The Blessing of Life

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After I watched the very emotional clip of the Jimmy Kimmel Show about his son’s heart condition I realized the necessity to reflect on the blessing of my life more often. If you haven’t watched it please do. As I listened to him explain how his son was born completely fine and suddenly was surrounded by nurses and doctors only to find out there was a hole in his heart, it completely made me feel a sense of gratitude for being human. It’s not something we take for granted necessarily, but rather something we don’t really assess until something bad happens. We as humans have to have so much for us working in order for us to be healthy. There are so many things that could go wrong and so many parts of our bodies that we can’t even comprehend and somehow they all come together and make us a human.

As I took a moment to appreciate every single part of my being I thought it’d be an important time to share that with you all. I’m not trying to make a statement that we should always be conscious of our being because life truly is busy but instead, I’d like to invite you to in this moment think of how crazy it is that we are living, breathing, and sustaining life. We get stressed out, have anxiety, and have all gotten our feelings hurt before. We can teach ourselves to turn off that social part of our brain when we need to that tells us to respond to the pressures of society such as fitting in, having a good job, or making a lot of money. Instead, we train ourselves to remember that we are human. We are living. And we are lucky for just that. There are so many things happening inside of our body to make that happen and for us to not at least once remember that in good health is a devastatingly tragic regret we may have if one day our health does fail us.

When I was born, I had a tumor attached to my aorta. At under 4 lbs, I was sent to Boston Children’s Hospital all the way from Oregon. With a touch of two fingers on my tiny stomach, Dr. Murray Feingold immediately knew what was wrong and called for immediate surgery. With the tumor so close to a major artery it was never fully taken out but at nearly 25 years old, I am a very happy, healthy, and very very lucky patient. It’s nothing to be sorry about, I was quite too young to remember, of course. I can’t imagine what my parents were going through. I imagine it was toughest for them.

IMG_9197.JPGI have a scar that runs across my whole stomach and one year that never fully developed. I’m so lucky to look in the mirror and be reminded that I have a functioning body and that it needs to be appreciated. After watching this video, it was an extra reminder. Every Christmas I spend my day at Boston Children’s Hospital because as an important holiday for family, I want to be a spirit among those that have to spend that day in a place that reminds me that we aren’t all so lucky to be safe at home with our loved ones knowing they are healthy.

I have recently been thinking of how we never grew up learning much about our health. And our body. And the importance of being a human and how that works. Before we learn to tell time and understand that we run on a 24 hour day, shouldn’t we know what happens in our bodies in each second of every minute? It’s quite a lot, starting with a heartbeat. Isn’t important that from the day we are beginning our education we understand how precious each breath is?

As I digress I want to come back and just feel so aware that I don’t want to take my health for granted. Sometimes a job or a life situation makes us forget that our health determines every single other part of our life. Even if you hate your legs or don’t like the hair you were born with, at least have the self-love that you’re breathing and reading this, and sometimes that’s enough to be thankful for.

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In the amazing words of Jimmy Kimmel, “no parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child’s life.” I’m not quite sure how my parents were ever able to fly me out across the coast and get me to see the best doctor in the country without any money at all, really. I guess that’s a testament to their ceaseless, relentless love for me. I’m ending my night feeling covered in love and very thankful for my body.

Please email me on my website if you feel worried about your health or someone else’s or if you just want to talk. I’d love to hear your story.

Something Tells Me There’s Something Good Happening

My life has been filled with love. So much love I could explode. So much love that, even when people are mean, hurtful, or cynical I can still find a bright side and accept a person for who they are. We’re all here to do something extraordinary with our lives. We can take what makes us love hard and live passionately and turn it into an ambition that we’ll let no obstacle stand in our way. Our love comes from something in our adolescence that we’ve embedded in our hearts to love. Our passion stems from what hurts us most. When we hit absolute breaking point, to the point where we don’t think we can live on, but we do that’s when passion is created. The love and pain come from my family. My passion, my love, and my ambitions in life, all stem from my parents.

