Beginning in 2016, I was prepping for my first figure competition and was 6-8 weeks out from my first show. My training was abruptly cut short when I ended up being injured at work during a training exercise. I am a Police Officer (Detective) and I was shot in the leg with a simunition round that hit with enough velocity to cause a deep vein blood clot. This injury left me out of work for nearly 6 months, with many physical restrictions, blood thinners and having to give myself shots in the stomach twice a day. I ultimately ended up having to undergo surgery to remove my greater and lesser saphenous vein in my right leg. To this day and for the foreseeable future, I am on medication to reduce the swelling in the lower extremity of my right leg.
A month after returning to work, I was run off the road in my company vehicle and into a utility pole which left me with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). I was out of work yet another 7 months. During this time frame, I fell into a depression because of my injuries and inability to function with simple day to day tasks. I could no longer work out and between the blood clot and the brain injury, I lost all progress I had worked so hard for over the years. I had speech problems which made me unable to find my words and at times form sentences. There were balance issues, vision problems and my hearing was affected. To make things more difficult, during this time I also went through a very private divorce from my best friend of 16 years.
I was in a pretty long funk (depression) to say the least. Today I have mostly recovered from my injuries and am now starting to take care of myself again. I stress less, I'm learning to be comfortable in my skin and grateful for where I am today.
Both of those injuries put life into prospective for me. The blood clot was life threatening and I learned first and foremost that I am so incredibly grateful for each new morning. Life is so incredibly short, be present, be grateful and make memories. Stop worrying about the small stuff and to really try to slow down.
These lessons have helped me for the first time in my life to begin feeling more comfortable in my own skin and with who I am. I'm still a work in progress and some days are easier then others but
I am learning that you don't have to be a certain number on a scale to be beautiful.
That the opinions of others don't matter as long as you are a good human with good intentions. You cannot control how others act.
I went from a life of fitness, focusing only on my physical appearance and the number on the scale to determine my self worth. I lost all of that when I was injured and struggled with self esteem and a great deal of body dysmorphia. I have been working really hard at learning loving myself for who I am, for my imperfections and what I have achieved and a lot less about my physical appearance. I am lucky and so incredibly grateful to have an amazing group of friends and family who support me. I'd be remiss not to include my boyfriend into that group, as he has been the driving factor in helping me overcome my body image issues and learn to embrace my flaws. He always says,
flaws make you unique and tell your story.
After everything is said and done, we all want to feel beautiful, confident and sexy. I am excited to have a photo shoot and take some really beautiful photos! I can't believe that I won, I've never won anything in my life. However, I'm finally at a point in my life where I feel comfortable and free to express myself, so there's no better time for something like this than now. For so many years I repressed my feelings and desires in order to not be judged. I'll be 42 years old in October and I want to take chances, I want to practice what I preach, I want to inspire others and I want to be authentic without the fear of judgment.
This photo shoot will help me come out of my shell, to dig for that inner confidence, remind me to be kind to myself, to to stop the negative self talk, to be free from judgement, to be proud of who I am and where I'm at. Most of all, to have fun.