Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Lot of Things Happened On The Way From the BikeLafayette Meeting

Last blog I talked about my new notebook and how I am scholarly dedicated to the different spokes of my current life in the scientific faith that it will all synergize into something bigger. Today was typical for that!
We had a BikeLafayette meeting today, it was great! We're in a growing phase, which is sometimes uncomfortable and always productive. We have the right people to weather the transition to a more pronounced organization, and it's really awesome to work with people that care enough about it to get details figured out. Always my favorite thing, to build something with hard-working people. Love all of you!
And MAN it was storming! On the way home I got a message that my Realtor business cards were in, woohoo! My "Realtor" spoke has been a bit neglected this week. I was close to the office and swung by to get them. Gabe Lewis, the broker I work under, and I gabbed a bit - I want a stand-up desk at like my friend Teylor Feliz - and at the first sign of a break in the weather I ran out!

But I was so excited that I wanted to distribute my new cards right away, so I stopped at the Starbuck's on Ambassador in front of Wal-Mart to drop some off. It started raining hard again, but yay my Evangeline Toastmasters buddies were there, the President and current VP of Public Affairs (well, current until now, hang on...). They also know my broker Gabe, both socially and he's a Toastmasters member too. They were super eager I showed up as they just were discussing how I should take over VP of PA and he should become VP of Education. And you know, why not? It's still in line with my "Determinational Speaking" spoke, and there's that inter-relation with my "Realtor" spoke, so just furthering the Monique Wheel right along. So, done!

And then I get home, and in the mail was a letter of official acceptance onto the City Parish-President's Awareness Committee on Citizens with Disabilities. I wanted on the committee as I am becoming more involved with city planning as a bicycle advocate, and we're only comfortable advocating for every "vulnerable road user", and hell I personally just need to be on this board. Sooooo awesome, this furthers my "City Planning through Bicycle Advocacy" spoke.

SO goes my life right now, budgeting my time and having clear goals moving forward for these individual spokes of my life. A little scared about the present I guess - really scared actually - but excited for the future. A good friend of mine who just moved away with his family that I adore :( (that's them here: Hy-Vee Kids Triathlon), told me about his super power. He can see what people are really thinking. He's surprised me a couple of times with that without even knowing. One thing he was very direct about with me was I don't trust things to happen right. I try to control too much. I start arguing, and he says, "Look at that tree out there. You see that tree? Is there anything wrong with it? No. It's a perfect tree. How can it be otherwise? Same with everyone. Same with you." That grounds me. I got really depressed last night, it happens, and eventually I thought about that and it calmed me. What if I just let go and let what's going to come of my life come about? It's too complicated, I can't know how all the pieces work together yet. But it will, there's no other way. Even my major stressor, money, is part of that. Patience, and hold the course. Look for blue not yellow. Thanks Mike.
I believe we all have a super power. Mine is something to do with seeing the bones of things, through all the flesh; and for always getting to the next step and being resourceful enough to figure out what the next step is. I'm still figuring out how to define it. Someone else's super power is knowing the end at the beginning, and making perfect decisions based off that. Somehow, he can tell where the talent of someone is leading. I'm convinced everyone has one, I like hearing about them. What's yours?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The School of Monique, and Niche Theory

 Transitions have started being a catch phrase for my life. I love the term because it makes me think of triathlons. I have a soft spot for triathlons. And heavy metal. Weird combination I know.

 I have several things going on in my life right now with two main objectives: running and making money. Running, because, running; and making money because I refuse to lose my house and my autonomy because of some random unlicensed driver. So I am literally working nonstop to make all this work. Nothing is 100% yet. But FTW I got this.

The Spokes of my Life:
Vet Med
Professional Speaking
Real Estate
City Planning through bicycling advocacy

My new thing to work on running is hypnotherapy. I hope you know by now that I don't believe in crap, but I do believe that to stop my hypertonicity I have to get my brain in the right place to correctly interpret the signals from my body getting garbled from my spinal cord injury. I believe this is possible with high repetition and lots of focus. I'll let you know how it goes.

The rest of my life, well, it's weird. I never have believed that everything happens for a reason but...maybe. Maybe not. I do believe that all the different little pieces in my life are forming a conglomerate in a way that I'm not fully aware of just yet, and I have to stay calm and keep on keepin' on for those things to come together to form whatever I'm becoming. Sounds weird? Let me tell you about something I learned in microbiology called "niche theory" (you didn't forget I was a nerd, right?) There's a lot of different definitions, but here's my general personal interpretation. Niche Theory - a species evolves and thrives in a way that fits the space in its environment. That's me.

