Boston Marathon survivor

6 Whole Years

6 whole years since the bombing. It feels like a lifetime ago and yet it’s not very hard to find myself back at the finish line in my mind. The sounds and what my eyes took in are still so clear like no time has passed at all. The confusion and shock linger too. I sometimes wonder how something I know to be true can still feel so unbelievable.

2,190 days have gone by. Some felt ordinary while others have dragged on, filled with mental challenges. And I was one of the lucky ones so I can’t imagine what some of my fellow survivors might be feeling today as we all work to move forward the best we can.

April 15, 2013 was the day my life, and the lives of so many others changed. Some gone forever. Others physically changed. The rest of us, mentally altered just enough that our lives too would never be the same. In many ways that day feels like a line in the sand. I know for me I think about my life now in two parts – before the bombing and after. The Elena I was before feels so far away from the Elena I am today. She feels like a distant memory. Once in a while I find a picture of myself before the bombing and I feel like I am looking at a stranger and that’s hard for me but then I realize that my hopeful, positive, and patient demeanor hasn’t changed and I think those characteristics have given me the strength to live and grow through this season in my life. I thank God for giving me those gifts so long ago. I believe it was in His plan to make me that way knowing what I would one day endure. He is so good.  As I look toward my future, I feel confident in my plan to continue sharing my story and healing journey with others. I know it has helped others.

This week I received an email from the mother of another Boston Marathon bombing survivor who is now deep in his struggle with PTSD. He needs resources, support, and to know he is not alone. I called on my survivor friends and together they recommended many specialists in his area that he can now call on as he hopefully chooses to heal. This is a gift! This is why I write here and it’s why I speak out and share my story. This is my calling and I won’t stop. Survivors of mass shootings and acts of terrorism from years ago are taking their lives every day and they don’t have to. I will work in their memory each day to share my message of hope for healing. Their pain and mine should have meaning and I believe it can inspire other victims to move forward with their lives if they choose to embrace the journey.

So today, 6 years later, I choose to move forward and carry the many lessons this experience has taught me. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to see my life through PTSD’s lens and to use that vision to help where I can.

 

Be the hand of a hopeful stranger

A little scared but your strong enough

Be the light in the dark of this danger

‘Til the sun comes up

A Safe Place To Land – Sara Bareillles

Finding Ways to Grow

With a new year ahead I find myself focused on finding ways to grow in 2019.  I want to expand my reach, find new ways to share my story, touch people whose shoes I’ve been in, and remain grounded enough to take on these lofty goals. It’s crucial to still take good care of myself because I don’t plan on sliding backwards now.

I’m in a good place. I feel like a good majority of my healing has been done (I’d say 80%). I string together more good days then bad. I feel mentally healthy and strong. I still have set backs but they are fewer and farther apart. I remain in trauma therapy and under the care of my naturopath. And I can feel my brain healing as my cognition and memory seem to be getting better. All good things! So I wonder how I can still manage to grow from here.

I started thinking yesterday about how plants grow and perhaps some of the answers I’m seeking about my own growth are rooted there.

A tiny seed gets carried and dropped by a bird or the wind and finds its way under leaves and brush to a patch of dirt.  It nestles itself down below soil’s surface and waits for rain and sun to work their magic so roots can take shape. Then a baby shoot appears and decides where to grow. Some grow straight up, confident of their path while others grow outwards looking for space among friends. And once they start off in their own direction their leaves, fruit, and blooms take shape. Always changing. Storms come, summer sun scorches, winter freezes, and still that plant changes. Birds, bugs, and bees become visitors too taking what they need to live. Still the plant grows and changes with the understanding of its environment. Always ready to embrace the changes.

PTSD was a huge environmental change for me. It shook my branches and rattled the earth below me and still I’ve managed to grow. Now I have all of these baby shoots growing from my trunk and I am so excited to see how they will take shape.

Growing. Blooming. Healing. Changing.

I’m not sure how I’ll accomplish all these goals, or how they will shape me, and change me and that’s the scary part. Until I get there I’ll just embrace my experience and see where I grow.

