confidence

Training for this triathlon has been a labor of discovery for me.

First of all, I’m not very organized.  I even had the date wrong.  It is a whole week earlier than I thought.  Gheesh!

But, you know what?  I am really proud of myself.

I started small and worked at it piece by piece and now I am five weeks out and I really think I am going to make it.

I had such a powerful week last week.  I ran my first 5k without walking and swam just under a mile without stopping.   It was such a huge confidence boost for me that I laid down the money for the rest of the equipment I needed.

My bike arrived yesterday (I had to order it as every REI in the area was out of my bike in my size – of course) and I felt like a little kid on Christmas walking out of there with my new bike, my helmet under my arm and a bag full of biking goodies.   I swear the smile on my face must have been a mile wide.  Some young cute guy even commented on how nice my bike was as I was walking it to my car.  Hee Hee!

I even splurged on a swim suit and a brand new nuu-muu.

In buying all this gear I have been surprised at how girly I am.  Anyone who knows me knows that girly is not a word that describes me.  Even my daughter told me the helmet with the flowers on it was too girly for me —  she later changed her mind and we agreed that it was the cutest one and in the bag it went.  I also got a purple bell and will be completing my tri in a bubbly dress.   Wow, how far I have come.

My biggest surprise is how much I am enjoying it all.  I look forward to going out for a run and can’t wait to jump in the pool.  I am making progress and reaching my goals.  Two days ago I only had a few minutes so squeezed in a short jog to the park and back.  I was barely winded and when I mapped it on google maps it was two miles.  Two miles.  I couldn’t believe it.  a few months ago I couldn’t run a few hundred yards without keeling over.  And last night I took my new bike out for a spin and went 8 miles without even blinking.

I can do this.  I have been procrastinating and giving myself outs and making excuses for months because I was terrified of failing at this and now I know I can do this.

“We believe in strong girls and women. We believe in real people, real bodies and real friends. We believe in trying really hard. We believe that moments of truth can be extended to lifetimes of truth. We believe in having fun along the way. We believe that you can too.”  — Nuu-Muu’s Girl Power Philosophy

Thanks for the inspiration ladies!

I know that I have mentioned this maybe even several times in the past, but I just can’t get over how powerful it is when the same information comes at me from several unrelated sources.  This always confirms for me that I am on the right track.  Lately this phenomena is happening everywhere I look and so gives me confidence that although I sometimes feel like I am dangling from a hook, struggling to find solid ground as life zooms past me, everything is happening as it should and it helps me to trust myself and allow myself to be present to the changes happening in my life.

Funny, that word changes.  In the forum they teach us to differentiate between changes and transformations.  Change is something gradual that you must apply will power and constant attention to to make it happen.  Transformation is instant, more like an immediate shift that sends you in a new direction.  These are the more powerful mechanisms for making significant differences in our lives and I have seen this in several areas of my life and now finally with my health.

I first saw this in action when I quit smoking.  We had heard of this book (The Easy Way to Stop Smoking) that supposedly could help you quit smoking with little effort or withdrawals. Now, I had been a smoker for over 15 years and had quit and started countless times. My problem was that I liked smoking, no I loved smoking.   But, I hated being a smoker.   There is a very distinct difference there that I think most smokers can relate to.

So, we had heard stories of several people who had read this book and then simply stopped smoking forever. At this point what did I have to lose, so I gave it a try. Basically the book tells it like it is, separating you from your addiction and helping you to see how it is standing in the way and certainly not serving in any way at all. But the funny thing is that it is really more about the act of reading the book than even what the book says.   At the end they have this list of questions and if you can answer yes to any of them you need to start the book over.   It took reading the book twice to get through the list, but then I put down the cigarettes and haven’t had another since and it wasn’t even hard, like at all.    My best friend even looked at me the other night and said she can no longer even imagine me as a smoker.  Amazing.

Do you need to quit? Get the Book!

