Friday, February 28, 2014

Why I Started Blogging..

The past couple of weeks Friday's have been my time to share with you all my favorites from the week. Today, however, I am going to focus on just one thing I've been loving which is actually blogging itself. There are a few reasons why I chose today to focus solely on blogging and why I started:
  • Today marks one month of blogging 
  • Today is Rare Disease Day
Bullet #1 I'm sure makes complete sense and needs no explanation - celebrating one month of having a blog - but I can assume you may all be wondering what the latter has to do with anything.

Well, it is a reason as to why I started blogging and why I specifically chose motivation and inspiration as my focus. As you might guess, this post is about to get pretty personal; my hope being to help everyone get a better understanding of who I am and my passion for a positive outlook on life. 

Although first I want to educate a little bit about what a rare disease is.

What is a rare disease? A rare disease is a disease which affects fewer than 200,000 people. People who have rare diseases struggle with discovering a proper diagnosis which leads to issues finding information and receiving treatment.  Medical knowledge/research is more difficult. There is also not much public awareness which is why Rare Disease Day was established.

Now you're probably asking what does this have to do with Nichole?
I am someone who has been affected by a rare disease.
December of 2011 I was diagnosed with a rare disease, Chiari Malformation. 

Now bear with me, I promise all I'm about to share has a purpose.

Chiari Malformation (CM) is a neurological disorder. Those with CM have structural defects of their cerebellum. What this means is that part of their brain descends out of the skull into the spinal area. 1 in 1,000 are affected.

My journey started long before December of 2011. Actually, my journey started 2 years prior. I'm certain most everyone who either suffers personally with a rare disease, or knows someone who does, can relate. 

As mentioned above, those with rare diseases struggle with finding proper diagnosis's. This can lead to many months and or years of hopelessness. Throughout this time people are either treated for something they don't have or told there is nothing that can be done for them. I know this because I experienced both of these myself. 

For 2 years, starting summer of 2009 before my senior year in high school, I was misdiagnosed. I remember going to number doctors appointments with my parents and at one point felt as if maybe I was just a hypochondriac. 
>>Or maybe I felt that because a doctor really called me that!!<< 

I went from doctor to doctor each having their own thought as to what was going on with me - some told me I just had migraines, some told me they didn't see anything abnormal, some told me I was stressing myself out, and one even tried to ask me if my parents were putting too much stress on me. When I tried to explain to the doctors that migraine medicine didn't help, but managed to just made me sick and stress was not the issue they answered with "then there is really nothing else we can do for you." This truly made me feel helpless. However, I was and still am blessed with parents who believe in me and they never stopped fighting. They didn't take no for an answer. 

These two years were some of the hardest of my life. I had no understanding of what was going on with me. All I knew was I didn't feel good and nothing would help. I would describe the pressure in my head as a balloon in a jar that you kept putting air into even though it could expand no further. I also had to stop all types of physical activity, including dance which was my passion and outlet. I had to stop these sorts of things because doing them would cause me to blackout and my blood pressure to drop. My life came to a complete halt out of the blue. I had moments where I was very low but I would snap myself out of it by remembering my favorite saying:
Someone else somewhere out there is going through something worse.

This is also when quotes became a huge part of my daily life. Each morning I woke up and would look to find a motivational/inspirational quote which helped me start the day off with positivity in mind. This became my daily routine and kept me going. There is much power in a positive outlook. 

Fast forwarding to December of 2011, I went for my bi-yearly MRI and we received the ominous news that I had Chiari Malformation. The only reason it was discovered is because the radiologist went to a conference the week before and he learned about Chiari. This news was somewhat bittersweet. We now knew what was affecting me for the past 2 years of my life which was somewhat of a relief but we had no idea of what it was which left us in a state worry. But this wasn't the end all. Since knowledge of rare diseases is not abundant it takes time to find the right place to get help.  

My family and I found the Chiari Institute, in New York, June of 2012.

