My AVM Story
GOD, I LOVE LIFE. Every morning I wake up, open my eyes and say, “ALL RIGHT!! Another day and I’m still here!” Sounds a bit extreme doesn’t it? This attitude is not that surprising when you consider that I was diagnosed almost eight years ago with a medical condition that could kill me at any time with no warning. Given that, you can either curl up and die inside or you can decide to LIVE.
My name is Veronica White, and I am a firm believer in the fact that everyone has a story. So this is my story… Mine is not exactly your standard story though. I’ll start at the beginning, back in grade six…
Life was going along pretty good back then. I had my friends at school, my Irish dancing, Girl Guides, birthday parties and after school activities, etc. I am the oldest – I have two younger sisters and a younger brother. There was nothing super different about me or my family, and things were going along pretty smoothly. But then I had that CT Scan in early July 1996. I knew something was wrong when, after they took the pictures, they told me that I had to wait for a specialist to look at the films. Then they finally told us the news – the news that would change my life forever – that I had a life-threatening condition called an AVM. I didn’t know anyone else with this condition. In fact, I had never even heard of this condition before! The doctors told me that I might need surgery even if I did have the other treatments for AVM. I refused to believe them, simply because the thought of having people cut open my head and poke around in there terrified me. I refused to believe that this was what my life had become. That this was, in fact, who I was now. A girl with an AVM, something that could very well kill me at any moment, no matter what I did.
What is an AVM you ask? It stands for an arteriovenous malformation and is a mass of incorrectly formed blood vessels that shaped in my brain before I was born. It is rare, and is almost never identified before one of these “bad” blood vessels breaks, causing a hemorrhage in the brain and usually death or severe physical or mental handicaps. I was one of the “lucky” ones in that I was identified before a bleed. I went through all of the three possible procedures to help the situation. First, during the summer in which they found my AVM, the doctors tried embolization (or gluing treatment) which reduced the size of the AVM but did not get rid of it.
Then the first bleed happened. I remember it as clear as anything – it was a Sunday afternoon, just after lunch. My sister, dad and I were planning to go bike riding together, so we were out in the garage getting down our bikes when I got this terrible headache. I went back inside and sat down on the couch. Within the next few minutes, the headache got worse and worse, I became physically ill, and I was crying from the terrible pain in my head. My whole family went into denial… we refused to believe that it was a bleed, so it wasn’t until the next day that I sought medical attention. “Was it a bleed, or was it meningitis?” we all asked ourselves. I finally went in to the hospital and the doctors just kept shaking their heads. “You should be sick, very sick,” they kept telling me, looking very confused. Two days later I had terrible pain in my neck and back as the blood from my brain went down my spinal cord. A very high fever followed, and I was extremely sleepy. When I finally got discharged, I remember thinking that “thank God I’d never have to go through that again!”
Then the doctors tried the second treatment – radiation, in grade seven. One large dosage (which was three to five minutes long) using three beams. Not only did it not help me much, but the radiation caused a “progressive stroke” by my grade eight graduation ceremony. I needed a full leg brace, or KFO, with an optional locking knee hinge though, but at least I was walking! I had severe right-sided weakness, and could no longer use my right hand, and had to teach myself to eat and write with my left hand. I kept refusing to wear the hand splint though… something my OT (occupational therapist) insisted would help my hand to function better. The reality of the situation still hadn’t quite sunk in yet though. I was in major denial that I had anything wrong with me, and I still continued to live life on the edge, taking dangerous chances and making stupid choices.
With time the reality of the situation did sink in though and as I accepted it, things started to improve. I did not want to start grade nine in a wheelchair, so I worked really hard all summer at my physiotherapy. I continued going to therapy at Erinoak, and participated in their horseback riding and pool therapy programs. It was great to work with such an organized team. They knew just what to do to help me gain back the most strength possible, and helped me get better to the point where I no longer needed a leg brace and could lead a pretty much normal life. That is, until a day in the middle of the summer of 2001 when everything would change again…
I was out that night in July with a few of my friends when suddenly a massive headache struck me. Now, with an AVM, the first signs of a bleed are the sudden onset of a major headache, then nausea or vomiting and/or, lastly, unconsciousness. Well, I got this worse than terrible headache, so I dropped everything, told my friends that I had to get home right away and took off on my bike. I rode home faster than is humanly possible, praying all the way for God to just let me get there alive and not make me die right there on the side of the road. I luckily got there alive, and passed out just minutes after I arrived at the house.