The breakdown:
*Given my veterinary background and all the stuff I've already accomplished, that's my drive and my confidence. I'm currently looking for part-time and relief work. I love vet med, and even though it's not paying off right now I can't give up on it. I've got to dedicate even just a little of my time every week to keep up.
*Professional speaking - I love this! I am officially taking paying speaking jobs, contact me if you know somebody interested. My main focus is dealing with change, adverse or not, and the power of accepting and giving help; working as a team. I'll travel anywhere in the US, and out. I now recognize the value of my flexibility and how it's gotten me through all this, and I love to help people recognize that in their own lives.
*Real Estate - against my personal thoughts on how I thought this would be boring, I love it. It's not just about dressing cute and showing houses, it's about neighborhood and community building. I have gotten very emotionally involved in this aspect, and I love that I had the forethought to become a licensed Realtor and have this direct line with the citizens. I've just volunteered to be part of the local and state Cultural Diversity and Legislative Committees so that I can even further directly help the people I am working with. It's all playing into my bigger life plan which is helping my community be happy. I owe Acadiana, the people here have done so much for me!
*Being the new Executive Director of BikeLafayette that developed out of a horrible freaking experience from getting hit by an unlicensed driver, that's been maybe the best thing that could have happened out of this. The timing and place was great as Acadiana is moving quickly to being a happy and cycling/pedestrian friendly place to live. It puts me in a position where I can really influence the direction our city is taking. I LOVE city planning, it's caught me almost as much as vet med! I've been able to meet with various city planners ranging from the MPO/LCG, downtown Lafayette, and the coteries of the Acadiana neighborhoods. I am in a position where I can be a hub for various projects and things are already being accomplished. I'm now also helping head up a statewide bicycling legislation - Bicycle Louisiana if you will, name has not been decided yet! On both the local and statewide aspects we have decided that we will advocate for all "vulnerable road users" - bicycles, pedestrians, and disabled, and transit, - as what's good for one is good for all.

SO you can see, lots of new stuff for me to learn! Life is chaotic, but physics tells us that chaos will synchronize and spontaneous order will form. I have to be organized enough to make sure I focus on all these things, and put the time into learning it. I have a new notebook with 6 different areas that I call the BOOK OF LIFE to keep me on track. It really is like going to school and learning all these classes for a degree, I just don't know what that degree is yet. MoM - Master of Monique? ;) I've got to be successful financially and personally, I'm determined. I don't know the outcome yet...just focusing, working hard, and staying on track. What a nervous/exciting place to be! Life is all about being able to survive that strain to make it.

Hey I never said "artist" was part of all this! Love all of you!

Monday, October 20, 2014

BDv.37: Public Speaking and Triathlon Winning!

My favorite thing about this pic? Scars. That big one on my neck, the nasty one on my arm. For me this pic denotes the reason for persistence beyond disaster more than any of the others ever taken.

My birthday is tomorrow. I just read over my post from last year for my birthday, and it's a lot of the same thing; glad I'm not in the hospital, yadayadayada. I have gained weight since then, I was right on track with that one! My time for walking has not consistently significantly improved, but that's a matter of time right now. I talked about swimming 1000 yards for the first time since I was hit, and this year if they wouldn't have canceled it I would have raced 1500 open water. Here are the posts I'm referring to in case you're interested: October 2013 Posts

BIG things for me include continuing on this determinational (my term!) speaker path; that talk I gave to the UL Softball team solidified to me that that's what I want to do, speak with athletes and other determined people. My amazing friend Annette and I are going to give our first joint talk together this week for the UL Disabilities kids. We ROCK together; this is my favorite blog post of mine you should read it: 2014 (Inaugural) Zydeco Half Marathon Race Report by SPECIAL GUEST Annette Coussan (with commentary by me) ;) I am super stoked about this direction in my life and I'm going to start putting my effort into it, starting right now. It's been hard finding a direction to try to get income with, but I think overall this is a good one.