Recovered

We are home from Boston and finally recovered from jet lag! 

I want to thank all of you; my family and friends, and followers for the prayers and love you sent my way during our trip. I felt it all in the form of the most beautiful peace during our trip and I believe they also helped Jeff push through the most difficult marathon in over 40 years.  The weather was terrible!

In the month leading up to the anniversary of the bombings I found myself overcome with symptoms of my ptsd. I shared this with my trauma therapist as she worked to help me prepare for the moment when I would confront the finish line with my kids in tow. My head was full of self-doubt; how could I keep myself together in those crowds, with all those triggers, and take care of my kids too? I realized I was trying to fit all of my plans for that day into a box.  A place I felt I could control. As I went through the motions of the EMDR session I was reminded of a time when I was a girl. My family and I were in line for a roller coaster at an amusement park and I was dreadfully nervous.  The roar of the cars of the track, the screams coming from the riders before me, and the uncertainty of what I would face on the ride were too much for me to take. However, those memories became muffled with the feeling I had once I stepped off that thrilling ride. I felt light and free, I was happy, and I felt confident because I had not let my nerves keep me from conquering my fear. This ah-ha moment became my motivation for the finish line. I decided I was going to embrace the experience for what it was and let is shape me instead of trying to fit it all into a space in my mind that I could control. 

I wanted to share that with you because I think much of life is a roller coaster ride. Full of ups and downs. Twists and turns. Moments you dread and those which take your breath away.

I sure hope that my life is full of more ups. More exciting moments that take my breath away.  Less of those that leave me lying in my bed trying to escape the world.  Either way I know my life will be lived fully and beautifully. I owe that to those who lost their lives on April 15, 2013 at the finish line, I owe it to Officer Sean Collier who was murdered by the bombers, and I owe it to all the survivors – those physically and invisibly injured. I owe it to my family and all of you.

I wrote a reflection for Maria Shriver’s website and it will be live soon. I will share it as soon as it’s published. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy some pictures of my family from our time at the marathon.

 

I Think I Have This...

I’ve been struggling lately.  I know why too. With the marathon coming up and my family getting ready to travel to Boston coupled with the five year anniversary of the bombing, I have been feeling a lot of stuff.  Sadness, anxiety, stress, grief, and fear – all just hanging out under the surface of my skin having an unwelcome kumbaya moment.  It was getting uncomfortable to say the least and came to a head last week during the Easter holiday. I could barely get out of bed that day and I found myself clinging to some of the words my dear friend and fellow survivor, Sarri, had shared with me recently.

Sarri has years of “anniversary” experience and her expertise on such a topic far outweighs the advice any therapist could ever give, unless they too have walked in our shoes.  I think my biggest take away from our long conversation was that April 15th is a big day for me (and many others) and it always will be and I have to accept and embrace it.  I also realized that I want others around me, those I love and lean on, to embrace its importance to me as well.  I don’t want my loved ones to tip toe around the subject or avoid me that day. I want to hear from them, I want to know what they were doing on that day five years ago, and how it all made them feel too. We all shared this experience together. Even though I was the one there that day – they are the reason I am still here today.  

I have been in a lot of therapy lately too. I am not sure if the EMDR therapy will ultimately cure me and that is a whole other subject for me to write about, but I am relying on it now to hopefully get me through the next week.  I recently went into a session and asked my therapist if I needed any other tools to get me though the finish line experience. Her response was that no tool will get me through it. I am either going to be okay or not. The whole conversation wasn't very reassuring for the planner in me especially since my kids will be with me.  I have been stewing over this. I want to be there. I really want to see Jeff’s big finish but I can’t prepare for it.  My biggest fear is that my bestie, PTSD, will grab hold of me while I am trying to be a mom and navigate the crowds and excitement that comes with standing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. 

In the meantime, I am relying on the tools I have that do work for me.

Focusing on the day before me and nothing else.

Being gentle with myself.

Acupuncture, writing, meditation, and other self-care.

Living with gratitude whenever I can.

Prayer.

