The Why behind “My Why”

In 2015 Kristen SURVIVED a cryptogenic stroke. The word survive is used intentionally as Kristen didn’t let herself suffer during this trying time. She turned recovery into a full time job. The stroke took away much more than her ability to communicate. It took the way she related the world. It took her ability to tell her kids she loved them, and took her energy to care for them in the way that they deserved.

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It took her ability to choose to follow her passion in nursing and stole her identity and who she thought she was. As hard as this was, when all was said and done, the stroke gave me more gifts than ever took from me.

PLEASE VIEW: A Stroke Could Not Silence This Hero.

It gave her a gift of knowing time is finite, and the gift of valuing her life and those in it. It gave her purpose in helping others that are affected by stroke and to bring more compassionate care to our healthcare system. As crazy as it sounds, it made her life better in a lot of ways. After seizures, a heart surgery and another Transient Ischemic Attack she continues to fight through the tough stuff and re-evaluate her WHY.

2017 was a defining year for Jessie. It could have been said that 2017 was an awful year for Jessie, but she didn’t treat it as such.

One day Kristen and Jessie were planning a photoshoot and the next thing they knew, Jessie was texting Kristen that her horse stumbled and rolled over her, crushing her pelvis and vertebrae in her back only moments before she was going to barrel race for $50,000.

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Jessie was cracking some jokes and told Kristen that she was in unbelievable pain but that she would, “be just fine- no painkillers needed.” Because as much as she was in an insane amount of pain, a liver disease she lives with everyday prevented her from taking any pain medications.

There she was facing a crushed pelvis and who knows how long off her feet, with no pain relief. When she learned to walk again, she FINALLY sold her house after years of being on the market, she moved, then the sale fell through a day before possession and then had to move back to the original house again. She ended up getting a bad case of shingles, pneumonia, having her grandpa in and out of the hospital, and 2017 wrapped up with losing her dad very suddenly just days after Christmas.

Never once did she complain. She is resilient through and through and probably a little too stubborn. 

Jessie and Kristen had these gifts. As heart breaking, difficult or discouraging as the troubles have been they had to redefine their purpose. Gifts and messages come in unique ways if you are open to receiving them and these two were listening, loud and clear. Ultimately time together in the hospital bonded these two and showed them how similar everyone’s journeys through recovery can be.

FROM KRISTEN AND JESSIE:
You see too often we believe that people think that happiness is this drive to the top. When, WHEN, you get to the top you will be happy. Interruptions aren’t good, bumps along the way are bad and only after you have found success will you have freedom and TRUE happiness.

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Society seems to tell us that we need to have this straight line through life.
Graduate, go to post secondary, meet someone, get married, have two children, work, retire, travel, die an old person with our perfect person. Unfortunately, few of us in the room are going to have that straight line through life. That is reality. Many of us in this room don’t want much of what I just said and some that is all they dream about. Our lives have been anything but what we expected. In fact, everything we thought we once were and everything we once had perfectly planned- is no longer. We have learned that when you learn to make the struggles worth it- the roller coaster can be a part of the fun.

We see this differently. We don’t think there is an up, or down, top or bottom.

Life for us, we try and see as a journey, a mess of highs and lows, loops and valleys AND it is apart of that crazy ride that gives us contentment, meaning, fulfillment and purpose.

It maybe shows us we work too much or work a job that is more of a job and less of a fulfilling career. It might show you that you need more self care, teach you which battles to pick, or put forward who your true friends and family are. It can show you where you spend your time that doesn’t matter and make clear where you should be spending it.

To make the struggle worth it and use the pain to benefit we have taken those lows and experienced greater highs than we knew prior to the tough stuff.

THE FOUNDATION FOR the My Why REVOLUTION

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It is safe to say that we have had our fair share of interesting issues over the past few years. It has made us realize that we no longer want to spend time working for what looks good on a resume. We want to spend time on how people will remember us. If we were to die tomorrow, What do we need to do today? Were we kind enough? Did we make the wrongs right? Did we learn from the mistakes? Are we helping enough? Are we spending time doing things that matter?

We think it’s important to look at building a ‘legacy.’ It’s important to look at what we are doing today that we will be remembered for tomorrow.

There have been times we have been driven to developing the ‘resume’. We were the YES people. We almost found a sense of security in that resume. That “security” was false security though. Giving up that we have any real control when it comes to the big things in life has given us a freedom we can’t explain and a focus on what we love, what we enjoy and the quality people to surround myself with. Thus, My Why was born. We want to tell stories for those who maybe don’t have the platform, courage or support network to be open, honest and vulnerable. Spending time with the true heroes that walk has meant more to us than we could ever explain.

Thank you for reading and learning about how My Why got it’s start. If you would like to have a coffee chat, book us for a workshop or presentation or have a story you or someone you know would like to share, ‘Contact Us’.

 

 

Jordy’s Story

Making this with the incredible Haughian family was something we will never forget! Thank you for being brave enough to share your story with us, and the world. You are courageous and you are strong. You are not only an inspiration but the work you are all doing in Lloydminster, and our entire community, is making our home a better place.

Thank you to the Lloydminster Region Health Foundation for the partnership that made this possible. http://lloydminstermentalhealth.ca/

Here is, “Jordy’s Story”

Did I say, “I love you” enough?

Within three months, my world has been turned upside down. I very recently had a cryptogenic stroke which left me with Broca’s aphasia and apraxia. Aphasia and apraxia are just fancy medical terms for saying that my expressive communication (speaking and writing) was devastatingly affected.

