Although I was born in August I consider April 15th a birthday of sorts. Eleven years ago on that very day I sat in on a bed in the emergency room, unable to catch my breath and deathly afraid to find out what was wrong with me.
Every April I reflect on my medical history and all that happened on that extraordinary day. Every year I thank God that I survived that medical ordeal. Last year marked the tenth anniversary of that trip to the ER. Here is what I wrote to commemorate that occasion.
The truth is ten years ago today I sat in a hospital bed with a pulmonary embolism unaware of what that meant or what was wrong with me. As months passed and doctors failed to diagnose my condition I felt broken. I cursed my body instead of praising it. I went on long walks and cried at the realization that I could die and that if I lived I surely would never be well enough to give birth to any children. Years later, when I finally felt well enough to get pregnant, I spent months failing to conceive. And in the midst of trying was unexpectedly diagnosed with blood curdling neuropathy. Once again I felt let down by my own body.
When my husband and I drove away from the hospital on the day my second child was born I bawled uncontrollably. I still cannot believe how my body has healed over the last ten years. It is certainly not free of aches and pains, it couldn’t run a marathon or even run a few miles, but the fact is I survived two medical crises and infertility.
My body is stronger than I ever could have imagined and I have two beautiful boys to prove it.
This past weekend my son and I went rock climbing at one of those places that has walls designed to look like Mount Rushmore and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Before we left the house I turned to my husband and said “I want to climb too.”
He gave me a look that said, “are you sure?”, but I knew I wanted to climb those walls from the minute we talked about driving there. I wanted to push myself. I wanted to feel the strength in my legs and arms. I wanted to move up and not stop until I reached the very top.
As we drove I questioned myself a couple of times. Am I really strong enough to make it to the top? With all of my medical history is this just a really bad idea?
My son and I stepped into our harnesses and stood before a young kid nearly half my age who tightened them for us and explained how to snap ourselves to each belay.
I followed my four year old over to a large wall, assessed the possibility of making it to the top and snapped my harness onto the rope.
I took note of the weight of my body. I paid extra attention to where I placed my feet and looked for solid footing before reaching up. My arms felt strong as I reached up and gripped the holds above me.
I’ve been rock climbing a number of times before. A few of my college friends would often go on the weekends and I trailed along beside them on more than one occasion.
I remember my good friend, Chris, telling me you want to rely on your feet when climbing. You want to find solid footing before looking for the next place to put your hands.
As I maneuvered up the wall I took note of my strength, of the way my body felt, every inch from my fingertips to my toes. The fear of heights struck me for a bit as I climbed to the top. My hands began to sweat, but I continued until I could go no further.
I reached the top, climbed down and then climbed up different walls over and over again.
I am reminded of the need to thank my body for all that it has done for me. For not giving up despite my medical issues, for pressing on through the birth of two children. For allowing this nearly forty year old woman to get to the top and to be just as excited to get there as the children climbing the walls around me.
I felt the need to tidy my house long before the I read Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Last year I took the room by room approach to discarding. I went through my drawers and closets carefully and methodically. The first pass I removed the easy stuff like clothes that didn’t fit and items that were well worn and generally unflattering. A month or so later I took another stab at the piles and removed even more. The second time through I parted with stuff I initially hesitated to donate.
I always thought of myself as a minimalist at heart, but as I looked at the bags filing the trunk I had to wonder if that was really true. I discovered that I was likely to hold on to things I might use someday and too sentimental to get rid of items that were no longer useful or relevant to my every day life.
Last year I removed a large china cabinet from our dining room and immediately breathed a little deeper. I’m not sure who I was kidding, but I’m not the kind of girl who is going to host formal dinner parties or prepare elaborate meals. Nope. That’s just not me.
I boxed up some stuff, donated a bunch and moved the rest to a curio cabinet in our entry way. I felt relieved that one large piece of furniture was gone, but every day I looked at that cabinet and sighed. It was constantly dusty and in need of a deep cleaning. This was partly due to its location at the bottom of the stairs, but also due to the fact that I never touched any of the items inside that cabinet.
So every day, multiple times a day, I passed that cabinet and thought I should clean it, I should dust it, I should do something about it. But every day I did the million other things I wanted to do and rarely, if ever, got around to doing anything about it.
Why did I have a cabinet full of stuff I never used? Did I love the items placed so delicately on those shelves? If you took the entire piece of furniture away would I even remember what was inside of it?