An ambulance picked me up and drove me to the nearest hospital, where I was stabalized and then put back into the waiting ambulance and transferred to The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. It was there that the miracles really started happening. At first, the doctors didn’t hold out much hope for me. My mom later told me that she asked one of them if they thought there would be any permanent brain damage. He looked at her with this strange look and said that was the least of our worries just then! The doctors gave little hope for me to live at first. Then they thought that I’d never regain consciousness. Then they thought that I’d never open my eyes, never get off the ventilator, that I’d never talk, walk, see… But I beat every single thing they said, and you know how I did it? Well with people praying for me, my family by my side encouraging me day and night, and my friends visiting me almost every single day in the hospital, how could I not?
I stayed there in Sick Kids until early September, the first day of school. My parents tell me I was devastated that I couldn’t start school with my friends, I didn’t want yet another thing to make me different from everyone else! But what could I do? I couldn’t even get out of my hospital bed into a wheelchair at that point! However, I refused to let that minor fact stop me and I undertook the great task of getting better to the point where I would be walking again. This was helped immensely by the Bloorview Macmillan Children’s Rehabilitation Centre, where I stayed from the day I got discharged from Sick Kids until December 21st, 2001. They had me in therapy from nine o’clock every weekday morning until four or four-thirty in the afternoon. It was immensely tiring and a lot of hard work, but they got me from a wheelchair, to a walker. Then when I left and continued to work hard on my own, I went to a quad cane, then to a single cane then to no cane. During the time I was there I made a lot of awesome new friends, did some crazy stuff like having wheelchair races around the halls, and stayed up many nights just talking and having fun with my new friends. I still keep in touch with a lot of them, and we see each other every chance we get!
The night that I had that last bleed, I had what I now call a “totally awesome near-death experience.” I could see myself walking along this really long wooded path. I walked to what appeared to be the end of the path, and then I saw this guy standing there just ahead of me. I went up to him, said hello and asked what I was doing there. He replied with a hello and said that I had to go back. When I asked him why, he simply replied that it didn’t matter and that I still had work to do. He walked with me about halfway back and sent me the rest of the way by myself. After that I woke up in the hospital!
Going through a “totally spiritual experience” like that changed my life. Back in my “rebellious teen” days, I used to think about things like running away from home and it influenced my decision-making skills (which weren’t very good back then to begin with). I’d gotten involved with the wrong crowd, lied, cheated… after all, who cared back then? My mom and dad did, but being all rebellious and hating the rules that they set (particularly my curfew, which was eleven o’clock. And for a sixteen-year old, I thought that was pretty early!). I’d tell myself that I might die tomorrow and then, oh boy would they be sorry they treated me the way they did! The truth was though, I felt sorry for myself, for who I was (I’ve been told that both the location of the AVM and the first bleed affected my judgement skills since then), and they treated me better than most other people would have. Looking at the things I did and said now in hindsight, I regret a lot of it but I know that I can’t change the past. I couldn’t see it then, but others could. My friends pulled me through the worst of it but being the oldest, I had siblings who looked up to me… I had to set a good example for them, and I sure hadn’t been doing a very good job of it! Just before that second (and near total) bleed, my headaches had been getting worse and worse. I was taking the maximum dose of Tylenol most days, or even more on other days. But now that I’ve had this bleed and spiritual experience behind me, my outlook has been altered. I no longer desire or even think about running away, my friends are now only the best people, and I’m through with lying and cheating! I try my best to do the right thing and help other people, and it just sort of makes me feel good inside, seeing how far I’ve come in such a short time.
My whole attitude towards life has really started to change since then too. Now, instead of feeling sorry for myself, I’ve decided that there must be some reason for my survival. That life is to be lived and enjoyed no matter how long or short it is. That anyone can make a difference no matter who they are. While I was at Bloorview I helped other kids any way I could, by reading to them or tutoring or just trying to cheer them up. After I got out of Bloorview I decided that someone needed to do something about the lack of research or knowledge of AVM. I started my own foundation to raise money for research at Sick Kids Hospital and for raising awareness through a program at Toronto Western Hospital. I’ve been making speeches at various places, either to raise AVM awareness or as an inspirational speaker.
All throughout my OAC year of high school, I tried to make my difference in the world. First it was just by doing things like helping the school chaplain. I also participated in the Walk 4 Justice and the Fast 4 Action. Also, watching the AVM Foundation that I set up start to grow. Toward the end of the school year, I started applying for scholarships to help pay for my dream of going to university. I did get some, including ones like the Terry Fox Humanitarian Award, the Sharing the Spirit Award of Excellence, and the Spirit of Inclusion Award. I also received the Diana Thomson Award, given to me at Erinoak. They gave me a cheque and even had a little celebration for me afterwards. I was very pleased when I found out about these awards, and my parents told me that they were very proud. So now I figure I’m pretty much ready for university, and I feel ready to take on the world! My plans for the future, while still unclear, look promising. I might be a music therapist at an establishment such as Bloorview. I might be a teacher. I might even be a social worker and help kids who have to go through things like what I’ve gone through! I’m not quite sure what I’ll end up doing yet, but I know it will be exciting and I feel ready to handle anything life may throw my way!
