Heidi joins OM & the Denver Meetup Group

Heidi is a new Outdoor Mindset member, who recently joined the Denver meetup group. We're super excited that Heidi is part of the OM Community and appreciate her sharing this blog post:

I don’t even know where to begin – this I know for sure:  I know I am a typical Colorado native.  I love the great outdoors; skiing, camping, hiking, you name it…………………. .oh, and of course The Broncos!

I was an educator. I love learning and had taught children for 17 years.  I love people, cultures, and travel. I traveled to Croatia, Germany, and Switzerland, studied in Italy, taught in Mexico and explored the US too.  Backpacking the Grand Canyon was incredible. My 5 yr. old niece and I are going to “The Big Hole” when she’s 12. I possess the independent spirit that accompanies all of this.     
Well, I suppose I don’t know where to begin because I also know that I am beginning a new life.

Although the desire that beats the heart of all of these “known’s”, these “loves”, essentially the pieces of my identity, still exists, my ability to live them altered.  I must fulfill my identity differently because who I am is not going away and nor are the challenges that brought on by epilepsy.  How do I marry these two?  That is what carving this new life is all about.

I began having seizures four years ago.  The seizures increased in severity and occurrence over these years until I was only safe under supervision or just within the walls of my small condo.  Often my bits of solitude merely came on the heels of persistent insistence.  My independent spirit was wearing on me and my dear loving and supportive family.  However, it usually produced our only refuge.  I had taken every medicine, suffered extreme side effects, and withstood countless tests and hospital stays. 

My family had been stretched immeasurably.  I was completely dependent, a bus ride let alone a drive were out of the question.  It had been four years of an incomprehensible whirlwind.  My mind could not begin to process the changes my life was going through at even half the pace with which they were happening.

This complete redefinition of life, health, and future led me to a decision that, as difficult as some may find, was rather obvious to me.  Three months ago I decided to have brain surgery.  I couldn’t be more grateful; language is inadequate to express this. The world has supported in ways I didn’t know were possible…friends, family, doctors, acquaintances, and beyond.                                                                                     

I have now experienced three months without a seizure and have even begun to dip my toe back into the outside world. I have gotten out on my own, ridden the bus, taken walks, and even met friends for lunch.  Okay, I won’t be hitting the back bowls or even jumping on a bike.  What do they say about, “Running before you can walk.” ? 

I am taking it very easy and so glad that through my struggles I have met Lisa Avram, a leader in the Outdoor Mindset Denver Group.  I met Lisa, and a really moving group of people who also struggle with epilepsy, through an art therapy group.  Our continued gatherings regularly provide me with a unique strength.  Through their support and my experiences I have learned the importance of listening to my limits vs. what our culture expects of us.  I am enjoying things I never believed I would.  A bus ride is quite an adventure, a joy all its own and one to celebrate!  Sure, not the south rim nor Yellowstone but a gift nonetheless.

As I get out again at the pace that my health dictates, I am grateful for the resource of Outdoor Mindset.  Yoga is wonderful, I look forward to walks around Cheesman and eventually there is hope for much more.  What I appreciate is the spectrum of challenges I can choose from through OM. I believe I have found a tool to help me marry who I am and the challenges in this new life. 

I look forward to it all and am so grateful - bus rides to mountaintops!   

 - Heidi

Play Your Cards Right- Like Channing

Today we have a special guest blog from one of the most inspiring, awesome almost-18 year olds I've ever met! Channing, who lives in beautiful Basalt, Colorado, contacted us at Outdoor Mindset about some ways to get involved and help spread the good word about Outdoor Mindset. We thought the perfect Step 1 would be sharing her amazing story of LIVING BIG with epilepsy and continuing to get outdoors as a form of inspiration and solace in her life.
Here's a little background on Channing before she jumps in: She was born and raised in Aspen, her favorite colors are orange and purple, loves almost all things outdoors, and is interning with Glenwood Vet Clinic. Oh yeah, and she's a killer when it comes to Texas Hold'em!