At the age of 31, with two boys to raise, a nursing career and training for a 1/2 marathon, a stroke was not on my agenda. Strokes very rarely affect someone of my years, but more so important then my age, was the age of my two children; 4 years old and 15 months. My kids were much too little and they needed their mother.

It was three days after my stroke where the shock had subsided and the gravity of what disabilities I had been left with came into focus. As much as I tried, communication with the rest of the world was not coming back as easy as I would have liked.

My sister was at my bedside, as she was most of the time that I spent in the hospital. We were working on my speech rehabilitation which was essentially what you would learn in early elementary school. She was reading out sentences that I was supposed to attempt to write.

I sat, crossed legged on my hospital bed with a note pad, trying to write “The dog was black.” I couldn’t do it. With what seamed like an hour, I scribbled “dog, black.” I knew that wasn’t correct. I knew that I had missed the connecting words of a sentence but I had no idea what they were. My internal dialogue could say this simple sentence, but when I opened my mouth or put pen to paper, all I could muster was “dog black.”

I could feel the sting of tears welling up in my eyes and the lump rising in my throat. At that very moment I was not frustrated, I was not feeling sorry for myself and I was not overwhelmed. All I could think of is what was the last thing I wrote to my boys. What was the last thing I told them? Would they remember any of the things that I had taught them?

I surely did not give them enough encouragement, enough words of praise and enough words of wisdom to get them through to adulthood. I surely did not say “I love you” enough to last a lifetime.

I had written letters to my boys since the day they were born, detailing their lives.  But, as life has gotten busier, the letters had been few and far in between. What if I could never write to them again? They need to know how perfect and how miraculous they are to me. I needed to tell them they are enough, I loved them more then anything and my heart beats for them.

How many words did I waste that didn’t mean anything. I regretted every time that I fought with my four year old about what type of pants to wear to Playschool. The times were I uttered the words, “I’m tired” or “I cant right now, I am busy.”

I should have used my energy to tell my four year old “the clothes on your body does not matter. I respect your choice to wear what you want.” Or “I will always have time for you, you are important.” I regretted the time I spent on Social media instead of writing the most amazing love letters to my children documenting every cherished memory. How I longed for those moments back.

My sister looked at me with compassion and empathy in her eyes. I gestured what I had wrote and with tears threatening to spill over, I could only say “Boys…Not Write.” She grabbed my hand. She looked at me and I knew that she understood what I was trying to say. She spoke words of encouragement and words of empathy. She said with such conviction that I would get better and would be able to say the things I so desperately wanted to tell my children.

Remarkably I did get better. With a lot of help from my husband, sister and speech pathologist and a lot of determination and hard work, I relearned sentence structure and began to speak and write again. I recovered enough to say what I so desperately wanted to express to my children. I make a point to focus my energy on choosing the words that come out of my mouth with hopes that I never forget the way this feels and what the stroke has taught me.

Among many things that this experience has taught me, (I am sure you will be sick of hearing about it but the stroke has been my greatest teacher) is that communication matters. Conversations matter. The words you choose matter. Talking leads to understanding and that is never a bad thing.

Words have a magical power to make people feel wanted, loved and special. They let people know they are not alone and even in extreme cases, to want to live another day. The opposite is true as well. Words can give sadness, anger, disgust and can break a child’s spirit. We can live in heaven or hell by the sentences we string together. What power! We can choose our words to give love to this world. If it’s honest, kind and is used to lift someone up, say it. Don’t let fear get in the way.

I want you to imagine that you are a child or young teenager. Remember when you felt like an utter disappointment and regretted your actions. Is it when you failed that math test? Is it when you cut your own hair (or your sister’s) or dropped a very breakable ornament?

Now, can you imagine when your mom, dad or a loved one found out and they said, “I understand that was a mistake. You will need to fix this, but we can work through it together. You have not disappointed me. My love for you is unconditional.”

How good would you feel? The words that they spoke can make you feel safe and supported and important to them.

Now, imagine that your loved one had a difference response. They rolled their eyes, sent you to your room and the look of disappointment haunted the lines in their face. How would you feel? Certainly not safe, or loved or important.

I try to remember this in every interaction with my children. Although it sometimes isn’t easy, I want them to feel loved and that I understand they are human and will make mistakes.

I am not pretending to be some sort of expert or prodigy of parenting. I have made many mistakes and will continue to do so. I have went to bed more often then not worried that I made the right choices for my children or said the right things. I think if we are honest, everyone has. In all our parenting wisdom, we are perfectly imperfect and will make blunders along the way. I have accepted that. But, what I do ask of myself is to choose to fix my mistakes and never let a relationship suffer for my impetuous response.

I see now with such certainty that words with intentions can bring about peace or can spew out venom that poisons the space around you. Words have the power to mend relationship, stitch together an open wound and heal the heart.

Say the things that matter to you. Have the conversations that you always wanted to have. Tell your children that your heart beats for them. We don’t know when we can get another chance.

It seams like a lifetime ago, however living with the aftermath of a stroke reminds me that it has not been long at all. It also reminds me to not take my second chance for granted. Now, everyday I try to live my life at the pace of my children. I read more stories, I have more playtime and attempt to see the world through my children’s eyes. At day’s end, when the last story is read and I tuck my children into bed, I ask myself,  “Did I give enough encouragement, or words of praise to last them into adulthood? Did I say ‘I love you’ enough to last a lifetime?”

I don’t know, but I’m working on it.

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