Furthering our search we saw an area to request an appointment. We instantly felt hope. Next thing we knew we were printing and filling out a multi-page questionnaire and gathering all my previous health records. The following morning my information was in the mail and on its way to New York. Shortly after we received a phone call saying I had an appointment on July 23rd, 2012. There were no if ands or buts about it, we were going and my mom dad and I left on Friday July 20th to head to NYC. I honestly think we were all in complete denial on the drive out as we were talking about how great it would be to go to a show and bought tickets to "Wicked." 

Although when the song "Defying Gravity" was sang at the end of the show we  all certainly were not in denial anymore - I remember my mom and dad both grabbing my hands - and we didn't even know what was about to come.

Monday morning after some intake and tests we were ready to meet my doctor, Harold Rekate. Let me just take a second to tell you this man was absolutely amazing. After about 20 minutes of us taking he told my parents and  I that I was a candidate for surgery but that the choice was ours. He then left the room and gave my parents and I time to talk alone. I remember my parents asking me if I fully understood what he was saying and my response being; "yes, surgery." They then took the time to clarify that this was not just surgery but it was brain surgery. We then began to talk about the pros and cons. We are a family who believes things happen for a reason and this being the case we decided to take the chance to make me feel better and opted for surgery. When Dr. Rekate came back in we let him know our decision and he went on to explain the procedure and said they would be in touch shortly with a date and time for surgery. The next thing I knew we were back in the car on the way home and I was calling to tell my brother.

A week later we received a phone call saying my surgery date had been scheduled for August 14th. The days to come were filled with conversation and research. There are many forums out there for people suffering with rare diseases once you finally know what it is you are suffering from. These helped me a lot to see that I was not alone.

I ended up actually having 2 brain surgeries 2 weeks apart, August 14th and August 28th of 2012. There were some complications after my first surgery and 12 days later I started to leak cerebrospinal fluid out of my incision which had me on an emergency flight back to New York and the OR. 

I am so thankful for my friends and family; they were there every step.

Today, a year and a half later, I am doing great and no longer just going through the motions much like I was 4 years ago. I am living life. I do not simply have my passion of dance back in my life, but I am blessed with a dream come true everyday dancing for the Detroit Pistons Dancers. I also have a brand new outlook on life and the circumstances we face. 

There's beauty in everything if you look. 

Life happens and we can either run from it or run with it. Running from it seems like the easiest route but running with it helps us to become the person we are meant to be. I personally choose to embrace whatever is given to me. It is not always easy and I have my days which are a struggle but when it comes down to it I have never regretted facing a challenge. I also like to look to others as compared to looking at myself. Yes, what I am going through seems like the end of the world but there is someone out there who is going through worse. If you take your eyes off yourself and look to help someone else what you are going through no longer seems so bad. 

Throughout the years many friends and family members have told me I have a special way to find the best in the worst. To me I was just controlling one of the things I actually can in this life, my outlook. A month ago today, never even realizing it would also fall on Rare Disease Day, I decided to share my passion for looking to the positive and started my blog. 

Everything has a purpose and a time - you have to trust in the unknown.

You have to go through it to come through it.
Keep pushing, keep fighting. 
In the end you'll be thankful you did. 

This is me and this is why I blog. 

Questions of the Day:
1) Are you or someone you know struggling with a rare disease?
2) Has a medical condition made you or someone you know feel hopeless?
3) What situations have forever changed your life?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Here and Now

Looking to the future is imperative to move forward, but often we can lose track of where we currently are in life by doing so. Dreaming, and chasing your dreams, is important, but you cannot attain your dreams by skipping steps. Opportunities come and go - they will not always be there. Hard work is the key to getting what you want.

Money cannot buy happiness. All money can buy is possessions.

Personally, I could be poor; yet, I would feel rich as long as family and friends who really care for me surround me. Moments and memories with people you love can never be replaced, or recreated. I think, however, it takes losing out on some of these things to snap back to reality.

Life is a precious gift and how we decide to spend our time does matter.