I think I have this...

 

Sprinting Towards A Marathon

We have been very busy at our house the past few months and I wanted to include you all in on why we have been “running” around like crazy – no pun intended.  My wonderful husband Jeff was given the opportunity to run the upcoming Boston Marathon and the way it all happened was nothing short of fate I think.

Some of you might remember that Jeff and I went on a Strength to Strength retreat in November for terrorist attack survivors, bereaved family members, and spouses. I wrote about it here. We made wonderful friendships and had the chance to bond with other survivors, including Lynn and Doug. They are fellow Boston Marathon bombing survivors and Lynn’s traumatic brain injury from years past was only made worse by the events of that day. As we got to know these two wonderful people Jeff shared his desire to finish the marathon someday – neither of us thought it would be so soon.  As One Fund recipients, Doug and Lynn receive two fundraising bibs each year and they graciously offered one up to Jeff to accomplish his goal.

This all came together so quickly towards the end of last year and Jeff started training.  Training for a marathon takes an incredible amount of dedication and for someone who runs his own business, has two young kids, a wife who lives with PTSD, and other volunteer opportunities that he prioritizes it is near impossible. Jeff has been training hard and I am so proud of the effort he has put into this – his final marathon, or so he says.

This was something we talked a lot about and carefully mulled over because we just don’t have extra time in our lives but Jeff really wanted to do it and so I 100% supported his decision.  It’s not just the time it takes away from our family and all the added pressure it places on me, I also had to consider the fact that I will be standing with my treasures waiting for him where the bombs went off.  It’s unnerving when I think about it. I have been back to that place since and I am still in trauma therapy and working hard every day to heal but still, there are so many factors at play here. There will be thousands of people there, my kids will be with me so I have to keep my cool, if I don’t have passes for the bleachers then we will be on that side of the street, and I know my bestie, PTSD, will be right there with me.  How will I handle all these things at once? With grace and with God by my side are my only two answers to this question. 

Over the holidays my cousin mentioned to me that when she asked him about the marathon he had said that he wasn’t going to run it until I was ready to be at the finish line waiting for him again.  Just her recalling this conversation made me cry because he never voiced this to me.   

So I will be there on April 16th 2018. Five years after the bombs went off. Waiting for my husband to finish this race.  It will be such an accomplishment for the two of us and one I hope our kids will never forget witnessing.  It makes me feel as if this story of mine is coming full circle – in full bloom.

If you feel called to help Jeff with his fundraising goal and support a fellow Boston Marathon bombing survivor with her continued therapies, please click here. We are also accepting any prayers and good vibes you want to send our way!

To read my reflection on the marathon from Maria Shriver’s website last year click here.

 

Growth

One of the huge takeaways I took from the retreat I was on a few weeks ago was a concept I had never heard of before. Posttraumatic Growth.

I have been working to heal from PTSD for over a year with numerous therapists and not one has ever spoken of it. But there Elaine (a fellow survivor) and I were standing in Lucky Strike on our fun night out and trying to scream over the loud music to each other about what has helped us each heal when she mentioned PTG or posttraumatic growth. I instantly felt hopeful, excited to be learning something more about this journey, and encouraged that possibly I might get to this place of PTG myself.

When Jeff and I returned home I immediately began researching PTG and what I found was so interesting. The term was created by two doctors at the University of North Carolina Charlotte, Dr. Lawrence G. Calhoun and Dr. Richard G. Tedeschi in 1995. Through their research and in working with parents who had lost a child, no doubt one of the greatest traumas anyone could face, they discovered that some of these parents went on to become great advocates for whatever illness or accident that had claimed the lives of their children. Dr. Calhoun and Dr. Tedeschi found that through the great loss and trauma these people had faced, they somehow managed to grow and do something meaningful, and they were stronger for it.

I stumbled upon an article and I will leave it right here for you to enjoy – reading it brought me to tears. The Science of Posttraumatic Growth

Why did reading this make me cry?  Because it confirmed for me that though my trauma was terrible, it had helped shape me in a positive way.  I already believed it but here I was reading this article that finally gave a name and face to the place I find myself in more and more every day.