My story has a happy ending too… I was scheduled for surgery on Wednesday the 30th of July this year. In one of my MRIs, they found that I had an aneurysm right in the middle of my AVM and a small blood vessel underneath that worried them. On the 25th of July, I went in for an embolization procedure to try to glue the blood vessels and the aneurysm. Talk about miracles, the aneurysm had disappeared and the blood vessel had shrunk and dried up! Then the following Wednesday, I went in for the surgery and, a few hours later, was proclaimed… cured!
So ever since the moment that I was proclaimed AVM-free, I’ve been trying to do one main thing – live. Every morning now I wake up and thank God that I’m still here to enjoy another day. I say my prayers every single night and try to do what I feel will help people deal with their own problems. I continue with my fundraising and giving inspirational speeches for AVM and other issues. My fundraising will, I hope, keep growing and will hopefully continue on for my whole life. I think it’s worth it (I think of it like it’s my baby). The feeling I get from seeing the difference that I’m making is truly an awesome one. Knowing that people now know my story and want to help me make that difference, that is an amazing feeling as well. So everyone remember, YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. Look around you and see what needs doing, then do it. Help that person across the street, pick up that pop can and put it in the garbage, visit a senior, volunteer at a charity. It doesn’t matter what you do just so long as you do something. And, most importantly, NEVER GIVE UP HOPE!
The final chapter...
It's been almost a year now since my surgery. Actually, in exactly thirty more days, it will have been an entire year. And, I am extremely pleased to report, that I am loving being cured! I started university in January, at Redeemer University College up on the Hamilton/Ancaster mountain. I'll be getting my Bachelor of Arts degree in four and a half more years (I'm doing four years in five becaues I figured it would be easier on me). I'll be continuing to live in residence, hopefully the whole time that I'm there, and am seriously loving every second of it. My classes, while they ARE a lot harder than high school was, are really interesting and I'm learning a lot.
Currently, I'm off school on my four-month-long summer vacation (a concept that I can't quite seem to get used to!), and going for the hopefully last surgery for a while this coming Monday. I'm having my eyes lined up again -- by loosening a muscle on the outside of my left eye and tightening one on the inside of it, the doctor says he's positive he can get my eyes at least 95% lined up again, if not perfectly! I really trust the doctor who will be doing this operation too, he just has a "genius vibe" and so I really hope it works! Seeing one of everything again would be REALLY nice...
After this surgery, I plan to spend the rest of my summer first sorting through the piles of stuff I obtained from my grandparents who just moved to see what I'll be bringing out to university in September, hanging out with my friends (both old and new), and spending some quality time bonding with my siblings and parents.
It looks like it's going to continue to be one rocking summer...
Very happy to report that the eye surgery went really well, and I can now see ONE of everything (most of the time anyway, the doctor told me that the images would shift around for the first few weeks while my eyes adjust)!! It's really weird having depth perception again though, so that will take some getting used to I think.
Since it's now August and there's almost exactly one month until I move back into residence (I think I'll be moving back in on September 6th), I'm trying to get everything I need to bring with me sorted out. With the tonnes of boxes I have to go through, it'll probably take me the entire month just to look through it all! But that's ok. I have time.
I had a HUGE party on the year anniversary since my surgery last Friday. I invited so many people -- old friends from high school, new friends from university, people I've met through my physiotherapy or fundraising, family... A lot of them showed up and for a good six or seven hours we partyed hard!! I fired up the BBQ in my backyard and it was pot luck, so that way I made sure that there would be something for everyone. I think (and I hope!) that everyone had a good time too; I know I did!!
So now that summer is ending and I'm looking forward to heading back out to university, I've been thinking about potential jobs I could look into for during the school year. I know for sure that I don't want to go back to the toy store, because I was working just too many hours. But I might be looking into getting an office job at the university, so that has cool potential. Whatever I end up doing this year coming up though, I know I'll be loving it!!
Best few weeks (months) ever...
I've now been at university for officially two whole weeks, and... it is SO excellent!! I love my classes, I love my roommates, I've been having the best time imaginable, and... I've actually managed to get some sleep time in too!! Will wonders never cease... Plus, I've started working out in the gym at my university again.
