Friday, January 1, 2016


It was actually February 17th, 2010 that I started as an Ambassador for The Anita Kaufmann Foundation. That time seems so long ago and also I remember it like it's yesterday. At the time, a wonderful woman named Michelle wrote to me, "You are full of so many ideas and we are so eager to help!" No truer words have ever been spoken (written).

When I started, my reasons were very personal. My then 3-year-old son was starting to ask very normal, but very intuitive questions about my Epilepsy. "Why do you take medicine so much? Will you ever have a seizure again? What do I do? Why do people not talk about Epilepsy?" The last one hurt. I realized it was kind of true. We talked about it a lot. I'm a talker. A sharer. But, it wasn't something as in the open as other conditions. And, I realized that I refused to bring my son up in a world that was ignorant to a condition his own mother had.

Being a teacher, my best and favorite platform for education was a classroom - a classroom with younger kids. The Anita Kaufmann Foundation helped me with this. They provided me materials - I added my own personal story which the students really grasped on to - a story of trial by fire and perseverance and my "lecture circuit" started. That first year I was in two schools. Last year, I spoke to roughly 1,000 students.
One of the earlier Purple Days circa 2011

Never one to be settled with initial success, my Mom kept coming up with more and more! She was actually the innovator of the "Purple Party". Held every year to raise awareness and celebrate the conclusion of the month of March (I essentially collapse afterwards) The "Amp Up Awareness" event brings together a large crowd of supporters to fundraise for AKFUS continued education and features my brother's band to really entertain the crowd. It's truly a highlight of the year.
Ready to "Amp Up Awareness"

Last year, The Foundation started one of my favorite events, the Purple Day Walk for Epilepsy and Brain Games
I laughed, I cried, I relished being around so many other Ambassadors and supporters who shared my story. I also LOVED meeting the fantastic women who are there to support my "new growing ideas" every day - Debbie and Ann Marie! When the announcement of this walk was made and the new purple shoelaces for 2015 were showcased - I knew I had to get in on the action...and Step Up for Epilepsy Awareness was born.
Walking the Purple Carpet at "The Walk"

And yesterday at 1:35pm I finished. 2,015 miles in 2015 all in the name of Epilepsy Awareness. I want to take a second to say thank you so much to all of my supporters. Thank you to the new friends from all over the globe who have been making their own strides and have shared their journeys. And, thank you to my family and walking partners for helping me cross that finish line. The steps were amazing and haaard. :) But, the connections made over this journey were the real reward.

The FINAL steps to miles 2,015

Want to walk with me? I will be at the Purple Day Walk for Epilepsy this year!
Join me! Share your the moment. Raise the awareness. Together we are unstoppable.

Happy 2016 - this is our year. :)

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Resolutions and, Presence

With only 1 day, 7 hours, and 19 minutes (give or take) until the new year...I can safely say that I will complete these 2,015 miles. I have 3 miles (truthfully 2.93) left and I plan to finish them out tomorrow morning on a nice walk with pleasant company to my favorite destination throughout this whole local Starbucks. Realistically, I planned to finish on Monday and just really nail this thing but for those of you not in the know - Chicago had an ice storm. That's right - an ice storm. It was horrific. And, again, I declared over and over and over again that I am moving to Florida. But, I won't. 

So, today in order to stay on top of my miles - I went out in to a snowstorm (just a tiny exaggeration, but it was snowing) and got 5 miles done. Now, it's just those tiny 3 (2.93) left.
Clearly happy about the cold morning walk

So, a lot of you have asked if I will have post-goal depression - like when a marathon runner finishes their run after months of training. It's an interesting question at this time of year when so many of us are searching for resolutions to start out the new year. I have never been huge on resolutions - but this year I do have one. I want to be more present. Not so scattered or distracted. I love my life and I want to be a part of it. I think so many of us multi-task and handle so many situations that we don't ever enjoy any given one. I'm done. Or, at least, I'm going to try to be. ;)

Now, I am going to turn the question on you - what are your resolutions? Anyone angling to do 2,016 in 2016? If so, I want to hear all about it!! Anyone have any health goals in 2016? Anyone looking to host any Epilepsy Awareness events? Tell me more!

Thank you all for the continued support - there's definitely another post coming tomorrow when I cross that "finish line".

Until then...if there isn't an ice storm...get moving!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

It's the most wonderful Mom of the year...