Last week I told my husband I wanted to get rid of that cabinet. The whole piece of furniture and just about everything inside of it. He pointed to one or two items he cared about and told me to get rid of the rest.
The next day I placed that cabinet on a towel and dragged it out the door. I literally dragged it through each room and then lifted it, (all by myself), over the threshold and out of the house.
When I walked back inside I couldn’t believe how open the space now felt. I dusted and cleaned all along the wall and floor and breathed a giant sigh of relief.
I am not the girl who displays pretty bowls and vases. That is my grandmother, my mother-in-law and my mother. I am not the kind of girl who wants to dust china she never uses and crystal that never comes out of the case.
Right now I am the kind of girl who has two children constantly running under foot. The kind of girl who wants space for them to chase and skip and play follow the leader. I am the kind of girl who doesn’t want to spend her few spare minutes dusting and cleaning. I am the kind of girl who, quite frankly, is allergic to dust.
Maybe one day we will host parties and eat on china and drink wine from sparkling glasses. Maybe one day we will host holidays and have our children and grand children over to celebrate special occasions. Maybe one day we will have too much space, as our children leave the nest, and the rooms are void of colorful toys and children’s voices.
But for now I want nothing but more space. More space to move and breathe and run and giggle. More space for the people that matter, not for things that never come out of the box.
For the past four and a half years I haven’t taken the greatest care of myself. Instead I have poured every ounce of my being into raising my children. Now everyone on earth has told me that this is not healthy, but for some reason I failed to heed that message.
After waiting over thirty years to become a mom and struggling for over two and a half years to conceive my children it seemed to make perfect sense to spend every waking minute caring for them. No, that doesn’t make sense? Maybe not, but that’s what my heart and soul told me to do.
Now that I am waking from this four year slumber I want to carve out time for myself. This is, of course, something I should have done right from the start, but as they say it’s better late than never.
A week and a half ago I started working out a gym near our house. After the youngest little guy is sound asleep in his crib, (I still nurse him to sleep every night), I tip-toe out of his room, grab my sneakers and work out for an hour. Sometimes I leave the house just after eight and other nights I’m not leaving until well after nine, but no matter the time I try to carve out an hour at least two to three times a week.
I could certainly stand to lose some weight, but this is less about weight loss and more about going out of the house, away from my children who I spend almost every waking minute with it. This is my time to do something just for me.
On the nights that I don’t work out I am trying my best to either blog, color, meditate or simply put down all of my electronic devices and go to bed.
While I have to wait until the children are asleep to leave the house I am happy to have any time to myself and I am especially glad that my husband is cheering me on and encouraging me to get the heck out of here.
Until last week I didn’t realize how rarely I drive without my children in the car with me. It feels good to roll down the windows, turn up the music and just go without worrying about sippy cups, snacks and when I last nursed the little guy.
It feels unbelievably good to carve out time for myself and to be alone!
Ah weddings. A magical and unforgettable day. What could be more special than celebrating and declaring your love in front of friends and family.
Unfortunately, for many brides and grooms wedding planning can be quite stressful. There are so many details to coordinate and so many concerns around accommodating guests from near and far. The stress of paying for a wedding can also leave a couple awake at night. Weddings are expensive!
Planning a great wedding on a tight budget may seem like an impossibility. You may be afraid that you won’t be able to plan and execute the wedding of your dreams, but don’t worry. There are ways in which you can plan a great wedding without a lot of money. Here’s how:
Shorten the guest list
Ask yourself: Do you really have to invite your parents friends? Particularly friends you’ve never met. The first step is to cut down on the guest list and narrow down the list for those who are most near and dear to your heart. Keep the guest list as intimate as possible.
Ask for help
You may need to hire musicians, photographers and caterers and we all know these services range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand. Before footing an expensive bill stop and ask for help. Are there any musicians in the family? Ask them to perform and explain what an amazing wedding gift it would be to hear them play. Ask everyone you know for recommendations and don’t forget to ask if they offer reduced rates.
Some women dream of wearing their mother’s wedding dress. If that’s your plan you’ll easily save thousands of dollars in apparel costs. Before heading off to a modern day dress shop consider visiting thrift stores and vintage shops for nostalgic but inexpensive pieces.