There is a line is this article that really sticks with me, “They don’t just bounce back- that would be resilience- in significant ways, they bounce higher than they ever did before.”

I knew quite early on in my healing journey that just bouncing back wasn’t going to happen and so I just took each day as it came, sometimes each moment, and I focused on ways to feel better.  Little by little I found my stride again and no doubt feel stronger and more grateful then I did before I was sick. Bouncing higher has been my goal with this website and blog, with my journey to be my own advocate and speak up for myself and my healing, and for every other aspect of my life.  Though I have found myself many times just wishing to be the old Elena, I have realized that I could be someone so much better – I can and will bounce higher than I ever could have before. Sure I still have bad days and trying moments like everyone else but I can honestly say that with this new lens that I view my life through that I truly see my blessings, I truly feel grateful and blessed, and I have truly found my calling in helping other people like me. 

Thank you my dear friend Elaine for introducing me to PTG!

Learn more about Posttraumatic Growth

 

I Have Confidence In Me

My trip back to Boston was filled with tremendous blessings and something I had hoped for most; peace.  Boston is where I experienced my trauma, our Cape house was where I was triggered last summer, and it became the place where I endured the most paralyzing anxiety that led to my hospitalization. I hadn’t been back there since and so this trip wasn’t just about meeting the other survivors, it was about me going back to the place I was most uncomfortable. I wondered if it would still be my “happy” place. Would I feel the peace there that I had always had before?

In order to prepare for the trip I spent the week leading up to leaving seeing my therapist, going for acupuncture, and floating.  All of this extra work really set me up for success. Even as our red-eye approached I found myself calmly packing, moving through security, and getting through the flight. I stepped off the plane in Massachusetts proud of myself.  Once we made it to the house and I opened the door I was met with the cheerful energy that had always filled that space for me. I told Jeff that night how relived I was that I was happy there again.

On Friday morning we drove into Boston for a meeting with Dr. Crawford at the Massachusetts Resiliency Center.  The kids, Jeff and I sat with him for over an hour. This man is one of the many angels I have met on my journey towards healing. He has dedicated his life to helping survivors of terrorist attacks and understood everything I was describing to him.  As I proceeded to go through a box of tissue in his office, he comforted me with his tender words, his belief that I would pull through this, and the reassurance that I was not alone. I left there wishing I would have known about him sooner and the services the center offers. Last summer could have been so different had I found that comfort an hour drive away from me.  I know I can’t look back on my journey now with regrets and so I am grateful to have found him now. 

From there we spent some time in the city with the kids and stayed at our best friend’s apartment that night. Ironically it’s the same place Jeff and I had stayed the night before and after the bombing.  I had a difficult time sleeping that night which my therapist had prepared me for.  The city sounds and thoughts about the next morning left me hanging in between sleep and rest and yet when my alarm went off I hopped right out of bed and into the shower. 

As I walked the three blocks to the finish line, a certain song came out of nowhere and got stuck in my head.  It’s a funny song but it made total sense. I was subconsciously giving myself an internal pep talk.  Any Sound of Music fan will probably start singing it as they read this. “I have confidence in sunshine, I have confidence in rain, I have confidence that spring will come again, besides which you see I have confidence in me.”

Retracing the same steps I had made that day 4 years ago, all by myself, was a huge stride for me.   When I got to Marathon Sports, the site of the first bomb, I scanned the crowd to find Manya. Her warm hug is just what I needed and we stood together and watched the father and brother of Krystle Campbell, one of the victims who lost her life that day, hang a beautiful wreath of white roses in her honor – bagpipes played in the background. It was very emotional for me and soon I felt the arms and hands of other survivors around me consoling me. Without even knowing me they were extending their love and it filled me with peace and comfort. Soon we were all making our way down the steps of the Boston Public Library to the survivor’s breakfast and as we walked Manya began introducing me to amazing people who were all so happy that I was there and that I had found them.  Wow! I felt so blessed. Most conversations started with, “Tell me where you were?” and somewhere in the middle I would start crying and they would hug me and offer their support and reassurance.  I cried the whole morning really and they weren’t sad tears -- they were healing tears. Tears that I have needed to cry. Tears that only these wonderful survivors before me could understand. Tears that felt good to release.  I left that breakfast with a whole new family who understands me and who chooses to share in the journey I’ve been on. 

