacts you more than you think. Just because you change a habit in one sector of your life doesn’t mean it doesn’t apply to all sectors of your life. You are not « just » anything. You are you and that’s what makes you great. In the words of the great Dr. Seuss “you are you that is truer than true, there’s no one alive who is you’re than you”!

How to kill a plant in less than 5 days

A comprehensive guide for millennials by a millennial

Monday, I walked into the office to see my brand-new plant looking pretty dead. I had just bought it on Wednesday and here it was, dead. I had killed it. I had killed it in 4 and a half days.

#plantkiller

I was immediately ashamed of my dead plant. I moved it to the other, less visible side of my desk. I wondered if anyone had seen my poor dead plant through the window on my door. OMG what would they say about me? I worried that they would know I was a plant killer. Poooooor sad little plant killer. “Mmmm mmmm” they would say, shaking their heads. “couldn’t even take care of a plant!” or worse “millennials!” I heard their non-existent judgments whirling around in my head. Then my inner voice started in. It may have been worse than the made-up stuff everyone else wasn’t really saying about me. Instead of “She can’t even take care of a plant” it became “I can’t do anything right” and “why do I bother” and my favourite millennial one “If this is #adulting, I’m out. #NOPE”.

I had taken two sick days off and then it was the weekend. Hence the 4 days of plant neglect. I always feel guilty about taking sick days and my dead plant justified all of my reasons for being guilty and feeling selfish for taking time for myself. Not only was I actually not feeling well, I had just found out my dad’s brain tumour removal surgery had been scheduled and was coming very soon. Until then it was some not-so-real thing in the not-so-soon future. Now it’s a week and a half away. It didn’t seem real and now suddenly it’s too real. It’s a lot happening at once but in my mind, taking those two days to take care of my health was selfish and something to feel guilty about. I even had a victim in front of me to prove it! Does anyone else ever feel this way? How do you manage? Do you take days off when you need to, if you can?

All these feelings felt justified because now I had murdered a poor innocent polka dot plant. A poor innocent polka dot plant that could have had a better life with someone else until I went into that plant store, plucked it from the fancy green pot it was in where it looked so happy and murdered it in four and a half days. Where does a person go from here?

All of the above thoughts went through my head very fast. Almost as fast as it took for me to see the plant and move it to its new hiding place. I guess I just wasn’t a plant person, even though I wanted to be one. I would never change.

Once I was done being about as dramatic as my dead plant looked, I remembered something the person at the store said. “The plant becomes droopy when it needs to be watered”. I told them I was new to plants and had asked for advice. At the time I didn’t know what they meant by “droopy”. The pile of death that was once my plant that was sitting in the pot seemed far beyond “droopy”, but I thought why not just see if it perks up a little. I poured in some water and tried not to pay attention to it.

“I’m not dead!”
(Monty Python and the Holy Grail)

An hour later there were signs of life! I went back to the picture I had initially taken to send to my family to let them know how quickly I had killed my plant (I like to make them proud whenever I can) and compared the picture with what I now had in front of me and there had definitely been a change. Gordon wasn’t dead!

Hour by hour Gordon came back to life. I watched her grow back up and stand tall. My inner voice was pretty disappointed that I wasn’t as much of a loser as it thought I was. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that the voice is not really me. It’s a bunch of things I’ve heard over the years but none of it is actually true. I had proven it wrong once again.

This experience has taught me a great lesson. 1. I CAN keep a plant alive for at LEAST 5 days. 2. Polka dot plants are pretty resilient (and also very dramatic). I may have also learned a little about kindness and patience.

At 4 p.m. I moved Gordon back to her rightful place on my desk and took the final photo. I sent it to my family with “#mood” because it was the end of the day and Gordon wasn’t the only one feeling a lot more perky.