Far too often, we are too focused on what we have to do next, but each minute that passes is a lost opportunity. There are many factors in life that make it seem like delayed gratification is the way to go. This is why it's important to know there are different types of delayed gratification - both positive and negative. 
  • Positive delayed gratification would be working hard and having it go unnoticed and keeping in mind that what you are doing now will be noticed in the long run.
  • Negative delayed gratification makes you feel like it's a good thing to give up the now for the sake of being able to have all the time and money you want later.

You may argue you can “buy yourself freedom”, but in doing so you lose out on all the moments in the present - moments you will never get back. If you were to delete a portion of your operating system off your computer, you would never get everything out of your computer that it has to offer. If you delete a portion of your life, you will never enjoy all life has to offer. At the time it won’t feel like a big deal because you are so focused on the fact you can just “do it all later.” But you can’t and it will always feel as if there is something missing. It is a void that will never be filled. Focusing on the now will get you more out of life and further then anything else. You cannot get to where you want to be by overlooking parts of life - it all matters.

Questions of the Day:
1) Are you giving up the now thinking you can make it up later?
2) Are you doing what you want in the here and now?
3) Are there moments in life you are thankful you didn’t miss?  

>>Linking up today with Amanda<<

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Let's Get Organized

Happy Wednesday! I'm sorry I missed posting yesterday. I tried really hard to get a post up here, but I was studying for a midterm I had. Good news, I feel confident I did well! While I was studying I was brainstorming for a topic to post about though! The topic that came to mind was organization! I did some research on the topic, as I wanted to give you guys more then just what I do, and found some tips on one of my favorite sites

Organization is a lifeline for me. When I am not organized I get anxiety. This being the case I love to find new ways to effectively organize my daily life. However, these tips can help anyone; whether you're like me and need to be organized or you are someone who is trying to become more organized. 

So here we go!

1. Create a to-do list
I personally live by these! I actually have many at one time. I have the reminders in my phone filled out, I have a little electronic sticky note on my computer with the most recent upcoming things I get from my phone so they are visible, as well as I have a daily written out list. I do this to ensure I do not miss deadlines and things which I need to accomplish. 
  • help you get tasks organized
  • do not fall into trap of making list and taking no action
  • write daily tasks to not become overwhelmed 
2. Find places for things
I try to always put things in the same place. Every day I put things such as my phone charger, my glasses, my purse, my backpack, my dance bag and so on in the same area. I do this because it creates a routine and limits the amounts of things I misplace or have to spend time looking to find. 
  • find a "home" for belongings
  • helps you locate them easier
  • especially for items that float about home/office
3. Get rid of clutter
This is one of the most important ones for me. I try to always consolidate whenever possible. The less papers and or items not being used any more the easier it is to follow through with daily tasks without distraction. 
  • dispose of obvious trash/recycling materials
  • clear space of broken items and those no longer being used
  • put items back when finished/consolidate similar items
4. Take care of small things right away
I try to do this although it is hard. However, I do find I'm more productive if I do something right when I get it, if possible, as compared to putting it off.
  • the longer you wait the harder it is to accomplish a task
  • risk forgetting/overlooking item 
  • if it can be done in less then 3 minutes take care of it then
5. Keep a schedule
This for me, much like my to-do list, is something I live by. I have a pretty consistent routine between school and dance, but there are always those things that change or are added and are easily forgotten. For example, even though I have classes at the same time every week I have them plugged into my calendar so I do not have the chance to overlap things.
  • better organize and define time
  • can be electronic or written whichever you prefer
  • write out all activities no matter how well you think you know it 
6. Set priorities
This goes hand in hand with a to-do list. I write my daily list out dependent on the importance in which I should complete the tasks.
  • helps focus intent and actions
  • can apply to large life goals and smaller everyday tasks
  • not sure what to prioritize? compare items against one another
7. Save similar information in one spot
I have multiple folders created on Gmail so when I am looking back for a certain email I do not have to search through thousands but instead can go to a specific folder and have a head start to finding it. I also do this with my class work, each class has a folder of its own which makes finding assignments and handouts much easier. 
  • allows information to be readily available
  • also can help eliminate clutter
  • complete tasks faster knowing where to look
8. Have a positive attitude
Finding an effective way of organization that works for you takes trial and error. I still discover new ways that work better for me all the time as well have old ways that let me down. It's important to stick with it.
  • people don't just become more organized overnight 
  • requires hard work and patience 
  • it's all a learning process
9. Work with your personality
The way in which I organize myself works for me but may not work for everyone. There is not one way to be organized.
  • organization comes in different shapes and forms
  • preference for categorization, location etc. changes by person
  • key is to find and make use of what works for you
Questions of the Day:
1. Which of these tips do you already do?
2. Which of these tips would you like to start to incorporate?
3. What other means do you use to organize yourself?