ALSO THE BIGGEST NEWS YET! This is what makes this birthday the best ever When I was racing, that brief time in my life before I was hit, I got 1st AG at the Miles Perret Triathlon at UL. Two days ago I did the swim leg of a relay team for the UL Tri, which is basically the same course. Mary Hays of GEAUX RUN asked me and Sarah Tennison, swim coach at Swim Fit, if we would do it with her. We came up with the name "TriAngels" because I love a play on words, and Sarah drew this awesome symbol for us:
SO cute, right? I had not met Sarah before we had decided to relay together, but she is so happy and charismatic, and focused; I loved her instantly. Somehow the three of us quickly made a winning team, and we WON the relay for this race! This is a non-sanctioned short sprint tri; 200 yard swim, 8.5 mile bike, and 2.5 mile run, so the competition isn't as fierce as for other races. Having said that, we were 18/106 OA (I'm going to include guys and girls), my swim was 82 (so I beat about 1/4 of the people there, and I thought I would be last!), Mary was 16th off the bike and Sarah 16th off the run. I've got some fast friends ;) But honestly, we pulled it together without ever racing together before and we rocked it. Love these girls, I hope there will be chances for us to work together in the future.

Mary going into T2


Sarah leaving T2

We're so awesome!

Jamie Blanchard is the super-sweet fiance of Dustin Duval, both are great people!
Doc Z I posted this pic for you, my favorite cycling jersey!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Newspaper Column on Bicycling

I started on with Lafayette's The Advertiser. Check it out! This pic is of my bike that was smashed up by that stupid car. It's name was "Crotalus" for two reasons: 1) It's the rattlesnake genre - do you know rattlesnakes have fast-twitch muscle fibers in their tails that never tire? 2) Crowie Alexander is a triathlete crush of mine. YAY look for it every Thursday at noon!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

10 Days Before the 2-Year Anniversary of When I Was Hit

October 1 is always going to mark 10 days before the anniversary of my failed attempt as a speedbump for a career (just stole that from Ian Fairclough, ha!)

My birthday is also in October, and my favorite holiday, and I love Fall and pumpkins and camping so it's not really a bad time for me, just thoughtful. Glad I'm not in a hospital missing my favorite time of the year. You know this time of year has the best sunrises and sunsets? Glad I'm strong enough again to tie my shoes and feed myself and limp, if not walk well or race. Glad I can swim. Glad I can raise my son. So far to go still...but anyway.

AND life is moving on. I renewed my vet license and I'm finding out I can do some things I didn't think I could, like pull blood and give vaccines. I'm also finding out that things that should be easy are do-able but hard, like suturing or neutering a cat. Putting on sterile gloves is my limiting factor, that's embarrassing. But I have good people to work with and I'm getting better. Most importantly I'm feeling good about my diagnosing and treating skills. I was worried I had lost them but I'm confident. The next step is relief work. So, I'm looking! There's a lot of good vets in the Lafayette area, but check out The Waggin Train. High quality medicine, super-sweet docs, and ME hanging out. ;)

I'm also now a  Realtor. It's hard to stay interested because not a lot is going on yet, but I'm stoked that I took the time out to learn a skill and get licensed in something that can give me at least supplemental income for the rest of my life. Gotta get that ball rolling more.

ALSO I am giving more talks again. I was just able to meet with the award-winning UL Softball Team. Besides for being amazing athletes and accomplishing so much on the state and national scale recently, they are incredibly sweet. Very proud to get to know them. I'm going to start marketing speaking engagements; I enjoy them and I like the connection I feel with the crowd. Toastmasters International, The Evangeline Club has been really great about getting me ready to do this, especially the President. So much good advice and direction. I'm looking at doing some along the Missouri River next summer, if ya got any leads let me know!

Which brings me to bikes bikes bikes. Because that's what's taking up most of my time right now. Now that I got a taste of freedom (I've worked or gone to school full-time or more since I was, well, since forever) I want a life where I can take off for even a month and travel. I'm planning the Lewis and Clark trail next summer.
Lots of my triathlon club members (I'm the head of the Tri-Cajuns Triathlon Club) are racing right now and I'm having fun watching them. I didn't think I would, I get really sad, but I love being surrounded by athletes and it helps me move forward. I do have a 1500 meter (0.93 mile) swim race in New Roads in 11 days, and I'm doing the swim part of a relay for the UL Tri with one of the owners of Geaux Run and the swim instructor for Swim Fit.
And I can't stress BikeLafayette enough right now! Such big happenings; this organization is growing so fast out of necessity and I'm proud to be part of it. It's a little overwhelming but it's fun to help the community in such a big way. The local government is even pushing hard for a bicycle-friendly community, which is great because we're working together and it's not an uphill battle. If you want to help support bicycling in Lafayette, and stay aware of all the progress, please go to the website and join. Increased membership is our next big step.