“Be kind to yourself, and others, for that is the foundation of love” Brendon Burchard

“Never Give Up, Never Surrender!” (Galaxy Quest)

#millenials #nevergiveup #mentalhealth #selflove #kindness #patience #selfcare #wellness #negativeselftalk #positivevibes #beadonor #MontyPython #GalaxyQuest #polkadotplant #mood #adulting

A little late in the Season

“It’s a little late in the season!” My dad and I had just gotten to where we store our small sailboat to set it all up when we heard this comment. In the last few years we’ve been through a lot. Family falling ill, needing major surgeries, even myself ending up in the hospital for a bad virus. I went back to school and have now completed my degree, my sister got married, and we went on a major life changing trip which I will save for another post ;). We’ve been on all kinds of ups, downs, and adventures and my little boat sat patiently waiting until we were ready again.

Patiently Waiting

I discovered sailing in 2012. I was trying to find something that made me feel whole. I had an awful job and had a lot of trouble mentally coping with the life I had ended up with. I knew I had to make a change but had no idea where to start. Out for dinner with my family one night I told them about some of the things I’ve always wanted to do, and sailing was one of them. Shortly after, my mom who is always there when you need a problem solved and who always wants people to be happy, found me a sailing school right here in town. I signed up right away.

Sailing was exactly as amazing as I thought it would be. I ate it up learning everything I could, always being early and spending hours on the water multiple times a week. The next summer I took another course and loved it even more. I now had 4 sailing certifications and was running out of courses to take. When I got home from work one day, I ended up on kijiji, found a boat for sale, messaged the owner, set a date to go see it, looked up from my laptop and said to my parents “Hey, do you mind if we go on a bit of a road trip on Friday night? I’d like to go see this guy’s boat” and I flipped around my laptop so they could see. They were pretty surprised. They agreed to take me.

Getting to the boat owners house, about an hour from ours, I immediately loved the boat and so did my parents. He had kept it in perfect condition and was selling it for a great price. I had a job for a while now, I had paid off all my debts and had saved up some money. I offered to buy his boat. Within minutes, he was writing up the bill of sale with my name on it and I was handing him a bank draft that I had brought with me. I became a boat owner at 25, before even finishing school.

Getting ready!

We didn’t have a hitch and were trying to figure out how to get it home. I was getting more and more deflated and eventually gave up. At the same time, the owner was writing up the bill of sale and asked me my address. I tell him. He says, “wait a minute, I’m heading there right now to see my sister in-law”. Turns out his sister-in-law lives right next to us! He tows the boat all the way to my house and helps us get it in the yard. I can’t believe my excitement and start trying to come up with names immediately.

Life doesn’t always go as planned. Sometimes it goes better than planned. Canadian winters are long. Maybe you discover something new like yoga. Maybe you quit your job to go back to school. Maybe you fall ill, or you parents fall ill. Maybe you meet someone special. If you’re me, you do all this and much much more. In the last 6 years I’m completely changed my life and I’m much happier. I’m ready to put my energy back into my favourite sport.

The other day when my dad and I went to fix up my boat and get it ready I was so excited. Then I hear “a little late in the season!” and I was a little shook. What does that mean? Too late for what? You should see what we’ve been up to buddy! I was a bit embarrassed because even though it’s been a few years since I discovered sailing, I’m still new and I momentarily felt like less of a sailor when I heard that comment. Then I realized something. I showed up. I showed up because I wanted to. I showed up because I was ready. I showed up because it’s my life and I get to do things when I’m ready. I don’t need to explain that to anyone. I’m not less of a sailor because of it. It’s not too late for me and dad and we are going to have a great time. The guy who said it probably had no idea I would take it this way. To him it was probably just a regular sailing comment. Who knows? Sometimes you gotta defend yourself to your own mind and remember that your choices make sense for you even when you start to doubt them. I once heard a quote “Do not dig up in doubt what you planted in faith”. My mind was trying to trick me, but I didn’t let it. I didn’t let the comment bug me anymore. I strut myself the rest of the way to my boat proudly carrying my boat gear and started putting it together with my dad. The summer isn’t over yet and until then, I’ll be sailing! #stilldoesnthaveaname #itsnevertoolate #Illbesailing #tasarsailing #sailboat #heartransplant #lifeaftertransplant #beadonor