Inspiring Women Everywhere: what keeps holding you back?

IMG_3165-2.jpg

1/2 Ironman 70.3  relay race, 21.1K completed at Mont Tremblant, QC.

 

I’m 62 years young and figured this might be my last long distance race: are you kidding me!!  I loved this race, even though it is one of the toughest I have ever run because of all the hills (it’s ski country!).  You are never too old to start something new, and I have proven that.  I have only been seriously running for just 10 years now.

What holds you back in one thing, holds you back in everything.  Set a NEW GOAL for yourself for your health and fitness.  Just because it is summer, doesn’t mean you should slack off.  Take baby steps to get you where you want to go, even if that means enjoying your summer and modifying your goals.  If your goals are too big you might just be setting yourself up for disappointment.

This year my goals were to run the 1/2 marathon and another event in September that is even longer.  I could hardly train this past winter so I decided I could run/walk and still qualify for finishing (and I did!).  For some reason this year I was just so full of energy, power and determination and I did better than I expected. I know feeding my body proper nutrition is key to feeling youthful, and I added some new nutritional products that just might have put me over the top!  I can’t wait for my next event end of September, the 26.1K Commander Run (5K+21.1K) Army Run. I get to run beside real heroes in life who just want to be thanked for their service and not put on a podium.

If you are looking to improve in any area of your health, weight loss, endurance and performance or healthy aging, I’d like to help you get there. I like to educate people one at a time and give them real ideas they can incorporate into their busy lives.  Not everyone gets what I do, so I don’t mind if we just chat.  Isn’t it time you put yourself first? I have coached over 1100 people individually, free of charge!  If you like my recommendations then it is a win/win situation.  It’s your health ~ and it matters!

Palm Springs

Widow Back On Track in 3 Months

Five years ago while visiting my sister one month after just being widowed, I made a decision: I decided I was going to stop the pity party and get back on track with my life.

Losing a spouse so young was difficult and I knew I had to shake off the fog of sorrow I was buried in.  Everyone experiences grief differently, however a loss is a loss and a broken heart hurts no matter how strong you are.

Having family and friends to support you is important when going through a loss.  My sister had lost her marriage of 30 years, but re-married again and understood to some degree my pain.  Losing a loved one who dies is much different than a divorce, but a loss is a loss.  I asked my sister for advice and she was amazing: both my sisters have been.

I know many reading my blog may be going through different stages of loss and grief right now and struggling.  I chose to live in the present, rather than in the past, however I didn’t arrive in the present right away.  It may take time to figure out what you need to do also.

I am much wiser, stronger and much more confident as a woman because I was prepared for that horrible day when I learned my husband was going to die soon.  I believe a few key things I was doing at the time prepared me for my huge loss.  My finances were in place, (both of us shared family budgeting), we had Wills and I had family that loved me unconditionally.  I was a “together girl” from my youth and I knew I would adjust eventually: I just never thought I would be in a another loving relationship six months later!

I needed to grieve and I did for awhile then found myself thinking about love again.  I wanted a friend, a male friend because I was lonely and alone. I wasn’t actively looking for a mate, rather I was projecting a feeling of confidence that I was getting my life back, and as a result I attracted another widower into my life.  Some say that is way to soon, while others say “good on you!” Peter became my friend first because he understood my pain and that friendship grew into love.  He wasn’t expecting what happened next to him also, but we have accepted our fate.

It is so difficult to be all alone after you are widowed. Your friends stop inviting you to dinner parties because they are just not sure how to act or react to you at that time.  You are not part of a couple anymore and it hurts and is hard to adjust to.  Finding love again came unexpected, especially because I was so in love for 34 years with my late husband, I still am.

There is so much loss that people don’t realize, not just the loss of your loved one.  The loss of lifestyle, friendships and in my case also my home.  I’ve moved 12 times since  2012: another story for another day.  I do have a wonderful, happy ending which I’ve shared in my book called “Love Found Me Twice.”  You can read the first 50 pages for free if you go to www.changinglives.solutions

“Love Never Dies”, a phrase coined by Blair Robertson, psychic, medium I met several years ago.  When you experience the loss of a loved one, do what ever you have to find peace with that loss, do not judge yourself or let others judge you for you are not really aware that some of the decisions that you are making may not be at the right time.  I was once given the advice not to buy a new home within the first year of being widowed, or change your lifestyle right away.  I would agree, that is good advice.  Did I follow it?  No, and I have no regrets because of where I am today.  If someone hasn’t walked in your shoes, then how could they possibly know how you feel or think.  Just do your best and that is all that you can ask of yourself going through a difficult time.