What I learned in 2 years. A lot, but this:
I'm not a fan of popular novels as a whole - they seem just deep enough to be interesting but always fall short of being real, but The Poisonwood Bible had something that really caught my attention. It takes place in the Congo and is written from the points of views by a crazy missionary's daughters and wife. A quote has stayed with me; one of the daughters said this about the Congolese: "Here, bodily damage is seen as a product of living, not a disgrace." That hit me hard, because I have been SO embarrassed by my injury. My weak hand, my limping. BUT that embarrassment is a product of our society, it shouldn't be a disgrace! It's hard to convince myself of that - that I'm still a beautiful and viable part of society - but I do believe it to be true even if I'm having a hard time internalizing it. And when someone cares more about your injuries and less about how you handle them...well, you're better than that. I care about how you handle all the craziness that happens in life, that is what always has been what is important. I care about YOU. I may even care about you more than you care about me but whatever, I know what I'm worth. Injury is a by-product of living. I'm not going to feel sorry for you. We got this.

Never too early to decorate for Halloween!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Up until now, I didn't have a real idea of what was going to happen. I was living in a daydream.
I'm not now, I know now what I want is not achievable.
Today, I start doing the impossible.
I even have a plan.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Hy-Vee Kids Triathlon Championship and Elite Cup

Last Thursday night Liam (aka Snakebyte) and I loaded up a Tahoe with two other adults, three other kids, and four bicycles to make the 14 hour drive to Des Moines, Iowa for the Hy-Vee Kids Triathlon Championship. The kids have to place in the top 15 of their age group to even go, so just the opportunity to race it was an honor! We all had so much fun and the experience is a life-long one.

SuperDad Mike Singletary with John Marshall, Will, Mia, and Snakebyte at the Iowa state line

Our young Schools of the Sacred Heart triathletes, almost there!

We checked into our hotel and immediately went to the expo for packet pick-up and the race briefing. The whole thing was incredibly well organized and a lot of fun. At the race briefing we got to meet pro triathlete Hunter Kemper, who also has four kids of his own and is the HyVee KidsFit ambassador. The kids got their picture taken with him. He's such a sweet guy! The next day on the course he was out there at the swim start cheering the kids on, and we witnessed him at T2 running over without hesitation and helping a little girl who had fallen off her bike. AND the following day, he won the HyVee Elite Cup with it's $100K purse!

Our awesome kids with Hunter Kemper at the expo

Hunter pep talking the kids before the swim start

We racked the bikes that afternoon and went to sleep asap, so tired! The next morning we finished tattooing up our kids and made our way to the race. John Marshall and Will both competed in the Intermediate group which is a 100 meter swim, 4 mile bike, and 1 kilometer run. Mia and Snakebyte raced in the Junior group, a 50 meter swim, 2 mile bike, and 500 yard run.

Liam aka Snakebyte Koll at his transition. He's very organized and his transitions were so fast!

Mike got this sneaky pic of me talking to Snakebyte, I didn't know he was taking it! I love it. I don't think we should live through our kids, but I'm so glad Liam is into triathlons and I can help him even though I can't -yet- race them again myself. 

Proud Mom KC and son Will Singletary at the swim start! Will has a genetic metabolic disorder called phenylketonuria but he's so tough you'd never know. Gotta brag on KC a sec too, she is an amazing mother and veterinarian. She and Mike are raising some independent and smart kids who accomplish things despite setbacks. The future generation is going to be great with personalities like these.

Mia Singletary - that's one girl who knows she's rockin'!

The Singletary kids race for Crawfish Aquatics and had great swims! This was Liam's first open water swim race and he got a little scared, stopping for a few seconds at a buoy. But then, he decided to start up again and race! To me this is the importance of the experience. My son, all on his own, gritted up his nerve and decided he was going to do this. I *may* have teared up when he told me about it; this is exactly what a kid needs to grow up as a confident adult and it is something that I could never give him, it's something he had to do on his own. Thank you HyVee for giving him that!

The bike course was changed due to flooding, and was changed to the better! All the kids at the end said it was a beautiful ride across the bridge and their favorite part of the race.

The 5150 race. Des Moines is beautiful.

The finish was fun! Mia high-fived everyone on the way in. They all did so well!

After the race we went to Zombie Burger and Drink Lab, so fun! And the Science Museum and watched a show about Great Whites at their IMAX. I really love Des Moines, wish we could have stayed longer.

Zombie Burgers! Fun fact: we loved this place so much that we went again for lunch on Sunday and ran into Rinny Carfrae, Greg and Laura Bennett, and other pros. SEE triathletes do eat!