The point is that it was my first introduction to the instant transformation I am talking about. It wasn’t hard to quit like it had been the many other times I had tried. It was like something shifted and I just didn’t need it any more. Quite the transformation.

Back when I was depressed and having regular debilitating panic attacks my therapist would tell me to differentiate and identify the depression and anxiety as separate from myself. “That’s the depression talking”.   It was amazing how quickly I started to feel better once I started doing this. I kept telling myself that it was just anxiety and depression and that what it was saying was not true and that I could keep going even though I thought my heart would explode out of my chest and it eventually just disappeared.  In the moment that I realized that I wasn’t the awful person my depression told me I was, it just dissipated and I started feeling better and soon I was better.

At The Forum I learned to separate my stories from my actual experiences and found forgiveness and peace with my past.

Do you see a pattern here?

Well now it has reached my battle with my weight. I was noticing last week that my whole outlook was starting to change. But this didn’t happen slowly over time with a lot of will power.   Yes, I have been thinking a lot about it and have made some changes to my diet and have obviously been working on the emotional aspects, but I was feeling really frustrated that it didn’t seem how much I worked at it, I still wanted to the sweets and junk food and couldn’t keep myself from eating it.  And I still had no desire to work out at all.

I hit my peak of frustration as I scarfed down a brownie on the way to therapy last Monday.   Two bites and I was feeling nauseous, yet I still ate the whole damn thing.  What is going on?

So I was talking to my therapist about it and she taught me how to differentiate this as well.  There is was again.  She recommended stopping when I felt these cravings and looking at them from another angle, identifying the intensity of the craving by giving it a number 1-10.   Then if you decide the number is high enough and eat the craved food, then identify how much satisfaction you got from eating it by giving it a number 1-10.

During this therapy session, something just clicked and since then I have been following her advice,  which has unfortunately taken the joy out of several sweat treats I was really looking forward to, and yet again transformation has happened.  Not perfection or magical weight loss, but a totally different outlook that seemed like it came out of nowhere.

I have been almost jonesing for exercise and food has lost its power over me. I am even down to just one Diet Coke a day, a miracle in and of itself.

It is just a craving and separate from myself.   That craving has nothing to do with my body’s need for sustenance or nutrition or even something yummy to eat — it is emotional and completely separate.

I think this is part of the message the Jon Gabriel is trying to convey to us.   Just give your body what it needs and realize that you are emotionally separate from your need to eat and your body will start asking for what it needs and giving back what you want from it.

The real test will be how this plays out over the next couple of months.  Please let the weight loss finally come.   I create this possibility for myself and for all of you too.

Buy the Gabriel Method Book Now!

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After the events of the past week I have come to determine that my frustration over my lack of measurable progress (a.k.a. weight loss) really comes down to the fact that I am jumping the gun.  As long as I have all this emotional baggage the weight will not come off, no matter what I do.  

I just went back and read the emotional obesity chapters of the book and all of it applied to me.    He asks several questions to help you identify whether this issue is holding you back and if it is insists that it be addressed before you ever even discuss eating habits, cravings exercise and past successes and failures.  After the emotional issues have been addressed and resolved then a plan can be put into place to address the rest of it.

The questions go something like this…

  1. Does being thin feel safe to you?
  2. Can you imagine yourself thin?
  3. If someone gives you a compliment on your appearance, does it make you feel happy and confident or threatened and uneasy?

The last two definitely apply to me and the first one just confuses me so I’m guessing that means I can count that one too.  Since I started this whole thing the body visualization has always been the hardest for me.  I just can’t see myself as that thin person.  The thing that weirds me out about that is that I used to be thin, at times very thin.  So you wouldn’t think that imagining myself like that again would be so difficult.  The brain is a bazaar entity.

I have been noticing over the last couple of weeks (and I think where that desperate sad post from last week came from) that even though I am mentally really dedicated to this and have logically set up my environment for success, I find every way and excuse I can to sabotage the process.