Begin and end your day with an attitude of gratitude and better days will be ahead ~ I know they will.

Survivor’s Guilt

10984528_10152782650499016_349880005645931066_oWhen is it okay to start dating after the loss of your spouse?

In 2012 I was widowed at the age of 55.  My late husbands Melanoma skin cancer had returned after 22 years and took him quickly within 4 months of diagnosis.  I was devastated, yet I knew I was too young to live the rest of my life alone but the thought of being with another man just didn’t sit right with me.

Survivor’s guilt settles in quickly once you are left alone after everyone returns to their homes and jobs, except you ~ the widow.  You start to feel guilty because you didn’t do more, or your should have done more, or you couldn’t do more.  Why am I alive?  Why did he have to die so young?

Perhaps you can relate and have experienced something similar.  These feelings of guilt are quite normal.  How we move past this guilt and when become the bigger question.  I recall thinking about this on New Years Eve 2012, just three months after being widowed. I was not going to drag my sadness and loneliness into the new year, and from the stroke of midnight I resolved to wake up the next day with a totally different mindset.

Having the right mindset and setting goals got me through so much in life so far, so I set out to make some small goals for three months.  Little did I know, that that positive attitude would turn my whole life around and within six months of my husbands passing I would meet another widower and start a new friendship.

The very idea of being with another man still haunted my thoughts however, but I missed real conversations and the warmth of human touch.  I enjoyed our dinners and chats before our group grief counselling sessions where we met as I wasn’t feeling so alone anymore; he understood my tears, my moods and my loneliness.  Survivors guilt returned in a bigger way, a way that took me completely off guard.  I’m a very strong woman, but the very thought of falling in love so soon scared me.

I loved my husband of 34 years, he was the love of my life and we had two children together and a wonderful marriage.  People often said “You are an amazing couple, the way love was intended.”  So how could I possibly be feeling anything for someone else, especially so soon?

We don’t pick the times in our life when change happens: change happens because of life.  Finding support among my family and friends was paramount and the only thing that got me through those horrendous waves of survivors guilt.  My good friend Ron gave me the best advice, he said “Life is for the living, and if I should die before my wife, I told Bonnie to hook up with one of the pallbearers.”  Now this might sound awful but at the time I was feeling so much guilt, I remember thinking how this statement made me feel better about being in a new relationship; not everyone thought I was a bad person, or that “it was too soon” etc.  Grief is individual: we all grieve differently.  I later went on to re-marry this widower three years later and to this day we never forget our spouses, those special anniversaries and went on to write books about our stories: “Love Found Me Twice” and “God’s Gift of Another Angel”.  Their pictures adorn a special room in our house where we can all still remember.  Our family and friends think it is wonderful that we publicly always talk of them in such a loving way.  Just because someone dies doesn’t mean you have stopped loving them.

Remember that love never dies.  Surviving the loss of a loved one is huge, but just know that if the tables were turned that you would want your surviving spouse to be happy again.  We only have one life to live!

Ultimate, Inspiring Survivor

 

17361569_10154482217039016_1887953812514904797_n

My Mom – 1 year before her 95th birthday.

Today would have been my mother’s 95th birthday.  She passed away 6 weeks ago.  I like to think of her as the ultimate survivor, because she endured so much loss in her life, yet was able to pull things together, bore 6 children and married 72 years.

Reading this I am sure you can relate to a similar loss in your life.  Perhaps you lost your parent, sibling, spouse, child, other relative or friend.  A loss is a loss and we all grieve differently.  My condolences to you if you are dealing with a loss right now.

My hope for you reading this is to know that better days are ahead.  These days are going to be tough, there is no doubt about it.  We miss our loved ones and not seeing or talking to them is hard.  Yes, we can talk to them in our dreams, in our thoughts and watch for signs that they are listening, but it doesn’t replace having them alive with us.

Keep this in mind: yesterday is the past, tomorrow is the future and today is what we must focus on.  You might sail through your grief quickly as I did with my late husband over 5 years ago, but you will never stop loving or missing them.  I decided soon after I was widowed, that I must be strong; stand up on my own two feet and move forward.  That might look different for you, and that is okay; we all grieve differently.

