Saturday, December 31, 2016

My Year in a Tattoo

Historically in literature, trees have been known to represent antiquity, immense and enduring strength, stability and in some instances overcoming illness.

In December, I decided to add a tattoo to my collection, a small pine tree on my rib cage. To some, it's just a "cute" little tattoo. Some might assume it is to represent an undying love for nature. But in all reality, this tattoo means so much more to me. 

2016 was quite the year let me tell you. Accomplishments, triumphs, loss, despair... name an emotion and I can almost guarantee you that I felt it at some point. 

I spoke out about my struggles with mental illness at my old high school, graduated nursing school, started my career as a registered nurse in both the fields of obstetrics and pediatrics. Helped start a not-for-profit organization that supports people with Neurofibromatosis and helped raise close to $8,000 for the same group. I've strengthened existing friendships and have let new people into my life. My relationship with my parents is a strong as it has ever been. 

But you know what? I have also felt almost every low emotion too. I've lost important relationships, experienced some of the worst depressive symptoms I've had in many years and have had to start antidepressants. I've had to learn to cope with change and adversity. I've started therapy, and have reached out to an incredible life coach who has given me life changing advice on how to overcome hardship and adversity. 

To say my 2016 was a roller coaster would be an understatement. It was joyous, hell, beautiful, awful and quite frankly life changing. But you know what? I am so damn proud of myself. I am standing here, and I am proud to be sharing my story. 

This tattoo is to remind me of this wild and crazy year. The asymmetric nature of the tattoo is supposed to represent that life is imperfect, and therefore I am imperfect. It is there to remind me that although things might be okay right now, there will be a time in the very near future that things might fall apart, and there will also be a time in the very near future where things will flourish.

Many people have said that 2016 was the "worst year", but I want you to think back to what made this year what it turned out to be. Think hard about the things that maybe you could have done differently, think about what you did well. Take all of those thoughts and feelings and turn them around into something great for 2017.

Have a safe and happy New Years everyone!

Court


Monday, December 5, 2016

Alberta Tumour Foundation

Wow! What a month it has been! On November 12, the Alberta Tumour Foundation held its first event to raise awareness for Neurofibromatosis.

Never heard of the Alberta Tumour Foundation?! Well no fear, because I am here to tell you ALL about it! Myself, along with some other extremely incredible board members have created a not-for-profit organization in Alberta to support those living with Neurofibromatosis. Our goal is to provide support, awareness and advocacy to EVERYONE in Alberta, regardless of how NF has impacted their lives. Each individual on the board of directors has in some way or another been impacted by this condition, and we all have a deep desire to bring more education and light to the world of NF. 

On November 12 we made our bid debut as a group, and I am still in shock at the level of support the community gave us. We hosted a dance/social in Calgary, and had a silent auction, snacks, a bar and some pretty great laughs out on the dance floor (Scott, I contemplated posting your Gangman Style routine here!). I know this is the first time I've posted a thank you, and I've been holding off because I am still trying to process the incredible success we encountered that weekend. 

With the help of each person who bought a ticket, donated or purchased silent auction items, had some beverages at the bar and/or donated money out of the kindness of their hearts... you helped us raise over $7,800. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! 

Now, you all might be wondering what we might be doing with this money... and I am going to tell you!!! Each of us on the board of directors feel that social networking, bonding, and creating new relationships are extremely important concepts in the world of NF. I know I can speak for myself, that I used to think I was the only one living with this condition. I felt utterly, and completely alone. But you know what... I never was. There is an entire community out there of people living with NF, and once I immersed myself in that world, I started to flourish. We all deserve to feel like we're supported, and that is what ABTF wants to do! 

Right now we are in the process of planning another social event for next year, and at some point we've talked about hosting an educational symposium. We want to get medical professionals involved in our group, which we subsequently hope will bring more awareness into the health care system. 

There is so much we want to do with our group, and we are just starting out! The prospects of where this group can go is absolutely overwhelming! Be patient with us, as we are all learning what works and what does not work, but we do promise some awesome things coming your way in the years to come!

We are currently working on our website, but PLEASE make sure to check it out! And let us know what you think the NF community needs here in Alberta! 

http://www.abtf.ca/ 

- Court