  • I “forget” to take my supplements
  • I sneak food.  I will scarf down a burger or milkshake, candy or doughnut and then hide the evidence.
  • I will make up any excuse I can to avoid exercising, even going to yoga, which I love, or a hike with the dog, which is empowering, relaxing and really rewarding.  If there is some reason I can come up with I will take it.
  • I tell myself that just going to sleep (without the CD) will feel good and make me more motivated the next day.

I even avoided reading the emotional section of the book with any focus or meaning.  I just skimmed through it.  Today I read every word.

When I have talked to my therapist about my weight, she always says don’t worry about it now, you have enough on your plate.   Do the emotional work and then deal with the weight.

Another advisor of mine reminded me that I simply need to find out why it is that I don’t feel worthy and correct that and then everything will fall into place as it should.  It is only me that is holding me back.

With the Life Path Integration therapy we are doing it is even possible that we will be able to target whatever the emotional trigger might be and fix it.  It always amazes me how the universe will provide you with all the tools you need if you just listen closely enough.  Many things have been coming to me from many different directions lately and thankfully I am aware enough to be grabbing them.

Karli has also encouraged me to give the emotional stuff more time and stop worrying so much about the physical stuff.  Now that I am feeling better and motivated and productive for the first time in a long time, I am finding it very hard not to want to tackle everything all at once, to take on more than I can handle.  I feel like I am fighting in every direction and that I may simply just need to give into the process.  Pretty hard to do for a total control freak.

I am so grateful that my husband is supportive of me through all this.  He has had his moments of frustration and worry and even a few in anger and hurtfulness, as is only natural when you spouse is going through something like this.  He tries his best to encourage me and prod me to work a little harder.  

Every logical part of me thinks it’s fantastic that I have a husband who loves me the way I am and truly cares about my well being.  But emotionally I think I kinda resent him for it and rebel against it.  This is hard to say, a sort of it’s not you it’s me scenario, but I think I might have to tell him to stop with the encouragement, because just like when we were trying to quit smoking, the gentle nudges and reminders, the words of encouragement in my head remind me that I am failing rather than reminding me that I can succeed.  This is something I need to work on, but in the meantime, I think we just need to drop the whole thing for a while, let me heal what’s broken without any added pressure.

Jon says in his book that while he was gaining the weight, his wife never said a word about it and that when he was ready, he felt he was better prepared to lose the weight because of that.

So, I concentrate on the emotional part and keep preparing my body from a biochemical standpoint so that I will be that much more ahead of the game once I can really target my eating and exercise habits.  I just feel like I need to stop putting so much pressure on myself.   

To all of you looking to the Gabriel Method as a magic pill, I am sorry.  I don’t have instant results to report, or really any weight loss at all.  I can tell you that it is helping me to change my life, to learn about myself and face my fears and tackle the emotional crap that has had me by the throat for most of my life.   It is also helping me learn what it feels like to be a healthy person, teaching my body that it feels good to be nourished and that eating foods that mess with your chemistry makes you tired and cranky and feel generally icky.

This is my first step and the thought that on the other side of this journey I could be not only thinner and more fit, but also a more whole and emotional healthy person is very exciting to me.

I am going to keep taking the supplements and integrating healthy foods into my diet, but I am throwing out the schedule and week 1 week 2 month 1 stuff for a while until I can answer the questions above with confidence and positivity.  Fixing myself needs to be my priority right now.  I have made huge progress, I just need to finish it before I start worrying about pounds and waist measurements and scheduled regimented programs.  

I’m ok if I stay this weight forever, as long as I don’t gain any more.  (those of you who have read the book will understand the meaning and gravity of this statement)

So here is the new plan (because I wouldn’t really be me if I didn’t have one)…

  1. Keep working hard at therapy and stop distracting us with day to day bullshit.  I have demons to fight so let’s get on with it.
  2. Listen to the CD every night, no excuses, no exceptions
  3. Start reading about past life regression
  4. Read the book No Boundary by Ken Wilber (Jon mentions it in a section of the book that really resonates with me)
  5. Actively radiate love, forgiveness and appreciation
  6. Accept the negative and accept myself and my body just as they are.  This includes no scales.