>>Also check out Ideas to Keep You Motivated<<

Monday, February 24, 2014

MIMM #2 {Dance Packed}

Hi there! How were all of your weekends? Mine was a weekend packed with dance! For those of you newer to my blog any or may not know, I am currently a dancer for the NBA team in my state, The Detroit Pistons. I am in my rookie season (first year on the team). I feel so blessed and honored to have this opportunity; it is a dream come true. I could not be more thankful. 

Excited to share some marvelous moments from my weekend with you! 
And I would love to hear some of yours too! 
√ Shopping with my momma
    - quick trip but fun
√ Pistons home game - we won 115-107!
√ Special halftime performance with Big & Rich 

√ Pistons home game - we lost :(
√ My parents are too cute and dressed to match me
√ My super good friends Alex & Kayla came to the game
    - we went to dinner after and never stopped laughing 

√ Attended The Drop - had a blast & learned a lot
    - masters class put on by Piston's entertainment
    - choreographers: JD McElroy & Jarell Gordey 
√ Hung out with some friend's up at school

What was memorable about your weekend?! 

Life is going to happen whether you are ready for it or not. You however do have the ability to control at which degree you attack it. Dreams do come true but they aren't happenstance. You have to go out and chase them. Situations may not unfold as you hoped or wished but you have to make of them what you can. The only way to move forward is to look there. 

One of my favorite words is the word relentless. It says so much with such a powerful definition. If you aren't familiar with the word relentless what it means is to; never give up, be steady and persistent, be unbreakable and unyielding no matter what life may throw in your path along the way. 

Are you living relentlessly or stuck just thinking of what could have been?

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Fitness Motivation #2

Happy Saturday! I got a really great response to my fitness motivation post from last weekend so I thought you all would enjoy another one! 

if it doesn't challenge you - it doesn't change you

do it today or regret it tomorrow

strive for progress not perfection

keep going

workouts are meetings with yourself

motivation gets you started - habit keeps you going

it's a lot of little steps

i shape me

What's in-store for your Saturday?

Friday, February 21, 2014

Friday Favorites #2: Week of 2/21/14

It's that time again to link up with Heather and share with you what I'm loving this week! Which also means it's Friday and the weekend is upon us! 
Happy Woohoo! 

--Warmer Weather
So, absolutely nothing about this winter has been normal. There have been record cold temperatures the past few weeks..temperatures my parents haven't seen since they were kids! I love my snow, but personally I would always choose warm over cold if possible. On Wednesday we had a nice little taste of spring; it was sunny and we hit a high of 46 degrees! I went outside without a coat on and call me crazy, but I even had my A/C on in my car when the sun was beating down while I was driving! I'll take more of that!

--The Lego Movie
Fun face about me: I will always be a big little kid and I am not ashamed!

On Valentine's Day my boyfriend and I went to see The Lego Movie. It was incredibly adorable! The thing I love about "kid" movies is that there is always a great lesson to be learned from them. I don't want to be the spoiler incase you still have plans to see it so I can't tell you what the lesson is, but I can tell you that you won't regret going to see it. I highly recommend it! And here is a clip of the movie's catchy song! 