As I made my way back to the apartment I found a skip in my step and a sense of confidence that I’d lost somewhere during the past year. I felt physically lighter as years of loneliness seemed to melt away.  Soon I was met with the cheers of my family from the apartment balcony. I danced across the crosswalk as they yelled, “Go Mommy! Go Mommy!”  It felt good to have them cheering me on, just as they’ve always done, as I made this huge leap forward in my journey to find healing. 

 

Hard Work

I am sorry I have been absent for a couple of weeks. I have been working hard on healing and learning.

A few weeks ago there was a festival in our town. I have been going to it since I was a kid and I have always had fun, hopped on a ride or two, bumped into friends, and indulged in the fair food. This year was different. Out of nowhere, while watching my kids ride the caterpillar roller-coaster; I felt my arms start to go numb, felt faint and the sudden race of my pulse, and soon realized I was beginning to have a panic attack.  My vision tunneled and every loud noise, bright color, and crowd around me became amplified in a horrifying way. The worst part was I had left the house without my anxiety arsenal (huge fail) and we had just arrived there.  My kids were having fun, my husband was enjoying himself too, and there I was dying inside and searching for a way out.

I was able to get through the next two hours using coping tools from EMDR. Identifying sounds, picking a color and finding as many things as I could that color, holding ice cubes in my hands until they melted, and praying – not for me, but for each person that was passed me.

This panic attack, though not as serious as my others, took several days to recover from. My anxiety was crippling the rest of that day, I was up multiple times through the night, and I had to chaperon ballet rehearsals and didn’t want to break breakfast plans with my best friend who was in town for a few hours – so life had to go on. I had to navigate through it. All of that junk under the surface that no one around me can see. A silent illness that makes me feel nuts on the inside as I put on my lipstick and try and move forward.

My husband was traveling this week so I was on my own to manage the kids and their activities and my therapy schedule. I floated, had EMDR, went to hypnotherapy, worked, packed lunches, shuttled kids between baseball and ballet; all while fighting through my PTSD wave.  It takes an incredible amount of energy and faith for me to get through days when I feel this way.

Finally, I felt a break-through during a moment when I found myself alone in my car.  It was sent straight from heaven.  I found myself wondering if all of this; the bombing, last year’s hospitalization, my on-going battle with PTSD, is all God’s way of bringing me closer to Him. I felt myself thanking God for giving this all to me because I now truly know that He is by my side every moment, guiding me with His love.

It might seem crazy to the average person that I be thankful for all of these struggles but I think if it leads me closer to God or inspires me to help others, then my life will be full of purpose and grace.  As I continue my hard work to recover and heal, I know that God is right beside me and carrying me when I need Him to.

 

Floating Through My Wave

Last week I rode what I call my “PTSD wave”.  It starts with a stressful event or stress in general, followed by a sleepless night, then my anxiety sets in for a day or two, and I top all of that off with depression. It’s usually about 3-5 days long and the best way I can describe it is painful, a constant agitation under my skin, uncomfortable, and exhausting.  I have a hard time eating, focusing, breathing, and stopping the tears…so I just go with it.  Like a wave that comes and goes.

It might seem ironic then that this particular wave I rode out by floating.   

I had been reading about this therapy modality and its benefits for those suffering with PTSD for a few months and was so excited when my dad agreed to try it with me.  He has been so supportive of everything I do, even the most unconventional things I come up with so this was our chance to enjoy a long overdue father/daughter date and relax. We both agreed that our time in the float pods was wonderful!

 

I love that floating is called “effortless” therapy because so much of the therapy I do takes so much energy and leaves me feeling drained and tired. So this was a treat as far as therapy goes!