Buy the Gabriel Method Book Now!

It’s a funny thing about fear.  Sometimes when you say it out loud and face it directly it recedes and sometimes even disappears all together.  

I would like to thank everyone for the unexpected and very much appreciated outpouring of support.    Your words of  encouragement made a really bad day a whole lot better and gave me the confidence to push past it.  Thank-you.

I wish I could say my fear is gone, but alas that simply isn’t how it is in this case.  But, by owning my weaknesses I have come to understand them a little better and can now move forward with my eyes open.

I wish I could snap my fingers and make the self doubt and mistrust go away, but life doesn’t work that way no matter how much we wish it could be.  The only thing to do now is take one day at a time and enjoy the good ones and let the bad ones go.  I just need to keep moving and find a way to have some success.

I have several ways of going about this.  My freelance business is doing well and I am having success with my therapy.  The next step is giving over to my ability to be thin again.  

It is time to buckle down and really commit to some way of getting healthy.  I talk about this a lot, but each new thing lasts a couple of weeks and then dwindles slowly until it just stops all together.

So, I am committing to the Gabriel Method, which I believe addresses my personal health issues.  I have come up with a plan and although i am not starting completely over like I thought I would have to, I am starting fresh and considering this day 1.

I made myself a sort of sign that I taped to the kitchen cabinets.  On this piece of paper is my meals planned out for the week.  This is not ‘eat this at this time’ but really just a list of good healthy meals that I have planned out in advance and have available to me so when I go to think about what I want for lunch, I can look at the list and see several things to choose from, any of which would be just fine, but steering me away from the dangers of standing in front of the fridge or pantry, hungry and vulnerable.

I also have included a daily schedule of stuff that I need to do, like taking supplements, drinking water, eating a snack, doing visualization, eating the sun and taking a power nap as well as a list of things to remember.  

I will make a new one of these each week to help me remain focused.  

In order for these habits to truly take, I need to do the same set of things every day, not just when I feel like it.  I think that because this is not a diet with a regimented food and exercise plan that it is easy to take the eat what you want when you want for granted.  This doesn’t work if you aren’t listening to what it is your body wants.  

For example, the afternoon rolls around and I always crave sweets then, so even if it isn’t what my body wants I still eat it without really even thinking about it.  Where as if I had just listened and tried a couple of techniques to give my body what it really does want, I might have been able to avoid eating that.  And if after all that I still really craved that sweet treat, then I could have eaten it and enjoyed without guilt, knowing that those cravings will go away on there own with time.

It is really a change in the way I think about it.  This is what happened when I finally quit smoking and I am positive that a fundamental shift in my thinking will be necessary with this as well.  

Much like when I quit smoking for the last time, I must give over to it and accept that this is the way things are going to be from now on, that I have made this decision and there is not turning back from it.

Recently, I went to get my hair done. I am pretty bad about doing this and maybe get in twice a year if I am lucky. Usually I wait on pins and needles for my stylist to tell me how damaged my hair is and how I should really be using this product or that, for sale at the salon of course.

But, I waited and waited and this comment never came. Instead, while she was cutting away, she exclaimed, seemingly out of nowhere… “Your hair is gorgeous! It is thick and soft and healthy, what in the world have you been doing?”

Well, I have never felt like my hair was anything close to gorgeous. When I was a small child, i had a severe case of cradle cap and would itch and pick at my scalp. This has left me with permanent bald spots on the top of my head, on either side of center. I have always had to compensate for this when styling my hair and it really bothers me.

My mother has thinning hair and I became really worried that as I aged, my hair would start to disappear. That being a huge nightmare to me, I started to do research about hair thinning and health as well as restorative growth of hair. I am not a big fan of pharmaceuticals or chemical treatments and so decided to try to avoid those types of products. Rogain and the like are also targeted at a specific kind of genetic pattern baldness and this is not really my issue, so skip that.