So I'm home for this weekend to participate in the Terry Fox Run this Sunday. I think my entire family is doing it, so that should be fun. Then I'm heading back out to my university for... "Super Sundae Sunday!"
One additional bit of interesting (and ever so excellent!) news... I have a boyfriend now!! His name is Sean, and he's amazing. He's actually the older brother of one of my oldest (and closest) friends, so I've known him for a while. So here's hoping that things stay as great as they are now, because this is the forever deal!!
REALLY looking forward to the rest of this year...
Most excellant school year EVER...
So the new school year is looking amazing so far... Midterms just finished today (I actually wrote my last one yesterday), and I'm back home for the weekend. I'll be back out at my university on Sunday night for Church In The Box though (can't miss THAT!), and then I only have one class on Monday before I go out shopping for the necessary things to bring to... Montreal! I'll be on a missions trip out to there from Tuesday until Friday next week, then coming home again for Halloween weekend. Sean (my boyfriend) will be at home that weekend too though, so I'm really looking forward to it!
It's been a while since I had any real time to have a social life or do any real fundraising. Sure I go out on occasion (like on Thursdays with my friends from university to Boston Pizza, for $15 pizza and beer night!), but I've been spending so much time studying lately and everything, I haven't had much time for anything else! That's ok though, still loving life out in Ancaster...
Christmas week 2004, and all is still going great!
It is officially December 22nd, 2004, and I just wrote my very last final exam last night at 7:00pm. I think that I did pretty decently well on all my exams too, which is excellant. With this past semester being over and done, I am now officially a second year university student! This is great!
I spent a lot of time this month fundraising. Two malls, the Erinoak Physio Centre Christmas open house, and stuff just to friends and family... It definitely kept me busy, that's for sure! But I suppose that it keeps my out of trouble that way too, so that's good... The best of the fundraisers was definitely at Oakville Place though. Usually that's not even close to being the best mall to fundraise in, but it went even better then the BEST mall in the past had gone! We raised close to $700 profit for the foundation, and it was just really fun! It fell right in the middle of my exam week though, so that was a little stressful. But I survived.
Plans for over the Christmas break mostly involve my boyfriend and I being together... He's coming home tomorrow morning actually, after his last exam which is later on today. Then we'll meet up and exchange our gifts, and hang out the rest of the day together. Then he's officially been invited to come to Christmas with my mom's side of the family, which is also quite excellent... Things have been going really super well with him and I together too, I think I've met my soulmate! I have a feeling that this Christmas that we're about to spend together will be the first of many, MANY more...
Back to Redeemer University this morning...
So this morning, I'll be heading back out to my university to start the new term. Classes begin on Wednesday and the fun begins this afternoon! I've missed all my friends and people out there SO much, so it will definitely be good to get back out there and see them all again.
The Christmas break was super great!! I spent a TON of quality time with my boyfriend, had lots of fun with my family, and saw a few old friends. The best part though, I think anyway, was that Sean gave me a promise ring!! So now I wear it every day and am truly feeling the love... There was for sure a ton of Christmas spirit and love floating around during these holidays!!
Like I believe I mentioned in an update before, the few fundraisers that I had over the Christmas season went really well. Plus, the three AVON districts that were doing a huge joint fundraiser for my foundation may be giving me a cheque to hand in sometime soon. So I intend to go in to HSC sometime soon and hand in the next cheque. I think that the fundraising will be pretty much put on hold again for a while now though, now that I'll be back at university. Gotta stay focused after all!
One thing about my fundraiser that will NOT be put on hold though, is the planning for the Walk Cuz You Can. It should be happening sometime in late May/early June I believe, at a friend's high school. She goes to a private Catholic high school, and they are apparently VERY interested in doing this walk. That should bring in a HUGE amount too, which will hopefully help a lot of research get done. Here's hoping at least!
So as you can see, life is still really good. I think it's one of those times in life when one really feels like they have it all -- I go to a great university where I have a ton of friends, I have a fantastic boyfriend whom I love very much, I have been blessed with a great family, and everything just seems to be going my way lately. What more could you ask for?
The school year is already winding down...
It's just so hard to believe that there is only about four more weeks left of classes and then we'll be into exams. This year has absolutely been FLYING by!! So I guess it's true what they say then -- time really does fly when you're having fun!