My mother lost her own mother at age 12.  Then soon after her father remarried and then enlisted in the army leaving her and her younger brother alone to deal with getting used to her new step-mother.  She lost most of her childhood, her sense of real family and fun.  The fond memories she shared with the mother she adored were replaced with tears, loneliness, anger and frustration.  Who could blame a young girl for any of these emotions; she was just learning how to deal with her own loss, her own grief at the time.

My mother is gone now, but the lessons in life she taught me live on.  She was tough on me, tough on people and was a tough woman to love unconditionally. She lived through the Depression and those tough times taught her how to be tough, frugal and to put herself first, because if you don’t put yourself first, then who will?  She never lost her regrets from the past and carried them forward into her future, living day by day in fear of being abandoned again or punished for something. Today we have a health care system that helps people deal with their loss and grief much better I feel.  My Mom just learned how to cope and deal with her losses on her own, and for that I think she is the ultimate inspiring survivor.

I admired my mother for enduring so much in her life while at the same time I resented her for being the tough matriarch of our family.  But that is the past. I just wanted to be liked and have friends pounding on my door to play with me.  I think people are often misjudged for their character or loss of character. If we only walked in their shoes for a day, I truly believe we would save more people from a lifetime of depression and illness that can be prevented.  It is much more socially acceptable to talk about stress and depression.  I myself contemplated suicide after a traumatic situation in my 40’s.  Fortunately I sought help and that is in my past now.

I am living for today and remembering the sweet smile you see in this photo above of my mother.  She wasn’t one that would shine to silliness.  Rather, she was the strict one of my two parents.  Somehow I managed to convince her that day to put this silly hat on with the red braids.  Maybe it was because she had flaming red hair, like Anne of Green Gables growing up (auburn as we call it) and we were joking at how white her hair was now compared to the old days.  I really don’t remember exactly, but I love her for letting me have fun with her that day.  It is one of my favourite photos of my mother in her last year because she was smiling; something I didn’t often see from her, because she was hiding her pain from her past and internally always dealing with it.

She suffered a great deal physically in her last year with back and leg pain and was hardly able to get around without her wheelchair or assistance.  She always wanted to live to a ripe old age and wasn’t really ready to give up the fight when faced with the inevitable.  She was remarkable in her final days facing her demise with courage. She taught me a lot about courage as a little girl growing up and as a grown woman, while I sat bedside with her in her final hours.

When we lose someone close to us, we must let them go, but on your own terms. Just let them go and not drag them with you into the future, because today is for the living.  They will always be in your heart and when you close your eyes at night in your dreams.  To help you understand the process of grieving better, I highly recommend reading “Understanding Your Grief” by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D. This book helped me tremendously understand some of my delayed grief, that I experienced three years later.

Please find strength in knowing that love never dies.

 

Sink or Swim!

 

 

Surviving one of my worst fears

I was on my honeymoon with my second husband Peter, in Bora Bora, Tahiti in 2016.  We wanted to experience as much as possible for I knew we’d likely not return to this beautiful place again.  Peter loved to scuba dive and was a natural; I was a total mess.  I was nervous from the moment I woke up that day, because of one of my deepest fears being claustrophobia and drowning.  I just knew somehow though, that if I could put aside that fear, I’d get through it.  Have you any fears?  Flying, deep sea diving or just leaving your home for the day to go shopping?  I’m hoping my post today will inspire you to conquer your fears somehow.

The morning was beautiful and the bus ride to the launch site really showed us so much more about the island than we could have imagined.  The mountains in the background, the vegetation and the shacks that appeared to be dotted along the coast line outside of the tourist resort areas, like the one we were vacationing at.  We finally arrive to our launch and our instructors/guides took us out into the ocean to a spot they obviously knew very well.

We had our “before” pics that scared the heck out of me, because she said “just in case, for insurance purposes.  Not a good way to start off I though, but I ignored any red flags that were trying to go off in my head.  I am know as a worrier, so I just wanted to put that aside for the day.  Our instructor guiding us down off the boat into the aqua blue sea below us, one by one to a rope below the surface of approximately 20 feet deep. It might not sound that deep to most, but with a 300 lb cast iron helmut on top of your head and shoulders, I could feel panic starting to bubble up under mine.