I tried several types of hair products and nothing really came of it and after wading through research and article after article of crap, I was almost ready to resign to the fact that there wasn’t much I could do. Then I came across a good piece of advice and some pieces of information that just seemed to make sense.

What do I have to lose? I thought. And so I changed two simple parts of my hair care routine and a little less than a year later, my hairdresser is giving my hair accolades and asking me, rather than telling me, what I am doing to take such good care of my hair.

So, are your squirming to know yet? Well, don’t get too excited. It is so simple. Here it is…

1. Stop washing your hair so much.

and

2. Stop using hair products with parabens in them.

That’s it!

NOTE: I am not a physician and this certainly won’t work for everyone, but I have noticeably thicker, healthier hair and even have new growth in the thin areas that have persisted since my youth. Please don’t hold me responsible for your results.

Here is a little more detail and some tips for those of you who may be interested in this.

About Washing Your Hair

It is recommended that you only wash your hair once a week, but that was impossible for me. I actually started with every other day and then lengthened the time by a day or so until my hair was so bad I couldn’t stand it and made that my schedule. I wash my hair on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Twice a weak. By the last day (especially Tuesday), my hair is starting to get on the greasy side, but hey that’s what pony tails are for.

Now, this does not mean that you can’t or shouldn’t get your hair wet in between washings. Washing your hair, in this context, means putting shampoo on your hair. In between washings, I rinse my hair thoroughly and rub down my scalp (no fingernails). I also use a small amount of conditioner (also paraben free) to help with manageability.

When you do wash your hair, you may need to use a little more shampoo than you usually do, but do not wash your hair more than once.

Paraben Free Products

Parabens are preservatives that are used in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. They can cause allergic reactions and skin irritation. Toxins pass easily through the skin and hair follicles are active pathways. Buildup of these toxins can prevent your hair growing and regrowing to it fullest potential.

There are many paraben free products available. I use Avalon Organics Nourishing Lavender Shampoo and Conditioner., but there are many available and they can usually be found at your local health food store or easily online.

These products can often be a little more expensive, although if you shop around and look online you should be able to find a good deal on a great product. Also, if you have a Trader Joes near you, check there. I pay $4.99 for the products I use. The retail price is about $8.95. That’s a significant savings.

The only other thing I can think of to note is that you may need to use a little more shampoo on days that you wash your hair. More natural hair care products are not as foamy as those hair care products that are full of chemicals, and then on top of that, your hair is dirtier than usual and that keeps the soap from foaming as well, so just use a little more. No need to go overboard, just a little extra. Don’t however wash your hair twice. This is very damaging.

I hope that this simple two step system to healthier, fuller hair benefits you. Of course there are no guarantees and it won’t happen over night, but I can say that I have noticeably more hair where my thinning spot are and my stylist thinks my hair is gorgeous. What’s better than that?

It took me about a month to figure out how to write this post. I just couldn’t find the right words. Whatever I wrote seemed contrived and not as meaningful as it should. But when it really comes down to it, this is Sheryl’s story and I think she tells it best. Just a note for background. Sheryl and Rick are lifelong friend’s of the parents of some of our best friends from College (did you get all that?). Back in college we began going camping over Memorial Day weekend with our friends and their parents. Now, 13 years later, this is as much our tradition as it used to be theirs. The group has grown large and many children and grandchildren have been born and we look forward to our time spent in this loving circle as our most cherished.

And now, Sheryl’s story.

I Am Not Alone

By Sheryl Baker
I am a 52-year-old survivor of a ruptured brain aneurysm. I would appreciate sharing my story with you in hopes that you will feel it inspiring enough to share with your family and friends.