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We don’t choose the family we’re born into but I wouldn’t trade mine for the world. I’ve written about my dad’s drug addiction and about the pain of not being close to my mom over the years, but I really want to start this 2017 blog revival off with the things that I love about these two amazing humans who each have a story of their own that led them to where they are.

We all come from somewhere and somehow, no matter how hard life starts out, there’s something about our past that we can embrace and take with us on this journey to mold us into who we want to be. We’re a product of our environment and genes. It’s up to us to take what we’re made from, polish it, and embrace the heck out of it.

 

Here are some things that I love about these two people who made me: 

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My mom is the smartest woman I know. She knows every answer to Jeopardy and if you ask her about a movie she will have answers faster than IMDb. She’s never been the type to ask people for advice. Even if she’s conflicted, she sticks by her decisions and doesn’t turn to anyone for approval. I love that about her and I’ve never noticed till my friend recently pointed out that she loves how I just do things when I say I want to. I get that from her and I’ve never appreciated that about my mom till recently. She thrives on getting better. No matter how sick she gets, she loves to impress herself and go above and beyond what the doctors expect of her. I know a lot of people say their mom is the best cook ever but I challenge that. My mom is Mexican but gosh, does she cook Italian well. In fact, I didn’t even realize that most of our meals at Christmas were Italian dishes till I moved to North End and I correlated lasagna and stuffed shells to Italian. She’ll never sit down to eat with us because she’ll be cooking until everyone has had their dessert. I myself love cooking for friends and I now see the enjoyment my mom has when she did this for us. It’s about creating the conversation without even being there. You do it with a meal full of love and that’s the most rewarding part. My mom’s sense of humor is dirty and twisted, just like I like it. Most importantly, the way my mom raised me as a baby is something that will always amaze me. Watching the tapes of her talking to me and telling me to take care of my dolls, taking them for a walk and making sure to tell them they look beautiful. Her voice has more love than a lullaby when she speaks to me.

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My dad is the most stubborn and sweet man. It will always seem to me to be the 8th wonder of the world how a man so masculine can have a daughter and instantly melt into a cute teddy bear. I’ve never seen someone who would sacrifice so much for someone. Living in Allston, I remember a woman had locked her keys in the car and was crying and my dad made sure to help. I remember thinking of my dad as Superman from that day. When I scraped my knee riding bikes at the Charles River he told me he’d ride both bikes and I thought he was so silly, but when he rode his bike with one hand and the other hand on my bike, as I hobbled along I thought he was a genius. Whenever I’d have friends over, my dad would give my friends $20. He was so generous with money, he just wanted everyone to be happy and has never had an ounce of greed. School became the most important aspect of my life and that was because my dad put a value in my accomplishments at school higher than anything else. The only thing that my dad instilled that was greater than my education was my morality. Right and wrong, ironically, was something he didn’t take lightly. I remember sitting on the steps of our basement while he did laundry, explaining to me the importance of being honest and kind. Making sure to only use honesty as a way to better serve someone, and to not take actions that will hurt others. Brushing stress and negativity off my shoulders has been much easier remembering all the phone calls where my dad has reminded me not to make mountains out of molehills.

 

 

 

Reunited with my dad

My dad is free and I was able to see him for the first time in 5 years outside of prison walls. I received the phone call from my grandpa.

“Dads lawyer called, he said ‘congratulations, your son will be released tomorrow’.” I couldn’t contain my excitement, and the whole situation didn’t even feel real. I felt as though there was no way it could be real. I immediately left work and rushed to the liquor store to buy the best, most affordable wine I could. Then I rushed over to my dads lawyers office and hugged him for a solid 5 minutes.

It still hadn’t hit me that he would be free in one more day. The anticipation was killing me. I had to work my typical 12 hour day that day (Thursday) but my mind was wandering the whole time. At 8:45PM the host at the restaurant called me outside and it was time to see my dad again. 

It didn’t feel real but his hug was so comforting. In Russian he told me how much he loved me and we went inside and I introduced him to every single person who I worked with. Walking inside felt the realist like, wow I have worked here for 3 years and my dad is here for the first time right now. We had a great night talking and catching up and the next day we explored Boston together.