Outside of classes (which are still going really well), I'm into a whole lot of stuff (as usual). I go to Morning Prayer with a group of students here in the prayer room every weekday morning, from around 7:30 until 8:00 or shortly after. It really is a great way to start off the ay I've discovered!! The P.U.L.S.E. team that I'm on orgaized a Late Nighter last Friday, which went over really well (although not as many people showed up as we had thought would be there). And my littlest sister Chrissie and her best friend Kristen came out that Friday to spend the weekend out here because they're on their March Break right now. Tomorrow I've booked myself in for a half-hour massage in Burlington and my mom is picking me up after that to drive me and my other sister Teresa and her best friend Michelle out here because it's their turn to visit! So they'll be here until Friday, and that should be a ton of fun too. Plus, they'll be here for the St.Patrick's Day celebration that a few of my friends from my university and I are going to at one of our friend's house on Thursday this week. Supposedly there will be movies and games and fun! So I'm really looking forward to that...
Saturday this week is our annual banquet (our big formal dance we have every year). I'll be going there with Sean, which should be fun! He's actully supposedly coming out (or he's going to try to come out) here on Thursday to come to the St.Patrick's Day thing with me, because that day is actually... our six month anniversary!!! Yay!! So that's awesome; things with him are just so amazing still. Wasn't I right when I predicted that this might be the forever deal?
And finally, on the fundraising front... My friend Anna may be coming out here today around dinnertime to discuss the Walk Cuz You Can. There are now apparently at least three school involved, and it will all be happening on Saturday June the 18th, 2005 (this year, obviously!). It's taking place at (I think) Erindale Park or something like that, and we are trying to meet up today to discuss plans from both our ends. I'm really getting excited about this walk too!! It's my goal and dream that, one day, it will be as huge and well-known as the Terry Fox Run!!
With the school year almost over and exams coming up, I'll sign off and ask you all to wish me luck on the tests and such that are coming fast! Keep smiling =)
Summer has arrived!!
So as I write this update today, I'm sitting here in the computer room at home, having finished yet another year of university... This year absolutely flew by!! But it was by far one of the best (if not the VERY best) years of my life...
I now have a defined major and minor at school too! I am now officially a social work major and a music minor. So next year, those courses are the only ones that I'll be taking except for my last two core courses (biology and math, yuck!). Plus, I'll be living on campus again next year with my friend Elena. She's a very cool person, but it's actually kind of funny how much alike we are! So it looks like it should be another amazing year!!
On the fundraising front, I just received a phone call from one of my old therapists from Credit Valley Hospital about a half hour ago, and she asked if I would be interested in being one of the keynote speakers at this thing they're having in June called the "Strawberry Social", so that should be cool. The Walk Cuz You Can that I was thinking would actually get to run this year has been called off, on account of there just being too much chaos and not enough time to get it all together. So that's sort of a shame, but I'm teaming up with another AVM-induced stroke survivor (a girl about my age too!) who also wants to organize a walk for this cause, and it will be happening in May 2006 (supposedly). It will be called "A Stroke Of Power" as well, which I think is a truly excellent name...
I've decided that I'm not going to be working this summer, on account of there just being too much other stuff going on. Plus, I'll be taking piano lessons again and want to have time to just relax and get some other, more personal stuff taken care of. So I think that I made the right choice with regards to that.
I'm already looking forward to September though... Bring on the summer first though!!
Well, I survived the first semester!
This will be a short update just to warn you, as I am in the middle of baking cookies with my youngest sister for her class bake sale tomorrow...
Today marked the last of my exams for the fall semester of 2005. This semester has, overall, gone really really well. I made a bunch of new friends, worked out at the gym and weight room there almost EVERY day, learned a ton, and (at last check) I was doing really super well in all of my classes. Good stuff.
I spent this past weekend fundraising at Oakville Place with my volunteers and friends. I got a TON of help from my boyfriend especially (thanks Sean! You rock!) and it was a fun time. That's the only mall that I will be fundraising in for this holiday season though. For now, I'm just focusing on Christmas mostly.
And boy, do I ever have plans for Christmas!! We (my family and I) already celebrated with my mom's side of the family last Sunday, and on Christmas day we will be heading up north to celebrate with my dad's side. Scary thing is that we're bringing my boyfriend with us!! This particular side of my famil has been known in the past for scaring boys away... Here's hoping that THAT doesn't happen though!
For now though, it's off to bake cookies!
Another day, another... well, week I guess!
This week (month, past seven months... whatever) has been chaotic, to put it mildly. University has gotten even crazier in this second semester than it was during the first, and things are going pretty well. I shouldn't complain at least! Classes this semester are fun (the best one is for sure my Storytelling class though!) and leading Morning Prayer has been going really well. I'm actually enjoying that a lot this year... It has been sort of forcing me to grow whether I want to or not!