It was Monday, May 27th, 2007. My husband, Rick and I were camping at Steamboat Rock State Park in Washington State. We had spent a glorious Memorial Day weekend with lots of friends. Rick and I had enjoyed the prior day riding our motorcycles with another couple, in a very remote part of Eastern Washington. That Monday morning we woke up early to winds and looming rain clouds in the distance. We decided to take the jet ski out of the water before the rains came, and before the boat ramp got busy with other campers doing the same.
Rick walked me down to the lakeshore and watched me jump on the jet ski to head out into the water. There were no other boats out on the lake yet, but I wasn’t worried, as I had done this hundreds of times in the past by myself. I waved goodbye as Rick walked back up the hill where our motorhome was with the jet-ski trailer attached. As he started his drive to the boat ramp I eased the jet ski through the no wake zone and then gave it gas to get it up on a plane. I had a 10-minute ride to the pier where I knew Rick would be waiting on the boat ramp. Just as I hit the throttle, a huge wave from nowhere slammed me in the face and all down the front of me. It was cold, but not nearly as cold as the thunderous headache that immediately followed. I still had the longest part of the ride facing me. I knew I was in trouble, but I could not focus on what was happening.

A few minutes later I awoke sitting in the lake on the boat ramp. How did I get there and why was my head still pounding? Rick was telling me that help was on the way. Apparently, after getting hit by the wave, I continued on my way. I have no memory of this. The route was due north, then a sharp turn into another no wake zone at the boat ramp. Rick said he was standing on the dock watching for me. Finally I appeared, but he said I was coming into the no-wake zone too fast. As I approached closer he said my eyes were “blank” and he knew something was wrong. A few feet from the pier I fell off the jet ski backwards into the water. Rick came into the water to pull me to shore. When I regained consciousness he told me help was on the way, an ambulance had been called.

I was taken to a small hospital in Grand Coulee, WA. A CT scan revealed blood on the brain, but the origin was unknown. The emergency room doctor suspected a ruptured aneurysm. A brain aneurysm is a weak, bulging spot on the side of a brain artery, like a thin balloon. When this ruptures it causes the blood to be released into the head. The result of a ruptured brain aneurysm can lead to brain damage, paralysis, or in some cases death. I feel so very blessed to have had Dr. Schnyder on call at the hospital that day. His recommendation was to fly me to Sacred Heart, a larger hospital in Spokane. The winds were too high to send me by helicopter, so the decision was made to medivac me by airplane. I did not remember being at this hospital until months later when I returned to give my thanks to Dr. Schnyder. I do have a vague memory of being put on a plane, but no memory of the flight or of my arrival at the next hospital.

When I finally came to, my son was standing at the foot of my bed. I remember wondering if I had died, and if so, why was Jeremy here? Oh wait, Lindsey, Jeremy’s fiancée, is here too. They both live in Maryland, but why were they here? It was all so confusing. Rick was there also, and once again reassured me that all was going to be fine. I attempted to wipe the hair out of my eyes, but my hands would not budge. It was then that I heard for the first time that I had three brain aneurysms and one had ruptured while I was on the lake. I was also told that I had surgery and then suffered a stroke. Dr. Hirschauer, a neurosurgeon, had met with Rick upon my arrival. After confirming there were three aneurysms, he recommended that I have each aneurysm coiled. Another specialist, Dr. Zylak was called in to perform the procedure. There are only two radiologists in the state of Washington who do aneurysm coiling, and I happened to be at a hospital where one of them was on staff. The coiling procedure consists of having a tiny catheter threaded from the groin upward into the brain artery and then into the aneurysm. A small platinum wire (the size of thread) is fed through the catheter and forms a ‘yarn ball’ in the aneurysm to seal off the blood flow. My surgery was successful, but I suffered from a vasospasm, and then apparently a stroke on my way to ICU. A neurologist, Dr. Geraghty was on call, and I am so thankful to have received the wonderful skills that each of these Doctors possess. I truly feel blessed to have had this dream team caring for me.

