Calling today an “anniversary” doesn’t quite feel right. An anniversary feels like a happy day, like a celebration. But today for me is filled with a lot of conflicting feelings. Anxiety, worry, fear, sadness, anger… all the “big bad uglies” (as I call them) gradually have felt more muted over the last two years – but – they always seem to climb to the surface as the day 7/11 nears.

BUT… as I sit here thinking back over the past year the big difference between my one year and my 2nd year anniversary is all the “positive emotions” like gratitude, joy, hope, pride and love BY FAR outweigh the negative. It didn’t come easy but I learned, not only how to move on from my stroke and the surgeries following, but I also learned how to CHOOSE the person I wanted to be after and the life I wanted to live. And I wanted to be the best person I could be and live the best life that I could. So I thought I might share with you how I did that in hopes that it might help you learn how to live your best life as well with me. I hope that my words might inspire you – whether you are struggling with health issues, find yourself being attacked by depression or anxiety or maybe you are searching for contentment in your life (I can tell you – I’ve faced all of these and you are not alone).

1. Make Your Health A Priority

I didn’t necessarily have a stroke because I was unhealthy (For new readers – I had a stroke because I had a hole in my heart and was born with a blood clotting disease as well as a variety of other heart issues leading to a pacemaker implant. A clot most likely developed on my pacemaker wires, broke off and then traveled through the hole to my brain causing the stroke).

While I wasn’t unhealthy, I will be the first to admit I didn’t make my health a priority. I worked out sporadically and pretty much ate whatever I wanted. Guess what people… you get ONE BODY. Screw it up and you don’t get another. How you treat your body NOW is going to determine the shape that it’s in when you get older. Be sedentary now and how do you think your body is going to move later in life?

So what do I do now? My friend, Kim Chanler, is basically my health coach. She puts together work outs for me and for the first time in my entire life I meal plan. She puts together a custom meal plan based on my weight goals and calculates all calories and macros for me. I’m planning a separate blog post to tell you more on all of this but bottom line is I make my health a priority because I value my body and I want to live a long, ACTIVE life with my family. P.S. Kim is accepting clients so if you want to chat with her just message me.

The inside of my chest now – a pacemaker, implant covering my hole in the center and lots of wires. I like to joke that I’m a robot! 😉

2. Re-Prioritize

I can’t even tell you how much this one shook my life up this year. In previous years I was running around like a crazy person trying to do everything. I wasn’t doing anything very well and was short tempered with my family constantly because I was exhausted. So one day I started looking at everything I was doing and I started asking myself: a) Is this important to me? b) Will it matter to me later in life or contribute to my life (or my family’s life long term)? c) What IS the most important to me? And the thing that was the most important to me over and over again… my family. So I started to finally, TRULY learn to say no to what really didn’t matter long-term and focus on what did.

I focused on my family – I declined events to spend more time with them. I joined the PTA board because I wanted to be involved in my kids lives and be their best advocate. I put down work to go to the movies and planned playdates.

I also took a good, long look at my business. My professional success is important to me. I love my blog but, if I’m honest, it isn’t a good income source. I wanted to contribute more to our children’s future as well as our own so I flipped the prioritization within my company putting the PR side back in the forefront. I’ve signed on several new clients, including one of my biggest clients ever and things are rocking and rolling there! Yay! It all didn’t come quickly (and don’t worry I’m not giving up blogging completely) but it’s a good balance now that makes more sense.

3. Choose to be Happy

I’ve preached this so many times on the blog you are probably tired of hearing it. But this is a CORE BELIEF of mine. We get to CHOOSE to be happy. Do I still on occasion worry I might have another stroke? You bet I do. Do I get anxiety about my health long-term? Heck yes I do. I’ve got a chest packed with wires and two implants. Sometimes I feel the anxiety set in and depression come creeping up but I CHOOSE to NOT let it take over me. I CHOOSE to give it to God, stop worrying about it (because there is nothing I can do besides what I’m already doing) and I go do something that makes me happy and stop fretting over it. Now I certainly recognize that anxiety and depression can be generated from other issues such as hormonal imbalances, etc. So please know if you are facing depression along those lines take time to get help. That’s also a part of choosing to be happy – we can choose to ask for help.

4. Live with Intent

I think all of the above are a part of this but living with intentionality is a game changer. Try going about your day INTENTLY focusing on being the person you want to be. Examine yourself. Evaluate your life. And then focus on what you want to change. Find your passions in life. Have a purpose in life. Set goals and go after them. It’s your life so take an active position in defining it.

5. Love and Love A Lot

Time to get all mushy. Every single day of my life I tell my husband and my children I love them. My dad used to tell me, “I love you more than waking up in the morning.” And I understand what that means now. I’d do anything for them. It’s hard as parents. We get up, make meals, clean up after everyone, rush to and from sports practices and birthday parties, go to bed and do it all again. It’s exhausting and there are days when the kids fighting gets the best of me and I catch myself yelling or saying something more harshly than I intended. Heck, I’m human. But I try to make it right as soon as I can and I always try to show and tell them how much I love them.

Tell the people you love that you love them. Speak kindly. Call your siblings, parents, grandparents and friends on the phone to ask them how they are. Give lots of hugs. Make time to have lunch with your girlfriends. Treat strangers with kindness. Don’t live a cynical life looking for the worst in people but look for the best. Because we never know if we are going to wake up the next day.

6. Live In Faith and Gratitude

Maybe the most important of everything is throughout the last two years I’ve become stronger in my faith and closer to God. I wouldn’t have made it through without His strength and healing. Go to church. Read your Bible. Pray with your children. Want to live a better life? START HERE!

And be grateful. Grateful to God, your family, your friends, for the job you have, the roof over your head and the food on your table.

Lovelies… it’s been TWO YEARS since the worst day of my life but now I’m living the best days of my life. Not every day is awesome and fabulous – but almost every day is pretty darn good. So maybe I was wrong when I said it didn’t feel like an anniversary – because it is a celebration. It’s a celebration of life.

I always say this but thank you for all the prayers you gave me and your endless love and support that you show me. My gratitude never ends.

Sending my love to you all and wishing you the best life!

RELATED POSTS:

The Day I Had A Stroke

Stroke Recovery

Making It To Tomorrow

Breathe In Peace and Exhale Worry

Letting Go

Words of Encouragement

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3 Responses

  1. Lori D.

    That’s really an inspiring testimony Tori. I admire your strength and your honesty to share your story. This summer, I have started walking\running with one of my adult daughters and it has been the best thing for both of us. I think you are so right that we have to make our health a priority. Too many times other things have gotten in the way when I needed to exercise. Thank you for your article.

    Reply
  2. Kim Munoz

    Yes to a celebration of life! God is good! You are an amazing source of inspiration to me and everyone around you! I think of you and this journey often and I am reminded to keep on living life! Every day to the fullest! I think I might need a health coach soon. Trying to do it by yourself when there are medical roadblocks to work around is hard. And I’m not going to lie, after having a heart attack while working out, I’ve kinda been avoiding getting in a good sweat. But I think its about time I get back on it. Thank You Tori for sharing your story with us.

    Reply
  3. Raj

    Hi Tori , Your story is truly inspirational. I salute your courage and zeal to live. Yes, we have to focus on our health, food habits, exercise. One never knows what will happen tomorrow. I drink a cup of warm water with lemon/lime juice o empty stomach every morning followed by a cup of green tea. I take a long walk while returning back home after work. I wish you a healthy life ahead

    Reply

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