Ask your closest friends to help you create handcrafted centerpieces and invitations. Make a day of this, by ordering bagels and orange juice and inviting your friends over for brunch. You can whip up french toast and eggs for very little money and use this time to relax with friends before the wedding.This exercise will not only make you and your friends closer, it will also be a time to de-stress before the wedding.
Search for alternative financing
Consider alternative forms of financing for your wedding. Can you borrow money from a family member? Can you take on extra hours at work to fund your big day? If not consider alternative financing. Go to ecomparemo.com to see which banks offers the best options for you.
Decide on a minimalist theme
The minimalist theme is simple but elegant. Imagine using classic white as the main motif and throwing in a few splashes of color like apple green, purple, or gold. You can also add flowers without buying extravagant bouquets.
Yes, weddings can be a headache to plan, but if you plan in advance you can make it quite special without spending a lot of money. And remember to focus on the love you feel for your significant other. That matters much more than how much money you spend.
My son snowboarded out west for the first time this year. The price tag for two days worth of lessons was just under $500. Surprisingly, I did not bat an eye. No. I happily pulled out my wallet and wholeheartedly believe that money was well spent. By the second day he was riding the chair lift up the mountain and sliding down with an instructor by his side.
I considered my reaction to such a big expense a fluke. I weigh every financial decision, both big and small, so surely I would go back to my penny pinching ways.
But imagine my surprise this past weekend when I happily handed over $200 for custom insoles and a new pair of running shoes. I didn’t compare the prices of shoes in the store or ask myself if I really needed new insoles. Nope. I walked in knowing what I wanted and handed over my credit card without any hesitation.
It doesn’t end there. Today I walked into a gym near my home and paid seventy dollars for a one and a half month membership. I also paid $6 to the most expensive parking meter I have ever seen.
Why the change of heart? We have a very large financial cushion in the bank and shrinking mortgages.
While I don’t want to become frivolous with my money I do want to spend it on the things that matter to me. Like getting in better shape and providing enriching experiences to my son.
Plus with two kids constantly undertow I simply don’t want to waste time pinching every penny. I have enough things to think about during the day and I don’t want money to be one of them.
Last fall a minor war broke out between my in-laws and me. For months I contemplated the situation. I stood in the shower each morning replaying moment after moment of my encounters with them. Every evening before I fell asleep I replayed even more. At first I felt angry, then guilty, then the anger raged again. My husband and I discussed the problems, issues and events at length. We spent many late nights talking through the details and coming to terms with both the past and the reality of our present day relationships.
In my mind only bad things could come of this battle. I believed my husband, (who has been stuck in the middle for two decades), would finally tire of it. For years he has been bombarded with negative comments about me and my family. One evening he spent three hours listening to his parents complain about me and the complaints were sharp and jarring.
For years I defended myself against these accusations. Yet his bond was so strong that I believed he would ultimately side with them. How can you listen to such awful words about your spouse and then go home and smile at them?
Strangely enough my fears have been unwarranted. It some strange twist in this roller coaster of life my husband and I have landed on level ground together. My in-laws still don’t like me. In fact, one of them all but refuses to look or speak to me, yet my relationship with my husband is stronger than ever.
How could any good have come from this conflict? What have I learned from the mistakes that led us here?
- I am too passive in my relationships. I am not good at showing my vulnerabilities. I mask my true feelings particularly when I am hurt.
- The truth hurts. In order to truly understand where your spouse is coming from, they will say things that hurt you. While I would rather not feel the sting, I cannot correct or speak up when I do not have all the facts presented before me.
- I can put up with a whole lot of sh*t. When I tell people any portion of the story about my extended family they inevitably ask “how did you put up with this for so long?” This quality can be both a hindrance and a blessing.
- I do not like conflict in my personal relationships. While you might say “who does?” I can tell you from experience that some people thrive on it. I am most definitely not one of them.
- Even when angry I must attempt to view situations from the other person’s perspective. Even when I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am right in my assertions, I must try to step back and see what the other person may have felt or believed occurred.
- It is very important to understand the motivations that drive other people. I began asking myself “why are we in this situation,” “what is [that person] feeling,” “what would drive them to act like that?” While I cannot change their behavior it does help to understand it.
- I took a back seat to my husband’s wishes and desires. In order to ‘stay married’ I thought I had to ‘stay miserable.’ I realize now this is not the case.
