You’ve had a moment where you wish you knew how to change your life overnight. You could just wake up and have that new lifestyle, fitness plan, eating better, fix all your relationships, make changes with your job…the wish list goes on and on. This isn’t content about how to stick to a diet plan or give up a bad habit. This is how to survive when life kicks you in the teeth, and how to figure out what the hell just happened and what do you do next. Your life just suddenly changed overnight. Or you woke up and found that everything you knew as your life before just isn’t there. How do you take back that change, that to have that control again? I have found the secret to how to change your life overnight.
Waking Up Different
We all have stories of when we reached that fork in the trail, made a decision to go in one direction or another that changed everything. Or a huge boulder blocked our path on the mountainside and we simply could not go on. Some of us fell into a crevice, dark, alone and broken. No one is in a sunny meadow full of pine trees and flowers and wishes everything was completely different. You may be reading this because you want to know how to change your life overnight but just aren’t sure what you might want to change, let alone how to change it. You may have wanted to change your life for a very long time. Your life may have changed overnight and you are feeling lost, confused and fearful. So what’s the secret?
How My Life Changed Overnight
It began in September. I woke up early to catch my plane from LAX to Atlanta. I checked my phone and saw that there was a wildfire and figured there might be traffic. Little did I know that overnight the huge wildfire known as the Tick Fire or Slymar wildfire had basically closed any road getting into or out of Santa Clarita towards Los Angeles. My Uber driver had to drive 30 miles west, towards the coastline and then navigate up and around the mountains near Ventura to get us on a highway towards the airport. At one point, we could see the flames along the 118, the sky glowed orange and smoke filled the car. Literally minutes after we passed this area, they closed the highway directly behind us.
Chasing Life in Talladega with NASCAR
Then I was in Talladega, interviewing NASCAR drivers Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Blaney, Ty Dillion and his wife Hayley, and Kyle Larson. We talked about what does “More to Life” means to each of them. How each race they chase those moments where you feel your heart–heart pumping, heart dropping, heart-stopping, heart singing moments. These moments you feel alive. The moments where time stops. Moments where you rethink everything. Moments where it could all end.
I returned from Talladega to begin writing this story about my NASCAR trip. The paragraph above still sits in my drafts. I was still on this high from having one of the greatest trips for WhereGalsWander along with watching the news about the Tick Wildfire. Then I received the call from the doctor’s office confirming that my youngest daughter’s genetic test for Long QT Syndrome was confirmed, a heart condition with severe symptoms like seizures, sudden fainting, and sudden death. It’s a rare and serious condition under Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome (SADS). Imagine a world where your seemingly healthy sixteen-year-old daughter may not wake up for school or could faint for no reason and cannot be resuscitated.
Never Waking Up
After my daughter’s diagnosis of Long QT Syndrome and what this meant, I had this fear of her never waking up. I began sleeping next to her. Rather, laying next to her listening to her breathe. If I dozed off, I would wake up suddenly out of panic and check to make sure she was still breathing. The next few weeks were endless calls to neurologists, cardiologists, pediatricians, school counselors, coaches, teachers, and therapists. We had to alert her school about her diagnosis and they refused to allow her to return unless we had a doctor’s note clearing her. She missed attending an out of state championship competition because of the liability of allowing her to perform, even though the doctor had cleared her, the school demanded to talk with him directly. She also began her heart beta-blockers and all the fun that involves. We couldn’t tell what was a side effect or a symptom, and we now know every urgent care medical staff by name and are recognized as we make practically weekly visits.
Waking Up in a Different Body
Just a few days after receiving this diagnosis, my husband was scheduled for surgery. Naturally. He had made the decision a year ago to undergo bariatric surgery and now the date had arrived. For many reasons, we couldn’t delay the surgery. So we arrive, he goes back for the surgery and the surgeon tells me it will be about 45 minutes.
45 minutes goes by.
60 minutes goes by.
90 minutes goes by.
At this point, I ask and they tell me he is still in surgery.
Two hours goes by.
Then the surgeon comes out. Apparently, its a two for one deal where a second unexpected surgery had to be performed. The surgeon warns me that he is in a lot of pain. I head back to recovery and the nurse grabs me before I reach the room and tells me he is a lot of pain. After I see him, I question everything. The man I have been married to for the last 22 years, writhing in pain. For 22 years it was steak and potatoes and now overnight, its a completely new diet and new lifestyle. For the next two weeks, its jello and broth and then later onto pureed baby-food-like meals. It’s my husband who used to make fun of my fancy Starbucks and made a hobby out of mocking baristas now sending me texts on how to drink Keto at Starbucks. He shops at Whole Foods and reads the labels out loud. This is watching a man change his life literally from the inside of his body to out.
The World We Lived In Changed Overnight
On November 13th, my daughter “felt weird”. Over the last 6 weeks, the urgent care doctors had become to recognize us, as her heart would race then suddenly her blood pressure and pulse would drop. This had happened at school a few days before and the school nurse had called me with her vitals and back to the urgent care we went. This was our life now because you never know what could happen you take the precaution of being near an AED at all times and going to the hospital at the slightest chance something could happen. After we were in urgent care all night and decided to let Anya sleep in and go into school late.
We live in the Hart School District and they have been great. We partnered with them to create an accommodations plan for her. They were also great to work with by creating a plan for my oldest daughter when we relocated here to support her Aspberger’s diagnosis. We have always found the school district and students to be so accepting and supportive, so it was even more shocking to see Hart District High School send me a text about the active school shooter at a sister high school, Saugus High School, near our home on November 14th.