We went back to the expo to watch the press conference with some of the pros. I got Snakebyte's picture taken with my personal fave Mirinda Carfrae, and with Greg Bennett.

We watched the elite cup the next day, so fun! They raced right past us going into T1, then we headed to the finish line where I, because I have a broken neck, was allowed to sit right at the finish line!!! Mike laughingly makes fun of me for using my broken neck as an excuse for Everything and he's right, I'm totally an opportunist that way ;)

John Marshall hanging out with me at T1

Hunter Kemper winning!

Helle Frederiksen winning!

I got some great shots at the finish line, and that's what I'd like to wrap up with. These guys and girls were all competing against each other for big prizes, and they were so sweet to each other at the end! Hunter holding his baby, sweaty hugs between the Bennetts and Carfrae, everyone encouraging each other and hanging out with each other as they recover from racing so hard. I love what kind of example that sets for our kids about good sportsmanship all the way to the top of the sport. In their respective age groups at the national championship - top of the nation - Liam placed 35th, Mia 31st, Will 51st, and John Marshall 49th. At the very height of their pride and excitement they witnessed the top triathletes of the world showing each other respect and comradeship. I'm really proud I could witness it all.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

I Need To Get Paid For Being Me (I'm pretentious I know!;)

HA! Well sorry it's been a while yall, my dog dying hit me hard, and things (good and bad) have been happenin, and I just haven't felt like blogging. But I'll get you updated.

BUSY. Here's what's happening coming up:
*Friday: Taking the test to get my real estate license, to have something to do while I'm convalescing. It's fun learning new things, and I'm really excited to work with the broker who I'll be under  - Gabe Lewis with Titan Real Estate. He's just a cool guy and I have a lot to learn. It'll be fun!
*Saturday: My great Aunt Anna is getting inducted into the Sugar Bowl Hall of Fame at the Superdome in New Orleans, and I'm giving the acceptance speech! So exciting!
*Sunday: Through Tues I'll be at the Association of Avian Veterinarians conference, to renew my vet license. My colleague Kat will be there and I haven't seen her since before clinical year. Stoked to show her my city!
*The Following Saturday: Snakebyte and I are volunteering for the Tour de Scott, the first triathlon I ever did! A bit attached to this race.
*The Following Sunday: BikeLafayette board meeting. This happens once a month but this is a big one for me for a couple of topics I'm excited about. Oh by the way I'm the Treasurer now.
*I was approached by a member of the Sierra Club at the Lon Lomas Memorial Ride (more on that in a sec) about a 55 mile bike trail on top of the Henderson levee that is already approved! Stoked! I'm gunning to get it paved, and I am very excited for those guys, they're doing a great job!
*ALSO, I met with "Red", the owner of Rukus skateboard shop here in town, about getting  the city to build another skater/BMX park to replace the Dust Bowl. UL bought the land, and while it's not happening quickly, they're are taking it (and the dog park) down. NOW is a good time to petition for it, with lots of good reasons! We can do better than the Dust Bowl anyway. Kids, need a place they can actually do something recreational and not just sit around or get in trouble. And did you know we have a nationally acclaimed skateboard team HERE in Lafayette? And Rukus even sponsors pros, but they can't live here, or come down and put on free events like they do elsewhere, because we don't have a place...ssssoooooo..... And Red has this pretty well figured out, too; cost, design, placement, petition with over 2000 signatures. He's put a lot of thought into it. Pretty excited to see it come to fruition.
DUDE, also, Rukus designed these Crawfish Boil shoes that Nike is releasing next month! Can't release all the pics yet but soooon! Rukus is having a shoe release party oh man should Definitely go! They even come with a little crawfish sack thing...stoked about them! And how awesome is it that a south Louisiana shop did this?
*My kid, Snakebyte. He's been practicing triathlon and is racing the Iron Kids Championship next month. That guy is fast! When he puts his heart into something there's no stopping him. We're planning on making the trip with the Singletarys who may be the most perfect family in the world. KC's a vet, so what do you expect? ;)