I spent a month in Spokane at both the hospital, and then at a rehabilitation facility. I remember lying at night during my stay at the hospital and wondering why I was still alive. I knew the answer; God has bigger plans for me on this earth. I still have something to do. Over the next month I continued to ask him what it was that He wanted me to accomplish. One of my dear friends told me to quit asking, as He would lead me in the right direction. I would soon find that out. I am also extremely thankful to be surrounded by a wonderful family and the best circle of friends ever possible! They were there with me every step of the way. When you marry someone, you just always expect him or her to stand by you, you know, “for better, for worse, for sickness and in health…” Rick never let me down. He kept my spirits high and watched out for me when I wasn’t able to. Jeremy and Lindsey returned to the East Coast, and their upcoming wedding was the inspiration for my commitment to recovery. My parents who are strong in their faith put out prayer requests for my healing. My sister put her life on hold to be with me and aid in my recovery. I was encouraged by my many countless friends and family members who made the 12-hour road trips to see me. I can’t express in words my gratitude for their love and prayers for my recovery. My survival is nothing less than a miracle.

The week following my surgery, Rick was invited to attend a lecture that Dr. Zylak was giving about coiling procedure of brain aneurysms. Rick has since presented three brain aneurysm awareness classes at his workplace, the submarine base in Silverdale. His Power Point presentation is a short class to share our experience with fellow workers. Our mission is to raise awareness and hopefully prevent brain aneurysm ruptures and the difficulties associated with them. One of the supervisors who attended Rick’s class shared the information with another co-worker who had been having extreme headaches. She explained to the co-worker my story, and suggested that she be tested for an aneurysm. The co-worker contacted her insurance company for approval to have an MRI. While waiting for the approval she suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm. She had a coiling procedure done, and I am happy to say that she is doing well. We need to get the message out

On August 22, Rick and I were on our way to visit my parents. Rick drove by a parked car along side the highway. As he drove by, I looked back and saw a man lying in the gravel on the other side of the car. Rick quickly turned around and went to help him. I phoned 911 as Rick was trying to get a response from the man. Rick couldn’t feel a pulse and started CPR. I was still too weak to help Rick in the resuscitation therefore I flagged down a passing motorist to assist him. Paramedics arrived and took over the resuscitation. We left and continued to my parents. I stayed awake most of that night, praying for this man. Four days later I telephoned the newspaper and inquired as to any info that they might have about the incident. The editor told me that he knew the man, Rich Oien, and he had been airlifted to Harborview Hospital in Seattle. The editor asked for my name and number, and he forwarded it on to Rich’s family. About 30 minutes later I received a call from Rich’s brother, Conrad. I was told that Rich had passed away the following day and the family had the opportunity to say goodbye to him thanks to my husband. I asked if he had suffered a heart attack, to which Conrad replied “no”, Rich had died from a brain aneurysm. I was beginning to know my purpose for living.

My dear friend Julie, who happened to be the friend who told me to quit seeking my purpose here on earth, lost her mom in October… to a ruptured brain aneurysm. I had never known anyone who had a brain aneurysm before and now my life has become engulfed with brain aneurysm events. I don’t believe in coincidences. I think there is a purpose for everything. I know that God is calling on me to raise awareness for brain aneurysms.
I am not alone. God was with me on the jet ski. I am not alone. I have the best support group of family and friends. I am not alone. There are many people that are unaware who have brain aneurysms. I am not alone. Together we all must stand up to bring awareness to this cause.

I want to make a difference. I will make a difference. And so, I’m sharing my story with you, in hopes that you will pass it and the following information to people you know and love.

The following facts have been provided by the Brain Aneurysm Foundation. Their web address is www.bafound.org.
Brain Aneurysm Statistics:

  • An estimated 6 million people in the USA have an unruptured brain aneurysm. That is about 1 in 50 people.
  • About 50% of people who have a ruptured brain aneurysm will die as a result.
  • 4 out of 7 people who recover from a ruptured brain aneurysm will have disabilities.
  • Brain aneurysms are most prevalent in people ages 35-60 but can occur in children as well.
  • Women, more than men, suffer from brain aneurysms at a ratio of 3:2.
  • Ruptured brain aneurysms account for 3 – 5% of all new strokes.