The Morning of The Shooting
All high schools were now in lockdown. I heard the sirens outside and the helicopters over us. My daughters both have friends at Saugus High School, and as they turned to their social media, I turned the news on the TV to see our neighborhood. Notifications coming through from the Sheriff’s Department that our neighborhood was on lockdown. Reports of students victims from the shooting coming in. I hugged my daughters close as we all watched. I knew at that moment that I could never keep them truly safe, at home, at work, and at school. Their innocence as children had just ended. It reminded me of holding my firstborn infant in my arms, watching the news on 9/11. How do you do when it all doesn’t make sense? What do you do when life as you knew it, has changed?
What It All Means to Have Your Life Changed
It’s now a few days before Thanksgiving. We won’t be having the huge spread of food we usually have. We won’t be cooking all day. Over the last twenty years our table has dwindled from family, now all passed on; we would join our room full of friends, who are now spread around the country; to the four of us, with both girls now working part-time jobs during this holiday. It’s from having all of our traditional family dishes to now making foods that my husband can eat, in small portions. It’shaving faith that my daughter wakes up on Thanksgiving. It’s watching the community prepare for Saugus High to return after the holiday. My entire life has literally changed in the last 30 days, with many changes overnight. Just thinking about all of this is exhausting, and it’s overwhelming. But in this, I found the secret to changing your life overnight.
The Secret to Changing Your Life Overnight
It’s an understanding of how to lead and honor those changes. It’s forgiving yourself for feeling weak and sad and overwhelmed. Give yourself the time and space to heal. Positive change can only come from nurturing. Nurturing from a sense of kindness given to yourself that builds strength. Positive change can only come from nurturing; a sense of kindness given to yourself that builds strength. By building strength, you build resiliency, and that’s the power you need to change how you define yourself and your life.
My oldest was diagnosed with Aspberger’s (on the autism spectrum) when she was almost three years old. They told us that she would probably never speak, would never be affectionate, and would never be mainstreamed. Katie went on to graduate with a 3.85 GPA, and hold various leadership roles in school bands, have tons of friends and is now in college on two scholarships and has a part-time job. She wrote a different story for herself.
My youngest refuses to let this heart condition dictate her life. She insists on participating in sports (with restrictions and conditions we have worked on with the school and cardiologist). She has big plans for her future. My daughter goes to school every day, thinking about Saugus, but refusing to live in fear. Instead, she chooses to use this to appreciate each day she has.
Wander with Bravery
It is my honor to watch the brave women out there who have decided there is more to life. It may be wrapped up in travel and discovery and beauty but it’s about the journey. And the journey is the bravery. And that’s the same lesson I’m learning right now, even if it’s against my own will. So this blog is for “HER”. The Gal inside me who will be strong and brave, it may not be overnight, but every day she gets stronger, every day she shows up brave. This is for every Gal who wants to seek out More To Life.
Every Post Is For HER
Every post is for “HER” and every post is about “HER”. When I see how many Gals are facing their fears, changing their lives, accepting themselves and writing their own stories, and using the #WhereGalsWander tag, it inspires me. It motivates me. We inspire each other. And we can change each other’s lives.
Kindness + Strength = Resiliency
Be kind to yourself, meaning you take small steps to honor and care for yourself. Take those walks. Drink lots of water. Find small ways to eat better and take care of your health. Get some sleep. Find things that bring you beauty, make you laugh, and make you think. Practice gratitude, every day. Share your achievements (and tag us so we can share too!). You should be proud of what you did each day, even if its that walk around the block or extra glass of water. To celebrate and support one another. Show each other kindness.
To show myself kindness, I make a cup of tea. I stay in bed all day watching Marvel movies. One day, I go to the mountains. I go hiking to push myself and feel my muscles ache. I breathe in the clean, pine air. Stay strong and rise above, I was told. Take me to the mountains where the clean, chilled pine air can clear my head.
I call on my tribe. Julie (JD) flies in and we drive up the Pacific Coast Highway. What originally was supposed to be a carefree weeklong drive is now a long weekend trip because I don’t want to be away too long. I feel free, but I feel guilty. I also remember how to laugh. One thing happens after another.
I take some time off work because I need to sleep, I can’t think, and my day is now full of driving my husband and daughter to doctor appointments, meeting with the school and trying to figure out what all of this means for us. One day I go to the beach with my girls. My feet sink into the cold sand, and the wind whips my hair. The surf crashes on the rocks. I think about this beach as I sit in the urgent care waiting room.
Resiliency is the ability to bounce back. But resiliency doesn’t mean you bounce back overnight but making the decision that tomorrow you will try again. It’s appreciating the opportunity to tell your own story, whatever you have been given and to own it, make it part of you and start again tomorrow. Every day getting stronger, every day changing your life overnight…Come What May.
Update: December 2020
I thought if we could make it through the first year, things would be better. My family was rooting for 2019 to end and have a fresh start in 2020. How ironic. Ok, Universe you got me. Nothing could have ever prepared me for COVID. My last day in the office and Anya’s last day of school was March 12, and we had no idea that 9 months later this would be the new normal. She hasn’t seen any of her friends, schoolmates, teammates since March unless its on a computer screen. She’s lonely, like I’m sure most teens, and adults, are. She’s bored. And sad. And scared. Any remnants of a childhood were wiped away this year.
So here’s the other side of it. She absolutely understands the harsh realties of life. It’s no longer about team competitions after her coach contracted the Corona virus. This Christmas, there wasn’t a long list of gift wish lists, or FOMO on some holiday celebration. It was family road trips with a truck with Wifi, attending remote classes as we drove and drove. It was hiking during the day and family movie nights. It was showing her there was still More to Life. If anything 2020 brought, it was a reminder about what is important. Every day we all wake up in the same house, healthy and safe, that’s all I need. Is there more to life? Just hanging in there with friends and family, making the most of each day that you can.