BUSY. Here's what I've done since we talked last:
*Lon Lomas was legally riding his bicycle and was killed by a hit-and-run driver. Driver was found, but this story is going to happen slowly. The local cyclists, headed up by Scott Coco, organized a memorial ride for him, and a ghost bike was erected. I was in a great position to advertise and promote it, and we had 500 riders show up. I Am Elated how all the different types of cyclists came together as one community and did this wonderful thing. I feel that this has taken a turn for cyclists in the public eye as a viable and loving community, and I am committed to taking that awareness and acceptance and promoting growth and education about cycling in the Acadiana area. My next step is starting a bicycling column to keep the public involved in cycling. It took a terrible tragedy to bring this together, but I always, as you should know about me by now, relish the good that comes out of bad.
*I joined Toastmasters. I just gave my first speech and I won Best Speaker award for the evening! Honored and humbled. Joel Dawson, the President, has been awesome about getting me on track making money giving speeches, everything from marketing to writing a book. It's been great. You guys, Toastmasters less than $100 a year and is invaluable information, you should join!
*I had my hair highlighted. You see, I've been gaining weight because I haven't been doing cardio as I should have, just muscle building. The only real cardio I can get in is on the elliptical or bike trainer and without a race to focus on it's boring. I was a little upset about it, then my friend David Billeaud (owner of T-Coon's) said, "But, you've been too skinny for too long..." And that's when all was good in my world again. I'm not racing weight, but I'm back on track with cardio, and I just can't bring myself to feel bad about myself over something like weight anymore. For better or worse. I say for better. I wanted a change, and highlighting my hair did it for me. I'd like to be a little more outgoing, outlandish. We'll see.

BUSY. Here's what's been ongoing:
*I've been brushing up on my vet skills at Waggin Train. This is a vet hospital owned by Drs. Scott and Kristin Broussard, who are also awesome triathletes. Scott's also a falconer, so cool right! I love these guys for giving me this opportunity. I'll be there hopefully every day starting in a couple of weeks. Come see me!
*Tony Quinn is a local PT, and he just got this new awesome zero-gravity treadmill which I've been using every day. It has been great, I can definitely move faster using it, up to normal walking speed. I'm at about 1.8 mph w/o it, and 3 mph with it. My right ankle and still right quads are my limiting factors. Hopeful...still down but hopeful. I'm still going to Wulf once a week, and my hand and balance are a little better every time. BUT my hand is only getting a little better, and he says he's not entirely sure I'll be able run again, in fact not likely.
Ever onward. I get down. Right now, I'm on the edge of feeling normal again but not quite there and it is exceedingly frustrating. First time in my life I've ever had trouble sleeping. Ever. This is honestly the worst emotionally I've been in my life. But there's so much good going on...things are complicated right now. Dang. Anywhere but here...this is why staying still is never an option.
*I've been hanging out with my best friend from the hospital more. He's been in a down spot and I have too. We're just not where we hoped to be in 2 years. We've decided to talk more and pull ourselves out of this funk. It's working, but no lie I've been crazy dog down about not being able to run. Dreams every single night, the seconds I can sleep. It's hard. See why I stay determined? It's not necessarily a good feeling all the time! It sucks a lot.

Here's a good wrap-up. This first pic I took about a year and a month ago and made it my profile Facebook pic. My first proof that I could stand alone without any assistance again. This second one I took this week. I have shorts on for both of them, can you see all the differences? I came up with four.


1) The first one, my weight shift is to my left. I can't feel my left as good as my right, and I would unconsciously shift my weight that way because that's what felt correct. Ms. Alyce Morgan Wise and her Franklin Method, along with Pilates, helped me find center again. I'm much better balanced now.
2) My knees were more turned in last year, my legs are straight while standing now because I am much stronger.
3) My right leg had lost a lot of muscle compared to my left. The difference is still there, but much more noticeable in the left pic. Anytime Fitness Upper Lafayette has really helped me with muscle building. I go five times a week, see my trainer Damien Living for two, and while muscles take months and even years to build the difference is remarkable.
4) My hair. Paige Billeaud, David's wife, really helped me through a lot when I was first hurt; heck for the last few years even. She brought me to get my hair cut short when I first got out of the hospital to make it more manageable. I agreed, because I vowed when it was long again I would be walking. I wasn't wrong and this pic proves it.
My son asked me today, did I really think he was going to be a champ? He's big into boxing though hasn't been in a real match yet, but everybody calls him champ and he wants to believe it. Our conversation: Did everybody know I could walk again? No, but I did. Not only does nobody else matter, but whatever you believe is what you are. I realistically know there's probably limitations to that but I've never personally found them and I don't suspect I will. Somehow there is more to life than everything realistic. Will over reason. I asked him what he thought, and he knows he's a champ. I know I will run again.
Scared I'm going to be a sad case that you really want to see run again but never will? Yes. But I have no choice, I'm not accepting where I am now, not ever.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Rebel. the post i wrote wednesday night that i hope i never have to publish

Whenever anybody dies, I remind myself of this quote from John Muir: Let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseperable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life.