I have been using Epsom baths during my recovery because of the mental health benefits that the magnesium sulfate offers, but this experience was completely different. These pods are filled with 1000 pounds of Epsom salt and 180 gallons of water which creates a 30% salt solution that enables your body to float effortlessly while you releases toxins, lactic acid, and cortisone (our wonderful stress hormone).  What I loved most about this experience was the weightless feeling I had as I floated because I felt I was able to finally release the last bit of tension that I was enduring from my “wave” and I slept better than a baby that night. Answered prayers for sure!

If you experience chronic pain, stress, insomnia, muscle soreness or just want to try something new – I can’t recommend floating more! Visit True Rest Float Spa to find a location near you and tell them I sent you. 

My pageant response to what the world needs most…

From my daily devotional on the day I wrote this entry. I realize it seems a bit outdated (2 months ago), but I felt the message is still relevant today. Maybe more than ever...

From my daily devotional on the day I wrote this entry. I realize it seems a bit outdated (2 months ago), but I felt the message is still relevant today. Maybe more than ever...

Maybe it’s inner peace that we all need most?  Then maybe we would finally enjoy some peace in this world.  During my struggle with PTSD I have begged and pleaded with myself and with God to help me find peace.  Not just a moment of peace, I want to fill my life with it. I want to feel it in my bones. I walk to carry it with me like a precious diamond and reflect rainbows of peace onto everyone and everything when the light hits me. I want my kids to feel my peace and wrap themselves in it. I want to be this huge beacon of peace that runs over and spreads throughout my home, community and the world.  When you meet this new me, I want you to think, “Wow, that lady is peaceful.”

Inner peace takes practice.  It hasn’t been easy to find and I’m still searching for it, but I have discovered some ways for me to live more peacefully. First and foremost I have had to identify my triggers and eliminate them. As I write this on 11/29/2016, I can tell you that I haven’t watched the news since July 14th (the Bastille Day attack which re-triggered my PTSD).  I don’t miss it either and that’s a whole other post that is coming.  I said goodbye to Facebook (even though now I do maintain a page for Still Blooming Me through a host site). The news feed is just as bad as watching the news and while I do miss out on an occasional birthday, birth announcement or baby picture, I see now how much time I spent looking at it rather than looking at myself or into the eyes of those I truly love. My phone doesn’t control me anymore – I control it. I highly recommend this if you are really wondering who truly values you in their life.  They will pick up the phone and call you.

I have learned there is honor in saying no – I am honoring myself.  This has brought incredible peace to a lady like me who loves to say yes.

I have found new ways to show myself love which brings me peace too. My husband jokes that I’m turning into an old lady with all my natural remedies, Epsom salt baths, gentle yoga, meditating, etc. and I say that sounds about right since the grays on my head have seemed to multiple by the millions since August.  I am okay with the grays too.  I feel I've somehow earned them.

Inner peace is being okay with these changes. Embracing them. Living them. Exuding them. 

I don’t know where all of this will really lead me but I know that wherever I’m headed it will be peaceful.

Trailer Trigger

New Year’s Day morning my husband and I were laying around with the kids and snuggling into our bed to watch the Patriots game. This isn’t new for us but something new happened while we were watching the game that sent me running out of the room covering my ears. The trailer came on. The trailer for the movie that is set to premier very soon about the day that changed my life and thousands of other’s lives (I write this not knowing the title of the film, the premier date, nothing… I don’t think I need to).  When I caught my breath, I realized that I hadn’t been triggered by the first few seconds of it that I had seen but that I had been angered.

As I am still receiving bills from my hospitalization, paying out of pocket for the EMDR (trauma therapy), medications, natural supplements and hypnotherapy I need so that I can be a decent mom, wife, friend, and grounded human being, a movie will be entertaining crowds of people and I have no say in it. I was there wasn’t I? I’m still paying for the aftermath aren’t I?