Oh! It's that time of year again - the excitement, the wonder, the stress! Yep, that's right...I said it, the stress. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the holidays - but it sure does come with a whopper-size helping of anxiety and stress (2 things that I have doctor's orders to avoid). So, what's a girl to do when that perfect present/holiday/dinner is just not happening? I bet you think I'm going to say walk - but, no, I call Mom.

Sigh. My Mom. Truly the reason behind this whole project. Behind the 2,015 miles in 2015 for Epilepsy Awareness. No, she doesn't have Epilepsy - but she is my biggest cheerleader and she IS the biggest walker I know. And, she's the reason I started walking.

You see, about 5 years ago my Mom surprised all of us when she had to undergo open-heart surgery. This vibrant woman - my hero - couldn't possibly need this. But, it was going to happen nonetheless. And, watching her go through it was terrifying for me. In a way, I realized it was probably how it was for my Mom watching me struggle at times with my Epilepsy - such a role reversal. At that moment, I realized I was completely uninterested in a life without my Mom so I was going to do anything to make sure she recovered completely. And the doctor's prescription was to walk - and walk a lot.

The first day was just the hospital room, then the hallway, then at home it was half a block, then around the block and so on. Sometimes her "spicy" attitude came out when she wasn't feeling like it - but I loved pushing her. And secretly, I know she loved it too.
Mom and I celebrating recovery in the most magical place on Earth

My Mom has never looked back on that surgery. She herself has easily walked as many miles as I have this year - since she is often my walking partner in crime. And her purpose now is to selflessly get me to my goal - how the tables have turned. :)

AND - I am almost there. 1,964 miles and counting. That leaves me with 51 miles to knock out before we turn over to 2016. Ma, are you with me?

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The one about being grateful...

I have been a little on the emotional side lately with the holidays and thinking about all I have to be thankful for...stupid Thanksgiving for always bringing about what we have to be thankful for. :)

In a time when being busy, busy, busy is glorified sometimes it is nice to sloooow down a bit and think about the little (or big) things that make us so blessed. So, bear with me.

I am thankful for my health. That's right. I know what I have and I know what I have gone through. But, I also know that this year alone I have walked/run/crawled 1,877 MILES! And, an unhealthy body can not do that. I know that I have more energy than my kid sometimes and I still get mistaken as the younger sibling (sorry Jamie!!)

Thanksgiving 5K run adding some miles and family fun to my total!!

I am thankful for modern medicine! I have been through countless medicine switches to improve my quality of life and continue to live seizure free. As we advance in science, I have managed to eliminate a lot of frustrating side effects. Are they all gone? No way! But, we are learning more and more every day.  Keep it up, Scientists, you are AMAZING!!

I am thankful for my family, my friends, my support network! Life is not a solo battle. We need our peeps and I have cultivated an awesome squad. I hope that I am as there for you as you have always been for me.

Finally, I am thankful for positivity. There is too much negative out there. Banish it from your thoughts. The more positive you put out in the world - the more comes back to you. Start today.
Here's my favorite quote as inspiration: "Here's the thing about glitter: once it's out of the bottle, there's just no way of putting it back. It's the same with kindness. Once it pours out of your soul, there's no way of containing it. It just continues to spread from person to person, a shining, sparkling, wonderful thing."

What are you thankful for? Share.

And, how are you all doing? I am only 138 miles from kicking this goal to the curb!!! Anyone want to cross that finish line with me?

Friday, September 25, 2015

Let's talk about the "L" word...

At 1,445 miles I am literally killing it lately! I can thank a lot of tennis, walking with Mom, and a lot of motivation (thank you for all those lovely notes from followers - you rock!)

But, when the going gets good and the positivity starts flowing...I start to think about setbacks and the lovely "L" word...limitations. Trust me, I am the world's most positive this is not a negative thing. This is a realistic thing. And, for a person who lives in a world full of fairytales and magic most of the time :) being realistic is a good thing!

When I am educating about Epilepsy, one of the hardest questions I ever get is "What are your limitations with your Epilepsy?" It shouldn't be a hard question to answer - naturally, there are limitations. I can't drink alcohol. I need to get a certain amount of sleep. I should avoid stress as much as possible. I shouldn't do extreme sports. I have to be careful with strobe lights. There are others. But, the problem with that question is it is emotionally hard because no matter what -  I always feel a little defensive. I want to believe that I have NO limitations.