I have a meeting with the chaplain at St.Thomas (my old high school) tomorrow morning. I called her to arrange a coffee date so that we could sit down and see about the Walk Cuz You Can happening there again this year. I think it would be amazing if it did happen again! Last September it was so great...
My family is doing well... They are also being surprisingly supportive of my decision to move out this spring/summer. I will be moving into an apartment with three of my best friends and I think it will be great fun! My boyfriend will hopefully not be working as much, so he might actually be able to come and visit me more often then. But whatever, all is good.
This spring and summer I will be mostly collecting prizes and such for the Walk if it is going to happen again. No big fundraising events as far as I know (yet). But I'll keep you posted!
Many changes... but they sure are exciting!
It's been a while without any real updates. But then again, I've been super busy, what with things like changing schools, trying to organize my life, and trying to remain at least somewhat of the social butterfly that seems to be bred into me. It's been exciting and fun though!
The first order of business would have to be, I think, the new school thing. I am now a Social Service Worker student at Mohawk College, which is still in Hamilton but the polar opposite to Redeemer University! The differences are still amazing me every day that I am there, but I'm loving my program and it shows - my grades have skyrocketed! So for the next year and a half, I will be out there, getting my diploma as an SSW. Sweet.
As for trying to organize my life, well, I've noticed that I am, in fact, getting older. Last month, I just celebrated my 22nd birthday. I am in my fourth year of post-secondary education, and am in a rather serious relationship (more on that in a minute). I decided it was time to grow up. And as scary as that may sound, it hasn't been bad at all!
The fundraising continues... The "Walk Cuz You Can" was originally scheduled to happen in September at St.Thomas high school again this year, but other events came up. So, it has been moved to the middle of May. This is all right, because at least it's still happening! So plans for that are continually underway, as well as many meetings and planning sessions for the walk to also potentially happen at Redeemer University this year! Which would be exciting, as it would be exactly what I originally wanted to see happening. Growth of the walk, and of the foundation itself, is just what I wanted!
One of the most (if not the very most) important things that has been going on in my life these days is still my relationship with Sean. It has now been two-and-then-some years tha we have been together, and things are getting serious! We have been talking about getting engaged, which would be even more perfect since his brother got engaged to the girl who has been one of my very best friends since grade one over the summer! So we'll all be just one big happy family in a matter of years, if all goes according to plan.
In any case, Happy New Years to everyone! My new year's eve (well, the next three days anyhow) will be spent in Montreal! I am going out there with three of my closest friends (Sean included) and we have plans to party party party! We figure that, since 2006 has been such a great year, it needs to go out with a BANG!
An Entirely New Life... (summer 2008)
People have always told me that with age comes wisdom. I never really qusetioned this until just recently though. It is currently the summer after I graduated (finally!), but it was not from the Social Work program after all. I ended up switching into the General Arts and Science program, and decided to only do the one year certi9ficate instead of the two year diploma. I am currently enrolled in a Bachelor of Psychology program at Athabasca University (all done 100% through correspondance!). I am really enjoying it so far.
But back to that age brings wisdom analogy... I bring it up because I was just wondering the other day, I am now 23 (and a half) years old, and yet I seem to know very little about where I am or (better question) where I am going in life. I no longer want to be a social worker. I have been writing editorials for local newspapers and taken up my fundraising again, but I don't really think that this is where life is leading me. This past year at school, I really got involved - joined S.O.S. (Service Orientation Staff, basically we were leaders in the residence building at school), joined the choir at my church (aww Harmony Baptist, I miss you still), met new people, tried new things... Plus, Sean and I are quickly approaching our four year anniversary! His brother (Ian) just got married to my old best friend Erin two weeks ago, which was a beautiful wedding. Overall, I wold call it an entirely productive year. Great times all around.
So now, I am on the hunt for a job... part time would be preferred, and I am mainly looking into things like reception or data entry, as I know that I am skilled in those areas. I am focusing a lot on my online classes (and loving them), while trying to brainstorm up some new fundraising event ideas. Sean is working two relatively-full time jobs (he is an Educational Assistant for the Halton Catholic school board by day, and a personal trainer by night), but we still manage to make time to see each other every day. Now that I am living back in Oakville again, it sure is a lot easier!
But I am still waiting for this wisdom that age allegedly brings to show up. People from back here in Oakville tell me that I "sure have changed a ton over the past five years!" I won't argue with that, but it's hard to recognize that in oneself I guess. So I may have changed, but gained wisdom? It would seem that maybe I gained some better coping or problem-solving skills, better ways to deal with stress, better methods of helping other people... So I guess we'll have to see. I mean, it doesn't all have to come at once right?