Here is what she has to say to you all:

"Everyone is dealt a bad hand in life. It’s what you do with that hand that makes one so unique. This can be anywhere from being rich to divorce, epilepsy to quadriplegic, homeless to starving. Everything in life may not happen for a reason, but without the bad in life, we cannot experience the good. I graduated high school on the 28th, so I am no expert, but I do know, I would not be the person I am today without it.

My dreams about becoming a veterinarian technician-possible vet, an EMT, and ski coach came earlier than I thought. I started riding horses when I was five years old and started competing in hunters at the age of seven. However, three years later I was diagnosed with epilepsy after having multiple tonic clonics. My passion, what my life revolved around seemed to be gone. Epilepsy didn’t take anything away from me. My family and I, instead, created a solution. We got a titanium helmet, and in the event I fall off, we got an inflatable air vest that protects not only my head and neck, but all of my internal organs. My first epileptologist didn’t like the idea of an epileptic riding horses and thought I should have collected stamps. 1) Every horseback rider falls off, 2) horses have an amazing connection and sense with their rider and in the end will come to a halt if they sense something is wrong… I’ve had two tonic clonic seizures on my horse and as well myoclonic jerks, and 3) I’m not the only one falling off their horse, it could happen to anybody, maybe people I ride with will have a seizure on their horse unexpectedly out of the blue. Because of my horsing habit, I believe in animal therapy so much. Now I jump four feet and compete against professionals in more advanced shows that go on for two weeks all around Colorado. I have a crazy dream of going to the Olympics.

I work for the manager at the ranch (Cozy Point Ranch) I board my horse at. There I have learned not only about good horsemanship, but how to care for horses if they are injured. I found my interest in veterinarian medicine there when we were caring for a horse that had fell down a cliff and its owner asked Cozy Point Ranch help take care of him. The manager asked me to clean its wounds out, wrap him, put gauze on his back, and scrape the scabs off that I could. That’s where I started out. Today I do ride along's with one of our local vet clinics. Now I get to do post mortems on cows, castrate calves, and do pre purchases on horses, look for arthritis in horses’ legs, and much more hands on.
I’ve always loved blood and guts, but twelve years of medical school wasn’t for me. I was able to take a first responder course and get certified in October of 2010. Since then I follow up with once a month refresher medical classes through the fire department. This fall I hope to get my EMT.

Skiing has been a large part of my life living in the mountains. I knew how to ski before I knew how to walk. Later I joined the freestyle program at a ski club we have. I started competing in small competitions around Colorado. When I stopped competing because it wasn’t for me, the director of the program asked if I wanted to be the club’s first coach in training. Three years later I was an assistant coach, and next thing I knew, I had my own group as a ski coach. I wear climbing harness with no legs, connected to a daisy chain with a carabineer on the chair lift. It acts like a seat belt in the event I would have a seizure on the chair, I wouldn’t fall off. The harness goes through the belt loops on my ski pants, I throw the daisy chain over the back of the chair and under, and then the carabineer connects to the harness. The group I teach knows how it works. At the beginning of each year, I tell the kids what epilepsy is, and what to do in the event I have a seizure. I give a lecture to the parents at the beginning of each year as well.

This past winter I did an internship with ski patrol. I loved how they took me out of bounds, under closed ropes, showed me avalanche areas, and did training with me. They taught me how to drive a toboggan and showed me the ropes.

It’s not what cards you are dealt; it’s what you do with the cards dealt to you. You can find a solution, or become isolated. But you only live once, and you don’t want to ruin all the potential you have.
“The idea being to accept fully what you are.”
~ Mattox

Outdoor Mindset is a great example of living life to its fullest despite having a neurological disorder. Still using a safe environment, this organization is just one of many that shows you can still lead an active lifestyle, pursue your dreams, and be an everyday person, while living with epilepsy or another neurological dis-order. It gives those who are isolated a chance to be “normal”, whatever “normal” means… Don’t waste talent or any goal for that matter, because I guarantee there is a solution that allows you to keep your hopes up.

- Channing Seideman, almost-18 (yes, that's right, just 18)

Now who wants to talk about limits? Let this story remind us that there are no limits in life, just obstacles we need to work around and dominate. Outdoor Mindset can be there to help with this journey every step of the way.

Over and Out,