That feeling goes back to my 2nd very public seizure during my Senior year of high school. This time of year always brings that one back since I had it on the football field at my Homecoming football game while I was cheerleading. After I had that seizure, the response was overwhelmingly positive and helpful - but so many people were misinformed and I heard a lot of rumors that I wasn't going to be able to cheer anymore and I wasn't going to be able to go to college now and that my life was going to change a lot now that I was officially diagnosed with Epilepsy.

Homecoming Parade Fall 1996

Instead of getting angry and lashing out, I made it a mission to show that my Epilepsy was not going to stop me from accomplishing my goals. I was going to do everything they were saying I couldn't do and more. I set high expectations on myself. I had a lot to prove. I wanted to show I had NO limitations. And, that was not realistic. It took a long time to realize that limitations are how we stay healthy - how we stay sane - how we stay balanced. The "L" word shouldn't be a negative thing - it should be something that we almost celebrate because we are choosing to live the best life for ourselves, instead of pushing unnecessary boundaries.

However, I want to mention some limitations that I put on myself after my seizures that aren't super healthy. I haven't returned to the "seizure sites" since I had them. I haven't been back to the Football field of my old high school. And, haven't been back to my college since graduation. I just felt these were stressors I couldn't handle. Even this year, I thought I was going to go to the Homecoming football game - but I found excuses: housework to do (seriously), a wedding shower, my husband's own class reunion...that gave me an out. Next year will be 20 years since that seizure and I am setting a goal to make it back. I will limit myself no more.

Do you have good and bad limitations in your life?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Oh's me and a new groove!

Hey there followers!!

It's just little old me and my 1,402 miles checking in after a looooong pause. :( But, I guess that's what Summer is for. A little bit of a break. Finding that sunshine, exploring the world, spending time with people that the school year keeps you from, lounging a bit, doing things that the new-found time allows...and then (insert sound of screeching tires and crying Mamas) comes the dreaded school bells and everything gets all crazy and shaken (not stirred) again!

In our family, Summer means breaks for two of us since I am a teacher of sorts, so my son and I relish the last day of school! We make the most of every single second of Summer spending a ton of time doing all sorts of wonderful things. So much so that we are NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER ready for school to start until the minute the bell rings. It's a horrible cycle. But, it is what it is.
Good Summer? Check. Back to School? Check.

And now that we are a few weeks in, I feel like I am back in to a groove. You know what has really helped that? WALKING. It's so therapeutic. I head out each day once I drop my son at school and walk through our town with my shopping bags and do my daily errands and listen to my podcasts or playlists of choice and get my head in the game. I am essentially getting my walking groove back!

So, am I on target to make this crazy goal of 2,015 miles in 2015? With 106 days left in the year and 613 miles left...that's a little more than 5 miles a day! Still ambitious but so is making everyone in the world aware of Epilepsy and Seizure 101 and Purple Day Every Day and look at where we are only 8 years later. (Don't know that story, check us out: So, yeah, 613 miles? WATCH ME!

And, join me!! Don't forget to send me your miles! And I am coordinating some type of event for December 30th to finish of the year (and my miles) with a (purple!) bang! Stay tuned...

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Advocate to Ambassador to Miles Emotional Journey.

From the minute I was officially diagnosed with Epilepsy, I have been an open book about my seizures, my struggles, accomplishments, and how far I feel like we have come with this condition. An advocate is the right word. I dabbled in the fundraising, I taught my classmates, I righted injustices where I saw fit, but it wasn't until I became a parent that I really felt this gut-wrenching need to do more.

Once I had my son, it was like a light went on that I had never known was extinguished.

 He will always be my baby

I started to think about what kind of world he would grow up in and that included the remaining stigmas for people with Epilepsy - including his own Mom. And what I wanted him to know about what I had. And if the education wasn't out there - was I really doing my job?

It was then that I realized that educating kids about Epilepsy, the brain, anti-bullying, how they can help, and telling my own personal story would get the message circulating right where it needed to be.  Fortunately, it was at this same time that an amazing girl - Cassidy Megan - was starting Purple Day! I proudly became an Ambassador for The Anita Kaufmann Foundation and, well, the rest is history.

7 years later, I am in different classrooms all the time. And, sometimes, Logan is with me. He is what brought me here and why I feel the drive to do what I do.

Logan helping with Purple Day fundraiser

Now, he is also one of my favorite walking buddies. He knows that every step he logs on his total goes to "Step Up to Epilepsy Awareness" and with the way he moves - trust me he is killing me! :)

How are your miles going? Any more to add to my Followers' Totals?