I lost my constant. My life is a crazy mix of ups and downs; a long strange trip it's been.. In and out of countries and cities and situations, whirlwind of people and lives, and through it all, for over a decade, I had my dog. Everything must change, but he was my steadiness, my stability,  my sidekick that was at least as awesome as me. I got him on the day of my last final at LSU. He endured vet school with me. My first real job as a biologist, then as a veterinarian, and then as a mother. Then almost dying, learning to walk and to love again.

We want growing old and dying to be poetic and beautiful, but it's presentation isn't always so. Maybe usually not. He's been getting senile, deaf, lost his training, so much more. Went from my kickass partner-in-crime to a sleepy old man. He got into trouble he couldn't get out of when I wasn't home, got a bag stuck over his head. We found him laterally recumbant and non-responsive, hyperventilating, hyperthermic. I stayed with him all night, and while functionally he came around some cognitively he never did, and I euthanzed him in the morning.

There are sadder things than euthanizing your own dog. That knock you down worse, that stay with you longer. That first moment in...forever, walking into an empty house. Right? I don't know life without him, I wonder if it will spin out of control now.

But as always, as always, let the good of his life influence you and not the death. We will all be dead in a century, he is not special in this way. But he is special in the amazing life he was - I'm not exaggerating! An incredible dog. Examples: Diving in the Caribbean, he'd follow my bubbles; I could look up and see him paddling above me. Once we went snorkeling and chased down a Peregrine falcon. He saved my life from a burglar. Teaching orphans about dog safety and handling. So much more. I put some of them in these previous blogs:
Note to My Dog On His 13th Birthday
Note to My Dog on His 14th Birthday

If you've ever read my stuff about Reb, you know this is my favorite pic of him. There's so many more I'll get up when I'm up to it. Those blog posts have some good ones.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Let Me Tell You About the *FIRST* Time I Was Hit By an Unlicensed Driver

What's the chances of getting hit by an unlicensed driver Twice in a lifetime? Well, I really don't know & I don't believe in statistics -- don't get me started, BUT it's at least 1:(all the people you know)! HA! So here's the story of my first one!

My awesome Civic with it's beach-scene airbrushed on the hood. The license plate says "Curvy," which someone had changed to "Mikey has Scurvy". I still have that plate!

I was accomplishing my dream at the time, which was going to veterinary school! I had chosen Ross University on St. Kitts Island for multiple reasons. Partly because they had a high acceptance policy/fail rate, partly because I was single & young & the thought of moving to the Caribbean was Awesome, but mostly because they had the highest pass rates on the boards. They Also came with a huge bill. My student loans are $230K. Starting out pay for a vet is $40-$60K. Things to look into DURING planning for school, not after! Case in point from the New York Times:   High Debt and Falling Demand Trap New Vets

Where I was hit. RUSVM are those white buildings (poor me, right? Having to go to vet school There!;) That narrow strip of road in front probably still has scraps of metal from my car!

I loved my life, I loved where I was, and I was attending a fantastic school. I was living out my dream! Then one day I was leaving the school from the back parking lot and turning back into the front entrance to talk to the stationed guard about her new lovebirds. On St. Kitts, you drive on the left hand side of the road, and the steering wheel is on the right. That's when two buses (they're minivans, but are called buses on St. Kitts) entered the scene. They had just dropped off their kids - they were school buses - and were racing each other on this one-lane-each-way road that circles the island. I was making a right-hand turn (equivalent to a left turn in the States), blinker on, just starting to go. The first bus saw & zoomed around me, but the second one which was right on his tail didn't have time, and the bus named "Crucial Vibes" slammed into the back of my car going over 70mph. As an aside, the driver was unlicensed but was never prosecuted due to island politics, much like my more recent crash. Just as frustrating.

Here's a random story about my awesome car. One time I was driving down the road when suddenly the hood flipped up, then to the right and started dragging down the road, sparks a-flyin'. The left hinge had rusted through (all cars in the Caribbean are salt-rusted) and I had to bang it back in with a brick!

All crash pics from Dr. "LJ" Shank

I didn't have my seatbelt on and that's the only thing that saved my life. I Always wear my seatbelt, and this one time for whatever reason I didn't. Crazy! I was thrown from the driver's seat to the passenger seat, which was the only place in the car that was not smashed.