Soon people will pay money for a ticket and plop down in their chairs and throw popcorn in their mouths while they take in a flick based on a day that I lived and can’t forget. Awesome! Hollywood will be capitalizing on an event in history that our very own citizens died in, were injured in, and are still suffering from every day. Why? The reason simply cannot be so that we, as a country don’t forget what happened.  It can’t be used as a reminder for Boston to stay “Boston Strong” and it sure can’t be used to remember all the innocent victims who lost their lives.  It’s being used to entertain people and I think that is wrong. But I am going to use it for something else, something greater I hope.

I went to therapy the following day and the first thing my therapist said to me was, “I thought of you this weekend.” I knew exactly what she was talking about, she had seen the commercial too.  She isn’t the first person to say this to me and she won’t be the last. So I continue to move through life in my protective bubble I’ve built – no news watching, no Facebook scrolling, and no energy spent on what is happening in our world. I’ve learned that I must completely focus on what is happening in my world, in my body, the conversations going on around me, and the situations I put myself in at all times. Can I go to that restaurant? Did I get enough sleep? Is that food going to irritate me? Can I stand spending a day at the aquarium with my kids?  Will it be too noisy? Will there be too many people? These are the questions I constantly ask myself as I go through my life.  My therapist reminded me of something very important that day after my trailer trigger; I have a greater confidence now and I have better tools that I can use to cope that I didn’t have before.  Most importantly, I have to believe in myself and have faith that when I see those images it doesn’t mean I will go backwards in my growth. Nothing scares me more then moving in that direction again.  

The timing of this film seems so ironic to me given what I have gone through mentally the past year, my recent hospitalization, the birth of this resource, and largely sharing and accepting this event as part of my life’s story.  I know that God has perfect timing in everything He does.  He is calling me not to be angered but to be blessed by the opportunity to hopefully reach more people with my message during this time. He is showing me that this film may be giving me the chance to share my journey with more people and so for that I will say thank you to Mark Wahlberg for his work about a city and people that we both love.

 

you are invited on my journey

This is my pass to wait for Jeff in the bleachers the day of the marathon. I keep it as a reminder of how lucky I was to be on the other side of the street that day.  

This is my pass to wait for Jeff in the bleachers the day of the marathon. I keep it as a reminder of how lucky I was to be on the other side of the street that day.  

Almost four years ago my life was changed forever as you have learned from the contents of this site.  Through my journey to find peace and healing I have started a journal.  I want to share with you some of the passages I have written to remind myself years from now what inspired me to keep living this beautiful life I have been given.  

When I was naming this space I consulted a dear friend and soul sister. She is this amazing person who reflects creativity in everything she does and I knew she was the right person for the job because I had entrusted her to plan my wedding 8 years earlier.  We tearfully dove into the contents of the composition book I was given in the hospital and began highlighting words that stood out.  There in her living room was born Still Blooming Me.

Still. I started my journal while in the hospital when I was seeking stillness the most. The first day I had none of my own belongings but the clothes on my back, a composition book, and miniature pencil. Here I was, removed from all the comforts of my home trying to find relief in such simple possessions. I soon found myself on medications that made me shake so badly I couldn't eat, couldn't sit still, and couldn't sleep. Wasn't I there to get relief from these things in the first place? My mind was plagued with racing thoughts. I was working so hard to claim some peace in that awful place I found myself in. I remember praying and begging God to grant me stillness.

Blooming. My maiden name is Flores, it means flowers in Spanish and flowers have always been a part of the beauty I seek out in my life. In my journal I wrote, "God is burying me so that I can grow into the most beautiful fruit bearing tree, with deep roots, strong branches, full of blooming flowers and the knowledge that my life is always changing and that's okay." Through this experience I have learned that blooming takes work, it can be painful, it requires the help of others, and if you work at it, you will find the most beautiful flower blooming is you.

Me. This is the most important word in the title.  This is about me. It's my story, I didn't choose it but I am claiming it. I'm not hiding it from you or from me anymore and that will help me heal. This blog is about what has helped me, how I have found the strength to be my own advocate, and how I plan to help others like me. Finally, the very best therapy I have found has been the time I have taken to slow down and enjoy my two treasures whose names begin with "M" and "E".