We were given mesh bags full of bread to wear around our necks, so we could feed the fish once we settled below.  I couldn’t understand how others weren’t scared and by now I was forgetting everything the instructor had told us up top.  I was about 7th in a group of 12 to defend into the deep. It was for a few seconds very beautiful and calming, but  within moments fish started to peck at my bag on my chest making it hard to see in front of me where I was going.  I started to feel alone and the weight of the helmut, plus I was having a hard time seeing as my helmut started to fog up.  I held the helmut with one hand on my chest and wasn’t going to let go for one second for fear water would seep inside.   It was bad enough that I could feel the water nipping at my chin already.  There was no oxygen tanks, only the oxygen inside your helmut that gave you air to breathe.  I wanted out of this thing badly and back up to safety of the surface!

Our guide noticed I was in a bit of distress and singled to me to go back up. I worried I’d lose my breath before we got to the surface, then suddenly her hand reached inside my helmut to wipe away some of the fog blurring my vision.  Now at least I could see the ladder before me. You couldn’t move very fast in the water and I was wishing I hadn’t gone on this excursion in the first place.  She was very gentle and assured me with her eyes I would be fine.  Once on the ladder, I was able to climb to the surface where her partner helped me take the helmut off.  She then quickly explained to me that I was breathing too fast and hyperventilating, fogging up my mask and that I should try to relax and decide if I wanted to go back down one more time.  I hesitated for a few minutes then thought; I didn’t fly 10,000 miles for nothing, so I said yes!

Once back down I felt a calmness about me this time, realizing that I was okay and that I just needed to breath normal.  Peter was waiting down there for me and grabbed my hand along with the guide who took me over to this rock with coral and little tiny fishes. I was able to touch some of the vegetation that felt like velvet and witnessed several tiny yellow and orange fishes swim in and out of their safe haven.  Then a beautiful stingray swam around us all. We had been told that there was a friendly stingray that just might appear, and to enjoy her visit if she came.  It was an incredible.

So yes, I still have some fear of drowning and claustophbia but I won’t let it interfere with all that life has to offer me.  I have to learn to take instructions better and decide if it is something I really want to do. No one forced me that day to go, I actually was the one that picked that activity when Peter knew my fear and said we can do anything you want.  I just knew that I would regret it if we didn’t get to experience this underwater adventure.

We all have choices in life to make when it comes to our own personal space and safety.  I know when we face our fears dead on and trust in ourselves that everything will be okay, then it will be.  I tend to overthink things sometimes, so one of the greatest lessons I am learning with gratitude for Peter, is to go with my gut instinct and not over analyze.  If I hadn’t said yes to returning down below, I would have missed out on seeing those beautiful fish, the colours and feeling the peacefulness of being one with nature.

What holds you back, can hold you back on everything.  The fear of failure, the fear of rejection, or the fear of disappointment.  Once you start to conquer your fears one at a time, confidence returns and you can do anything you put your heart and mind to.  I am so grateful I learned very early on in life as a youngster how to survive my fears.  Conquer yours and live your best life!

Survivors Empowered!

cropped-21753197_10154679835216415_3458730131264568563_o.jpgWe all begin life as survivors

The odds of us making it into this world are 1 out of 400 trillion, so every day you breathe, you are a survivor already!

Perhaps you have already survived many losses throughout your life, the loss of a career, a loved one, your own health or loss of a relationships or financial security.  What doesn’t break you, makes you, they say.

Let’s take a closer look at the picture of this young man above with no arms and no legs, completing a turn on a skate board during a 1/2 marathon race in the 2017 Ottawa Army Run.  He looks happy, free and confident.

There is a secret to surviving just about any obstacle thrown your way; some call this gratitude or appreciation for life at all costs.  Every single day you wake up, start your day in gratitude and before you go to bed at night, give thanks and gratitude for things that you experienced that very day.  Writing gratitudes down in a journal is highly recommended so that you can review on those days when you really need a little boost.  Even on your worst days, find something to be grateful for.

I have been mentored by several millionaires who all believe in the “attitude of gratitude” principle.  When you focus on what you don’t have, you attract more of the same, so focus on the positive and be grateful for the lessons learned.  Remember that like attracts like.

When this lesson was first taught to me, I found it hard to put into practice at first, so if you are doubting it, just know that is normal.  Surender to the process and judge after wards if this slight change makes a difference in your life.  You can turn your worst day into a great day with this principle.