The passenger side, after they cut me out 

St. Kitts had a brand new "Jaws of Life" and this was the first time they used to cut someone from a car. An ambulance took me the short distance to the hospital, where no lie there were chickens and goats running through. A nurse tried to give me an injection but I kicked her to keep her away - I wanted to be fully alert no matter the pain! I had break-away glass in my eyes that my friends had to wash out for me. X-rays showed that I had a right clavicle "zed" complete fracture. Later I found out I also damaged my hip, but that was misdiagnosed (by a stateside doctor.)
NOT my radiograph, but might as well be! "Zed" fracture.

That hip injury started a Whole other thing, you can read about it & my racing here! My LZ Guest-Blog "Monique's Caught the Triathlon Bug"

I remember everything... The hard hard impact. Harder than anything I've ever felt. Lying there in the passenger seat, with my head out the window. Not being able to move my right arm. Glass in my eyes, blood.  I knew I was too shocky to feel pain. I didn't know if I was going to live or die. But then I thought, everybody I loved knew that I loved them, and I was IN vet school, which had been my goal my entire life. So, I was okay with dying if that's what was going to happen.
Since it happened in front of the school, everyone heard the crash. People showed up from everywhere; workers from the sugarcane fields, friends from the school. The support of my colleagues and the school faculty & staff was overwhelming, I'm brought to tears just thinking about it now! They followed me to the hospital.
I remember there was a shuffling outside of the radiology door & the nurse saying, "Fine! Only one of you!" and my classmate Lauren meekly came in. They knew I wouldn't be going home for a while, and you know, Rebel needed to be taken care of, so could it be her? HA! I've just been smashed up & they're worried about the dog! ;) I love them so much! (Lauren took very good care of Reb by the way.) (I also heard that Dr. Reich's first response was, "Was Rebel in the car?")

Coincidentally enough, my college friend and fellow Shotokan brown belt Sue Chin was coming to visit from the States the very day I was hit. She had to go directly to the hospital her very first day in the Caribbean! It was extremely lucky for me though because true to her nature she immediately took care of me (she's an MD now). Even though I couldn't even get out of bed on my own I was determined she have a good time, and after being in the hospital for a night, I was released & we headed down to my friend X's Shiggidy Shack to have Carib beer and "Ting with a Sting" - I had to start Sue off right! Wow, I just checked out X's website, he seems to be doing well! (meh, now the link's not working) Don't be fooled, he has a silly side, he's a Hasher! ;) Anyway, we traveled around the island, and various friends & colleagues of mine made sure she lived it up in the Caribbean! Such great people there. Sue and I stayed with a colleague, then the school's psychologist Mrs. "Turtle" Jane Sandquist sent her son to pack my bags & have me stay with her until I was better. That may have been my greatest time on St. Kitts because she lived in a beautiful house with the most beautiful property, had tortoises and mango trees and lovely grandchildren, a ton of books, and she is the most fabulous cook. My colleagues would bring me my studies and homework until I could get to school again.

I ended up failing Pharmacology by 0.4% (69.1 and needed a 69.5, Ross doesn't do "D"s), & I decided to take a semester off. I was disappointed that I failed, especially by such a small amount! I knew that I was going through a lot at  the time and it was an understandable thing to fail such a hard class under those circumstances, but I was inconsolable. However, I returned to school the following semester with a vengeance, and have excelled ever since! I had to keep trying.
Life sucks and it's not fair. But what do you do, give up? Fuck that. I wouldn't be a vet now.

Here's some Kittitian newspaper articles:

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Feeding Marshmallows to Alligators. I Wonder What Other People Do on Easter.

I'm sitting under a Bald Cypress on the lakefront on the Northshore, on this beautiful springy breezy day. Life life life can be soooo good. Always new adventures.

This morning was a feed-the-alligators marshmallows kind of time. I can't think of a better way to spend Easter.
You have got to watch this video

I've been pretty vocal about the whirlwind of change going on in my life right now. I'm feeling less anxious and more excited, more accepting. I made a vow to myself when I was a kid to experience everything I could in life, and meet all the different types of personalities I could. I guess it's still my goal. Like a sort of Dr. Doolittle.

My best friend in the hospital. Last time we saw each other we were both in wheelchairs.

I enjoy showing my son around New Orleans, where I grew up. We visited my godmother, went to City Park, saw my elementary school Kehoe-France, and hung around the Mississippi River in Rivertown, Kenner.

The world's first heavyweight boxing championship was held in Rivertown over 150 years ago. It was a bared-knuckle brawl in a makeshift ring on the levee. The winner was "Gypsy" Jem Mace. There's a statue commemorating the event.

It's been a good weekend. Happy Easter!