Warning Signs:

  • Cranial nerve palsy
  • Dilated pupil
  • Double Vision
  • Pain above and behind the eye
  • Localized headache
  • Drooping eyelid

Detection methods:

  • CT Scan (Computed Tomography)
    This scan takes a picture of your brain. It is a fast and painless test, which requires you to lie on your back, very still, while you are pushed into a large, tubular machine that creates the images. This test shows whether any blood has leaked around or into the brain.
  • MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
    An MRI is a safe, painless diagnostic scan that examines various areas of your body, in this case, your head. Through the use of a large doughnut-shaped magnet and a computer, magnetic signals are seen through a computer as radio waves. The computer is able to transform these radio waves into images. An MRI helps locate the aneurysm.
  • MRA (Magnetic Resonance Angiography)
    This scan combines a regular MRI with the contrast dye, which is injected into a major vein. Like the CTA, this dye travels to the brain arteries, and images are created using an MRI. This creates a more enhanced image.
  • Angiogram (Arteriogram)
    This test allows doctors to see the size, shape, and location of the aneurysm, as well as reveal any bleeding or vasospasm. A small incision is made on one side, or both sides, of your groin after it is locally numbed and prepped. Then, a thin tube (catheter) is threaded through arteries from the groin to the neck. A contrast dye is injected and travels to the brain arteries, X-rays are taken, showing all your arteries and any abnormalities, such as an aneurysm.

And how am I doing now? Well I’m pleased to say that I am still progressing in my recovery. I have a slight paralysis in my left hand and a continuous low grade headache. At times it gets more severe, but I’m on new medication that the Doctors are hoping will help. Stress seems to make it worse, so I’m now on a stress-free diet. My cognitive skills are still somewhat slow, but I’m coping with it. I continue to make the 12-hour round trip to Spokane to see the Doctors and their associates who first treated me. I have so much confidence in them. I am asking for your help in educating people about brain aneurysms. Let’s get the word out. We need to have more awareness and more research that will lead to early detection. As this, is the key for better treatment and better recovery. Thank you for allowing me to share my story.

Fondly,

Sheryl Baker

This reading uses numerology to determine the card that represents this year in your life.

Add up the numbers of your last birthday.

6+1+2+0+0+7=16

And reduce to one number

1+6=7

VII Chariot

Me: A chariot with racing horses speeds across the card.  The card is predominantly water.  This says fluid motion to me.  Life is moving fast.  The waves breaking may indicate that is may be a bumpy ride.  There is an industrial looking structure in the background.  Something to do with work?  The clouds are dark and tumultuous.  The card seems dark in nature but the chariot, man and horses are all brightly illuminated making it seem like they are cruising easily through the obstacles around them.

Cards:  Moving forward with confidence and exuberance.  There is a tension between his youthful energy, lack of experience and confidence brimming on arrogance.  Careful attension must be paid to balancing the energies represented here. The structure in the background represents trying to construct a framework around oneself, placing things in context as a tool to help him navigate through life.

Book:  This is a time to overcome things.  The environment may seem unstable, but you have the ability to overcome.  Just stay on top of things, turn inward and muster your courage.  The opportunity to drive your own life.  Your efforts will produce swift and thrilling victories.

What it means:  Well this year has definitely been full of ups and downs and keeps plowing forward no matter how hard we try to reign it in.  It’s funny, because my husband’s job has been in limbo for going on six months now and although it has been a little scary, i have always had the utmost confidence that we would come flying out the other side into a better place.  This confidence has never wavered, even when things were looking really bad.  I am acutely aware this year, this website is proof to this, that I am in need of structure and direction.  I am ready to come out of my mommy hole and start moving forward with my own life as well.  Interesting.