My dad has freedom now. It is a new start. When I look at my dad I do not have anything but love and appreciation for him. I do not ever hold it above his head that he has been absent for the five years because I feel so lucky that he is still alive. I do not blame him for missing things such as my high school and college graduation because I know that he needed these five years to become sober. He was given another chance and when I look at him I want him to be strong.

My dad has to be strong and I know I have no control over that. It is up to him to choose to stay sober but I will be supporting him on every step of that journey. I wouldn’t be where I am today without his support and love and the least I can do is love and support him back. If something were to happen I would not have any regrets. I can only control myself and I can only hope that my dads see the way I live and how happy I am and want to do the same.

So far things are going great. My dad is sober. He is no longer locked away. I no longer have to pay $50 to answer his phone calls and they will not be cut off at 20 minutes. I get to call him first. I am the luckiest girl in the world and I know that. I took a path of staying sober and I can’t imagine if I used my parents sickness as an excuse for my own because if I did I would not be sharing this beautiful reunion with my dad the same way.

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No Drugs: School Zone

Mon, 26 Feb 2007 

I haven’t stopped crying for 5 hours… this isn’t healthy I just want him back in my life and he doesn’t want to and I have to realise it:/ nothing is going to be the same again. I don’t even want to live anymore.

Continue reading “No Drugs: School Zone”

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Grace of New Beginnings

   Tonight I recieved a phone call from my dad at around 1030pm. It was surprising because in the past five years he would usually only call me before 6pm. I was excited anyway because I had just walked in the door from work and any earlier, I wouldnt have been able to answer. His voice comforts my soul, “Hi Baby-so!” he says. We know our time on the phone is limited so we instantly begin talking about everything important. First off my grandpas health, my health, his health, and about the other people we care most about. Then we talked about new movies my dad has seen which is funny because recently he has seen more movies than I have.
    We talked about my graduation and how proud of me he is and we talked about how proud my grandpa is of me. A couple weeks ago my grandfather compared me to the pope. My dad explained to me that in translation from English to Russian, being compared to the pope is a very big compliment. He explained to me how much my grandpa loves me and how we are all facing reality of his old age and his strength for staying well.
     I told him that I wanted to raise money for kids that have parents addicted to drugs. He told me a story about a family he once helped. He knew a woman with two kids who barely had clothes on their back. He had recently bought me a playstation 2 so he decided to give the kids the playstation 1 that I had now retired for the newest edition. “I have never been so hurt. When I went back to ask the kids how they liked it, the mother had already sold the playstation for drugs.” He told me what I was doing was very special and how important it is for these kids to look forward to something.
    Our conversation suddenly reached a topic I try to avoid. The reality of what is to happen when my father will be released from prison. It has been five long years and of course I am more than estatic to have my dad back in my life but I have become so comfortable with my way of living that it will be a hard adjustment for me to try to understand what he is going through in his head.
    “I want to make money,” he said. I told my dad that the most important thing for him to do is maintain his health and let me worry about the money and that I can help us both. Money comes and goes, and opportunity to make money will always be there, but our health is going to be especially important.
     “I cant believe I have missed out on 5 years of your life,” he said. I told him that he has been my motivation these past five years and that he cannot let his past dictate his future especially since it has felt he has been with me the whole time, in my heart.
    “I don’t want to start smoking again,” he said. This is where I began to feel a drop in my stomach and a knot in my heart. This is a thought my father was having and if this were a thought in his head, I knew that heroin was also.It isn’t to say that I did not know it was something he probably thought of every day. Subconciously we like to put the things that we know we cant change, and want to, in the back of our heads, and that is one thought I always try to bury far down.
    “I just remember when my mom was sick the last time and ….” He didn’t finish his sentence. His mother, my grandmother, was my dads best friend and her diagnosis of cancer was the beginning of my fathers relapse. She passed a week after being released from prison 9 years ago. I like to think he stopped himself because he knows this time will be different.
    “One minute remaining on call”. The prison calls always seem too short for what I must pay. We said our goodbyes and now I will have to wait to hear from him again.
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