I'm still young. I figure I have time *grin*
Graduation, new job, new life!
Well, I did it. I actually (finally!) graduated! Mind you, after dropping ther Social Service Worker program and opting for General Arts and Sciences instead, my piece of paper that will soon be hanging on my wall will not look quite as impressiver as I would hope that five years of work would look. A General Arts and Sciences certificate from Mohawk College? Personally, I think that the piece of paper that it's printed on will likely be worth more then the degree itself! But that's ok. The point it, I finished something! I saw it through to the end, which is something that I a m not particularly good at, and accomplished my goal. Woohoo, go me!
But it turns out that attaining or not attaining the degree I was aiming for all along really doesn't matter much... I got a job regardless! A really good job too. The company that produces textiles (they are based out of Korea, but have plants all over North America) needed someone to get (and keep) them organized. If I am good at ONE THING these days, that would be it. I am loving the position... loving actually having money these days... and loving the fact that most of my work can be done from home! I couldn't have asked for a better job.
In the meantime, during my hours that I am not at work, I am continuing my education. As I mentioned before, I have enrolled in the Psychology program at Athabasca University. Well, five months in now and I am loving it!! My grades are stellar too, so that's just a bonus.
Life socially is booming! Things with Sean are amazing still, and we are getting to the point where we are talking about engagement SOON! My friends are all awesome, and I get to see them quite frequently despite my busy schedule. I spend usually about two weekends a month hanging out with my roommate from this past year (Sarah), and am definitely loving the fact that I took up yoga over the summer! I have continued that, and it is going really well.
I spent all of last week hanging out during the lunch hours at my old high school (St.Thomas), fundraising! I put together (with the help of my mom and younger siblings) these little packages of the Generosity Angel (who looks like Thanksgiving) and six little healthy chocolates. It looked really good, and I did alright. Not overly great on the earning money for the AVM Foundation, but I am planning a few events for the Christmas season so here's hoping that they go well!
I have continued with my Peer Mentoring this year, despite the fact that I am no longer a student at Mohawk. I have also been hired by a few of my friends as their tutor for a few subjects! So I feel useful.
Feelings, emotions, thoughts... all are interesting for most people at the best of times, but I am noticing that, as someone who is Bipolar Type II, they can get out of hand. My meds have more or less balanced out, so that's a good thing, and it means that most of the time I am level. The yoga helps... my friends help... but Sean especially helps! He has been unintentionally acting as my guide through life, and I am VERY thankful for it! I really think these days that people ought to come with instruction manuals....
25 and still going strong!
This past November, I celebrated my 25th birthday. I had been planning to party pretty hard on that day (week, teehee) for years before then, but when the big day finally arrived, I literally partied until I dropped. My birthday conveniently fell around a weekend, so a full three days was spent with friends, partying, and just enjoying being alive! I decided back at the beginning of this new year that LIVING is what 2010 is going to be about for me. So I am trying to do what mom and I have coined “living my life to the Xe-treme”. Typo? Nope. I have been working at promoting Xoçai Healthy Chocolate pretty much since graduation, and in the past few months the company (finally) released a product that is first of its kind in every way – the world’s first Healthy Chocolate Energy Drink! Our scientists worked on finding a way to extract the flavanol Theobromine from raw cacao, and have combined it with “twelve exotic fruits” and not much else! No sugar, caffeine-free, and although it tastes just like juice, it will give you the nicest naturally energetic feeling, but no crash! So to make a long story short, mom and I decided to start promoting it by using the catchphrase “live your life to the Xe-treme”. Neat, huh?
So that is going really well… I have stopped taking classes through Athabasca University for the time being, just so that I can devote more time and energy to Healthy Chocolate… Things with Sean are going incredibly well! We are starting to actually look for an apartment or some place that we can rent together. However, he has mentioned in the past that he is apparently planning on “formally proposing” prior to us actually moving in together. So… who knows what the coming months will hold in that regard?
Fundraising has started picking up speed these days as well. I have had a few meetings with the chaplain from my old high school to see if he would be up for helping organize a few fundraising events through the chaplaincy team there at the school. I still sell the angel figurines, but so many have been released through AVON now that I have pretty much stopped trying to order a few hundreds of each one as soon as they come out! Any can be ordered through my fundraising though still… and I even still have a few of the classics lying around! So if anyone is interested…
So back to the start, how exactly am I living my life to the “Xe-treme”? By not taking any opportunities for granted by assuming that they will come again (frequently, they will not). By enjoying as much time with my family and friends (and especially Sean!) as I can. By trying to grab as many awesome experiences as I can. And as the saying goes, by grabbing life by the horns and then hanging on for the ride!