- Lastly, I am strong. Many women have told me that they could not have lived through the same situation that I lived through. Many tell me they would have divorced their husbands and screamed at their extended family long ago. To that I say my husband is a great person with a few flaws. Since I am not without my own flaws I cannot seek perfection in my spouse.
I cannot be certain what the future holds for my relationship with my husband, but I believe this conflict has allowed us to be more open and honest than ever before. While I cannot provide the keys to a healthy marriage it seems strong communication is at the forefront. As long as we continue to try to understand one another and the motivations that cause us to act I believe we will remain on the right track.
At least I hope so.
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Do you dare to dream? If so, you are a results-oriented person. Dream is designed to help you both transform your own life and contribute to making the world a better place. Dreaming is something you do—or should do.
You were created to create, and your ability to dream is paramount and fundamental when it comes to living a dream-come-true life. Dream will help you design a life that is the highest expression of your purpose by creating dreams in every area that matters to you, both personally and professionally.
This book will help you take real steps toward creating and achieving the dreams that matter to you most. It will help you to uncover, or recover, your purpose so that you can live with purpose—and there’s nothing that will bring you greater fulfillment.
Reading this book will help you to fully understand:
• Who you really are
• How you want your life to be
• How to develop dreams that inspire you
• How to look at your life with a fresh perspective
• How to remove fear, doubt, or other obstacles
• How to implement shortcuts and the techniques you will learn
Dream will teach you exactly how to do these and so much more.
I never imagined I would leave college with a bachelor of arts in English and end up writing software for a large financial institution. What did I think I would do? After various internships throughout my junior and senior years I assumed my path was set in marketing or advertising. Was that my dream job? No, most definitely not.
Software wasn’t a dream either, but the year was 1999 and Y2K resulted in a need for talented developers. After two interviews with that financial institution my career trajectory changed completely. Software wasn’t my dream either, but I realized that a high paying job could help fulfill other desires.
Those wishes included owning a beach house and becoming a stay-at-home parent, but now, as I stay home with two young boys, I try to envision my future and realize I don’t seem to dream anymore.
If you feel like you are going through the motions of life, but not really enjoying it this book might be for you. If you feel like every day is the same as the next, but you aren’t sure how to achieve anything better this book might be for you.
If you had a choice how would you spend your days? I’m not just talking about professions and careers, but the larger aspects of your life too. What excites you? What would make you hop out of bed each morning with a smile on your face and a lightness in your soul?
If you have a dream you want realized or simply want to dream again this book might be for you.
Dream University’s CEO, Marcia Wieder is a long established thought leader on visionary thinking. As Founder of The Meaning Institute, she teaches people to create and live fulfilling lives. She’s been a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, writes for Huffington Post and is the author of 14 books. She appeared often on Oprah and was featured in her own PBS-TV show called Making Your Dreams Come True.
She has taught at Stanford’s Business School and as president of the National Association of Women Business Owners, she assisted 3 U.S. presidents. She is a member of the Transformational Leadership Council and on the advisory board for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
This is the story of a young American who would eventually fulfill his dream of becoming a CIA Case Officer, only to have a promising career cut short after having been purposely poisoned by a contact.
Eric Burkhart was raised in Europe in a bilingual household, and accepted a job in Africa right out of college. Upon his return to the United States, he was hired as an Immigration Agent in Laredo, Texas, working Inspections on one of the busiest port-of-entries connecting the United States and Mexico. This experience is detailed in this humorous, occasionally heartbreaking memoir about choosing to be a survivor.
In 2000, Burkhart accepted a position as a Case Officer with the Central Intelligence Agency. The book includes details of both the notoriously arduous hiring process and the rigorous training program, including Burkhart’s eventual successful completion of the Espionage Course taught at the famous “Farm”. Burkhart’s first overseas working experience was in war-torn Kosovo, where he was unwittingly poisoned by an unstable intelligence contact. Burkhart would struggle with the repercussions of this episode for the remainder of his career, and eventually be obliged to accept full medical retirement from the CIA.
However, before retiring, Burkhart completed tours in Iraq and Africa. His time spent in the Green Zone almost immediately following the occupation of Baghdad, constitutes the majority of this enlightening book. Burkhart exposes the reader to the human element within the CIA, and we are introduced to a variety of characters, some who will seem familiar, and some who reveal the eccentricities we expect with this kind of occupation.