As an example, I remember a story by David Wood, personal development trainer and millionaire who shared with his audience that he had been in a very bad car accident while driving his young sons sitting in the back of his car.  They had been broadsided at an intersection and his car was totalled.  David immediately checked to see if his boys were okay and they were.  That was his main and only concern.  Then out of the corner of his eye he could see the other driver standing outside his own car examining the damages and appeared to be irate.  David calmly approved the other driver who was really upset and what he had done, and of course the damages to both cars.  David, in his calm demeaner said to the guy “are you okay?”.  The guy looked stunned and said “yes!”.   The guy looked at David straight in the eyes and said “Are you not upset?”  David replied, “No, my boys and I are unhurt, and that is the most important thing here to me today.”

This calm reaction to a very bad accident was able to calm this upset driver down, and as David put it, probably changed his whole world that day.  Most people might blow up at a situation like this and respond very differently, but David lives by this belief.  I have never forgotten that story and lesson.  Look for the positive in everything.  Live with an attitude of gratitude.

Back to the young man skateboarding with no limbs.  Surely he must have had so much to be angry about when his limbs were blown off with an exploded IED.  The months it took him to learn how to adapt and heal alone would have been agonizing.  We take for granted a lot of things but losing your limbs is not something anyone plans for.  Imagine how upset this young soldier must have been.  Yet, I was left in awe of this young veteran because I could see pure happiness on his face as he skated around that turn, while I was struggling with a few blisters on my feet that hot, Fall day running my own race. Suddenly I was feeling grateful instead of agonizing over the pain in my feet.  He obviously found his reason to live a full life and likely if asked I am sure he would reply that he was just simple grateful to be alive.

What are you grateful for today?  What negative thoughts occupy your mind when you wake up?  What can you turn around into a positive ones?

My world is full of gratitude and I practice that “attitude of gratitude” daily.  Even on my most challenging days I do my best to look at the bright side. That’s all that is expected, nothing more or less.  In 2012 I lost the love of my life, my late husband Luc of 34 years to Cancer.  There hasn’t been a day since that I regretted anything that we did in life, or that he was gone too soon.  I was simply grateful for the years we spent together because we experienced love the way it was intended.

As I write this I want you to find it in your heart to forgive someone, or forget something petty.  It does not serve you to harbour anger or resentment.   We have one life to live.  Live your own life on your own terms and always be grateful.

Please subscribe to my blog by clicking on the link to add your email address so that you can hear more inspiring survivor stories of my own, and those of people who have crossed my path and uplifted me, especially when I needed it.

Have a wonderful day!!

The Journey Begins

 

 

cropped-thumb_img_2544_1024.jpgTo survive and inspire leaving a legacy!

As I begin my blog I first want to WELCOME YOU! Now, you are probably wondering if we have anything in common and I do want to make a good, first impression here.  Let me assure you, that if you have ever survived anything in life, then yes, we already have things in common.  You see, to survive anything is truly an accomplishment, however to survive and inspire is a legacy worth talking about! 

I believe we are all capable people and survivors of many things.  I want to feature stories of true survivors who have inspired me, and share some of my own personal triumphs to hopefully inspire you.  I have experienced a great deal in my life and learned several, survival lessons along the way that made me who I am today.  I have been described as strong, empowered and determined.  These descriptions I won’t deny.

We all have fears and while you likely have already conquered yours, I want to be able to give you more hope and inspiration for what could be your biggest challenges yet!

I’ve always had the “can do” attitude, believing if you put your mind to doing anything you will succeed.  Like the determination it took to train for my very first 1/2 marathon and later my first 1/2 Ironman, timed relay event in 2015.  I believe you can accomplish anything, it just takes is belief, believing in yourself first, then will power, planning, training and goal setting.  Never, ever take your eyes off the prize!  Your belief in yourself has to be so strong, because of the bad days and if you don’t believe in yourself first, then who will?

The idea of starting a blog post on Inspiring Survivors was born out of the love of story telling.  I know I have been inspired on so many fronts by others, champions in their own right from a quadruple amputee, to a successful millionaire who was diagnosed with a deadly disease.  So if I can inspire someone just 1/10th of what I have been inspired, then starting this page will have accomplished a great deal more than you can possibly know.

Please leave your comments in the comment section and sign up for my regular, inspiring blog posts.

Ultimate Survivor; Conquering my fears!

sueironman

Maximum Drive Solutions
Sue Lebrun
Owner and CEO | Maximum Drive Solutions
mobile: 613-266-7743
site: www.suelebrun.com
email: sue@suelebrun.com
address: Calabogie, Ontario, Canada