A New Chapter
Time passes by so darn quickly sometimes! Welcome to summer 2011 - I have not one, but a few jobs that I am working (most of which are for myself... promoting Healthy Chocolate and selling loose leaf tea, life coaching, and admin for the prsonal training business that Sean bought last Christmas, as well as being a personal assistant for my friend Vinny's new recording studio business). I am just starting out the search for a new place to live, and... Sean and I got engaged this year! Super exciting times :)
I feel great these days. I have turned a lot of my attention back to fundraising and am trying to put together not justy the walk-a-thon, but also a fun sort of movement I am so far simply calling the Positivity Project (stay tuned for updates!). My family is all growing up! Teresa graduated from Guelph University with a degree in music this spring and Chrissy is going to be heading off to Sheridan College in the fall. Jamie is entering grade 12, mom and dad are keeping busy, and life is generally good!
I am in the process, speaking of work, of completely giving my tea business a makeover. It needed a facelift, and so I am turning around the way that I have been approaching it and making it more holistic and "native american" (I am playing the role of the tribal healer through the healthful teas that I provide). It's pretty neat!
I am so pleased with my life right now! Tomorrow, July 26th 2011, will mark my "tenth birthday" - TEN YEARS since that life-changing brain hemorrhage!! Hard to believe that it's been that long already....
Christmas time is here
It's Christmas 2011... already! I still have no idea where time is going, as it slips by so quickly! Fundraising is in full swing, the Christmas open house wraps up after this weekend, I'm going crazy trying to create everyone's Christmas gifts, and things are pretty standard.
Incidently, my tenth birthday celebration this past summer? What fun! The ten year marker from the date that I set up my foundation was November 11th as well, so this year has been quite a landmarker! Life is good :)
It's a new year... a new start!
As far as I know, a lot of people still make new year's resolutions. I made a few this year, but right up near the top of that list is to pump up my fundraising efforts. I want my foundation to REALLY be making a difference by the end of 2012. That is my #1 main focus this year. And my #2 focus? Wedding planning!! Sean and I are FINALLY beginning to slowly creep forward with our wedding plans, which is just amazing. So between that and fundraising, I fully expect this to be one crazy busy year :)
A new storybook...
2013. Wow. It sure has been a while! But a TON has happened! Most importantly, I got married a few months ago! Sean and I moved into our new apartment in Mississauga and things are looking pretty great. I have taken over as Promotional Manager and Resident Blogger for Sean's personal training business (Heroic Health & Well-Being - http://www.heroic-health.com ). Like I said... wow, a ton has happened!
I mentioned in my last post that I wanted my foundation to "really be making it by the end of 2012"... which looks like it has happened! That was right about the time that I started planning the foundation's biggest project EVER... The SHINE! Festival! It is coming up in only a few more weeks, so all of my focus in on that right now. (Speaking of which, come on out to Coronation Park in Oakville on Saturday August 17th! All afternoon and evening, we are taking over the stage for a celebration of life including live music and great fun for everyone!!)
My, how life has changed...
It sure has been a while since this was updated... but then again, how can I be sure that people even read down this far? But just in case they do... here is an update!
So Sean and I got married last year in the spring. It was a perfect wedding and everything was amazing. We moved out to Clarkson Village in west Mississauga and have settled very nicely into a sweet bigger-than-you-might-expect apartment right on Lakeshore Road. Sean is continuing his work with the physiotherapy clinic and doing personal training on the side.
The really exciting thing lately is the new about my own job - last year in the spring, I got hired to work for a magazine! Not only just as a writer either, I am also the Advertising Accounts Supervisor! So that job is keeping me busy, but I (being me) decided to take on even MORE... and I started renting out my services as a blogger on the side. I have been getting a ton of business and life is pretty sweet these days.
I shall try to remember to update more often hehehe....
As fall approaches, we are getting back into things!
I cannot believe how much time has gone by since I last updated... but life got too busy for words. Sean and I separated over the holidays last year. He has since moved out and I have two roommates now... two of my best friends are getting married in about a month and they needed an affordable place to stay for a few months. I love living with them and life here in the apartment is going well.
I am planning to try and hold a few small benefit concerts over the fall and winter, so I am looking for bands. If you have a band and might want to help out... please reach out!
So life is good! I am training for a weight lifting competition (let me stress the very low level-ness of this competition...) I just figure that I should use all of the muscle I have been working so hard on building at the gym for something cool.... plus, I figure that I sort of have something to prove :)
Stay tuned for future event news and such! Have a great week everyone....
~ Veronica White =)