Follow Burkhart through the battlefields of Iraq, past the Iraqi Insurgency, and to his next assignment in Africa. Burkhart leaves no emotion unexpressed as he details his medical struggles with the horrific damage caused to his body from Toxic Exposure. Wracked by pain, Burkhart reaches the point where he must consider quality of life issues, and has to accept retirement as a necessary decision. Burkhart has a story to tell, and leaves no stone unturned during this turbulent time both in his life, and in our history.
When I was in college I attend a career fair where representatives of the CIA came to speak with prospective graduates. I was intrigued by the idea of becoming a CIA agent. I mean who doesn’t want to travel the globe tracking down bad guys?
Obviously I never followed through on this desire. Instead I eventually attained a job sitting in a cubicle writing software for a large financial institution. That’s about as far from CIA as one can imagine. I forgot all about that career fair until I read this memoir.
Isn’t it true that our vision of a job rarely matches reality? Reading Burkhart’s story showed me just how unglamorous a job with the CIA might be.
In this very down-to-earth account Burkhart details his missions and the horrible aftermath of a career with the agency.
While the first part of the book details his trips abroad the later half talks about medical problems that arose from operative poisoning. The details of his missions aren’t particularly disturbing, but the aftermath of his time with the organization is really quite awful. The toxic chemicals he incurred from poisoning wreak havoc on his body.
As someone who has endured pain from an unexpected medical problem I was saddened to read that the author was in so much pain that he was nearly housebound and considering suicide as a possible escape from the difficulties that plagued him.
As his medical bills rack up from unexpected complications, doctor visits and medical tests he is forced to ask the agency and government for money. Its a shame that Burkhart is put into this position. The physical pain is bad enough it seems rather unfair that he must also deal with emotional battles over pride and money.
This is an interesting personal account of life with the CIA. If you’ve ever wanted to know the truth of what its like to work for the agency this might be the book for you.
Meet the author:
Eric Burkhart was born in North Carolina in 1965, and raised in France by his mother while his father was serving in Vietnam. Eric’s parents retired to San Antonio, Texas in 1978, and Eric has considered himself a Texan since that time.
After completing college, Burkhart relocated to South Africa for a job in community planning and design. After returning to the United States in 1994, Eric started a career in federal service by becoming a Federal Agent. In 1999 he moved over to the CIA, which became his passion and focus in life. After being poisoned by while working in Kosovo in 2001, Burkhart was eventually obliged to medically retire, but not before extending his career to include tours in Iraq and Africa. Mukhabarat, Baby! is Burkhart’s first book.
Trading online has continued to rise in popularity as more and more people opt to trade from the comfort of their own home or office. Online trading has helped a lot because you don’t have to go anywhere or call someone when you want to trade, all you need is a computer and an internet connection. There are many different platforms you can use when trading online. It is very important to be careful when choosing a platform because there are some that are not trustworthy. It is important to learn more about a trading platform before investing your money.
If you want to be a successful trader, there are a couple of things you should know. Trading online is profitable but you must know what you are doing. There are people who have made a lot of money and there are those who have lost a lot of money. Below are some tips that will go a long way in helping you trade online and make a profit.
Choose your trading online strategy carefully
One thing you need to know is that you can never make money trading online without having a strategy in place. There are many strategies out there for you to choose from. You can also come up with your own strategy. When choosing your strategy, you need to take our time so that you don’t lose your money. This is where you choose if you want to be a day trader or you will be waiting for some time. You can change it as you go, but it is important to know what you will be starting with.
Match your trading style to your lifestyle
It is important to have a trading style that matches your lifestyle or you will be forced to make some changes to your lifestyle. If you opt for day trading, then you will be forced to spend most of your hours on your computer. Long time trading is more flexible and you don’t need to spend a lot of time on the computer.
Select a broker carefully
This is where you need to invest most of our time because if you choose the wrong broker, you may end up losing your money. There are many different brokers out there and finding the right one can be a challenge, but it will be worth it. The trader should match our trading strategy.
Choose a trading method that works in all markets
There are some times when there will be an upward or a downward trend. The strategy should work in both markets to ensure you make money even when the prices are going down. This will help you make more profit.
Use a low-risk high reward method
Trading involves some elements of risk and you must try your best to minimize the risks. Risk management is an essential part of successful trading. Lowering the risks means you will be able to win consistently in your trades.
Trading online is not as hard as you think, provided you know what to do.