--Boyce Avenue Radio
Music is one of my favorite things. I constantly have it playing whenever I can. I have been completely obsessed with acoustic music for sometime now and especially the band Boyce Avenue. They have great originals & covers. I am always surfing their YouTube channel to see what new songs they have released/added. I also love love love their station on Pandora. 

One of my favorite covers of theirs: Titanium

--Good Finds
Shopping is always fun but it's even better when you find a good deal! The other day I was out and about shopping with my mom and dad. For a while I have been wanting to get a good bluetooth speaker however, I just struggled with spending the money when I could make due with the speaker on my phone. When we stopped into Best Buy I found myself wandering over to the portable speaker section and stumbled upon this! The HMDX RaveThe speaker is originally $39.99 but I was able to get it for $10 off at $29.99. I was really excited when I saw this and definitely couldn't help but want to give it a try. I am very satisfied with the sound and quality! 

--"Nothing is Impossible" Ring
This past week my parents gave me a little congratulations on your blog gift. It was a ring from Khol's that says "Nothing is Impossible." It honestly could not be more perfect! I am so thankful. It means so much to me especially with my passion of looking to the best of life and keeping a positive outlook. Always remember the word impossible actually says, I'm possible. 

--Post this Week
Transformation Tuesday on Tuesday 2/18/14:

Now it's your turn! What things have you been loving this week?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Words To Live By

Hi! I hope everyones week going great so far! Anything fun and exciting? My goal today is to get us all thinking about some words important in our life.

We all have certain words that mean something to us and 
we "live by." I put together a list for you all of some of the 
words I live by, that help me be the best me I can be!

BE KIND: "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." ~Philo
WORK HARD: "If you're not willing to work hard, let someone else do it. I'd rather be with someone who does a horrible job but gives 110% than with someone who does a good job and gives 60%." ~Will Smith
STAY LOYAL: "Loyalty and friendship, which is the same to me, created all the wealth that I've ever thought I'd have." ~Ernie Banks
STAY HUMBLE: "The true way to be humble is not to stoop until you are smaller than yourself, but to stand at your real height against some higher nature. That will show you what the real smallness of your greatness is." ~Phillips Brooks
SMILE OFTEN: "A smile is a curve that sets everything straight." 
~Phyllis Diller
NEVER STOP LEARNING: "Try to learn something about everything and everything about something." ~Thomas Huxley
KEEP HONEST: "Be honest. That is what's going to maintain relationships." ~Lauryn Hill
LOVE ALWAYS: "Do all things with love." ~Og Mandino 
BE THANKFUL: "Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up with more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever, have enough." ~Oprah Winfrey
Questions of the Day:
1) Which of these words did you relate best with? 
2) What words do you live by?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Foods For Stress

What I ate to eat Wednesday with Jenn.

Are you feeling stressed out or run down? Heck, whose not these days. But what if you could change it?  Well, even though there is no "easy button" to make the stress magically go away, there are little things you can do each day to help. Like eating certain foods! Yes, thats right I said eating!

Let me tell you what and how:

-Give you're immune system a nice little boost
-Packed with Vitamin B, E and Zinc
-Plain are the best for you

• Avocado and Bananas 
-Help keep blood pressure down
-Packed with potassium
-Avocados are a source of good fat 

• Crunch Veggies
-Foods with a crunch help beat stress
-Very nutritious
-Carrots, celery, etc. 

• Dark Chocolate

-Helps ease emotional tension
-May lower levels of stress hormones
-Improves mood naturally

• Green Veggies
-Aid in emotional well-being
-Packed with vitamins and minerals
-Asparagus, spinach, kale, etc

• Milk

-Relieve tense muscles
-Drink at bedtime for a more restful sleep
-B vitamins, proteins, Vitamin D, and Calcium

• Sweet Potatoes
-Have immune boosting nutrients

• Tea

-Helps to calm nerves

• Whole-grain Snacks

-Carbs offer an energy boost
-Trigger the brain to release serotonin 


Questions of the day: 
1)Which of these foods are your favorites?
2)What ones are already in your diet?
3)Which ones do you want to add?
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